What Is a Romanian Deadlift? Tips, Technique, Correct Form, Benefits and Common Mistakes

Romanian deadlift is a powerful exercise that strengthens both the core and the lower body (Image via Pexels/Alora Griffiths)
Romanian deadlift is a powerful exercise that strengthens both the core and the lower body (Image via Pexels/Alora Griffiths)

Whether you're a sprinter or a powerlifter, including a Romanian deadlift in your daily training routine will benefit you. The strength exercise, also known as RDLs or stiff-leg deadlifts, aids in the development of muscle in the posterior chain, which includes hamstrings and glutes.

When performed correctly, the Romanian deadlift is a powerful exercise that strengthens both the core and the lower body in a single motion.

Unlike typical barbell deadlifts and other quad-dominant workouts like leg presses, which focusses most of the physical work on the muscles that extend the hip and knee from the back, RDL puts most of the physical work on the muscles that extend the hip and knee from the back.

How to do the Romanian Deadlift correctly?

The Romanian deadlift is most commonly performed with a barbell. However, it can also be done with dumbbells, a resistance band or even a PVC pipe, if used as part of a complex warmup before typical deadlifts.


Here is a step-by-step guide on how to do a Romanian deadlift correctly, using a barbell:

  • With a barbell in front of you, position with your feet hip-distance apart and with a small bend in your knees.
  • As your torso reaches for the floor, hinge forward at the hips, maintaining your spine tall and straight.
  • To anchor your spine and brace your core, grasp the barbell with both hands at shoulder-distance away, plugging your shoulders back and down.
  • Look down and slightly forward to avoid hyperextension by aligning your neck with the rest of your back.
  • To stand up straight, tighten your glutes, hamstrings and core, and push your feet into the ground, elevating the weight to your upper thighs. At the apex, clench your glutes, and lock out your hips.
  • Lower the weight to anywhere between your knees and toes (based on your flexibility), keeping your body parallel to the ground and your core engaged.

Benefits of Romanian Deadlift: Why should you do it?

There are numerous benefits associated with doing the Romanian deadlift correctly. Here are some of them:

1) All muscles are targetted at once

There are many benefits to the Romanian deadlift, but the first and most important reason why lifters should do this exercise is because it targets many muscle groups at once.

RDLs work the hamstrings, glutes, core, upper back, shoulders and forearms, among other muscles in the lower and upper body. As your body is compelled to maintain alignment between your hips and shoulders throughout the activity, that aids in the development of a strong link between your upper and lower body.

2) Improves stability

RDL is mostly recognised for being a glute-building leg exercise, but as you can see, it can also help you improve stability and strength in other areas.

The Romanian deadlift also has the advantage of focusing solely on hamstrings, as opposed to other lower body complex exercises that activate the quadriceps more (such as lunges and squats).

The Romanian deadlift can help correct any imbalances you may have formed if you practise a lot of lunges and other quad-focused exercises.

3) Improves posture

Another advantage you may not be aware of is that RDLs can help you improve your posture. This technique naturally helps to bring your shoulders down by strengthening your entire posterior chain, which includes your back and shoulders.

It also helps to build strength in your lats (upper back), which helps anchor your shoulders back and down.

4) Core-centric exercise

It's also a good exercise to force lifters to 'brace' or 'activate' their core muscles. Many people have difficulty engaging this muscle group, but it's key for heavy lifting, as it keeps your lower back from rounding.

Tips to remember while doing Romanian deadlift

The Romanian deadlift is a simple exercise, but maintaining good form and technique is important for maximising performance and minimising injury risk. To assist you in mastering your RDLs even more, here are some pointers on how to improve your stance and exercise performance:

1) Keep your back flat

If you want to avoid curving your back, be careful how much you hinge. The goal is to keep the angle below 90 degrees with a flat back and torso parallel to the floor.

However, don't stop too soon; you want to engage your muscles throughout their entire range of motion.

2) Hold the weights far

Hold the weights out in front of you as far as possible. When shifting your hips back, keep the bar or dumbbells close to your legs.

As you want the load to be as close to your body as feasible, it is recommended to almost pull the bar up and down your leg. Otherwise, you'll end up loading your back instead of your legs.

3) Do not look up

People may gaze up and put stress on the cervical spine as they try to engage the lats and maintain their backs taut. Keep your gaze focused out in front and slightly downward to avoid that, which will assist you in keeping your head and neck in line with the rest of your spine.

Key Takeaway

Doing a Romanian deadlift is difficult, but the work is well worth it, as it improves the entire body strength. When learning deadlifts, take your time to perfect your form and technique, and begin with a lesser load.

If you're new to fitness or have any medical concerns, consult your doctor before beginning a weightlifting routine. Have at least a couple of sessions with a personal trainer, if possible.

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Edited by Bhargav
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