Exercises like the Romanian deadlift can be used to improve hip mobility, hypertrophy (muscle growth), strength, and muscular endurance. Weightlifters, powerlifters, and other athletes employ this exercise to add strength and muscle to their posterior chains. Most frequently referred to as the RDL, the Romanian deadlift is a submaximal load accessory movement. However, it is a movement with adaptable uses in numerous programmes and for a variety of strength-based objectives. We'll go over the advantages, uses, modifications, and alternate exercises you can attempt in the sections below.


One of the most significant strength workouts is the deadlift, which offers a variety of advantages.

They demand and develop core strength, which aids in the development of secure motor patterns, trunk stabilisation, and enhancements to coordination and agility. They are therefore a well-liked option for sportsmen and bodybuilders looking to improve their performance.

People who want to make their daily chores easier often use deadlifts. They can promote bone density, increase joint stability, and increase hip and knee range of motion.

Additionally, they are flexible, adaptable exercises with a variety of variations that let you customise your workout to suit your requirements, objectives, and capabilities.

Continue reading to find out more about the many deadlift variations, the muscles they work, as well as their advantages and potential risks.

What Is A Romanian Deadlift?

A well-known barbell exercise for building your posterior chain muscles, including your glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, is the Romanian deadlift (or RDL). It is often carried out with a barbell, but frequent alternatives include dumbbells and kettlebells. The Romanian deadlift can be a time-effective addition to many training programmes since it is a complex exercise that trains multiple muscle groups at once.

How To Do The Romanian Deadlift?

Here is a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the ideal Romanian deadlift technique.

Step 1 — Get Set Up

Standing with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes pointed forward, load a barbell. When you gaze straight down, the barbell should be over your shoelaces. 

Form Tip: The shoulders must be lowered toward the back, the arms must be straight, and the torso must be upright in this position. You'll be able to "freeze" your back and lessen neck stress as a result.

Step 2 — Bend Down and Lift the Bar

Keep your back flat and shoulders over the barbell as you squat down and hold the bar with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width grip. After standing, make sure to take a few steps back.

Form Tip: Consider this a repeat, and utilise good form by maintaining a flat back. The initial few reps and the last few reps of a set are when most injuries occur.

Step 3 — Control the Eccentric Phase

After setting the back, brace your core and press your hips back while keeping your back flat. Keep your knees above your ankles.

Form Tip: When done properly, you should feel the tension in the back and hamstrings (lower and middle, especially around the shoulder blades).

Step 4 — Lift with the Hips and Hamstrings

When your hamstrings are tight, your back is flat, and the barbell is a few inches below your knee, stand up while holding the barbell close to your body.

Form Tip: Be patient and push through the toes while maintaining your weight in your heels.

Step 5 — Achieve Full Hip Extension 

Flex from the middle of the back to the buttocks at the top of the action to engage the upper back, core, and glutes (glutes). Repeat as necessary.

Form Tip: To stabilise the lumbar spine as you extend your hips fully, flex your glutes and keep your ribs down.

Romanian Deadlift Benefits

More Hamstring Mass

The Romanian deadlift benefits the hamstrings, which were previously covered in the section on the muscles worked (hypertrophy). Enhanced muscle growth, strength, power output, and athletic performance can all be attributed to increased hamstring hypertrophy.

Increased Pulling Strength

Romanian deadlifts benefit to increase pulling strength. To build glute, back, and hamstring strength without putting too much strain on the lower back, many strength and power athletes substitute heavier Romanian deadlifts for conventional deadlifts.

Application to Weightlifting Movements

The Romanian deadlift benefits Olympic weightlifters and CrossFit competitors build the back and hamstring strength necessary for big snatches and clean. Weightlifters can better maintain their technique during near-maximal and maximal lifts by increasing positional strength and muscle growth in the back and hamstrings.

Improved Athletic Performance

The training of the Romanian deadlift benefit in improving athletic performance. The posterior chain, which is essential for improved power application, running efficiency, and total leg strength, is the goal of the Romanian deadlift.

Muscles Worked By The Romanian Deadlift


Because the knees are flexed throughout the Romanian deadlift, it mainly targets the hamstrings. The hamstring muscle is better recruited when the knees are kept slightly unlocked but stationary throughout the exercise. To promote optimal mechanics and muscular growth during the eccentric portion of the lift (lowering), it is important to feel the hamstrings being loaded.


The Romanian deadlift stimulates the glutes (buttocks and hips) through hip extension like most hinging exercises do. Nearly all athletic movements, including squatting, deadlifting, and human locomotion (running, jumping, sprinting, etc.), require the glutes. The Romanian deadlift is a powerful exercise that may effectively target these muscles. To maximise overall muscle engagement, strength, and development, it is essential to contract the glutes at the apex of the exercise.

Erector Spinae (Lower Back)

The muscles targeted during the Romanian deadlift are the erectors, also referred to as the lower back muscles. New lifters frequently mistake lower back pain for a technique issue. It might, however, be the result of greater muscle deterioration in the lower back muscles. When practising Romanian deadlifts, one should not just feel the lower back muscles. The best course of action may be to watch the workout demonstration video again to review the proper form and technique if you discover that your lower back muscles are being overworked (more so than your hamstrings and glutes).

Middle and Upper Back 

Simply by requiring the lifter to maintain a rigid torso and flat back throughout the full range of motion, the Romanian deadlift builds basic back strength. Your spine has to work harder to counteract lumbar flexion and shoulder rounding as the lifter lowers the weight. This helps to reduce lower back injuries, build total back strength, and enhance posture control for other exercises including squats, conventional and sumo deadlifts, snatch and cleans.


The chest and shoulder are prevented from curving forward during the lift thanks to the trapezius muscles (traps). The traps assist the lifter in maintaining proper back positioning throughout the lift, much like heavy carries and deadlifts.


Simply because an athlete must hold a heavy weight for extended periods during a deadlift, the exercise targets the forearms (or with heavier loads for shorter times). Romanian deadlifts, as well as conventional and sumo deadlifts, snatches, cleans, and even pull-ups, are strength and power-based exercises that can be performed simply to increase grip strength and muscle endurance.

Romanian Deadlift Sets And Reps

To Build Muscle

Increased training volume, time spent under tension, and metabolic abnormalities within the muscle (due to briefer rest periods and high volume) can all lead to muscular hypertrophy. To improve muscle growth and lay a stronger basis for more advanced Romanian deadlift training, coaches and athletes can apply the suggestions below. Use a moderate to heavy weight and perform three to five sets of six to ten repetitions. Alternately, perform two to four sets of 12 to 15 reps with a little weight until failure is almost certain. Between sets, take a 45 to 90-second break.

To Gain Strength

It's important to avoid approaching the Romanian deadlift's hamstring development in the same way that we would a max-effort conventional or sumo deadlift. Due to the movement's increased specificity, the hamstrings are specifically targeted and do not receive much support from powerful muscles like the quadriceps (which assist in both conventional and sumo deadlifts). Coaches and athletes should train with somewhat larger rep ranges (and smaller loads) than typical deadlifting strength exercises, even though. Use a heavy load and perform three to five sets of three to five repetitions. Take a two-minute break.

To Increase Muscle Endurance

An athlete needs to have stronger resistance to muscle fatigue to compete in sports like running, CrossFit, and endurance competitions. Muscular endurance goals call for higher repetition ranges than maximal strength and hypertrophy plans, as well as the usage of relatively lower loads. Perform two to four sets of 12 to 20 repetitions with a light to moderate load, and then take a 30- to 45-second break.

How To Program The Romanian Deadlift?

Romanian deadlifts are typically used as a supplemental compound lift in programmes as an addition to conventional or sumo deadlifts. This usually entails doing it after your primary lift for the day for many lifters. Which day you choose to do this depends on your tastes, your body's requirements, and your training split.

If you employ a push-pull split, you'll probably want to perform this with your deadlifts on your lower body pull days. On the other side, you can decide to do RDLs only as a supplement on leg day if you're primarily doing them to strengthen your hamstrings. Then perhaps do them while squatting.

Programming RDLs also depends on your body's response to hard squats and deadlifts and your general hamstring health. You might want to save your RDLs for squat days if deadlifting is particularly hard on your hamstrings to prevent overuse or strains. Modulate your RDLs by the fact that squats could be harder on your hamstrings and groyne.

Consider lowering your load and rep range if you frequently require a lot of time to recover from the stress RDLs inflict on your hamstrings. By starting from the beginning, you may build up and are more likely to avoid strains.

How To Warm Up For The Romanian Deadlift?

One of the reasons RDLs are so crucial is that many people disregard their hamstring health. You must be working with good form to complete them securely.

You also need to warm up properly. Even if you're doing this move in the middle of your training, directly after your major lift, it'll probably benefit you to do a brief warm-up for the RDL right before. In this manner, you're preparing your hamstrings for the specific work that RDLs subject them to.

  • Inchworm with Hip Opener: 2 x 8 
  • Prone Banded Hamstring Curl: 2 x 15
  • Lateral Lunge: 2 x 8 

How To Avoid A Romanian Deadlift Plateau?

Lifters who want to move more weight but are having trouble doing it on their Romanian deadlifts may find them challenging. One of the best methods to avoid plateaus for RDLs is to warm up correctly. Warming up helps prepare you to lift safely, which enables you to lift heavier.

Try a unilateral version for a time if your barbell RDL is lagging despite your proper warm-up. By doing so, you will be reversing any imbalances that the barbell may cause. When the time comes, doing this will enable you to lift more weight.

Romanian Deadlift Variations

Single-leg Romanian deadlift

Lean forward with one leg while holding the bar with your hands shoulder-width apart. Your knee should be slightly bent. Slowly and deliberately lower yourself until you feel a stretch in the hamstring of your standing leg, then slowly and steadily raise yourself back up to the starting position. This exercise can also be done while holding equal-weight kettlebells in each hand, which makes it simpler to retract the shoulder blades.

Dumbbell split-leg Romanian deadlift

In this variation, instead of raising your back leg as you would in the one-legged form, maintain the ball of your back foot firmly planted on the ground. When you feel a stretch in the front leg's hamstring, slowly lower yourself while holding a dumbbell in each hand and returning to the starting position while maintaining a straight back and a tight core.

Stiff-leg Romanian deadlift

The ultimate test of hamstring and core strength is this variant of the Romanian deadlift. The stiff-leg deadlift requires you to adopt a straight-leg stance with no bending of the knees, unlike other versions that permit a minor bend. This leg posture puts the most emphasis on hamstring growth, however, it may feel a little challenging at first.

Romanian Deadlift Alternatives

Barbell Good Morning

Good mornings can reduce hamstring involvement and enhance lower back and glute growth (there will still be some hamstring involvement, but less than in Romanian deadlifts). Most frequently, a barbell and/or resistance band are used for this.

Reverse Hyperextension

Due to the movement occurring at the hip joint, reverse hyperextensions are a suitable exercise to stimulate the glutes and spinal erectors (lower back) while sparing the hamstrings (rather than at the knees and hips). Resistance bands, body weight, or weight on a reverse hyperextension machine can all be used for this exercise.

Glute Ham Raise

The glute-ham raise can isolate the hamstrings specifically while reducing the pressure on the back. For lifters trying to reduce excessive back strain during periods of increased training volumes or due to back injuries, this may be helpful. Higher repetitions of this exercise are frequently performed with the body weight or a light load carried in front of the chest.

Nordic Hamstring Curl

A wonderful bodyweight exercise to strengthen the hamstrings and improve isometric, concentric, and eccentric control is the Nordic hamstring curl. This exceedingly difficult exercise is often performed solely using one's body weight.


Romanian deadlifts have a place in any programme regardless of whether your goal is to increase hamstring strength, flexibility, or health. This list increases your duration under strain and targets your hamstrings more specifically to assist you with lockout strength for maximum deadlifts. This deadlift variation will work your legs' backs as well as your back, even if your goal is to bulk up your lower body.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are Romanian deadlifts good for?

The erector spinae, gluteus maximus, hamstrings, and adductors are among the muscles in the posterior chain that the Romanian deadlift (RDL), a conventional barbell exercise, is used to strengthen. The RDL is a useful exercise that, when performed properly, strengthens the lower body and the core in one motion.

What's the difference between a conventional deadlift and a Romanian deadlift?

The conventional deadlift and the Romanian deadlift differ primarily in two ways.

1. Starting at the top: The Romanian deadlift is performed standing up straight from start to finish. The floor is where the typical deadlift begins and ends.

2. The knees are frozen: When performing a Romanian deadlift, you just bend at the hips and lock your knees at a 15° angle. By keeping your knees almost fully extended throughout the exercise, you unload your quadriceps while transferring almost all of the work to the muscles on the back of your body.

Why are Romanian deadlifts so hard?

Romanian deadlifts are more challenging than conventional deadlifts performed from the ground because your back and legs must change the direction of the bar without coming to a complete stop and because the eccentric portion of the exercise is more heavily weighted, which puts more of an emphasis on your hamstrings, glutes, and lats.

Are dumbbells good for Romanian deadlifts?

These are not a very great option, as compared to a barbell. However, initial few days, if you are a beginner, you can start with dumbbells in Romanian deadlifts.

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