In Depth: The Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian Deadlift, also known as the stiff legged deadlift, is one where we are using the hamstrings as the primary mover. The quads are taken out of the equation by only allowing a slight knee bend or none at all, thus you’ll use less weight than a traditional deadlift. Shoot your hips back, as you do in any hip hinge movement, but this time keep your legs straight as possible or have a slight knee bend. Concentrate on hinging from the hips as much as you can until you reach the bar. However, your back must remain neutral, no rounded backs here. The back should be parallel to the ground if you can successfully grab the bar without bending your knees. If you can reach the bar with straight legs and a neutral back, great. If not, your hamstring mobility is the limiting factor and you should not pull from the ground because you’ll have no choice but to pull with a compromised spine. What you’ll do instead, is pull a normal deadlift off the ground to the top position. When you go down for the next rep you’ll assume the stiff legged position. Only go down as far as you can without rounding your back. As soon as you reach that point, mostly likely above the floor and just below your knees, you’ll come back up. Don’t sacrifice your spine just to touch the floor. You can also elevate the bar on blocks if you want a target to hit for each rep. If you can reach the bar with straight legs and a neutral back, great. If not, your hamstring mobility is the limiting factor and you should not pull from the ground because you’ll have no choice but to pull with a compromised spine. What you’ll do instead, is pull a normal deadlift off the ground to the top position. When you go down for the next rep you’ll assume the stiff legged position. Only go down as far as you can without rounding your back. As soon as you reach that point, mostly likely above the floor and just below your knees, you’ll come back up. Don’t sacrifice your spine just to touch the floor. You can also elevate the bar on blocks if you want a target to hit for each rep. You’ll want to revert back to a traditional deadlift so pay attention. It’s understandable because the traditional deadlift feels strong and more natural, but fight the urge. This lift really focuses on the hamstrings and it will feel hard. The most important part is shooting your butt back as far as you can at the bottom while keeping a neutral spine and straight legs. As you pull keep the barbell over your feet and pull your hips back to center. At the top of the lift make sure you complete the rep by locking your whole body out at the top. Think vertical plank, not one of those awkward ass out hugs.