The Good Morning Exercise – Execution, Benefits and Variations

What are the benefits of good morning exercise ? What muscles does the good morning exercise work ? Why you should add the barbell good morning to your lower body and core strength training routine!

What muscles does the good morning exercise work ?

It is a powerful weightlifting exercise that works the whole posterior chain – the hamstrings, back, glutes and even the abs. It is a great exercise that will add strength all aver your body and improve compound lifts like deadlifts, squats and rows.

You would need to use a weighted barbell to increase the load on the muscles, but beginners are recommended to start with only a light weight, or no weight at all.

What are the benefits of doing the good morning exercise with a barbell?

The primary target of this exercise will be your hamstrings, which are located at the back of your upper legs, however other muscle groups will get a goof work out too, so don’t worry about that. Additionally, your buttocks, also known as gluteus maximus and your inner thighs, also known as adductor magnus will work as synergists while the erector spinae, which runs down the length of your spine will be the stabilizer.

Coming in as antagonist stabilizers will be the obliques and the abdominal muscles, also known as rectus abdominis. And by engaging all of these muscle groups, good morning exercises are a great way to improve overall leg, hip and back strength!

If you use a weighted barbell to increase the load, you will activate these muscle groups even more, research even shows that if you use at least 50 percent of your one rep maximum you will increase the activation of the hamstrings and spinal erectors while increasing knee flexion as well!

Before you jump into weighted barbells, start out with a non – weighted one to practice doing the correct form, then continue with lighter weights at the beginning and gradually increase the weight over a period of time as you gain the appropriate strength and refinement in your form.

How to do the barbell good morning exercise

You should start by standing with both your feet at shoulder width apart with your knees bent slightly, then put the barbell with the appropriate weight on your shoulders so that the bar rests on the trapezius muscles of your upper back, near you shoulder area.

Brace your upper back and abdominal muscles and take a good breath, then exhale it as you hinge at the hips, send the hips backwards and your upper body forward, you should stop once your upper body is nearly parallel with the floor. Inhale once again as you return to the starting position.

Variations of the good morning exercise you can try

To better meet your skill level and your fitness goals you can vary this exercise by a bit or a lot even!

  1. Seated Good Morning with a barbell

You can start out by doing this exercise from a seated beginning position, although this is exactly the reason why your hamstrings won’t get the same amount of work out compared to the standing version. Nevertheless, this variation of the barbell good morning exercise is great for isolating those core muscles.

  1. Change your stance

One of the simpler changes you can do to this exercise, no matter the amount of weight that you are lifting, is to widen or even narrow your stance. This can do one of two things: a wider stance will help to work out your glutes more, while a narrower one will put those hamstrings to work.

  1. Make a deeper bend

When preparing to lift heavier and heavier weights, you can increase the bend in your knees to further intensify the stretch you make, which will protect your lower back and in turn allow you to lift safely.

  1. Single-Leg Barbell Good Morning

For more advanced people partaking in this exercise, you can up the challenge of the barbell good morning by doing the lift on one leg only. Not only does it make it more difficult, but it also requires you to focus more, and puts an emphasis on stability, strength and balance!

When doing this variation of the exercise, make sure that you are not using too much weight, and have someone spot you, if you have the chance that is.

As with any exercise, there are common mistakes that you should avoid doing, luckily, we have some compiled here to help you swiftly avoid them.


If you avoid making these mistakes, that will aid you in performing the exercise safely and more effectively.

  1. Don’t overdo it!

While doing the exercise, how low you can go is entirely influenced by your flexibility across the posterior chain of muscles, which are the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. So, although improving your fitness level and challenging yourself gradually is the goal, you shouldn’t push yourself too hard.

Additionally, you don’t really need to lift the heaviest weight possible to reap all the benefits from this exercise, you should start with a lighter weight, or no weight at all even, and then gradually increase the amount as you progress.

  1. Avoid poor form

Before taking on any weighted exercise, you should have a basic understanding of the weight training fundamentals, and before you add weights and start lifting them you should especially make sure that your form is a proper and consistent one. This not only ensures that you are doing the lifting safely, but effectively as well.

  1. Avoiding warming up

Another one of the more serious mistakes a person can make when it comes to weight training actually happens before you even get a hold of a weight. When not properly warmed up you can risk straining your muscles, at the very least, and at most you can incur a pretty serious injury. You should warm up for at least 5 minutes before a work out so you can make your muscles more flexible, all the while providing them with more oxygen.

Last but not least we are going to talk about safety and the precautions when doing the barbell good morning exercise.

This exercise requires some strict focus put on form so you protect your lower back from injury, as well as having the right equipment and gear needed. So, whether you are working out at home or at the gym, you should also make sure that you have the stable footing needed and that you are wearing the suitable strength training footwear.

Additionally, while there are some modifications that your trainer may recommend depending on your situation, heavy lifting should strictly be avoided if you are:

  1. Injured or are recovering from an injury to your neck, spine, back, arms, knees or your feet.
  2. Recovering from a recent surgery on your neck, back, arms, abdomen or your knees.
  3. Pregnant or recovering from childbirth.

And obviously, check with your doctor first before attempting or increasing a weight training program of any kind. Since good morning exercises are a more advanced type of a weight training lift, you should definitely work closely with a coach or a trainer when getting started on them. It is imperative that you stop doing this exercise the moment you feel pain in your lower back or hamstrings.

Depending on your fitness goals, the number of sets and reps that you do will vary a bit. For example, if you are a beginners a pretty good place to start is 3 sets of 3 reps, then increase as your strength starts to increase.

For the latest news and updates join our 1 Million fans on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Leave a Reply