While almost unrivaled for working the posterior chain, a barbell good morning is far from the most accessible for many.

In my experience, this good morning exercise is only suitable for those who are experienced and have strong back muscles and a good amount of core strength. 

If you're new to training or you have an injury that a barbell good morning is unsuitable for, the good news is the same results are possible with these 10 good morning exercise substitutes.

If you can’t do a barbell good morning, don’t worry. The solution is as simple as choosing a replacement.

Worthwhile alternatives to good morning exercise routines need to tick a few boxes. First, they should be compound exercises, preferably focused on the posterior chain for posture correction purposes. Second, they should activate that all-important hamstring and finally, they need to be practical. 

Read on for my top 10 barbell good morning substitutes.

1. Bent Over Rows 

Man Doing Barbell Bent Over Rows

This barbell good morning alternative can also be performed with dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands. 

It may seem like an arm exercise, but while it does work the biceps, the motion of pulling also works your latissimus dorsi, rhomboids, and trapezius. This is great for hitting back muscles that are often neglected. 

Bent over rows are excellent substitute for the good morning exercise because they improve functional strength in the same way, reducing back pain, and working on your posture at the same time. 


  •  Strengthens and stabalizes the shoulders and helps prevent injury.
  • Improves upper body and core strength.
  • Builds lean muscle.

How to Do It:

  1.  Stand with feet shoulder-distance apart. Your upper body should be bent over, parallel to the floor. 
  2. Hold a barbell at knee level. 
  3. Pull the barbell up to your stomach while squeezing your shoulder blades. 
  4. Return the barbell to its knee-level position with a controlled movement.

Tips From A Trainer!

To ensure perfect form and maximize the benefits, keep your core braced, your back straight, and maintain a tucked chin. 

2. Hip Thrusts 

Man Doing Hip Thrusts

Hip thrusts are a lower body-only exercise. They work the glutes, lower back, and hamstrings, providing many of the essential benefits that the good morning exercise provides.

If you're looking for a good morning exercise alternatives you can do at home, the hip thrust is perfect. You only need a bench-height object for your pivot point. The added weight will increase the benefits, but it is entirely optional. 

If you are unable to perform the hip thrust exercise due to equipment limitations or any other reason, there are several hip thrust alternatives you can try to target your glutes and build lower body strength.


  • Transfers over to a stronger squat and deadlift.
  • Builds explosive lower body power.
  • Provides a heavy stimulus for the glutes which can get weak from too much sitting.

How To do It:

  1. Sit on the ground with your upper back touching a bench-height surface. This will be your pivot point. 
  2. Keep your feet flat and hip-width apart. Knees should be bent at 90-degree angles. You can hold a weight at hip level if you wish. 
  3. Pivot your upper back and use your glute muscles to extend your hips off the floor while keeping your spine neutral. 
  4. Engage the core to prevent your back arching as you approach the top of the movement.
  5. Lower yourself back to the starting position with control.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep your ribcage down throughout this movement by leaning back as you bring your hips up. Ensure your legs are at 90 degrees when your hips are fully extended, if your feet are too far then you will engage more hamstrings than glutes. 

3. Romanian Deadlifts 

Man Doing Romanian Deadlift

An important hip hinge exercise, the Romanian Deadlift is used specifically to work the posterior chain, focusing on the glutes, hamstrings, erector spinae, and adductors – making them a perfect good morning exercise substitute.

As well as promoting good posture, Romanian deadlifts are great for strength-building. If you want to work on your power, too, increase the speed of your reps. You can also increase the difficulty by adding a pause.

While usually done with a trap bar or barbell, you can use a resistance band for an excellently faithful banded good mornings alternative.

If you can't perform the Romanian deadlift exercise due to various reasons such as limited mobility, equipment availability, or specific restrictions, there are RDL alternative exercises that can provide similar benefits and target the same muscle groups.


  • Increases hamstring, lower back and hips and increases performance in deadlifts.
  • Teaches proper hip function and can assist in injury prevention.
  • Better hamstring and glute hypertrophy due to increased time under tension.

How To Do It:

  1. Start with both feet shoulder-width apart, core engaged, and knees and hips stacked together. 
  2. Grip your weight with your arms fully extended. 
  3. Hinge your hips and bend your knees with a neutral spine until the weight comes to mid-shin height. 
  4. Stand by pushing through your legs, driving the hips to meet the weight as it reaches thigh-height lockout position. Your spine should still be neutral. 
  5. Begin the next rep without dropping your weight.

Tips From A Trainer!

Keep your chin tucked and core braced to help keep your spine neutral. Initiate the movement by pushing your hips backwards then pull them through to meet the bar. Don't bend forward at your hips.  

4. Kettlebell Swings 

Man Doing Kettlebell Swings

An incredibly popular and efficient hip hinge exercise, kettlebell swings provide a full-body workout, working the core, deltoids, erector spinae, glutes, hamstrings, latissimus dorsi, quadriceps, and the trapezius.

Kettlebell swing benefits include improved power, strength, and cardiovascular fitness, making it a versatile exercise for overall conditioning.

As well as working all these muscles, kettlebell swings work on improving posture, balance, and flexibility, making them one of the best practical good morning alternatives workout options out there. 

However, if you are unable to perform this exercise for any reason, there are kettlebell swing alternative exercises that can provide similar benefits.


  • Boosts power and explosiveness and dramatically improves power output.  
  • Increases aerobic capacity. 
  • Improves hip hinge mechanics and promotes activation of the glutes and a strong hip drive.

How To Do It:

  1. Stand straight with a kettlebell gripped with two stretched arms. 
  2. Bend your knees and slowly begin to swing the kettlebell while keeping your back and shoulders straight.
  3. Let hip momentum swing your kettlebell forward until your arms reach shoulder height. Stretch your legs with the swing. 
  4. Swing the kettlebell down and back between your legs to a maximum safe distance. 
  5. Alternate between the motions of the two previous steps.

Tips From A Trainer!

To maintain good form and avoid injury, keep your core braced and shoulders down and back for the entire set.   

Related Article - 15 Best Leg Curl Substitutes

5. Glute Ham Raises 

Woman Doing Glute Ham Raises

If you have access to a gym with a glute ham raise bench, this good morning alternative exercise hits all the same spots as the original.

Your hamstrings will get even more work than with a regular good morning, while your glutes, lower back, and erector spinae will benefit too.  

You can even hold extra weights against your chest if you find this exercise isn’t challenging enough. 


  •  Improves posterior chain development and strength. 
  • Helps improve performance in sports, Olympic Weightlifting, Powerlifting and strongman.
  • This exercise can be done to increase eccentric, isometric and concentric muscle contractions to develop more resilient hamstrings and help prevent injury.

How To Do It:

  1. Set the machine to match the proportions of your body. 
  2. Enter the machine facing downwards. Put your hips on the pad and feet behind the support. Ensure your ankles and hips are stable, then let your upper body hang downward. 
  3. Slowly lift your upper body until it forms a straight line with the legs. Your back should remain straight at all times during the routine. 
  4. Return to you starting to position by using the knees for a controlled movement.

Tips From A Trainer!

Your back must be straight during this movement, if not you are compensating for weak hamstrings or glutes. You can use a band whilst you build up strength to complete this with a straight back. 

6. Glute Kickbacks 

Woman Doing Glute Kickbacks Outdoors

This adaptable alternative to good morning exercise routines is usually performed with a cable machine but can be recreated with resistance bands or even ankle weights making it easy to perform anywhere. 

Your glutes will be the focus, but you will still see erector spinae, core, and hamstring engagement. The only good morning element missing is more demand on the lower back muscles. 


  • By isolating the glute muscles, you can work on any muscle imbalances and reduce chance of injury.
  • Helps improve both balance and stability and increases more muscle activation.
  • Easy to do anywhere with minimal equipment required.

How To Do It:

  1.  Attach a cable to the closest setting to the floor. 
  2. Face the machine and put on the ankle band. 
  3. Lean forward by around 45-degrees. You can grip the machine for balance if needed. 
  4. Move your ankle-banded leg backward with its knee bent slightly. Stop when you slightly overshoot full extension. 
  5. Return your leg to its original position with control.

Tips From A Trainer!

Using a machine is the optimal way of doing this exercise, as it makes it incredibly easy to customize the level of resistance using the ‘switch weight’ setting.  

7. Pull Throughs 

woman doing cable pull throughs

Another great cable machine alternative exercise for a barbell good morning is pull throughs. These work the lower back, erector spinae, glutes, and hamstrings, making them an excellent good morning substitute.

The only downside compared to the traditional good morning is that you will get diminishing benefits as your muscles fatigue here, unlike when using a barbell.  


  • Using the cable machine increases time under tension and it's perfect for glute and hamstring hypertrophy.
  • A great choice for anyone with lower back issues or weakness, reducing the stress on this area whilst strengthening at the same time. 
  • Helps reinforce and understand correct hip hinge movement.

How To Do It:

  1. Attach a cable to the closest setting to the floor.
  2. Stand immediately next to the machine, facing away from it. 
  3. Grab the cable’s handle through the space between your legs, then step forward once. 
  4. With knees slightly bent, bend your entire upper body forward as far as possible while maintaining a straight spine. 
  5. Without hunching your shoulders, slowly return your upper body to a straight position. Your spine should be straight still, and your arms pointing down. 
  6. Alternate between the two previous positions in a slow and controlled manner.

Tips From A Trainer!

Perform this movements slower for more time under tension and pause for a second at the end range to get the most out of this cable exercise.  

8. Bird Dogs 

Woman Doing Bird Dog Exercise At Home

The most accessible good morning exercise alternative on our list works the entire posterior chain from side to side and requires absolutely no equipment.  

It is a low-intensity exercise too. That means those with pre-existing injuries limiting their options don’t have to worry. If you have an injured knee, it may be a good idea to put a mat between you and the ground. 


  • Reinforces spine stability and core stiffness which helps limit your spine's movement when you're under load.
  • Assists in loading the hips and hamstrings and not extending through the lower back.
  • Improves balance and coordination and increases body awareness to move more efficiently.

How To Do It:

  1. Start on all fours, with your shoulders directly over your hands and hips directly over your knees. 
  2. Raise one arm and one leg to full extension parallel with the ground. Your leg should be on the opposite side of the body to your chosen arm. 
  3. Slowly lower your arm and leg back to their starting positions in a controlled manner. 
  4. Repeat with the other arm and leg.

Tips From A Trainer!

For perfect form, keep your hips level, back straight, and your shoulders back and down. 

9. Back Extensions 

Woman Doing Back Extensions In The Gym

This alternative exercise for a good morning will require a roman chair or a back extension machine.

Great for recreating the posture benefits of a good morning, this exercise works your hamstrings, glutes, erector spinae, and lower back.

You can make things harder (and more rewarding!) by adding weight with plates, dumbbells, or a barbell. This substitute is perfect for beginners who need to increase their back strength. 


  •  Improves back stabalizer muscles and helps reduce risks of injury.
  • Low impact lower back exercise that is perfect for beginners or those with lower back injuries. 
  • Also strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and erector spinae muscles.

How To Do It:

  1. Secure yourself to a back extension machine, ensuring your back stays straight. 
  2. Bend down slowly for as far as you can while maintaining a straight back. The bend should come from your hips instead. 
  3. Now return to a completely straight line by moving your upper body slowly and with control.

Tips From A Trainer!

To avoid any risk of injury to your back, it is important to maintain a straight back and avoid any overextension.  

10. Reverse Chinese Plank 

Man Doing Reverse Chinese Plank

This good morning alternative exercise targets the entire posterior chain with no movement required. Regular practice also improves your lockout strength. 

It is an advanced isometric exercise, though, so expect it to be reasonably difficult. 


  • Helps prevent or reduce back pain.
  • Works your entire posterior chain.
  • Improves posture.

How To Do It:

  1. Gather three benches/surfaces that are equal in height. Place two shoulder-width apart and one for your feet to rest upon. 
  2. Rest your elbows on the two surfaces and put your feet on the other. You should be facing upward. 
  3. Bend your elbows to make your arms 90-degrees. 
  4. Clench your fists and lift yourself by driving down with your elbows and heels. 
  5. Hold this position while squeezing your core, glutes, and hamstrings. Keep your hips and knees straight.
  6. Your elbows should be pulled down, and your shoulder blades should be pinched together.

Tips From A Trainer!

If you find yourself sagging downward, roll your hips forward while keeping your abs engaged, just like a regular plank.  

Why You Should Do Good Morning Alternative Exercises?

A standard good morning is performed by hinging forward at the hips with a barbell held behind your shoulders and against your upper back. 

This works muscles across the body, focusing on the posterior chain: the rear string of muscles, including the hamstrings, glutes, core, lower back, erector spinae, and adductors.[1 

While a great exercise, good mornings aren’t beginner-friendly. That’s why they are mostly practiced by those of advanced fitness, often as strength-building or conditioning exercise or to accompany intensive deadlift/squat training.  

Many athletes, runners, and professional weightlifters swear by good mornings. This is because they build leg, core, and lower back strength, promote spinal health, and prevent hamstring injuries – one of the most common sporting injuries. They also help to improve form for any exercise involving hip hinging. 

Unfortunately, not just athletes need to pay attention to their posterior chains. Working these muscles is vital for the posture of anyone who spends long periods sitting or hunched at a computer.   

That’s why an effective good morning exercise alternatives are essential. Good posture and back health shouldn’t be limited to advanced gym-goers.

Most good morning substitute routines can be done at home without the same level of injury risk, so make sure you add hip hinge exercises into your workout routine.

Common Mistakes When Doing Good Morning Substitutes

Overdoing It

One mistake often made by people keen to make big gains in a small space of time is overdoing it. By trying to push our bodies too quickly, we risk injuries that can cause us to lose progress instead of gaining it.

When trying a new weight-based exercise, start with slightly smaller weights than you would usually use. If the exercise is too easy or if you’re not feeling the results, increase your weights gradually. 

One practical alternative to increasing the weights too quickly is to ensure you are squeezing and activating the muscles you're working. Studies have found that focusing on the muscle you’re working through conscious squeezing increases the activation of your muscle by between 20 to 60%![2]

Poor Form

Performing exercise routines, especially any posterior chain exercises, with poor form is a dangerous game. Firstly, you can compromise the effectiveness of your workout.

If your exercise is targeted at a specific set of muscles, but the power is coming from elsewhere in the body or from momentum, you will not see the results you desire. 

Second, consistently doing routines with poor form can be a serious health risk. If you cannot maintain a neutral spine while doing Romanian deadlifts, for example, loading that much weight can cause back damage – which is a long way from the posture improvement good morning exercise alternatives are aiming at.  

Not Warming Up

Warming up properly is crucial for getting the most out of your routines and avoiding damage to your body.  

A good warmup will increase your heart rate, pumping more blood to the muscles you're about to work. The connections between your muscles and nerves will be primed and already activated, which makes for a more efficient workout.

Finally, you should involve dynamic stretching, as the results will be a greater range of motion and flexibility. The greater your range of motion, the more you can work many muscles, and the lower the level of strain you will be placing on yourself.  

Cramps, torn muscles, body pain, and soreness are all common results of skipping a simple 10-minute aerobic warmup for your workout routine.  

Moving Too Quickly

If you perform the movements in your routine too quickly, you are directly impacting the results you will receive. Try it yourself, and you will notice a rep performed slowly with control will be more difficult than one done quickly. Quick movements rely more on momentum than muscle use, robbing you of potential gains.  

Slowing your movements will increase the amount of time your muscles spend experiencing tension, which causes them to work more and grow more. Even if you can't manage as many reps at a slow speed, the ones you do manage will have a greater benefit.

Frequently Asked Good Morning Questions

Can you do good mornings without a barbell? 

If your home gym lacks a barbell, try performing a good morning using two dumbbells instead. Some people actively prefer dumbbell good mornings, as they allow a greater range of motion. Using two independently moving weights will prevent any unconscious overcompensation by your stronger side too. This aids balanced and symmetrical muscle development. 

How do you make good mornings harder? 

To make your good morning routine harder, try doing the same amount of reps as slowly as possible. If you're still looking for a greater challenge after this, try increasing the amount of weight you're using. However, only increase the weight slowly and in small increments to avoid injuring yourself. 

What muscles are worked with good morning alternatives? 

Good morning alternatives will focus on the posterior chain. These are the muscles located on the back of your body, namely the lower back, core, erector spinae, adductors, glutes, and hamstrings. Working these regularly is important to prevent wear and tear caused by regular lousy posture, especially if your job involves a lot of screen time like most office roles. 


The barbell good morning is a great exercise with many benefits. Unfortunately, their advanced nature can be a barrier to entry and even an injury risk for those not confident in nailing proper form each time. 

With these alternatives, you can get the same posture-correcting benefits without being a seasoned gym pro, owning a barbell, or risking unpleasant injuries. 




Jo Taylor

Jo Taylor

Hi, I’m Jo. I love sunrise swims, cold water immersion and cats. I have been dedicated to strength training for the past 14 years. I became a qualified Personal Trainer in 2020, and am passionate about helping my clients get stronger. Visit Jo Taylors Website