The good morning is a core training staple that can help to build super strong hamstrings, but are you sure you’re even doing the exercise correctly?
For this movement, you shouldn’t settle for anything other than perfect form—especially because it’s such a simple, essential exercise that should serve as one of the centerpieces of your training plan. Let Men’s Health fitness director Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S. and associate fitness editor Brett Williams guide you through the barbell row’s subtleties, saving you from the bad habits that are keeping you from unlocking your fitness potential.
Before you pick up the bar and bend over, take note that it’s extremely important to pay attention the movement here. Your positioning and posture are essential to recruiting the right muscles and keeping your lower back safe and healthy—so let’s break down everything you need to know.
Weight On Your Back, Not Your Neck
Eb says: Make sure the barbell sits on your upper back, not on your neck. If you have it on your neck, you’re creating a longer lever with your torso, and instantly putting great strain on your lower back, even if your form is clean. You’re also placing a lot of direct pressure on your neck.
The best spot for the weight is on your upper back with your hands aggressively gripping the bar so it can’t slip. Do your best to keep it there to get the most out of the move.
Butt Goes Back
Eb says: Focus not on bending at the waist when you do good mornings, but on pushing your butt back. By doing this, you’ll create a friendlier and safer angle for your lower back, and you’ll also get proper stretch on your hamstrings.
This is a more natural way to move, and it’ll help prevent you from rounding at the lower back.
Eb says: The beauty of the good morning, and what makes it different than a Romanian deadlift or other deadlift variations, is how it forces you to brace every part of your torso. You can sometimes cheat on a deadlift or Romanian, loosening up through your shoulder blades or through your lower back (never a good thing).
You can’t do that on the good morning and must focus that much more on technique. Really squeeze those shoulder blades and brace your entire core on every good morning rep. That’ll prevent you from rounding either at the lower back or the upper back.
Stay In Your Range
Eb says: Don’t worry if you can’t get your torso horizontal to the ground. Work within your own mobility. That may mean hinging over to a 45-degree angle, or even less, depending on your hip mobility and your hamstring flexibility. That’s OK.
The more you do the good morning, the more range you’ll gain over time. That progress may be slow, but you’ll still get value from the move if you take your time on every rep.
Want to master even more moves? Check out our entire Form Check series.