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Good Mornings Vs Deadlifts: Benefits, Muscles Used + Which Is Better

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Deadlifts vs Good Mornings – Introduction

Good mornings vs deadlifts; what are the benefits, muscles worked, and which is better for you?

Your energy and training time are valuable commodities.

That’s especially true if you struggle to fit your workouts into your busy schedule or find it a challenge to recover between training sessions.

So, it makes sense to fill your workouts with the most productive exercises possible.

That way, you’ll get the greatest benefits from the least amount of training time and energy.

Unfortunately, there are a lot of excellent exercises to choose from, so it can be hard to pick the best option.

This article compares good mornings and deadlifts, so you can decide which of these exercises is the right one for your workout.

Table of Contents

Good Morning 101 

The good morning is an old-school bodybuilding exercise.

It’s so-called because, when you do it, you look like you are bowing politely in greeting.

The good morning exercise is a posterior chain movement that involves a pronounced hip hinge.

It’s done using a barbell, but you can also replicate this move with a resistance band.

The main muscles involved in good mornings are:

  • Gluteus maximus – rear of the hip
  • Hamstrings – rear of the thigh
  • Erector spinae – lower back
  • Core – the muscles of the midsection

How to Do Good Mornings 

The good morning is a somewhat controversial exercise.

Because of the movement and the position of the bar, it places a lot of strain on your lower back.

As such, some cautious coaches warn against doing this exercise.

However, performed correctly, good mornings can be safe, and they’re an effective posterior chain exercise.

Follow these instructions to ensure that you do good mornings correctly!

  1. Rack and hold your barbell on your upper back, just like you are doing squats.
  2. Pull the bar down to make sure it stays in place.
  3. Brace your core and pull your shoulders down and back.
  4. Stand with your feet between shoulder and hip-width apart and bend your knees slightly.
  5. Without rounding your lower back or bending your knees further, hinge from your hips, push your butt back, and lean forward until your upper body is as close to parallel with the floor as possible.
  6. Drive your hips forward and return to the upright position.

To do this exercise with a resistance band instead of a barbell, simply stand on one end and loop the other end over the back of your neck.

Band good mornings are an excellent exercise for anyone who trains at home or finds barbell good mornings uncomfortable.

They’re also a little easier on your lower back as there is less stress at the mid-point of each rep.

Good morning variations at home and in the gym

Seated good mornings to reduce stress on your spine

Good Morning Pros and Cons 

Not sure if good mornings deserve a place in your workouts?

Consider these pros and cons and then decide.

Pros: 

The following are the most important benefits of the good morning:

Good for strength and hypertrophy

Whether you want to build muscle or get stronger, good mornings can help.

You can do this exercise with heavy weights for low reps or lighter weights and higher reps to train for either fitness goal.

Accessible

The only equipment you need for good mornings is a barbell and weights.

You don’t even need bumper plates.

That said, if you are using heavy weights, you’ll probably find good mornings easier and safer if you start and end your set in a power rack.

Better posture

Good mornings work the muscles that hold you upright against the pull of gravity.

As such, it’s a valuable posture exercise and a good antidote to all the sitting that most people do.

A bonafide squat and deadlift booster

Powerlifters tend to use the good morning as an assistance exercise for squats and deadlifts.

If you want to lift more weight in either of these exercises, the good morning will probably help.

Cons: 

While the good morning can be a safe and effective exercise, there are downsides too.

Here are some of the cons of the good morning exercise:

Tricky to learn

Good mornings are quite unnatural, which means they can be difficult to learn and master.

Good mornings aren’t really suitable for beginners, who would be better served by mastering the Romanian deadlift or regular deadlifts.

Risk of injury

There is a long distance between the weight and your hips during good mornings.

This puts a lot of stress on your spine and the muscles and ligaments that support it.

Even a slightly rounded back could cause serious injury.

You’ll need a strong lower back and core to do good mornings safely.

Range of motion

Your range of motion depends almost entirely on your hamstring flexibility.

If your hammies are tight, you won’t be able to lean forward very far, making this exercise less effective.

Also, tight hamstrings will make it harder to avoid rounding your lower back.

Deadlift 101 

The deadlift is arguably the most productive exercise you can do with a barbell.

Like good mornings, the deadlift works your posterior chain, but it involves many other muscles besides.

In fact, it would be fair to call the deadlift a full-body exercise.

As well as being a primo muscle and strength builder, deadlifts teach you the safest way to lift a heavy object off the ground.

In short, if you want to get fit, build muscle, get stronger, transform your body, or just be healthier, deadlifts should be part of your workouts.

The main muscles involved in deadlifts are:

  • Quadriceps – front of the thigh
  • Hamstrings – back of the thigh
  • Gluteus maximus – back of hip
  • Erector spinae – lower back
  • Core – the muscles of your midsection
  • Biceps – front of the upper arms
  • Forearms – lower arm and grip muscles
  • Trapezius – upper back
  • Rhomboids – upper back
  • Latissimus dorsi – side of upper back

How to Do Deadlifts 

The deadlift is such a beneficial exercise that, in Victorian times, it was called the health lift.

As such, we’ve written A LOT about this exercise elsewhere on HashiMashi.

So, if you are unfamiliar with deadlifts or need a more detailed refresher on how to do them, make sure you check out our in-depth guide, which includes step-by-step instructions on how to deadlift correctly.

That said, these are the basics of deadlifting:

  1. Place your barbell on the floor.
  2. It should be about nine inches above the ground or roughly mid-shin height.
  3. Stand with your toes under the bar, feet hip to shoulder-width apart.
  4. Bend down and hold the bar with an overhand or mixed grip.
  5. With your arms straight, drop your hips so they’re just below shoulder height.
  6. Brace your abs and slightly arch your lower back.
  7. Without bending your arms or rounding your back, drive your feet into the floor and stand up straight.
  8. Keep the bar close to your legs throughout.
  9. Bend your knees, hinge at the hips, and lower the bar back to the floor.
  10. Pause with the bar on the floor for a second or two, reset your core and grip, and repeat.

Rich Hashimashi Deadlifting at 64 – Credit HashiMashi.com

Most Common Deadlift Mistakes

Deadlift Pros and Cons 

Do deadlifts deserve a place in your workouts?

Probably!

But you should still consider these pros and cons before deciding.

Pros: 

Easy to learn

Deadlifts are a very natural exercise.

In fact, it’s one of the few exercises that perfectly resembles an activity of daily living.

As such, most people can learn the basics of deadlifting very quickly.

A full-body exercise

There are very few muscles not trained by deadlifts.

In fact, all you need to do is some dips or push-ups to work the muscles not directly involved in deadlifts.

Great for strength

The deadlift is a near-perfect exercise for building strength.

Low-rep deadlifts are safe as you can drop the weight without hurting yourself if you cannot complete a rep.

You don’t need a squat rack to deadlift safely, which means they’re ideal for home lifters.

A superior back builder

As well as working your legs, deadlifts train all your major posterior chain muscles (back muscles).

So, if you want a broader, more muscular back, deadlifts will help.

That’s why deadlifts are such a big hit with bodybuilders.

Cons: 

While deadlifts are the perfect barbell exercise, there are a couple of drawbacks to consider too…

Injury risk

While you can lift heavy weights with deadlifts, that’s both a blessing and a curse.

While heavy deadlifts are great for building muscle and strength, those same heavy weights could also cause injury, especially if your technique is not as good as it should be.

As such, you MUST deadlift with good form and only lift heavy if you are experienced enough to do so safely.

Equipment

Deadlifts work best when you use a dedicated deadlift bar or a power bar combined with full-sized bumper plates.

You CAN do deadlifts with a standard barbell and smaller weight plates, but the bar will be closer to the floor, making it harder to get into the correct starting position.

Good Mornings vs Deadlifts – Comparison

Now you know a little more about good mornings and deadlifts, it’s time to judge these two exercises by a few different criteria:

Strength

While both of these exercises will make you stronger, the deadlift is probably your best choice because it lets you lift heavier weights and involves more muscle groups.

There is a reason that powerlifters and strongman competitors spend so much time deadlifting!

Winner: Deadlifts! 

Hypertrophy (muscle building) 

Deadlifts and good mornings are both good muscle-building exercises.

The main difference is that good mornings mainly focus on your lower body and hips, while deadlifts work virtually your entire body.

Use the movement that targets the muscle groups you want to develop.

Winner: It’s a draw! 

Athletic performance 

Both of these exercises are good for athletes, but as deadlifts are more functional, they’re probably the superior choice.

After all, they train more muscles and more closely replicate the movements of sports and daily living.

So, if you want to run faster, jump higher, or kick harder, deadlifts will help.

Winner: Deadlifts!

Ease of learning 

Most people grasp deadlifts quite quickly than good mornings because they’re a recognizable movement.

Deadlifts still take time to learn and master, but they’re usually easier for beginners.

Good mornings are a little trickier, and novices often struggle to maintain a neutral spine, which could lead to injury.

Winner: Deadlifts!

Safety 

Both of these exercises can be done safely, even with heavy weights.

However, good mornings are potentially riskier because the bar rests on your shoulders, and it could be hard to escape from beneath it if you get stuck at the bottom of a rep.

As such, deadlifts are probably the safest of these two exercises.

Winner: Deadlifts!

Good Mornings vs Deadlifts – Wrapping Up

Good mornings and deadlifts are both excellent exercises.

They develop many of the same muscles and can be used for the same training goals.

That said, if you had to choose between them, the deadlift is probably your best option.

That’s because it provides more bang for your workout buck as it involves more muscles and is potentially safer.

That said, the good morning is a great assistance exercise for boosting your deadlift performance (and the squat), so it would make a good addition to your workouts.

But, if you only have the time or energy for one of these exercises, deadlifts will produce the best results.

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