If Your Glutes are Getting Stronger, Then It Must Be a ‘Good Morning’

Have you seen lifters turn a barbell squat into a good morning by losing upper back tightness? Now the problem isn’t that the good morning exercise isn’t a great exercise, but the issue here is placing the lower back in a risky position. A squat is a squat, and good mornings are good mornings, and don’t confuse the two.

By regularly performing barbell good mornings, you’ll strengthen your entire back so your squat will never look like something in a workout fail video. Plus, it will give you some pop in your posterior. Here we’ll dive into what a good morning is (which includes coffee), how to do it, benefits, common mistakes, and some alternatives and variations if the barbell variation isn’t for you.

Get your coffee and get ready for a few good mornings.


The barbell good morning is a pure hip hinge exercise that trains the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. By placing a barbell on your upper back and hinging, you’ll take your hips, lower back, and hamstrings through a large range of motion to add muscle and strength. But if shoulder mobility or lower back pain is an issue, it is best to go with an alternative or variation below.

Barbell good mornings need to be mastered with lighter loads before increasing intensity. When you’ve gotten the hang of it, it’s a fantastic exercise to build posterior muscle and strength.


  1. Set up the barbell in the squat rack as you would for your barbell back squat.
  2. Duck under the barbell and place the barbell in your preferred position on your upper back.
  3. Unrack the barbell and walk back two or three steps. Get your feet roughly shoulder-width apart.
  4. With a slight bend in your knees, hinge at the hips while keeping your chest up and shoulders down.
  5. Stop when your torso is almost parallel to the floor.
  6. Then lift yourself to a standing position by contracting your glutes and hamstrings.
  7. Reset neutral posture and repeat for appropriate reps.


The barbell good morning is a predominately lower-body exercise but due to the barbell being on your back, the upper body is involved too. Here are the major muscles trained by the barbell good morning.

Upper body

  • Upper back (rhomboids, traps)
  • Lats
  • Posterior deltoid

Lower body

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Lower back (erector spinae)
  • Anterior core


This back-loaded hip hinge, although tricky to perform well and the hip and shoulder mobility requirements are huge, the barbell good morning has five notable benefits.

  • Improved Squat and Deadlift Performance: Keeping the lower back strong and neutral is essential for a well-performed deadlift and squat. Any energy leaks down there will result in loss of form and a higher risk of injury. Because you are only as strong as your weakest link, please don’t let that be your lower back. Plus, good mornings train hip extension lockout strength, which has a direct carryover to both of these exercises.
  • Lower Back Strength and Muscle: The spinal erectors are three long thin muscles that run vertically from the pelvis and up the spine to your neck. They keep spinal integrity under load and help resist spinal flexion that can happen with the heavily loaded lower body exercises. Barbell good mornings will add muscle and strength to these muscles so you can protect your lower back under heavy loads.
  • Injury Prevention: When a tree gets top-heavy, it will lean to one side. Usually, to rectify this problem, you tie a rope and stake it to the ground on the opposite side to give the tree more stability. The spinal erectors play a similar role to maintain spinal stability during loaded and unloaded movements. When you’re training hard and heavy, the lower back plays an important role in keeping the spine in good alignment This reduces compensations and reduces the risk of lower back injuries.
  • Build A Posterior of Steel: The good morning puts the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings through a bigger range of motion and provides a stretch during the eccentric contraction before the concentric contraction. Exercises that take a muscle group safely through a larger ROM are great for building muscle.
  • Improved Posture: We live in an internally rotated society because we’re hunched over our computers and smartphones for hours. Strong spinal erectors play an important role in maintaining good posture and by training them you undo some of the damage of sitting.


The good morning exercise goes a long way in building back got back. But you need to pay attention to details to get the best out of this exercise and not hurt yourself.

  • You Don’t Have Adequate Mobility: You need good shoulder and hip mobility to perform the barbell good morning. If you struggle to deadlift from the floor or have pain in your anterior shoulder when the barbell is on your back, defer to the variations and alternatives below and work on your mobility. Trying to fit a round peg into a square hole with this exercise is a surefire way to get hurt.
  • Don’t Progress Too Quickly: Good mornings are an accessory exercise and not suited for a one-rep max type of effort. Don’t treat it as an absolute strength exercise, progress slowly and let form by your guide to increasing intensity. The large range of motion is great for building muscle, but this means there is a lot more room for error too. Be careful.
  • No Rounding of The Spine: If you get overconfident and use more weight than you can handle, you might round your upper back and collapse your chest near the bottom of your hinge. This can spell disaster for your low back because you‘re shifting the weight to the back and not your hips and hamstrings. If this is happening, then dropping the weight, slowing it down, and focusing on your hip hinge will keep you safe.


You can load up the good morning exercise but don’t mistake it for an absolute strength exercise. No cares what your one-rep good morning max is except maybe your dog. Here make sure to use good form as your guide for load and not your ego. Use these recommendations as a guide and they can be tweaked to suit your fitness goals.

For Hypertrophy: Performing three to four sets of six to 12 reps and pairing it with another glute or hamstring exercise works well to add muscle. For example

1A. Barbell Good Morning: six to 12 reps

1B. Hamstring Curl variation: 12 reps

For Strength: Three to five sets of four to six reps work well here. Because you’re training for strength, it’s best to pair it with a mobility exercise for recovery and technique purposes. For example

1A. Barbell Good Morning: four to six reps

1B. Passive Leg Lowering: 10 reps per side


Not everybody has the shoulder or hip mobility for barbell good mornings but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t train this valuable movement. Here are a couple of variations and alternatives to keep building your posterior of steel.

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