Romanian Deadlift

  • Alternative Names: Barbell Romanian deadlift
  • Type: Strength
  • Experience Level: Beginner, intermediate
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Muscles Targeted: Hamstrings, abs, glutes, lats, forearms, lower and upper backs
  • Mechanics: Compound
  • Average Number of Sets: 3-4 with 6-8 reps each
  • Variations: Dumbbell, single leg, kettlebell, Smith machine, split stance, snatch grip, cable Romanian deadlifts
  • Alternative: Lying leg curls

The Romanian deadlift, commonly called the RDL, is one of the most effective exercises used for strengthening your hamstrings. It was named after the flat-backed barbell lifts performed by Nicu Vlad, the Olympic weightlifter from Romania.

By doing it correctly, you can not just target the hamstrings but also work your glutes, lats, forearms, and spine. It is important for every athlete regardless of the training routine he/she is following.


  • Increases your lifting ability: Develops your hamstring, hips, and lower back strength necessary to perform traditional deadlifts and other lifting workouts with heavier weights.
  • Reduces risks of injury: Engages your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings by using lighter weights thereby minimizing the chances of back injury.
  • Can be done anywhere: While you need a barbell to do it in the gym, you may replace the free weights with a heavy backpack if you want to do it at home.

Romanian Deadlift vs Regular Deadlift

When you catch a glimpse of Romanian deadlift, you might say that it is a variation of the traditional deadlift. However, there are several differences between the two exercises.

The Form

While the Romanian deadlift requires you to hold the bar using a pronated grip with your palms facing down, you perform the regular deadlift by using an alternating grip. To perform Romanian deadlifts, you need to lower the bar until it reaches just below your knee level. To do traditional deadlifts, on the other hand, you lower the bar until it just touches the floor.

Muscles Worked

Romanian deadlifts target your hamstring along with engaging your hips, core, lower and upper back, and forearms muscles. In addition to all the muscles worked by the Roman deadlifts, traditional deadlifts engage your thigh muscles thereby helping you to improve your leg strength.

How to do a Romanian Deadlift

Romanian DeadliftStart the movement by using any weight ranging between 150 and 250 lbs. You do not have to use heavy weights for the exercise to be effective. Slowly lower the barbell until you feel your hamstrings slightly stretched. Make sure that you do not round your lower back while lowering the weight.

Barbell Romanian Deadlift Tips

  • Do not bend all the way to prevent the weight from touching the floor, as it will help work your hamstrings and not your back muscles.
  • If you include Romanian deadlifts in your leg workout routine, do all of the hamstring- and glute-strengthening exercises on one day and the quad-strengthening exercises on the other. Doing so would put less stress on your stabilizer muscles, including your glutes and hip flexors.


  1. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: Done with a pair of dumbbells held using an overhand grip.
  2. Single Leg Romanian Deadlift: Performed by standing on one leg with a kettlebell held to your side and the free leg extended behind.
  3. Kettlebell Romanian Deadlift: Performed by grabbing a kettlebell with both hands and then pushing your glutes back.
  4. Romanian Deadlift with Smith Machine: A Romanian deadlift variety that allows you to push your glutes back further, as the machine helps you to hold your position.
  5. Split Stance Romanian Deadlift: Allows you to train your hamstrings and glutes while improving your stride length.
  6. Snatch Grip Romanian Deadlift: Performed like the traditional Romanian deadlift except that your hands should be snatch-grip width apart.
  7. Cable Romanian Deadlift: Good for trainees who lack coordination and balance and are not comfortable with using dumbbells or barbells.

Alternative Exercise

Lying Leg Curls

Stay Connected

Get access to the latest health and fitness insights, tools and special offers to keep your career moving.