The Definitive Information to the Romanian Deadlift (and the Finest Variations!)


If you wish to know what the Romanian deadlift is, which muscle groups it really works, and how you can do it correctly, then you definately need to learn this text.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Romanian deadlift is without doubt one of the single finest workout routines you are able to do for creating your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and again). It’s straightforward to be taught, load, and program, and when it’s carried out appropriately, it’s additionally completely secure.
  2. It differs from the standard and stiff-leg deadlift in a number of key methods.
  3. For those who can’t do the standard Romanian deadlift for no matter purpose, you’ll be able to all the time select from considered one of various variations.

At first look, the Romanian deadlift (RDL) seems like a lazy or downright harmful model of the common deadlift.

Sarcastically, it’s not a one-way ticket to snap metropolis, however one of many single finest workout routines you are able to do for creating your hamstrings, glutes, spinal erectors, lats, and even your forearms.

It’s additionally straightforward to be taught, load, and program, and when it’s carried out appropriately, it’s additionally completely secure.

And on this article, you’re going to be taught all about it. Particularly, you’re going to be taught…

  • What the Romanian deadlift is (and the way it acquired its identify)
  • Why it’s such an efficient decrease physique train
  • The way it differs from different kinds of deadlifts
  • How you can Romanian deadlift in three easy steps
  • 5 methods to enhance your Romanian deadlift
  • And extra…

And final however not least, you’re additionally going to get a easy, efficient, and difficult Romanian deadlift exercise that you may begin utilizing at this time.

Let’s get to it.

What Is the Romanian Deadlift?

The Romanian deadlift is just like the standard barbell deadlift, however it targets your hamstrings and glutes greater than your again.

Right here’s what it seems like:

As you’ll be able to see, the principle variations between the Romanian and traditional deadlift are…

  1. You can begin with the bar in an influence rack as a substitute of on the ground (however don’t need to).
  2. Your legs stay fairly straight, bending solely barely on the knees to decrease the bar.
  3. You decrease the bar to only beneath your knees or when your decrease again begins to spherical, and no additional.

There are additionally a number of different variations of Romanian deadlifts that you are able to do, together with the single-leg Romanian deadlift, the dumbbell Romanian deadlift, and the trap-bar romanian deadlift.

We’ll go over every of them in additional element in a couple of minutes, however all of them observe the identical common motion sample.

You might also be questioning why it’s known as the Romanian deadlift.

Properly, the story goes that in 1990, a Romanian Olympic weightlifter named Nicu Vlad was in San Francisco demonstrating an train that seemed like a cross between a stiff-leg and  standard deadlift.

Somebody within the viewers requested what it was known as. He shrugged and stated it was simply one thing he did to strengthen his again. The U.S. Olympic weightlifting coach was there and advised they name it the Romanian deadlift, and the remainder is historical past. 🙂

Romanian Deadlift vs. Stiff-Leg Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is commonly confused with one other sort of deadlift known as the stiff-leg deadlift.

Right here’s why:

That’s a stiff-leg deadlift, and as you’ll be able to see, it seems rather a lot like a Romanian deadlift.

That stated, the important thing distinction is the stiff-leg deadlift includes a larger vary of movement and tends to place much more stress on the hamstrings and decrease again.

Discover how the knees keep almost locked by means of the total vary of movement, and the bar almost touches the bottom. Some folks may even decrease the bar all the way in which to the bottom, however most (together with myself) can solely get it about an inch from the bottom.

The stiff-leg deadlift is a good train, however the downsides are it requires loads of flexibility to do correctly, it will possibly hassle some folks’s knees and again, and it may be laborious to securely progressively overload.

This is the reason I desire the Romanian deadlift, however each are nice choices for creating the hamstrings, glutes, and again.

What Muscle tissues Does the Romanian Deadlift Work?

The Romanian deadlift targets the posterior chain, which is the group of muscle groups on the again of the physique, together with the…

Like all good compound workout routines, the Romanian deadlift additionally targets smaller “accent” muscle groups just like the rhomboids, teres main and minor, and serratus posterior.

Right here’s what these muscle groups appear like in your physique:

romanian deadlift muscles

To a lesser extent, the Romanian deadlift additionally works the biceps, calves, and quads, making it among the finest workout routines you are able to do for coaching all of the main muscle teams in your physique.

Who Ought to do the Romanian Deadlift?

The principle purpose folks do the Romanian deadlift is to coach their hamstrings, glutes, and again with out beating themselves up with an excessive amount of standard deadlifting.

The standard deadlift remains to be single the most effective train for creating and strengthening the posterior chain, however it’s additionally extraordinarily tough, which is why even superior powerlifters hardly ever deadlift greater than as soon as per week and solely do a number of units in every exercise.

Thus, the Romanian deadlift permits you to practice lots of the similar muscle groups with out risking signs associated to overtraining or damage.

This is the reason I included the Romanian deadlift in my weightlifting applications for each males and girls.

Now, in the event you’re new to weightlifting and haven’t put a lot time into the “Large 4—the standard deadlift, squat, bench press, and overhead press—then you definately don’t want to incorporate the Romanian deadlift in your routine simply but.

Deal with standard pulling first, after which when you’ve constructed a substantial quantity of energy on it, think about working “accent deadlifts” just like the Romanian deadlift into your exercise routine.

How you can Romanian Deadlift in three Easy Steps

Large compound actions just like the Romanian deadlift are double-edged swords.

They ship the utmost muscle- and strength-building bang to your buck, however in addition they require good method or they will grow to be harmful.

So let’s break down how you can Romanian deadlift step-by-step.

First, watch this to see what we’re aiming for:

And now let’s undergo the three steps of correct Romanian deadlift type.

Step 1


There are two methods to arrange for the Romanian deadlift:

  • From the rack
  • From the ground

For those who begin from the rack, you’ll need the bar to be slightly below the place you’ll maintain it on the prime of the motion, or about mid-thigh:

romanian deadlift setup

For those who begin from the ground, then all you need to do is load the bar the identical manner you’d when establishing for the standard deadlift:

romanian deadlift

Each beginning positions are high quality, however most individuals desire ranging from the rack as a result of it makes it simpler to load the bar and doesn’t drive you to waste power pulling the bar off the ground originally of every set.

Stroll as much as the bar in order that it’s over your mid foot, place your toes about shoulder-width aside, and grip the bar.

I like to recommend you employ a double overhand grip (each palms going through down) for the Romanian deadlift, because it’s normally extra comfy than the alternate (combined) grip.

Take a deep breath of air, increase your chest, and press your higher arms into your sides as in the event you had been attempting to crush oranges in your armpits. You need to appear like this:

how to romanian deadlift

Step 2


Raise the bar off the rack (or ground), take a child step again, and bend your knees barely. Repair your gaze on a spot about 10 toes in entrance of you, and decrease the bar down the entrance of your legs, permitting your butt to maneuver backward because the bar descends.

Maintain your knees at roughly the identical angle as once you began. When you begin to really feel a stretch in your hamstrings, you’ll be able to enable barely extra bend in your knees.

At this level, the bar ought to be at knee top or simply beneath, like this:

romanian deadlift form

Don’t attempt to decrease the bar to the bottom.

Doing so forces you to bend your knees, which reduces rigidity on the hamstrings and defeats the aim of the train.

As soon as you’ll be able to’t go any decrease with out rounding your decrease again or additional bending your knees, it’s time for the ascent.

Step three


Protecting your again tight, chest up, and knees barely bent, drive your hips ahead whereas pulling the bar straight up..

Right here’s how the entire motion seems:

That’s all there’s to the basic Romanian deadlift, however there are a number of variations of this train you must also find out about.

Romanian Deadlift Variations You Ought to Know

The normal Romanian deadlift is all the time carried out with a barbell and two toes on the bottom, however there are three different variations which might be value contemplating:

  • The dumbbell Romanian deadlift
  • The only-leg Romanian deadlift
  • The trap-bar Romanian deadlift

Let’s take a look at every.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

The dumbbell Romanian deadlift is precisely the identical because the common Romanian deadlift, besides you employ a pair of dumbbells as a substitute of a barbell.

Right here’s the way it seems:

In case your health club doesn’t have an influence rack or you’ll be able to’t or don’t need to do the standard Romanian deadlift for no matter purpose, then you should utilize dumbbells as a substitute.

Some folks additionally desire the dumbbell variation as a result of it permits your shoulders to be in a extra pure place, however the downsides are most individuals can’t elevate as a lot weight with dumbbells and wrestle to maintain them from wandering round as they transfer.

Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift

The only-leg Romanian deadlift is a tougher variation through which throughout the descent, you stability on one leg.

Right here’s what it seems like:

This train works properly for individuals who have good stability and need to squeeze a bit extra vary of movement out of every rep. It additionally prevents you from favoring one leg greater than the opposite, which might occur when deadlifting, making it useful for stopping and fixing muscle imbalances.

The draw back, although, is that you may’t use almost as a lot weight because the common Romanian deadlift, and balancing turns into more durable as you get stronger.

This is the reason I like to recommend you employ the single-leg variant in the event you don’t have a barbell or heavy dumbbells (as when touring), or as an adjunct train to stop muscle imbalances.

Lure-Bar Romanian Deadlift

The entice bar—or hex bar—Romanian deadlift is an effective way to be taught the train as a result of it doesn’t require as a lot hip and ankle mobility to get to the bar, and it places much less shearing stress on the backbone.

Right here’s how you can do it:

The downsides to this variation are that it doesn’t problem your hamstrings fairly as a lot, and you need to begin the train from the ground, which suggests you might not be capable to use as a lot weight.

That stated, in the event you don’t have the decrease physique mobility to do the barbell Romanian deadlift, then this can be a high quality various.

5 Methods to Romanian Deadlift Higher

Regardless of how good your method is, you’re going to hit plateaus in your massive compound workout routines.

These 5 methods will show you how to get unstuck on the Romanian deadlift if you end up within the doldrums.

Raise Heavy Ass Weight

Professor Ronnie Coleman stated it finest:

There’s a unending debate as to the “supreme” rep vary for constructing muscle, however there’s little argument about the truth that heavy lifting is finest for getting stronger.

How heavy is “heavy,” although?

Properly, the “energy” spectrum of the rep vary normally begins round 80 to 85% of your one-rep max, or the four to six rep vary, and goes up when it comes to 1RM from there.

For those who’re at the moment doing the vast majority of your Romanian (and traditional) deadlifting with lighter weights—the 10 to 12 rep vary, for instance—you’re going to profit enormously by emphasizing heavier lifting as a substitute. You don’t need to cease the 10- to 12-rep work, however don’t neglect the decrease rep ranges.

I’ll offer you an instance of what this seems like when it comes to programming on the finish of this text.

Improve Your Grip Power

One of many principal causes folks stall of their development on the deadlift is grip weak point.

You possibly can develop a posterior chain that may pull tons of of kilos, but when your grip doesn’t sustain, you’ll by no means truly get there.

Grip weak point doesn’t simply make the bar more durable to carry, it makes your complete elevate really feel considerably more durable. And in the event you don’t guarantee your grip is frequently enhancing, your deadlifts will stall.

Fortuitously, enhancing grip energy may be very straightforward once you go about it appropriately. Try my article on how you can enhance grip energy to be taught extra:

The Finest Forearm Exercises to Improve Grip Power

Use Straps

Throughout the Romanian deadlift, your arms don’t get a break between reps like they do with standard deadlifts.

Enhancing your grip energy can assist with this to a degree, however ultimately grip energy might be going to grow to be a limiting issue.

That’s why I like to recommend you attempt straps.

When used correctly, straps mean you can safely pull extra weight (making the Romanian deadlift more durable on the remainder of your physique) with none of the downsides of different grip types.

You possibly can attempt to eek out a number of extra reps by utilizing a combined grip, however over time that might result in muscle imbalances and shoulder or elbow ache.

As a substitute, I like to recommend you stick with the double overhand grip with straps. Right here’s what it seems like:

romanian deadlift grip

If you wish to be taught extra about your deadlift grip choices and what straps to make use of, try this text:

How you can Discover the Finest Deadlift Grip For You

Put on the Proper Sneakers

Consider it or not, the improper sneakers could make Romanian deadlifting considerably more durable.

A great weightlifting shoe does a number of issues:

  • It supplies a steady floor to assist us stability and help heavy hundreds. That is notably vital with workout routines just like the deadlift, squat, and overhead press.
  • It suits your toes snugly and leaves no wiggle room. You don’t need your toes transferring round in your sneakers as you practice.
  • It supplies good traction so your toes don’t slip or shift throughout a elevate.

The best weightlifting sneakers not solely enhance your efficiency on vital lifts just like the deadlift and squat, however can scale back the chance of damage as properly.

Try this text to see my weightlifting shoe suggestions:

The Minimalist’s Information to the Finest Sneakers for Weightlifting

Enhance Your Hip Mobility

Whereas many individuals don’t notice how vital correct type is on the Romanian deadlift, a lot of them couldn’t do it correctly even when they needed to. They merely lack the flexibleness and mobility.

The commonest issues are tight hip and hamstring muscle groups. Fortuitously, you are able to do a sequence of easy workout routines to limber them up.

As an added bonus, these mobility workout routines are additionally going to make squatting, lunging, and traditional deadlifting rather more comfy, too.

To be taught extra about this, try this text:

How you can Enhance Flexibility and Mobility for Squatting

A Easy and Efficient Romanian Deadlift Exercise

You now know how you can Romanian deadlift correctly.

You additionally know all the vital variations.

And you understand the 5 handiest issues you are able to do to keep away from and break by means of plateaus.

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

As I discussed earlier, I like to make use of the Romanian deadlift as a hamstring and again accent train on my decrease physique days. Since a great leg exercise all the time begins with some sort of squat, the Romanian deadlift all the time comes second in my exercises.

Right here’s a easy and efficient decrease physique exercise that includes the Romanian deadlift.



three units of four to six reps at 80 to 85% of 1RM

Romanian Deadlift

three units of four to six reps at 80 to 85% of 1RM

Single Leg Squat or Lunge

three units of 6 to eight reps at 75 to 80% of 1RM

Hamstring Curls

2 units of 6 to eight reps at 75 to 80% of 1RM

(Elective) Seated Calf Raises

2 units of eight to 12 reps at 70 to 80% of 1RM

And some odds and ends on how to do that exercise:

You shouldn’t go to absolute muscle failure each set.

Muscle failure is the purpose the place you’ll be able to not hold the burden transferring and have to finish the set.

We should always take most of our units to a degree near failure (one or two reps shy), and we should always hardly ever take units to the purpose of absolute failure.

Personally, I by no means practice to failure for greater than two to a few units per exercise, and by no means on the squat, deadlift, bench press, or navy press, as it may be harmful.

As a substitute, I reserve my failure units for isolation workout routines like hamstring curls, leg extensions, calf raises and the like, and it’s normally a pure consequence of pushing for progressive overload versus deliberate programming.

Relaxation three to four minutes in between every set.

This may give your muscle groups sufficient time to completely recoup their energy so that you may give most effort every set.

When you hit the highest of your rep vary for one set, you progress up in weight.

As an illustration, in the event you pull 6 reps in your first set, you add 5 kilos to every aspect of the bar to your subsequent set and work with that weight till you’ll be able to pull it for six reps, and so forth.

The Backside Line on the Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is without doubt one of the single finest workout routines you are able to do for creating your posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, and again).

It’s straightforward to be taught, load, and program, and when it’s carried out appropriately, it’s additionally completely secure.

The Romanian deadlift is like the standard deadlift, however your legs stay pretty straight, bending solely barely on the knees to decrease the bar, and the bar goes slightly below your knees or to the purpose the place your decrease again begins to spherical, and no additional.

It can be carried out with a barbell, dumbbells, or trap-bar, and which you must use depends upon your circumstances.

When you’ve got entry to an influence rack and enough decrease physique mobility, go together with the standard barbell model. For those who don’t, nevertheless, attempt the dumbbell and trap-bar variations and see which feels finest for you.

Completely satisfied deadlifting!

For those who loved this text, and assume a few of your mates may too, would you do me a favor? Please click on right here to share this text on Fb to assist others get the legs, butt, and again they deserve. Thanks!

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