Health and Beauty

How and why do you do the Romanian deadlift?

The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is a popular and effective exercise for the posterior chain. Bodybuilders use it to strengthen their glutes and hamstrings, while weightlifters use it to increase deadlift performance. RDL should be part of your list of exercises to do regularly!

According to legend, the RDL is named after American Olympic weightlifting coaches who saw Romanian athletes perform the move. At the time, Romania was a dominant country in the sport, and the Americans thought they had discovered why!

Whether this is true or not, this name helps distinguish the RDL from the straight leg deadlift, which is a variation.

The Romanian deadlift is a compound exercise. This means that multiple joints and muscles must work together. This exercise works many muscle groups, making it practically a full-body exercise. However, the main muscles used by the RDL are the hamstrings and gluteus maximus. Secondly, the erector spinae muscles, the abdominal muscles, the trapezius and the rhomboids.

Muscles used in the Romanian deadlift.
Illustrative credit © Aliaksandr Makatserchyk
  1. Grab the bar with a shoulder-width grip. If you are using a heavy load, it may be helpful to use weight training belts to prevent your grip from becoming faulty.
  2. Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Pull your shoulders down and back, contract your abs and bend your knees slightly.
  3. Without bending your legs further, push your butt back and lean forward from the hips, being careful not to round your lower back. Lower the bar down your legs.
  4. Go as low as your flexibility allows. However, the bar must not touch the ground.
  5. Reverse the movement by raising your hips forward and straightening.
  6. Repeat this movement until you complete the required number of repetitions.

Training tips

  • Keep your neck aligned with the rest of your back while bending.
  • Stop bending at the hips when you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. The tape does not need to reach the ground. In fact, you can stop the movement completely when the bar reaches about knee height, depending on your flexibility.
  • Do not swing back at the top of the movement.
  • Use a weight belt to strengthen your lower back if you lift heavy weights.
  • Keep your arms straight throughout the movement: Do not pull the bar with your arms.
  • Grasp the bar using an overhand grip. A mixed/alternate grip, with one palm up and one palm down, is not recommended, even if it allows you to lift heavier. Use lifting straps to increase grip strength.
  • Move the bar slowly and with control, avoiding any sudden movements.

How and why do you do the Romanian deadlift?

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