Training > Exercise Comparisons > Good Mornings vs. Deadlifts: 9 Important Factors Compared

Good Mornings vs. Deadlifts: 9 Important Factors Compared

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Having a good understanding of different exercises can make your workout program so much more versatile and fun. So where do good mornings vs deadlifts compare and how are the different?

So what are the factors to consider when comparing good mornings vs deadlifts? Overall, the deadlift is a vertical pull movement where as good mornings are viewed as a horizontal pull movement. Lifters usually select a lighter weight for good mornings due to the barbell placement. Deadlifts can be done with a lower center of gravity and tend to be easier at the same weight.

Good Mornings vs. Deadlifts

We will discuss 9 different variables (3) when it comes to Good Good Mornings vs. Deadlift. These include: 

  • Bar Position 
  • Set Up
  • Movement Action 
  • Muscles Used 
  • Movement Difficulty 
  • Grip Involvement
  • Exercise Tempo 
  • Usable Training Accessories 
  • Exercise Transferability

Read more about 20 Best Exercises To Improve Deadlift Strength

1. Bar Position 

I do not need to get scientific for you to figure this one out. In fact, there is a clear difference in the bar position.

During the good morning exercise, you would place the bar above the upper back muscles. On the other hand, the deadlift bar is lifted from ground to the hip position. 

In fact, some lifters find that the good morning exercise bar position can feel uncomfortable and scary. Indeed, the idea of getting crushed underneath a bar does pop to mind. However, this issue is mostly amongst novice lifters. 

Both bar positions are safe when done properly. 

2. Set Up

The traditional way to set up for the good morning is a lot different from deadlift. Furthermore, to perform the good morning, you would load a bar on a squat rack. Although the load may be a lot lower than squats, position would be identical (around collar bone height).

So, similar to a squat, you would place the bar on the upper back. Then lift the bar off the rack and take a few steps back. From here, you would perform the exercise. 

The deadlift bar is loaded on a clean and flat surface. From here, the lift is performance. 

3. Movement Actions 

The deadlift and good morning lift have some similarities and differences. Let’s start with a way to match these lifts.

So if we look at the hip hinge movement (extensions) it is present in both lifts. During the good morning, a lifter would tilt forward then extend the hip. The deadlift would extend the hip after lifting the bar upwards. 

Here is where these exercises differ. The deadlift has a knee hinge movement. The good morning stays stiff at the knee joint.

Secondly, the deadlift moves the upper arm backwards and pins the shoulder blades back. The upper arm and shoulder blades are in a stable position (contraction without change in length) for the good morning. 

These differences in movement action would change the muscles that are activated. You will come to learn this in the following point. 

4. Muscles Used

The hip hinge movement would target the glutes, lower back, and hamstrings to some extent, during both lifts. This is as far as it goes when it comes to muscle similarities. 

The good morning loads on the hip flexion. Essentially this would trigger the hip flexors and rectus femoris of the quadriceps. 

Why does it hit this muscle? The rectus femoris is a deep muscle that attaches to the knee and hips which. This unique attachment gives it two movement actions, like straightening the leg and driving the hips backwards. 

Learn about High Rep Deadlifts: 4 Amazing Benefits (Science-Backed)

During deadlift, the quadricep or thigh muscles extend at the knee to straighten the legs. This helps to pull the loaded bar past the shins. 

These quadriceps are broken down as the:

  • vastus lateralis (outer thigh)
  • vastus medialis (inner thigh)
  • vastus intermedius (center thigh)
  • Rectus femoris (deeper inner thigh) 

The first three listed quadricep muscles attach from the upper leg bone to the knee tendon.  

Moving on to the muscles of the upper body. The deadlift arm and shoulder blade moving works the lower lats and trapezius. The good morning would work the trapezius from keeping the shoulder blades pinned back. This is known as an isometric contraction. 

Squatting With Long Legs (12 Tips and How To Guide)

If we really want to get nitty gritty, the good morning arm position (externally rotated) draws the rotator cuff. This is to help stabilize the bar. 

5. Movement Difficulty

Movement difficulty is subjective. You could ask a thousand people and you would get different answers. 

In fact, the deadlift may draw more motor units as there are more movements. So, it may be more difficult to learn with good form. Moreover, the good morning looks more difficult to the newbie. Also, this could influence the way it is perceived and performed.  

6. Grip Involvement

During the deadlift, you are literally ripping a loaded bar off the ground by pulling against gravity.

 An overhand grip is the only element that secures the loaded bar. For this reason, you would expect a lot more grip Involvement compared to the good morning lift. 

As mentioned, while performing the good morning lift, the bar will be placed on top of the upper back. The gravitational pull will be on the back opposed to the grip. 

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The overhand grip during the good morning lift will only act as a stabilizer. This ensures that the bar stays in position and does not slide off the back.

7. Exercise Tempo 

In my opinion, good mornings should be performed in a much more slow and controlled manner. This is to avoid a back injury. 

Think about it! There is a constant gravitational pull on the upper back. In fact, a fast movement may curve the spine. This is especially risky on the way down. 

Good mornings vs deadlifts have similarities and differences

During the deadlift, a lifter can afford to pull and lower the weight more rapidly. The deadlift’s center of gravity is much less risky for the spine curving. Fast movements may also draw in more fast twitch muscle fibers (power muscle).

8. Lifting Gear

In fact, resistance training accessories are used to help with a lift. Moreover, they can give you an advantage that may improve safety and performance in the short term. In the longer term, they could help yield better muscle and strength gains. 

So, the good mornings and deadlift have some similar and different accessories that can be used. We have highlighted 6 below. 

1. Lifting Straps

The lifting straps can be useful to aid in grip during the deadlift. This could allow you to rip 20-30% heavier weights. In the longer term this may build more muscle and strength. 

As we have mentioned, grip is not a priority during the good morning exercise so the lifting straps are not really that useful. 

2. Weight Lifting Belt 

The weight lifting belt is an awesome accessory, especially for high intensity lifting. 

The belt will help to keep the spine in a safe, neutral position during both lifts, and could help work the working muscles properly.

3. Lifting Chalk 

Lifting chalk can be used instead of lifting straps. Chalk can make more friction with the overhand grip for the deadlift

Chalk is equally as effective for the good morning lift. You can spread it across the back where you intend on placing the bar. This creates some extra friction and may halt the bar from sliding off.  

4. Wrestling Boots 

Wrestling boots or any flat shoes for that matter can prove to be effective for the deadlift. 

Flat boots are great for making foot drive against the ground with less range to pull the bar. A larger sole takes more range to complete the lift. 

5. Barbell Pad 

A barbell pad offers no benefit to the deadlift. It can certainly be used to cushion the bar for good mornings. 

This offers extra protection for the spine. This is especially useful if you do not have enough upper back muscle thickness. 

Typically, I would only recommend the bar pad to novice lifters or special population groups i.e., elderly and disabled. 

6. Wrist Wraps

Wrist wraps are usually cotton strips that are wrapped around the wrist joint. This helps to keep the wrists stable and safe. 

Wrist wraps are normally used in pressing based movements like the bench press and overhead press for a heavier and more efficient lift.

This is because they halt a loss of energy though bending or shaking of the wrists.

We should first note that the wrist wraps do not really offer anything for pulling movements like deadlift.

Knee Wraps vs. Knee Sleeves: Ultimate Guide (+ How to Wrap)

While performing good mornings, the bar is placed across the back/rear shoulders and held up by the hands. Wrist wraps may help secure positioning. In turn, this may keep more tension on the lift. 

9. Exercise Transferability

From the set up and bar position, the good mornings may translate into bar on back exercises like:

  • Barbell Back Squat 
  • Low Bar Squat
  • Barbell Sumo Squat
  • Barbell Lunges
  • Barbell Side Lunges 

Not surprisingly, the deadlift may translate on to pulling exercises and general sports from its kinetic chain. This could include:

  • Stiff leg deadlift 
  • Sumo deadlift
  • Romanian deadlift 
  • Bent over barbell back rows
  • Jumping and sprinting

Final Thoughts

Good Good Mornings vs. Deadlifts. Which one is the winner?

All in all, the deadlift and good morning have a few similarities in hip movement actions and glute and lower back muscle activation. Other than that, I would say that they can not be put under the same bracket like squats and deadlifts. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Could you use the deadlift and good mornings in the same workout?

YES! But I would prioritize the deadlift as my first compound lift.

Are good mornings risky?

Just like any other lifts, they can be risky when performed incorrectly.

What is better; a regular deadlift or good mornings?

Every exercise has its place, but I would have to say deadlift! More muscle activation!


  1. JoeThurmanFitness (2022) “How To Do Good Morning Exercise Properly”  Available at: (Accessed 24/02/2023)
  1. DavidDiley (2022) “How To Do Deadlift: 5 Simple Steps” Available at: (Accessed 24/02/2023)
  1. Eben, W.P. “Hamstring Activation During Lower Body Resistance Training Exercises” International journal of sports physiology and performance. 2009; 4(1): 84–96 

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Zaakir Shakoor

Zaakir has attained a bolus of knowledge regarding biosciences through academia and his career experiences. In terms of his educational background, he has a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology (Hons.), a Postgraduate diploma in sports nutrition with the International Olympic Committee, and a Master’s of Science in Nutritional Sciences. Zack has been fortunate enough to apply his Exercise Science and Nutrition Knowledge to aid hundreds of patients.

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