Good Morning vs Deadlift – Pros and Cons for Strength and Muscle Building

In this article we will compare and contrast the good morning vs the deadlift to help coaches and athletes determine which is best for building strength, muscle hypertrophy, and boost sports performance. Below, you will find two video tutorials on each exercise and a few topic to keep in mind when building our strength and sports programming.

Good Morning

The good morning has been discussed in detail in previous articles. This exercise is done to increase hamstring, hip, and lower back strength, muscles hypertrophy and endurance, and increase overall body awareness necessary for more advanced movements like squats, deadlifts and pressed.


The deadlift (in this article the barbell conventional deadlift) is a key strength movement. Increased strength, muscle mass, and sports performance are just a few benefits of this exercise.

Good Morning vs Deadlift

In this section we will discuss the pros and cons of the good morning and the deadlift (in this case, let’s stick with the barbell good morning and the barbell conventional deadlift). Below, you will find five topics that will be discussed to help coaches and athletes determine which exercise is best for strength, hypertrophy, special considerations, and sport-specific training.

Maximal Strength

When it comes to building serious strength, the deadlift is one of the most impactful movements you can do (along with squats, pressing, carries, etc). The deadlift allows us to move significant amounts of loads, which stress nearly every muscle in the body. Additionally, doing the deadlift we are able to ignite the neurological and hormonal systems to maximize overall strength, neural, and tissue development.

That said, the good morning plays a role in the overall success of a strength program and can be used as an assistance exercise (and even in some cases, a heavy day lift). Generally speaking, the good morning can follow squatting and pulling and be done to assist in building muscle hypertrophy (see below) and solidify back positioning and awareness for maximal strength movements (squats, deadlifts, etc).

Muscle Hypertrophy and Growth

Both movements play a significant role in building muscle tissue, as they both can be done with moderate to heavy loads and for high enough volumes to increase muscle size. The deadlift, while still targeting the hamstrings and glutes, does a great job of increase back, hamstring, trap, and glute size and strength, which is key for adding overall muscle growth.

The good morning is a more isolated approach to adding hamstring and glute mass, and can be done in accordance with a deadlifting program to attack stagnante lower back and hip/hamstrings muscles.

Power, Strength, and Fitness Sports

The deadlift is a metric of strength used in powerlifting, strongman, competitive fitness, and even Olympic weightlifting (cleans, however this is move of a positional strength movement). Therefore, pulling strength via the deadlift is key to sports success. The good morning can be useful for the above sports athletes as it can help to increase muscle mass and positional strength necessary to move heavier loads in the actual deadlift and squat. Olympic weightlifters may find that the good morning offers more sport specificity than other athletes as it reinforces spinal extension and positioning necessary for cleans, snatches, jerks, and squats.

Injury Risk

As with any strength and resistance training, the risk of injury is present, regardless of which movement you use. Due to the setup and execution of the good morning, injury risks may be lower since the loads are lighter and the focus is not necessarily on moving as much weight as possible. Injuries can still occur, and often impact the lower back muscles, making it important to watch the above technique videos and to pay attention to your movement patterning.

Deadlifts are typically no less injury ridden than any other form of loaded movement, however are often the movement that injuries can happen due to the significant amounts of loads that can be moved during the deadlift. With heavier loads and great fatigue (mental and physical), the margin for error is smaller, and injuries can occur from poor technique, poor management of training volume,  and lack of recovery. If someone lacks the hip mobility and awareness while flexing at the hip joint (resisting lumbar spinal flexion), the deadlift may no be the best choice in early training stages (which can be remedied by hiring a food movement coach/trainer).

Build a Stronger Deadlift

Take a look at the below exercise guides and articles and learn how to maximize your deadlift strength and performance.

Featured Image: @coach_eryngrace on Instagram

Mike Dewar

Mike Dewar

Mike holds a Master's in Exercise Physiology and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Mike has been with BarBend since 2016, where he covers Olympic weightlifting, sports performance training, and functional fitness. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and is the Assistant Strength and Conditioning Coach at New York University, in which he works primarily with baseball, softball, track and field, cross country. Mike is also the Founder of J2FIT, a strength and conditioning brand in New York City that offers personal training, online programs for sports performance, and has an established USAW Olympic Weightlifting club.

In his first two years writing with BarBend, Mike has published over 500+ articles related to strength and conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, strength development, and fitness. Mike’s passion for fitness, strength training, and athletics was inspired by his athletic career in both football and baseball, in which he developed a deep respect for the barbell, speed training, and the acquisition on muscle.

Mike has extensive education and real-world experience in the realms of strength development, advanced sports conditioning, Olympic weightlifting, and human movement. He has a deep passion for Olympic weightlifting as well as functional fitness, old-school bodybuilding, and strength sports.

Outside of the gym, Mike is an avid outdoorsman and traveller, who takes annual hunting and fishing trips to Canada and other parts of the Midwest, and has made it a personal goal of his to travel to one new country, every year (he has made it to 10 in the past 3 years). Lastly, Mike runs Rugged Self, which is dedicated to enjoying the finer things in life; like a nice glass of whiskey (and a medium to full-bodied cigar) after a hard day of squatting with great conversations with his close friends and family.

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