When people see or hear the words “good morning,” they usually associate it with the opening greeting on an email, a text message from a special someone or any morning that doesn’t start with a blaring alarm clock sound. These two words, however, are more than just your typical greeting. It’s a workout that will surely “wake up” your body.
Want to give the good morning exercise a shot? This workout guide is for you — and anyone looking to get into shape. You’ll discover how a good morning workout works and why you should include it in your exercise routine.
What is a Good Morning Exercise?
A good morning workout is a simple exercise consisting of hip-hinge movements. Hip-hinge is a workout term that involves functional movement patterns. When you’re performing these movements, you need to bend your hips while preserving a neutral spine.
There are some theories on how this workout got its name. Some say that a good morning exercise looks like how a person may bow from the waist and greet “good morning.” Others believe that this exercise originates from the movement people do when they get out of bed in the morning.
Regardless of the workout’s origins, the good morning exercise is a simple workout that engages some of the powerful muscles of your body.
Benefits of the Good Morning Exercise
A good morning workout, when executed correctly, can strengthen your body. This is vital from an injury prevention standpoint. If you can’t pull off a “good morning” functional movement pattern, you’ll likely injure your lower back doing everyday movements, such as tying your shoelace or putting away the groceries.
What’s more, a proper good morning exercise benefits the following muscle groups:
Good morning workouts engage your core muscles to keep your spine stable. This particular exercise specifically targets the traverse abdominis, a muscle group that wraps around the abdominal area and runs down your sides. It also focuses on your rectus abdominis, also known as your abs.
This anatomy term refers to three muscles situated on the back of your legs. These are the biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. The purpose of this muscle group is to extend the hip and flex the knee.
This muscle group located in each butt check consists of the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius and gluteus maximus. The first two muscles help with the outward movement of your thigh. On the other hand, the gluteus maximus forms the round shape of your bum.
This consists of nine muscles found along the sides of your spine. They run from your pelvis all the way up to the base of your skull. The purpose of this muscle group is to stabilize and extend the spine.
How to Do the Good Morning Exercise Properly
If you’re doing the good morning workout for the first time, you’ll want to perform this move with the right form. This way, you can safely enjoy the back-protecting and muscle-building benefits of this daily exercise.
Take note of these steps when executing the classic good morning exercise technique:
- Stand up straight with your feet shoulder-width or hip-width apart.
- Gently put your fingertips behind your ears.
- Push your hips back while maintaining a braced core and a flat back. Lower your torso until it’s almost parallel to the flooring.
- Pause for a few seconds, then go back to your starting position.
These four steps serve as the most basic version of the good morning workout. If you’re unable to adequately lower your torso due to hip mobility or strength limitations, only lower it as far as you can.
Performing Good Morning Exercise with an External Load
Before you use weights, you should perfect the classic good morning exercise form and master the movement pattern. Once you’ve done these, you’re ready to do the exercise using a barbell with weight plates.
When executing the good morning workout with an external load, keep these steps in mind:
- Assume the starting position of the classic form.
- Gently place a barbell on your shoulders. Start with light weights if you’re new to this version. When positioning the external load, the bar needs to rest on your trapezius muscles, which are paired muscles found on the posterior aspect of the thorax and neck.
- Take a deep breath and brace your abdominals.
- Breathe out as you hinge at the hips. This step should feel like you’re sending your hips backward (imagine yourself using your butt to shut the door of your vehicle).
- Inhale while keeping your back as straight as possible. Also, keep the arch of your lower back as tight as you can when lifting from the floor.
- Breathe out again. Make sure that both your chest and head are forward and up. Refrain from curling your back forward.
- Breathe in as you go back to the starting position.
The number of reps and sets you’ll do for this workout will ultimately depend on your overall fitness goals. Obtain personalized workout recommendations by reaching out to a gym coach or a trainer. If you’re just starting, you could go for three good morning sets of three reps.
Variations of the Good Morning Workout
Do you want to make the good morning exercise more challenging? Once you develop confidence and strength in the basic form, bump up the level of difficulty by gradually adding more weight to the barbell.
You could also intensify your daily exercise regimen by adopting these variations:
- Stance Change – Narrowing or widening your stance, regardless of the external load you’re carrying, can make all the difference in your good morning workout. A narrow stance works your hamstrings. On the other hand, a wide stance puts your glutes to work.
- Use a Dumbbell – Firmly grasp a dumbbell on each hand while making sure that the palms face each other. As you lower your torso, try to keep these weights adjacent to your legs.
- Deep Bends – Bend your knees more as you get ready to lift heavier weights. This enables you to lift the external load safely, safeguards your lower back from injury and intensifies the workout stretch.
- Zercher Variation – Hold the barbell in front of your body. Put that weight against your breastbone. Then, perform the good morning exercise. Important note: This workout variation is physically demanding, as it puts a lot of pressure on your core muscles. Make sure your body is ready for this exercise challenge before proceeding.
- Single-Leg Variation – Another physically demanding variation is doing the good morning workout and lifting weights using just a single leg. If you’re attempting this for the first time, ask someone to spot you. Also, remember to put on the appropriate footwear for this exercise, as this variation puts a lot of pressure on one foot.
Is Good Morning Exercise Safe?
Good morning exercises require you to focus on your form strictly to avoid injuring your lower back. Correct execution and form are crucial to perform weight training not just in good morning workouts but in any exercise you do.
When executing a good morning exercise, avoid these common pitfalls to stay safe:
No Warm Ups
Lifting weights and assuming the good morning workout right away will increase your risk of incurring serious physical injury. Before you even touch a barbell, dumbbell or any external load, you need to do warm-up exercises. Failure to do so puts an additional strain on your muscles.
Before you do any kind of lifting, the form of your squats should be both excellent and consistent. Assuming the right form each time enables you to lift weights effectively and safely.
External Load is Too Heavy
Although gradually challenging yourself is necessary to improve your fitness level, you shouldn’t push your body too far and too fast. Avoid working with the heaviest weights at the start of your workout.
Apart from avoiding these mistakes, you should consult with your doctor or a fitness trainer before beginning a weight training program.
Refrain from doing any kind of heavy lifting if you fall under one of these categories:
- You’re pregnant or have recently given birth
- You have recently gone through surgery on the beck, neck, abdomen, arms, knees and pelvis
- You have an injury (or are recovering from an injury) on your spine, feet, back, knees, arms and neck
As a final safety tip, remember to use the appropriate weight lifting equipment and wear the right footwear. Whether you’re doing the good morning exercise at home or in a fitness center, the right gear can make your workouts safe and effective.
If you start your day by getting your blood pumping, make sure to include the good morning exercise as part of your routine. Given that they target so many muscles in your body, they’re suitable for prepping your back and lower body for heavier lifts.