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Romanian Deadlift – Benefits & Muscles worked with Romanian Deadlift

Romanian deadlift muscles worked

The Romanian deadlift is a monster fitness exercise that should be performed at the beginning of your leg hamstrings focused workout routine. Performing it in the second position is also a suitable alternative, however leaving it for later on may is not an option. The main romanian deadlift muscles worked – hamstrings will be tired. If you try it as a finishing exercise for your workout routine, do it with light weights and try to focus on slow, smooth reps. In this article, we will show you the benefits of this exercise, the main muscles that are worked and how to perform the romanian deadlift properly without any injuries.

Romanian Deadlift is a different exercise than the conventional Deadlift and the Straight-leg Deadlift. In this article about the Romanian Deadlift, we will discuss how to do this exercise, what is the form and are its main features and what distinguishes the Romanian Deadlift.

How did Romanian Deadlift Form

Most of you might think where does the name of this exercise come from and how the romanian deadlift was formed. Way back in 90`s the Romanian heavyweight weightlifter “Nicu” Vlad (born 1 November 1963) was performing an exercise that hadn’t been seen before. His personal trainer Dragomir Cioroslan was a retired Romanian middleweight weightlifter and also participated in bodybuilding competitions. When asked what is the name of this exercise that looked like as a deadlift in some form, the trainer said he has no name for it. The form of the body of Nicu Vlad during the exercise when the muscles are worked looked like the deadlift and that is why this exercise was named Romanian deadlift.

Romanian Deadlift Quick facts:

  • It is a strength exercise
  • It has compound mechanics and it involves two or more joint movements
  • The main force that is used during this exercise is pull
  • Main Muscle Worked: Hamstrings
  • Equipment: Barbell
  • Level: Intermediate

Romanian Deadlift muscles worked

The main muscles worked with the romanian deadlift are the muscles in the arch of the back, glutes, and hamstrings.

hamstring muscles worked with romanian deadlift

How to perform the Romanian Deadlift – Tips & Tricks

step 1 – Prepare yourself!

Before trying this exercise with weights, make sure that you understand and perform the specific pelvic movement that is unique for the Romanian Deadlift.

Stand against the wall for approximately 20 – 30 cm with your back
Try to touch the wall with your buttocks without carrying weight backward. Make sure you are holding the entire back neutral.
If you feel the strain in the back thighs this is the right feeling when the Romanian Deadlift works your hamstrings muscles. Once the sensation reaches moderate strength, this means you have reached the lowest point and you should start straightening your body.
Repeat this training routine until you are sure that you move freely with a completely neutral back.

romanian deadlift starting position

Preparation Tips & Tricks

  • Take the barbell from the stand or from the ground as in conventional deadlift
  • Keep your feet parallel and with the width of the pelvis.
  • The neck remains in neutral.
  • The back remains in neutral.
  • Shoulders are collected (retraction and depression).
  • Breathe evenly. Inhale when lowering and exhale when lifting the barbell.
  • Keep your hands relaxed and not fold elbows during the exercise.
  • Let your weight be put back to the heels, but without letting it make you fall backward.

step 2 – Execution

  • Hold a barbell at hip level with your palms facing down. Make sure your shoulders are back, your back is arched, and your knees are slightly bent.
  • Lower the barbell by moving your butt back as far as you can. Keep the barbell close to your body, your head looking forward, and your shoulders back. Done correctly, you should reach the maximum range of your hamstring flexibility just below the knee.
    Any further movement will be compensation and should be avoided for this movement.
  • At the bottom of your range of motion, return to the starting position by driving the hips forward to stand up tall.

romanian deadlift execution

Romanian Deadlift vs Deadlift

  • The barbell does not touch the ground.
  • The exercise begins with the eccentric part of the movement.
  • A much stronger push of the pelvis backward (hip hinge).
  • Rely heavily on reactive power and not on the starting power.
  • Loads mainly the extensor pelvic muscles, it is an exercise for the rear muscle chain.
  • Very little bending of the knee joint, which remains almost upright.

Romanian Deadlift vs Straight-leg Deadlift

  • Feet do not remain completely straight and gently fold in the knees.
  • Do not focus on bending but on pushing the pelvis back.
  • The back always stays neutral during the entire movement.
  • Long vertebrate muscles are not synergists, but stabilizers.
  • Barbell stays firmly next to the legs during the whole movement.

How can I benefit from this exercise

  • If you’ve reached a plateau in conventional deadlift you can successfully use Romanian Deadlift, to work your muscles and force them to improve performance.
  • It is successfully used by athletes in weightlifting as an additional exercise.
  • The heavy load on the rear thighs (hamstrings) in a large range of motion gives great opportunities for hypertrophy.
  • This exercise can be successfully used to improve mobility.
  • It is also used in weight loss workout routines and specific training for endurance and strength.
  • It can be used easily outdoors with kettlebell and dumbbells.


  • For this exercise to be safe it should be performed with flawless technique
  • Do not include the romanian deadlift exercise in your workout routine in case of injuries and traumas in the: ankles, knees, hips, spine (distortion, disc hernia, lack of mobility), wrists, elbows, shoulder joints, shoulder girdle, abdominal belt (hernia) tears, strains of muscles, especially in the buttock, rear thighs, calves, lumbar muscles, forearms.

Alternatives to the Barbell Romanian deadlift

The most widely used romanian deadlift is performed with a barbell. There are several different alternatives to the barbell execution. The romanian deadlift can be done wi a kettlebell, dumbbell, and any comfortable grip weights.

The exercise can be performed with a different stance and with a different position on the feet.  Romanian deadlift muscles worked differ and you can easily train all three different hamstring muscles. The hamstring muscles at the back of the thigh consist of the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus.

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