How To Do Good Morning Exercise Alternatives

Good morning exercise alternative is the other version of the barbell exercise that works the abs, back, and hamstrings. There are several alternatives like deadlifts. Learn more here!

Man and woman morning jog

Are you looking for a good morning exercise alternative? This exercise is a good option for the lower back, abs, and hamstring. It’s a relatively easy exercise that requires minimum exercise equipment including a dumbbell. It’s a good all-around workout that works for several muscle groups. Fun Fact: The god morning exercise was invented about a century ago and was popular by the 1920s. There are various benefits you can from this exercise. One of the main ones is all you need is a barbell to do it. You won’t have to spend big bucks on a Smith machine, for example. There are various other benefits including working different your abs, back, and knee tendons.

You might be looking for alternatives to this exercise for different reasons. They include using different exercises to work the same muscle groups and barbell availability. For whatever reason, there are many options including a deadlift variation and others. These options let you work for the same muscle groups and sometimes even require different equipment like a GHD. More on that later. This isn’t to say you should automatically ditch the good morning exercise. It’s more about adding variety to your workouts for more gains and variety.

What Exactly Is the Good Morning Exercise?

This is the first question to take up before talking about alternatives. It’s unclear when this exercise was developed, although there’s some evidence it could have been as early as the 1910s. What is clear is it was widely used at public gyms by the 1920s so it’s existed for around a century.

One of the main issues is the exercise is so well-known it’s difficult to determine when exactly it was. For example, there’s a written record from 1924 about a “strength test” that involved a good morning-like exercise. What’s more important is the exercise exists today and is arguably one people should add to their public/home gym workouts.

Here’s how to do the exercise:

Step 1: Stand with both feet shoulder-length apart

Step 2: Put the barbell on your shoulders. Pick a weight that’s ideal for your experience level. Put the bar on the upper back muscles close to the shoulders.

Step 3: Brace ab muscles and breath in deeply

Step 4: Exhale while bending at hips until hamstrings start limiting movement. Then bend a little more to stretch them out. Don’t stretch them too much because you’ll feel pain/discomfort.

Make sure you keep your back straight. You can bend knees a little to reduce pressure. However, don’t be in a squatting position.

Step 5: Inhale and keep a straight back. Maintain the arch in the lower back like lifting from the floor.

Step 6: Exhale and keep head/chest up/forward. Make sure your back isn’t curled forward.

Step 7: Inhale while returning to starting position

Then there’s the issue of reps/set. This is based on your personal fitness goals. Make sure to talk to a coach/trainer for some guidelines. If you’re starting you should consider 3 reps/3 sets.  

Here are some common mistakes:

  • Increasing reps/sets to quickly
  • Poor squatting form
  • Not warming up

Good Morning Exercise: Alternatives


This stands for Glute Hamstring Developer. It’s a good bodyweight workout as a good morning alternative. First, face the ground while in a kneeling position. Then secure the heels behind some stall bars or a gym’s hyperextension station.

Next, keep hips extended while leaning forward. This should bring the forehead close to the ground or level to knees when elevated. Then at the end range of motion pause shortly. Next, lift back to starting position slowly. You can put hands a little behind the ears to make GHD tougher.  


This is also known as a “hyperextension.” This exercise works the abs, hips, hamstrings, and glutes. It forces them to work together to lift the torso. You can use the gym’s hyperextension station.

Here’s what to do. While facing down position hips on the side and calves under the other side. Relax the body and bend at hips so the head is hanging downwards toward the floor.

Put hands a little behind the ears and make sure to avoid pulling on the neck. Engage the glute, hamstrings, and back to lift the torso as much as you can. Pause a little at the top then lower slowly to starting position.


Straight-leg deadlifts put the body in the same position as good morning exercises. This is in terms of the hips-down. This allows it to work several of the same muscles while providing the benefit of more back strength/stability.

Here’s how to do the exercise. Make sure to start with a lightweight. First, stand behind the barbell and lean forward only from the hips. Keep your back straight while gripping the barbell. Tighten the care and pull shoulders back/down. Lift the weight via extending hips. Keep it close to the body. Then lower the weight to the starting position.

Benefits Of Good Morning Exercise

Here are some of the main benefits of the good morning exercise:

  • Stretch reflex boosts hamstring length
  • Eliminates muscle imbalances between quads and hamstrings
  • Strengthens lower back, abs, hamstrings, and glutes

As always it’s important to use good form when doing this exercise. Start with lightweight and focus on good form. Then you can add weight to make the exercise more challenging. However, if you use a bad form with more weights it can result in less effectiveness and even injury.


1. Over-bending Knees

Make sure not to bend knees too much. If you do that then it activates the quads. This exercise is done to train the posterior rather than the quads. So make sure to avoid bending the knees too much to get better results.

2. Using Heavy Weight

This isn’t to say you should never use a heavier weight. However, if you’re just getting started then make sure to start with a lightweight. This will allow you to focus on the form until you’ve mastered the exercise. Then you can start adding more weight. However, the risk of injury is greater if you add weight too quickly.

3. Bending at Spine

Like other exercises, this one could be dangerous if it’s not done properly. Make sure to use care/caution and follow proper technique. The spine’s alignment shouldn’t change when doing the exercise. Keep the core tight and bend at the hips.

4. Not Pushing Hips Back

This is one of the most common mistakes that’s an easy fix. You can do it by doing the movement without using weight. Focus on the hamstring stretch with each rep. This can help to provide the best results when doing the original exercise or good morning exercise alternative.

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