How To Romanian Deadlift
What Is A Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian Deadlift, often referred to as an RDL, is a popular deadlift variation which targets the lower body muscles, particularly the glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae.
The RDL begins in the standing position and focuses on the eccentric (muscles lengthening) portion of the lift before the concentric (muscles shortening) portion. While other deadlifts like the sumo deadlift and conventional deadlift involve assistance from the quads and adductors, this is limited in the RDL which is why less weight can be lifted. This variation should be performed with greater control when moving the weight.
The barbell also does not rest on the floor between reps during a Romanian deadlift, which adds a further challenge to this variation. However, a stiff leg deadlift uses the same movement pattern, but the barbell does rest on the floor. It also starts on the floor, not standing.
Commonly Asked Questions On Romanian Deadlifts
Romanian deadlifts work almost every muscle group in the body but particularly targets the hamstrings and glutes through the hip extension movement. It also works the core, back muscles, and grip and forearm strength.
RDLs are not inherently bad for your back and will actually help to strengthen the muscles that support your back as well as enhance hip mobility.
As with any exercise, if you are making mistakes and not prioritising good form, your chances of injury will increase. To protect your back when performing RDLs, choose a manageable weight and ensure a neutral spine throughout the lift.
Compound exercises are exercises which use multiple joints at the same time. Including compound exercises in your workouts is an effective way to train.
While the RDL isolates the hamstrings to a greater extent than a conventional deadlift, it does still involve the activation of multiple joints and muscles, including the knees, hips and posterior chain group, which means it qualifies as a compound exercise.
RDLs are not necessarily harder than deadlifts, however you’ll be unable to lift as much weight as you would with a conventional or sumo deadlift as there is less assistance from the quads and adductors.
This variation is actually a great place to start if you’re new to deadlifting as it breaks down the movement of a conventional deadlift, aiding gym goers to learn the hip hinge and intended bar path.
It’s important to note that the Romanian deadlift challenges the muscles in different ways to other variations. Incorporating a mixture of deadlift variations is important for a well-rounded training programme!
Romanian Deadlift Tips
The Romanian deadlift heavily revolves around the hip hinge movement, with the back remaining straight. It’s important to master hip hinging before attempting to RDL as if done incorrectly under heavy load, this can lead to injury of the lumbar spine.
You can practise the hip hinge by facing away from a wall and pushing your hips back until you touch the wall. If you don’t feel much of a stretch in the hamstrings, take a step forward and try again!
Another important aspect of RDLs is ensuring upper body tension throughout the movement. It can be tempting to lower the bar as low as possible when performing the RDL, however this is not necessary. Instead, ensure a neutral spine as you hip hinge, and only lower the barbell until your hips cannot go back any further. This will keep the tension on the hamstrings and glutes and will minimise injury risks.
How To Do A Romanian Deadlift
Approach the barbell with a hip width stance as if standing ready to take a jump straight up in the air. To ensure that your feet are in the correct position, consider where your shoelaces are tied and stand with them directly under the bar.
Once you’ve found your stance, push your hips back and bend your knees to grip the bar just outside of hip width, next to your shins. We would advise using a pronated grip so that your palms are facing downward to avoid muscular imbalances.
Some people prefer to use a mixed grip, where one hand faces up and one faces down. This grip type may allow you to lift more weight and avoid grip fatigue, however it’s important to swap the grip of each hand over to avoid imbalances.
Keep your feet planted and your grip on the barbell strong before bringing your hips down to sit back into the deadlift and pinning your shoulder blades back. Deadlift the dumbbell up to your starting position by driving through your legs, as if pushing the ground away from you.
Now that you are standing straight with the barbell, you’re ready to start your first rep! Pull your shoulder blades back and begin the rep by pushing your hips back as far as they will go (this is often until the barbell is between the knee and the middle of the shin).
Try to keep your shoulders pinned back to prevent your arms falling forward and the barbell falling out of your hips’ range of motion. Keep a neutral neck to protect your spine – try not to look in a mirror, whether it be straight ahead or to the side!
Once you cannot push your hips back any further, push your hips forward to stand back up straight. Squeeze your glutes and hamstrings slightly at the top of the movement but try not to overextend as this can place lots of pressure on the lumbar spine!
Once you’ve completed all your reps, you’ll need to place the barbell back on the floor. Maintaining a neutral spine with the shoulder blades pinned back, push your hips back and hinge until the barbell passes your knees. From this position, bend the knees so that the barbell is back on the floor again.
If you’re not sure if any of the above exercises are suitable for you, please consult your doctor before you start it. Need guidance on how to perform the exercise? Ask a personal trainer at your gym.