I’ve been a personal trainer for over 30 years. During that time, I’ve helped hundreds of people achieve their fitness and athletic performance goals. These have ranged from running marathons to winning bodybuilding competitions to simply losing weight and getting healthy.
However, probably the most common request I get is how to build a better butt. Many people share this goal, and I’m talking about women AND men. It seems that almost everyone wants a bit more junk in their trunk!
In my experience, which is supported by science, hip-hinge exercises are one of the best ways to engage and strengthen the glutes (1). And while you can do things like kettlebell swings and Romanian deadlifts, I’ve found that sumo stance good mornings are one of the best exercises for this purpose.
So, in this article, I’m going to reveal how to do sumo stance good mornings and share the tips I use to make this exercise as safe and effective as possible.
Sumo Stance Good Mornings Correct Form
Whatever exercise you are doing, your technique or form really matters. Doing an exercise correctly lowers your risk of injury while maximizing the benefits and effects. Improper form can lead to pain and poor results. So, follow these steps to make sumo stance good mornings as safe and effective as possible.
- Rack and hold a barbell on your upper back/traps. Hold the bar firmly in place. Brace your core and pull your shoulders back and down.
- Step your feet out and into a wide stance. Keep your knees slightly bent. Ideally, they should be roughly 1 ½ shoulder-widths apart. Turn your toes slightly outward.
- Push your butt back, hinge from the hips, and lean forward as far as your flexibility allows. Do not round your lower back.
- Drive your hips forward and stand back up.
- Reset your core and repeat.
Sumo stance good mornings use a lot of different muscles, primarily in your lower body. However, the main muscles or agonists during this exercise are as follows:
- Gluteus maximus
- Erector spinae
- Hip abductors
- Hip adductors
Get more from sumo stance good mornings with my tried-and-tested pro-trainer tips.
- Keep your chest up and your lower back slightly arched to maximize posterior chain engagement.
- Pad the bar with a folded towel or small cushion for comfort.
- Actively pull the bar down onto your traps to stop it moving as you lean forward.
- Do this exercise in a power or squat rack if you’re using heavy weights.
- Increase glute and hip abductor engagement by doing this exercise with a booty band.
Mistakes to Avoid
Make sumo stance good mornings as safe as possible by avoiding these common mistakes.
- Rounding your lower back. A rounded lower back is a weak lower back. It puts a lot of stress on your intervertebral disks and ligaments, so don’t do it!
- Keeping your knees straight. Straight knees disengage your glutes and put more stress on your lower back and knees. Keep your knees slightly flexed throughout.
- Holding the bar on your neck. This is not only uncomfortable but potentially dangerous. Rest the weight across your traps and hold it in place.
- Dive-bombing your reps. Pay as much attention to lowering the weight as you do to lifting it. Descend smoothly and with control for safety and better results.
- Going too heavy, too soon. The sumo stance good morning is a challenging, technical exercise, so master it using a light to moderate weight before you start piling on the plates.
Not sure if sumo stance good mornings deserve a place in your workouts? Consider these benefits and then decide.
- A comprehensive posterior chain and hip exercise: Most hip hinge exercises use a shoulder-width stance. This is not a bad thing, but it means your hip abductors and adductors don’t see a lot of action. Taking your feet out wide means your inner and outer hips must work much harder, making this a more comprehensive hip exercise.
- Less hamstring flexibility required: Using a wide stance takes some tension out of your hamstrings. As such, you should be able to lean further forward compared to conventional good mornings. This may be an advantage if you have tight hamstrings and cannot lean forward without rounding your lower back.
- An excellent sumo deadlift assistance exercise: Powerlifters do either conventional or sumo deadlifts in competition. Good mornings are a popular and effective assistance exercise that lifters use to enhance deadlift performance. Because of the principle of specificity, it makes sense to use the good morning variation that best matches your deadlift style. Therefore, if you are a sumo deadlifter, you should also do sumo good mornings.
- Build better-looking glutes and hips: While sumo stance good mornings are a very functional strength exercise that will enhance athletic performance, they’re also a good option for improving aesthetics. Doing this exercise will help shape and tone your butt and hips, making them larger and firmer. As such, this exercise is as popular with fitness influencers as it is with hardcore powerlifters.
The sumo stance good morning is a bilateral or two-limbed exercise with a broad, stable base. Consequently, you can use it to build strength or muscle mass.
To get stronger, use heavy weights and low reps, e.g., 4-6 sets of 1-5 reps. Work your posterior chain 1-2 times a week to allow adequate time for rest and recovery.
Building muscle is best achieved with moderate to light weights and medium to high reps. For example, 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps work well for most. However, you can go as high as 20-30 reps if you prefer to train with light weights. Train your posterior chain 2-3 times a week to maximize muscle size.
In both scenarios, try to increase your weights or reps regularly to maintain your progress. However, never sacrifice good form for extra weight, as this can lead to injuries.
Sumo Stance Good Morning Variations
As good as sumo stance good mornings are, they aren’t the only way to beef up your posterior chain and hips. Here are three of my favorite variations of this exercise. Use them to keep your training fresh and interesting.
Sumo stance kettlebell good mornings
Some of my personal training clients find resting a barbell on their backs uncomfortable. Thankfully, this is not something they have to endure with this kettlebell variation. Holding the weight in front of your chest, in the so-called goblet position, also takes a little stress off the lower back.
Sumo stance band good mornings
The great thing about this variation is how your muscles are unloaded when you lean forward but then reloaded as you stand back up. This is the opposite of what happens when you lift weights. Consequently, this variation is more lower back friendly than the barbell version. It’s also ideal for home exercisers.
Sumo stance prisoner good mornings
No gym or weights? No problem! You can still work your hips, glutes, and hamstrings with just your body weight. This exercise is so-called because you do them with your hands clasped behind your head, making you look like you are under arrest. This is an excellent exercise for outdoor workouts and for warming up before weighted good mornings.
Good mornings are a controversial exercise. Many people believe they’re dangerous, especially for the lower back. Some trainers even call them “contraindicated,” meaning you should not do them.
However, if performed correctly, good mornings can be both safe and effective. Problems arise when you use too much weight, lean too far forward, or round your lower back. Avoid these mistakes, and the good morning is no riskier than most other posterior chain exercises.
Adopting a sumo stance for good mornings increases hip engagement and takes a little stress off the lower back. They’re also a good option for anyone with tight hamstrings.
So, whether you are new to good mornings or have struggled with them in the past, you will probably find the wider stance more forgiving and comfortable.
- Neto WK, Soares EG, Vieira TL, Aguiar R, Chola TA, Sampaio VL, Gama EF. Gluteus Maximus Activation during Common Strength and Hypertrophy Exercises: A Systematic Review. J Sports Sci Med. 2020 Feb 24;19(1):195-203. PMID: 32132843; PMCID: PMC7039033.
Featured image: @zoarfitness on YouTube