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Create the Ultimate Home Gym Setup With the Best GHD Machines

Give this often forgotten piece of equipment its due and upgrade your training for a stronger posterior chain.

physical athlete exercising with glute ham developer
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Not every piece of fitness equipment is easily recognizable. While you're probably quick to identify a bench press or squat rack when you walk into a training center, there's always one piece of equipment that can leave you stumped, at least from a naming perspective.

One piece that's more recognizable by shape than label is the Glute Ham Developer, or GHD machine as it's more commonly known. This often overlooked piece of equipment can be a fantastic way to train your posterior chain for better performance in more popular lifts like the squat and deadlift. GHD machines can also be a great addition to any serious home gym setup, too, if you know what you're signing up for.

What Does a GHD Machine Target?

The main areas of focus when using a GHD machine are right in the name — glutes and hamstrings. Because of the body positioning, you're able to stretch and strengthen these difficult components while also developing a more stable spine and pelvis. These all combine for a more refined posterior chain, which can lend itself to better performance in more trackable exercises, namely, the deadlift and barbell squat.

Outside of the glutes and hamstrings, GHD machines can be a versatile tool for core strength and ab workouts as well. The secured footing and thick thigh pads allow you to hyperextend past 0 degrees for a deeper stretch across your midsection, promoting increased range of motion that you wouldn't achieve with a normal seated or floor crunch.

What to Consider When Choosing a GHD Machine

As with any piece of fitness equipment, GHD machines take some pre-purchase investigating before you decide to add one to your home gym setup. While the cost is always a factor — serious GHD machines can reach over $1,000 — you should also consider your spacial limitations, as well as where you plan to set this piece of effective training equipment.

Space

GHD machines are a serious piece of equipment, and thus, can easily take up a good chunk of space. Most GHD machines vary between 3–4 feet in width and can reach lengths over 6 feet without any foldability or convenient storage features. If you're serious about adding a GHD machine to your garage gym, I'd recommend 32 square feet of free space. This will allow for enough room to swing your upper body through GHD extensions and give you enough headroom to complete GHD sit-ups as well. If you plan on using a medicine ball or other tool for resistance training, think about how much clearance you'll need to complete these movements.

Weight

Like any serious piece of fitness equipment, GHD machines are by no means light. To maintain a stable footing during use, many of the GHD machines out there employ heavy-grade steel in their profiles, making for a structure that easily weighs hundreds of pounds. Also, you'll need to add your bodyweight to the total in-use weight, which might be a little much for an elevated floor to handle. For this reason, I recommend storing your GHD machine at the ground level to prevent any potential structural damage to your humble abode.

GHD vs. Reverse Hyper vs. Nordic Curls

GHD machines are plenty versatile, but there are a handful of other exercises that resemble a GHD workout as well. The two most popular modalities closest to GHD exercises are reverse hypers and nordic curls. If you're not up to speed on the varying needs of each modality, you could wind up with a piece of equipment that's ill-suited for your intended training needs.

GHD machines target the glutes and hamstrings by elevating your body and allowing for a flexion at the hips. The GHD machine engages both glutes and the lumbar erector through a bigger range of motion than other exercise equipment.

Reverse hypers also showcase flexion at the hip, but instead call for you to move your lower body to achieve a similar angle — you move your upper body when on a GHD machine. Often paired with weight plates for added resistance, reverse hypers can be a great physical therapy tool to help build that lower back flexion and improve hamstring strength.

Nordic curls don't showcase the same range of motion as GHS machines or reverse hypers, but they're still a more than effective modality for targeting hamstring health. To complete a Nordic curl, you place your feet in the secured stirrups and place your entire bodyweight on the hamstrings as you lower your upper body toward the floor. Benches designed for Nordic curls often feature a body-length pad to help catch you in case of hamstring fatigue, and as a result, don't allow for the same hip flexion you'd see in other fitness equipment.

How We Tested

Now, my current living situation doesn't allow for multiple GHD machines to take up residence in my living room or basement, but thankfully, I've had the pleasure of testing a number of these included picks across my multiple years of strength training experience. I've come to understand the features required of a top-tier rig, including ample thigh padding, a secure footplate, easy adjustability and more. Also, it's nice when a GHD machine includes other training opportunities like banded exercises, which I've noted in my roundup below.

Now, let's shed light on this often forgotten, under-utilized piece of equipment and get into the best GHD machines on the market right now.

Titan Fitness Glute and Hamstring H-PND Combo

BEST OVERALL GHD MACHINE
Titan Fitness Glute and Hamstring H-PND Combo
titan.fitness
$699.99

  • Allows for both GHD exercises and reverse hyper movements

  • Toe plate and ankle supports can be difficult to adjust at times

This GHD machine from Titan Fitness takes the top spot not just because of the added reverse hyper inclusion, but also from the fact that this is one of the most secure GHDs I’ve ever trained on. The durable, high-quality steel frame barely moves when getting in and out of the stirrups, providing that reassurance you want when suspended in the air. The thigh pads are comfortable yet durable enough for extended use, and the reverse hyper hinges easily for worthwhile training. While the footplate can stick in place at times, making adjustments more difficult, once you find the proper settings, this is one piece of fitness equipment that’s ready to go for the long haul.

Force USA Commercial Glute Ham Raise Developer

BEST UPGRADE GHD MACHINE
Force USA Commercial Glute Ham Raise Developer
forceusa.com
$799.99

  • Included band pegs allow for effective resistance training

  • Thinner toe plate might not be able to withstand more intense push-offs

If you really want to boost your at-home gym, this overbuilt GHD could be the ticket. With a weight rating of 1,300 pounds, the Commercial Glute Ham Raise Developer is a behemoth of a fitness tool. I admire the DuraCore High-Density Padding for its plush comfort against the skin without feeling too squishy, and the VorTex Heavy-Duty Rip-Stop Vinyl Upholstery is top-notch, too. Plus, the band pegs at the front of the machine allow you to employ resistance bands for even more intense training sessions. Just don’t go hog wild on the footplate, however. I often found the thinner metal to be less secure than others on this list, which gave me hesitation in pushing through some more strenuous GHD raises.

TDS Glute Ham Machine

BEST BUDGET GHD MACHINE
TDS Adjustable Glute and Ham Developer
amazon.com
$469.95

  • 11-gauge steel construction is durable enough for plenty of intense training

  • Individualized thigh pads can be more difficult to achieve that comfortable sitting within the machine

For those wanting a wider footplate for secure footing mid-exercise — or those just looking to save a Benjamin or two — I recommend this Glute and Ham Developer from TDS. The Extra-wide diamond toe plate allows for wider stances in the machine, which can be great for those with wider hips. Additionally, at just 160 pounds, this machine can be more maneuverable than other heavier equipment, albeit without the added convenience of wheels.

One thing to note, though, about the TDS Glute and Ham Developer is the thigh padding. The pads feature a common separate profile, but the individual thigh pads are slimmer than most. This was fine for my training needs, but might feel uncomfortable for larger athletes — you don’t want to feel like you’re falling off the sides when in the midst of a GHD sit-up.

Rep Fitness V2 GHD

MOST ADJUSTABLE GHD MACHINE
Rep Fitness V2 GHD
amazon.com
$599.99

  • Footplate bearing system allows for horizontal and vertical adjustments for that ideal positioning

  • band pegs are extended further than the thigh pads, which might take some getting used to in resistance training modalities

For those whose home gym caters to multiple athletes, this can be a great GHD machine to add to your lineup. The footplate bearing system adjusts easily for horizontal and vertical precision, and I especially liked the angled bottom stirrups which increased security during downward-facing movements like GHD raises. There are even band pegs at the front for resistance training, although I would recommend taking the time to fine-tune your band placement before immediately jumping into a banded workout. Because the pegs aren’t as extended as the ForceUSA option, they can fall awkwardly across the chest or back if you’re not careful, which can place tension in inopportune areas and lead to a strenuous yet less effective session.

Vulcan Strength Glute Ham Developer/Raise

MOST DURABLE GHD MACHINE
Vulcan Strength Glute Ham Developer/Raise
vulcanstrength.com
$599.99

  • Front thigh pads and rollers utilize the same heavy-duty vinyl composite for improved durability

  • Thigh pads sit wider than the footplate, which can create a closer stance for those with wider hips

Vulcan Strength has been a favorite of mine for a while, producing exceptional fitness equipment that rivals many of the top brands. I found this Glute Ham Developer/Raise to be a sturdy, premium addition to any gym environment thanks to the high-quality steel construction and ample thigh padding. The side handles are also a nice touch, providing enough stability post-workout without protruding so far to cause a distraction. The only thing to note, though, is that the thigh padding is wider than the footplate. This created a closed, narrow stance in my training, which might not feel as comfortable to some athletes. Still, if you want a durable, well-built piece of machinery, this is seriously worth considering for your at-home setup.

Rogue Abram GHD 2.0

BEST WHEELED GHD MACHINE
Rogue Abram GHD 2.0
roguefitness.com
$740.00

  • 11-gauge steel tubing promotes exceptional durability

  • Foot plate locking mechanism isn't the most secure at times, which can be catastrophic if not fully secured

GHD machines are plenty effective at targeting hamstrings and other muscle areas, but they’re not the most mobile pieces of fitness equipment out there. Any GHD machine that features wheels for added convenience is a plus, but the Abram GHD 2.0 from Rogue Fitness takes the cake due to its downright impressive build quality. The 11-gauge steel is plenty durable for any training needs, and I enjoyed the ample padding found in the thighs. While the footplate locking mechanism takes some playing with — you need to be sure your pin is locked in before engaging in training — if you have some extra coin to spend, you can’t go wrong with this wheeled equipment that’s perfect for staking a claim in your home gym setup.

Westside Scout Hyper

BEST REVERSE HYPER MACHINE
Westside Barbell Scout Hyper
roguefitness.com
$475.00
$425.00 (11% off)

  • Convenient fold-up design allows you store this machine easily or take it on the go

  • Collars are smaller than other reverse hypers out there, so don't expect to stack with a lot of plates

Reverse hypers can be an effective way to train and strengthen your hips and thighs, and when thinking about the best reverse hyper machines out there, there’s no better pick than the originator. Thanks to the late, great Louie Simmons, the reverse hyper has rightfully gathered attention, and the Scout Hyper can be the perfect addition to any gym to unlock this beneficial training routine. A foldable design makes the Scout Hyper easy to store, and the plate pins can house a reasonable amount of weight for added resistance. While folding up and toting this effective fitness equipment can be a burden at times, if you want to add reverse hyper movements to your regimen, this is a great place to start.

The Tib Bar Guy Nordic Weight Bench

BEST NORDIC BENCH
The Tib Bar Guy Nordic Weight Bench
thetibbarguy.com
$239.00

  • Conveniently doubles as a weight bench for more at-home strength training disciplines

  • Does not offer the same range of motion as traditional GHD machines

ATG Training has unveiled a whole new way to train hamstrings and glutes, including the Nordic curl which has catapulted in popularity. The Nordic Bench from The Tib Bar Guy is set up perfectly for this exercise’s needs. If you’re just dipping your toes in ATG training, don’t fret. The Nordic Bench conveniently doubles as a suitable weight bench for all your dumbbell and strength training workouts, too. While I wouldn’t recommend this for other GHD-related modalities that require a wider range of motion, if you’re someone interested in this specialized training, there’s no better accessory to add to your environment.

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