It’ll certainly wake you up.
By Harris Murrieta, CSCS
Not every booty builder needs to be a big lift with five inches of plates and plenty of grunts. Sometimes the best work you can do for your body is actually a bit simpler. Good mornings look like an easy bend, but the hip-hinge motion is actually waking up every muscle along your posterior chain—hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors (the muscles that run up and down your back along your spine), even your transverse abdominals (the corset muscles that wrap your core), says Harris Murrieta, CSCS, coach for personal training platform Ladder and director of recovery at Performix House in New York City.
The exercise gets its name because it mimics the movement of getting out of bed in the morning—a reason to love it is because it wakes up your body and preps you for the big work of a day. In other words, this is one warm-up move you don’t want to miss.
How To Do A Good Morning
How to: Start with your feet shoulder-width apart standing up straight. Hold a pair of dumbbells in each hand and rack them at the base of your neck, resting on your shoulder blades. Maintaining a soft bend in your knees, engage your glutes, and hinge at your hips. Keep a flat back the entire time. Lower so your chest is parallel with the ground. Drive your feet firmly into the floor, brace your core, and reverse the movement, pushing your hips forward as you stand tall.
Good mornings target your entire posterior chain—especially your hamstrings and lower back.
Reps/sets for best results: Aim for 12 to 15 reps with a 5 to 10 pound weight for a sure-fire way to get the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back ready for heavier lifts like deadlifts and squats, Murrieta says.
Form tips: Make sure your hips are driving back, not down, as you lower toward the ground, and maintain a straight spine throughout the entire move—rounding or overarching the spine risks injury, Murrieta says. Keep your gaze forward, so your head is in line with your spine the entire time—don’t lift your head up.
Benefits Of Good Mornings
As mentioned, good mornings target your entire posterior chain—but they especially work your hamstrings and lower back—relying on your back muscles and neck for stability.
“At its core, this movement is similar to a deadlift—although you won’t be able to complete it with nearly the same amount of weight—in that it’s a hip hinge-type movement,” Murrieta says. “But loading the weight at the shoulders rather than in your hands forces the muscles in the upper and mid-back to work harder than other hinge patterns.”
Make Good Mornings Part Of Your Workout
Good mornings look simple, but they’re actually a bit of an advanced move. Because of that, it’s ideal to use them as a warm-up in the beginning of your workout. Since they incorporate so many muscles, they’re great for prepping your lower body or back for heavier lifts, Murrieta says.
Start with a light weight (5 to 10 pounds)—your hammies will burn doing the movement with zero resistance, and loading on a hip hinge increases risk of injury if you go too heavy too soon. Have any kind of neck issue? Stick with a light weight—you don’t want to load too much onto your cervical spine.
Want a complete lower body workout? Try this quick routine:
But once you build the foundational strength, up the ante on your good mornings by going up in weight. Just keep in mind, Murrieta adds, this should be more of a maintenance move than a heavy lift. Don’t you worry…you’ll feel that burn regardless.
Reported by Rachael Schultz.