Often misunderstood, the good morning exercise is a neglected yet effective strength movement functioning as a mix between the squat and the deadlift. Also called a hip-hinge, the good morning has earned a somewhat infamous reputation for being a bit on the dangerous side. When done correctly, however, good mornings are an effective strength exercise that benefits the muscles in your posterior chain including, the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. We’ll teach you the benefits of good morning exercises, muscles worked, and how to perform them!
What Are Good Mornings
Good mornings are a compound functional strength movement. Often referred to as a mix between a squat and deadlift the movement pattern mimics a Romanian deadlift but with the weight seated on your shoulders. Compound movements activate several muscle groups and joints. They stabilize muscles in one fluid motion, increasing strength, mobility, and balance.
Good Mornings Muscles Worked
Good mornings heavily recruit the muscles in your posterior chain, like your hip flexors, abductors, lower back muscles, hamstrings, glutes, and quads. As your hips hinge, on the extension, your glutes, core, quads, hamstrings, and calves are activated, requiring more core stabilization. As you push the weight back up, or during the eccentric phase, your lower back, quads, and glutes are activated and contracted.
5 Benefits Of Good Morning Exercise
Training with intent or purpose is always important to reach your goals. If you’re training to build more leg strength, improve hip mobility, or strengthen your posterior chain, the good morning can be extremely beneficial. Often referred to as training specificity, or how an exercise replicates functional activities to produce the greatest performance gains, good mornings are effective at increasing functional strength in the hamstrings and lower back, due to its specific training purpose.
1. Increases Posterior Chain Strength
Good mornings are a very effective exercise for strengthening the muscles in the posterior chain which include your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes. Studies show that good mornings produce similar muscle activation as the straight-led deadlift, and greatly emphasize the hamstrings, due to an increase in lengthening of the muscle and an increased range of motion. Good mornings also benefit lower back strength, specifically the spinal extensor and erector muscles comparable to other movements such as the snatch, clean, and bent-over row.
2. Improves Functional Strength
Good mornings are considered a compound functional movement. Function means purpose; therefore, functional strength is training for a specific purpose. Functional movements are those that can be reproduced in real life, as opposed to an isolated movement, that cannot be normally replicated in daily activities. Good mornings produce a similar movement to bending over and picking up something heavy from the floor, much like a deadlift or squat. This of our course will help develop more functional strength, encourage mobility, and improve quality of life.
3. Build More Muscle
With any strength training exercise, consistency will produce greater gains in muscle mass and hypertrophy. Since the good morning focuses on the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back you’ll be able to gain more muscle in those specific areas, by including the good morning in your workout training split.
4. Lowers The Risk Of Hamstring Injury
Eccentric hamstring loading has been shown to be beneficial for decreasing the risk of hamstring injury. Exercises which lengthen the hamstring are effective at preventing hamstring injury when incorporated into your leg day training split. If you find yourself putting extensive physical stress on your hamstrings through activities such as running, cycling, or participating in high-intensity functional training protocols such as CrossFit, including the good morning in your workout as a staple exercise, will encourage stronger hamstrings and less chance for injury.
5. Better Hip Mobility
The good morning is a hip hinge exercise, meaning that you bend at your waist or, hinge at your hips. Since your glutes and hamstrings drive the movement, the hinging movement of the good morning exercise benefits the hips by building more strength and mobility and improving hip flexion. Stronger hips will improve hip mobility which is crucial for keeping your ligaments and tendons agile for bigger and heavier movements, to prevent injury and improve athletic performance.
How To Perform Good Mornings
Watch the video below to see how to perform good mornings with a barbell, then read our step-by-step instructions.
- Good mornings are very similar to the straight-leg deadlift. Both exercises are used to target the hamstrings, however instead of lifting the weight from the ground, the barbell is behind your neck, supported by your shoulders similar to the weight positioning of a barbell back squat.
- Place the barbell with moderate or light weight on your upper traps behind your neck, slightly higher than the position of a barbell back squat at a squat rack.
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart, engage your core, and slowly hinge at your hips bending forward from the hips, until your trunk is approximately parallel with the floor.
- Extend your hips, and push your weight through your feet and heels, standing the weight back up to starting position. Repeat.
- Start with a weight that’s only about 20-25% of your back squat.
Good Mornings Variations
Instead of a barbell, you can use different training implements to perform the good morning, such as resistance bands or dumbbells. Using dumbbells with good mornings is an advanced variation and recruits and activates more core strength.
Resistance band good mornings are a great variation to help establish the movement pattern of the good morning exercise and warm up before loading with a barbell.
Good Mornings: Takeaway
If you’re a beginner at weightlifting, I wouldn’t recommend starting with the good morning. Perfecting the squat and deadlift first is important to learn the basics and how to engage your core through the movement, before you load a heavy barbell with your torso nearly parallel to the ground. Once you’re comfortable with other compound movements, the good morning is a great exercise to get through strength plateaus and reach a new PR. Properly done, the good morning is one of the most effective posterior chain exercises, and should be included in your training if you want to build more hip mobility and strength.
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Vigotsky, Andrew David et al. “Effects of load on good morning kinematics and EMG activity.” PeerJ vol. 3 e708. 6 Jan. 2015, doi:10.7717/peerj.708