You’ve squeezed back squats and the occasional leg press into your workout routine to keep from skipping leg day. Hell, you even do a calf exercise sometimes when you’re feeling daring!
But here’s a question:
What are you doing to target your hamstrings directly?
If you don’t have a good answer, then your current routine needs some work. Maybe the good morning exercise with dumbbells is the exercise for you.
Let’s find out!
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What is the Dumbbell Good Morning?
The dumbbell good morning is considered a posterior chain exercise. So unlike planks and ab rollouts, you’re working the muscles along the rear of your body.
That includes the hamstrings, lower back, and the glutes — the muscles you often neglect.
The dumbbell good morning is also considered a hip hinge exercise. As the name implies, this type of exercise involves bending over at the hips, as if you’re reaching to pick something up.
Many guys serious about their physique use this exercise to bulk up their hamstrings.
But there are plenty more reasons to add this simple exercise to your routine!
The Benefits of Dumbbell Good Mornings
You’re always going to be a little wary about adding a new movement to your routine. After all, you like the schedule you’ve got going on right now and, seriously, a dumbbell exercise?
The benefits of dumbbell good mornings are convincing. They can:
- Strengthen Posterior Muscles: Includes the lower back, hamstrings, and even the glutes, all in one swift movement
- Prevent Muscle Imbalance: Having quads significantly stronger than hamstrings puts you at risk for lost mobility, knee injury, and reduced lower body strength
- Improve Posture & Balance: A stronger lower body and core are essential for great posture, especially when you get older
- Build Lower Body Strength: Hits many of your squat and deadlift muscles, boosting your form for those exercises as well as possible PRs
And best of all:
You can add some serious mass to your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes! Bulky quads and a six-pack mean nothing if the back of your body looks totally untrained, right?
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Muscles Targeted by Dumbbell Good Mornings
The dumbbell good morning is an excellent hamstring exercise. But this awesome exercise also hits other muscles in the posterior (and anterior) chain!
Take a look at which muscles this exercise benefits:
- Hamstrings (back of the thighs, opposite the quadriceps)
- Glutes (hip extension)
- Erector spinae (muscles that follow your spine & allow you to keep your back straight)
- Abdominals (flexed core limits your ROM during this exercise)
The weight you use will determine the results you see with this exercise.
A heavier weight is great for building mass, strength, and power. Lighter weight can boost your posterior chain flexibility and endurance.
How To Do a Dumbbell Good Morning
First things first, there are two ways to hold the dumbbell with this exercise:
- Grasping it in front of your chest (preferably around the collarbone area)
- Holding it behind your neck (risky if you’re using a heavier dumbbell)
Now, here’s a step-by-step guide for doing the good morning exercise with dumbbells.
- Begin with feet about shoulder-width apart (or a bit wider for direct hamstring activation), a dumbbell held to your chest, and your legs slightly bent.
- Keeping your back straight and legs a tad bent, bend over at the hips (Note: Your butt will travel backward a bit for the sake of balance).
- Once your upper body is parallel to the floor, use your posterior muscles to extend your back to your starting position.
It’s that easy!
It’s a good idea to start off using a lighter weight first until you lock down the proper form and be sure your body can handle more resistance.
5 Tips for Dumbbell Good Mornings
We can’t deny that the dumbbell good morning is a great exercise all-around. Yet, there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind as you’re cranking these out from week to week.
Here are some tips for doing this exercise:
- Perfect your form before using a seriously heavy dumbbell to avoid pulling a muscle.
- Do your best to avoid locking your legs into a straight position (protects your back).
- Perform a few weightless or light warm-up sets first.
- Use good mornings as a warm-up exercise before heavy deadlifts and squats.
- Pair dumbbell good mornings with quad exercises (squats, leg presses, leg extensions).
Sounds pretty simple, right?
Dumbbell Good Morning: Alternative Exercises
The dumbbell good morning is an excellent version if you’re just working on your form as you build up to a heavier weight. But it’s also the least conventional way to do this exercise!
If you’re ready to add more resistance or just don’t have dumbbells on hand, you might prefer to do the weighted barbell or Smith machine version.
For either, the resistance (barbell) will be at your back instead of clenched across your chest.
But if you’re looking to hit the posterior chain and hip hinge muscles with another type of exercise, check these out:
- Kettlebell swings
- Glute-ham bridges
- Romanian and/or stiff-legged deadlifts (SLDL)
- Hip thrusts
Then add one or more of the above exercises to your deadlift or leg day to start building your posterior muscles as much as you do your anterior!
Good Morning vs. Deadlift
You’re already doing deadlifts in your routine. So now you might be wondering, “Why should I be doing dumbbell good mornings when I’m already hitting my hamstrings…and hard?”
Here’s the difference.
Deadlifts are a great exercise for just about every muscle in the body. And since you’re only pushing through a small range of motion, you’re able to use seriously heavyweights.
So deadlifts are awesome for pushing your body to its limits and building serious mass.
Good mornings are more about the focus on the lower back, hamstrings, and glutes. You can better target the hamstrings, boost endurance with a lighter weight, and improve your flexibility.
In short: Both have their benefits and deserve a spot in your routine.
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