Who knows where it all began?

Most people give credit to Russian elite Olympic athletes for discovering the true benefit of this exercise.

By the 1980’s, the famous mind in sports Dr. Yessis brought the exercise to America.

He called it the…

Glute-Ham-Gastroc Raise.

This exercise remains popular among many advanced athletes who require explosive force to out-perform the competition.

Powerlifters claim that the Glute-Ham Raise have helped them achieve dead lifts off the ground over 700+ pounds.

Basketball players to jump higher…

Soccer players to bulletproof their knees against ACL tears…

And the Gym-Rat to develop the strongest most aesthetic lower body of all the men in his town.

Benefits of The Glute-Ham Raise:

1. Lengthens hamstrings WHILE strengthening.

Understand that many people have tight hamstrings. You may be one of them. The benefit of the Glute-Ham Raise is that you can lengthen the muscle while simultaneously strengthening it. As a result, you decrease the chance of injury during sport.

In Sports-Physiology language…

The [Russian] hamstring curl could potentially be an effective exercise to strengthen the contractility of the hamstring both isometrically and isokinetically. Such a strategy may be able to increase the working range of the muscle in relation to its length-tension curve, and prevent fibers from reaching a length where they are susceptible to tearing. Source.

2. It is a Bodyweight exercise

A worthy definition of strength is being able to move your body through space at multiple angles and leverages. Whether or not you will ever be forced to perform a Russian Leg Curl in day-to-day life, your hamstrings will be ready for any sort of lifting or explosiveness.

3. Helps you Jump Farther/Faster

Pure athletic capability. You’ll be able to fly above your competition.

Female Athlete training on a specialized Glute-Ham Machine (most athletic training facilities will have this machine, while commercial gyms will NOT have this machine)

4. You can pick up greater loads off the ground.

The Glute-Ham does a great job as strengthening the hamstrings around the knee area. As hamstrings and glutes are the primary movers in load lifting activity, there should be a direct carryover with regular practice of this exercise.

5. All athletic activities on foot will be improved, along with Joint Health.

Don’t underestimate the power of a well developed pair of hammies.

A pilot study on the Russian/Nordic Leg Curl showed these beneficial results:

There was a significant increase in vertical jump height (pre=51.0±4.8cm, post=54.4±6.3cm, p=0.04), a significant reduction in quadriceps Peak Torque (pre=204.6±21.9 N.m., post=181.5±19.9 N.m., p=0.01), a significant decrease in hamstring Position of Peak Torque (POS) from full knee extension (pre=32.5±7.4°, post=26.2±8.6°, p=0.01) and a significant hamstring POS difference between limbs (dominant=33.8±9.5°, non-dominant=24.9±6.5°, p=0.01). Source.

6. Hamstring development is aesthetically pleasing.

When your pants fit right, even straight dudes take a peak at your posterior chain. And if you’re female… good luck keeping the men away.

Performing the Glute-Ham Raise / Russian Leg Curl in a typical Commercial Gym

It is possible. The mechanics of the exercise will be different depending which method you utilize. However, all forms will benefit the posterior chain — particularly hamstrings and calves.

It’s taken me quite a while to be able to demonstrate this. This style, on a lat pulldown machine, really emphasizes hamstring and calf development — I can literally see the difference from before I trained this way.

How to Even BEGIN Training this Advanced Exercise…

If you are lucky enough to have access to a Glute-Ham-Raise Machine, you can go ahead and start training on it.

However, both the “Natural” way and the “Lat Pulldown” ways are extremely difficult. If you could do one good rep without any prior experience, I would be greatly impressed.

Various Strategies to Assist You:

1. Focus only on doing the eccentric portion of the exercise (WARNING: You will be sore in places you’ve never been sore before)

2. Use a broomstick to help you get up (saw this in a Youtube video).

3. Have a Partner assist you at the bottom of each rep.

4. Use your hands to Push-Off the Floor to gain momentum to complete the rep.

5. Keep trying trying trying.

If its Good Enough for Elite Athletes, its Good Enough for You.

But are you up to the Challenge of the Russian Leg Curl?

Don’t even try… unless you seek to earn the hamstring development of high performance athletes.

Good luck.

One comment

  1. I have invented a portable device that can be used to perform a russian leg curl outdoors.
    It weighs about 30 lbs. and is made of steel. I have the first prototype manufactured and I
    am finished testing the design. It requires no assistance, no assembly and no counter weights.

    Martin L. Kueckelhan

    I’m looking for a company that would like to develop this product and sell it globally.

Leave a Reply