Good Mornings or Good Night?

Friday, October 10th, 2008

Although I can’t say I’ve seen Good Mornings done in quite some time, I know that growing up I saw plenty of pictures of how a proper Good Morning should be done. If I had more then 3 wishes left in this lamp, I wish that somebody would go find every book and every website with this exercise and cross it out with a Sharpie pen.  This is one exercise that almost everybody gets wrong.

Case Study #1:

WPvideo 1.10

I have a very good friend, who will remain nameless, that gave me another tidbit of advice. He’s been instrumental in helping me train legs. I’ve never pushed myself so hard. So when he gives advice, I know it’s coming from a reliable source that’s much better then any scientific study.

He began with some good mornings. At first it was the bar. Then it was 20 lbs. on each side. Pretty soon he was doing 225 lbs. That’s a lot of weight. But having the strength to do it and the youth, he pushed on. Until one day, POP! Forward he went, with 225 lbs. How he didn’t break his neck is somewhat of a miracle.

Case Study #2:

WPvideo 1.10

As with any exercise, and the motivation of a bodybuilder, we will continue to push ourselves to new limits.  There are many other options for compound movements that do the same thing but with much less of a risk. So skip the good mornings and try some dead-lifts or stiff-legged dead-lifts. You won’t be missing out on anything by skipping the good mornings except maybe weeks of recovery or a broken neck if you don’t do them right or forget this is an isolation movement and not a compound.

Now I’ve been hounded since the day I first recommended against doing the exercise called “Good Mornings.”  I personally find you can build up a strong lower back using many other, safer exercises.  But in all fairness, you can do these correctly if you let go of that silly mentality to load up the bar every week as if you were trying to set a new bench press record.  It’s an isolation exercise and while other muscles are involved, it’s still considered an isolation exercise for the low back muscle group.

But I was able to find just one.. ONE.. video showing the proper technique.  I found over 40 videos on YouTube of fully loaded bars that were nothing more than really bad squats.

Video of Good Mornings Done Right
(opens in a new window)

Proper Technique:

  1. Place a barbell on your shoulders
  2. Keep your head up and your back straight
  3. Bend at the waist with your legs locked until your upper body is parallel to the floor
  4. Return slowly to the standing position


  • Can also be done with the knees slightly bent
  • Technique over weight
  • Using lighter weight
  • Not bouncing
  • Not using momentum
  • Not trying to do some modified squat or glute thrust
  • Slow, controlled, focused on lower back

While you won’t personally catch me doing a Good Morning exercise in my gym, that doesn’t mean they cannot be done correctly.  From the last video above, they can and if you are one of those people that must try every exercise, then keep those points in mind.  I would never wish a back injury upon anybody.

Here’s hoping you stay injury free,

Marc David
“The NoBull Muscle Guy”

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