Thursday, January 31, 2008

Good Mornings

Good mornings are definitely not appropriate for everyone. I like the way Rippetoe and Kilgore deal with them in SS. (Although I will have to say that I have done and will do good mornings without a 1 RM squat of 300 lbs.) I have long hammies and good isometric torso control, so it isn't a big deal for me.

As for your question regarding bar placement, I have always placed the bar in the same position I use for squats--and I'm a high bar squat kinda girl. With my turkey neck, this is nowhere near my C-7. The bar is on my traps. The illustrations in SS appear to show the bar on the traps, not what I'd describe as "in the neck." I am not sure what Rip means exactly; you might go here and ask him to clarify it for you.

An aside, I also personally like to do SLDLs. Again, much more fun if you have good hamstring flexibility. But they are for more advanced athletes who have quality movement and control.

I would never prescribe a weighted good morning for someone I've never personally instructed. There is just too much potential risk involved making sure that lumbo-pelvic awareness and control are there.

That said....I do like to teach anyone the Waiter's Bow (basically a good morning movement, double and single leg) with a dowel and 45 deg hip/torso extensions. I think it is essential for everyone to learn to distinguish spinal flexion/extension from hip flexion/extension, and learn to isometrically lock a neutral-spine torso to the pelvis. There is some data to show that people with LBP have trouble distinguishing spine/hip flexion. Thus, the Waiter's Bow, i.e. good morning / sldl movement, if learned properly, should be protective; and an additional lifting strategy in cases where the squat cannot or does not need to be used. It beats the hell out of stooping, the lifting strategy many people use and the only strategy that has been compared to squat lifting in the literature (that I can find).

I would only add external resistance to good mornings on case-by-case basis. Most people should be fine using bodyweight only for 10-20+ reps and several sets. If you are a competitive lifter, you may find 35% of your 1 RM squat appropriate

I am not a fan of rounded-back lifts. I can understand the argument of preparing the body for those times when a rounded-back position is the only lifting position possible; but I still have a hard time putting a bar in someone's hands or on their back to intentionally train that movement. The risk is too high for my taste; I don't do them myself . I could see doing some spinal flexion/extension over a swiss ball; the anterior shear forces would be reduced and the passive structures controlling the spine into flexion supported, if one absolutely determined they needed to train the spinal extension musculature dynamically.

And I know, there's always that one dude, who's done them for years, that swears by them. Just like there are people who've smoked like chimneys and drank like fish for years. A few outliers survive. Many more do not.

Personally, I think most of us can get by with focusing on isometric torso strength. The musculature is designed to work most effectively, in the context of all other torso stabilizing structures, against heavy load, isometrically. My motto is: Flex and extend a loaded spine at your own risk.


Dan Hubbard said...

I agree with you. You need to have great lumbo-pelvic stabilization. I also worry about the bar sliding up my neck as I flex forward. I prefer to have my weight in my hands (deadlifting) than on my neck.

However, I found that good mornings with a dowel are a good starting exercise to teach the deadlift (especially scapular retraction while bending forward with activation of the lower traps/rhamboids/lats). I also use them with clients with a h/o low back pain. I discovered if you have them place the bar vertical on the back (running from sacrum to head) it is a great way to give them feedback while they are bending forward. If the dowel comes away from the head they are flexing the spine, if it doesn't they are flexing at the hip joint and maintaining a neutral spine.

Also, I like to use the sldl as many have differences in hamstring flexibility/hip stability on each side. You can assess this and work on this with the sldl.

One question: when training hip extension we focus on developing lumbo-pelvic stabilization, glute/hamstring activation, but how about hip flexor deactivation. Do you feel that tight/hypertonic hip flexors give many problems and if so, working on them in conjunction with the hip extension (warm-up deadlift with a hyper hip extension and neutral spine position)?



Aaron said...

As someone with extremely short/inflexible hamstrings, does doing either of these exercises pose more of a danger than if I were more flexible? Is doing such exercises a potential way to improve flexibility (as Coach Rip says squatting is when done under weight)?

As for lifting with a humped back, what about doing back extensions off of a roman chair or Glute Ham Developer? Seems like it might fit into the catagory of your swiss ball back extensions in terms of safety.



The Iron Maven said...


If one has over-active hip flexors, I can see this movement as one that would help tease them out. Theoretically, if the hip extensors are active, the hip flexors cannot be.

I don't treat enough LBP to say whether or not hip flexors are a major problem, but in anyone, I would look to create a balance. Certainly, there is a lack of proper hip extensor use in those with and without LBP. I think you are on the right track.


The Iron Maven said...


If you cannot distinguish between your pelvis and spine flexing, then then a weighted GM is potentially problematic--if you have short or long hammies. I absolutely agree with Rip in that practicing the movement brings about functional mobility. With GM's, I prefer to work on them with a dowel, at first. If I were confident that you had control, I might add some weight or leave that to your discretion. Don't forget, your bodyweight in gravity counts as weight.

GHD and Roman chairs put a pretty decent moment about L5-S1. In my opinon, they are advanced for someone who uses strict positioning (no spine flexion, hip pads below the pelvis). I don't advocate doing rounded back work on these, but that is my personal preference. Others may find it beneficial. For the majority of people, I prefer the 45 degree apparatus--your feet are basically on the ground and the intensity of the movement is less. It is easier to learn the movement w/o momentum.