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How To Do Good Mornings | Good Morning Variations

What is a good morning?

Good morning exercise variations

See all good morning variations

The good morning is a hip hinge exercise which strengthens several muscles in the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors. While it is often overlooked in favour of the deadlift or hip thrust, it's an excellent exercise in its own right! Incorporating good mornings into your workout routine can also help to improve both your squat and deadlift. 

Good mornings are typically carried out standing up with a barbell placed on the upper back, although there is a seated good morning variation. It's important to get the form correct to avoid straining your back. Focus on perfecting the form at each weight before adding more weight to the bar.

Commonly asked questions on good mornings

  • When performed correctly and with a manageable weight, good mornings are not bad for your back. In fact, this exercise is great at strengthening the muscles in your posterior chain, including the back muscles, and can help to prevent back pain and injury in the long run. 

  • On the surface, deadlifts and good mornings are very similar exercises. They're both compound exercises which use a hip hinge, and they target similar muscles. 

    The main difference lies with with the motion each exercise uses. The deadlift moves up and down motion, while good mornings hinge forward. The bar placement also differs between the two. Both of these factors mean each exercise activates the muscles in different ways.

  • Good mornings can be tricky to master. If the barbell good morning doesn't feel right, try your hand at some good morning variations. Back extensions, hip thrusts, and Romanian deadlifts also work similar muscles and can be used to replace good mornings if preferred. 

Good morning tips

  • Keep your spine slightly arched and lightly squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Your knees should have a slight bend throughout the movement.
  • Push back through your hips, rather than drop your chest forward.

Good morning variations

Barbell Good Morning

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Equipment: Barbell, Squat Rack

  1. Place the bar on the rack just below shoulder level, before stepping under with the bar resting it on your upper back.
  2. Gripping with both hands either side, lift the bar off the rack by pushing towards the ceiling with your legs and straightening up your body.
  3. Step back and stand with your feet around hip-width apart, knees slightly bent. 
  4. Brace your core and then hinge forward at the hip, pushing your glutes back until your torso is nearly parallel with the floor. You should feel a slight stretch in your hamstrings. 
  5. Pause before returning to upright by thrusting your hips forward, making sure squeeze through your hamstrings and glutes.

Dumbbell Good Mornings

Level: Beginner to Intermediate

Equipment: Dumbbells

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand. 
  2. Lift the dumbbells and hold them so they are resting on your shoulder blades.
  3. Keeping your knees slightly bent, push your hips back and hinge your upper body until it's almost parallel with the floor. Keep your core engaged and spine straight throughout. 
  4. Pause at the bottom of the movement before returning to the starting position by pushing your hips forward. 

Seated good mornings

Level: Intermediate to Advanced

Equipment: Barbell, Squat Rack, Bench

Seated good mornings require a higher level of flexibility than standing good mornings. Keeping the weight light can help ensure a full range of motion and good form. They also work the back more, and the hamstrings and glutes less, than standard good mornings

  1. Set up the squat rack so the barbell sits just below shoulder height. Place the bench below the barbell at a 90 degree angle.
  2. Straddle the bench and position yourself under the barbell, so that it rests on your upper back. 
  3. Unrack the bar and sit on the bench with one leg either side, feet flat on the floor. Your feet should be slightly further away from your body than your knees. 
  4. Maintaining a slight arch in your back, engage your core and hinge forward at the hips as far as possible without losing the arch. 
  5. Pause at the bottom before slowly reversing the movement until you are sitting upright. 

If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.