Romanian Deadlifts: How to Do Them

Incorporation Romanian deadlifts into your workout routine can be hugely beneficial. Whether you’re a powerlifter or focus more on cardio, this strength exercise, also known as RDLs and stiff-leg deadlifts, can help build muscle along the back of your body (posterior chain), including your glutes and hamstrings.

As you strengthen the muscles in these areas, your hip extension is maximized making certain movements such as sprints and jumps easier and more effective.

As well as building muscle, Romanian deadlifts can help improve mobility and your hip’s flexibility. It can also help you stop certain movement patterns that may be putting pressure and strain on various body parts. Therefore, you can reduce the risk of injury.

Furthermore, regular Romanian deadlifts can minimize and even prevent lower back pain which is one of the most common forms of discomfort in American people. Strengthening your lower back can prevent poor core stability and improve your hip strength for a more comfortable posture and stance.

As with all forms of exercise, you must know how to perform it properly. Doing it wrong could easily cause injury. That is why we have compiled an in-depth guide on how to perform Romanian deadlifts so you can start safely strengthening your body and limit any risk of discomfort.

Romanian Deadlift Benefits

As we have already touched upon, Romanian deadlifts have a range of benefits. In particular, this exercise is excellent for improving posture. This is because it un-hunches your shoulders by anchoring down your Latissimus Dorsi muscles or lats (the large muscle down the back of your body).

Many people find it hard to engage their core when lifting heavy weights. When doing Romanian deadlifts, you will be forced to brace your abs to limit and prevent any arching of the lower back. This is one of the main reasons why Romanian deadlifts are such a good core stabilization exercise.

Romanian deadlifts differ from conventional deadlifts. This is evident in the knees. Romanian deadlifts require you to only bend your knees slightly. This stiffer leg position results in more emphasis being put on your hamstrings.

Also, these deadlifts rely significantly on hip movements while keeping a neutral spine. The entire movement can help build a stronger connection between your lower and upper body. RDLs can be performed with various implements such as dumbbells, kettlebells, barbells, or even without any external weight. 

If you want to increase your overall strength, power, and range of motion in your hips, Romanian deadlifts are a great place to start. They also help improve your core’s strength for a better chance of getting those six-pack abs you have always wanted.

Because your core is engaged, your hips and shoulders remain aligned as you ascend and descend through the whole movement.

How to Do a Romanian Deadlift

It takes some time to master the Romanian deadlift. It is recommended that you focus on bending at your hips to send your rear end back while your spine remains straight. This is known as the “hip hinge.”

At first, you should practice hinging at the hips with the use of a light, long bar against your spine. This is to make sure your back and neck remain aligned in a straight position. Once you have successfully mastered the hip hinge movements, you are ready to incorporate Romanian deadlifts into your routine.

Here’s how you perform this exercise:

  1. Stand with your feet at hip-distance apart. Ensure there is a slight bend in your knees with a barbell situated in front of you.
  2. Hinge slowly forward at your hips. Keep your spine long and straight. Do this as your torso moves toward the floor. Firmly grip the barbell with both of your hands at shoulder distance apart while plugging your shoulders back and down. This is to secure your spine and brace your core effectively. Look down and slightly forward so your neck is aligned with your back. This avoids hyperextension.
  3. Next, tighten your hamstrings, glutes, and core. Now, firmly push your feet into the floor in order to stand up straight. While doing this, lift the weight to around your upper thighs. Tightly squeeze your glutes and lock out your hips when at the top.
  4. Repeat this movement by lowering the barbell between your knees and toes. Your level of flexibility can determine how far you can lower the weight, however. Your torso should be parallel to the ground while your back remains flat. Your knees should also remain slightly bent with an engaged core.

Mistakes to Avoid

To prevent any injuries, there are some mistakes that people often make when performing Romanian deadlifts that you should avoid. Let’s take a look at a few here:

  • Not keeping your back perfectly flat – Many people over-hinge at the hips (bend forward too far) when doing these deadlifts. To avoid this, do not go past 90 degrees. Stop your movement at a flat back when your torso is parallel to the ground. If you over hinge, you run the risk of rounding your back and bending your knees too much.
  • Not maintaining a neutral spine – Focus on something about two feet in front of you through the whole deadlift movement. Push your chest out proudly as you lower your shoulders and torso and then rise at the same time with the barbell. This can prevent a stiff neck and rounded shoulders.

With a little practice, you can strengthen certain parts of your body through extremely beneficial Romanian deadlifts.