You may have heard of the conventional deadlift which is very common in both powerlifting and bodybuilding. However, have you ever heard of the Romanian deadlift- one of the deadlift variations? Let’s face it, this exercise is not the best when it comes to building strength. However, if you’re looking for a movement that is effective in targeting the hamstrings and importantly, safer, go for this deadlift variation. Now, read on to find out how to Romanian deadlift properly.
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What Do You Need?
With the conventional deadlift, you are allowed to drop the bar on the floor between your reps, right? And that is when you rest your grip and forearm muscles so they are not likely to get tired with exertion. However, with this deadlift variation, you don’t have a chance to drop the weights, instead, you’ll have to hold it the entire time. Therefore, using a pair of lifting straps for the last few sets is not a bad idea, especially if you want to lift heavy.
Just like the squat, and bent-over row, you need a stable base to perform a Romanian deadlift. That means it’s very important to use weight-lifting shoes or any types of shoes that have flat soles. Avoid using shoes with an arch as this may cause instability during the exercise which is very bad, especially for your lumbar spine.
Additionally, this exercise is just an isolated movement so it’s not really necessary for you to use a belt. But if you have one, why not? Actually, a lifting belt can help protect your lumbar spine by preventing your back from rounding during the last reps.
How To Romanian Deadlift
In general, most of us only care about the quads, lower back, and power so they just focus on the conventional deadlift. What about the hamstrings? Are you neglecting that muscle group? Of course, the conventional deadlift also helps build stronger hamstring and glutes, but not that much. In this case, the Romanian deadlift is a good choice to isolate your hamstrings. Here are the 3 steps to performing this exercise perfectly:
Step 1: Approach The Bar
With the barbell on the floor, step to the bar. Place your feet under the bar and make sure when you look down, the bar is over the mid-foot.
Keep your legs shoulder-width apart and your toes turned out about 15-20 degrees.
Step 2: Get Into Position
Grab the barbell using a pronated grip (your palms facing down) and your hands should be just outside the legs. Keep your shoulder back, your lower back arched naturally and slightly bend your knees.
Lift the bar up and get it up to the standing position so that it is at your hip level. And this is your starting position for the movement.
Step 3: Lower The Bar
Now, slowly push your butt back as far as possible and lower the weights at the same time. Always keep the bar as close to your body as you can. Don’t stop lowering the bar until you feel a good stretch in your hamstring. However, it depends on your mobility so just try to reach the maximum range of the hamstring flexibility. I don’t know about you but for me, it’s fine to lower the bar to just below the knee. Any further movement may cause rounding in the lower back.
Step 4: Return To The Starting Position
Once you reach the bottom of the movement, try to drive your hips forward as hard as you can. Squeeze your hamstrings and glutes for maximum gains. Now, you’re standing up tall and you’ve just finished a perfect rep. Repeat for your intended number of repetitions and that’s how to Romanian deadlift.
Here is a video of how to Romanian deadlift:
Want to try something different? Just pick up 2 dumbbells and do the same exercise. However, I prefer using a barbell as dumbbells may be annoying when they push against your thighs at the top of the movement.