Good Morning Exercise Alternatives

In an earlier article we discussed the good morning exercise guide, which detailed out how to properly execute, perform, and program the good morning; this can be done seated or standing. Typically done with a barbell, this posterior chain accessory lift is often seen in strength, power, and fitness programs to enhance lower back strength‍, glute and hamstring development, and overall athletic performance.

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In this article we will build upon this topic and offer you six (6) good morning exercise alternatives you can use to reap many of the same benefits while diversifying your movement and training programs.

Why Should You Do Good Mornings?

In the below section we will discuss three benefits coaches and athletes can expect when incorporating good mornings and the six alternatives below into most accessory programs for strength, power, competitive fitness sports, and general health and fitness programs.

Spinal Erector Strength and Hypertrophy

The lower back is made up of the spinal erectors, which run vertically from the posterior pelvis and up the spine. These muscles are key in the resistance to spinal flexion and are responsible for structural integrity when under load (see next benefit). Strength, power, and fitness athletes must be aware of low back alignment and strength in order to stabilize the core muscles and protect the spine under increasingly heavy loads, making the good morning and it’s alternatives key for injury prevention and performance enhancement.

Back Integrity in Squats/Pulls

As discussed above, the spinal erectors help to maintain rigidity in the spine during loaded and unloaded movements. In strength, power, and fitness sports, squats and deadlifts (as well as carries, hoisting, and overhead lifts) require proper spinal stability and strength under loads. As athletes progress, these lifts become increasingly heavier and more demanding on the body to remain in control to promote optimal force outputs and avoid injury.

Glute and Hamstring Development

While good mornings work the back muscles (lower), they still involve the hamstrings and glutes. Due to hip flexion and extension, the hamstrings and glutes are the primary muscles that contract to open and close the joint to allow the body to go from a bent position to an upright one. The glutes and hamstrings work in unison with the spinal erectors to increase athletic performance and enhance injury resilience during training and life.

6 Good Morning Exercise Alternatives  

In the below section we discuss six good morning exercise alternatives that coaches and athletes can use to increase lower back strength, glute development, and physical preparedness for athletic and fitness training.

Back Raises

Back raises, done either with bodyweight or with a barbell on the back are two very common and effective good morning alternatives used in most strength, power, and fitness sports. This exercise can be done to build the lower back and hip strength necessary for most sporting and training movements.

Reverse Hyperextensions

Reverse hyperextensions can be useful for increasing hip and hamstring strength while increasing lower back stability and isometric control. While this exercise places more stress on the hamstrings and glutes it can also be a useful variation to diversify lower back and hip training.

Hip Thrusts

The hip thrust, done lying on the floor, with a bench; and even a loaded barbell, is a good alternative for building glute strength and hypertrophy and reinforcing proper hip flexion and extension mechanics. While this exercise does limit the involvement of the hamstring and lower back muscles, it still can be a potent gluteal strength and hypertrophy exercise for strength, power, and fitness training.

Glute Hamstring Developer (GHD)

The glute hamstring developer (GHD) is a bodyweight movement that can be done in high volumes to increase glute, hamstring, and lower back muscle hypertrophy. In more advanced stages, athletes can add loading to the body (plates, barbells, bands, etc) to further stimulate muscle growth and development.

Stiff Leg Deadlift

The stiff leg deadlift can be done to increase hamstring development, hip function, and enhance spinal control while in hip flexion. This exercise is often done with moderate to high reps scenes to develop muscular hypertrophy and movement.

Reverse Chinese Plank

The reverse Chinese plank is an advanced isometric exercise for the posterior chain, specifically the glutes and lower back muscles. This can be done to increase isometric abilities of these muscle groups and help athletes develop a further understanding and awareness of spinal alignment and maintaining muscular tension under loads.

Build Powerful Hips NOW!

Take a look at the below articles to learn why powerful hips can boost squat, pulling, and athletic performance.

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Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master’s in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor’s in Exercise Science. He’s a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

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