This incredibly useful exercise had almost disappeared completely from the training playlist, surviving only in the darkest reaches of the powerlifting and olympic weightlifting worlds. Fortunately it is now coming back into favour.
What is a good morning?
The good morning is a compound movement working the back and hamstrings. It is used as an assistance exercise for strengthening the posterior chain.
With the bar on your back, bend forward at the hips until your torso is parallel to the floor, then return to a standing position. In other words, take a bow with a weight on your back!
Why is it such a great exercise?
The good morning is an effective way to strengthen the back. It also requires confidence and control to perform well, which are useful skills to master.
Although it might look a bit dangerous at first glance, it is perfectly safe if performed with proper technique and an appropriate weight.
Good mornings have been a standard assistance exercise in olympic weightlifting for many decades. Heavy good mornings and concentric good mornings have been popularised for powerlifters by Westside Barbell.
How to perform the good morning
Practise this movement with just a barbell until you are confident with the technique and body position.
Step 1: start position
Take up a position as if for a back squat: legs slightly wider than hip width apart, barbell across your back resting on the traps (top of shoulders) not the neck.
You can experiment with different stances; a wider stance will work the hamstrings more while a narrow stance will work the lower back more.
Your hands should be as close to your shoulders as is comfortable (this will vary with your flexibility).
As in the deadlift, take a deep breath and hold it throughout the lift or at least until you are on the way back up. This breathing technique creates intra-abdominal pressure which helps to stabilise the spine.
Step 2: bend forward from the hips
Start the movement by bending forward from the hips, keeping the knees soft. Think about pushing your butt out behind you.
Keep your legs almost straight, with a slight bend in the knee so that they are not locked out completely.
Be careful not to round your lower back; maintain the curve in your lumbar spine. (Note: there is such a thing as a rounded back good morning but this is not in the scope of this article as it has specialist applicability.)
As you bend forward, the bar is held in place on your shoulders by pushing your shoulder blades back and your elbows up.
Keep your head in a neutral position. This means that as you bend over, your gaze will be directed towards the floor, not ahead of you.
Don’t be tempted to look up in an attempt to keep the bar on your back; the bar will stay in place if you keep your shoulders back, elbows up and a slight curve in your lower back.
Step 3: descend to parallel
Bend forward as close to parallel with the floor as you can go without rounding your lower back. For many people, this will not be quite parallel as they will be limited by hamstring flexibility but try to go for maximum range of motion rather than maximum weight on the bar!
Remember to keep the head neutral all the way down, keeping the bar in place with shoulders and elbow position.
You should feel a stretch in both the hamstrings and lower back in the bottom position of the good morning.
Step 4: return to standing position
Reverse the movement back to a standing position, maintaining the position of the head and back. Make sure you bring the hips back in fully before starting the next rep – in other words, stand up straight.
Concentric good morning
A concentric good morning is a variation of the standard good morning exercise, where you perform the second half of the movement first. You start in the bottom position, almost parallel to the floor, and lift the bar to a standing position.
The idea is to mimic the position of the back in the deadlift, but to focus more on the spinal erectors than a normal deadlift would do by taking a lot of the leg power out of the equation.
Concentric good mornings are usually used by powerlifters as a back assistance exercise or as a training alternative to the deadlift (as some advanced powerlifters do not deadlift very often).
How to perform a concentric good morning
Set the bar to the correct position in the rack. You will need to be able to lift the bar with a flat back, so don’t set the rack too low if you don’t have the flexibility to get into that bottom position.
Take up position under the bar as you would with a normal good morning. Lift the bar, driving up against it leading with the shoulders until hips are fully extended and you are standing up straight.
Then return the bar to the rack in the bottom position, being careful that you rack the bar properly before letting go.
How to use the good morning in your training
The good morning functions as an assistance exercise for the posterior chain, especially the lower back. It is a good option on days when you don’t deadlift but need a back exercise.
If being used as a back assistance exercise, good mornings can be done with light-to-medium weights for 6-10 reps.
If being used by a powerlifter as an alternative to the deadlift on a ‘heavy’ day, heavy weights for 1-5 reps can be used.
Good mornings can be used in warm ups (with light weights of course, maybe just a barbell) to warm up the back muscles. They can also be used as part of a barbell complex, for example: front squat – push press – good morning.
Powerlifters and olympic lifters in particular will benefit from heavy good mornings such as 3×3, but anyone who wants to build lower back strength will find these useful. Just remember not to compromise range of motion for more weight.
More from gubernatrix
|Stumble it!||Share||Subscribe to this blog|