The glute-ham raise is a movement that can really help develop your Olympic lifts, as well as your squats and deadlift. The reason being that the majority of power for these lifts comes from the posterior chain (which is comprised of the calves, hamstrings and glutes, as well as other muscle groups). In fact, Canadian strength coach Charles Poliguin—a man that has designed workout programs for over 400 Olympians—says that approximately 40% of the power for sprinting and jumping comes from the glutes, 25% from the hamstrings and 5% from the calves. Thankfully, GHD raises effectively target all of these areas. When you return to the starting position in the movement, you drive your toes into the toe plate to engage your calves and generate force to help your body move upwards. The hamstrings are strengthened at both the knee and hip joint as it works its two primary functions, knee flexion and hip extension, simultaneously. This is exactly what’s happening when you perform everyday movements like running, squatting and jumping, which is why GHD raises are regularly employed by powerlifters, Olympic weightlifters and sprinters.
In addition to the weightlifting benefits that GHD raises can provide, they are also effective in preventing injuries, particularly hamstring strains, back injuries and ACL tears. Because GHD raises increase muscle mass and strength in the back, glutes and hamstrings, athletes are better able to withstand the compressive loads and disruptive forces that can occur in numerous sports and physical activities. Furthermore, this exercise puts relatively little stress on the lower back as there are minimal shearing forces involved. As such, GHD raises can be a valuable accessory exercise to deload the spine while still achieving a good training effect.