Master Class – Romanian Deadlift
Lesson Learned: Upgrade Hamstrings with Romanian Deadlift
The Romanian deadlift is actually a rather simple hamstring move. Although most other popular ham exercises target the muscle from the knee joint, Romanian deadlifts hit it from the hip joint, essential for complete hamstring development from the muscles’ origins to insertions.
Muscles Emphasized: Hamstrings primarily, with assists from the glutes.
Mechanics: Stand upright, feet hip-width apart, holding a barbell with an overhand grip in front of your upper thighs. Tighten your core for stability, and keep your knees just slightly bent (not locked out).
Maintain the natural arch in your low lack (i.e., flat back) as you lean forward from your hips, pushing them rearward until your torso is roughly parallel to the floor. As you do this, keep your arms straight and slide the bar down your thighs toward the floor until it reaches your shins. From the bottom position, contract your hamstrings and glutes to lift your torso, shifting your hips until you bring the bar back to the start position.
Do: Elevate your chest and “puff out” before you start. Hold it there as you rep – this helps keep your torso in the correct position and protects your lower spine.
Don’t: let the bar track out farther than your mid-foot, which would put the bar too far away from your center of gravity and compromise your lower back.
Next Level: Pairing deadlifts with seated or lying leg curls is a potent weapon in your fight for bigger, stronger hams. Just be sure to do lying curls second, because the machine offers some safety as you tire. Try this for three sets in your next ham workout: Start with 10 to 15 reps of Romanian deadlifts, followed by curls to failure, resting one to two minutes between sets.
Options: If you have good hamstrings flexibility, you can do Romanian deadlifts off of a platform, which allows you to go a little deeper in the bottom position. Just don’t allow your back to round in an effort to extend your range of motion.
Training Tenets: The Romanian deadlift is a solid pick as your leadoff exercise in a hamstring-focused workout, or in second position as well. Doing it later in the intense routine may leave you too tired to execute the form properly, so if you try it as a finisher, go lighter and really focus on slow, smooth reps.