[Photographer: Edgar Artiga]
Underappreciated and often misunderstood, the good morning is a strength move that doesn’t often get the respect it deserves. “This classic exercise is a great way to start building the muscles of the posterior chain, including the hamstrings, glutes, and lower back,” explains Rachel Mariotti, a personal trainer at Equinox in New York. That’s important for more than just looking good in some booty shorts. “Having a strong posterior chain can assist with lower-back issues while also helping to balance out the front of the body, which is often worked disproportionately,” she says. Good mornings can also help you progress to doing deadlifts from the ground up.
Because they load the upper back, good mornings are controversial.But with proper mechanics, they can actually improve back health by strengthening weak links, including the lower back and core. Start with very light weight and gradually increase the load over time.
HOW TO DO IT
- Start by racking a barbell on your back, specifically the upper traps, as you would for a back squat. Stand straight with feet hip-distance apart.
- Hinge forward from hips. Push hips back, knees slightly bent, as if closing a door with your butt. Lower torso until your spine is almost parallel to floor, maintaining a slight arch in lower back.
- Keeping your core engaged, lift torso to return to starting position.
- Keep your spine long and slightly arched with the shoulder blades pinched together.
- Maintain a slight bend in your knees—too straight and you’ll strain your back; too bent and the move becomes more of a squat than a hamstring exercise.
- Your shins should stay vertical to the floor.
- To avoid straining your lower back, lead the movement by pushing your hips back rather than dropping your chest forward.
The following exercises work well with a workout that includes good mornings:
- Weighted squats
- Glute bridges
- Squat jumps
- Kettlebell swings