The Romanian Dead Lift (RDL) is easily my favorite lower body exercise, mainly because it’s one of the few (if not the only) leg exercises that is not quad dominant, like squats and traditional dead lifts. Of course those exercises are excellent for strengthening and shaping the lower body, but because they predominately engage the quadriceps, like most lower body exercises, you must be sure to include posterior isolating exercises in your training. Otherwise, you risk muscular imbalance and potential injury.
And RDLs do a superb job of really isolating the hamstrings, with the added bonus of tightening the tush!
You will notice an impressive improvement in the back of your legs and butt muscles after just a month or two of consistently incorporating these in your weekly training.
If you wish to track your progress, take rear photos of yourself in a bathing suit or underwear every week or every 2 weeks.
IF YOU ARE NEW TO RDL’s it is important that you progress slowly and carefully with weight and technique. Practice the guidelines below without weight, and standing from the side in a mirror if possible. That way you can see if you are keeping you back flat and your legs stiff.
How To Perform RDL’s Correctly and Safely
1. Push your chest forward by retracting your shoulder blades. Keep it that way throughout the movement.
2. Keep your hands in front of you, and once you add weight continually push the weight into your legs throughout the movement.
3. Begin the movement by bracing your belly, then bending at the hips while continually pressing your butt as far back as possible. Keep most of the weight on the heels of your feet. You can even try keeping your toes lifted off the floor.
4. Continue to lower as far as you can while keeping your legs straight (or just very slightly flexed at the knee) and your back flat. You keep your back flat by continuing to push your chest forward (Step 1).
5. Once you are at the bottom squeeze the back of your legs and butt muscles to stand up. This step is important!! Without efficiently contracting your leg and butt muscles you will end up using your back to stand up, which could cause strain, and actually minimize the benefit to your legs and butt. Basically, you’ll be waisting your time!
This is What You Should Feel
When done correctly, RDL’s can really fire up those hamstring muscles! So it is equally important to follow a good stretching and self-massage routine every day or so, or weekly at the very least! Foam rollers and massage sticks work wonders on the body! When used regularly they release muscular tension and keep your muscles healthy, hydrated, and flexible.
In this video I show you 3 different RDL foot positions, which slightly change the target.