Barbell Good Morning Exercise Form Guide with Video & Pictures

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By Alex
Last updated on
Exercise NameBarbell Good Morning
Also CalledStiff Leg Good Morning, Arched Back Good Morning
Primary MusclesHamstrings
Secondary MusclesGlutesLower Back
Required EquipmentBarbell, Power Rack
Optional EquipmentLifting Belt
Rep Range3-12
VariationsBent Leg Good Morning, Round Back Good Morning, Seated Good Morning, Dumbbell Good Morning
AlternativesRomanian Deadlift, Hip Thrust, Glute Bridge, Glute Ham Raise, Hyperextension

Barbell Good Morning Instructions

Note: Pictures coming soon!

1. Starting Position

  • Use a low bar position (across rear delts) to hold bar on back.
  • Grasp barbell using a wide pronated grip.
  • Support bar by squeezing scapulae to contract the upper back.
  • Use a shoulder width stance or slightly narrower.
  • Bend knees slightly; maintain this amount of flexion during the motion.
  • Stand with torso upright, with head high and looking forward.
  • Keep lower back arched at all times during the exercise set.

2. Eccentric Repetition

  • Flex hips to slowly lower torso to parallel to the floor.

3. Midpoint

  • Don’t rest at the bottom of the repetition. Begin the upward motion right away.

4. Concentric Repetition

  • Extend hips to lift torso until it is upright, in the starting position.

5. Repeat

  • Repeat the good morning technique until your set is complete.
  • The 3-12 rep range yields great results for various goals. But if you’re new to this lift, start light and do high reps.

Common Good Morning Errors to Avoid

Bending at waistBend at the hips; not at the waist. What’s the difference? The waist is at navel height, while the hip joint is at mid-butt height. To bend at the hips, maintain an arched lower back and tensed abs.
Rounding lower backBend at your hips (see above). Use a managable load and flex your abs. Lower your torso as close to (but not beyond) parallel, without exceeding a moderate hamstrings stretch. Most lifters will be able to reach parallel, but you must stop before if you lack the flexibility.
Flexing knees (during motion)While some knee flexion is advised (as said earlier), the amount of flexion should be the same throughout the motion. Don’t extend, or further bend, your knees. In other words, use the glutes, hams and low back; not the quads.

Barbell Good Monrning Tips

  1. Hold a strong lower back arch. As I explained above, the key to this is to bend at the hips and contract the abs.
  2. Perform good mornings inside a power rack. Set the safety catches to the lowest point in the motion. This is an essential safety measure. It stops you from going too low, and lets you safely escape from under the bar if needed.
  3. Don’t go to failure. It can increasingly fatigue the muscles supporting your arch. If these muscles can’t hold your arch, your lower back is highly vulnerable. That said, this is just advice. You can safely hit failure, but you better know what you’re doing!
  4. Hold your chest out to reinforce your arch and prevent your upper torso from hunching over.
  5. Flex your core (abs, obliques, spinal erectors) intensely and continuously. Good mornings place so much stress on the core through leverage when bending forward. As such, it’s necessary to reinforce this point.
  6. Push your butt back during the lowering phase. This counterbalances your torso and the load on the bar, which facilitates better balance and a greater range of motion.
  7. A low bar position (atop rear delts) is biomechanically superior to a high bar position (on upper traps); you can lift more by reducing stress on the lower back. If you don’t like the low bar position, though, high bar is okay.
  8. Maintain a neutral neck position. Your head and neck should be in the same position (relative to your torso), at the top and bottom of the rep and in between. Don’t strain your neck by attempting to look forward why your torso is low.

Is This Exercise Right for You?

All levels of experience can benefit from the barbell good morning.

The good morning is a classic lower body accessory lift. As such, it’s common to include it after a big lower body movements like the squat or deadlift.

Alternatively, it could be the first exercise in the line up, in the context of a dedicated “accessory” or “light” workout.

Beginners must start out slowly. Use strict form with light weight for 8-12 reps and stop within 2 reps of failure.

As an intermediate or advanced lifter, you can go heavier after getting the basic form down.

I personally do 5-8 reps with moderate weight and stop 1 rep before failing or losing good form. This is my general recommendation for most experienced lifters.

However, it ultimately depends on your goal and experience. For example, an advanced powerlifter might be better off doing 1-3 rep maxes.

Alex from King of the Gym
Hey! My name is Alex and I'm the founder and author of King of the Gym. I've been lifting weights seriously since 2005 in high school when I started a home gym in my parents' basement. I started writing about fitness in 2009. Then, in 2014, I got into writing home gym equipment reviews and I haven't looked back. My current home gym is in my own house and it's constantly growing and evolving. My goal is to help you build the home gym of your dreams! Read more about me here.

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