The glute ham device (GHD) is a piece of equipment we use often with our players. This machine works on building the hamstrings, glutes, and calves, aka the keys to great triple extension/speed. Triple extension is the rapid extension of the ankle, knee, and hip joints-the stronger the triple extension by an athlete the greater the force production. When a player can create more power in their lower extremities the stronger & faster they'll be on their skates.
If you analyzed hockey players lower extremities alone you'll see two common muscle deficiencies.
- Over-developed vastus lateralis and under-developed inner quad muscles.
- Over-developed glutes/bicep femoris (outer hamstring) and under-developed semi tendinosis/membranous (inner hamstring muscles).
In this article we're going to focus on number 2, the under-developed hamstrings. Hamstring and glute strength are correlated with sprint/skating speed, which is why it's important to have both equally developed and strong. The GHD works to elongate the hamstring and create a contraction using body weight and added resistance (if applicable). Think of it as a bicep curl for your hamstring.
When performing the GHD there are a few key points to focus on for maximal muscle activation.
- Knees should be placed firmly into the larger pad and ankles should be locked into the back pads, feet touching the back platform.
- Squeeze your glutes (butt), hamstrings, and core-this will ensure lack of extending the back to compensate for lack of hamstring strength.
- Lower yourself while thinking push the hips forward and fully lengthening the legs.
- When you begin to feel your back round you're going to go back up to starting position, thinking hips forward and forcing the hamstrings to contract to create the upward momentum.
**There are different forms of GHD, including ways to add varied resistance and different methods for when to stop on the eccentric (downward motion). For this article we'll only be referencing the normal GHD movement.
If performed correctly you'll feel your calves, hamstrings, and glutes tighten up and contract (almost like they're being pulled on & stretched). When starting to implicate GHD into your program we recommend to leave your arms by your side and progress from there: arms across the chest, arms by ears, then added resistance (holding a weight). These progressions will result in proper understanding of the movement and development.
Common mistakes made on the GHD.
- Arching the head (not keeping neutral), this will take away the weight of your head (10-15 lbs), you're losing resistance by doing this-don't do it!
- Hyper-extending the back, this will take away work from the calves, hamstrings, and glutes by shifting force into the wrong areas being focused on, changing the levers.
- Performing to fast. Make sure you control the movement and work on understanding how different muscles contract and what they feel like; time under tension is huge in muscle strength/size development.
All things being equal the faster and stronger athlete will always win. This being said, make sure you utilize correct lifts to ensure your optimal development. When hamstring development is often lacking in hockey players it should be a point to make them a focus in your workouts. The GHD is one of the best exercises for hamstring development and can be a useful staple for your workout.