The Best Exercise That You Aren’t Doing (Good Morning)

good morning alternative
Well..that’s one way to do a good morning.

The good morning is a great exercise to not only strengthen your hamstrings and lower back but also just teach great hinging mechanics.

The barbell good morning is quite challenging though, as many people lack the adequate body awareness to move properly and end up hurting their back more than getting the hamstrings to engage.

In this blog post I’ll provide:

  • how to do a barbell good morning (to make sure your form is right)
  • give you some alternatives to try

I find that most people really lack hamstring mobility and that’s one reason why they have difficulty with good mornings. Or they have a weak back from poor hip stability, and mobility. So I created a free mobility workshop to help improve hamstring mobility, core stability and some things to help people move pain free. To snag it, click here.

single leg forward fold
Let’s talk about how we can help your hamstrings and lower back.

How To Do Barbell Good Morning

We have created instructional movement videos breaking down how to perform the good morning properly and provided some alternatives down below.

The Barbell Good Morning is the most advanced variation of good morning exercise.

Awesome for creating strength in your hamstrings, upper back but they have to be done with good form.

  • Unlock your knees (soft bend)
  • push your hips back like you are trying to close a car door with your bum
  • and do this while keeping the barbell tight on your upper back.

Check out the video below for a seated variation, which is a great place for most people to start.

Master each position first.

Notice in the video how I bent my knees, opened up my hips and really prioritized my lower back NOT rounding.

Make sure you do the same.

If we take a coulple of steps back some other drills to consider trying are:

Within our workouts programs we provide clients with a warm up, strength prep drills (to help with muscle activation) and a total body workout.

deadlift correct form
Good morning are great to prepare you for deadlifts.

Often times we will have a banded good morning, or a good morning variation when the workout of the day calls for hinging with either some deadlifts, kettlebell swings, or maybe even some power cleans depending on which program you are following.

The band is awesome if you just aren’t comfortable barbell with the barbell yet.

It’s so important to master good form on hinge movements to avoid hurting your back. Add this exercise to your toolbox for sure.

Great drill for your warm up sets

On the other hand, we have the Kettlebell Good Morning and one of the best good morning exercises because you are still getting great recruitment from your hamstrings, glutes, and your lower back.

It’s a great alternative if you don’t have maybe the mobility to put a barbell behind your back or may not even have one.

Either way the kettlebell is a great option for you and will help you learn movements like the one of our favorite exercises on the planet to strengthen your glutes and hamstrings…the kettlebell swing. Click here to learn all about the kettlebell swing.

Master the form, keep you back nice and tight. NO rounding.

This a great way to begin to learn the kettlebell swing properly.

Are Good Mornings Bad For Your Back?

Not when they’re performed correctly!

Be sure to reference the videos above (they are only about two minutes) to master the proper form and learn how to do it correctly.

  • You want to keep your upper back engaged.
  • Unlock your knees (bend slightly)
  • Without letting your back round push your glutes back as if you were going to close a car door with your butt.

We like our clients to master the cat and cow so they begin to learn how to move their spine.

Because if you don’t have the body awareness and can’t get into a good position here, then it’s going to be a lot more challenging under load.

This really teaches you how to move your spine properly. This way when ever you grab the barbell, kettlebell or band, you now know where your back should be as opposed to be rounded.

This teaches you how to move your spine properly.

Is The Good Morning Exercise Dangerous?

Every exercise can be dangerous if you are putting yourself at risk of injury.

Always prioritize good mechanics and proper form before adding load aka weight.  

What Can I Do Instead Of Good Mornings

We specialize in finding alternatives for every movement within our strength training programs using our K2 Level System.

Check out the best good morning alternatives here:

  1. Banded Good Morning
  2. Kettlebell Good Morning
  3. Banded Pull Through

Have you mastered the “hinge” and want to start adding some strength?

The good morning exercise has massive carry over and should act as an accessory exercise. Try out these top 3 strength based exercises once you have mastered the the Good Morning:

The Deficit Deadlift

These are great for more advanced lifters who are looking to get incremental gains on their deadlift numbers.

It requires more range of motion in your hamstrings and slightly more flexion of your spine, so be sure to not go as heavy with these bad boys.

#1 Deficit Deadlift

Romanian Deadlift

The RDL is one of the most popular strength exercises not only for beginners but for elite strength athletes because:

  • strengthens hip & glutes
  • you can load more weight on the bar since the range of motion is shorter
  • potentially less chance of injury*

*what I mean by that is, most people have good mechanics pulling the barbell UP. But it’s also just as important to make sure your back in flat on the way DOWN.

Check out the video below to make sure you have good hinging mechanics, and if you are more of a reader…

…check out this blog post on how to do a Romanian deadlift.

#2 Romanian Deadlift

Kettlebell Swings

I remember when I first getting into functional training.

I lovedddd Kettlebells.

And quite honestly I’m really glad I took up learning kettlebell movements from the jump. Because they challenge you in so many ways and you can be so creative with all the different movements.

Learning how to swing the kettlebell was actually one of the first things I learned how to do.

Check out the video or this article on how to swing a kettlebell.

#3 Everyone should know how to properly swing a kettlebell.

How Can I Get My Back Flat During The Good Morning Exercise?

If you’re having trouble getting your back flat and your back is hurting. Stop and read this blog on why your mobility isn’t improving.

Sometimes it’s a lack of awareness, and sometimes it’s a lack of mobility.

Make sure you’re mastering the cat and cow stretch to learn how to move your spine properly.

If you are still having an issue you may have super tight hamstring like most of us do so try these..

5 Stretches To Help With Getting Your Back Flat:      

We program a good warm up and stretching before all workouts within our training programs because we know how important mobility is for establishing proper positioning.

For each of these stretches below hold them for 60 seconds – two minutes per stretch and focus on breathing.

1. Supine Hamstring Stretch

2. Banded Hamstring Series                    

3. Wall Straddle                            

4. Pigeon on Wall                          

5. Single Leg Forward Fold   

A lack of range of motion could have a lot to do with back pain. We recommend completing those stretches before you do any “hinge” movement to help free up some range of motion. If you prefer more of a follow along style of stretching/mobility training, take my free 3 day mobility course.

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Conclusion

To master the good morning exercise you need to have good hamstring range of motion so you can get into a good position.

Whether you are deadlifting, doing a kettlebell swing, or performing the good morning the tension should be in your hamstrings and not your back.

Let us know which alternative you found to be the most useful for you by commenting below!

good morning alternative
Your coaches Kevin & Katie

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