Good Mornings vs Deadlifts – 2 Powerful Moves

Good Mornings vs Deadlifts

The exercise world is filled with hundreds of distinct movements and exercises for every muscle group.

Got a problem area you want to work on? There’s bound to be an exercise for it.

While doing specific workouts and movements to target and isolate areas is great, there are some amazing exercises out there that can do it all!

There are a multitude of full body exercises out there, but deadlifts and good mornings are definitely high in the rankings for a variety of reasons.

They work a variety of muscle groups in both your upper and lower body.

They also target your glutes, hamstrings, inner thighs, and adductors. They help with posture, injury prevention, muscle gain, and so much more.

Athletes regard them as powerful moves and trainers around the world highly recommend them.

But there are some notable differences in the exercises that many people don’t realize. In fact, they are often mistaken for the same exercise.

So, let’s start by looking at what each of the exercises are and then dive deeper into the differences with good mornings vs deadlifts…

What is a Deadlift Exercise?

Good Mornings vs Deadlifts

This full-body power move is a staple in many strength training and bodybuilders’ lifting routines.

They use the deadlift for building maximum muscle strength and muscle mass.

Because of this, more often than not, it includes heavier weights.

To deadlift, you start with a barbell on the ground.

Bending at your hips with your feet wider than shoulder width apart, grab the bar.

Keeping your core tight and back straight, you raise the bar with your core muscles and legs.

Be sure to keep the bar as close to your body as possible. This will bring the bar to your thighs and your body in an upright position.

What is a Good Morning Exercise?

To the untrained eye, this movement may look suspiciously similar to a deadlift, but in reality, there are some important differences.

With good morning exercises, the hinge motion is key and sets it apart from other exercises.

We can use this exercise in an overall muscle strength plan as an assistance exercise and is great for a variety of muscle groups.

To do the good morning exercise, you would either have a barbell behind your shoulders or have your hands behind your head.

With feet shoulder width apart, hinge from your hips, slightly bending your knees as you bend.

Once you reach a 90-degree angle, keep your core tight as you return to the original standing position.

Weight Differences

In the deadlift exercise, you lift the weight and the bar straight up and down, starting from the floor.

Typically, you will use a heavier weight with this exercise because of its starting location and the general movement.

Much of your lower body is supporting the weight as you lift it up.

In the good morning exercise, the bar is on your shoulders as you lean forward.

Because of this, your center of balance will be slightly off, which means you won’t be able to use as heavy of a weight.

In contrast with deadlifts, this exercise’s key movements with the weight comes from your lower back and core.

Some people use a barbell for this exercise while others get excellent results from dumbbells or even using their bodyweight.

When comparing good mornings vs deadlifts, you may choose one over the other based on the weight differences.

For example, since good mornings require little weight to get the desired effect, it may be easier to do at home!

Muscles Used

Good Mornings vs Deadlifts

Another thing to consider when comparing good mornings vs deadlifts is the muscles used and targeted.

Depending on your desired effect, you may prefer one over the other.

As stated above, we consider a deadlift a movement that uses your entire body.

From core, lats and traps in the upper body to quadriceps, glutes, inner thighs, and hamstrings, it does it all.

Because of the movement, however, you put more emphasis on your lower body when lifting the weight to the upright, standing position.

We also consider good mornings a full body movement with some slight differences.

With good mornings, the hamstrings and glutes are more isolated because of the hinge motion.

Also, when starting with the weight on your shoulders, your core and lower back are being used a great deal more to ensure balance.

Technique Differences

While both movements heavily rely on proper technique for safety and injury prevention, there are some critical differences when looking at good mornings vs deadlifts.

The biggest difference in technique is bar placement.

Deadlifts start with the bar on the floor and only bring it up to hip height during the movement.

Good mornings start with the bar on your shoulders and it stays in place for the duration of the movement.

So, if a person were to have more sensitivities in their lower back or shoulders, good mornings may not be the best for them.

Good Mornings vs Deadlifts

Another key technique difference is the starting position.

Good mornings start in a standing position and then hinge forward while deadlifts start in a bent motion, grabbing the bar and then pulling up to an upright position.


Both exercises have some incredible benefits.

They both are a full body exercise that will help burn fat and build muscle.

With proper form, they can prevent injuries by strengthening weaker muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

With good mornings, however, they are a great use of core, strengthening a variety of muscles including your lower back and hamstrings while deadlifts seem to strengthen more of your lower muscles.

Another benefit for these exercises is that they require little equipment.

While more people would need a barbell for deadlifts, good mornings may not even require weights depending on your experience with the exercise.

You could do it from home easily, which is a tremendous benefit.

Injury Risks

As with any workout, there is always a risk of injury.

Good Mornings vs Deadlifts

As mentioned above, when comparing good mornings vs deadlifts, they both heavily rely on proper form to ensure your safety.

The best suggestions we have to prevent injuries for good mornings is to solidify your form and technique before adding weight.

Use just a resistance band or very little weight until you feel confident with your form.

As time goes on and your body adjusts, then start adding weight.

With deadlifts, we suggest the same, but since you are starting with the weight on the floor, this is not as crucial.

More importantly, with deadlifts, you’ve got to make sure that your body positioning is correct to prevent injury.

When bending down to grab the bar, make sure that your back is straight and you are pulling the weight with your legs.

Just remember, keeping your form in check, your risk of injury for either deadlifts or good mornings is small.


Good mornings and deadlifts are both excellent weightlifting exercises! 

Many strength trainers recommend both of them. However, it is good to know the differences between good mornings vs deadlifts.

Good mornings use a hinge motion at the hips whereas deadlifts use an up and down motion. 

Typically, with good mornings the weight used is less than with deadlifts because your center of balance is slightly off. 

Because deadlifts are a simple up and down motion, most people can use heavier weights. 

Good mornings isolate your hamstrings and glutes.  They also use your lower back and core.

Deadlifts use more muscles throughout your entire body with the most emphasis being on the lower body (quadriceps, glutes and hamstrings). 

Good mornings are a lot of times used as an assistance exercise along with deadlifts and squats

While the two exercises work a lot of same muscle groups, it is good to know the differences in good mornings vs deadlifts!

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Jessica Meacham

I’m a former college athlete turned marathon-running and outdoor exploring mom of two little ones. From hiking through Iceland to paddle boarding in Lake Tahoe, our family is always up for a fun adventure that incorporates fun and fitness!

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