10 Glute Ham Raise Alternatives Works Better Than Machine

Updated on  February 26, 2023
Aditya Sahu

Aditya Sahu ‧ CPT & Head Coach

Aditya is an ACSM certified personal trainer  and exercise physiologist with more than 7 years training various people and transforming people's lives. He has written various publications for various sports and fitness magazines. 

For the longest time, people believed they could only do a glute-ham raise with a glute-ham raise machine, but that is not the case. There are a plethora of exercises available that allow you to target your glutes without any machine. 

The glute-ham raise is a posterior chain hypertrophy and strength exercise that helps work out your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes. Moreover, it targets your spinal erectors, which help improve posture. 

So if you want to enjoy all of these benefits, we suggest you try these fantastic glute-ham raise alternatives. 

Best Glute-Ham Raise Alternatives

1. Deadlift

First is one of the best glute-ham raise alternatives. Start by positioning your feet at least shoulder-width apart. Try to keep your feet pointed straight out or slightly angled. Stand beside the bar and keep only a small distance between them. 

Next, brace your abdominal muscles. This will help stabilize them. While doing knee flexion, squat down and hold the bar with a firm, overhand grip. Keep your hips lower than your shoulders.

Lift the bar by pushing upwards and exhale. Do not bend your arms. Moreover, ensure your hips are not raised first and your trunk later. This allows your back to be rounded, something you certainly want to avoid during a glute-ham raise exercise. 

When you lift the bar, make sure it reaches your thighs. Keep your back straight and avoid arching back to elevate the bar. Return to the original position and repeat the reps.

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

This exercise targets your hamstrings, quadriceps, and glutes and helps strengthen your lower back muscles. Your glute-ham raises and helps build muscle mass and boost your metabolism. 

2. Stiff Leg Deadlift

Choose a weight that fits your expertise. Stand near the barbell, bend down and hold it with a neutral or overhand grip. Keep your posture straight and your feet shoulder-width apart. Your hips should be directly above your shoulder. 

Bring the bar up to your thighs, hold the position for a moment, and then bring it down. Remember not to touch the ground and keep the barbell over your toes. While doing this, you should feel the weight in your heels. 

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

The main benefit of this glute-ham raise is that it strengthens your posterior chain. It also enhances your core and your posture. Moreover, it improves your leg press, running abilities, and jumping. 

3. Hex Bar Deadlift

This is one of the best glute-ham raise alternatives out there. Start by loading the hex bar with an appropriate weight. Start with no weight if you are new to this exercise. 

Stand inside the hex bar and keep your feet slightly apart. Bend at your knees and your hips and hold the bar's handles. Keep your back flat, and your hips slightly pushed out. This helps create tension in your hamstrings. 

Bring the hex bar up and allow your hip a full extension by squeezing your glutes. Hold this position for a moment, and then bring the hex bar down. While returning to the original position, keep your chest open and your back flat. 

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

Since this puts less pressure on the lumbar spine than most other deadlifts, it is great for slightly older people who want to build muscle. 

4. Single-Leg Deadlift

Choose a kettlebell or a dumbbell and hold it in one hand. Stand straight with your feet slightly apart. Lean forward, and place all your weight on your right leg. Extend your left leg behind you until it is parallel to the floor. 

Keep pushing your body forward until you form a T shape. At this point, your arms should be extended while holding the kettlebell or dumbbell. After a second or two, bend your right leg and bring your extended leg down. 

After completing one full set, switch legs and repeat the steps with the other leg. If you are a beginner, you can also modify this glute-ham raise alternative by using no weights. 

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

This helps improve your movement skills and your body's coordination. It also helps strengthen your lower back.

5. Bulgarian Split Squat

Stand at least 3 feet away from a flat bench. This glute-ham raise exercise requires a lot of balance, so keep your back straight. 

Start by resting your left foot on the bench. Touch the bench with your toes curled inwards and the back of your foot facing outward. You can have flat or tucked toes, depending on your comfort and preference.

While keeping your torso tight and your hips squared, lower your left leg and try touching the floor. The front knee should make a 90-degree or higher angle, depending on your mobility and fitness level. 

But regardless of how further down you go, just make sure not to allow your knee to cave inward. Moreover, don't shift forward on your toes. Once you are done, keep your knees bent slightly and bring your body up and repeat the rep with the opposite leg. 

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

This exercise helps create a strong posterior chain. It also allows you to go lower and hence emphasize your quads. You also target your glutes and your inner thighs. You also work out your hamstrings to help stabilize your body. 

6. Cable Pull Through

This is one of the most effective glute-ham alternatives using a cable pulley machine and involves hip extension. Stand beside the machine and attach a rope handle to it. If you are a beginner, lower the pulley apparatus to a lower setting. 

Stand with your back facing the machine and bend down. Do a hip extension and bend your knees slightly. Grab the rope attachment from between your legs. This is your starting position.

Next, take a few steps forward. This allows the machine to lift the weights off the rack. Keep your feet straight or slightly and your upper body aligned.

Make a slight bend in your knee joint, push your hips back towards the machine and keep your spine neutral. This will put a nice stretch on your hamstrings. 

Pull the rope in front of your thighs, hold this position, and return to the original position. Squeeze and activate your glutes when you are at the top of the position. 

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

This exercise helps promote hypertrophy and muscle growth. A slight bend in the knee joint also helps engage core muscles.

7. Nordic Hamstring Curl

This is one of the hardest and most challenging glute-ham raise alternatives. It requires an advanced fitness level and a lot of balance. 

Start by anchoring your lower legs underneath an immovable piece or underneath a smith machine. This will stabilize your body. Keep your ankles and feet aligned with your knees and shoulders directly above the hips.

Keep your arms at your sides, tuck your pelvis and activate your glutes and hamstrings. 

While keeping a straight back, lower yourself towards the ground and maintain a straight line from your head to your knees. Keep going lower all the way down or as far as you can. 

Next, return to the original position by squeezing your hamstrings. This will help you pull your body back to starting position. Make sure to keep a straight line while bringing your body up. 

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

This glute-ham workout helps build your hamstring muscles and improves muscle hypertrophy. Moreover, it activates all three muscle groups in your hamstrings, including the semimembranosus, the semitendinosus, and the biceps femoris. Additionally, it can decrease your risk of injury. 

8. Stability Ball Curl

Place a mat on the floor and a stability ball near your feet. Lie with your back on the mat, and place both your heels on the ball. Distance your feet with your toes pointing to the ceiling. Keep a hip-width distance between your feet. This is your starting position.

Flatten your lower back by contracting your core muscles. Extend your arms and keep your palms facing the floor. Press your hips upwards in a hip thrust, exhale and contract your glutes. Press your lower legs into the stability ball and raise your hips. Continue pressing upwards until your hips and legs form a straight line, and your legs and torso are aligned. 

Hold the upward phase for a moment. Next, inhale and start lowering your body back to the original position. Repeat the reps. If you want to challenge yourself, you can decrease the distance between your feet and repeat the steps. 

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

This is a challenging exercise, but it guarantees a lot of benefits. Since your body must maintain balance, it engages more of your core muscles.

9. Barbell Hip Thrust

One of the most beneficial glute-ham raise exercises, the barbell hip thrust, is your gateway to good mornings.

Choose a barbell with the appropriate weight and place it next to a flat bench. Sit on the floor with your legs underneath the handle of the barbell. The barbell should rest in the crease of your hips. 

Maintain contact with the bench so that your upper body touches the corner of the bench. Next, lift your hips off the ground, rotate your shoulders outwards and balance your body’s weight equally on both feet. 

Squeeze your glutes and push your feet slowly into the ground to create an upward movement. Continue pushing until you achieve a full hip extension. Engage your core and tuck your pelvis at the top. Keep your shins vertical. 

At the top, maintain a straight line. Moreover, make sure your legs make a 90-degree angle. Hold the position for a few seconds. Now, begin the downward movement and return to the starting position by hinging from your hips. At the end of one rep, your torso will create a 45-degree angle with the ground. 

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

Hip thrusts, when done right, can inspire a strong posterior chain. The barbell hip thrusts help build strength and size in your glutes. It also helps work out muscles in your joints. 

10. Kettlebell Swing

The kettlebell swing is one of the best lower body exercises that target your hip adductors.

Stand tall with your back aligned with your shoulders at the starting position. Grip the kettlebell, keep your arms long and squeeze your shoulder blades together. This helps engage your core.

Keep your feet hip-width and lower your hips down and back towards the wall behind you. Lean forward and shift your entire body weight onto the heels by doing a knee and hip flexion.

Now, contract your core, squeeze your glutes and explode through your hips to bring the kettlebell towards your quads. You should go for your chest height and keep your arms fully extended while keeping the knees bent.

Once you have reached the finishing position, allow the kettlebell to descend on its own and let its weight do the most work. Load your glutes and hamstrings, hinge at your hips, and shift your weight back into your heels. 

Next, allow the kettlebell to ride back between your legs as you complete a rep.

Benefits Of This Glute-Ham Raise Alternative

Kettlebell swings help enhance hamstring strength. It also helps with your balance and coordination. It also ensures a stronger posterior chain.


What Is A Glute-Ham Raise Machine, And What Does It Do?

A glute-ham raise machine increases the strength along the entire posterior chain. It also helps develop glute and hamstring hypertrophy. A glute-ham machine is readily available at gyms and allows for a great glute exercise.

Glute-Ham Developer Machine

A glute-ham developer machine allows you to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings while doing sit-ups and back extensions. 

Do Glute-Ham Raises Build Glutes?

The glute-ham raise helps build your strength without any heavy weights. It can also complement any bodyweight exercise that targets your lower body.

What Is The Posterior Chain?

The posterior chain is situated at the backside of the body. It refers to the 3 different kinds of muscles on your back. These include the glutes, the hamstrings, and the lower back.

Posterior chain exercise allows you to contract and lengthen your muscles in a chain-like manner, thus improving posture and balance. Moreover, it also enhances posterior chain strength. 

Why Is My Posterior Chain So Tight, And How Can Glute-Ham Raise Help Fix The Problem?

For most people, a posterior chain results from a lack of exercise or workout. To improve flexibility in your posterior chain, you have to start by performing some basic stretches and then moving on to other hamstring exercises.

Exercises like Romanian deadlifts, Nordic curls, hypertrophy exercise, and cable pull-throughs also help with an improved posterior chain.

Reverse Hyperextension Vs. Glute-Ham Raises - Do They Target All The Same Muscles?

Both target the same muscles. A reverse hyperextension machine provides spinal decompression and gives your posterior chain power. Glute-ham raises, on the other hand, make for a great hypertrophy exercise. It enhances the strength in your butt muscles and your glute muscles.

Although they primarily target the same muscles, they are used in different programs.

Deadlift Vs. Romanian Deadlift-Why Is Romanian Deadlift Better?

Many people are confused between the two popular deadlift variations: the traditional and Romanian deadlift.

The Romanian deadlift is different from the traditional one because the former starts from standing and targets more of your hamstrings and glutes. On the other hand, the deadlift's starting position is the bottom, and it engages more of your mid-back. 

Although the deadlift allows you to lift more weight, the Romanian deadlift offers more glute engagement. 

What Is The Importance Of A Firm Standing Position For All Glute-Ham Raises?

A firm standing position and a good posture helps reduce back pain and any headaches you may experience throughout the day. It also ensures less tension in your neck and shoulders. 

For any great exercise, you have to follow a few simple steps. Here are some.

  • Always maintain a proper posture
  • Keep a neutral spine
  • Always do so slowly when you have to hinge forward or perform knee flexion.
  • Maintain a constant hip-width throughout.

Why Should You Avoid Bringing Your Hips Forward While Doing Glute-Ham Raises?

Experts suggest you avoid bringing your hips forward during glute-ham raises, as it disrupts alignment with your shoulder. The only time when you should do this is during a hip thrust.

What Are The Benefits Of Hip Thrusts

Whether doing a Nordic hamstring curl or cable pull-throughs, hip thrusts are part of all glute-ham raises. Hip thrusts, when done rightly, help with training hip extension. They are also an integral part of all exercises involving a leg curl.

Hip thrusts also help strengthen muscles in your buttocks, quadriceps, and hips. Moreover, they help build bone density, especially in the femur bones.

Try Out These Other Glute-Ham Raise Exercises - Your Gateway To Good Mornings

When you wake up, the first thing you should do is do a small workout. This ensures you can enjoy healthy and good mornings that brighten up the rest of your day. Many people do only hamstring exercises, but that is not enough. You need to spice up your routine a bit.

Apart from the ones mentioned above, you can also do Nordic hamstring curls, doorway pull-up bar, Nordic curl, or Romanian deadlift. All of them help you in maintaining proper posture and building body strength.


A Glute-ham raise machine allows for ease and comfort, but it is not the only way to work out your posterior chain muscles. Although there is no 'one best exercise' for everyone, you can make a personalized routine by combining the glute-ham raise alternatives you find most convenient.

But regardless of which exercise you are doing, whether it's a Nordic hamstring curl, kettlebell swings, Romanian deadlifts, leg curl, or Nordic curls, the vital thing is always to prioritize a stable and steady standing position. Only then can you guarantee happy and good mornings for yourself every day. 

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