T Nation

Good Mornings - Who, Why, and How?

Poliquin and TC (and maybe King too) push good mornings as one of the greatest hamstring exercises one can do. Trouble is, nobody ever does them, at least not where I train. In the past 26 years at more than 15 gyms I’ve probably only seen them done 10 times at most. I tried the damn things the other day with an empty bar and although I felt the hamstrings stretch, they didn’t compare to stiff-leg deadlifts. Perhaps I need a little guidance. First, Charles says to keep the spine rounded (see Issue 105). It looks to me like the guy’s spine is flat and rigid. Why and how do you round it? Second, what kind of poundages should I be shooting for? I can easily deadlift 405x10, squat 315x10, and stiff-leg deadlift 275x10. Last, why and how are good mornings any different than stiff-leg deadlifts?

well, how far down did you go in the good morning, maybe you didn’t go down too far because you didn’t have great technique and that is why you didn’t feel the stretch in your hamstrings. He said to keep the lordotic curve in your spine, meaning the curve that is in the spine near the pelvis. you can basically think of this as keeping the back flat.
I would usually not do more than 6-8 reps in a good morning because i use them for sprint training and the hamstrings are primarily fast twitch fibers.
I can’t really answer good mornings are different than stiff legged deadlifts because of where the weight is. when you do a stiff legged deadlift notice how you keep the weight as close to your legs as possible to minimize the torque force that goes through your upper body ? well in a good morning since the bar is on your traps a lot more torque is generated through the torso and more stress is put on the hamstrings.
Since you haven’t done the excercise much before, start light, learn good form and then move as heavy as you are comfortable.

Good answers, thanks. Yes, I lowered my head far enough, probably too far. The reason I’m using 10 reps is I’m doing TC’s GVT2K, although if I don’t give up on them I’ll definitely drop reps afterwards.

GMs rock!!! They will put pounds on your squat, pronto. There are countless ways to do them but as the previous post mentioned, the usual form is to maintain a curve to your back by consciously pushing your ass back and bowing your chest up (ala proper squat form). Don’t expect the same stretch sensation in your hams unless you take a really wide stance, not that the stretch is totally synonymous with ham recruitment. To give you an idea of weights, I’m 6’1", DL in the low/mid 400s, squat about the same and can do 225x3/no belt on GMs, which is a little low for the numbers I’m posting. Start out light, get your balance and SLOWLY add weight. Always blow out HARD on your abs at the bottom of each rep. Welcome to the GM club.

I love good mornings. There are a lot of variations you can do… I tend to favor a flat back when using heavier loads, but you may benefit from rounding your back if your reps are in the range of about 15.

The primary difference between the good morning and the stiff leg deadlift is the change in orientation of force production. In a stiff leg deadlift, the bar essentially moves in a straight vertical line due to the mobility of the arms. In a good morning, the bar is locked into place on your back, which makes the bar travel in an arc rather than a straight line. That's why the hardest part of a good morning is in the bottom position, while the force of a stiff leg deadlift is more evenly distributed along the entire ROM. This isn't good or bad, just different.

oh yea i wanted to mention that good mornings were the staple of the soviet sprinters weight lifting program.

A useful adjunct to good mornings is to superset weighted hyperextensions. The reason is that the torque is completely different: when you body is straight is the point of maximal stress for a hyper, and the point of minimal stress for a GM; when your torso is at a 90 deg. angle for a hyper, you are basically hanging limp, whereas that places the greatest torque for a GM.