Romanian deadlift is one of the best exercises for the hamstrings, glutes, hips and lower back. The form is quite different from the conventional deadlift.
The deadlift is probably the best exercise of all time. There are so many deadlift benefits for overall strength, posture and stability, fat loss and overall health. Properly performed deadlift is the best way to keep your lower back muscles healthy. On the other hand, improperly performed deadlift can cause serious injuries to your back. So please learn how to do a deadlift, especially if you are using higher loads.
Romanian deadlift overview
Romanian deadlift, is a version of deadlift. It is named after a Romanian weightlifter and Olympic medalist Nicu Vlad.
Weight lifters use it like a training exercise for main power and strength exercises to more isolate the hamstrings, glutes and lower back. It is often used as a warm up for pulls, squats and other explosive movements. RDL is also in CrossFit for improving barbell lifts, jump performance and injury prevention.
There are many benefits of the Romanian deadlift:
- Increase mobility in your hips
- Targets hamstring and glutes more than conventional deadlift
- Improves dynamic flexibility in the hamstrings and lower back
- It focuses more on hip hinge movement than conventional deadlift. Hip hinge movement is one of the essential movements that every athlete needs to master
The best way to do the Romanian deadlift is to follow these steps:
- Starting position
- Lowering the barbell
- Bottom position
- Return to the starting position
The biggest difference between the conventional deadlift and RDL is that it starts at the top. Opposite of the standard deadlift. Also, unlike standard deadlift, the bar never touches the floor. The central feature of the RDL is the back extension.
Grab the barbell from the rack or from the floor with hands shoulder width, palms facing down. The feet should be shoulder width or narrower.
Hold the bar at hip level. Keep your shoulders back, chest tight. The back should be straight. Your knees should be slightly bent.
Lowering the barbell
Lower the barbell by bending hips and moving your but back as far you can. Keep the bar closer to your body, the spine should be in neutral position and your head looking forward. Keep your shoulders back. Gradually bend your knees during lowering the bar.
When hamstring is fully extended, just below the knee is the bottom position of the movement. You need to avoid going lower. Barbell should never reach the floor. The bottom position depends on your flexibly. It is important that your back and spine is straight and in a neutral position.
Return to the starting position
Return to the starting position by driving your hips forward until standing upright. Keep your shoulders back, spine neutral, bar close to the body and keens slightly bent.
After reading how to do a Romanian deadlift, the best way is to see how it is performed. The video is made and commented by Mark Rippetoe, famous strength training and author of many books and articles about weightlifting.
The biggest RDL mistakes
- Rounding your back
- The barbell is too far from your body
- Having locked knees
- Bottom position is above the knee
- Ruing the conventional deadlift posture
The most dangerous mistake is rounding your back, especially when you are in the bottom position. Similarly like in conventional deadlift, this is a mistake which can cause serious injuries. If you are not so flexible, don’t go too low, so you don’t round your back.
Barbell needs to move close to your body in the straight line during the whole movement, both down and up. If it is not like this, your spine could end up in an unnatural position during the exercise and cause injury.
Your knees should never be locked, but they need to be slightly bent and stay like this during the whole exercise.
Very common mistakes people are doing when performing the Romanian deadlift is performing only a partial range of motion. This means that the bar is not going low enough. This makes the exercise much easier. It is much better to use lighter weight than don’t do the full range of motion.
Basically, the point you can reach in bottom position without rounding your back depends on your flexibility. Try going the lowest you can and keeping the spine in neutral position. It should be below your knees, but bars and weights should never reach the floor.
If you often do RDL, it can cause doing wrong conventional deadlift. They are quite similar exercises, so you can end up using your knees almost straight like in RDL.