Good Morning Exercises


Bow down before the undisputed king of lower-back builders

Good morning
6 Apr 2016

To the uninitiated, the good morning (named, yes, for the gentlemanly bow it’s based on) looks like a chiropractor’s nightmare: bending forward with a weight on your shoulders, then lifting it straight up with your lower back. Not so: done with decent spinal alignment and good form, this assistance move won’t just leave your lower back unharmed – it’ll actually strengthen it, allowing you to shift more weight in key moves like the squat and deadlift without contorting yourself into vertebrae-crushing positions.

The key? Keep the weight low, the movement slow, and the form strict. Powerlifter Jim Wendler, for instance, never does good mornings with more than 60kg and he’s squatted more than 400kg. He recommends using the good morning on a lower-body day, for three to five sets after your main move, doing ten to 12 reps per set. The bonus: keep those reps slow and you’ll also stretch and strengthen tight/weak hamstrings, making it a money move whether you’re a marathoner, iron disciple or both.

RECOMMENDED: Back Exercises

Good Morning Form Tips

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, body upright, core braced and shoulders back.
  • Rest the bar across the back of your shoulders, not your neck, and grasp it with your hands just outside your shoulders.
  • Bend forward from the hips, not the waist, and bend your knees slightly.
  • Lean as far forward as the stretch in your hamstrings will allow (but not beyond the horizontal).
  • Keep a natural arch in your lower back.
  • Push your hips back to maintain balance.

Good Morning Variations

Split good morning

Place extra pressure on your hamstrings with this one-sided move. Avoid stressing your back by keeping your good morning shallow.

Single-leg good morning

Standing on one leg requires your core muscles – lower back and abs – to work harder to maintain balance. Make the move slow and balanced.

Medicine ball sledgehammer

This exercise targets a host of muscles around your body, especially the stabilising muscles in your lower back. Keep your back flat, bring the ball down powerfully between your legs, then straighten your legs and lift the ball high.

This content is from the experts at Men's Fitness magazine.

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