The good morning exercise is a very versatile multi-joint exercise, whose usefulness concerns the strengthening of the buttocks, hamstrings, and the entire posterior kinetic chain.
In the article, we will see how to perform it with the correct technique and how to make the most of it for workouts in the gym.
What Is The Good Morning Exercise?
The good morning exercise is an important multi-joint exercise that stresses the entire posterior kinetic chain.
The good-morning exercise allows you to work on the same muscles of the posterior chain, used in the competition lifts with different angles.
Always remaining in the powerlifting field, it is also used a lot in Boris Sheiko’s programming (arguably the best powerlifting trainer), where he was however trained with much lower loads and higher reps.
In the world of fitness and bodybuilding, it is used to stress the buttocks and hamstrings, and also in these contexts, we can see it used, both as a heavy exercise and as a light complementary.
This brief overview shows how good morning exercise is a very versatile workout. Its solicitation of the posterior kinetic chain can be exploited in multiple ways, summarizing as:
- Heavy exercise that has a major transference to squats and deadlifts
- Lighter complementary to work in elongation on the buttocks, hamstrings, and spine muscles
- Postural exercise. The good morning exercise, in fact, forces you to maintain the correct curves of the spine while performing a hip extension. The fact that the bar is above the shoulders makes this more difficult than a Romanian deadlift. Learning to perform the good morning exercise correctly, has in all exercises, an excellent transference on the management of the back and the hip.
Rectus Abdominis And Obliques: Which One Is More Active?
The correct execution of the good morning exercise is extremely similar to that of the Romanian deadlift and shares most of the critical issues with the latter.
However, the different positioning of the barbell obliges, as mentioned above, to pay much more attention to how you manage your back.
Starting from the standing position, with the barbell on the shoulders (starting position identical to a squat), “unblock” the knees and keep them slightly bent, and move back with the butt to flex the hip.
Just like with the Romanian deadlift, you don’t have to dive forward with your torso. The fact that this bends is a consequence of pushing the butt back and flexing the hip.
During the execution the knees will bend a little more, this is normal and correct, especially if you use the good morning as a heavy exercise.
How much to go down with the torso depends a lot on what you want to achieve from this exercise.
If you are using it with heavy loads to have transference on squats and deadlifts, then it is not necessary to try to reach horizontal with the torso, and you can also make the flexion of the knees a little more pronounced.
If, on the other hand, you want to emphasize stretching and the more postural aspect of the exercise, try to get almost horizontal with the torso.
However, always pay attention to maintaining the correct physiological curves of the spine.
If you can’t descend far enough without hunching over, don’t worry, stop earlier and over time you will be able to descend more.
Variants of Good Morning Exercise
Good Morning With The Barbell
It is the classic variant, the most used when doing good morning exercise. The balance wheel allows you to load a lot while guaranteeing stability it is definitely the preferred variant if you are an athlete interested in strength development.
A small note on the positioning of the barbell:
Try to take a low bar position as much as possible with the barbell resting on the rear deltoids, and not a high bar resting on the trapezius, because otherwise, the stress on the cervical could be excessive.
Good Morning With A Sitting Barbell
A variant of good morning exercise is widely used in Boris Sheiko’s programs. Sit on a flat bench with the barbell on your shoulders and your feet flat on the ground.
Keep the column in the correct position, go down as far as you can, and back up. This variant places the emphasis on the muscles of the spine, thus excluding the use of the legs.
Very useful for athletic and postural purposes, not very versatile in my opinion for hypertrophic/aesthetic purposes.
Good Morning With Resistance Bands
Sometimes it happens to see the good morning exercise performed using a loop band around the neck and fixed to the ground.
This variant, which may seem tempting at a time when some do not have access to a barbell, is in my opinion unnecessarily complicated and stressful for the cervical spine.
If you want to take advantage of the increasing resistance of the elastics it is much better to opt for a Romanian deadlift so as not to risk having annoying cervical problems.
Muscles Involved In The Good Morning Exercise
The good morning exercise, involving an important extension of the hip joint, predominantly involves the entire posterior kinetic chain.
The main muscles involved are, therefore: the gluteus maximus, hamstring, and the so-called paravertebral muscles.
The gluteus maximus is the strongest hip extensor and one of the strongest muscles in the human body.
Its primary function is precisely to extend the thigh over the torso or, as in our case, the torso with respect to the thigh.
Together with the small and medium gluteus, it is stressed in the first part of the concentric phase, when we have the maximum flexion of the bust, while their role becomes less in the last degrees of the lift.
The hamstrings ( hamstring, semitendinosus, semimembranosus ) are bi-articular muscles which, in addition to flexing the leg on the thigh, are also extensors of the thigh and therefore intervene in the good morning to extend the hip.
In the good morning exercise, all those deep muscles of the spine also intervene in a massive way, whose role is to maintain, through an isometric contraction, the correct alignment of the spine and prevent it from bending and curving due to the force exerted by the barbell.
How Can I Do The Good Morning At Home Without A Barbell?
As seen before, the good morning exercise is in itself a very versatile exercise, which can also have other purposes in addition to muscle building.
If you are at home and do not have any overloads available, you can use this exercise as postural and stretching work.
A stick or a broomstick will do just fine and you can do it both in the standing and sitting variant.
How To Learn Good Morning With A Cane?
The correct management of the hip and back is completely identical to that necessary to perform a correct Romanian deadlift.
For this the same routine seen in the article on Romanian deadlifts is useful, summarized below for convenience:
- With a wooden stick on your shoulders, stand back to the wall, spaced a few centimeters apart.
- Simulating a good morning exercise go to touch the wall with your butt and stop. The excursion will be very small, don’t worry. Do 20/30 repetitions like this.
- Take a half step (even less) forward to distance yourself a little more from the wall. Another 20/30 repetitions.
- Continue to distance yourself from the wall a few inches at a time, doing a series of many repetitions each time, until you get to a point where you are too far from the wall to be able to touch it with your butt. Now do what you have done so far and you will have got a great good morning exercise.
How To Set Up A Good Morning Workout For Bodybuilding?
If within a powerlifting program I consider the good morning exercise an extremely useful and powerful weapon in bodybuilding.
I believe that the benefits it brings are not always worth the time necessary to perform it correctly with training loads.
I would like to advise you to develop good control and good management of the hip through exercises such as the Romanian deadlifts, before using the good morning exercise as a training complement.
Of course, you can still use it as a light warm-up or activation exercise.
For those who have already developed good levels of strength and excellent control here are two possible uses of the good morning exercise:
As a heavy exercise at the beginning of the session. Here you can ramp to medium to low reps (4-8) followed by 3-4 sets of backoffs.
As a complementary exercise that places emphasis on stretching the glutes and hamstrings. Here I recommend fixed load, medium to high repetitions (8-12), and a controlled eccentric.
These tips are simplifications and training planning cannot ignore the evaluation of the individual subject.
The good morning exercise is a very versatile exercise, whose correct execution, albeit simple, is not so immediate.
Learning to do it correctly will allow you not only to have a powerful tool to train the buttocks, hamstrings, paravertebral muscles, and the entire posterior kinetic chain but also to develop a perception of your body, which will have positive effects on all other multi-joint exercises for these muscles.