Protecting your lower back is one of the first rules you're taught when weightlifting. It's no secret that the lower back is receptive to injury, especially when left exposed by using improper form. Rarely are we taught to strengthen our lower backs using lifts such as the good morning exercise.
Many people shy away from the good morning exercise because of the movement and stress the lift has on the lower back. When done properly, the good morning exercise is one of the most effective low back and hamstring strengthening exercises out there. In this article, I will teach you how to properly complete the good morning exercise while shielding yourself from injury.
Good Morning Exercise - How To:
Step 1.) To begin the good morning exercise, stand in a hip-width position with your toes pointed forward and your knees slightly bent. Your hands should be gripping the bar at about the width of a bench press exercise or wherever is comfortable (see visual below).
Step 2.) Brace your core and drive your butt straight back while hinging at the hips and keeping your lower legs perpendicular to the ground.
Step 3.) While keeping your back flat and core engaged, keep lowering your torso until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings or your back starts to slightly round.
Step 4.) To reverse the good morning exercise motion, drive through the hips and press into your feet while maintaining your balance with your core and hamstrings. At the top of the movement, squeeze the glutes.
Good morning exercise muscles worked: Glutes, hamstrings, low back (spinal erectors), upper back (including Rhomboid muscles)
Good Morning Exercise - Mistakes And Tips:
Mistakes: The number one mistake when doing the good morning exercise is letting your spine round. This is where you injure your lower back. Starting off with a small amount of weight and perfecting the form is the smartest way to get the most out of the good morning exercise while preventing injury. Another mistake is bending your knees too much or not enough. Finding the sweet spot in-between stiff-legged and 90 degrees is what you should reference (see visual above).
Tips: When completing the good morning exercise, keep your spine stabilized and core tight. If you cannot help your back to round, you are using too much weight. A good tip to prevent your spine from rounding when doing the good morning exercise is to look up. Maintaining good posture and keeping your head up will act as a guide for the rest of your spine. Do your best to hinge until your torso is parallel to the ground (if you cannot get to this point, you most likely have tight hamstrings).
Good Morning Exercise - Alternatives:
The good morning exercise is an awesome exercise for building hamstring and lower back strength, however, it is just one exercise (and an advanced one). A few other exercises similar to the good morning include seated good morning, glute hyperextension, and back extension.
When it comes to weightlifting, protecting your lower back should always come first. It is no secret that the lower back is prone to injury, especially when poor form is used. Many experts believe movements like the good morning exercise are not worth the risk when it comes to strengthening the lower back.
Back Muscle Solutions - Back Of Steel:
If you are looking for something less intense and easier on the lower back or if you suffer from back flare-ups, spasms, and overall pain, Back Of Steel could be the perfect fit for you!
Back Of Steel is a supplemental workout program to improve strength and endurance in specific areas of the body to keep you immune to lower back pain. Back Of Steel is a 15-minute-per-day, 3-day-per-week program that is perfect for anyone trying to increase their low back durability. Back Of Steel can be done independently or as a supplement to your current activity routine.
Good Morning Exercise - QL Claw Pain Relief:
Strengthening the lower back is a great way to prevent injury. If you are looking to relieve pain and tightness through muscle massage, you need a proper tool that will get into those hard-to-reach places. The QL Claw is designed specifically for muscle release through tissue massage. Check out our Testimonial page and hear from satisfied athletes, therapists, and trainers on how the QL Claw has helped them.
 Donnelly, Joseph M. Travell, Simons & Simons Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: the Trigger Point Manual. 3rd ed., Wolters Kluwer Health, 2019.