One of the most imposing machines in CrossFit and the one with the worst reputation.

Let's talk about the GHD and its use in CrossFit.

What is a GHD?

GHD stands for Glute Ham Developer, often used in CrossFit competitions.

One of the most voluminous machines in the box, it has a large base to make it safe, a padded to put the legs and two locks to immobilize the feet.

Benefits of the GHD

This apparatus is designed to develop the strength of the posterior chain, lumbar, gluteal and hamstring muscles. 

The exercises that can be performed on it are the famous accessories that help you compensate forces and prevent back injuries.


On the other hand, despite the clear benefits of using GHD, it has a bad reputation for being harmful, especially when doing sit ups. 

And in reality, as in most cases, the problem lies in the execution technique.

When the training pattern indicates high volumes and you work for time, you are more likely to lose control of the exercise and potentially hurt your back.

When the athlete performs the repetitions in a controlled manner, activating the core and without hyperextending the back, there is no risk of injury. That is why it seems to make more sense to do this exercise with sets and repetitions as strength training, and not so much in the middle of a WOD where time is short and repetitions can be very high.

GHD lesions

It is also recommended to train sit ups progressively: 

  • mastering sit-ups on the floor with abmat
  • sit-ups on the GHD to parallel
  • sit-ups on the GHD at full range, avoiding hyperextension and controlling the core.

Exercises that can be done on the GHD

GHD sit up

This is the most popular exercise performed with this machine. 

It consists of sitting on top of the padding, with the buttocks off the surface, starting with the knees slightly bent.

The athlete drops his upper body backwards and touches the ground or "the target" at a given height off the ground.

Again, the athlete should stand up and touch the foot lock.

GHD sit ups

The range of motion in GHD sit ups, unlike when performed on the floor, is wider and allows full extension of the spine while stretching the rectus abdominis.

This exercise performed correctly involves a lot of abdominal work due to the eccentric work together with an isometric contraction.

The rectus abdominis is forced to develop great strength in order to keep the torso straight and avoid hyperextension.

GHD sit-up to parallel

The CrossFit Level 1 course specifies that coaches should initially assist clients and shorten the range of motion in the GHD sit-up.

sit ups ghd parallel

A good progression would start with mastering sit ups on the floor with ab mat, before moving on to GHD where the range of motion and therefore the intensity of the exercise is considerably increased.

GHD sit-up with medicine ball

 It is one of the versions we have seen at CrossFit Games.

Use a medicine ball and use it to touch the start and end points of the course.

medicine ball ghd

Glute ham raises

This exercise is often done on the floor when a GHD is not available, but ideally it should be done with the machine.

The athlete, instead of getting into a seated position, places his knees at the edge of the padded area and his feet inside the locks.

The exercise consists of lowering the upper body while keeping the back neutral up to the point where the athlete can perform the recovery.

glute ham rises

In this movement the hamstrings work eccentrically, at the moment when the return to the initial position begins, the muscles work concentrically.

Glute ham raises with band

If the exercise is too difficult, in the same way that we use rubber bands to assist in pull ups, you can help yourself with an elastic band.

GHD gray band

Glute ham raises with weight

The more advanced option would be to hold a disc between your hands to add more intensity.

GHD hip extension

This exercise is performed by flexing in the opposite direction to the sit ups.

The athlete should be placed facing down, feet on the locks, quadriceps resting on the padded area and hip out to allow movement.

Start hanging and look for maximum hip extension without bending the back, trying to reach parallel with the floor or slightly higher.

GHD hip extension

In this case, the glutes and hamstrings are responsible for lifting the torso, while the back erector muscles and abdominals keep the back neutral during the exercise.

GHD hip extension with disc

Hold a disc between your hands and keep it close to your chest.

hip extension GHD

GHD hip extension with bar

The even more advanced option is performed with a bar on the trapezoids.

Sorenson hold

Starting from the final position of the previous exercise, hip extension, keep the body with the knees and hips extended.

The exercise works the same muscles as in the previous exercise, but isometrically.

sorenson hold GHD

The development of isometric back strength is a great advantage when performing weightlifting exercises. 

Sorenson weighted hold

As with the hip extension, you can hold weights to add more intensity.

Wods with GHD

If you want ideas of some of the WODs with GHD.

It is not common to perform GHD exercises within the WOD since there are only 1 or 2 machines for the entire class. It is usually used in Open classes and within strength training.

Hero Wod Jorge

For Time
30 GHD Sit-Ups
15 Squat Cleans (70/47 kg)
24 GHD Sit-Ups
12 Squat Cleans (70/47 kg)
18 GHD Sit-Ups
9 Squat Cleans (70/47 kg)
12 GHD Sit-Ups
6 Squat Cleans (70/47 kg)
6 GHD Sit-Ups
3 Squat Cleans (70/47 kg)

"Triple-G Chipper" - CrossFit Games 2017.

For time:
100 Pull-ups
80 GHD Sit-Ups
60 Pistols
40 calorie Row
20 Push Press with Dumbbells
Time Cap: 15 minutes

How much does a Glute Ham Developer cost?

At home we have the Fortified GHD from Kingsbox, which is priced at 766€.

On their website they have several models and you can get a discount by using the code Anabelpump.

If you are in the United States, the best material is from ROGUE.

velites discount code