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Romanian Deadlifts – Benefits & How to Perform

The Romanian deadlift is an excellent exercise for building your hamstrings and glutes.

By including this move in your routine, you will build bigger, stronger legs, and also improve your standard deadlift.

Fitness Savvy included this awesome barbell exercise in the body recomposition routine which will help you build muscle while losing fat at the same time.

Read on to find out exactly how to do Romanian deadlifts.

Romanian deadlift benefits

  • Builds bigger, stronger legs
  • Helps you improve the second portion of the standard deadlift.
  • It’s a great core workout, too.

How to do the Romanian deadlift

If you prefer to watch video tutorials, then check out our video below, otherwise, you can continue to read the article to find out how to do the Romanian deadlift.

The Set-Up

1

Setup the bar

The Romanian Deadlift is typically initiated from a racked position, however, it’s fine to start from the floor if you don’t have a power rack, or if this is a technique you prefer.

Romanian Deadlift - Setting up the bar

2

Position your feet

Position your feet at about shoulder width, keeping them parallel or by pointing your toes out at a slight angle.

Romanian Deadlift - Position Your Feet

3

Grip the bar

Grip the bar at shoulder width. You should be able to perform this move with a double overhand grip, however, if you feel more comfortable with an alternate grip, this is fine.

Romanian Deadlift - Position Your Hands

4

Unrack the bar

Unrack the bar and take a few steps back. If you’re not using a rack, then perform a standard deadlift to get into the correct starting position, as previously suggested.

Romanian Deadlift - Unrack the bar


Performing the Romanian deadlift

1

Drive your hips backwards

From the starting position, drive your hips backwards so that the bar lowers. It’s important to keep your back straight.

Romanian Deadlift - Drive hips backwards

2

Bend your knees just a little bit

Bend your knees a little, but don’t let them move forwards. When done correctly, the shins should stay almost vertical with the floor and your knees should not get in the way of the bar’s natural path.

Romanian Deadlift - Bend knees just a little bit

3

Lower the bar to about mid-shin level and hold for a second

Although this may vary, most people will finish the first half of this move at about mid-shin level.

If you’re going lower than this, you should check your form to make sure you’re not achieving this by rounding your back. So long as you feel a good stretch in your hamstrings, and the bar has moved below your knee, you’re performing the correct range of motion.

Hold at the bottom for a second or so to stretch your hamstring.

Romanian Deadlift - Lower to about Mid shin level

4

Drive your hips forwards and lift your torso

Driving your hips forward and lift your torso, keeping the bar over the middle of your foot as you move back to the starting position.

Romanian Deadlift - Drive hips forwards

5

Squeeze your glutes

At the top of the move, squeeze your glutes hard and posteriorly tilt your pelvis. Think of it like you are pushing the bar forwards with your hips, rather than leaning backwards.

Romanian Deadlift - Squeeze Glutes


Common Mistakes

Lowering the hips too much

A common mistake is lowering the hips too much. When this happens, we remove the load from the hamstrings, and the exercise becomes more of a regular deadlift with some of the force moving to the quads.

Going too low

While most exercises call for a wide range of motion, going too low on the Romanian deadlift can be counterproductive. It can increase the risk of injury without adding any notable benefits.

Hyperextending the back

Another common mistake is hyperextending the back rather than posteriorly tilting the pelvis. At the top of the move, you might see people “lean back” with the bar and they squeeze their glutes.

Bending your knees too much or too early

Many people struggle with the second half of a regular deadlift, and the main reason is that the initiate the reverse motion by bending their knees rather than pushing their hips back.

The knees then get in the way, and you have to move the bar forwards to get past the knee.

Instead, focus on hinging your body forwards while moving your hips back and out of the way of the bar, bending your knees only slightly.

Programming

  • Include the Romanian deadlift near the start of your workout. This is usually an exercise to perform second after you’ve completed your primary compound move for the day (usually some form of squat or a regular deadlift)
  • The Romanian deadlift can be included on lower-body days (when using an upper/lower split), leg days, or during full-body workouts.
  • This exercise is best performed in a low to mid rep range – 6 to 10 reps per set.

Romanian deadlift muscles worked

The Romanian deadlift is a compound move. This means that it works a wide range of muscles all at once.

The main muscles worked during the Romanian deadlift are the hamstrings, glutes, and erector spinae.

As with most compound moves, you will also work your core as you brace your abdominals to keep a tight structure to lift with.

Equipment required

Romanian deadlift variations

  • Stiff-legged deadlift
  • Deadlift
  • Dumbbell Romanian deadlift

Romanian deadlift alternatives

  • Glute ham raises
  • Kettlebell swings
  • Machine leg curls

Robin is the founder and CEO of Fitness Savvy. As a freelance writer he has written for publications such as Muscle & Strength, Sparkpeople, Inquisitr and many more. If he's not collating product reviews or working directly on improving the website, he is creating innovative content for the website's blog and Fitness Savvy YouTube channel

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