The Good Morning Exercise: 7 Top Variations Included

Are you ready to kickstart your day with a powerful exercise that targets your posterior chain and boosts your overall strength and performance? Look no further than the excellent morning exercise! 

This often-overlooked gem in the fitness world holds the potential to unlock incredible benefits for your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. From powerlifters to recreational athletes, the good morning exercise has garnered attention for improving squat and deadlift performance, enhancing muscle growth, and even preventing injuries.

Want to learn more about it? Then keep reading.

What Is Good Morning Exercise?

The Good Morning Exercise

The good morning exercise is a compound weightlifting movement that engages multiple muscle groups throughout the body. To perform the exercise, start by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart. Place a loaded barbell on your upper back, adopting a position similar to a back squat.

Take a deep breath, activate your core muscles, and initiate the movement by hinging your hips backward. Lower your upper body while maintaining a straight back, then hinge forward and return to standing. This exercise promotes strength and stability throughout the body and can be a valuable addition to your training routine. If you want to learn about the technique to avoid back pain from deadlifting, read the linked article.

5 Benefits of Good Morning Exercise

benefits of exercise in the morning

Here are five notable benefits of performing the good morning exercise, a back-loaded hip hinge that requires proper technique and significant hip and shoulder mobility:

Enhanced Squat and Deadlift Performance

Maintaining a strong, neutral lower back is crucial for performing squats and deadlifts correctly. Weakness or instability in this area can lead to poor form and a higher risk of injury. The good morning exercise helps strengthen the lower back and improves hip extension lockout strength, directly translating to better performance in both exercises.

Strengthened Lower Back Muscles

The spinal erectors are a group of long, thin muscles that run vertically from the pelvis up to the neck, providing support and resisting spinal flexion during heavy lower-body exercises. By incorporating barbell good mornings into your routine, you can develop muscle and strength in these crucial muscles, ultimately protecting your lower back when lifting heavy loads.

Injury Prevention

Just like staking a tree to provide stability when it becomes top-heavy, the spinal erectors play a similar role in maintaining stability and alignment of the spine during various movements, whether loaded or unloaded. Strengthening the lower back through good mornings helps maintain proper spinal alignment, reducing compensations and minimizing the risk of lower back injuries.

Development of Strong Posterior Muscles

The good morning exercise targets the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. It involves a more extensive range of motion, providing a stretch during the eccentric (lengthening) contraction before the concentric (shortening) contraction. Exercises that safely engage a muscle group through a more excellent range of motion are efficient for building muscle.

Improved Posture

Modern lifestyles often contribute to poor posture, with hours spent hunched over computers and smartphones leading to internal rotation. Strong spinal erectors play a vital role in maintaining good posture, and by training these muscles through exercises like the good morning, you can help counteract the negative effects of prolonged sitting and restore better posture.

Read Also: 4 Best Exercises for Losing Weight

Suggestion for Good Morning Programming

Here are some programming suggestions for incorporating the good morning exercise into your training routine. Remember that the focus should be on maintaining good form rather than pushing for maximum weight, as this exercise is not primarily aimed at building absolute strength. Feel free to adjust these recommendations according to your specific fitness goals.

For Hypertrophy (Muscle Building): Aim for three to four sets of six to 12 reps of the good morning exercise. Pair it with another exercise targeting the glutes or hamstrings to maximize muscle growth. For instance:

  • 1A. Barbell Good Morning: 6-12 reps
  • 1B. Hamstring Curl variation: 12 reps

For Strength: Opt for three to five sets of four to six reps of the good morning exercise. Since you’re focusing on building strength, it’s beneficial to pair it with a mobility exercise that aids in recovery and enhances technique. For example:

  • 1A. Barbell Good Morning: 4-6 reps
  • 1B. Passive Leg Lowering: 10 reps per side

Remember to adjust the weight and intensity based on your individual capabilities and goals.

Good Morning Exercise Variations

Here are some variations of the good morning exercise that can enhance technique, strength, and overall performance:

1. Safety Bar Good Morning

Safety Bar Good Morning

Using a safety bar instead of a straight bar on your back can reduce shoulder pressure and promote a flatter back and better core bracing. This variation is particularly beneficial for individuals with limited shoulder mobility and provides a safer way to load the exercise.

2. Seated Good Morning

Good morning exercise from a seated position isolates the spinal erectors while minimizing hamstring tension. Although it typically allows for lighter weights than the standing version, it focuses primarily on strengthening the lower back (erectors) without significantly involving the hamstrings and glutes.

3. Good Morning Alternatives

If the traditional good morning exercise doesn’t suit your preferences or feels uncomfortable for your back, here are three alternatives to consider:

Romanian Deadlift (RDL): The RDL is a highly effective alternative that targets the hamstrings and glutes, promoting size and strength gains. It offers similar benefits to good morning, such as improved squat and deadlift performance.

Hyperextension: This exercise loads the same muscle groups as the excellent morning while isolating the lower back muscles. It can benefit individuals struggling to maintain a flat back during exercises like good mornings, squats, and deadlifts. You can also read about the best organic protein powder for muscle growth.

Snatch-Grip Romanian Deadlift: The snatch-grip Romanian deadlift focuses on strengthening the lats and maintaining proper back positioning during the exercise. It helps prevent rounding of the back, reduces the risk of injury, and maximizes the stretch and loading on the hamstrings.

4. Good Morning Exercise with Dumbell

Good Morning Exercise with Dumbell

Let’s see how to perform good morning exercises with Dumbbell.

  1. Start by standing with your knees slightly bent and feet hip-width apart.
  2. Hold a dumbbell in each hand, positioning them at shoulder level with your palms facing you.
  3. Maintain the slight knee bend and hinge at your hips, lowering your torso until it is nearly parallel to the floor.
  4. Pause for a moment, then return to the starting position. This completes one repetition.
  5. Be mindful not to allow your lower back to round during the exercise.

5. Good Morning Exercise With Barbell

Here is how to do the barbell good morning exercise

  1. Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and your knees slightly bent.
  2. Position an appropriate-weight barbell onto the upper back, resting on the trapezius muscles near your shoulders.
  3. Engage your upper back and abdominal muscles, and take a deep breath.
  4. Exhale as you hinge at the hips, pushing your hips backward and leaning your upper body forward. Continue the movement until your upper body is almost parallel to the floor.
  5. Inhale as you return to the starting position, reversing the movement by pushing your hips forward and bringing your upper body back upright.

6. Resistance Band Good Mornings

Incorporate a resistance band by wrapping it around your neck and feet. This adds resistance to the movement as you hinge your hips forward and backward.

7. Single-leg good mornings

Single-leg good mornings

Challenge your stabilizer muscles by performing the good morning exercise on one leg. Balance on one leg while going through the full range of motion, engaging your core and working on stability.

Read More: Know the Benefits of Exercise for People with Diabetes

3 Ways to Add Good Morning Exercise to Your Routine

Here’s how you can incorporate the good morning exercise into your routine:

Focus On Quality

The good morning exercise is best performed with an emphasis on proper form and technique rather than speed or high repetitions. Prioritize quality over quantity to maximize its benefits.

Warm-up Activation

You can include unweighted or lightly weighted good mornings as part of your warm-up routine to activate your posterior chain and core muscles. For example, perform three sets of 12 to 15 reps before heavy deadlifts, squats, or cleans. This helps prepare your body for the workout by activating your posterior chain. Starting with a PVC pipe is also a helpful way to practice the movement before progressing to a weighted barbell.

Mind the Posterior Chain

Good mornings primarily target the posterior chain, so incorporating them into your warm-up routine can help “wake up” these muscles and improve their activation during the workout.

Remember to consult with a qualified fitness professional to ensure proper form and suitability for your individual needs and abilities.

Who Should Do Good Morning Exercise?

Good morning exercise can benefit various categories of athletes, including strength, power, and fitness athletes. Here’s why different athletes may find value in incorporating the good morning into their training

Strength and Power Athletes

  • Strongman athletes can use the good morning to strengthen the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes, which is crucial for squats and deadlifts. It can also aid in hamstring hypertrophy and reinforce proper pulling mechanics.
  • Powerlifters can benefit from including the excellent morning in their training regimen to develop back and posterior chain strength, supporting their performance in squats and deadlifts. It is essential to perform the exercise correctly, prioritizing a flat back and effectively loading the hips and hamstrings for hypertrophy and strength gains.
  • Olympic weightlifters can utilize the good morning exercise to strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back, similar to how strongman athletes and powerlifters benefit from it. When performing the good morning, weightlifters can emphasize maintaining an extended back by utilizing a high bar position.

Recreational Athletes

The good-morning is a valuable exercise for recreational athletes aiming to enhance hamstring, glute, and back strength. These areas of strength are essential for improving performance in barbell lifts and developing the positional strength necessary for Olympic weightlifting. Additionally, the excellent morning can effectively stimulate hamstring growth without performing full-range deadlifts if an individual experiences difficulties with that exercise.

How to Do Good Morning Exercise by Avoiding Injury?

Good Morning Exercise by Avoiding Injury

Here are some guidelines for working out safely and avoiding injuries:

Consult with your physician: If you have any pre-existing health conditions, you must consult with your physician before starting an exercise program to ensure it is safe and appropriate.

Focus on proper technique: Proper exercise is crucial for safety and effectiveness. Make sure to learn and practice the correct form for each exercise. You may need to modify exercises based on your individual needs and abilities.

Choose appropriate weights: Select weights that allow you to maintain control and proper form throughout the movement. Avoid using weights that are too heavy and compromise your technique.

Listen to your body: Pay close attention to your body while exercising. If you experience any pain or discomfort, stop immediately. Pushing through pain can lead to injuries, so listening to your body’s signals is essential.

Incorporate warm-ups, rest, and nutrition: Include proper exercises to prepare your body for the workout. Give your body sufficient rest between workouts for recovery and muscle growth. Additionally, maintain a balanced and nutritious diet to support your exercise program.

Allow for adequate recovery: It’s essential to give your muscles time to recover and repair after each workout. Aim for 24 to 48 hours of rest before targeting the same muscle groups again. This will help prevent overuse injuries and promote continual progress.

Also Read: What is the Best Exercise to Lower Cholesterol?

Good Morning Exercise: Common Mistakes

Here are some common mistakes to avoid when performing excellent morning exercise:

Incorrect Form

Performing the good morning exercise with improper form can significantly increase the risk of injury, especially when using added weight. It is crucial to ensure your movement pattern is sound before progressing. Seeking guidance from a trainer to assess your form or recording yourself from the side can help identify any issues, particularly regarding back rounding.

Premature Weight Progression

Before adding weight to the exercise, it is crucial to establish proper form and technique with the unweighted version. Seeking the approval of a trainer or coach can ensure you are ready to progress safely. Video recording your form or seeking feedback can also be helpful.

Practice With PVC Pipe or Broom Handle

Before attempting a weighted variation, practicing with a PVC pipe or a broom handle can be beneficial to simulate the movement with a barbell. This allows you to get comfortable with the exercise and avoid potential injuries.

Consider Core Strength

When using weighted variations of the good morning exercise, being honest about your core strength and its limitations is essential. Engaging your core is crucial for maintaining a neutral spine throughout each repetition. If your core is not strong enough to support the weight you are using, it can lead to dangerous back flexion.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Now let’s move on to the question-answer part. 

Can I perform good mornings with dumbbells?

Yes, you can perform good mornings with dumbbells. However, it is generally recommended to opt for dumbbell Romanian deadlifts instead. The Romanian deadlift targets the same muscles as the excellent morning but more comfortably and efficiently. Additionally, holding the dumbbells will also help improve your grip strength.

Can I do good mornings without using weights?

Absolutely! Bodyweight good mornings are a beneficial exercise to warm up your lower back, hamstrings, and glutes before performing weighted good mornings or any other hip-based or lower body exercises.

What is a good morning squat?

The term “good morning squat” is often used when a lifter leans forward at the torso and hips while coming out of the bottom position during a barbell squat. This occurs when the hips rise faster than the upper back.

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