When it comes to getting a good lumbar, glute, and hamstring workout the Good
Morning is near the top of the list of exercises. Good mornings can be done with many
variations. They are a good movement to do if one needs to train around an arm or
shoulder problem. They can also save wear and tear on the hands.
Over the years I've witnessed some incredible feats of strength by individuals I trained
with who regularly did this exercise. The purpose of this article is to explain the benefits,
dangers, and shortcomings that can be associated with doing different variations of this
exercise. Good mornings are a great exercise but extreme caution should be exercised
when doing them.
When one does a good morning one should always use one hundred per cent (100%)
concentration on every repetition. Even a little distraction can have disastrous results. If
one is not careful one could get injured severely doing this exercise.
As a personal trainer and a person who started doing this exercise over thirty
years ago, I recommend higher repetitions on good mornings. Eight to ten reps have
always worked well for me. Circulating a lot of blood into the lumbar and glute area is
very important. This extra circulation will greatly reduce the risk of injury. Also it is a
good idea not to do a full range good morning to parallel until about the third or forth rep
on each set. Doing low reps like singles, doubles, or triples will probably cause trouble in
the long run.
The preferred method of doing good mornings is up to the individual. My preferred
method of doing this exercise is the BENT LEGGED, STRAIGHT BACK GOOD
MORNING. The thing to remember on these is not to bend forward, per say:
(1) take the barbell from the rack on your shoulders behind your neck.
(2) Stand with a comfortable shoulder width stance.
(3) Then bend your knees slightly.
(4) Then fix your eyes, if possible, on a spot on the wall in front of you. That designated
spot should be at about belt height.
(5) Now rather than leaning or bending forward, concentrate on pushing your hips
backwards. As your hips travel backwards on a horizontal plane the barbell will travel
straight down on a vertical plane. Descend in the eccentric portion of the movement
(6) When your eyes reach the level across from the designated spot on the wall, or if your back starts to round because of possible tightness in the hip area, STOP . At this point your back should be in a straight line or slightly arched and almost parallel with the floor. You should also be looking straight ahead at the designated spot on the wall, so your head should be tilted slightly back. (Warning) What ever you do at this point, DO NOT DROP YOUR HEAD AND LOOK DOWN. Dropping your head will cause your back to round. This can also throw stress onto the cervical vertebras in the neck.
(7) To return to an upright position, concentrate on pulling your hips forward on a
horizontal plane. Remember, the hips travel horizontally and the barbell travels vertically.
This lifting groove should always keep the center of gravity of the barbell over the feet. If
this center of gravity deviates forwards or backwards with a heavy weight, trouble could
result. This is why 100% concentration is so important.
The next variation is the OLYMPIC STYLE GOOD MORNING. The Olympic Style
Good Morning is just a slight deviation from the "Bent Legged, Straight Back" variation.
On these however you descend only about halfway down to where your back is at about a
45 degree angle from the floor. You then ascend very quickly and finish each repetition by
extending up on the toes. These are a great exercise for building up the transition phase
between the first and second pull of a snatch or clean.
Contrary to some articles I've read lately, I am NOT a proponent of rounded back
lifting. Whether you do good mornings, deadlifts, snatches or cleans, rounded back lifting
is poor form. It is also risky. The only exception for lifting with a rounded back would be
for warm up and stretching.
The rounded back variation of good morning that is recommended is the EXTREME
GOOD MORNING. These should be done with an empty bar or very light weight. The
idea here is to thoroughly stretch the spine by bending over to where your head is between
Do the Extreme Good Mornings very slowly. Hold each repetition at the bottom
position for five to six seconds. On your first repetition you only need to go down to
parallel. On each succeeding repetition bend over a little further. By the fifth or sixth
repetition you should be down as far as you can go. One set of five to six reps is all you
should need on these. You can also add one or two sets of head strap work for the neck at
this point in your workout. Remember, do all extreme or rounded back good mornings
very slowly. If one straightens up too quickly the spinal column can take on an action
similar to snapping a whip or flicking a towel. Too much of this kind of stuff can be bad
news for a good healthy back.
Next the STIFF LEGGED GOOD MORNING. Like the extreme and or rounded back
good morning, stiff legged good mornings should only be done light for stretching and
warm-up. Stiff legged good mornings are also an excellent exercise for helping to
rehabilitate a pulled hamstring.
Then there is the SEATED GOOD MORNING. Seated good mornings are good if you
want to isolate to the lumbars by minimizing the use of the glutes and hamstrings.
1) Sit on a bench high enough so you femurs (thigh bones) are parallel with the floor and
your tibias (shin bones) are at 90 degrees to your femurs.
(2) Lean forward looking at a spot in front of you at about belt height. Remember, don't
let your head drop and don't look down. Dropping the head rounds the back.
(3) When your abdominal area touches the top of your thighs, pause briefly then rise.
When you're used to doing these you can get more range of motion by spreading your legs
and straddling the bench. Now you can lean forward and your abdominals will drop down
between your thighs. Sets of eight to ten repetitions work well on seated good mornings.
Also, as a side note, I might mention that a friend of mine recommends doing these with
several seconds pause at the bottom on each repetition. He claims to get a tremendous
pump doing this.
Finally, remember use 100 % concentration on each rep of any variation of this exercise, otherwise they will "BAD rather than GOOD MORNINGS.