The Romanian Deadlift aka RDL

In this video, Starting Strength Coaches, Matt Reynolds and Niki Sims show you how to do Romanian Deadlifts with proper form!

The RDL is one of the most versatile deadlift supplemental exercises. It’s a great exercise to build hypertrophy in the hamstrings, glutes and hip extensors without adding a tremendous amount of stress. It’s also a form corrector – it helps teach a lifter how to set their back in normal anatomical extension. (If you struggle with this, you should probably hire a coach!)

Lastly, the RDL helps with both injury prevention and injury rehab for the low back.

Romanian Deadlift vs Conventional Deadlift

A conventional deadlift starts from a dead stop – that’s how it gets it’s name – from the floor. A Romanian deadlift starts at the lockout of a regular deadlift – the lifter lowers the bar and returns the bar to the lockout (typically without touching the floor).

How to Do RDLs

Set the bar just below knee height in the rack. Take a grip that is the same as your conventional deadlift (we recommend using straps) and unrack the bar with your back set. Step back and take the same stance as your conventional deadlift.

Keeping the low back flat, push your hips back and slide the bar down your legs. Unlock your knees but do not bend them excessively. Once the bar reaches mid-shin, slide it back up to the lockout (or in this case, the start position).

The minimum range of motion for a Romanian deadlift is that the bar must go below the knee (with exception of our 80+ year old lifters).

Programming the RDL

Once the conventional deadlift is contributing to a fair amount of training stress in your program, usually past the intermediate or entering advanced stages of programming, the RDL is a great supplemental deadlift exercise. For example, program them after your heavy squat or main squat movement on a four day split training program.

For other deadlift supplemental exercises, check out our videos on how to rack pull and how to deficit deadlift.

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