I have a Gitzo Cremaillere 3 tripod, and raising and lowering the centre column is as you have described. For additional stability I found that the centre column needed locking by turning the centre column locking grip. Some years ago, I removed the column winding crank and associated lever, and now I raise and lower the centre column by loosening the centre column lock, then tightening after raising the column. I don't raise the centre column very often – I only tend to extend it when the legs are fully extended and I need a bit more height.
My Cremaillere 3 is quite old now but is very solid and stable, and I use it for my 5x4s (and smaller format cameras, too). I hope yours will be as successful as mine has been.