3. The Barbell Good morning (BGM)
The 3rd place goes to the BGM, funnily enough, I knew it was a very good exercise and started to include it in my conditioning routine ahead of other exercises I like more.
I first saw the BGM as a back up exercise, one of those secondary" exercises which make you better at performing other "the main exercise".
The BGM makes your squat, deadlift, and posture better.
For the above reasons, the BGM makes you "stronger". In fact, if my posture, my base is solid, it is as being on track or using a resistance machine, there no extra movements and the lift follows its natural and perfect path.
As an example, 1 year ago I used to squat 5 times a week and hit my 1 rep max at 150kg. My legs were strong and I managed the lift but could feel my lower back giving way, which led me to slightly lean forward. 4 months ago with way less leg work, but with BGM in my routine, I managed to lift the same 150kg with a better form. The second time round, I had "weaker" legs but a far better posture!
The above example made me rethink my training routine and I decided to include that exercise that involved the majority of our muscle posterior chain.
The BGM is a neglected exercise, even by the strength athlete. Its benefits as well as the muscles involved when performed are ignored by the vast majority.
I knew the BGM was really demanding, but when I researched I realized to my own amazement how many muscles were actually involved.
Targeted Muscles:Most of us, including me saw and see the BGM as a lower back exercise, or at least it is performed to strengthen this area of the body. Many people realize that it pulls a lot on the hamstrings, a similar feeling to the one felt when doing the stiff leg deadlift.
The BGM primarily involve the hamstrings on the upper rear of the legs.
The hamstrings are responsible for flexion and rotation of the knee as well as extension of the hips. Hamstring strength is important to a number of sports and activities because it supports all movements across the knees. As well as, for simple balance, all the work done in the front of our body as to be balanced by the work on the back, to avoid muscle imbalances and weakness in general.
The second group of muscles involved in the BGM are the gluteus Maximus (butt), and the adductor Magnus (inner thigh).
These muscles are a synergist muscle group, they assists another to accomplish a given movement. The gluteus maximus is responsible for extension, rotation and inward and outward movements of the hips. The adductor magnus is a small muscle that also assists in all movements of the hips.
The lower back as you already knew is involved in the BGM:
Due to its central position between the load (the bar) and the hamstrings, we tend to focus on it and pay little attention to the other muscles working.
How to perform a BGM:
To make it easy to understand, you have to perform the BGM as its name state, a formal greeting. In fact the motion could be summed up as bowing with good form.
1. Grab a bar and place it on the back if shoulder, where you normally have it when squatting. I personally placed it slightly lower and my grip is a wide grip (a snatch grip), while my grip is shoulder width when I squat.
2. Your chest is up, lower back straight (neutral spine), your feet a bit more than shoulder width and your legs slightly bent.
3. You bow in a controlled manner till your torso is parallel to the ground, keeping head neutral and looking in front of you, you come back to the standing position.
4. It is a slow and controlled movement in which your all body is in tension
How do I do it and the variations:
I normally do the BGM first, as part of my warmup exercise, before my squats and deadlift.
I perform the BGM as above, I really. Keep it simple, some people have wider stance, others keep their legs straight. I don't, in all my training exercises I promote a slight bent at the level of the knees, so I apply the same concept in the BGM, my legs may bend more as the weight I am lifting increases, but as soon as I master the weight and my body got stronger, I can feel myself bowing more and straightening my legs slightly.
1. I do paused BGM, when I am comfortable with the weight. I bow and stay in the bottom position for 3" and come back up. This way of lifting gives me the endurance, mental toughness as it mimics a heavy squat execution where I am stuck and I have to fight my way up inches by inches without losing the posture.
2. I lift heavy in 4 sets of 8-10, the tempo is 2121 (2" to go down, 1" at the bottom, 2" back up and 1" starting position) I simply lower the bar smoothly and come back up with the same speed.
I lift heavier in 4 sets of 6-8 when I managed to do 10 reps at a certain weight. The tempo will be 3121 and the range of motion will be slightly shorter, as I am struggling with the weight
The BGM as well as the SQUATS, THE DEADLIFT and their variations are "Superior" exercises. These are the exercise that make make you a stronger person, athlete.
I was once told that, in order to be stronger, we need to strengthen our mid section, in particular our Lower Back. What these 3 superior exercises have in common is a focus on the Lower Back area, translated by a muscular tension throughout the whole body. Consequently, a supposed leg exercise turns into the complete whole body workout.
For anybody, females, males, younger, older...
It is simple to perform and it is a functional exercise used on a daily basis. We squat, we deadlift and grab kids off the floor...
For weight lifters and bodybuilders:
In regard to weight lifting the BGM is a plus, as it helps lifting more with good form. The BGM forces your core and upper back to contract isometrically to maintain a good arched position with your chest up. This is the same position you want to be in while cleaning, snatching and squatting. It also strengthens the glutes and hamstrings and helps develop hip drive for the deadlift.For body builders will also develop big, thick glutes and shredded hamstrings.
Give it a try and tell us the improvements in posture, deadlifts and squats!