The Jim Wendler Glute Ham Raise | The Ultimate Guide!

Jim Wendler Glute Ham Raise

Are you curious about the Jim Wendler glute ham raise?

Do you wonder how the creator of 5/3/1 uses this popular assistance exercise to build big, strong hamstrings?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this comprehensive guide, I will show you how to use the Jim Wendler glute ham raise to take your training to the next level!


  • Part 1: The Glute Ham Raise
  • Part 2: 5/3/1 Assistance Work Templates

Jim Wendler is one of the most popular powerlifting coaches in the world today.

He is famous for training with Louie Simmons and the rest of the Westside Barbell powerlifting club. Of course, he is also famous for creating the 5/3/1 program. Tens of thousands of athletes all over the world have used 5/3/1 with incredible results.

In fact, Jim calls it “the simplest and most effective way to build raw strength!”

Jim Wendler uses many different accessory exercises to build the squat, bench press, deadlift, and overhead press. However, his all-time favorite exercises for strengthening the hamstrings has to be the glute ham raise!

Jim Wendler Stats

  • Date Of Birth: February 13th, 1975
  • Height: 5 Feet 10 Inches
  • Weight: 240 Pounds
  • Body Fat: About 15 Percent


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The Jim Wendler Glute Ham Raise

Jim Wendler spent many years training as a professional powerlifter with Louie Simmons and the rest of the Westside Barbell powerlifting team.

During this time he was exposed to many new exercises and training concepts.

Louie Simmons believed the key to building a huge squat or deadlift was to strengthen the posterior chain, which consisted of three muscle groups:

The Posterior Chain

  • The Hamstrings
  • The Glutes
  • The Lower Back

Louie Simmons said the hamstrings were especially important, as they were usually the limiting factor for building a massive squat or deadlift.

Louie Simmons had many exercises that he used for building the hamstrings. However, the glute ham raise was his absolute favorite.

Jim Wendler started using the glute ham raise, and before long he agreed with Louie: it is the best assistance exercise that you can perform for your hamstrings.

Here is Laura Phelps demonstrating this exercise:

The glute ham raise is a special machine designed to train your hamstrings. The hamstrings actually have two different functions:

  • Knee flexion
  • Hip extension

Knee flexion is when you bend your knees. For example, any kind of leg curl machine will work the hamstrings as knee flexors. Hip extension occurs when you perform a good morning or Romanian deadlift.

The unique thing about the glute ham raise is it is one of the ONLY exercises that works the hamstrings as knee flexors AND hip extensors at the same time!

This is the primary reason why the glute ham raise is so effective for building a massive squat or deadlift. Jim Wendler says that most people have overdeveloped quads, and underdeveloped hamstrings.

In order to take your training to the next level, you have to correct this muscular imbalance!

“Unless your quads hang over your kneecaps like an elephant’s testicles, you’re not quad dominant. You’re just hamstring weak.

I too was hamstring weak at one point. Today, I don’t know if I’m hamstring STRONG, but certainly not hamstring weak.”

Jim Wendler says it took him many years of training the hamstrings using the glute ham raise and other machines to bring up his hamstrings.

However, he says the results were more than worth it.

“It took a lot of time to bring my hamstrings up to a level that was acceptable. This was also the case with my lats, lower back, and abs.

The solution was simple: Hard work. And patience.”

Jim Wendler says programming the glute ham raise is relatively simple. You can perform 3-5 sets of 5-15 reps on your lower body days using his 5/3/1 program.

This would obviously count as your primary hamstrings assistance exercise, so make sure you don’t perform any others on the same day!

If performing the glute ham raise with just your bodyweight is too easy for you, then Jim says you can also perform the exercise using a dumbbell, weighted plate, or a band for increased resistance. 

5/3/1 Assistance Work Templates

Now let’s look at how you can use the glute ham raise using some of Jim Wendler’s favorite 5/3/1 assistance work templates to take your hamstrings to the next level!

Jim spent many years training with Louie Simmons and the Westside Barbell powerlifting team, so it should come as no surprise that he is a big fan of the Westside assistance work template. For example:

Westside Style Assistance Work

  • Lower body: hamstrings, lower back, abs
  • Upper body: chest, triceps, back, shoulders

On your lower body days you perform the squat or deadlift, followed by 1 exercise for your hamstrings, 1 exercise for your lower back, and 1 exercise for your abs.

This is a great template if your posterior chain is weak, and you really want to focus on strengthening your hamstrings / glutes / lower back for a while.

Here is a sample workout that you could try. Check it out:

Sample 5/3/1 Squat Workout

  • Exercise #1: Squat, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • Exercise #2: Glute ham raise, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #3: Reverse hyperextension, 3 sets of 8-15 reps
  • Exercise #4: Cable abs, 3 sets of 8-15 reps

Another one of Jim Wendler’s favorite assistance work templates is called “The Triumvirate.”

With this template, you only perform 2 accessory exercises on your upper and lower body workouts. For example:

The Triumvirate Assistance Work

  • Lower body: quads, posterior chain
  • Upper body: chest, back

Jim Wendler likes this template because it forces you to work on the most effective accessory exercises and ignore the fluffy isolation movements that really don’t move the needle in terms of strength gains.

Here is a sample deadlift Triumvirate workout that you can try. Check it out:

5/3/1 Deadlift Day

  • Exercise A1: Deadlift, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • Exercise B1: Leg press, 3-5 sets of 10-20 reps
  • Exercise B2: Glute ham raise, 3-5 sets of 5-15 reps

Next let’s look at the incredibly popular Boring But Big template.

Jim Wendler says that this template is great for bodybuilders who are looking to build as much muscle mass as possible. However, it still works well for building long-term strength gains. Here is the basic template:

Boring But Big Template

  • Main lift: 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • Main lift: 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Accessory lift: 5 sets of 10 reps

With this program, you perform the main lift for your normal 5/3/1 reps, the main lift for 5 sets of 10 reps, and then 1 key accessory lift with 5 sets of 10 reps.

If you want to learn more about this template, then check the following article:

Here is a sample squat workout using the glute ham raise as your key accessory exercise. Check it out:

Boring But Big: Squat Day

  • Exercise A1: Squat, 3 sets of 1-5 reps
  • Exercise B1: Squat, 5 sets of 10 reps
  • Exercise C1: Inverse leg curl, 5 sets of 10 reps

Of course, Jim Wendler has many other 5/3/1 templates that you can use to strengthen your hamstrings. To read more about them, make sure you pick up a copy of Jim’s new book “5/3/1 Forever.”

Conclusion | The Jim Wendler Glute Ham Raise!

Jim Wendler is one of the most popular strength coaches in the world today, and it’s easy to see why.

He knows how to program effective assistance exercises like the glute ham raise to strengthen your weak muscle groups as quickly as possible.

If you are looking for a new assistance exercise to strengthen your lagging hamstrings, then you have to give the glute ham raise a shot.

It may be just what you need to take your training to the next level!

Dr. Mike Jansen, PT, DPT

What's going on! My name is Dr. Mike Jansen, I'm the creator of Revolutionary Program Design. If you want to take your training to the next level, then you've come to the right place... My goal is to make RPD the #1 strength training resource available anywhere in the world!

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