How To Do Good Morning Exercise: Proper Form, Variations, Alternatives, And Common Mistakes

Good morning! Let’s talk about the good morning exercise. No, we’re not talking about the polite greeting you give your co-workers when you walk in the door. We’re talking about an exercise that’s going to wake up your body and prep you for the day ahead. We would go as far as saying If you’re looking for a simple and effective way to wake up your body and build a strong posterior chain, look no further than the good morning exercise. Unlike the big lifts that require grunting and clanking weights, this exercise looks like an easy bend but packs a serious punch.

The hip-hinge motion of the good morning exercise engages every muscle along your posterior chain, from your hamstrings to your glutes and even your transverse abdominals. In fact, it gets its name because it mimics the movement of getting out of bed in the morning, making it the perfect warm-up move to prep your body for the day ahead.

While using a weighted barbell can increase the load on these muscles, beginners can start with a light weight or no weight at all. Despite its intimidating appearance, the good morning exercise can actually improve your back health when done with proper form and spinal alignment. It strengthens your lower back muscles and core while also stretching and strengthening your hamstrings, making it a valuable exercise for anyone from office workers to weightlifters, sportsmen, and marathon runners. So, get ready to snap back into shape with this money move!

What Is The Good Morning Exercise?

At its core, the good morning exercise is a hip hinge. But what’s a hip hinge, you ask? It’s one of those fancy terms that fitness folks throw around, but don’t worry, it’s not as complicated as it sounds. It’s basically just bending forward at the hips while maintaining a neutral spine. You know that feeling when you get out of bed in the morning and plant your feet on the floor before standing up? That’s the good morning exercise in action.

Now, don’t get too excited just yet. There is one downside to this exercise – a higher risk of back injury. But don’t let that scare you off. With proper form and technique, you can perform the good morning safely and effectively.

Why bother with the good morning exercise, you ask? Well, aside from waking up your body and prepping you for the day ahead, it’s also a great way to strengthen your posterior chain – that’s your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. Plus, it’s a move that translates well to real-life situations. Think about it – how many times a day do you bend over to pick something up off the ground? By practicing the good morning exercise, you’ll be better equipped to handle those everyday tasks without putting unnecessary strain on your back.

How To Do The Good Morning Exercise

Man Demonstrating How To Do The Good Morning Exercise

let’s break down the steps on how to do the good morning exercise. Trust me, it’s easier than it sounds.

  • Step 1: Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointed forward, and knees softly bent. You can either let your hands hang straight down, cross them over your chest, or rest them on the back of your head.
  • Step 2: Brace your midline, which means engaging your core muscles, and simultaneously hinge at the hips while pushing your butt straight back. Make sure to keep your lower legs perpendicular to the floor.
  • Step 3: As you lower your torso towards the floor, maintain a flat back and continue until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings or until your back begins to round. It’s important to keep your back straight to prevent injury.
  • Step 4: Press into your feet and drive through your hips to reverse the movement. Use your hamstrings and core muscles to stand upright. At the top, squeeze your glutes for an extra bonus.

Note: You don’t have to hinge your torso forward until it’s parallel with the ground. If you’re just starting out, it’s okay to only hinge forward a few inches. Don’t worry about getting too low and compromising your form.

Form Tips For Good Morning Exercise

let’s break down some form tips to make sure you’re doing the good morning exercise correctly and safely.

  • Tip 1: Keep your spine long and slightly arched with the shoulder blades pinched together. This will help maintain a neutral spine and prevent any unnecessary strain on your back.
  • Tip 2: Maintain a slight bend in your knees. If your knees are too straight, you risk straining your back, but if they’re too bent, the move becomes more of a squat than a hamstring exercise. So find that sweet spot in between!
  • Tip 3: Your shins should stay vertical to the floor. This will help you maintain the correct hip hinge movement and prevent you from leaning too far forward and putting unnecessary strain on your lower back.
  • Tip 4: To lead the movement, push your hips back rather than dropping your chest forward. This will help you keep your back straight and engage your hamstrings and glutes, rather than your lower back.

Remember, it’s important to take your time and focus on proper form when doing the good morning exercise. If you’re new to the move, start slow and make sure you have the proper technique down before adding weight or increasing your range of motion. With these form tips in mind, you’ll be on your way to perfecting your good morning exercise in no time!

Good Morning Exercise Muscles Worked

The good morning exercise works not only the posterior chain but also the muscles in the core, including the transverse abdominis, obliques, and pelvic floor. These muscles are essential for maintaining a stable spine and preventing injury. If weights are added, the exercise can also strengthen the triceps, biceps, shoulders, and traps. All in all, the good morning is a comprehensive full-body exercise.

Benefits Of Good Morning Exercise

The good morning exercise offers a wide range of benefits to your body. Here’s a breakdown of some of the top advantages of incorporating this move into your fitness routine:

Strengthening the Posterior Chain

The good morning exercise is excellent for strengthening the glutes and hamstrings, as well as other muscles in the posterior chain like the upper back, lats, and calves. A strong posterior chain can help you run faster, lift heavier weights, and improve your overall athletic performance.

Most people have weak posterior chains, which can cause muscle tightness and weakness. Doing good mornings helps to activate these overlooked muscles, leading to better overall fitness. Good mornings engage various muscle groups including the obliques, rectus abdominis, legs, hips, and back, resulting in improved strength in these areas

Injury Prevention

Weak posterior chains force other muscle groups to compensate, which can increase the risk of injuries like plantar fasciitis, knee injuries, pulled hamstrings, and low back injuries. Good mornings help activate and strengthen the posterior chain muscles, making them a crucial exercise for injury prevention.

Improved Functional Fitness

The good morning exercise mimics the movement patterns used during everyday tasks. If you can’t properly do a good morning, the risk of lower back injury during day-to-day movements like putting groceries away or tying your shoelaces goes way up. Incorporating good mornings into your fitness routine can improve your functional fitness, making everyday tasks easier and safer, especially as you get older.

How To Avoid Common Mistakes In Good Mornings Exercise

The good morning exercise is a fantastic movement for strengthening the posterior chain, but executing it incorrectly can lead to injury. To ensure you’re getting the most out of this exercise, here are some common mistakes to avoid.

Using Too Much Weight

Although good mornings can be loaded with weight, lifting too much can put unnecessary stress on your lower back, which can lead to injury. If you experience lower back pain during squats or deadlifts, it’s best to avoid the good morning exercise altogether.

If you do decide to increase the weight, make sure your form is correct. Keep your back in a neutral position throughout each rep, and hinge at your hips to maintain control of the bar. If you’re unable to maintain proper form, reduce the weight significantly.

Collapsing Your Chest

When lifting too much weight, you may find yourself collapsing your chest or curving your back towards the bottom of your hinge. This may help you move the weight faster, but it can compromise your form and increase the risk of injury. Focus on maintaining quality form rather than speed.

If you feel the need to rush through the reps, or if you notice that you’re curving your back or collapsing your chest, it’s a sign that you’re using too much weight. Reduce the weight and concentrate on maintaining a neutral spine. Keep your hips back and your torso stable, like a plank.

Not Focusing on the Hinge

If you’re bending over with your upper back instead of pushing your hips back, you’re not engaging the right muscles and missing the point of the exercise. Proper form involves focusing on your hip hinge, which helps maintain a safe bar path and engage your hamstrings.

To maximize the safety and effectiveness of the exercise, concentrate on sending your hips back while keeping your torso stable. This will ensure you’re engaging the right muscles and getting the most out of the exercise.

Good Morning Exercise Variations

Here are some variations to help improve your technique, strength, and performance:

Barbell Good Morning Exercise

Begin by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent. Place an appropriately weighted barbell on your shoulders, resting on the trapezius muscles near your shoulders. Brace your upper back and abdominals and inhale. Exhale as you hinge at the hips, sending your hips backward and upper body forward until your upper body is nearly parallel to the floor. Inhale as you return to the starting position.

Safety Bar Good Morning

Using a safety bar can alleviate pressure on your shoulders and force you to keep your back flat and your core braced. This variation is great for all levels, especially if you struggle with shoulder mobility.

Seated Good Morning

By doing the good morning exercise from a seated position, you can isolate your spinal erectors and minimize hamstring tension. However, it will decrease the amount of weight you can lift compared to the standing version and remove the hamstrings and glutes from the movement.

Seated Good Morning With Barbell

This variation is done from a seated position, and while it won’t work your hamstrings the same way as the standing version, it is great for isolating your core muscles.

Changing Your Stance

Adjusting your stance is the simplest change you can make to the good morning exercise. A wider stance works your glutes, while a narrower stance works your hamstrings.

Deeper Bend

If you’re preparing to lift heavier weights, increasing the bend in your knees will intensify the stretch, protect your lower back, and allow you to lift safely.

Single-Leg Barbell Good Morning

For advanced exercisers, doing the good morning exercise on one leg will require greater focus, stability, strength, and balance. If you decide to try this variation, make sure you’re not using too much weight and have someone spot you, if possible.

Good Morning Exercise Alternatives

Here are the steps for the three alternatives to the good morning exercise:

Romanian Deadlift

girl doing dumbbell rdl
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a barbell with an overhand grip.
  2. Hinge forward at your hips while keeping your knees slightly bent and your back straight.
  3. Lower the bar towards your shins and feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
  4. Return to the starting position by driving your hips forward and standing up straight.


girl doing back extension exercise at gym
  1. Lie face down on a hyperextension bench with your feet secured.
  2. Place your hands behind your head and engage your glutes.
  3. Slowly lift your upper body up while keeping your back straight.
  4. Hold for a second before lowering back down to the starting position.

Snatch-Grip Romanian Deadlift

  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and hold a barbell with a wide overhand grip.
  2. Hinge forward at your hips while keeping your knees slightly bent and your back straight.
  3. Lower the bar towards your shins and feel the stretch in your hamstrings and lats.
  4. Return to the starting position by driving your hips forward and standing up straight.

These exercises are great alternatives to the good morning exercise for those who want to switch things up or those who experience discomfort in their back during the good morning exercise. Incorporating these exercises into your workout routine can help you build strength and target specific muscle groups.

Common Mistakes While Doing Good Morning Exercise

Overdoing It

It is important to not overdo the exercise, as how low one can go with this exercise depends on the flexibility across the posterior chain of muscles. Gradually increasing the weight and the range of motion over time can help improve the fitness level and challenge the body safely.

Poor Form

Before adding weights to the barbell, it is essential to have a good understanding of weight training fundamentals and to ensure that the form is proper and consistent. Correct form will help perform the lift safely and effectively every time.

Not Warming Up

A proper warm-up and stretching routine is crucial before starting any weight training. Without a warm-up, the muscles might get strained, and the person may incur a serious injury. A warm-up of at least five minutes will help make the muscles more flexible and increase blood flow, which supplies them with more oxygen.


the good morning exercise is a great way to strengthen the muscles in the posterior chain, including the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. However, it’s important to perform the exercise safely and correctly to avoid injury and get the most benefit. By incorporating variations and alternatives of the good morning, you can improve your technique, strength, and performance.

And by avoiding common mistakes and starting with a lighter weight, you can gradually work your way up and achieve your fitness goals. With these tips in mind, you can add the good morning exercise to your workout routine and enjoy its many benefits

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