Friday, June 13, 2008
Glute-Ham What? (Who's Down with GHD?)
This princely piece of kit is the Glute-Ham Developer. Let's call him uncle GHD for short (we're all family here, right?). You may have noticed him hanging around SFCF behind the scenes...he's not always in the spotlight, but he's always there.
Because there are usually many more of you than there are of him, we don't program our 'main course' workouts to include a ton of GHD work. This doesn't mean that our main man should be neglected. Uncle GHD's job is exactly what one might think: Develop the Glutes, Hamstrings, and, well, the entire posterior chain. Posterior chain development, as you all have experienced in just about any CrossFit workout, is key to athletic development. If we can get those hip extensors firing fast and furious while at the same time creating and maintaining a rigid spine capable of handling that massive force, we can improve cleans, deadlifts, rowing, running, jumping, throwing, punching etc. We practice this with the hip extension (seen in the video below). But you all know that.
Another talent that GHD has is the ability to teach you when you are out of position and how to return to a good, neutral, loadable position. This is an invaluable skill that most people do not come pre-programmed with. A little practice goes a long way in creating this postural awareness. This awareness and ability to 'return to neutral' goes a long way in preventing injury and all sorts of unpleasant-ness when dealing with heavy loads. Check it out in the 'Back Extension' and 'Back and Hip Extension' shown here.
And we haven't even gotten to Uncle GHD's sucker-punch of a situp yet! Check out how much ROM (range of motion) you get out of ol' GHD's situp!
The interesting thing to note is that the abs are performing their natural, primary function of stabilizing the spine. That is, they are NOT responsible for your return-trip to the top. The hip flexors are. The abs brace against the massive hip flexor force that has the potential to pull your spine in all sorts of uncomfortable directions, just like in real-life! One thing to watch for on the GHD situp...legs must be straight on the way up. Watch the clip again. Note how on Nicole's 'Bad' situp her legs do not straighten on the way up. This means her psoas does most of the work. Due to the point of attachment of the psoas on the sacrum and lower spine, this can cause some undue discomfort. Straighten those legs! Ask your coach for help if you're unsure.
The next time you're early for class or need a little something something to cool down with, think of good ol' Uncle GHD. He's always there for you, waiting with out-stretched arms. Hell, I bet if we changed GHD's name to Athletic Potential Developer he might receive a little more attention. That's not really his style, though.
Remember, uncle GHD can teach you many things, but Uncle GHD will not beg.
at 9:50 PM