Tip: Get a Grip for a Better Hamstrings

Trying to build stronger hamstrings and keep your back healthy? Here's what to do.


The landmine Romanian deadlift (RDL) offers a lot. Done right, it can work your hamstrings harder than most other deadlifts and it's kinder to your lower back. Here's how to get the most from them, and how to solve all your landmine grip issues.

The Benefits

There are a bunch of ways to do landmine deadlifts. The one thing they all have in common is where the weight is located: closer to your center of mass compared to conventional deadlifts.

Having the load closer to your center of mass places you in a more efficient position, while all your efforts can go toward building the strength of your entire posterior chain.

Landmine RDLs can be used to bias either your hamstrings or glutes. Here's how they should look if you're wanting to build your hamstrings:

Key Tips

  • Elevate yourself (or the landmine) if you need to. This will depend on the depth you're able to reach. You can also use smaller plates to bring it closer to the floor. Alternatively, if you want to limit the range of motion (cranky back?) you can elevate the landmine itself.
  • Have the grip close inside your shins, depending on how you choose to grip the bar (more on this below).
  • Push your hips back, grab the handles, and get set.
  • Keep a slight bend in your knees, but focus mainly on pushing your hips back and creating as much tension in your hamstrings as possible. Typically, an RDL doesn't start off the floor, but think of this as starting in the finish position.
  • Engage your lats and tighten your abs.
  • Initiate by pinching your glutes and making a conscious effort to pull with your hamstrings as you extend your hips.
  • Stand up fully, keeping the landmine as close to you as possible throughout.
  • For a glute-focused lift, add a butt squeeze at the top coupled with more of a posteriorly tilted pelvis. For more of a hamstring bias, focus on the lowering of the bar and the bottom portion of the exercise.
  • Lower in 2-4 seconds. Focus on "showing your butt off" to the person behind you.
  • Adding a pause at the bottom to further emphasize the stretch of your hamstrings wouldn't be a bad idea either.

The Only Problem

Once you've done a few sets to ramp up in weight, you'll typically come across a problem: your grip strength (or tiny hands). There's an easy fix.

Instead of just gripping the end of the bar with your hands, you've got a few options. You could use a V-handle attachment. I've seen people do this and it seems to work okay.... not ideal though.

Another method is to use cable handles or Angles90 Grips. Both options can work brilliantly. But admittedly, when you're hitting bigger weights, they can get uncomfortable.

Luckily, there's a third option. Having a plate on the end of the bar is the strongest and simplest way to grip a heavy landmine when deadlifting. It also feels more natural. All you need to do is grab a few collars – any bar collars work – and fix your plate in position on the very end of the bar. (See lead photo.)

If you have plates with holes in them, you can now deadlift as heavy as you'd like without your grip letting you down.


Alternating between landmine RDLs, trap bar RDLs and regular RDLs would be a great way to rotate your programming for a healthier back and stronger hamstrings. Broadly, sets of 8-15 work well with landmine RDLs.

Gareth Sapstead is a leading strength and physique coach from the UK. He specializes in problem solving and breakthrough training techniques.

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