How To Do The Good Morning – (Awesome Hamstring & Back Workout)

The Good Morning is a controversial back exercise. Some people will say that it’s a dangerous move that should be avoided. But those who don’t like it are usually those people who don’t understand how to do it properly.

When done properly the good morning is a great move that can help strengthen the entire posterior chain (i.e. the back of the body) by building up the spinal erectors, lower back, hips, glutes, and hamstrings.

I always find it ironic when people say things like:
“Don’t Do Good Mornings… You’ll Hurt Your Lower Back!”

When in fact the OPPOSITE Is True!

If you never directly train your lower back and strengthen it, you are leaving your body vulnerable with a Huge Weak Link. A chain is only as strong as it’s weakest link.

So if never train your back and then find yourself in a real world situation where you have to lift or move something heavy, your lower back will be the first area to get injured because it’s been neglected and naturally weak from never being trained.

Don’t let your lower back be the weak link!

The key to doing the Good Morning (or any exercise for that matter) is to start off light and build up the weights gradually over time with progressive overload. You have to master perfect form with light weights before attempting to lift heavier.

The most important technique tip when doing Good Mornings is to maintain an arch in your lower back at all times. When you round your lower back with any exercise that places your back in a vulnerable position for injury. But when you keep your back arched it is in its strongest position.

Just watch the video clip below to see exactly how you should set up properly for doing the Good Morning in your workouts.

Press PLAY To Watch The Video Clip Below:

Note: If you can’t watch the embedded video here on this page,
you can watch it directly on YouTube at:


Give this exercise a try in your workouts and then leave me a comment below letting me know how it works for you…

And if you would like to see more leg exercises, just Click Here for my Leg Workout Playlist.

If you would like to see more back exercises, just Click Here for my Back Workout Playlist.

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About The Author


Lee Hayward is a former competitive bodybuilder and muscle building coach who has been online coaching people since 1997. His work has been featured in several international magazines such as: FLEX, Muscle Insider, Muscle Mag International, Testosterone, Ironmag, and Forbes. Lee's main focus right now is with helping men over 40 - who don't want to be fat anymore - lose the gut, build muscle, and get back in shape. If you're ready to "Start Again" for the last time and finally build a lean healthy body that you can be proud of, just e-mail Lee to discuss a realistic action plan that's right for you...


  • Great exercise and training tip. Having worked in the Post Office for over 30 years, I used to teach NEW postal emplyees on proper techinque when lifting heavy bags and parcells. Some emplyees used to bend over and lift without bending their knees and would pull a muscle in their lower back. This exercise is a great example for strengthing the lower back. Having a little drawing skill I would draw bill boards of individuals doing a proper lift w/ knees bent.
    Today at 58 years old retired 8 yrs now I still do dead lifts to maintain my lower back strength. When working my hamstrings I use lighter weight and don’t bend my knees that much to get that good stretch. Thanks for shareing this info Lee. keep those Fitness Tips coming. Herc.

    PS/ Happy upcoming Birthday to Trich… Stay Strong…Lets Go Giants

  • Marliene

    Reply Reply

    Lee, thank you for sharing another great exercise….

  • Frank

    Reply Reply

    Hi Lee, what the differnce between this exercise and a straight legged deadlift because the movement is the same except where you have the bar? Or are these exercise targeting the same muscle groups?

  • jim whitfill

    Reply Reply

    Dear Lee,
    Bio-mechanically you are over rotating the hip! Please note that the body descends only to a 45 degree angle from a vertical beginning position, which is the ecentric phase of the lift. Glutes are extended to the posterior because the thigh bicep and gastrocnemius muscles are locked and in a full length position.
    When reversing the process back to vertical, much attention must be focused on the squeeze of the spinal erecti (concentric). It is very important that the bar is resting on the base of the cervical cortex so that the super spinatus and glutemus maximus are in line when fully extending back to the vertical position of the lift.
    This exercise should focus only on the element of developing the erecti. Other exercises such as thigh bicep deadlifts are available for other facets of human development.

    Thanks for Listening,

    Jim Whitfill

  • Steve

    Reply Reply

    I’ve been working out with weights for 48 years and have never understood why anybody would do Good Mornings (yes, I did try them several times) when you can train the same muscles much more safely with straight legged dead lifts. I can’t think of any situations in real life where you would duplicate a Good Morning exercise. Everyday lifting is done with the weight in your hands or with your arms wrapped around the weight in front of your chest.

  • Mike aka ACEBOSS

    Reply Reply

    I like good mornings. I used to have a weak back & avoided exercises like this. However, after hearing Lee mention on his talk show about if you never train back, it will never get stronger, I started working my back & it got much stronger! Thanks Lee!

  • bob g

    Reply Reply

    Lee – Would using a small ‘pad’ (like a wrapped hand towel) on the back change this?

  • Khazi

    Reply Reply


    Your emails and videos are always awesome.No beating around the bush, you come to the point directly and coach with great tips. Keep up the good work. Always look forward to them.

    Thanks and best regards,

  • Nelson,

    Wow !! good coments coming in on this : ” Good Morning ” exercise. I realy like the comments on the straight legged dead lifts. I do these for greater hamstrings stretch but again looking to strengthen my lower back. Lee you got your readers pumped… Stay Strong, Train Hard and Train Smarter…Herc.

  • Good mornings were a staple of the old time bodybuilding champs. I love to switch them up with stiff-leg deadlifts and hyper-extensions. With the advent of all newer exercises promising to isolate a certain “showy” muscle, it is refreshing to see someone doing the bread and butter exercises that really work the entire body. Thanks for bringing this one to light Lee.

  • Kevin

    Reply Reply

    Hi Lee,

    Great Video and timely…I am doing good mornings this evening in my back workout. I think they are great and have used them also to help strengthen my lower back for squats. And they are killer on the hamstrings too, which you noted in your answer to my question on the Live Bodybuilding Talk Show. Since then I have been using them on legs days too to develop my hamstrings. I feel they work better than even stiff leg deadlifts.

  • Ty

    Reply Reply

    There is no bad exercise. Every one has a place. However, you should weigh the risk versus reward. I mainly work with athletes ages 14 to college. I don’t like the placement of the weight in a good morning. I prefer the traditional RDL or deadlift. One comment above mentioned a straight leg deadlift. The straight leg eliminates the glutes from the equation. The muscles in the posterior chain work in sync with each other and isolating one over the other can cause problems. Again, there is a place for every exercise. Just know your purpose.

  • The key to doing good mornings is to start off light and build up gradually. Even if you have to start with an empty bar or even just a broom stick across your back. Get used to the move and gradually build up the weights as you feel comfortable with the movement. Doing exercises like squats, deadlifts, and good mornings will help you’ll build a very strong back over time.

    And as for comparing good mornings to deadlifts, etc. The same major muscles are being used, but they are being worked in a different way. You can cycle through phases of doing deadlifts, phases of doing good morning, etc. to make more consistent strength and muscle gains over the long term.

    You can include multiple exercises for each muscle group and cycle through them. I mean how many people just do 1 exercise only for chest or 1 exercise for their arms? No body does that, we include several different movements to work the muscles from different angles and ranges of motion. The same applies with training the lower back, glutes, hips and hamstrings.

  • Lee whats up?wanted to tell you a little about myself so you can get some understanding from my side of life.i am 41 yrs.young back in 1996 i was only 26 yrs.young and was in a bad automibile accident so excuse some of my spelling?my blazer rolled back over front for 20 yards i got ejected threw the sunroof and was found 50 yards away from the accident scene and pronounced dead the was air lifted to butterworth hospital in grand rapids there i was incoma for 8 days on every type of life support with life expectence to live less than one percent.three quaters of the right side of my brain was blood clots my left side ws paralized no broken bones and didnt loose no teeth so from there i lived in a wheel chair for three and a half months of my life i weighed only 105 pounds went from weighing245 to 260 now these days i am back to the weight i feel good with wich is 265 to 270 which i really would like to get down to 225 at the lightest to 240 i always like to have the extra 15 to 25 poubds i can go up and down with you sitting there reading this asking well what the heck is it you want to know????that answer is i would like to hear your information about if i should stop going heavy and do lite lifting at times?also to let you know i am very stricked on my food intake.thanks for your time.
    Tommy Cossou

  • john

    Reply Reply

    Hey there Lee, i just wanna drop by and say thank you for your tip specifically is one you said about working out your legs…and going “ass to grass” with the form. Four days ago, i’ve done a leg session–7 sets of (light) squat, going real lowwww, then a couple of stiff legs, and leg extensions. After the next day, i felt a pain I’ve nevvvvvvvvverrrrrrrr felt before, and i’ve been lifting/bodybuilding for 2 years. After the second day, still felt crazyy sore, third day, felt little better,, fourth day(today), pain is still there. I already know about squatting at a really low level and the benefits from it, but i never seemed to try it, until i saw your video on youtube, and forced me to do it. so in conclusion, thank you for the inspiration. I’m a lilttle skeptical about this good morning exercise, but I’m gonna give it a try.

  • tommy cossou,


    The key to losing bodyfat is not training lighter, but rather optimizing your diet and increasing your cardio. I try to train as hard and heavy as I can even when dieting for fat loss.

  • john,


    That’s good, you’re hitting the muscles in ways they’ve never been worked before. That’s why you are so sore. But keep with it and as your legs get in better shape the soreness will become less and less.

  • Kevin R

    Reply Reply

    Lee, i did these during my leg workout on Tuesday and i gotta tell you that this is sorest and most pumped my hamstrings have ever been. I usually just do curls and presses for hamstrings but this will be a staple in my leg routine from now on. LOVE IT!!!! Keep the great tips coming bud.

  • josian

    Reply Reply

    hi lee:
    i have a question about the
    barbell good morning exercises:
    is it okay to do 3 sets of 10 reps for
    the good mornings exercises?
    oh! and by the way i have some benefits my self of doing
    the good morning with barbells at the end of my back workout,
    for the lower back!
    thank you!
    your friend,

  • josian

    Reply Reply

    hi lee:
    i have a question for you:
    can i start my back workout with this
    back exercise like: “barbell good-mornings”
    as a back warm up exercise?
    thank you!
    your friend,

  • Angee

    Reply Reply

    Thank you that was great I actually love doing them I’m just trying to perfect them and get back into routine


    Reply Reply

    I like to do heavy GMs once per week, with weights almost approaching my bodyweight, going exactly parallel to the floor, really good exercise, posterior-chain is already my favorite area.

    my work sets include: 1 set of 10 paused-reps (1 sec/rep when parallel to floor), then 1 set of 5 paused-reps (3 sec/rep when parallel to floor), then 1 set of 3 paused-reps (5 sec/rep when parallel), and then final set of just 1 rep pausing 8-10 sec when parallel to floor.

    it gives solid workout for posterior chain and feels awsome too.

  • Lowell

    Reply Reply

    jim whitfill,

    Dear Mr exercise police.
    Every exercise exerts the body pass it’s normal scope of comfort, thus what would you do? Ban all exercise expect slow walking? If it works safety when done safety, then do it safety so it works for you.
    20 years ago you would that guy saying “you can’t squat bum to floor”, or “kettlebells create a unnatural balance so it is extremely bad for you”

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