Romanian Deadlift (RDL): The Most Complete Guide | IFAST

Deadlift classification

Romanian Deadlift



1.Three common deadlifts

Common deadlifts can be divided into three categories: hip extension deadlift, squatting deadlift, and competitive deadlift

The hip extension style mainly trains hip extension strength, hamstrings and gluteus maximus.

The most typical actions are straight leg deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts.

Squatting deadlifts are rare in normal times and only practiced by weightlifters

There are two competitive styles, traditional style and sumo style. The traditional style is based on hip extension and supplemented by knee extension. The sumo deadlift is more functional than the traditional deadlift.

2.Comparison of four common deadlifts

There are many kinds of deadlifts. Today, I only introduce the comparison of the four most common deadlifts.

The distance between the two feet

Sumo deadlift> straight leg deadlift = bent leg deadlift = Romanian deadlift


Bend the knee

Bent-leg deadlift=Sumo deadlift>Romanian deadlift>Straight-leg deadlift


Irritation to buttocks

Straight-leg deadlift>Romanian deadlift>Bent-leg deadlift=Sumo deadlift


Requirements for the flexibility of the rear side chain

Straight-leg deadlift>Romanian deadlift>Bent-leg deadlift>Sumo deadlift


3.How to choose


The target muscle groups of these four types of deadlifts are different and should be selected according to different training goals.

For girls, combined with a lot of practice, a Romanian deadlift is recommended

Romanian deadlift not only can better stimulate the hips and lower back, and shape the backline, at the same time, the requirements for flexibility are not the highest, to avoid compensation or inability to complete the action due to insufficient flexibility.


4.Difficulty of learning


Deadlift teaching should start from the most basic traditional deadlift, because the traditional deadlift is one of the movements that use the most muscles in the body, and it also improves the strength level very obviously and is very efficient.

However, in the actual teaching process, the traditional deadlift is more difficult to learn. If there is no one-on-one teaching correction on site, it is easy to make mistakes repeatedly, and the insufficient flexibility of the joints will also bring relatively large limitations to the traditional deadlift.

The Romanian deadlift is very friendly to novices, with few restrictions and a quick start.

Romania has very good stimulation on the back of the thighs, hips, low back stabilizing muscles, and grip strength. It can increase the muscles of boys and make up for the strength of the back chain muscles that are easily overlooked. It is a great exercise for girls to practice peach hip.


How to Romanian Deadlift

RDL preparation


1.Exercise load

Compared with the traditional deadlift, the Romanian deadlift does not involve the quadriceps, so the training weight should not be too large. It is generally recommended to use 65%~75% of the traditional deadlift weight.

For example, the load for traditional deadlifting 8~12RM is 100kg, while Romanian deadlifting is 65~75kg.


deadlift ifast


2.Equipment preparation


power cage ifast

           IFAST power rack 1000lb capacith multi-function power cage


The starting position of the Romanian deadlift is at the top, so you can't pull the barbell from the ground first, so it becomes the starting position of the bent leg deadlift...

You can adjust the height of the outer hook on this squat training frame, adjust the initial height of the bottom end of the barbell, try to use an empty bar or a small weight to do standard Romanian deadlifts, and keep trying until you find the right height.


The process of Romanian deadlift


1.Start bit

Stand with your feet hip-width apart, with your toes pointing forward, and place the barbell above the forefoot arch of your calf

Bend over and hold the barbell, hips back, core tightened, lower back straight, head and torso on the same plane

Bend your knees no more than 45 degrees


2.Action process

Slowly straighten your knees and hip joints at the same rate

Keep the barbell straight up and down

Always keep the spine in a neutral position to avoid excessive bending, extension and forward movement

Always keep your chest straight and tighten your shoulder blades

Knee joints always face the toes to avoid varus or valgus

Always keep the soles of your feet on the ground

When standing up, fully contract the gluteus maximus until the hip joint is fully extended

When falling, the barbell should be lower than the knee joint but not on the ground


3.Matters needing attention



Generally speaking, there are three types of hand grips: double forward grip (back of the hand forward), double reverse grip and forward and reverse grip

We don’t recommend double-reverse grip and forward-reverse grip. The former is likely to increase the participation of the biceps and affect the trajectory of the barbell; External rotation, long-term persistence, may cause an imbalance in the strength and shape of the muscles on both sides

Therefore, we recommend a double forward grip. If you can’t hold it when using heavyweights, then it is recommended to use a booster strap.


RDL Handgrip


Focus on the overall action

Deadlift is a whole-body training exercise with strong functionality. Too much emphasis on the local standard of this movement can easily lead to compensation and movement deformation

For example, when instructing members, some people will repeatedly emphasize that the barbell must be lowered below the knee, but if the member’s core strength and joint flexibility are not enough to support such standards, modern compensation will occur, such as arched back, excessive knee bending, etc.

Therefore, it is recommended to pay attention to the whole and find the place where the student's movement is restricted in the movement, instead of dogmatically emphasizing local standards


The characteristics of Romanian deadlift


1.Starting point

The starting point of the traditional deadlift is on the ground (bottom end), and the barbell needs to be pulled up from the bottom end and then lowered

The Romanian deadlift starts at the top, drop the barbell to the bottom, and then pull it up


2.Range of action

The complete action of the traditional deadlift is to lift the barbell from the ground and then put it back on the ground.

The barbell does not touch the ground during the whole process of the Romanian deadlift, and the barbell stops when it drops below the knee.


3.Knee participation

During the Romanian deadlift, the hip joint is mainly involved in the action, and the knee joint is unchanged.


4.Small quadriceps stimulation

The hip muscles are responsible for the stability and extension of the hip joint

The hamstrings are responsible for the extension of the knee joint and the flexion of the hip joint. It is also responsible for maintaining the stability of the knee joint.

The first stage of the traditional deadlift is mainly to stretch the knee (front of the leg) to pull the barbell from the ground, while the Romanian deadlift eliminates the part that stretches from the ground to the knee, allowing your hips and the back of your legs. Become the protagonist completely

The Romanian deadlift trains the buttocks and the back of the thighs without irritating the front of the thighs. Therefore, the Romanian deadlift is the trump card for buttocks and the preferred action for "butt but not thick legs".


5.Muscle tone

The Romanian deadlift needs to maintain muscle tension throughout the movement, unlike traditional deadlifts that can rest when the barbell reaches the ground.


The value of the Romanian deadlift

1.Super Isometric Contraction

Super-isometric contraction refers to a form of muscle compound contraction in which the muscles are stretched eccentrically and then contracted immediately.

The advantage of super isometric contraction is that it can use the "potential energy" generated by the elastic deformation of muscles to explode stronger tension and speed.


women deadlift


2.Romanian deadlift

The starting point of the Romanian deadlift is at the top, the barbell is lowered first, and the hip muscles and hamstrings will perform eccentric contraction first.

When the barbell is pulled up from the bottom, the hip muscles and hamstrings will continue to do centripetal contraction. At this time, the hips and hamstrings can use the "potential energy" generated by the elastic deformation of the muscles to explode stronger tension and speed.


3.Conducive to the traditional deadlift

The key factor for the failure of heavy deadlift: insufficient strength on the back of the hips and thighs!

The Romanian deadlift not only has a super shaping effect but also because of this action it also exercises the strength of the back of the thigh.

So if you want to do a good standard deadlift, Romanian deadlift training is also a good auxiliary training exercise


The Romanian deadlift action points

1.General points

Keep your back in a straight and locked state throughout the entire movement, never arching or arching the waist

Do not move your knees forward during the entire movement, and avoid the quadriceps muscles from exerting force

During the movement, the barbell is close to the calf, and the barbell trajectory keeps straight up and down

Place the center of gravity on the heel, rising and falling slowly


2.Key Points-Back

The Romanian deadlift training requires that the head be raised and the chest should be raised during the auction, the back should be straight, tight, and locked, and the erector spine of the lower back should be in a static state of isometric contraction.

Keep your back locked! Don't arch the waist or arch the waist

Only the lower back muscles that are straight and locked can ensure that the latissimus dorsi is not too involved in the action during the action, and it is less likely to be injured, and it can also make the target muscles more powerful


3.Key Points-Knees

In the standard Romanian deadlift, the quadriceps should not be involved in the process of extending the knee joint. This requires that the knee must not move forward during the extension of the knee!


4.Joint movement


Joint movement

Best Romanian Deadlift Alternatives


1.Resistance band Romanian deadlift


Resistance band Romanian deadlift



2.One-leg Romanian deadlift


One-leg Romanian deadlift



3.The resistance hangs Romanian deadlift


Hang the load with elastic bands on both ends of the barbell, and then perform deadlift training, which will generate a lot of oscillations and disturbances on the barbell, creating a very unstable environment

The oscillation characteristics produced by the elastic band provide a unique stability stimulus and core needs, help "stimulate" the central nervous system, improve the recruitment ability of motor units, improve intramuscular coordination and intermuscular coordination, and awaken the proprioceptive mechanism

Unstable and unpredictable fluctuations on the barbell force the operator to tighten every muscle in the body to maintain the stability of the movement. Not only does it have an incredible effect on muscle activation, but it also forces the operator to exercise almost unknowingly. The most advantageous joint position is acting.

You can also visit our IFAST blog for more workout and fitness tips.

Read More:

How to do a deadlift

Deadlift vs squat

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