Good Morning Exercise With Dumbbells An underestimated exercise you should start doing

Good morning exercise is an excellent movement for training your hamstrings, glutes and lower back muscles. It is typically performed with a barbell, but you can also use dumbbells effectively. In this article, we will show you how it is done, but we will also talk about this exercises in general, its benefits and flaws, as well as alternatives. Stay tuned.

Why good morning?

You will hardly find an exercise that has a more optimistic name than “Good Morning.” Bodybuilding exercises often have some ugly names – deadlifts, skull-crushers, hyperextensions, they all sound dark and dangerous! Good mornings, on the other hand, sound friendly and pleasant, like something you would enjoy doing. 🙂 However, don’t get fooled, they can be quite challenging.  

good morning exercise with dumbbellsGood morning primarily targets the muscles of your posterior chain – hamstrings, glutes and lower back, but also engage the core. These muscles are often neglected – people just don’t care about them; they want big pecs, biceps and washboard abs instead.

However, these muscles carry an important role, mainly in stabilization, and are involved in many activities, in or out of the gym. Neglecting these can result in nagging pain and serious injuries – hamstrings and lower back are one of those muscle groups that tend to get injured most often, which is another reason not to ignore them.

What makes this exercise so effective at building muscles is the position of the weight that allows maximal engagement especially in the lower back area. However, this also makes this exercise very dangerous if done with bad form, so make sure you do it correctly. This exercise, at the lowest position, strengthens your lower back muscles while simultaneously stretching and thus strengthening your hamstrings. All this happens with the support of your glutes and core muscles. Really a unique movement that does its muscle-building job surprisingly well.

How to perform the Good morning?

Usually, good mornings are performed while holding a barbell across your upper back. However, since this is DumbbellsHub, we will focus on the dumbbell variation, which has a few benefits.

First – you are more likely to have a pair of dumbells than a barbell with a set of plates if you workout at home.  Second – the dumbbell variation is safer since it has an escape mechanism if something goes wrong – you immediately drop the weight. When you bend forward while holding a loaded barbell on your back, there is not much you can do to save yourself from harm and prevent injuries.

There are two methods to perform this exercise: with one, or with two dumbbells.

One dumbbell variant:

  1. Pick a heavier dumbbell (or kettlebell) and hold it with both hands tightly, right across your chest, like you would do while performing a goblet squat. It would be better to hold it horizontally.
  2. Brace your core, like you are about to take a hit to the gut.
  3. While keeping the spine properly aligned, resisting the weight that pulls you forward, and while keeping the dumbbell pressed against your upper chest, start bending at your hips.
  4. Continue going until you start feeling the stretch in your hamstrings, or until your back becomes parallel to the floor.
  5. Squeeze your glutes and start rising back up to the starting position, reversing the whole movement.

Two dumbbell variant:

The movement remains the same, but instead of holding one dumbbell across your chest, hold two dumbbells, one in each hand, resting on your shoulders.

We prefer the version with one dumbbell since you will be much more stable holding one weight with both of your hands.

Is it safe?

Good mornings have a bad reputation because the weight placement and leverages put your lower back at risk. However, if you perform this exercise with adequate weight and correct form, you will not have any problems. Any movement can be dangerous if performed incorrectly, so stay focused while you do the workout, and never use more weight than you can move with correct form.

If done correctly, good mornings will strengthen your muscles, which will reduce the injury risks while performing other movements. And like we said, the dumbbell variation is a safer option, since it lets you to abrupt the exercise immediately if you feel any discomfort, something that the barbell does not allow.

Exercises similar to dumbbell good morning

The most similar exercise to the dumbbell good morning is its barbell twin, but you can also perform it with resistance bands. There are also a few other dumbbell movements that are close relatives to it:

  • Dumbbell straight-leg deadlift – this is quite a similar movement with one significant difference – you do not hold the weights on your shoulders, but rather against your front thighs, with your arms straight. The main movement is the same – you hinge at your hips with a braced core. However, since the weight hangs below you at arm’s length, there is less torque on your lower back. You can perform this movement while standing on one leg too while holding one or two dumbbells.
  • Back hyperextension – this movement is quite similar to the good morning – you work your glutes, hams, and lower back while holding the weight across your chest, or upper back. It is probably even easier to perform hyperextensions correctly than good mornings, but you will need a hyperextension bench (also known as a Roman chair). You can do it without it too, but not as effectively.


Good morning is a great exercise, and you should definitely consider adding it to your workout regime. It is always good to switch things up a bit by adding new exercises to your routine, to keep your body and muscles alert and growing.

Good morning is an exercise that simultaneously hits three major muscle groups, which makes it very efficient. Because it works different muscle groups, it can be a part of your back day, leg day, or full-body workout. It is a unique movement that hits the muscles hard. Just make sure to perform it with proper form, with lighter weights to minimize the risks. Also, our favorite, dumbbell version is even safer than the more common barbell variant, and you should probably start with that.

In short, a very underestimated, old-school exercise, the (dumbbell) good morning is one of those movements that are rarely seen in the gym, wrongly accused of being unsafe. Learn this exercise, perform it with correct form and have an injury-proof lower back. Stay strong!

About the Author Dumbbellsgeek

Hey! My name is Paul Sheldon. I live in Nashville, TN and I love all things related to sports. Naturally I love workking out and I do it every day. If you want to talk feel freee to hit me a message or if you happen to be in Nashville we can get a coffee, I know a great place. Peace!