How Heavy Should You Go On Good Mornings?

good morning
March 28, 2023 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “how heavy should you go on good mornings?”. Good mornings are a very good exercise for strengthening the posterior chain and improving your squat and deadlift.

However, there is a lot of confusion as misinformation out there related to the good morning and in particular, how much weight to use.

This article will help to clear up this confusion. 

How Heavy Should You Go On Good Mornings?

Before considering how heavy to go on the good morning, it is imperative to ensure that the correct technique is engrained with just the empty bar.

A good rule of thumb endorsed by Matt Wenning is to do working sets on the good morning with 50% of your squat weight. This is a good ball park figure to determine what sort of weight you should eventually work up to working with.

Others like Jim Wendler advocate never going heavier than 100kg on the good morning. There are injury concerns associated with very heavy good mornings which is why some people like Matt Wenning prefer good morning machines.

You can mitigate the risks associated with heavy good mornings by using the safety squat bar. It makes the movement pattern feel a lot more natural.

good morning

You Must Master Form First

As with any exercise, you have to master form properly with light weights. This is especially true of the good morning, where the injury risks with heavy weights are high.

In particular you have to practice hinging at the hips and getting used to initiating the movement by sticking your butt back. This is key, according to the teaching of Dave Tate you have to also create tension in the abs when lowering the weight down.

When you are going down with the weight, you should stop when your abs make contact with your hip flexors. This will serve as an automatic stopping point and prevent you from going too low.

Going too low unnecessarily will increase the risk of injury. 

How Strong Are You?

It goes without saying, but the stronger you are the more weight you should be able to handle on the good morning. If you can squat 500lb or more then you should be able to handle a 225lb good morning without too many problems.

A strong posterior chain is required to be able to squat and deadlift lots of weight. Because the good morning works the posterior chain heavily, getting stronger at the good morning will also help your squat and deadlift.

In all honesty, the good morning is more of an advanced exercise. If you are unable to even squat 225lb then you shouldn’t bother with the good morning. Focus on getting your squat to higher levels first.

Listen To Your Body

Above all else, you should listen to your body. If you find that even light weight good mornings are causing you back pain then you should be warned. 

You should listen to this pain and take heed. If your technique is really solid and you are only using light weight but experiencing pain, then this is a sign that you should try a different exercise.

There are other exercises like the romanian deadlift, back extension and reverse hyper that would work perfectly fine for strengthening the posterior chain.

When you are doing your working sets on the good morning, it is a good idea to make notes about how the weight felt and how you felt when performing the reps. This feedback can prove very valuable in your programming and journey.

Views Of Matt Wenning

Matt Wenning is very experienced when it comes to lifting weights and has decades of powerlifting behind him. He is an elite level powerlifter and has some interesting things to say about the good morning.

Firstly, he says that the good morning is an exercise than can address 90% of most people’s weaknesses. It will help to improve the strength of your glutes, hamstrings and lower back.

Matt also is aware of the fact that heavy good mornings do pose an injury risk. For this reason he prefers using his own custom built good morning machine. This is obviously a novelty piece of kit and very few people have the luxury to train in a gym that has one.

When it comes to barbell good mornings, a safety squat bar works best. This is because it makes the movement pattern feel a lot more natural. You will also get slightly more upper back work as the safety squat bar pitches you more forward.

Final Thoughts

How heavy should you go on good mornings? A good answer is, as heavy as you can safely go with good technique and without any pain. It is ultimately a personal choice.

Some people may prefer to utilise good mornings as a higher rep exercise and that is perfectly fine. You will certainly have a lower risk of injury by adopting that approach.

Using a safety squat bar is the ideal choice for barbell good mornings. Your shoulders will feel healthier as well using this bar. Good mornings are ideally used as an assistance exercise to help to improve your squat and deadlift.

If your squat and deadlift are weak at the moment, you should focus all your efforts on just squatting and deadlifting to bring them up. Only implement good mornings when you feel like you need to.

If you have any comments about good mornings please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

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