Good Morning, Glutes!

I was monkeying around with the Smith machine and stumbled onto a new glute movement that's particularly effective.

It's based on the traditional good morning "lower back" exercise that's a staple of the powerlifting community. I coined the exercise "glute mornings" but I'm not sure if the name is clever or stupid. Probably the latter, but it doesn't matter much. What's important is that they work.

You begin your setup in the Smith machine the same way as you would for a conventional good morning, but before you do your first rep, you step back as far as you can, holding onto the bar so you don't plant your face. In many ways, it's a lot like a top-loaded kettlebell swing or hip thrust, only it allows you to defy gravity because you're able to hold onto the fixed bar.

Doing so creates a longer lever arm than what you'd experience in a traditional good morning. It also focuses more on the glutes and hamstrings, allowing you to maintain constant tension on them.

Glute Morning Cues and Pointers

  • Step back as far as your physiology, flexibility, and comfort zone allow. In a perfect world, your body would be at a 45-degree angle to the bar.
  • Bend forward at the waist as far as possible while maintaining a mild lumbar arch and packed shoulders. Look for dust bunnies on the floor.
  • Concentrate on your glutes – try to flex them – as you lower your torso and bring the bar back to the starting position with a hip-hinge movement.
  • Push your hips through the movement as you bring your torso up.
  • Push through the heels to accentuate glute activity.
  • While a traditional good morning should probably be done with slightly bent knees to save the spine, you should do these with straight legs.

How Much Weight and How Many Reps?

A little weight goes a long way on these. I've seen Bri Alexander, the woman in the video, do easy hip thrusts with 365 pounds, but the two tens she's got loaded on the bar is an appropriate weight for her, at least initially.

Besides, using too much weight could cause problems. You want your glutes to do the majority of the work here, and that requires forming a Vulcan mind meld with them. As such, you need to use lighter weight so that your lower back doesn't fight to take charge and defeat the primary purpose of the movement.

Shoot for a higher number of reps, somewhere between 12 and 15 to really get that ham to sizzle. Kick one leg back off the ground and do them one-legged for extra credit.

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