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Romanian Deadlift: Tips, How-To, Common Mistakes + FAQ

The Romanian deadlift is one of the many variants of the conventional deadlift. However, unlike the conventional deadlift, the Romanian deadlift primarily targets the hamstrings rather than the back.

Would you like to develop your hamstrings?

Then the Romanian deadlift is an excellent addition to your training schedule. Below we explain step-by-step and on the basis of some tips how to perform the exercise correctly. In addition, we also point out a number of common mistakes so that you can avoid them.

Which muscles do you use during the Romanian deadlift?

As mentioned before, the Romanian deadlift mainly targets the hamstring. However, there are also a number of muscles that provide support during the exercise. Just like with the conventional deadlift, you use the muscles in your back and especially the lower back to keep your upper body straight.

You also use your glutes or glutes to move your hips. Depending on the amount of weight you use, the Romanian deadlift may also require some work from your forearms to hold the bar.

There is quite a bit of debate about whether the Romanian deadlift is a compound or isolation exercise. Officially, a compound exercise is an exercise that uses multiple joints, and therefore multiple muscle groups. Although multiple muscle groups are used when performing the Romanian deadlift, only one joint is actually used, the hip joint. Because your knee joint is not used, we, therefore, classify this exercise as an isolation exercise.

Romanian Deadlift

Romanian deadlift: the execution

Below is a step-by-step explanation of the Romanian deadlift. The Romanian deadlift is considered a difficult exercise by many people, so try to follow these instructions as closely as possible. They give you something to hold on to maintain a correct form and ensure that you stimulate your hamstrings optimally.

  1. Get the weight ready

    Preferably place a barbell with the desired weight in a rack. Don't have a rack? Then place the barbell on the floor.

  2. Stand in the starting position

    Stand directly in front of the barbell with your feet about shoulder-width apart and pointing very slightly out. Grab the barbell and lift it up until you stand up straight. This is the starting position.

  3. Drop the weight

    Now slowly lower the bar to just below your knees while keeping it directly over the center of your feet. Keep your legs almost completely straight with just a slight bend in the knees and push your butt back slightly to engage your hamstrings. Make sure to keep your knees in the same position and your back straight.

  4. Lift the weight

    Move the barbell back up in a controlled manner and push your hips forward until you are in the starting position.

  5. Repeat

    Repeat the above steps for the desired number of reps.

Most common mistakes

Because the Romanian deadlift is a fairly complex exercise, the movement can feel unnatural or uncomfortable for most people. Below we describe the most common mistakes when performing the Romanian deadlift with tips to avoid them.

  1. Lowering the bar too far
    A lot of people tend to lower the bar too far. This is usually because they are used to doing the traditional deadlift, which requires the bar to touch the ground. Lowering the bar too far is very taxing on your lower back and should always be avoided. So make sure that you only lower the bar to just below the knee or halfway up your shin. This depends on how mobile and agile you are. Can you comfortably lower the bar to the floor? Then there is a good chance that your form is not correct. This brings us straight to the next common mistake.
  2. Bending the Knees Too Much
    Another mistake many people make is bending the knees too far. This shifts the load of the weight from the hamstrings to your quadriceps and lowers back. This makes the execution more similar to that of the traditional deadlift so that you can often lower the weight. So make sure that you bend your knees only very slightly. You should feel the hamstrings pull as you lower the weight. If necessary, use a mirror to check if your posture is correct.
  3. Leaning too far forward
    The last common mistake is leaning too far forward. Because pushing the hips back feels strange to some people, they lean forward with their torso to lower the weight. This will make your movement more like a stiff leg deadlift. Therefore, make sure that you keep the bar above the middle of your feet during the entire movement and that you push your hips back.

Frequently Asked Questions

To conclude, we answer a few frequently asked questions about the Romanian deadlift below. If you still have a question after reading our explanation and the questions below, please feel free to contact us. We are happy to answer your questions and who knows, maybe your question will appear in the overview!

Romanian deadlift vs stiff leg deadlift?

Both the Romanian deadlift and the stiff leg deadlift are popular hamstring exercises. The question is often asked which of the two is better. Ultimately, the answer comes down to personal preference. Personally, we prefer the Romanian deadlift because it uses more of your hips, making it easier for some people to focus on the hamstrings.

Is Romanian leg deadlift bad for your back?

No, the Romanian deadlift is not bad for your back. Your back is even stimulated to a certain extent while performing the Romanian deadlift, which benefits the development of your back. Try to avoid the common mistakes described above to prevent possible injuries.

Can you do the Romanian deadlift with dumbbells?

Yes, the Romanian deadlift can also be performed with dumbbells. You should start the exercise at the top. When using a barbell, therefore, a rack is often used to support the weight. For example, to start the exercise comfortably with dumbbells, you can place them on a bench so that you don't have to lift them off the floor.

Want to see more hamstring exercises? Check them all out here: hamstring exercises.

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