The first place I ever read about the Glute/Ham Raise was a kinesiology book by Dr. Michael Yessis almost a decade ago. Sounded like a great idea, but I've never seen one in any commercial gym, so I never gave it much thought. Then, I read about it from Louie Simmons of Westside Barbell and saw Kris from Tsampa.org do a makeshift one and started to think about it harder. Problem: I workout alone and couldn't use the pulldown machine setup (It had no toeplate, either), and I had no miniband to do the ball setup (really, I'm a measurement freak so I couldn't control the resistance with the bands). Then I tried the setup I'm about to describe: It took me three tries to master it but it was worth it. Before, to work my hams, I ran a Prilepin cycle multiple times using seated/lying leg curls and Romanian deadlifts: the leg curls were done for sets of heavy triples, sometimes as a pre-exhaustion movement for the RDL. This worked wonders. When I got the GHRs nailed, my calves and hams were worked deeper on all ends and the muscle bellies - - - in one movement.
The first picture is the situp bench. It need two sets of rollers to anchor your feet, and the guide rod that controls the angle of incline must be straight (my gym has one with a more angled guide rod, I don't recommend it) as to get it as close to the pulldown/pressdown station as you can so that you can use the backpad as a toeplate.
The second picture is the setup. I use two foam pads for my knees and also to get a snugger fit for my knees and hams. I also use a rope attachment: it's easier on the elbows and makes positioning yourself easier. Now, the weight. experimentation is key. You want a controlled descent but not too much and at the bottom, you can't jerk it so that the weight stack yanks you back. That was the hard part, especially because leg curl strength won't help you here - - - the first time out, I had to turn my face to the side to avoid busting my nose, my hams were weak in this motion. Now, as the video shows, my motion is stronger and smoother. To each set, I will add one rep per week until I'm doing 4 sets of 10. Then I will find a weight that only allows me four sets of 5 and do the cycle again until I no longer need the stack. No rush here, control is everything. You don't want momentum doing the work.
My thanks to Kris at Tsampa.org for hosting this video and if anyone has any suggestions or form critique, I'm all ears.
Brilliant setup, Alberto! And you look nice and smooth doing the GHRs... on a side note, I'm surprised the gym let you set that up. Sounds like a good place to workout.
If my gym had a reverse hyper and a real GHR it would almost be even sweeter. As long as I don't damage anything they're cool with it. If I weren't more of a powerlifter right now, it would be hard though: every New Year, people with resolutions clog up the machines and treadmills. No one ever clogs up the squat racks or trap bars though.
This week will be 4 sets of 6 vice 4 sets of 5.
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