The Romanian deadlift (RDL) works the muscles in the arch of the back, glutes, and hamstrings. Its emphasis on the hams is slightly muted though because the knees remain bent throughout the movement.
It's a great strength and muscle builder on its own, but also a great ancillary movement to complement the deadlift, snatch, and clean pull. There are many ways to do it, but regardless of which variation you use, the hip hinge is crucial to the movement.
The Standard RDL
- Pick up a barbell with a pronated (palms down), shoulder-width grip and stand fully erect. The bar should be resting against the thighs.
- Inhale as you lower the bar by allowing the hips to sit back and the torso to drop down. The knees will bend slightly but the shins should remain vertical.
- Maintain a slight arch in the low back. Keep the chest up and shoulders back.
- When the bar reaches just below the knees, exhale as you reverse the motion using a hip hinge.
- Bring the torso to a full erect position and repeat. Remember to keep the back arched and the knees slightly bent at all times.
Option: To increase the range of motion, use dumbbells. The dumbbell variation works best with higher reps (12-13).