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Kettlebell Good Mornings: Techniques And Benefits

 Written by 

Julien Raby

 Last updated on 

Have you heard frightening rumors about kettlebell good mornings? Maybe you overheard a story about injuries to the back and spine. Fortunately, with the correct form, the kettlebell good morning can be incredibly beneficial to your posterior chain and functional strength.

We cover how to perform the movement, benefits, mistakes to avoid, variations, and more in the article below. Read on for more information.

A woman doing kettlebell good mornings
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The kettlebell good morning is an excellent exercise that has several functional benefits. First, the movement will help strengthen your posterior chain and core whilst increasing hip flexibility. It can also help you develop more body awareness and give you the foundations for more complex exercises.

There are two ways to perform the KB good morning, holding the weight at the chest and over the shoulders.

Overhead Technique

Here’s how to execute the kettlebell good morning while holding the weight at the shoulder blades:

  1. Take an athletic starting position with your feet shoulder-width apart. Grip the kettlebell and bring it overhead between the shoulder blades.
  2. Pull your shoulders back. Maintain a wide, upright chest and hinge your hips toward the wall behind you.
  3. Maintain a flat back as you hinge at the hips. You should feel a stretch in your hamstrings as you execute the technique. 
  4. Keep your core tight and pull yourself back to the starting stance to finish the rep.

Chest Technique

You can also perform the KB good morning while holding the weight in front of your chest. Here’s how:

  1. Hold the kettlebell at your chest. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Keep a slight bend in your knees, and your chest elevated.
  2. Hinge at your hips to push your glutes back toward the wall. You should notice a stretch in the hamstrings.
  3. Engage your core muscles and life back up to the starting stance to finish the rep.

Pointers to Keep In Mind

There are a few pointers to keep in mind when executing the kettlebell good morning. Following these tips will help you avoid common mistakes and get the most out of this fantastic movement.

Always Warm Up

Like any other exercise, it’s crucial to warm up before performing the kettlebell good morning. Warming up ahead of time will increase your heart rate and blood flow, allowing your muscles to work more effectively. It’s best to stretch and work up towards your working set with lighter weights.

Use a Manageable Weight

It’s no secret that the good morning can feel uncomfortable, awkward, and complex. Although the movement has several functional benefits, it can be harmful if you don’t have the right technique or programming.

Besides warming up, it’s best to use lightweight or body weight when learning the form. Manageable weights will give you time to increase your body awareness and mind-muscle connection without the risk of injury.

Someone doing kettlebell good mornings at the gym
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Bend at the Hips

Be sure to bend at the hips, not at the waist, when executing the KB good morning. How can you tell the difference? The waist is at your belly button, while the hips are around the midsection of your glutes. To perform the hip-hinge movement, don’t round your lower back and keep the core tight.

Don’t Round Your Back

Rounding your lower back is the easiest path to injury, discomfort, or strain when performing the KB good morning. Incorrect techniques are likely caused by heavy loads and loose cores. Instead, use manageable weights and keep your core muscles engaged.

Focus on lowering the torso close to parallel, but not beyond. You’ll notice a moderate stretch in the hamstring muscles. If you notice any pain, stop and prioritize your technique.

Kettlebell Good Morning Benefits

The goblet good morning has a multitude of benefits compared to the traditional barbell variation and other back exercises. The movement targets key muscles across the posterior chain and can be more comfortable and increases functional strength.

Easier Lower-Back Lift

Traditional barbell good mornings can place significant amounts of strain on the lower back and lumbar spine. This risk doesn’t make barbell good mornings a harmful exercise—just different.

On the other hand, you can place the weight in front of you when performing kettlebell good mornings to reduce the load. The weight is also closer to the hips, which places less stress on the spine and back. For these reasons, KB good mornings might be better for long-term training.

Increased Core Activation

Placing the kettlebell in front of the chest increases core activation and stability in the spine . These factors help protect your spine and back during the movement. Besides that, the KB good morning requires torso stiffness, making them an excellent secondary core exercise. You may feel the movement in your deep core muscles.

A group of peope doing kettlebell good mornings outside
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Activates Major Muscle Groups

The KB good morning is a compound movement that activates major muscle groups. Most variations target the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. You can also select certain variations to prioritize one muscle group over another. Regardless, when performed correctly, the good morning strengthens key muscles across the entire body.

Improves Functional Upper Body Strength

The KB good morning can also be effective for the upper body, including the back, shoulders, and arms. The exercise is surprisingly effective at targeting these areas and can be a good secondary movement to include in your programming. A stronger upper body will help you perform daily activities like lifting things overhead or carrying large objects.

Muscles Worked With Kettlebell Good Mornings

The good morning is a compound exercise that targets posterior chain muscles and other key groups. Some of the key muscles activated with the kettlebell good mornings include the following:

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Erector Spinae (Lower Back)
  • Core (Obliques and Rectus Abdominis)

With proper technique, the movement can increase in the back, hamstrings, glutes, and core.

The hamstrings are the main muscle targeted, alongside the glutes, adductor magnus, and erector spinae. The spine and core work as stabilizers, which can improve your functional strength and other lifts. The Kettlebell good morning can also be beneficial for hip extension and flexion alongside your posture.

Variations to Try

There are several kettlebell variations you can try to change the muscle priority and difficulty. Here are a few to keep in mind the next time you’re working out or programming your next session.

Single-Leg Kettlebell Good Mornings

The single-legged variation combines the functional advantages of training one leg with the good morning exercise. Although single-leg variations aren’t as effective for bodybuilding, they can be fantastic for improving the posterior chain. Single-leg KB GMs also works well as a warm-up for heavier loads.

Dumbbell Good Mornings

Don’t have any kettlebells? Try a good morning with dumbbells instead. The movement is much the same and can be performed with the weight in front of the chest or behind the back. Some lifters find the dumbbell more comfortable to hold, so you might prefer this option.

Kick Stance Kettlebell Good Morning

If you’re looking for a challenging variation, consider the kick stance good morning. The kick stance GM is a variation between the traditional and single-legged options. It can be a dynamic movement, but you’ll need to use less weight to keep it safe and effective. You’ll get several benefits from raising one leg at a time whilst challenging your hip rotation and stability.

Kettlebell Good Mornings: Frequently Asked Questions

Do Kettlebell Good Mornings Hurt Your Back?

Good mornings have a bad reputation for back strain and injury. However, the movement can be extremely beneficial for the back when performed correctly. Kettlebell variations can strengthen the posterior chain and stabilization muscles while placing less strain on the spine.

How Heavy Should Kettlebell Good Mornings Be?

Most lifters perform good mornings in rep ranges between 3-10. For heavier weights, aim for the 3-6 rep range. If you’re learning the movement or focusing on hypertrophy, you can perform 8-12 reps.

Are Kettlebell Good Mornings Effective?

When executed correctly, good mornings can be extremely effective at strengthening the hips, glutes, hamstrings, core, back, and other muscles. The compound movement is fantastic for improving functional strength, posture, and hip mobility as well.

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