(GHD) Glute-Ham Developer Sit-Ups Explained
Also known as the roman chair sit-up, the (GHD) glute-ham developer sit-up is quite easily the most effective abdominal and core strengthening workout, ever.
Despite speculative claims in popular media, the inadequate “crunch” only overtook the glute-ham developer sit-up because improper use of it gave rise to warnings that this type of sit-up could have a destructive impact on your back.
Why the GHD sit-up is so good
The movement, performed correctly, takes the trunk of the body from maximum extension to full flexion; a range of motion not seen in other abdominal workouts, like a flat-ground sit-up or crunch. The role of the abdominal muscles in this sit-up is powerful, as they stabilize the torso from too much extension.
The correct use of your hip flexors, which are meant to work in collaboration with the abdominal muscles during this workout, assures stronger abs – weak hip flexors guarantee weak abs, especially weak lower abs.
The importance of strong abs gives you a stronger midline stabilization, which affects all movements you’ll find in functional fitness and CrossFit.
We also suggest buying yourself a GHD machine, whether you’re gym/box owner or when building your home gym if you’re an intensity or competition focused athlete.
How to do a correct GHD sit-up
1. Sit with your feet set in the foot holds and your butt slightly past/off the cushions (i.e. away from your feet).
2. Keep your knees bent when sitting in this upright position (i.e. the start position).
3. Lower yourself backwards, keeping your spine neutral and your knees bent – you will only move to parallel if you’re a beginner.
4. If you are capable of moving past parallel, then go as low as you can while keeping a neutral spine or good posture (i.e. don’t hyperextend your spine). Wherever you reach beyond parallel is your full range of motion.
5. At this point, start coming back up and then sharply extend your legs straight in front of you until you’re back upright – this sharp extension of your knees and legs ensures the use of your hip flexors and it will avoid you using the wrong muscles and will avoid lower back pain.
6. There are several scaling-up options:
* When lowering yourself, you can extend your hands to above your head, to add some weight.
* That can further be scaled-up by touching the ground with your fingers as you lower yourself.
* You can scale-up again by doing multiple reps of it with alternating hands touching the ground.
Important to note
For beginners or new comers to the GHD sit-up, your range of movement should be restricted to someone standing alongside or behind you to catch/support you as you lower yourself down to parallel. For more seasoned athletes, you can do the full extension (and scaling-up options), but we caution against rampant bouts on the GHD machine – especially for “GHD newcomers” – it can side-line you for a week or more if overdone.
Do you use the GHD machine to do sit-ups? Have you been using it correctly and what results have you seen?