John Saylor's
Shingitai Jujitsu Association

One of America's leading authorities on jujitsu,
grappling, judo and self-defense









Glute Ham Raises

This is an outstanding exercise for strengthening the hamstrings, glutes, and to a lesser extent,
the calves.
One of the main reasons people injure their knees is because they have far stronger quadriceps
(muscles on the front of the thigh)
than they do hamstrings (muscles on the back of the thigh).

This exercise will strengthen the hamstrings to a high level and will help to eliminate muscle imbalances that can lead to injury.

It will enable you to generate more force and speed,
and it will help you lift an opponent up off the ground.


Glute Ham Raises will strengthen your hamstrings and glutes like no other exercise.
They will give you greater explosiveness and overall power in your lower body,
and will also lessen your chances of knee injuries and hamstring pulls.



Here, J.P. Pocock is shown doing Glute Ham Raises on a Glute Ham Machine designed by Louie Simmons.

This exercise was originally developed by Russian athletes who placed a gymnastics vaulting horse next to a set of wall bars that were very common in Russia.

They rested their thighs on the vaulting horse and secured their heels under the wall bars.
Then they performed the exercise as shown here.

Vasily Alexeev, the Russian Olympic and World Champion weight lifter, who first broke the 500 lb. barrier on the Clean and Jerk,
routinely did 60 reps to warm up.
He also used 225 lbs. for 5 reps, a phenomenal feat.




Curl yourself upright using your hamstrings and glutes.
Notice that J.P.’s kneecaps are not contacting the pad.

Also notice that the soles of his feet are in contact with the toe late.
At the up position your thighs should almost be vertical to the ground.
Keep your back straight throughout the movement.


If you don’t have access to a Glute/Ham Machine,
contact me at:

P.O. Box 428
Perrysville, OH 44864



The Leg Curl is a sissy exercise. It really only strengthens the belly of the muscle,
not the insertions which stabilize the joint.
But once in awhile it might be useful for the sake of measurement.

Adhere to the following rule of thumb:

If you can’t Leg Curl at least 60% of what you can do for a Leg Extension (another sissy exercise),
you are vulnerable to hamstring and knee injuries.
But don’t despair. Glute Ham Raises are a big part of the solution.

Or, if you can’t afford a Glute/Ham Machine right now, try improvising with a sit up board as we did for years before finally buying one. (John Marotta demonstrates in the picture below)

Be sure to place lots of padding under your knees since there will be pressure on your knee caps.
Take off just enough resistance with your hands to allow you to complete the rep,
until over time you don’t need your hands at all.


If the exercise is still too difficult, just concentrate on the lowering portion of the exercise.
Push yourself up with your hands and lower yourself back down.
Concentrate on resisting the downward movement with all you’ve got.
Keep at it three or four days per week,
and pretty soon you’ll be knocking out some serious reps without the use of your hands.


image image
Even if you don’t own a sit up board you can perform this exercise
on a mat while a partner holds your feet down.
Again, be sure to use extra padding under your knees.

*Photos by Dave Fitz Simmons


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