How to Romanian Deadlift

Key points for learning the Romanian Deadlift

First you want to position yourself at a 45 degree angle to a mirror – this way you can easily assess your technique without having to look directly up and putting your head out of place as you would if you were to face the mirror. 

* 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)

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

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 and 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.

Leave a Comment

6 + eighteen =