Romanian Deadlifts (RDL) | How-To, Muscles Worked, and Benefits

The romanian deadlift is an exercise that can be used to develop proper hip health and joint actions, muscleman emergence ( hypertrophy ), forte, and brawny endurance. It ’ s a bowel movement used by weightlifters, powerlifters, and other athletes to develop intensity and mass in the buttocks chain .
The romanian deadlift — besides referred to as the RDL — is most much seen as an accessory lift with submaximal loads. silent, it ’ s a motion that has elastic applications in many programs and for many strength-based goals. Below, we ’ ll go over the practice ’ sulfur benefits, applications, and variations, and alternatives for you to try .

Romanian Deadlift Video Guide

The downstairs romanian deadlift how-to video recording and proficiency breakdown can teach novice lifters and athletes how to perform a romanian deadlift properly .

How to Do the Romanian Deadlift

here ’ s an in-depth, bit-by-bit breakdown of how to do the Romanian deadlift optimally.

Step 1 — Get Set Up

RDL set up
Load a barbell and stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and toes forwards. Position the barbell so that it ’ sulfur over your shoelaces when you look directly down .
Form Tip: In this position, the torso must be upright, the arms are straight, and the shoulder blades are dropped downwards towards the rear. This will allow you to “ lock ” the back and understate try in the neck .

Step 2 — Bend Down and Lift the Bar

Bend down and grab the bar with a slenderly wider than shoulder-width fascinate, be certain to keep your back flat and shoulders over the barbell. once you have stood up, be certain to brace .
Form Tip: Treat this as a repeat, making sure to keep your back flat and use proper technique. Most injuries happen during the beginning and last few reps of a set .

Step 3 — Control the Eccentric Phase

RDL Control
once you have set the back, brace the core and push the hips back while maintaining a flat rear. Keep the knees positioned over the ankles .
Form Tip: When done correctly, you should feel tension developing in the hamstrings and across the back ( lower and middle, specially around the shoulder blades ) .

Step 4 — Lift with the Hips and Hamstrings

once you have assumed a position in which the hamstrings are contracted, the back is flat, and the barbell is a few inches below the knee, stand up, keeping the barbell close up to your body .
Form Tip: Be patient and keep your weight back in your heels while simultaneously pushing through the toes .

Step 5 — Achieve Full Hip Extension 

RDL Lockout
At the top of the drift, shrink the upper back, core, and glutes by flexing from the middle of the back to the buttocks ( glutes ). repeat for repetitions .
Form Tip: As you reach full annex of the hips, flex the glutes and keep your ribcage down to stabilize the lumbar spine .

Benefits of the Romanian Deadlift

Below are five benefits of the romanian deadlift to aid coaches, trainers, and lifters in understanding why romanian deadlifts are a key exercise for all lifters to include within strength training programs .

More Hamstring Mass

The romanian deadlift targets the hamstrings ( discussed above in the muscles worked segment ), which can help increase muscleman mass ( hypertrophy ). Increased hamstring hypertrophy can lead to increase muscle size, potency, power application, and sports performance .

Increased Pulling Strength

Increased draw potency is one benefit of performing romanian deadlifts. many lastingness and exponent athletes will perform heavier romanian deadlifts in place of conventional deadlifts to increase gluteus, back, and hamstring intensity while not limiting loading on the lower back ( due to less load potentials and increase hamstring and gluteus isolation ) .

Application to Weightlifting Movements

Olympic weightlifters ( and CrossFit athletes ) can integrate the romanian deadlifts into their workouts to increase back intensity and hamstring strength specific to heavy snatches and cleans. By increasing positional persuasiveness and muscle hypertrophy of the back and hamstrings, weightlifters can better maintain their technique during near maximal and maximal lifts .

Improved Athletic Performance

Increased acrobatic performance can occur through the training of the romanian deadlift. The romanian deadlift targets the later chain, which is key for increased power application, running performance, overall leg force .

Muscles Worked by the Romanian Deadlift 

The romanian deadlift targets many of the like muscles a ceremonious deadlift develops, however places a greater emphasis on the hamstrings and glutes. Below is a full breakdown ( in decree of specificity ) of the basal muscleman groups worked when performing romanian deadlifts for forte, hypertrophy, and brawny survival training .

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The romanian deadlift specifically targets the hamstrings primarily due to the bend knee fish throughout this movement. The knees remain slightly unlock even fixed throughout the drift, which better recruits the hamstring brawn. The samara to this exert is to be certain to feel the hamstrings being loaded during the eccentric aspect ( lowering ) of the ski tow to ensure proper mechanics and muscular development .


Like most hinging movements, the romanian deadlift targets the glutes ( buttocks and hips ) through hip annex. The glutes are involved in about every athletic apparent motion such as squat, deadlifting, human locomotion ( running, jump, sprinting, etc ). These are emphatic muscles that can be highly targeted by the romanian deadlift. It is key to contract the glutes at the top of the movement to maximize overall muscle battle, lastingness, and development .

Erector Spinae (Lower Back)

The erectors ( besides known as the lower back muscles ) are muscle groups targeted during the romanian deadlift. Often, newly lifters will mistake tenderness in the lower rear as a proficiency problem. however, it may be due to increase brawn damage to the lower back muscles. bill, that the lower bet on should not be the lone muscles one feels when performing romanian deadlifts. If you find you are feeling your lower back muscles excessively much ( more than you feel your hamstrings and glutes ), it may be best to review the practice how-to video recording to review the correct shape and technique .
man flexing back muscles

Middle and Upper Back 

The romanian deadlift develops general back lastingness just because the weightlifter must maintain a rigid torso and flat back throughout the entire rate of motion. As a booster lowers the weight, your binding must work hard to resist spinal inflection and round of the shoulders. This is beneficial for injury prevention for the lower back, increasing overall back strength, and improving postural master for other movements like squats, conventional and sumo deadlifts, snatch, and cleans .


The trapezius muscles ( traps ) are used to keep the torso and shoulder from rounding forwards in the face-lift. much like fleshy carries and deadlifts, the traps help the booster assume a correct back positioning throughout the aerodynamic lift .


Deadlifts target the forearms simply because the athlete needs to grasp a besotted weight for long periods of time ( or with heavier loads for shorter times ). Simply performing romanian deadlifts can improve fascinate force and muscle survival necessary for early force and power-based movements ( carries, conventional and sumo deadlifts, snatches, cleans, and even pull-ups ) .

Who Should Do the Romanian Deadlift

The muscles worked by the romanian deadlift have a wide application to forte, world power, fitness, and formal sports, while besides increasing the hip function and muscular development for entry-level lifters. here are the kinds of athletes who would benefit from including the romanian deadlift in their education programs .

Strength and Power Athletes

The romanian deadlift is a bang-up accessory motion for powerlifters looking to increase back and hep military capability necessity for grave deadlifts, low bar back squats, and greater isolation of the hamstrings and glutes .

  • Powerlifting: In the sport of powerlifting, an athlete is tested on their overall strength in the deadlift (sumo or conventional deadlift), back squat, and bench press. The Romanian deadlift is often seen in powerlifting programs to increase overall pulling strength, isolate positional and muscle weaknesses (mainly in the hamstrings and lower back), and build more muscle mass.
  • Strongman: Much like powerlifters, Strongman athletes often use their hips, hamstrings, and lower backs to deadlift, lift stones, push and pull trucks, and clean logs to overhead. The Romanian deadlift (and the below variations) can enhance strength, unilateral balance, and coordination, isolate muscular weaknesses (limited hamstring, glute, or erector development), and better protect from injury during high-intensity loading in training and competition.
  • Olympic Weightlifting: The Romanian deadlift was named after Romanian Olympic Weightlifter, Nicu Vlad, indicating why it is such a vital lift for Olympic weightlifters. The Romanian deadlift can increase hamstring and back strength necessary for snatches (snatch grip Romanian deadlifts) and heavier clean & jerks. Also, increasing strength and muscle mass via the Romanian deadlift can improve back strength in heavy back squats, one of the most important strength lifts a weightlifter does in their training.

Functional Fitness Athletes

CrossFit and competitive fitness athletes rely heavy on barbell force and world power movements ( deadlifts, squats, snatches, and cleans ) for overall exploitation of sport-specific potency and skill. Like powerlifters, Strongman athletes, weightlifters, and CrossFit athletes can benefit from including romanian deadlifts and its variations within strength and accessary programs. Increased hamstring and binding lastingness, back tooth chain engagement, and enhanced hep model are precisely a few benefits one can expect .

Sport Athletes

conventional sports like football, baseball, softball, soccer, basketball, and the like all place high colony on buttocks chain performance. For athletes, romanian deadlifts increase hamstring and binding persuasiveness to help in human locomotion and motion ( running, sprinting, jump, and so forth ). additionally, increasing hamstring and gluteus battle ( in addition to proper hip inflection and annex pattern ) can help injury prevention to the lower back, hips, and hamstrings .

General Lifters

For those concerned with general fitness and health, the romanian deadlift should be included within prepare programs for many reasons. For one, it can increase resistance to a lower back wound ( such as not picking up something correctly ). You ’ ll besides add more muscle bulk, and set a basis for more advanced fitness programs involving running, leap out, and strength-based movements ( deadlifts, lunges, and barbell rows ) .

Romanian Deadlift Sets and Reps

Whether you want to get stronger, build more muscle, or increase your muscular endurance, hera are the steps we suggest taking .

To Build Muscle

Muscle hypertrophy can occur in reply to increased trail volume, meter under latent hostility, and/or metabolic disturbances within the muscle ( ascribable to shorter rest periods and high volume ). With that said, coaches and athletes can use the below recommendations to increase muscleman emergence and build a stronger foundation garment for more advanced romanian deadlift train. Do three to five sets of six to 10 repetitions with a control to heavy weight. Or, do two to four sets of 12 to 15 reps with a moderate weight to near-failure. Rest for 45 to 90 seconds between sets .

To Gain Strength

When looking to increase hamstring potency in the romanian deadlift, we want to be certain to not attack in the same fashion that we would a soap effort conventional or sumo deadlift. Increased specificity of this campaign means that the hamstrings are highly targeted and do not receive a lot of aid from strong muscle groups like the quadriceps ( which assist in both conventional and sumo deadlifts ). That said, coaches and athletes should train with slenderly higher rep ranges ( and lighter loads ) than standard deadlifting force cultivate. Do three to five sets of three to five reps using a heavy load. Rest for approximately two minutes .

To Increase Muscle Endurance

Sports like running, CrossFit, and endurance events require an athlete to possess higher resistance to muscle fatigue ). If the goal is muscular endurance, repetition ranges will be higher than maximal force and hypertrophy schemes and use relatively light loads. Do two to four sets of 12-20 reps with a light to moderate load, resting for 30 to 45 seconds .

How to Program the Romanian Deadlift

In most programs, romanian deadlifts will be a secondary compound elevator — an accessory to your conventional or sumo deadlift. For many lifters, that means performing it after your main lift of the sidereal day. Which day you do this depends both on your personal preferences, the needs of your soundbox, and your aim separate.

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If you use a push-pull split, you ’ ll probably need to do this on your lower torso pluck days — so, with your deadlifts. On the other hand, if you ’ re chiefly performing RDLs to strengthen your hamstrings, you might choose to use them as accessories on stage day. possibly, then, perform these with your jack .
Programming RDLs besides depends on your general hamstring health and how your consistency reacts to heavy squats and deadlifts. If deadlifting tends to be actually tough on your hamstrings, you might want to save your RDLs for knee bend days to help avoid overexploitation or strains. Squats might be tougher on your groin and hamstrings, though, sol modulate your RDLs accordingly .
In case you tend to need a fortune of clock to recover from the demand RDLs place on your hamstrings, consider both lightening your load and your rep compass. You ’ ll be more likely to avoid strains and can build up from the begin .

How to Warm Up for the Romanian Deadlift

many people neglect their hamstring health — which is precisely one of the things that makes RDLs then important. In regulate to perform them safely, you need to be working with excellent human body .
You besides need to be adequately warmed up. even if you ’ re performing this be active in the midst of your exercise — after your boastfully airlift — it ’ ll probable help you out to perform a flying RDL-specific warm-up correct advance. That way, you ’ rhenium priming your hamstrings for the character of target work that RDLs put them through .

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

How to Avoid a Romanian Deadlift Plateau

romanian deadlifts can be frustrating to lifters who want to move more slant but have difficulty increasing the poundage on their RDLs. Warming up properly for RDLs is one of the most effective ways to avoid tableland. You can lift heavier when you can lift safer — and warming up helps prime you to do good that .
additionally, if your barbell RDL is lagging even when you warm up well, try a unilateral variation for a while. That manner, you ’ ll be combating any imbalances you might develop with the barbell. Doing so will help you lift heavier when the time comes .

Romanian Deadlift Variations 

When performing a standard Romanian deadlift either with a barbell or dumbbells, some times may not be precisely what is needed for prepare goals or muscle adaptation. Below, you will find four romanian deadlift variations that can be integrated into trail and exercise programs to increase muscle bulk, enhance muscleman activation, and improve sport-specific drift patterning necessity for performance .

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

romanian deadlifts can be performed with dumbbells in situations where a barbell may not be accessible and/or the coach is attempting to increase stabilization of the second and hips using early forms of loading. The dumbbell romanian deadlift ’ s versatility can make it a good choice for lifters who may not have a barbell accessible .
eminence, that the dumbbell romanian deadlift does not allow a weightlifter to use intemperate loads relative to the barbell Romanian deadlift, making it better for mince to higher rep ranges to develop brawn hypertrophy and endurance .

Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift

Kettlebells are a great joyride for base gymnasium, fitness facilities, and sports operation centers due to their wide application of functional fitness, power application, and movement coach. Unlike the romanian deadlift with a barbell, using kettlebells ( and dumbbells ) can isolate unilateral limitations and increase the need for greater back stabilization ( since the kettlebells move independently from one another ) . can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift ( The romanian deadlift with kettlebells can be a great kettlebell exercise to add to most kettlebell training programs in the accessory and/or hypertrophy educate barricade .

Single Leg (Unilateral) Romanian Deadlift

The single-leg romanian deadlift is a unilateral exercise that can improve proportion, coordination, and unilateral mesomorphic development and military capability. When performing the romanian deadlift with both feet on the grind ( bilateral ), we frequently can miss any bowel movement asymmetries and/or mesomorphic imbalances that may occur . can’t be loaded because JavaScript is disabled: Single Leg RDL ( By merely using one leg at a meter, we can challenge each leg independently, enhancing motion and target muscle imbalances that can lead to overuse and/or movement compensation injuries .

Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlift

One weightlifting specific variation of the barbell romanian deadlift is the snatch bag romanian deadlift. By merely increasing the width of the clasp on the barbell ( in this case, outwards to the kidnap bobby pin positioning ) you drastically increase upper back and trap engagement .
This is a specific movement seen in Olympic weightlifting train, used to increase back and pelvis persuasiveness specific to the catch raise and even enhance rear forte and control necessary for heavy back squats .

Romanian Deadlift Alternatives

If an athlete/coach does not want to perform romanian deadlifts due to lower second tenderness, tire, or a desire to add assortment to training programs, you can try these romanian deadlift alternatives .

Barbell Good Morning

full mornings can increase lower back and gluteus development while limiting the come of hamstrings involved ( there will hush be some hamstring affair, but less than romanian deadlifts ) .
This is most much done using a barbell and/or resistance band .

Reverse Hyperextension

reverse hyperextensions are a thoroughly exercise to target the glutes and spinal anesthesia erectors ( lower back ) while sparing the hamstrings since the movement occurs at the hep joint ( rather than at the knees and hips ) .
This can be done with weight on a inverse hyperextension machine, with resistance bands, or bodyweight .

Glute Ham Raise

The glute-ham lift can specifically isolate the hamstrings while minimizing the loading placed upon the binding. This could be beneficial for lifters looking to limit excessive filter on the back at times of higher train volumes or due to back injury .
This exercise is much done with bodyweight or idle loading held in front of the thorax and performed for higher repetitions .

Nordic Hamstring Curl

The Nordic hamstring coil is a great bodyweight exercise to target the hamstrings and develop isometric, concentric, and eccentric potency and control .
This exercise is extremely challenging and if typically done with bodyweight only .


Who invented the romanian Deadlift ( RDL ) ?

The romanian deadlift was named after the romanian weightlifter Nicu Vlad, an Olympic medalist in 1984, 1988, and 1996 who was elected to the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame in 2006 .
According to Jim Schmitz, a early USA Weightlifting National Team Coach, Vlad had been performing these flat-backed deadlift-like exercises after his clean and jerk educate, performing triples ( three reps per set ) of 250 kg/550 pound. He was asked by a few other lifters what precisely the exert he was doing was called, however Nicu and his coach, Dragomir Cioroslan, never named the movement. They plainly stated that they did regularly because it made Nicu ’ s back strong for the clean .
consequently, the other athletes and coaches simply called it, ” The romanian Deadlift. ”

Is the romanian Deadlift ( RDL ) safe for the back ?

Yes ! The romanian deadlift is safe for the back. It ’ s a hip prevailing movement, so when it ’ mho performed correctly target loading on the back is pretty minimal .
If you ’ re uncertain about your form, then it ’ s deserving seeking out a coach .

Who should perform romanian deadlifts ?

The romanian deadlift is a fantastic practice for every seaworthiness enthusiast to employ. This drill teaches and reinforces good pelvis hinge mechanics, which is needed for a variety of daily movements. In summation, the RDL is great for targeting the posterior chain with its many variations .

What muscles does the romanian Deadlift ( RDL ) exploit ?

The romanian Deadlift by and large works the back tooth chain muscles.

The prime proposer muscles for the RDL include :

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes

Wrapping Up

Whether you ’ re looking to improve hamstring health, flexibility, or strength, there ’ s a set in your program for romanian deadlifts. This list helps lockout force for soap deadlifts by increasing your clock time under tension and more specifically targeting your hamstrings. even if you ’ re looking to build lower body size, this deadlift mutant has got your binding — and the backs of your legs .
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