Stop Sucking at the Good Morning Exercise

The 4 Variations You Need

Some people are scared to do the good morning. Others should be scared, given their terrible form. Here are four ways to get it right.

It’s time to reap the benefits of the often-overlooked good morning (GM) exercise. Moving the load around during the exercise alters the force vector and stress demands on different regions of the body, providing multiple opportunities for targeted, pain-free training.

Try out these four variations, each of which adheres to the hinge pattern, emphasizes posterior muscle groups, and differs slightly because of load positioning.

4 Good Morning Variations

1. Kettlebell Anterior Loaded GM

Kettlebell held tight at chest. Load is more anterior.

  • Great for beginners with decreased loading ability
  • Improves co-contractions at the shoulder and upper body stability
  • Increased recruitment of the core and upper trunk musculature

2. Barbell GM

Weight is more posterior. Greater stress on shoulders.

  • Hits the entire posterior chain
  • Increased loading ability
  • Increased stability demands

3. Safety-Squat Bar GM

Bar sits higher on back than with a barbell. Hands move anteriorly on the handles.

  • Great option for anyone with shoulder pain
  • Greater demand on the upper back
  • Increased stability with hands anterior
  • Improves trunk stability

4. Zercher GM

Very anterior loaded and lower toward hips.

  • Load placed around belly button and sits in the pits of the arms. Use a towel, squat pad, or axle bar to prevent getting some sweet raspberries. A sandbag works great, too, as shown in the video.
  • Excellent way to challenge and improve core stability
  • Increased upper body demand

New to Good Mornings?

Try lighter anterior-loaded variations first. When you progress to posterior loaded, try 50% of your body weight for 2-4 sets of 6-12, then go from there depending on your goals: strength, hypertrophy, or endurance.

If you need to regress, use a dowel, try it seated, or stick with a lighter anterior load. Add bands and chains for accommodative resistance if you want to ramp it up.

Pro Tips

  • This is a hip hinge, not a squat. Make sure you’re posteriorly shifting your weight back and have a solid foot and ankle position, grounding yourself to the floor. Maintain a neutral spine and a good brace.

  • You can use other bars or even do these suspended depending on intent and desired stimulus.

  • Use the good morning as a warm-up, a main movement, or an accessory lift.

  • This is also a great exercise to teach someone how to properly hip hinge (unloaded). The good morning also encourages and helps teach rooting of the feet to the ground to prevent falling backward.

Make any workout work better: