How to Romanian Deadlift

Romanian Deadlifts

Watch the video to learn all about the Romanian Deadlift.

Now, for the sake of time I sped through this video quite quickly (you can just press replay) and I should have probably stressed the technique points a little more –

You must get every one of those tech points in the first 30sec 100% correct, or at least be aware and progressively working toward it

* Chest up as it keeps back straight (lumbar in full extension, but core tight so you’re not hyper extending

* Hips up (because it’s not a conventional deadlift) and hinged

* Chin in (because looking up at the mirror is the same as looking up at the sky when walking)

* Knee above ankles

* Bar close (the lats are used in DL’s to keep the bar in)

Here is a tip – position yourself at a 45 degree angle to a mirror this way you can easily see yourself without having to look directly up and putting your head out of place as you would if you were to face the mirror. Great for when clients don’t believe me when I say they are well and truly out of position – easy to make the necessary adjustments when they see it for themselves.

What else…

* Because it’s not a conventional deadlift you can start the bar from squat rack pins.

* Don’t let the bar touch the floor as the purpose of the movement is to eccentrically contract the hamstrings, and rebound using the stretch reflex and not the floor.

How to Romanian Deadlift - video transcript

Pick up the bar using the technique you learnt in my deadlift video.

With your chest up and a perfectly straight back, unlock your knees and shove your hips back.

Hinge at the hips tilting forward to lower the bar in a controlled manner.

The knees do not travel forward, the hips stay in the air, keep your chin tucked in, the bar as close to your body as possible, with the shoulders in front of the bar.

Right before your back starts to bend quickly return to standing.

You may also perform Romanian deadlifts with Dumbbells, which are also great for Single Leg Romanian Deadlifts and I will detail this exercise shortly.

Romanian Deadlift Purpose

The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is much like the conventional deadlift, except the hips stay up, the knees do not travel forward and nor do you place the bar down. As a consequence you cannot lift as much weight, therefore the movement is less of a brute strength exercise and more of a stretch under tension.

The RDL targets the Hamstrings, Glutes, and Lower Back as with a conventional deadlift, but with more of an emphasis on the hamstrings. This is due to the eccentric contraction when controlling the bar down slowly because the muscle group is lengthening. With a conventional deadlift you lower the bar quickly and drop the hips, thus no real eccentric component. Dropping the hips takes the stretch and tension off of the hamstrings.

Once we deadlift the bar up, to descend, the hips travel back and at that point you simply bend at the joint lowering the bar with the shoulders traveling forward – in front of the bar. Use the arms to manually assist with keeping the bar near your legs. The knees are bent but directly above the ankles.

Drop as low as you can, provided your back remains straight, right before the point at which it is about to bend is when you want to return to the starting position without delay.

With this exercise you may use wrist straps because the extended time under tension will fatigue your forearms before you can stress the targeted muscle groups adequately to reap the full benefits.

Single Leg Romanian Deadlift

The Single Leg RDL is a Uni-Lateral variation; the pros being improved balance, coordination and therefore more stabilization musculature is called in to action to keep the movement steady due to a single leg.

All the same technique points, except your body from leg to torso should be table top flat. Do not bend over trying to bring the dumbbells to the floor, go as low as you can provided your back is straight or until horizontal.

Make sure that there is a hip hinge and that the torso and rear leg come up as one, not individually.


The Romanian deadlift covers the missed areas, finishing the job of the conventional deadlift. Don’t limit your training to simply conventional deadlifts, and I also highly recommend the single leg variation.

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