The romanian deadlift is a variant of the deadlift that primarily trains your hip extensors (e.g. glutes, hamstrings and adductors) as well as your lower back.
The movement is similar to a regular deadlift, but with romanian deadlifts you keep your legs almost fully extended throughout the entire motion, and also the exercise begins and ends in the top position of the deadlift.
Here’s how it looks:
How to do Romanian Deadlifts
- Romanian deadlifts begin at the top position of a deadlift, which means that you’ll have to assume that position before you begin. Either use a rack from which you unrack the bar, or simply perform a normal deadlift to get into the starting position.
- Breathe in and brace your core.
- Hinge at the hips so that your upper body leans forward and your butt is pushed back. Only slightly bend your knees to accomodate the hip hinge. Maintain a neutral spine.
- Lower the barbell close to your thighs and shins, as far as your flexibility allows for without flexing your spine, and then reverse the motion. That will probably mean that you’ll reverse before the barbell hits the floor.
- Extend your hips until you have returned to the starting position. Repeat for desired number of reps.
Comments on Romanian Deadlifts
With the romanian deadlift, you focus the load on the muscles that extend your hip and lower back, while unloading your quads and decreasing the total load compared to regular deadlifts.
The range of motion is limited by the flexibility in your hamstrings, and it is not recommended to extend the motion further than what you can do while maintaining a neutral spine, unless you start with a very light load.
There is some confusion regarding the difference between romanian deadlifts and straight-legged deadlifts. The main difference is that a straight-legged deadlift begins and ends with the barbell on the floor, while romanian deadlifts begin and end in the top position, without the barbell necessarily ever touching the floor. This means that the flexibility demands of the romanian deadlift are somewhat lesser.
If you reverse the motion in mid-air, make sure to do it slowly and under control, as your muscles are in a very stretched position under load. It might be beneficial for hypertrophy, but it might also increase the risk of a muscle strain if you’re not careful.
A pair of lifting straps might help you focus more on working the prime movers, as grip strength won’t be a limiting factor.
Major Muscles Worked
- Adductor Magnus
- Erector Spinae
- Transversus Abdominus