T Nation


Last week I was at my University gym doing sets of Goodmornings to strengthen my lowerback. At the conclusion of one of my sets a gym instructor came up to me and told me that I shouldn’t be doing good mornings. According to him all the research points to the fact that over the long-run GMs has been shown to wreck havoc on the lowerback. Now, I’ve been a member of the T-community from its inception and I don’t recall a single instance when anyone condemned the exercise to that effect. I politley thanked the instructor for his concern but told him I knew what I was doing. This got me thinking,is there any merit to what he was saying? Are GMs really bad for the back?

On another occasion, I was doing GMs with rounded back technique as prescribed by Ian King, Waterby etc… Another gym instructor came up to me and said I should never do the exercise round-backed. I tried to reason that it was a legitimate technique of doing GMS but she wouldn’t have any. Am I under a misapprehension by doing round-back GMs or is it a legitimate technique. Any input will be greatly appreciated.

“Are GMs really bad for the back?”

No, properly done, they’re extremely GOOD for the back.

“On another occasion, I was doing GMs with rounded back technique as prescribed by Ian King, Waterby etc… Another gym instructor came up to me and said I should never do the exercise round-backed.”

DARE her to go tell that to Louie Simmons or anyone from Westside Barbell.

I once told a trainer he’d be a little more successful if he didn’t hold himself back with his narrow-mindedness and complete disregard for the truth.These “people” are idiots, and have been taught by someone else who “knew everything”.

Be careful and see what works for you, something which everybody who lifts should do!

I would limit to how far down you go regardless if your back is straight or round UNLESS you are 100% sure it doesn’t iriitate your back.

ALso, please progress slowly in adding weight on this exercise as you should do for every execise really.

And why don’t you print out an article to show him/her so at least you can try to open their mind. If they don’t listen, that’s their problem.

“According to him all the research points to the fact that over the long-run GMs has been shown to wreak havoc on the lowerback.”

ALL the research. Who knew there was a whole body of research on the long term effects of Good Mornings on the lower back! Next time you see the guy, why don’t you ask him about this ‘research.’

By the way, isn’t there plenty of ‘research’ about the harmful effects of sqauts on the knees and protein on the kidneys, and the benefits of heroin for healthy skin?

Who cares what those pansy trainers think? They are too afraid to change their mind no matter what evidence you show them. Ask them how much they put on the bar and squat.

Politely tell the person that you are aware of using a flat back for good mornings, but that those would target the glutes and hams more directly. The rounded back good mornings on the other hand, work the spinal erectors directly via dynamic motion of those muscles and indirectly hit the glutes and hams. You are trying to directly stimulate the erectors, therefore you have chose the rounded back version. Next workout, when you aim to target your glutes, you will use the straight-back version. Then tell him to go fuck off.

not to hijack but, i was just thinking this today, i always do arched back GM’s, but i see westside etc also incorperates rounded back gm’s…

why are rounded back gm’s safe? as opposed to almost every other exercises where you should keep your back arched/chest out.

loopfitt–you rule I couldn’t have put it better

i guess thats not a hijack its the same question :), but why is rounded safe?

iamnobody: you would obviously use much lighter weight for these. Your erectors need to be stressed both as a stabilizer and as an agonist through dynamic movement. Think of the flat-back versions as an isometric exercise for the lumbar and the rounded-back versions as a dynamic exercise. Both have their place in strengthening the erectors. Think of reverse hypers. A properly performed reverse hyper has you rounding out your lumbar spine in a dynamic motion with added force and weight, yet it’s a great rehab exercise for the back.

tell them… when you squat more than me then you can open your nsca infected mouth…but until then they you have my permission to shut the fuck up…bm

Yea, Good Mornings are bad for your back. Squats harm your knees. Pull-ups make you crazy and Deadlifts will render you impotent! Those Gym teachers are brilliant!

im assuming these guys dont do like max efforts on rounded good morning then? they use it as an assistance exercise with higher reps?

i kinda remember seeing it in the elitefts max effort list though

how do you perform your rounded back gm’s ?

this rounded back GM always scared me, i think ill try it with light weight (the arch back gm’s i’ve been going heavy with great results) thnx loop

I love it when we all agree on something.

…and living is bad for life. We all should just kill ourselves. It’s nice and safe six feet under in a pine box.

the rounded back gm is better used with the gm-squat this way when you hit bottom of the squat you have to arch hard to get out of the hole…also when you do gm’s suspended you actually climb under the bar and get sit with a rounded back and then arch and drive th weight out of the chains…this is why gm’s work well for powerlifters becuase it is a chaos lift in wich it mimicks missing a squat in the middle-bottom and having to fight it through the top…bm


Rounded back good mornings are a max effort exercise for the Westside crew. But I wouldn’t do them unless I got proper instruction from someone. There are tons of other less risky exercises that can take their place.

So true. All the research shows that everyone who has ever been alive is either already dead or one day will be.

Beautiful research of the highest quality has conclusively shown that spinal flexion under load is the way that disks get damaged (herniated, bulging, etc.). Damage can occur from just ONE movement with supra-maximal load, or repeated stress from sub-maximal loading. Rounded-back GMs are a case of extreme flexion under load. So, yes, you definitely could injure a disk by doing this movement.

You can recover from MOST disk herniations, but this injury sucks, big time. It can take a LONG time before you return to your previous function.

On the other hand, you cannot go through life trying to avoid ALL risk. Every time you bend over with a rounded spine to pick up something heavy, you’re risking injury to your back. But to live your life, you do have to pick stuff up. In fact, if you never moved or picked stuff up, you’d have increased risk of degeneration due to muscle weakness and atrophy!

You can’t simply classify movements as “good for you” or “bad for you,” “safe,” or “unsafe.” There’s a continuum of safety/risk. [quote] And the same exercise can be good for you AND bad for you in some way, at the same time.[/quote] Why are we constantly told to lift with “good form”? What is good form anyway? It’s the movement that maximizes the benefit to the muscles while minimizing the risk of injury. Believing in the need for “good form” implies that the same movement can indeed be bad for you, depending on how you do it.

There are certainly performance-enhancing benefits to GMs. Some people are willing to accept more risk of injury in order to maximize performance; Louie Simmons would be an example.

TC once described a severe injury he suffered while benching, a pec tear. One could look at his experience and say that lifting weights was bad for him. He almost certainly wouldn’t have suffered that injury if he had never lifted weights. But that outlook woud also overlook all the many benefits he’s gained from lifting over the years.

Get Steele to comment on trainers and their feelings on overtraining. Actually, one in particular.