Good Mornings Exercise Guide

Good mornings are a controversial exercise due to the risks that are associated with it, thus, are rarely seen performed in gyms nowadays. However, when done correctly, they are worth adding to your strengthening and muscle-building routine due to the numerous benefits that the exercise offers.

The good morning imitates the movement of a polite bow or greeting, which is where the name came from. It trains proper hip hinging, which improves mobility and strength in the hips. This exercise also effectively works the glutes, hamstrings and erector spinae, all with the use of minimal equipment. 

Barbell Shrugs Exercise Guide

How To Do Good Mornings

Set up

Prepare a barbell on a rack just below shoulder height. Start in a standing position with your feet at a hip-width distance apart, then duck and rest the bar on your upper traps. Grip the bar with a slightly wider grip to create less tension on your shoulders. Step out of the rack, still firmly holding the bar. This is your starting position.

Exercise

Begin the movement by lowering your torso as you push your hips back and slightly bend your knees. Make sure to keep your back rigid and your shoulder blades retracted as you do this. Continue lowering until your torso is almost parallel to the ground, or as low as you can.

Once you find your maximal strength, pause in that position for a second and slowly raise your torso back to the initial position. Repeat this until you have reached the desired number of repetitions.

Tips

  • Make sure to stretch your hamstrings before performing good mornings as your range of motion will greatly depend on your hamstring's mobility and flexibility. If you're unable to go low due to limited flexibility, bend your knees a bit more for a better range of motion.
  • Avoid using too much weight. If you are just beginning, you can start with the basic version of this exercise which is the bodyweight variation. Place your hands behind your ears and perform without any added weight. This reduces the chances of injuries while you perfect your form.
  • Remember to brace your core to stabilize your spine and to keep it from rounding. Keeping your head straight can also help you maintain this form to avoid hurting your back.

Benefits

  • Reduces the risk of getting hamstring injuries
  • Helps train and perfect your hip hinge
  • Improves stability and mobility in your hips, spine and shoulders
  • Increases posterior chain strength and flexibility
  • Prepares you for other strength-building exercises such as deadlifts and squats
  • Strengthens your lower back which helps prevent injuries

Illustrated Guide

how to Do Good Mornings

Muscles Worked

Primary Muscles

  • Erector Spinae
  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Secondary Muscles

  • Core
  • Entire upper back

Good Morning Variations

While the good morning is in itself an effective exercise, there are more than one way to perform it. Doing variations can help you get the most out of this movement and will allow you to customize it according to your fitness goals.

Using different weight/equipment

If you do not have access to a barbell, using other weights will work just as well. You can use dumbbells, kettlebells, and even bodyweight. Using resistance bands offers less risk for injury and less impact on the joints while keeping your muscles challenged.

Depending on your current level or familiarity with the exercise, make sure to use the appropriate weight for your safety,

Seated Good Morning With Barbell

Seated good mornings, just like the standing variation, are great for increasing hip flexibility and strengthening the lower back. In addition to these benefits, the seated position also engages the core to a greater degree, which in turn works the abs and obliques more. Perform this variation with a bench that you can straddle.

Changing Your Stance

Good morning is extremely versatile so you can perform it in many ways, including changing your stance.

 A wider stance good morning is perfect for those who have tight hamstrings as the body gets greater support from the gluteus Maximus and adductors. The narrow stance, on the other hand, demands more flexibility on the hamstrings and puts a greater load on the erector spinae.

If you are looking for an even bigger challenge in your good mornings, try performing it with a single leg stance. This requires a great amount of flexibility, stability, and balance. 

Good Morning Alternatives

Romanian Deadlifts

Romanian deadlifts are one of the most popular deadlift variations and are a great alternative to good morning as they are perfect in developing posterior chain muscles. Performing Romanian deadlifts also reduces the risk of low back injuries by strengthening the core and lower back.

Using either a barbell or a pair of dumbbells, make sure that you choose a load according to your lifting strength. Place the load out in front of you close to your feet. Bend your knees and hips slightly and grab the weight with an overhand grip. Keep the chest up and your core tight as you lift up the load. Make use of your heels to make sure you are standing straight.

Slowly lower your torso for as low as you feel comfortable but avoid the load from touching the ground. Engage your hamstrings and hold this position for a few seconds before returning to the starting position.

This exercise will also work your hamstrings, lumbar spine, gluteus and adductors.

Hyperextension

Hyperextension is another alternative for good mornings as it effectively targets the same groups of muscles. It works the joint beyond its normal range of motion and is particularly effective in improving strength, mobility, and control of the muscles running the posterior chain

To perform a hyperextension, lie face down on the hyperextension bench and position your feet securely tucked under the footpads. Adjust the upper pad so that it's just below your hip bone to allow you to bend forward in full range.

Start with your body in a straight line and your arms crossed in front of you. This is the starting position. Slowly bend your torso forward until it's about perpendicular to the floor or as far as you can go. Make sure to keep your back flat - arching or rounding your back may cause strain on your spine.

Pause for 1-2 seconds in this position before slowly raising your torso back up to the initial position, and repeat for the desired number of reps.

Bird Dogs

Bird dogs are a great way to work the lower back, glutes, and lower abs. You can do them at home using just your own body weight and something to support the knees, like an exercise mat or knee pads.

Start on your hands and knees with your knees apart as wide as your hips. Next, lift your left hand and your right knee off the mat and extend them in front and behind you.

The extended arm and leg should form a straight line from the tips of your fingers to the tip of your toes. Keep your core engaged to help you balance in this position. 

Hold this position for a minute before you come back to the starting position on your hands and knees. You can then switch sides so that you are lifting your right hand and left leg.

Back Exercises Guide

Kevin Harris
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