Do you feel like your legs need more work? Or that “leg day” is your most dreaded day of the gym week because you always come out sore?
Well, if it’s any consolation, you’re not alone! Legs do require a lot of work. The legs are made up of several complex muscles and each one has its own importance. Not just the legs, of course, all our muscles work in a complex system. Muscles require one very important thing: strengthening, along with other needs as well.
The glutes and hamstrings are definitely important muscles in the leg. Strengthening your glutes and hamstrings ensures building muscles strength, stability and balance and also agility in movement. There are a lot of workouts that focus on these muscles, but there’s also a very specific machine that works on developing them.
Let’s take a look at the GHD or Glute Ham Developer.
What is GHD?
This particular machine is probably tucked away in some inconspicuous corner of your gym, rarely used and sadly misunderstood. Truth is, the GHD has a lot of benefits and is actually a very neat piece of equipment, provided one knows how to properly use it. The thing about this machine is that the technique to use is is quite specific and does need a bit of practice. Using the wrong technique could lead to injuries, but getting the technique right can lead to a lot of benefits.
A GHD machine is essentially good for developing our core, increasing your hip flexor strength and also strengthening your back muscles. These aside, the main purpose of the GHD machine is to develop and condition the glutes and hamstrings. Professional athletes know and understand the value that this machine would add to a rigorous leg workout.
What are GHD raises?
GHD raise is the primary exercise that is performed on the machine. Along with this, sit-ups and back extensions are also performed on it. However, there is a specific way that these exercises need to be performed.
Setting it up:
A GHD machine is made up of 3 main components; the ankle hooks, the foot plate and the knee pad. The ankle hooks and knee pads can be adjusted according to the person’s comfort. The main requirement is that the area between the knees and the upper thigh is secured onto the cushioned seat. The knees must clear the seat by 4-6 inches and the upper body also hangs off the machine, including the pelvic area. Basically, your glutes and hamstrings need to be completely in line with the machine.
Step 1: Places the knees on the pads, with a slight gap for any movement or shift. Place the feet onto the given platform firmly and place the shin or the back part of the calves onto the upper part of the ankle hook.
Step 2: Note that the torso or upper body needs to be in a position that is perpendicular to the floor.
Step 3: Squeeze the glutes and hamstrings and core muscles and begin performing the raises. When you release, do it slowly and return to a position where the body is parallel to the ground.
Step 4: While pulling up, make sure your hamstrings are contracted and your glutes are tightened. It’s important to make sure that the ankles are placed securely onto the hooks to avoid injury.
Tips to remember:
- From the neck, shoulder, hip and through to the knees, the body needs to be in a straight line at all times
- Extending the body by stretching your arms forward and your legs backward helps with this.
- If you feel a strain or stinging pain in your lower back while performing this exercise, there is a high chance of injury and you need to rectify your posture before continuing
- Hyperextending the back can lead to this pain and also puts a strain on the hips
- If your glutes and hams are not strong enough to do this exercise without any pain, the best thing to do would be to strengthen these muscles first and then move on to a GHD machine.
What is a GHD sit up?
The GHD sit up is also known as the roman chair sit up and it is a very effective core developing exercise. When performed with the right technique, it has the ability to strengthen all the muscles in the torso, and involves a lot more flexing and extension control as compared to a regular crunch. The hip flexors work along with the abdominal muscles, leading to much more strong and toned ab muscles. For athletes who are focusing on better back posture and tighter core muscles, this sit up is definitely an effective exercise.
How to perform a GHD sit up (with the right technique):
Step 1: Sit in a position that securely places your feet into the footholds and your derrière needs to be slightly off the curved seat.
Step 2: In the starting upright position, you knees need to be bent.
Step 3: Move your torso backwards and downwards, making sure your spine and back are neutral.
Step 4: Move your back low enough to reach a parallel position, which is the suggested level for a beginner. However, if you are more confident about your posture, you can lower your back even further until your body is extended to a comfortable level.
Step 5: While coming back up, make sure you extend your legs. This helps with working the hip flexors and avoids any wrong back posture that might hurt your lower back muscles.
Step 6: While coming back up, you could extend your arms and use them to pull yourself up better if that helps. Adding any weights is usually better avoided with this exercise as it could be dangerous if not done properly.
Benefits of a GHD machine
This particular piece of equipment is like the underdog; misunderstood and underappreciated. The GHD machine has multiple benefits:
- Works on toning ab muscles
- Strengthens the abdominal muscles
- Helps I’m getting better posture
- Tightens and conditions the back muscles
- Also strengthens the knees and calves
- Gives a good full-body stretch that maintains the elasticity of muscles
GHD vs the Roman Chair
The GHD machine is actually a form of the Roman Chair; it is more specific, the workouts are more limited and it was definitely built keeping a very specific workout result in mind.
The Roman chair works several different parts of the body, but it isn’t as specific or localised as the GHD.
Here’s the breakdown:
- Using the GHD is a great way to work multiple muscles at the same, although more specifically the glutes and hamstrings, while giving a good amount of stretch and extension to other body parts. The Roman chair, however, works more on the core muscles and the glutes, and not so much on the hamstrings.
- The Roman chair is usually good for strengthening an injured or weak back, using hyperextension techniques. The GHD however isn’t suggested for an injured back but rather builds the back muscles and prevents it from becoming easily fatigued or injured.
- When it comes to abs, the Roman chair would surely be a better option. On the other hand, the GHD not only works on the abs but on the whole torso, including the abdominal muscles, and helps not only with toning the muscles but also with building them and increasing lean mass.
- The Roman chair is known to be a fairly flexible and easy machine to use, but this flexibility is minimal when compared to a GHD. The GHD is a lot more adjustable to the user’s body type and needs and hence, many athletes prefer the GHD for more personalised results.
It is safe to say that the GHD is not just like the Roman chair but is also an improvement made to the machine. For someone who is mid-level into fitness and definitely for athletes and professional, the GHD would provide more concrete results
List of Best GHD machines and brands in 2018
Picking the right machine makes a lot of difference. Each machine in the market has its own specification and features which cater to different groups of people. Hence, it’s necessary to know what the different options in the market are.
1. Rogue Echo GHD
This is surely one of the best GHD machines in the market currently. It is designed to be attached onto your existing power rack. It does not take up a lot of space in itself. However, it does require a power rack and a plyometric box.
The Monster Lite 3”x3” and the Infinity 2”x3” are the current two variations being sold. It is moderately priced and is a good option to purchase for a home gym or a small gym unit that isn’t being used by too many people.
2. Rogue Monster Swing Arm Commercial GHD
This is one of the best-selling commercially used GHD machines in the market. It gives quick and effective results and also looks good in terms of design and build quality.
The foot plates and ankle screws are very adjustable and flexible. It has 2 step-up decks to make it easy to position yourself properly onto the machine. The specially designed swing-arm is there to make it easy to get into the right position and also use as an anchor if necessary. The padding used is of superior quality and is thicker than most other machines.
The downside to this well-designed machine is probably the price, which is a little north of it’s competitors’ price range.
3. York ST Commercial GHD
Along with Rogue, York is another brand that is a front-runner in the market for exercise equipment. The ST Commercial GHD machine is fully adjustable and customisable, based on the individual’s height and body shape.
The foot plate can accommodate movement for 29 different positions and the plates and front rollers move independently and vertically, also making it easier to use the machine. The padding are super thick and made of very high quality. This is probably why their machines are also priced higher than the others.
4. Legend Standard 3130-S Split Pad GHD
The Legend brand is well known in the fitness circuit for being reliable, durable and for making sturdy and good-quality equipment. There is the option of choosing between 16 different colours and over 50 different materials for the equipment.
It has a user-friendly split pad, easily adjustable foot holds, big diamond shaped foot plates and a well-cushioned seat. It also has an additional feature in the form of pegs that can be used for resistance band drills. However, this machine does lack additional anchor holes which could’ve been used for supporting beginners.
The price range is slightly cheaper than the brands mentioned above, but still on the slightly higher side for a home gym.
5. REP Commercial GHD
REP is one of the underdog brands that isn’t mentioned in a lot of big-time lists, but it definitely is a brand worth mentioning. It is a solid, hefty piece of equipment that is very durable and can withstand wear and tear from the most rigorous exercise routines.
The padding is of good but not very superior quality. The plates are wide enough, at least of an average width and the parts are partially assembled. For someone looking to start up a quick-workout gym at home, this piece comes at an affordable price and pretty much does the job, sans any fancy design or look.
There are a lot of equipments you might find in a gym, the usage or purpose of which might be a complete mystery to you. And while these machines might not seems too important, they do in fact have a lot of important uses and features that just need to be discovered. The GHD is one such underdog machine that is preferred and used by a lot of athletes who want better, faster and more visible results in their leg muscles. When the leg muscles develop, speed and agility develop consequently, making swift movement and quicker reflex time a possibility.