How To Do Glute Ham Raise Without a Machine (5 Ways)
The glute-ham raise or nordic curl is one of the hardest but most effective exercises at targeting the glutes and hamstrings. It is commonly used by powerlifters, weightlifters, and other sports athletes. It is traditionally performed on a purpose-built machine called the glute-ham developer or nordic curl machine.
But how can you do glute-ham raise without a machine? There are three alternative ways to perform the glute-ham raise or nordic curl exercise without the use of a machine. You can perform a glute-ham raise with a partner assist, using a Kaiji glute-ham strap, using a Barbell Strap, using a lat pulldown seat, or using a barbell by a power rack.
In this article, we will go through why the glute-ham raise is such a good exercise, why you should not let the absence of a glute-ham developer stop you from performing it, and provide you with effective setups to perform them equally as comfortably.
Why Perform A Glute-Ham Raise?
The glute-ham raise is a fantastic exercise worth incorporating into your routine. It builds up the muscles in the rear end i.e. the glutes and hamstrings. It also provides an effective way to engage your core while increasing glutes and hamstring strength, for improved performance and reduced injury risk for other lifts or sporting activities. It is also a killer exercise for building muscle mass around the hamstrings.
Regardless of how you perform it, you can manipulate the difficulty of the exercise by using a partner, by focusing only on the downward phase, by using a band for assistance or extra resistance, using a load, manipulating time under tension, and so on.
5 Other Ways To Doing The Glute Ham Raise
There are so many alternative ways of performing the glute-ham raise through improvising with different pieces of equipment. Here are the 5 other ways of doing the glute-ham raise:
- Glute-ham raise with a partner assist
- Using a Kaiju glute-ham strap
- Using a Barbell Strap by Repel Bullies
- Using a lat pulldown seat/ MacGyver glute-ham raise
- Using a barbell by a power rack
Glute-ham raise with a partner assist
The glute-ham raise with partner assist is one of the easiest ways to perform the glute-ham raise or nordic curl. The following is what you need to perform:
- A partner
- Mat or pad for knee cushioning
- Foam roller (recommended and optional)
The partner-assisted version requires you to start with you kneeling on a folded or rolled up mat or padding of some sort. Your partner is to be stationed behind you to hold your feet down to the floor. A foam roller would be a very useful but non-compulsory piece of equipment that can be placed underneath the ankles. This makes it more comfortable for you to have your partner hold you down.
Using a Kaiju Glute/Ham Strap
The Kaiju glute/ham strap is a product made by Spud Inc. It is a versatile and small piece of equipment that can quickly turn a bench press into a glute-ham raise station. The following is what you need to perform:
- Kaiju glute/ham strap
- Bench press
- A resistance band (recommended and optional)
The Kaiju glute/ham strap is attached to the lower portion of the bench press where the ankle and shins go through. You should face towards the J-hook side of the bench press and use a resistance band attached across the J-hook as a safety catch. If you are competent enough to perform a glute-ham raise for multiple reps, you may decide that you do not need the resistance band.
Using a Barbell Strap by Repel Bullies
Using a Barbell Strap by Repel Bullies is a great alternative to using a Kaiju glute/ham strap. If you have a Barbell Strap already, then you can use this for glute-ham raises. The following is what you need to perform:
- Barbell Strap by Repel Bullies
- Power cage with resistance band hooks/pins/anchors
- Mat or pad for knee cushioning
- A resistance band (optional)
Instead of having the Kaiju glute/ham strap to hold your ankle and shins down, it is the Barbell Strap, which is placed across the bottom portion of the squat rack where it is attached to the resistance band hooks/pins/anchors.
Similar to the partner-assisted glute-ham raise, you may want to use some padding or cushioning for the knees otherwise it will be extremely painful for your knees. You can also attach a resistance band as a form of assistance for the bottom portion of the glute-ham raise exercise. This can also be attached from behind you or in front of you.
Using a Lat Pulldown Seat/ MacGyver Glute-Ham Raise
A glute-ham raise using a lat pulldown, also know as a MacGyver glute-ham raise, is a simple variation of a glute-ham raise that can be performed by a common lat pulldown machine. It is important to remember that space behind the lat pulldown seat is needed so be mindful of your surroundings. The following is what you need to perform:
- Lat pulldown station
Quite simply to perform this variation, you should kneel on the seat facing away from the lat pulldown machine with your calves underneath the thigh pad that needs to be secured tight. The problem with this variation is that some lat pulldown machines do not provide a seat with a large enough surface area. It is also important to make sure that lat pulldown will not tip.
Using a barbell by a power rack
Using a barbell by a power rack to perform the glute-ham raise is also a common way to perform the glute-ham raise. It is also known as the floor glute-ham raise. The following is what you need to perform:
- Loaded barbell
- Mat or pad for knee cushioning
- Squat rack or power cage
- Barbell pad or towel for barbell (optional)
- Resistance band for assistance (optional)
You need to first load the barbell and have it secured on the J hooks on a low setting on the squat rack or power cage. You may decide to use a barbell pad or towel for cushioning the barbell so it is comfortable for your calves. Keep your knees padded with a mat or padding again in a similar way to the other variations. You can also put yourself through resistance bands that are wrapped around the squat rack as assistance if you cannot perform bodyweight glute-ham raises.
As you can see the glute-ham raise does not require you to have access to a purpose-built and expensive glute-ham developer. There are many alternatives that you can choose that may vary in terms of the amount of kit it requires and the cost of purchasing other pieces of kit. Choosing the most comfortable variation is going to be important for helping you adhere to the exercise regularly and train it well. Most people will find the Kaiju glute/ham strap method to be the easiest to set up and safest to perform.