Fail at the top of a squat? ...There's a goodmorning for that.
Can't lock out jack on deadlift? ...There's a goodmorning for that.
Suffer from erectile dysfunction? ...I guess there's probably a goodmorning for that, too.
For how versatile it is, the goodmorning is an underused exercise. It's not too common to see it programmed for anything more than light accessory/recovery work (Sheiko and Madcow come to mind here). Well, I believe the goodmorning should be trained as heavily as anything else, and at least as often, or even more. Here are seven variations which can be employed to train any number of weak points.
- Low Bar GM for squat - Do goodmornings with a low bar position. This is a great way to work the glutes and hams. If you're a "goodmorning squatter," meaning your hips rise faster than the bar, causing the top of the lift to look like a goodmorning, this exercise is definitely for you. It won't fix your technique issue, but at least it will allow you to use bad technique with heavier weights. Assume the same stance you use for squat, push your hips back (NOT down) as far as you can while leaning far forward, and recover by forcefully thrusting your hips forward and the bar up and back. Be sure to keep a tight arch, and descend until there is a stretch in the hamstrings.
- Low Bar GM for deadlift - This variation can also be used to train the mid-range on deadlift. Use the same technique described above, but with your deadlift stance (works for sumo and conventional).
- Round Back GM - With a hip-width stance and a high bar position, perform a goodmorning by bending forward at the waist, allowing your back to round under control. Let your hips travel back only enough to keep balance, and keep the legs at only a slight bend. This will work the erectors like nothing else. I don't recommend going heavy on this variation. Keep the reps high and the weight low to protect the spine.
- Seated GM - I'm not a big fan of this one, but it's a thing, so here it is. Place a bench inside the rack, and sit on it with a light barbell in a high bar position. Remain seated, and perform a round back goodmorning. This is a good exercise for the erectors, but it's not better than standing, and it's more hassle.
- Concentric GM for squat - Suspend the bar from the top of the rack with chains, straps, or set it on pins, whatever you have to do, to a height just below your sticking point in the squat. Crawl under the bar, and get it set up in a low bar position. Perform the concentric (raising) portion of a goodmorning. Then, lower the bar back down, and let it settle between reps. Start each rep from a dead stop. This is a good way to work a sticking point if you're a "goodmorning squatter."
- Concentric GM for deadlift - This is similar to a stiff leg deadlift, but with the bar on the back. Set up and execute the same as concentric GM for squat, but place the bar just above bellybutton height, and use your deadlift stance. Good for the mid-range of the deadlift.
- Concentric GM for the erectors - Set up and execute the same as concentric GM for squat, but with a high bar position and a hip width stance. Hold a tight arch throughout the movement. If you have trouble holding an arch in the squat or deadlift, this variation is for you.
Specialty bars, while not a necessity, are extremely useful for goodmornings. Using a cambered bar, especially if using a low bar position, prevents any awkward rolling around of the bar on the back. A round back goodmorning done with safety squat bar will light up the entire back, from ass to neck, like nothing else in the world.
Accommodating resistance has its place in the goodmorning arsenal, as well. Any variation done against chains is an instant man-maker. Bands, however, are not very useful. Trying to do a goodmorning against bands is very awkward because of the arcing bar path. The bands will try to pull forward or back throughout the movement. Goodmornings using the lightened method just shouldn't be done unless the goal is to be the recipient of ridicule and/or the revocation of a man-card.
I use all variations except round back and seated for max effort days quite regularly. More often, I'll use them as a second movement after the main lift, working up to a top set of five, then doing a few triples at the same weight. Round back and seated goodmornings should be used only as accessories, and kept in the eight or more rep range.
Now, go forth, and goodmorning mightily.
*This article is not meant to diagnose or treat any illness or symptoms. If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, seek help from a medical professional, or just continue suffering.