Smith Machine Good Morning Exercise For Bigger Glutes, Stronger Hams (2023)

How To Do A Smith Machine Good Morning

Hamstrings are one of the most overlooked muscle groups. But underdeveloped hamstrings seriously limit your strength on other exercises like squats and deadlifts.

So it’s essential to include a variety of hamstring movements in your workout. One of these is called the good morning exercise. And there are several ways you can use it to build your lower body.

In this article, I show you how to do good mornings on a Smith machine. As well as some other variations you can do with whatever gym equipment you have.

Smith Machine Good Morning Exercise For Bigger Glutes, Stronger Hams (1)

What Is The Good Morning Exercise?

Good mornings are an exercise where you bend your torso forward at the hips while keeping your back straight. During the movement, your knees bend only slightly.

Often, a barbell is held across the upper back to provide resistance and make the exercise more challenging. However, there are other ways to add resistance, including a Smith machine bar.

The good morning is a posterior chain exercise that increases your power and strength on other hip hinge movements like squats and deadlifts.

Smith Machine Good Morning Muscles Worked

As a posterior chain exercise, good mornings work multiple muscles on the backside of your body. The primary muscle group involved in this movement is the hamstrings.

Although the hinging action of the hips also involves the gluteus maximus andthe erector spinae muscles of the lower back.

Smith Machine Good Morning Exercise For Bigger Glutes, Stronger Hams (3)

Smith Machine Good Morning vs Barbell

The main difference between the Smith machine good morning and the barbell good morning is the path the bar travels.

With free weights, the bar naturally arches forward slightly as you bend down. In comparison, the bar travels in a straight line with the Smith machine good morning.

The straight line means the movement pattern is slightly less natural when doing good mornings on a Smith machine. However, Smith machines with angled rails can closely replicate the free weight movement, as I’ll discuss later.

This slight change in bar path doesn’t significantly affect the exercise mechanics. But Smith machine good mornings do have some benefits over the traditional barbell.

(Video) Is The Smith Machine Good For Training Glutes? (30 Amazing Glute Exercises)

Smith Machine Good Morning Exercise For Bigger Glutes, Stronger Hams (4)

In the picture above, you can see how the vertical bar path of the Smith machine good morning differs from the arc of the free weight version.

Smith Machine Good Morning Benefits & Limitations

The fixed movement path of the Smith machine bar means that you don’t have to use as many stabilizer muscles to balance the bar. And that results in more load placed on the target muscles of the glutes and hamstrings.

In addition, the Smith machine has safety stops and multiple positions to lock out the bar if you get stuck. So it can be easier for beginners to learn on compared to a free weight bar.


  • Less balance and coordination required
  • Puts more load on the glutes and hamstrings
  • More safety lockout points than a free weight power rack
  • Increases strength on deadlifts and squats


  • Not as natural of a movement path compared to free weights

How To Do A Good Morning On Smith Machine

Before you begin the Smith machine good morning exercise, adjust the bar to about shoulder height. Then, position the safety stops at about thigh level.

Next, put the bar on your shoulders between your rear delts and traps. This low bar position will keep the bar from sliding up your neck as you bend forward.

Now position your feet directly below the bar and about shoulder-width apart or slightly narrower. Lift the bar up and rotate it to release the safety hooks from the stops.

Smith Machine Good Morning Exercise For Bigger Glutes, Stronger Hams (5)

To initiate the movement, first, push your hips back and bend at the waist. Then, bend your knees slightly and keep your back flat as you lower the bar.

Lower the bar until you feel a good stretch through your hamstrings. How low you’re able to get depends on your hip mobility and hamstring flexibility.

Finally, lift the bar back up by contracting your hamstrings and glutes to drive your hips forward. At the top, squeeze your glutes before beginning another rep.

To recap, here are the step-by-step directions:

  1. Put the bar on your shoulders and lift it off the safety stops
  2. Stand with your feet directly under the bar and about shoulder-width apart
  3. Initiate the movement by pushing your hips back and bending at the waist
  4. As you lower the weight, keep your back flat and bend slightly at the knees
  5. On the way up, contract your glutes and hamstrings to drive your hips forward
  6. Squeeze your glutes at the top
  7. Repeat for the desired number of reps and rerack the bar

Smith Machine Good Morning Video

(Video) How To Perform Good Mornings THE RIGHT WAY | Build Your GLUTES and HAMSTRINGS

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Smith Machine Good Morning Form

Here are some additional tips for performing this exercise safely and getting maximum muscle activation.

  • Practice the movement with just your bodyweight or a PVC pipe before using heavier weight
  • Use safety stops until you’re comfortable with the weight
  • Keep your eyes forward or angled down at the floor
  • Distribute your weight evenly on your feet, not forward on your toes
  • Don’t roll your back or bend your knees excessively
  • Only go as low as your body comfortably allows
  • Your flexibility and strength will improve over time

Smith Machine Good Morning Exercise For Bigger Glutes, Stronger Hams (6)

Smith Machine Good Morning Exercise For Bigger Glutes, Stronger Hams (7)

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Smith Machine Good Morning Variations

The type of good morning exercise you do depends on your equipment. For example, you may have a different Smith machine than the one shown above.

Or you might not even have a Smith machine. For that reason, I’ve included how to do the free weight variation as well.

Angled Smith Machine Good Morning

In the pictures and video above, the Smith machine I’m using has completely vertical rails. But many Smith machines have angled rails, so it’s necessary to take the direction into account when doing good mornings.

On an angled Smith machine, you should face in the direction where the bar moves forward as you lower it. This angle closely replicates the natural movement pattern of the barbell good morning.

Barbell Good Morning

If you don’t have a Smith machine in your gym, you can try doing good mornings with a free weight barbell. Free weights require more balance, so you should practice with your bodyweight or a PVC pipe first.

To do barbell good mornings, the form is the same as the Smith machine good morning except that the bar moves in space. So you will need to balance it throughout the exercise.

(Video) HOW TO DO THE GOOD MORNING EXERCISE: Build Your Glutes, Hamstrings And Squat With Perfect Technique

Smith Machine Good Morning Alternatives

You don’t have to do good mornings in every lower body workout. Here are some alternative exercises you can use to target your hamstrings and glutes.

Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift or RDL is a hamstring exercise with body mechanics similar to the good morning exercise. The main difference is that you hold the barbell in your hands instead of on your shoulders.

The change in bar placement creates a shorter distance between your hips and the weight. As a result, you can lift more weight with RDL’s compared to good mornings.


Hyperextensions are an exercise performed on a piece of equipment called a glute-ham developer or GHD. The GHD has a pad to secure your feet and a pad to rest against your thighs.

From this starting position, bend at the hips while keeping your back straight. Then pull your torso back up by squeezing your hamstrings, low back, and glutes.

Hypertrophy Training Program

The Smith machine good morning is more than just good for building hamstrings and glutes. It will increase your strength on squats and deadlifts as well.

But to reach your overall fitness goals, you need a complete resistance training plan designed for muscle gain. To maximize muscle growth (aka hypertrophy), you should adjust ten specific training variables.

Check out my free hypertrophy training programto see how tooptimize your workouts.

Build More Muscle

With this information, you’re well on your way to building a better lower body.And if you found this article useful, I hope you’ll check out some of my other informative content below!

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(Video) HOW TO DO A GOOD MORNING | Smith Machine Basics


Is good morning more glutes or hamstrings? ›

Variation: Seated Good Morning Exercise

Performing a good morning with your peach planted emphasizes your hamstrings less than the standing variation does — but it prioritizes your glutes and lower back more, according to Wickham. It's a great option to use to warm up the body for heavy squats, he says.

Can you grow glutes with Smith machine? ›

When looking to add glute size and strength, you need to train the glutes directly and in high volumes. The Smith machine allows all level lifters to do just that, which is why the Smith machine is a very effective way to train the glutes.

Are good mornings on a Smith machine good? ›

1. Targeting Many Different Muscle Groups. Good Mornings on Smith Machine are practical exercises for strengthening your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back. These primary muscles are important for maintaining a healthy posture, improving your coordination, and balance, and for squat assistance.

What is the good morning position on smith machine? ›

1.) Start off by placing the bar of the smith machine across your shoulders and keeping your feet shoulder-width apart, as this will be your starting position. 2.) Slowly lower yourself down towards the floor making sure that you keep the lower half of your body still until you feel a stretch in your lower back.

What is the number one exercise to grow glutes? ›

Barbell Hip Thrusts

If glute development is your aim, then this will give you maximum bang for your buck. The Barbell Hip Thrust should be one of your go-to's when looking for the best glute exercises.

How do I activate my glutes more than my hamstrings? ›

With your knee bent to 90 degrees, you have to recruit the gluteus maximus as the prime mover. Resist the desire to bend the knee more than 90 degrees to avoid activating the hamstrings. Begin with five bent knee lifts and one straight leg lift (as in the test, above). Repeat five times before every run.

What exercise activates the glutes the most? ›

In general, the step-up exercise and its variations [lateral, diagonal, and cross-over] showed the highest GMax activation (average 125.09% MVIC, ranging from 104.19-169.22% MVIC).

Can you bulk up with a Smith machine? ›

The Smith machine is an effective way to increase strength and build muscle. While it won't prevent all exercise-related injuries, Smith machines can help increase the safety and stability of weight training sessions.

Is Smith machine better than squat rack for glutes? ›

Athletes and others who need functional fitness training that allows the body to move through an unrestricted movement path will be better off with a squat rack. A Smith machine is better for isolation work that targets specific muscle groups.

Are Smith machine squats better for glutes? ›

During the smith machine squat, the exerciser will have to adopt a stance and foot placement wider and more forward than they would be safely capable of doing during a standard barbell squat – thereby increasing gluteus and hamstring muscle group activation, but also increasing the risk of knee joint injuries.

Is Smith machine just as effective? ›

Sure, the Smith squats won't work you as hard as a traditional squats, but they will still work ya! Assisted squats are still great for blasting your glutes and quads. And speaking of blasting your quads, you can add more weight to the Smith machine (because it is balanced for you) than you could on a free barbell.

Are good mornings good for glutes? ›

The good morning is a hip hinge exercise which strengthens several muscles in the posterior chain, including the glutes, hamstrings and spinal erectors. While it is often overlooked in favour of the deadlift or hip thrust, it's an excellent exercise in its own right!

What is the Smith machine best for? ›

Smith machines are used with exercises that lift weight in a vertical (or nearly vertical) path. They can be used to perform moves including squats, bench presses, lunges, hip thrusts, deadlifts and rows. The Smith machine includes a barbell that can be used with weight plates to determine your challenge.

Do seated good mornings work glutes? ›

The seated good morning primarily strengthens the isometric position of the back arch used in the snatch, clean, squat and related exercises to improve the lifter's stability, power transfer and safety. Secondarily, it strengthens the glutes and hamstrings, and can improve hip extensor flexibility.


1. How to perform a smith machine good morning
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