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You may have seen this used to do situps only or standing idly in the corner of the gym gathering dust and thought it’s best to leave it alone.
But the often-ignored GHD machine is an incredible piece of equipment that will help you strengthen the muscle groups on the backside of your body (your posterior chain). It does so while also assisting in developing your spine and pelvic stability.
If you’d like to strengthen your core and more, we’ve got the low down on the GHD machine. We tested and reviewed some of the top GHD machines from the leading brands to help you find the best one for you and your fitness needs.
What is a GHD Machine?
GHD is short for “Glute Ham Developer”. It’s a type of machine that—yes, you guessed it— develops your glutes and hamstrings. This intimidating-looking fitness equipment strengthens these muscle groups (and more) by using a different range of motions.
The GHD machine uses a combination of your body weight, gravity, and its parts to strengthen your posterior chain.
Using the GHD is a lot less difficult than you may think. You adjust and mount the machine, positioning your feet in the foot pads and placing your feet against the foot plate. Your knees should rest against or hit the middle of the support pad.
Sounds simple, right? Continue reading as we’ll delve into the benefits of using this fine piece of equipment and help you pick the best one to give your body a great workout.
Note: You may want to look at getting gym gloves, especially if you’re a beginner GHD user. They can offer a better grip and protect your hands.
Benefits of Using a GHD Machine
As simple as the GHD machine sounds, it does more than develop your glutes and hamstrings. Let’s take a look at some of the benefits of using the glute hamstring developer.
We found that we could perform an array of effective workouts with the GHD machine. We could do anything from back extensions to hip extensions.
The glute hamstring developer develops your calves, core, and quads. The GHD may not do it all, but it excels at the various exercises you can perform with it.
We must add that a small, floor-based GHD machine won’t have the same versatility as a full-sized GHD machine.
Improve Back Strength
Doing simple but effective GHD sit-ups helps to improve your back strength. You’ll enjoy a larger range of motion than a traditional sit-up with this machine and possibly improve your back strength better than a traditional sit-up.
Develop Glutes and Hamstrings
As indicated by its name, the glute ham developer develops your glutes and hamstrings. It achieves this by activating your muscles during a glute ham raise (GHR).
Strengthens Posterior Chain
Due to our often sedentary lifestyles and remote work, it’s easy to neglect exercise and the ergonomics of our work arrangements. This can negatively affect the muscles found on the backsides of our bodies. These muscles are our posterior chain.
The GHD machine helped us strengthen our posterior chain during testing, so we are not at risk of injury. We found that sites of injury could be our hips, knees, and lower back.
Strengthens Core and Improves Stability
Strengthening your core goes beyond aiming to look great topless or in a bikini. It helps strengthen and stabilize your midsection, alleviating the risk of injuring oneself when walking or bending down.
Improves Body Awareness
Kinetic awareness (kinesthesia), also known as body awareness, refers to how in-tune you are with your body. It also speaks to how aware you are of the space your body occupies.
By focusing on the movements we were making and carefully isolating parts of our body on glute ham machines, we felt more connected to our body.
Best GHD Machine Buying Guide
We understand that GHD machines can be quite expensive, but we believe you can find one that offers great value for money and gets the job done.
Here are a few crucial things to look for while looking for a GHD machine for your at-home gym.
It goes without saying that you want a sturdy glute ham developer. No one wants to be in the middle of a back extension and find themselves toppling forwards, and a sturdy glute ham developer makes it easily avoidable.
Plus, we believe the bearing system must be durable and allow you to make quick and easy height adjustments to the foot plate of your GHD machine.
We recommend that you look for one made out of heavy-duty steel and good quality so you can focus on performing GHD exercises.
Furnishing a home gym can be expensive; that’s why consumers opt for machines at an affordable price point. Thanks to lots of competition in the market, we discovered that you can find something that suits your pockets.
This fine piece of equipment allowed us to shred our core and improve posterior strength. We find that this goes beyond regular sit-ups or glute ham raises (no offense).
Speaking of smaller GHDs that are floor-based, you may want to consider getting one if you don’t have much space in your home gym, as we found out. Larger, full-sized glute ham developers can take up a considerable amount of space, so keep this in mind when you go GHD-shopping.
5 Best GHD Machines
Whether you’re looking for a floor-based GHD machine or an expansive full-sized one for your home gym, here are our top five tried and tested GHDs that we got the chance to try out.
Rogue Floor Glute
- Best for: Compact
- Type: Floor GHD
- Weight capacity: Unspecified
- Price: $$
Don’t let the size of this GHD machine fool you. Though it appears small, it is sturdy. We needed an extra pair of hands to help us wheel it around our gym.
We found it to be quite heavy, thanks to its high-quality steel. But that’s what you’d expect from any GHD (yes, even floor-based ones).
While you may not get a huge range of motion on the Rogue Floor Glute, we loved doing glute ham raises on this glute ham developer. It allowed for a good contraction in our hamstrings and felt good on our joints, too.
Plus, we also think it’s great you’re looking for a compact GHD. This Rogue GHD machine will meet your small space needs. Thanks to its 62” x 64” footprint, we could conveniently store this sleek GHD almost anywhere in our gym.
We liked how Rogue Fitness offers a limited lifetime warranty on both the structural welds and frames of their machines. So you can rest assured that this floor-based GHD was crafted with Rogue’s renowned quality.
On the other hand, the wheels, upholstery, and grips have a 90-day warranty. This appears to be quite low to us, especially compared to the rest of the parts. However, this was not too much of a concern given the overall quality of the machine.
Rogue Monster Swing Arm GHD
- Best for: Premium
- Type: Full-size
- Weight capacity: Unspecified
- Price: $$$
This top-notch Rogue GHD is best suited for those looking to spare no expense when it comes to their home gym. We found the Rogue Monster Swing Arm GHD to be an incredibly versatile piece when we compared it to the previously mentioned Rogue Floor Glute.
You can do anything from hip extensions to Russian twists on this full-sized glute ham developer. But, we must point out that while this may not take up a sizable amount of floor space — we’re talking about 34”x62” here — we found it is quite heavy at 250 lbs.
Thankfully, Rogue Fitness ships these fully assembled, so you won’t struggle to set this up.
Back to the floor space: It may not sound like much, but we think it can be the difference between a cramped-up home gym and a comfortable one. We must add that athletes and more experienced gym-goers will be more accustomed to this GHD-type.
What may sound like “much” is the price — at almost double the price of other GHDs, the Rogue Monster Swing Arm GHD certainly comes with a premium price tag.
This tank of a GHD has premium written all over it, though. We appreciated the attention to detail on this fine piece of equipment. It’s constructed of quality steel and has a cool black finish.
We liked that the Rogue Monster Swing Arm GHD sports monster hip pads as it is plusher and has thicker padding than others. We felt snug and secure when placing our feet along the foot pads and resting them on the steel foot plates.
As customary with Rogue’s fitness equipment, you’ll enjoy using this monster of a machine for a long time thanks to the limited lifetime warranty on the structural welds and frames. After testing it, we can see why it is the standard in Crossfit gyms worldwide.
Note: Rogue can void the warranty if the product has been damaged owing to a user’s negligent or faulty usage, handling or storage. Alterations and faulty maintenance are included.
- Best for: Beginner/Budget
- Type: Muti-Sport Roman Chair
- Weight capacity: 330 lbs
- Price: $
While technically a roman chair (and multi-functional exercise bench), we think the CETOOM Multi-Functional Bench is perfect for a beginner looking to ease into GHD movements and exercises.
This affordable machine allows you to strengthen your lower back and develop your glutes and hamstrings simultaneously, which we discovered while testing it out. We liked that its support pads were relatively thick and allowed us to perform reverse hypers comfortably.
At only 31 lbs, we found it easy to move around and think this is a great lightweight intro to GHDs. And while it may not offer plenty of movement of, say, the Rogue Monster Swing Arm GHD, we appreciated its simplicity and ease of use.
Your CETOOM Multi-Functional Bench will come with a 12-month product warranty. It was a nice touch that we enjoyed slight peace of mind over, though we wish it were longer.
- Best for: Affordable
- Type: Roman Chair
- Weight capacity: 250 lbs
- Price: $
The Sunny Health & Fitness SF-BH6629 45 Degree Hyperextension Roman Chair is another relatively affordable Roman Chair that we found we can use as a GHD.
We liked how we could enjoy multipurpose workouts on this sturdy machine that chisels our core and strengthens our lower body. This affordable hyperextension Roman Chair comes in handy for those seeking foam hip support pads and foam rollers for a comfortable yet effective workout.
We loved that if you’re living in a smaller space, this equipment can be easily folded away for later use, as one of us found out. With the Sunny Health & Fitness Hyperextension Roman Chair, you don’t have to break the bank looking for a simple glute ham developer.
You won’t sacrifice a warranty either, with a 3-year limited warranty on the structural frame and 6 months on the other parts and components. A perk that we appreciated.
Note: Kindly note that this warranty only applies to the U.S. market.
Rogue Abram GHD 2.0
- Best for: Athletes
- Type: Compact full-size GHD
- Weight capacity: Unspecified
- Price: $$
This force of a glute ham developer commands a footprint of 73″ x 44-1/2″ and has an impressive 10 adjustable slots, allowing us to optimize our strength training.
When we tested it out, we took the opportunity to train our spinal erectors in one of the safest ways with this GHD. Its solid steel frame kept us secure while we went through a complete full range of strengthening workouts to target our core muscles and whole body.
Based on its compact yet sturdy makeup, we could tell that the Rogue Abram GHD 2.0 is suited for both a commercial gym and home use. Athletes and more professional gym-goers will be more likely used to this type of GHD.
We noticed that the steel foot plate where we placed our feet was thick and felt comfortable and would not give way when pressure was applied. Despite its relatively compact size, we appreciated that we could use its wheels and handles to easily move it around our home gym.
Like all of Rogue’s premium fitness equipment, the Rogue Abram GHD 2.0 comes with a limited lifetime warranty on both its structural welds and frames. We found this to be sufficient, given its excellent craftsmanship.
We did not like that the upholstery and grips only had a 90-day warranty; however, this was not much of a concern.
GHD Machines Exercises and Tips
Despite what you may have seen at the local gym, there are different exercises you can do on a GHD machine. For this reason, we think the glute ham developer is a versatile piece of equipment.
Before you try out various GHD exercises on your glute ham developer, look at these tips and safety measures we put together while we tested them to keep you in tip-top shape.
- Keep your torso straight when in starting position with hip and back extensions. Avoid rounding your back. Maintaining a neutral spine can help you avoid straining your lower back.
- If it’s your first time using a GHD machine, ask a trainer at your local gym to assist you before purchasing one for home use. Alternatively, we recommend that you consider getting someone you know is knowledgeable to spot you at home.
- Ensure you correctly place your feet, knees, hips, and arms on the parts of your glute ham developer. Your knees should sit properly against the support pad, your hips laid atop, and your feet should be secure along the foot pads (with your feet firmly planted on the foot plates).
- Like any piece of equipment, we want you to get the most value for your buck. But we don’t recommend that you sacrifice quality for price when shopping for GHDs. Markers of a good quality GHD are parts that have a durable vinyl cover, thick padding, and a sturdy steel construction.
- Focus on keeping the correct form vs. rushing your workouts. We think that while hip and back extensions are great for resistance work, you don’t want to hurt yourself rushing through reps.
We recommend that you follow these safety precautions to achieve outstanding results strengthening your posterior chain with any of these GHD exercises shown below.
- Glute ham raise
- Reverse hyperextensions
- GHD hip extension
- GHD back extension
- Hip and back extension
- Full range sit-up with medicine ball
- Sorenson hold
- Sit-up to parallel
- GHD sit-up
- Stretch your hip flexors
Best GHD Machine Summary
The often misunderstood and misused GHD is an excellent tool for strengthening your posterior chain. While we thought it may look like some strange contraption, we discovered the glute ham developer is versatile in its workouts and form.
We admit that GHDs can be quite pricey, so you may want to consider a more affordable alternative like a Roman Chair.
Nadia is a USA-HomeGym.com Senior Editor with 15 years+ experience in the health, supplement and nutrition niches. Nadia became a health & fitness evangelist after rebuilding her gut health in 2008 using the Weston A. Price method. She developed a Facebook group that grew to more than 15,000 members sharing information on diet for allergy reduction, eczema & psoriasis cessation. Since 2011, Nadia has been an avid stair climber, achieving race times in the top 5% of her age group and maintaining average times of 3’40 – 3’55 minutes per 12 floors.