Last Update  On January 29, 2012
How To Perform The Romanian Deadlift With Proper Form

by Vladi
The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is one of the best exercises you can do for your posterior chain. The movement strengthens your glutes, hamstrings, lower back and a little bit of the lower leg. The execution of the exercise is not particularly hard but there are some fine points that everybody should know.

Follow the steps below carefully in order to perform the exercise with correct form and get the most out of it.
Step 1: Grip And Starting Position

Note: When it comes to the initial position of the RDL there are two schools of thought - you can start the movement by taking the barbell from a power rack or by simply deadlifting the first rep. For most people the second choice will be more appropriate because they may not have a power or a squat rack and its very awkward to take a heavy bar from the rack make a step back and then put it back after youíve completed your set Too many people might start using their arms when they have to take the bar back. This is especially true when youíve done a maximum effort set.

Just deadlift the first rep and you will be fine.
Approach and grip the bar with a shoulder width double overhand grip. Never use mixed grip for Romanian deadlifts because it places too much strain on the biceps tendon  and causes imbalances. If your grip starts to fail during the last reps use straps or hook grip for your work set. Once you are ready with your grip assume your normal deadlift position and deadlift the bar. The weight will feel light because you will be able to deadlift a lot more.

Use a hook grip or weightlifting straps for the work set if your grips fails.
Step 2: Descend
Once youíre a holding the bar you are ready to start the negative part/descend of the exercise. The first thing you have to do is to slightly bend your knees. By bending your knees you reduce the stress placed on the hamstring insertions behind the knee. Also that way you increase the range of motion of the exercise.  On the other hand if you bend your knees too much the movement will turn into a regular deadlift and you donít want that. Consult the images below for better clearance.
WRONG: The Knees Are Not Bend And The Dumbbells Are Too Far From Her Body
CORRECT: The Knees Are Bend Just Enough And The Bar Is Kept Close To Her Body
Once you have bend your knees itís time for the more technical part of the lift. Start lowering the bar or dumbbells by pushing your hips back. Remember that your knees shouldnít move because that will turn the RDL into a regular deadlift. Keep pushing your hips back as far as you can. During the whole movement you should maintain the natural arch of your spine like the girls in the pictures. Look forward but never up because this may place too much stress on your neck.
At some point your lower back will try to unlock and you will feel a stretch in your glutes and hamstrings. This is when you have go back up. For most people the movement will usually end when the bar has reached the mid-shin area (the middle of your lower leg). If your range of motion ends before you have reached the mid-shin level you are either not bending your knees at all or you donít have the required hamstring flexibility. The RDL is one of the best stretches you can do for your hamstrings because the movement not only lengthens the hamstrings but it also make them stronger through the full range.

If you are not flexible enough just keep doing the movement and your flexibility will improve.
Step 3: Ascend

Once youíve reached the end of your range of motions (ROM) push your hips forward while maintaining strong trunk in natural alignment.

Common Form Problems When Performing The RDL
The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is a simple exercise and many times people will be able to get the form down during their first session. However there are a few common mistakes done when the movement is still new to the lifter.

Mistake Number 1: Performing the exercise with straight legs

If you donít bend your knees during a RDL you will shift all the tension to the hamstrings tendons at the back of your knees and you are risking possible tears.

Donít do it.

Mistake Number 2: Using Too Much Weight and Rounding Your Lower Back

Remember the RDL is not a deadlift. Itís an exercise thatís supposed to bring quality to your rear leg and to counter balance all the exercise such as back squats, front squats, leg press and hack squats that you are doing for your quadriceps and glutes. There is no point in testing your 1 repetition maximum (1RM) when performing Romanian deadlifts. It defeats the purpose of the exercise and may cause your lower back to round. By rounding your back you diminish the stress on your hamstrings and risk lower back injury due to the shear force on the spine.

Donít do it.
Mistake Number 3: Using Mixed Grip

Using mixed grip on the RDL increases the stress on the biceps tendon of the arm placed in supination (palm pointing away from you; the left arm of the boy in the above picture). Also by using mixed grip you are risking shoulder, upper back, forearm and back imbalances. Use straps or double overhand hook grip for your work set in case the grip is an issue.

Donít do it.
Mistake Number 4: Twisting Your Neck

When performing the RDL keep your neck in a natural alignment. Donít twist it in order to look at your ass in the side mirror. You are risking spine injury and the only one that will benefit from that is your chiropractor. You will have plenty of time to look at your sexy rear (glutes and hamstrings) after youíve finished your set.

Donít do it !
Twist your neck or round your lower back during RDLs and you will meet this guy!!!
Mistake Number 5:  Performing the RDL with Short Range of Motion (ROM)

In order to get the most benefit form the exercise you should go as deep as your flexibility allows you. However you should never cut any repetition short in order to lift more weight. Always perform RDL with your maximum ROM. If you lack  flexibility just keep doing the exercise - the RDL is a great stretch for the hamstrings and will help you increase your active flexibility because the movement will strengthen the hamstrings over the entire ROM.

Donít do it.

Mistake number 6: Keeping the Bar Too Far from You.

You should try to keep the bar or dumbbells as close to your body as you can in order to prevent excessive stress on the back.

Donít do it.

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