How to do a Romanian Deadlift

Authored by Fitbod

About Romanian Deadlift

Sets Logged
Popularity Rank
Hamstrings Strength
98 mSCORE 4th
Equipment Required
Primary Muscles
Secondary Muscles

Instructions: How To

Romanian Deadlift is a variation on the more standard Deadlift. It’s a compound exercise that primarily targets your glutes, and hamstrings. Unlike the standard Deadlift, this variation focuses mostly on driving your hips forward to raise the weight, and restricts movement in your knees. This is a great exercise for building strength, and can translate well to other exercises that utilize a hip hinge.

  1. Place a loaded barbell an inch away from your shins and brace your core to maintain a neutral spine throughout the exercise.
  2. Hinge your hips backward until you are able to grip the barbell.
  3. Push through the heels as you extend your hips until your torso is upright and the barbell is resting on your thigh.
  4. Keep your knees only slightly bent as you extend your hips backward to descend the barbell to the ground.
  5. Once you have reached a depth where you are no longer able to keep a neutral spine, return to the starting upright position.

Performance Tips

  • Does RDL work back or legs?

    The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) primarily targets the muscles in the legs and lower back. It mainly works the hamstrings and glutes, while also engaging the lower back muscles to a significant extent. The RDL is effective for building posterior chain strength and improving hip hinge mechanics.

  • How can you modify RDLs to target glutes?

    To modify RDLs to better target the glutes, take a slightly wider stance with toes pointed outward, focus on pushing your hips back as far as possible, and concentrate on squeezing your glutes at the top of the movement. Additionally, lower the weight slowly to maintain tension on the glutes throughout the exercise.

  • How far down should you go on RDL?

    In an RDL, lower the weight until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings, which is typically when your torso is nearly parallel to the floor. Maintain a neutral spine throughout the movement and avoid rounding your back. The depth can vary based on your flexibility, but the key is to hinge at the hips without compromising your form.

  • Do you bend knees in a RDL?

    Yes, you should have a slight bend in your knees during an RDL. This slight bend helps maintain balance and reduces strain on your lower back. However, keep your knees fixed in this slightly bent position throughout the movement, focusing on hinging at the hips to target the hamstrings and glutes effectively.

Common Mistakes

  • Going too Low

    While your knees are going to bend a bit as you drop your hips back, limit your range of motion to as low as your hip hinge allows. Hamstring flexibility is the deciding factor in how low you should go.

  • Rounding Your Back

    Rounding your back will allow you to reach closer to the floor, but also increases your risk of injury, and reduces the effectiveness of this exercise. Focus on keeping your shoulders back, and your lower back braced to support your spine. Hamstring flexibility is the deciding factor in how low you can go.

Sets & Reps: How many to do

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