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What Is The GHD Machine?

If you could take only one piece of gym equipment to a deserted island, what would it be? Initially, our Made 2 Move therapists said a barbell until they were told they couldn’t bring plates. So, the next best choice of course, was the GHD (Glute Ham Developer) machine. Why? The combination of the high functionality + the variety of exercises available allows you to work almost every muscle in the body.

The GHD machine, or glute ham developer, is incredible for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings (as the name implies). However, it can also be used to develop the entire posterior chain (muscles that make up the back of the body) and anterior chain (muscles that make up the front of the body). There are a variety of things you can do on a GHD machine, but many people avoid it. Below we will delve into the why’s of the GHD machine, the set up, and exercise variations you can easily perform on the GHD.

Why the GHD Machine?

  1. Teaches Proper Mechanics

The GHD machine is a great way to train proper mechanics. For example, with the GHD situp, it is essential to teach an athlete to fire from their legs to propel themselves up. For the glute ham raises, an athlete must fire from the glutes and hammies to propel them upwards, rather than arching their back.

All movements on the GHD machine can be done unweighted and then progress to adding weights once the athlete becomes proficient.

  1. Builds Confidence

While seemingly silly, being able to set up and use gym equipment is half the battle in a workout. Let’s be honest, unloading the barbell after deadlifts is more challenging than the actual lift. (Okay maybe not- but it is definitely WORK.)

At Made 2 Move, our therapists teach patients how to properly set up machines and utilize equipment. This gives our patients the confidence to walk into any gym and be able to do any movement- even the GHD machine. Having this confidence may also encourage them to reach for new PRs or try new equipment or movements they haven’t before!

  1. Variety of Movement

As mentioned earlier, the GHD machine can be used to train anything from the abdominals to the hamstrings to the back - so you’ll never get bored of it. Almost all of the movements performed on the GHD machine are full body in nature!

GHD Back Extension vs. GHD Hip Extension

Oftentimes, people confuse back extensions and hip extensions. Both are useful movements we utilize at Made 2 Move, but they require different set ups and target different muscle groups. So what is the difference between the two?

With the hip extension, the back stays static and the hip is dynamic as it generates the movement. This helps strengthen the hip extensor muscles, particularly the glutes and hamstrings.

With the back extension, the hip is static and the back is dynamic. You will round your back (yes, we said round your back!), allowing for spinal flexion and spinal extension that helps to strengthen all the muscles through the back.

Paradiso Crossfit out of Venice, CA and Industrious Crossfit out of Seattle, WA provide great instructional videos on the difference between the GHD back extension and GHD hip extension.

Other exercises to do on the GHD

Need a challenge? Hold a plate or med ball through these movements or perform them single leg. If your GHD machine has hooks, you could also perform banded hip extensions. If your GHD does not have hooks, you could loop the resistance band around a heavy dumbbell on the floor.

Here at Made 2 Move, we are big fans of the GHD machine and love to program it for rehab or performance training. We strategically choose exercises tailored to your needs and teach you how to properly utilize the GHD machine, so that you are able to use it outside of your physical therapy sessions (or if you’re ever stranded on a deserted island with only a GHD machine). Reach out to today to set up your initial consultation!


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