If you were to talk into the iron house right now and saw someone hitting this, you might freak. But what looks like a f*cked up squat with Accident Room written all over it is in-fact the Good Morning exercise. Yes, it’s dangerous in the wrong hands, but do it right and you’re in for a world of gainz. Here’s everything you need to know.
The Good Morning exercise is an essential every lifter should know. No matter if you’re a 9-5 office bro, construction worker, or pro athlete – learn it today and never look back.
Anything that strengthens the lower back is a sure-fire way to improve life. Not only do you reduce your overall risk of injury, but you’ll possess greater spinal stability too.
Overall, you’ll be able to perform everyday tasks much easier and with extra power.
Imagine not having to grimace every time you bend over to tie your shoelaces. Alternatively, how good would it feel to have the confidence to rip that big-ass deadlift from the ground without fear or lumbar flexion? Pretty good, right?
Well, both of the above require a fair amount of strength in the posterior chain. Fortunately for you, bro, the Good Morning is perfect for building a strong AF bullet proof back.
Muscles the Good Morning Works
So far, we’ve only banged on about the back. But, the Good Morning is far from just a lumbar exercise. In fact, it targets hamstrings first and foremost, then the glutes, and finally the back as a byproduct.
A solid Good Morning will ignite the:
- Spinal Erectors
- Upper Back & Scapular Stabilizers
Each of these is included in the posterior chain. If you’re a fan of legendary (and equally crazy) Westside Barbell coach Louie Simmons, you’ll have heard him scream about this section a lot.
When performing any kind of big lift, or picking up anything really, these posterior muscles must stay strong to resist spinal injury. No matter if it’s a stack of paperwork, a bucket of rubble, or an 800 lb barbell, the spine must stay aligned if we’re to stay pain-free.
Therefore, by hitting Good Morning’s on the regular you can boost your squats and deadlifts. This is because you’re essentially giving your body a chance to actively practice protecting the spine. Eventually, your spinal erectors will transform into two thick cables running down either side of your vertebrae.
Top Tip: The hip flexion required to perform a proper Good Morning mimics many movements found in sports. Therefore, athletes should use this exercise too.
Say Good Morning to Lower Back Benefits
As a hip hinge exercise, nothing should be moved using the back. It’s a simple fact, but one we should probably mention anyway.
The beauty of the Good Morning is that it required the spinal erectors to work overtime. Not to lift, but to support the spine and keep it straight and strong like a steel rod.
Over time your spinal erectors will become hypertrophic and highly developed. This will mean you’re less likely to suffer strains and pains when lifting, or even whilst reaching for everyday objects.
Plus, the Good Morning is a great way to stretch out tight hamstrings. Many people think their lumbar pain is all down to the lower back, but it’s often these leg muscles that are responsible. Their tightness pulls on the lumbar region, resulting in a sometimes-crippling ache.
So, by loosening the hamstrings and strengthening the spinal erectors we can lessen discomfort. One won’t tug so hard, and the other will be better resistant to tension.
Top Tip: Use 3 sets of 10 light Good Morning’s after leg day to help stretch out the hamstrings and glutes.
How to Do It – Top 4 Variations to Try Today
Standard Barbell Good Morning
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, with the barbell sat across the shoulders. Try to pin the bar to the lower delts rather than your traps to put less stress on the lumbar region.
- Engage the core, retract the shoulders, and breathe in.
- Break at the hips and hinge backward. Remember to keep the spine in neutral throughout the entire rep. Tip: Imagine you’re holding an egg underneath your chin to keep the neck aligned too.
- Lower the chest down until you are around 15 degrees from parallel. There’s no need to go lower, as this will place excess stress on the lower back and raise the risk of injury. Tip: You should start to feel a comfortable stretch in the hamstrings.
- Once at the bottom, breathe out as you hinge forwards and snap the hips back into place. Remember to keep a flat back here and don’t let curvature occur in the thoracic or lumbar region.
Banded Good Morning
Use this variation if you don’t have a barbell handy or for a great warm-up stretch. We like to use Banded Good Morning’s to activate the hams whilst warming up for big-ass deadlifts.
- Stand with feet hip-width apart, with knees slightly bent. A band should be secured firmly under your soles and braced across your shoulders.
- Engage the core, retract the scapula, and breathe in.
- Break at the hips and hinge backward. Keep the spine and neck in alignment whilst lowering the chest towards the floor. Do not pass parallel.
- Once at the bottom, squeeze the hams and core, and snap back to the slightly bent starting position
Seated Good Morning
This variation is awesome for isolating the spinal erectors. If you’re working on your core specifically, hit this one up as part of your workout.
- Sit comfortably on a box with knees pointing slightly outwards. A barbell can be loaded over the top back side or lower back side of the delts. Tip: Because hamstring activation is minimized by sitting choose a lighter load. Trust us, less is more with this variation bro.
- Hinge at the hips whilst keeping the core braced and spine in neutral. Breathe out whilst doing so.
- Lower your chest to the floor, stopping at around 15 degrees. Don’t go past parallel.
- Return to the starting position slowly under control.
Split Good Morning
Alternatively, you might have your sights set on hamstring hypertrophy. Adopting a split stance in this way puts additional strain on these muscles, so keep reps shallow to spare the lower back.
- Stand in front of a flat bench with feet hip-width apart, barbell loaded across the back of your shoulders.
- Pick up your foot and place it heel first on top of the bench.
- Hip a good morning whilst simultaneously rocking back on the elevated heel.
- After a shallow rep, push your hips forward and return under control to the starting position.
Tip: Perform an equal number of sets on each side, bro. Nobody wants one ass cheek bigger than the other.
Final Thoughts – Focus on Form
You gotta get this right bro. Perform the Good Morning without respect and you’re going to get bitten. Not just a little nip, but badly bro.
You must possess the necessary core strength to hold a neutral spine. Pushing the numbers at the cost of poor form is the fastest way to injury city. Trust us when we say this exercise takes no prisoners.
Most strength coaches won’t even prescribe the above movements to total novices. Because they’re so easy to f*ck up, Good Mornings are a pain landmine for weaker, inexperienced lifters.
Finally, keep the weight light. You’ll still get a great stretch in the glutes and hamstrings, never mind an awesome workout. Reps should be performed slow and steady for complete control.
You got this, bro. Now get to it!
Smash another set of mental reps. Check out these stacks of muscle building science, bro: