Deadlifts are an immensely effective lower body exercise that strengthen the glutes, hamstrings and core muscles, and they train the body to pick up and move heavy objects safely. There are several different variations of deadlifts to incorporate into your training, and each variation serves a unique purpose in building strength and power. Romanian deadlifts target the hamstring muscles, and assists in training the body to more effectively hinge from the hips, thus promoting better form when lifting heavy objects. Here’s how to safely and effectively perform the barbell Romanian deadlift.
*Always have a fitness professional check your form if you are unfamiliar with this movement. This will allow you to learn the movement correctly and reduce your risk of injury.
1. The Set Up
Begin by setting up a barbell with a moderate weight for you. If you know your one rep max weight for a conventional barbell deadlift, begin with about 40% of that one rep max weight. If you don’t, begin with a weight that for a conventional deadlift would feel about a 4 out of 10 difficulty level for a set of eight repetitions.
A Romanian deadlift does not have the barbell touch the ground during the duration of the set, so you can begin with the barbell on the ground or on top of shorter (4-6 inch) boxes.
Place the feet directly under your hips, grab the barbell with each hand directly outside of the legs, arch your back and hinge back into your hips to set up the movement. Begin by driving your hips forward and come to a full standing position. At the top of the deadlift, your abs, lats, glutes, and quads should all be engaged.
2. The Hinge
A Romanian deadlift differs from other deadlift variations in that your main focus is only hinging at the hips. In other deadlift variations, you would hinge your hips back, but your knees would ultimately bend slightly in order for you to bring the weight down to the ground without rounding in your back or allowing your shoulders to drop lower than your hips.
However, a Romanian deadlift places the focus on hinging at the hips and completely loading the hamstring muscles without bending at the knees.
To perform the first repetition, keep your abs tight and your lat muscles locked so that the inside of your biceps stay right next to the top of your rib cage. Inhale and send your hips back, maintaining a neutral spine and not allowing your knees to bend. You should feel as though your hamstrings are receiving most of the load of the weight.
Keep your abs and lat muscles engaged during the entire duration of the movement; this will help ensure that your back stays protected and the load continues to drive into your hamstrings.
Once you feel that you cannot hinge your hips back any further without bending at the knees, exhale and drive your hips forward to return to a standing position.
The Romanian deadlift is a great deadlift variation to incorporate into your normal training routine. Start by working a couple sets (2-4, depending on your level of skill with the movement) for 8-10 repetitions.
Lauren Weiss is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor based out of Long Beach, CA. She specializes in kettlebell training and unconventional workouts and has been working with both types of fitness for over a year. Lauren has her BOLT Kettlebell Sport Certification through the USA Kettlebell League and has expertise working with kettlebells, barbells, dumbbells and several unconventional fitness tools. Lauren received her BA in Journalism and uses her writing expertise to craft thought-provoking articles about trending fitness, health & wellness topics. Follow Lauren on her website, Facebook, and Instagram.
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