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The good morning is one of the best accessory movements you can do to develop your posterior chain size and strength, building up your hamstrings, glutes, trunk, and lower and upper back. If you’re serious about bringing up your deadlift and/or squat numbers, or simply in creating and maintaining good posture, they are well worth consideration for inclusion into your regular routine.
However, there are some common issues with the conventional good morning that can greatly mitigate their advantages, with plenty of people either performing them with poor barbell positioning, with it rolling either up or down the back, poor hinge pattern, and/or non-neutral spine positioning.
Performing a Zercher variation, in which the barbell is held in front of the chest, in the crooks of the arms, is a safe, efficient way to mitigate these common errors (though, of course, the development of good form through all exercises, including the standard good morning, should be any lifter’s priority).
A Zercher good morning variation will give the same benefits to the posterior chain as the standard version. In addition, it will elicit greater activation through the upper back due to the barbell’s loading position. This position will also engender greater full body tension: you will likely find yourself almost uncomfortably tight through the movement which, unpleasant as it may feel, will keep you safe and bring about greater global gains.
It will also be easier to maintain a neutral spine in a Zercher good morning. A barbell will be easier to control and manipulate when held in front of the chest. If you find yourself rounding forwards too much, you will be able to simply release it, as well, rather than having to come out of position and lift it over the head as you would for a standard good morning.
There is also a quite comfortable counterbalance to the barbell position in a Zercher good morning.
Let’s begin by looking at standard good morning technique. Once this is better understood, it will be far easier to convert our technique over to a Zercher variation.
To perform a good morning:
The Zercher variation uses very similar mechanics to the conventional good morning, activating pretty much the same muscles in very similar ways. However, there are of course a few key differences.
To perform a Zercher good morning variation:
It’s always a good idea to bring some unilateral work into your training. It teaches your body more intricate movement patterns and helps to get rid of any muscular imbalances between the two sides of your body. Good mornings are no different. Performing a staggered version of the Zercher good morning will help you to isolate each side of the posterior chain from the other, building them solo.
To perform the staggered Zercher good morning:
The Zercher good morning may not work for you, or it may work incredibly well. You may even find that you prefer it to the conventional version- plenty of people favour movements like the Zercher squat over front squats, for example.
It will give you all the benefits of a traditional good morning, with slightly more discomfort but a lot less risk.