5 Best Good Morning Exercises (Start Your Day Strong)

Christiana Mikesch, CPT
Published by Christiana Mikesch, CPT | Senior Coach
Last updated: November 28, 2023
Our content is meticulously researched and reviewed by an expert team of fact checkers and medical professionals. They ensure accuracy, relevance, and timeliness using the latest reputable sources, which are cited within the text and listed at the end of the article. Before publication and upon significant updates, we confirm factual accuracy, committed to providing readers with well-informed content. Learn more.

Good mornings are a functional movement pattern that builds and strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and lower back.

They are essential for having a smaller risk of injury and developing lower back strength required to perform other efficient exercises, such as deadlifts.

Based on my observations as a personal trainer, here are the five best good morning exercises you should incorporate into your workout routine.

Quick Summary

  • The best good morning variations include the barbell good morning, the back-loaded good morning exercise, the seated good morning, and the single-leg good morning.
  • When performed with proper form, good mornings allow you to target different muscle groups (the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back), prevent injury, and improve your posture.
  • ​​It's crucial to perfect your form before adding weight and set the limit for how much weight you can handle based on your core strength.
  • I also highly suggest to my clients to consider one of the reliable protein powders.

Top Good Morning Exercise Variations

a man doing good morning workout

1. Barbell Good Morning

With good form and consistency, this hip hinge exercise can efficiently strengthen the hamstrings, glutes, abs, and back [1].

To perform the good morning exercise using a barbell, you must:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Rest a barbell on your upper back, and place your hands just outside your shoulders.
  3. Soften your knees up about 15 degrees to get into starting position.
  4. Drive your rear end back as you hinge forward until your chest is parallel with the floor.
  5. Return to the standing position and repeat until you reach the desired number of sets.

2. Resistance Band Good Mornings

Performing good morning exercise using resistance band

Banded good mornings is a great exercise with all the benefits of the traditional good morning but without the barbell on your upper back.

It allows you to improve your posture while activating your abs, glutes, hamstring, and upper back muscles while reducing your risk of injury.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Take a resistance band and step on it firmly with both feet, then squat down to place the other side of the band around your neck so it’s on your traps.
  3. Stand straight up while keeping the core tight and the shoulders back.
  4. Hinge at the hips as deep as you can until you feel a hamstring stretch while keeping your back straight.
  5. Come back up and repeat.

3. Front Loaded Good Morning Exercise

This variation can allow you to improve your hinge pattern, an important movement required in essential exercises like deadlifts and kettlebell swings.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Hold a kettlebell in front of your chest.
  2. Place your feet hip-width apart with a slight bend in your knees.
  3. Propel your hips forward as you squeeze your glutes.
  4. Stand back up to go back to the standing position.
  5. Repeat until you reach the desired number of sets.

4. Seated Good Morning Exercise

Doing Good Morning exercise on a bench

This variation may not fully engage your hamstrings like the traditional barbell good morning, but it brings a unique challenge to improve your flexibility and strength in your posterior chain and lower back.

To do this exercise:

  1. Straddle a flat bench and place a barbell behind your back.
  2. Keep your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground in front of your knees.
  3. Hinge down to forward as far as possible.
  4. Reverse the motion while trying to keep your back extremely flat to return to the starting position.
  5. Return to the upright position and repeat until you reach the desired number of sets.

5. Single-Leg Good Mornings

The single-leg good morning is a unilateral exercise allowing you to target each side of the glutes and hamstrings at a time to create a more aesthetic look.  It is a good exercise for improving your hip mobility.

To perform this exercise:

  1. Rest the bar on your lower traps as you would for a barbell back squat.
  2. Lift one leg and hinge at the hip until your chest is parallel to the ground while maintaining a neutral spine.
  3. Reverse the motion to return to the standing position.
  4. Repeat until you reach the desired amount of reps on both sides.

What Are the Key Benefits of Good Mornings?

Woman holding a barbell to do a Good Morning workout

The key benefits of good mornings are improved strength, physical performance, posture, and prevented injury.

  • Promotes strength - Good mornings can strengthen all the posterior chain muscles allowing you to lift heavier [2].
  • Improves physical performance - Strengthening your lower back due to performing good morning exercises allows you to perform exercises like deadlifts and squats better.
  • Prevents injury - Good mornings will strengthen the spinal erectors, reducing the risk of lower back injury and helping you maintain spinal stability.
  • Improves posture - Strengthening the spinal erectors will help you maintain a good posture.

“Your hamstrings (back of the thigh) are the primary target with this move, but other muscle groups get a good workout, too. Your gluteus maximus (buttocks) and adductor magnus (inside thigh) work as synergists while the erector spinae (runs down the length of the spine) is the stabilizer.”

- Paul Rogers, Editor at Verywellfit

What Are the Common Good Morning Exercise Mistakes?

Performing Good Morning exercises wrong

Common good morning exercise mistakes are related to poor form, such as not leading the movement with the hips and bending the torso when doing this exercise.

Another area where people often fall short is in overly bending the knees, which will result in involving the quads instead of the posterior chain.

Allowing the spine round is another common mistake. Instead of risking injury, focus on perfecting your form with a lightweight or body weight variation before adding more weight.

Skipping up a warm-up is also a mistake you should avoid while performing good mornings that could lead to painful consequences.

Without warming up, your muscles won't be prepared for the action, which can increase your chances of pulling or straining something. 

Your spinal alignment should never change throughout the movement for two reasons:

  • Having poor form increases your risk of injury by increasing stress on your lower back.
  • Not engaging the correct muscles.


Is Standing or Seated Good Morning Better?

Standing good morning is better than the seated good morning as it allows you to target more muscles. It will primarily activate your glutes, hamstrings, and the posterior chain to a lesser extent, whereas the seated version emphasizes your lower back.

What Muscles Does the Good Morning Exercise Work?

Muscles that the good morning exercise work are the hamstrings, glutes, posterior chain muscles, and abs.


  1. https://www.verywellfit.com/how-to-do-the-good-morning-exercise-with-barbell-3498255
  2. https://peerj.com/articles/708/
Was this article helpful?

About The Author

You May Also Like

A person doing morning workouts and stretches
By Christiana Mikesch, CPT 3 months ago
Best Morning Stretches (Great Day-Starting Routine)
Chrissy Metz weight loss journey close up image
By Lisa Lorraine Taylor, CPT 14 days ago
Chrissy Metz Weight Loss Journey (Her Secrets Uncovered)

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *