Cross Training Workout: Assessing the Readiness of Your Spine for Glute Ham Developer Sit-Ups

If you keep on wondering why your back is smoked every time following glute ham developer (GHD) sit-ups, the answer could be in the way you do the workout. GHD refers to a piece of equipment which was made to help strengthen the glutes and the hams. Normally, this CrossFit workout movement is done while lying on your stomach, squeezing your butt, and keeping a fairly stable midline.

It helps athletes move their hips while simultaneously maintaining a solid spine to protect the body during the movements. Many of the back problems that arise in GHD sit-ups are caused by the inability of the athletes to dissociate the hips from the spine. As a result, they move the two of them all at once which creates shear forces on the spine.

Since we incorporate GHD in sit-ups, the truth is it wasn’t created to work the hip flexors and abdominals in a dynamic extension movement. GHD sit-ups is an extremely high-level exercise which requires baseline strength and body awareness as you fling the spine through ranges of flexion and extension.

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Deciding on the Readiness of Your Body for GHD Sit-Ups

There are various steps mentioned by CrossFit workout that you need to go through to access whether indeed your spine can accommodate GHD sit-ups. The following are the steps:

Flexibility to Sit Upright

You need to access whether you are flexible enough to sit upright with your legs straightened right in front of you. Note that in this position, your lumbar spine must be straight and not round. If you pass this readiness test, then you can move to the next step. If you have problems, then you need to start working on mobility in your daily CrossFit workouts.

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Failing the flexibility test may point to a combination of spine stiffness as well as a problem with the entire posterior chain which includes calves, glutes, hamstrings, and the bottom of the feet.

Holding Your Body in a Parallel Position

The next assessment according to CrossFit workout is to check whether you can hold your body in a parallel position on the glute-ham developer equipment while keeping a good spine position and breathing. If you have a problem here, you need to practice especially on perfecting your mechanics.

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Transitioning from the Parallel Position

If you have passed the above step, you now need to test how smoothly you can transition starting from the parallel position, then gradually up to the top and thereafter back to parallel position while maintaining a good spine position. This transition movement is similar to doing a hip hinge exercise such as hip extension and deadlift. The only difference with the GHD is the positioning. If you are able to transition, then you can do the GHD sit-ups very well.

It is therefore important not to assume that you are prepared for GHD sit-ups and therefore you can include them in your CrossFit workout of the day. You need to take yourself first through these steps, and then if you are ready, you can move on comfortably.

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