Good Mornings

I have been reading a few articles on the westside site and they are strong advocates of this exercise especially as a means to increase the deadlift.

I have never done these in my training and they don't offer anything on the site explaining the form for these in any detail.

From what I understand you put a loaded barbell on your shoulders and pretty much just bend over with it keeping your legs fairly straight with a slight bend in the knees. You bend until you are almost at a 90 degree angle and repeat. I read something on westside about purposely rounding your back in this movement as well.

They mention on the website as well that one of their 800+ deadlifters does 600lbs good mornings for reps. This just blew my mind, I never considered this exercise to be one where much weight could be used.

Any help or tips on this from anyone would be appreciated.

  1. A good tip for performing GMs is to push your butt back as you bend down (similar to when you squat). That way, you get your glutes and hamstrings to do most of the action to get yourself back to an upright position. This also brings the weight closer to your center of gravity (as you bring your torso down to parallel), thus reducing the strain on your lower back. You should also feel your glutes and hamstings doing most of the work (not your lower back per se). If you've done Stiff-Legged Deadlifts before, the motion is not that much different than a GM (other than where the weight is placed).

  2. I generally keep the bar low on the back (like I would when doing squats). That gives more support for the bar so that my neck isn't supporting all the weight when my torso is parallel to the floor.

  3. There should also be no reason why anyone would need to use the "squat pad" when doing GMs (and I've seen people perform GMs with the pad on the bar). The pad only raises the bar "off" your body, forcing you to waste time and energy balancing the bar on your body as you go through the range of motion.

  4. Of course, start with a weight you can handle (that's a no-brainer), but don't be afraid to go heavier if your body can handle it (with proper form of course).

  5. Keep in mind that the guys at Westside has thrown in the round back as a variation from the usual. They perform GM with an arched back, straight back, round back, high bar, low bar, with a straight bar, with a cambered bar, with a safety bar, with the legs together, with the legs at shoulder width apart, with the legs spread much further than shoulder width, off the pin (hanging GMs), stiff-leg, bent-knee, as well as squat-GM's. This is not to mention all the above combinations with the use of chains and bands.

Thanks for the tips, that helps a lot. Have you used Good Mornings to specificly help your deadlift? As part of the conjugate method?

Yes, I have used them to help my squat and deads. I normally do SLDL for my hams and glutes, but I switch it up with GMs just for variety. I follow the Westside protocol somewhat, but I do switch around depending on what I feel like doing.

The guys at Westside spends a lot more time doing GMs on Max Effort "squat" day (about 70% of all their scheduled ME Squat days is actually spent doing GMs). 20% is spent on box squat, and only 10% for deadlifts (and even so, they spend more time doing rack pulls than deadlifts). If I follow their protocol exactly as written, then I would be doing more GMs than I would now.

(More for your info, if you wanted some opinions about the Westside method) One of my friend, who does powerlifting competitively, says that while Westside Barbell do produce some of the strongest lifter around, they do spend a lot of time training with the equipments on. For example, the wide stance for doing box squat is great with all the equipments on, but without the equipments, one doesn't generate enough power to get themselves off the box (they'll end up stapled to the box, even with a "light" weight). Although the equipments give lifters a lot of support, the posterior chain is still the lifter's weakest link. My friend says that is why the guys at Westside stresses a lot on working the posterior chain. Without the equipment, that's a whole other story, because you really have to work your front as well as your back. IMHO, the Westside method is great -- I still use it -- but you have to modify it if you are a raw lifter, or if you are lifting for anything other than powerlifting. (And yes, my friend has used the Westside method before, if you wanted to know.)

Cool thanks again for the info. How did you find the Good Mornings helped you in those lifts, was their a noticable increase?

I noticed what you said about their workout structure too, it seems that they actually very rarely do the full lifts and spend most of their time doing either modified lifts or special exercices following the conjugate method. I am really interested in this because I think I am starting to stagnate in my big lifts a little and want to do something to get progress going again.

What other special exercises are you using now to supplement your big lifts and if it's not to much trouble do you have any links to structured westside style workout routines and/or could you post your own or past ones that you have followed?

It would be greatly appreciated but if it's to much trouble I understand.

Another Forum member had posted this a few months ago... It has a goodmorning video, check it out.

Does anyone have an opinion on seated GM's vs standing? I'm gonna start a new program in a week or two (WSFSB) and I was planning on doing the seat GM's as I thought the form looked "easier" to do for me.

For the time being (seeing that I'm nowhere near where the powerlifters lift) I spend more time training the actual lifts themselves (i.e. the big 3, rather than say, box squats, rack pulls, or board press).

Anyways, should have some good links and articles about the way the Westside Program is structured (although you have to search for it on their site). Here is a breakdown of what the typical program looks like:

Monday (ME Squat)

  • 70% GM, 20% box squat, 10% deadlift (work up to 1RM; the actual ME squat or ME deadlift is prior to a competition)

  • Hamstrings (3 sets or more of 5 - 8; numbers will vary, as will the load depending on the individual; e.g. of exercises: SLDL, GHR)

  • Abs (3 sets of 8 - 12; target the obliques and rectus abdominals; use of weight is optional, but strongly recommended; e.g. of exercises: ab wheel, standing crunches)

  • Lower back (the guys at Westside swears by the reverse hyper -- all done on the reverse hyper bench with weights of course; 3 sets of 10 - 12)

  • GPP exercises (optional; done after your workout and for as long as you need to; e.g. of exercise: sled drag)

Wednesday (ME Bench)

  • Bench press (with shirts; work up to 1RM -- but not necessary required to break a PR each time)

  • Tricep ("press type;" 3 sets or more of 5 - 8; number will vary based on individual; e.g. of exercises: JM press, narrow grip bench press, decline bench press, incline bench press, board press, weighted dips (although the guys at WSB have dropped this from their program due to shoulder strains), rack press)

  • Tricep ("extension type;" primarily to strengthen elbow and promote hypertrophy of the arm; 3 sets of 8 - 12; e.g. of exercises: Tate press, tricep pressdown, skull crushers)

  • Upper back (primarily to build the lats; movement pattern should match that of the bench press (so no chin-ups); 4 - 5 sets of 5 - 8; numbers will vary depending on the individual; e.g. of exercises: bent over rows, seated rows)

  • Shoulders (high rep, "low" intensity; 3 sets of 12 - 15; primary target is the lateral and posterior deltoids, to offset the imbalance that is created since the anterior deltoid gets worked so much (but there is no rule saying that the anterior deltoid can't be worked); also time to work the rotator cuffs to prevent injuries; e.g. of exercises: dumbbell raises, timed presses)

Okay, that's just for the two Max Effort days. I'll get into the Dynamic Effort days next. Keep in mind that the numbers are not set. Also, the exercises are not performed to failure (so something like "3 sets of 8 - 12" doesn't mean pick a load that you can only lift for 8 - 12 times per set). If it is too light, go heavier (WSB encourages it) but not too heavy that you will go to failure.

Okay here is the next part to the WSB routine. Before I go on, keep in mind that for the ME days, it is not necessary to break a PR. There will be days where you will not lift the same amount that you did the weeks before. All you got to do is drop the amount of weight that you are using and still work up to a 1RM for that day. As long as you are feeling the "strain" of a 1RM, then you are alright (of course, that's not hard to say if you are normally able to bench 800; I mean, if you end up lifting 100 less than what you normally lift, that's still 700 lbs right there, which is more than what most people at the gym lifts anyways).

So, moving on:

Friday (DE Squat)

  • Box squat (10 sets of 2, 10 - 20 second rest in between sets; explode off the box; load is dependent on your 1RM -- the percentage used is in a "wave-like" pattern (e.g. week 1, use 50% 1RM; week 2, use 55% 1RM; week 3, use 60% 1RM; week 4, go back to 50% 1RM) -- the drop back to 50% is to accomodate for any new PR in squats as well as prevent your system from being taxed; following the 10 sets, you perform a single box squat using 75% 1RM, again, the key is explosiveness. This last set is optional.)

  • Dynamic Effort deadlift (6 sets of 1, 10 - 20 second rest in between sets; explode bar off the ground; load is dependent on 1RM, but the percentage is maintained at 60% 1RM regardless; can be performed with a conventional stance or a sumo stance; following the 6 sets, perform a single deadlift with 75% 1RM, with explosiveness. This last set is optional)

  • Ab, and lower back exercises just like the ME squat days (this doesn't change)

Sunday (DE Bench)

  • DE bench press (8 sets of 3; maintain at 60% 1RM; load depends on 1RM; explode the bar off your chest; vary the grip within the 8 sets (e.g. wide grip, narrow, normal); after the 8 sets, perform a single bench press with 75% 1RM with explosivness. This last set is optional)

  • Everything else following the DE is the same as the ME bench day (i.e. go directly to doing a pressing exercise for the triceps, an extension exercise for the tricep, upper back, and then shoulders)

As you can see, the spacing between bench sessions (ME bench to DE bench) is space at around 72 hours, giving optimal time for recovery. Likewise with the squat sessions. That is why it is inconsequential that ME Squat days occurs the day after DE Bench days.

Keep in mind that the percentage is not so important. WSB use to do DE days with 75% 1RM before they dropped it to around 50% - 60%. About a year ago, I've heard that some people at WSB perform their DE exercises with only 40% 1RM. The key is not so much the load that you move, but rather the explosiveness in movement with proper form.

Okay, next I'll show you what I've been doing for my workout and how I'm using some of the WS method and where I modified it for what I need.

Since I have a shoulder injury that is slowly healing, I dropped the ME bench out of my routine. So everytime I do bench, I stick with the DE bench routine.

For squat days, I start off with warming up with a couple of sets of squats. I perform 2 sets of 5 with 135. Then I move up to do a set of 5 with 185, and then with 225. Some days, I can do a set of 5 with 225, on some, I can only do 3. The 225 limit is where I determine if I should continue with doing singles or triples. If I do only 3, I just stick with singles, but if I can do 5, I go on with triples. This goes on until I reach 315. From here, I'm performing either singles or doubles, plus the increment in weight goes down. I determine whether I am able to lift a heavier weight base on my form for the last set. If it looks like I'm losing form, then I just stick with the weight I'm using and perform for 3 more sets (and at this point, I'm taking at least a 3 minute break in between sets).

If I feel my squat needs some work, I will do another squat execise (with much lighter weight) to suppliment my squat routine. I will usually do front squat or zerchers.

Afterwards, I go directly to working my hamstrings. I like doing SLDL since I can pull more than I can GM, but I do GMs just for variety. If I don't do these two exercise, then I find a lat pulldown seat and jerry-rig it so I can do some modified GHR on it. If worst comes to worst and I'm pressed for time, I use the hamstring curl machine.

Then comes the ab work. I like standing crunches a lot, but the odd weighted sit-ups works as well. After, I work on my obliques. I do either landmines, Russian twists, lifts, or inverted side bends. Then for the lower back, I do reverse hypers (unfortunately, I don't have a reverse hyper bench at my gym) or pull-throughs.

If I need more work, I work on my grip strenght, or duck walk up the stairs with weights. I may also throw in pistons or some box jumps. Then I do some light cardio for recovery. I may do some stability training on these days, but then I just head on out.

If I feel I have the energy to do deadlifts, then I'll do them instead of squat. I do more squatting than I deadlift simply because my squat is weaker than my deadlift and because deadlifts are quite taxing on the body. I generally don't do triples with deadlifts though -- I stick with singles and work up to a 1RM.

If I feel too tired to go for max effort, then I switch it off with DE squats. For this, I stick mostly with the protocol for Westside. I usually leave the plyo and the other extra work out when I do DE squat. However, my time right now doesn't afford me the time to go to the gym 4x a week. In most case, I drop the DE squat and concentrate more on nailing the form down.

As for the bench, I'm sticking mostly to the DE Bench routine. I perform the DE bench as perscribed, but I also add in some chin-ups just to work my back at a different angle. For my shoulders, I stick to doing rotator cuff exercises to facilitate the recovery. I also add in some forearm exercises to suppliment my grip training. On this day, I do cardio if I got time for it. The cardio on this day is not "light" like my squat days. After that, I head out.

Anyways, to answer your question if GM has helped my squat or deadlifts, I would say they have in a way. My back isn't as week and I can maintain proper form with "heavier" weights. But GM alone was not the only thing that helped. There were other exercises that contributed to this as well; however, I would say that much of my increase was probably from me spending a lot of time on the big 3 themselves. Proper form and lots of practice will be key in the long run. Then again, I squat, bench, and deadlift not to compete, but to use these exercises to build a good foundation for other athletic endeavours. If I spend the time trying to build up my squat just for the sake of squatting, then I would be missing out on the benefits of simply squatting. The time I would have to use just to increase my PRs could be better spend on the sport that I like and want to do (i.e. MMA). Hope that helps.

Thanks a lot RapidAssault, I appreciate you taking the time to post all that it does help a lot.

Thanks MuaySteve too for the video link.

If you want more info about the "WSB standard template," then here is a link to an article that pretty much sums up my above posts (plus a lot more that I didn't mention).

Check out this month's articles on their website as well. There is a really good article written by Dave Tate (entitled "Frustrated").