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Romanian Deadlift – Everything You Need to Know about the Romanian Deadlift

Romanian Deadlift is an expression that bodybuilders or heavy lifters know for sure. The majority of people know how to do a deadlift, which is basically weightlifting at its finest. But what is a Romanian Deadlift? The Romanian Deadlift, also known as RDL, is a traditional barbell lift used in order to develop specific muscles.

Even if it sounds pretty simple, it comes with its tricks. The Romanian deadlift focuses mainly on working the muscles responsible for the hip extension and the knee from the posterior. This technique is slightly different compared to the majority of exercises and the traditional deadlift.

The Romanian deadlift is a physical exercise used for developing not only hip health, but also muscle growth. It is also beneficial for joint actions, muscular endurance, and strength. It is commonly used to develop both mass and strength in the posterior chain. The Romanian deadlift is a flexible exercise that many weightlifters, powerlifters as well as athletes use to gain strength.

In the bellow article, we will show you what are the benefits of the Romanian deadlift, how to do it and we’ll also show you comparisons with other types of deadlifts.

Romanian Deadlift: Why is it called Romanian Deadlift?

Nicu Vlad - Romanian Weightlifter
Nicolae Vlad – Romanian Weightlifter

First things first. Many of you may question yourselves why is it called Romanian deadlift. Let us take you back in history to the 1980s.

This was a period when Nicolae Vlad was a popular heavyweight weightlifter. Often called Nicu Vlad, he was observed by some Americans at the Olympic training Hall before winning a medal. He was performing a different kind of deadlift.
Unlike the conventional deadlift, the Romanian one didn’t include the actual lifting the weight from the ground. However, it is to a certain degree a powerful movement that strengthens the same muscles.

As you might guess, the name came from the fact that Nicu Vlad is Romanian. Thanks to Vlad, the flat-backed, semi-stiff-legged barbell lift became recognized as the Romanian deadlift.

How to do a Romanian Deadlift?

We know that most of you now are curious to know how to do a Romanian deadlift. Even if it is not an easy-peasy technique, at first sight, you actually get the hang of it. You know what they say – practice makes it perfect! Let’s take a look at the steps you need to follow in order to master the Romanian deadlift. You can also check out this video on how to do a Romanian deadlift.

How to do a Romanian Deadlift


The first thing you need to do is to set up. Put your feet shoulder-width apart and keep your toes forward. Load a barbell and position it in such a way that you can see it over your shoelaces when you look down. The trick is to keep your arms straight, shoulder blades leaning downwards the gear and your torso should be upright. By doing so, you will reduce the neck strains.

The second step is to bend down. Now it is time to grab the bar with a wider shoulder grip. Keep in mind to have your back flat and your shoulders over the barbell. When you stand up, be ready to uphold.

The third step is all about control. Set your back, push your hips backward and brace the core. Your knees should be positioned over your ankles. In order to see if you’re doing this right, you must feel some tension in your muscles.

The next thing you have to do is stand up. But first, you must find a position in which you contract the hamstrings and your back is flat. Position the barbell a few inches below the knee and keep it close while standing up.

The last step is to achieve full extension of the hip. While you reach full extension, flex your glutes and keep your ribcage down. In this way, you will stabilize your lumbar spine. Also, remember that your core and back need to be flexed during this stage.

Benefits of the Romanian Deadlift

Weightlifter doing Romanian Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift Weightlifter

When it comes to sports, the benefits are endless. When we particularly talk about the Romanian deadlift benefits, there is a precise number of benefits that this method will bring to your body. Pay attention, you need to respect all the steps and to take into consideration all the advice offered. Otherwise, you may hurt yourself and the Romanian deadlift will be rather harmful than beneficial.

First of all, the Romanian deadlift increases the muscle mass, called hypertrophy. In more specific terms, it focuses on hamstrings. This will lead to an increase in your muscle size, muscle strength, power, and performance.

Another benefit of the Romanian deadlift is that it increases the pulling strength. While performing this kind of compound exercise, you will work more muscles than during the traditional deadlift.

It also increases back strength. Olympic weightlifters highly benefit from this, since they always need to work their back. Due to more back strength, they can maintain their position for a longer period of time.

Overall, the Romanian deadlift improves athletic performance. While training, the Romanian deadlift targets the posterior chain, which is the main point in developing power application. What is more, there is improvement in the leg strength, thus running performance will be better

Romanian Deadlift vs. Deadlift

Athlete performing the Romanian Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift Position

There are a few aspects that you need to keep in mind when it comes to deadlifts. The conventional deadlift and RDL have some differences between them that you should clearly understand. In this paragraph, we will try to explain to you some of these distinctions.

When performing a conventional deadlift, you start from the floor, as compared to RDL, where you start from a standing position.

The deadlift starts with a concentric motion (upward motion), whilst the Romanian deadlift starts with an eccentric motion (downward motion).

During the conventional deadlift, you push off the floor with your knees. During the Romanian deadlift, you pull from the hips.

While performing a deadlift, you activate your quad muscles. On the other hand, while performing RDL you activate your glute and hamstrings.

Moreover, you keep your shoulder above the barrel during a deadlift. During a Romanian deadlift, you keep your shoulders further.

Romanian Deadlift vs Stiff Leg Deadlift

Athlete doing a Stiff leg Deadlift
Stiff leg Deadlift

Many heavy lifters think that the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) and the Stiff Leg Deadlift (SLDL) are approximately the same. When performed correctly, you will understand the key differences. To make it easier for you, we tried to find out the most important differences between RDL and SLDL.

It is true that both of them target the same muscles – glute, hamstrings, and lower back. However, the key difference lays in how the lower back muscles are stretched. This is determined by each movement technique.

Additionally, what separates the two types of deadlifts is the back rounding. When you do an SLDL, the rounding of the back happens inevitably, as compared to RDL where you need to keep your back stiff.

Romanian Deadlift Muscles Worked

Muscles that you working while doing Romanian Deadlift
Romanian Deadlift – Muscles worked

What muscles does the Romanian deadlift work? This is perhaps the most commonly asked question when it comes to the Romanian deadlift. Apart from working the main muscle categories as the conventional deadlift, the Romanian deadlift emphasizes certain parts.

The Romanian deadlift targets explicitly the hamstrings. This comes as a result of flexing your knee angle during the exercise. Moreover, this type of deadlift work the glutes, which are involved in pretty much all athletic movements. The secret to contract the glutes is to maximize your muscle strength and engagement.

The lower back, known as erector, is also worked out during the Romanian deadlift. However, you should keep an eye on the pain, since it is a very sensitive area. If you experience too much discomfort, you may need to review your exercise. The lower back is not the only portion of your back that is trained.

Your middle and upper back are also developed because you need to maintain a rigid torso during the exercise.

Lastly, the Romanian deadlift improves your forearms’ strength and trapezius, simply by the fact that you need to lift up the barrel.

After reading this article, we hope that you have a better understanding of the Romanian Deadlift. Whenever you want to give it a try, you will find all the steps, tips and tricks that you need to know.

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