The GHD and the Reverse Hyper

By Shane Sweatt and Laura Phelps-Sweatt

In Coaching, HD Videos, Powerlifting

January 09, 2013

Video Article

If you’re looking to build hamstrings, glute-hams are one effective option, as Shane Sweatt and Laura Phelps-Sweatt discuss during this CrossFit Powerlifting Trainer Course.

Get into the GHD just as you would for back extensions, except allow your knees to rest on the pads just behind the handles. Dig your toes into the foot plates, then get your body perfectly horizontal and contract your hamstrings to get vertical again, says elite powerlifter Phelps-Sweatt.

“You want no bend of the hip,” she explains. “Start to do these with weight … . Make them more difficult.”

For athletes who are only beginning to develop their hamstrings, Sweatt says he spots from the front and gives them a gentle push back up to the vertical position.

“You gotta drive your head and shoulders back—just like a deadlift,” he advises. “If you kick your butt out, you’re gonna lose it.”

The couple also demonstrates the reverse hyper, which Phelps-Sweatt says is good for both building strength and back rehab.

“It’s just targeting the posterior chain,” she adds. “It’s working all the muscle groups you need for deadlifts: mid back, low back, glutes, hamstrings.”

Video by Mike Koslap.

7min 44sec

HD file size: 208 MB
SD wmv file size: 89 MB
SD mov file size: 45 MB

Please note: For smoother viewing of HD videos, please download the entire file to your hard drive before watching it (right-click and choose Save Link As...).

Additional reading: The Westside Conjugate System by Louie Simmons, published June 22, 2011.

Free Download


11 Comments on “The GHD and the Reverse Hyper”


Eli Lambert wrote …

With all due respect to these fine athletes and coaches, these isolated movements are not in line with CrossFit philosophy.


wrote …


While it is true that isolation type movements are not programmed into WOD's they can be programmed into Skill or Weakness-Bias training SEPERATE from the WOD. As Shane says at the end of the video, the goal is to increase muscle mass in places that improve leverage. Many times we assume a weak part of a lift is a lack of skill. While this can be true in some cases, most times it is a underdeveloped muscle group. For instance, if an athlete can't keep their knees out while squating, they probably have weak hips. If they put extra work OUTSIDE of the WOD into strengthing that muscle group will help fix it.

Remember, a big part of CrossFit is finding your weaknesses and fixing them. Somtimes its skill based, other times it is a lacking muscle group. We are all shaped differently (long arms, short torso; long torso, short arms; ect) and this causes certain muscle groups to be more active in one individual versus another in turn causing each individual to develop muscle imbalances unique to them.

If you haven't seen the "Most, Most, Most" video, I would highly recommend it. The things we do in CrossFit work for "most people, most of the time, in most situations", meaning some people will have to deviate from the baseline to best develop their fitness.


wrote …

Check out June 2, 2003 in the CrossFit Archives. The Reverse Hyper was talked about by Coach Glassman long before he was able to get Louie Simmons involved with CrossFit.


replied to comment from Eli Lambert

This is whats wrong with CrossFitters from 2005 and beyond. There is a WOD that has 150 back extensions in it from the olden days.


wrote …

I always enjoy Shane and Laura's videos; they are very knowledgeable and they communicate the coaching points very well.


Thanks, Matthew, for your well worded response. I agree with you 100% that many times work done outside the WOD is necessary for progression. I have been a physical therapist for 20 years, trained in CrossFit Movement and Mobility, and I'm a Level 1 Trainer. I started a program called the "Afterschool Special", which had athletes come into the box after the last WOD of the day for an individualized program, working on mobility, weaknesses, difficult positions, and advanced movements. It's not the concept I had issue with. The main movement I have difficulty seeing a need for is the one isolation hamstring exercise. And that's coming from Therapeutic, CrossFit, and Physiological points of view.
Michael, I appreciate your comments as well. Thanks for thinking I was so young. My exposure to CrossFit actually spans nearly a decade. I actually don't have any issues with exercises on the GHD, back extensions included. I don't consider back ext an isolated movement. But isolated movements at the knee, such as this hamstring ex, create sheer forces that are not kind to the joint's cartilage. I should have been more clear with what I was trying to point out.
I agree with Bill that Shane and Laura are excellent coaches, and in trying to write a succinct comment, I did not put emphasis on the many great things I have learned from watching them. This is just my humble opinion on one small area.


Quick comment, Matthew. Thanks for the article recommendation. I wasn't able to find that one, but I found a Jan 27, 2011 video on the reverse hyper with fellow physical therapist Kelly Starrett. Who incidentally, gave me the best professional advice of my life when I took his mobility cert. "Quit your job, and start doing therapy in the box". :-)
Anyway, as I said before, it was the one isolated pull-to-kneeling HS exercise I was taking issue with. But I admit I also wasn't sold on the reverse hyper. But I'm glad to say that you and KStar have changed my mind. Thanks for taking the time to write a kind, intelligent response.


replied to comment from Eli Lambert


No problem. I had just assumed from your short comment that perhaps you were not well informed. Below is a link to what I was talking about. It wasn't an actual article but on June 2nd, 2003 on the mainpage, Lauren and Greg had posted a picture and links to Louie Simmons and his reverse hyper. The reason I brought it up is that I remember someone making a comment recently about how CrossFit HQ didn't start promoting Westside until they linked up for the Powerlifting seminar, but as you can see from the link, Greg had Louie on his radar long before CrossFit become popular.

As far as the Reverse Hyper, I own one and love it. I have scoliosis and it has helped improve my spinal health immensely. I highly recommend it!!


wrote …

seeing this as purely a isolation movement is inappropriate. this is a movement not a isolation exercise. when breaking down squatting or deadlifting it involves little movements such as knee flexion, hip flexion etc.
when working near circa max movements your body will fault at its weakest point. say the knee flexion portion of your lift is the weakest. continually sqautting your body will always fault at its weakest point. so why the harm in trying to improve individual portions of the lifts?
i know this goes against what crossfit is about at this point but if you want to be the best sometimes you have to break it down a little bit further than the rest


wrote …

Thank you for this presentation. MRI just showed that I have Spinal Stenosis at T9 through T11. The pain is acute. There was no real help after the Z-Pack, Physical Therapy, or injection. I did not want surgery. This small exercise has given me relief from the pain and seems to be doing more rehab then anything else. Thank you.


wrote …

This will lead to a healthy lifestyle. We should not give up on exercise in order for muscle to function well together with the bones.

Leave a comment

Comments (You may use HTML tags for style)