Romanian Deadlifts – Gotta Do Them!

The Romanian Deadlift

This post is dedicated to Daniel Law! Thanks for your contribution Daniel.

Romanian Deadlifts - this exercise is where you start with the bar in the high hang position - basically with your arms straight. You proceed to bend over from your hips. This is a great exercise in strengthening your hamstrings and back muscles as well as learning how to move from your hips and not your back. This exercise is also good if you have bad knees or weak quads as you don't use them so much.

This guy is asking for a disc problem!

Warning - Doing This Exercise Incorrectly Can Cause Injury!

I have seen too many people over the years do this exercise incorrectly. Most people lack the flexibility needed in the hips and so they bend over from the lower back...this can cause a disc injury!! The tell tale sign is like the guy in black on the right - He is rounded in his lower back.

Who Should Do This Exercise?

This is one of my favourite exercises too! I teach it to nearly all my back pain patients. Learning how to bend from your hips is essential to protecting your back. Doing this movement properly allows you to bend over and pick up heavy things more safely. Having stronger back and leg muscles help protect your back and increase your strength. Also, you can increase your flexibility in your hips and hamstrings with regular practice. What is there not to like about this exercise (when done properly)!?

The Technical Stuff...

There are lots of things to consider: Grip, weight, foot position, knee travel path, hip dissociation and movement, a strong straight back with properly balanced abdominal control, a torso that is not too extended but not too flexed, shoulders that are in the right position and where exactly should you put your neck - all of these things can be covered with a good physio or one of my degree qualified exercise scientists.


Here is one that looks ok...


Here is a video where this guy DOES bend in his lower back too much (despite what the guy in the video says)


8 Responses

    1. Thanks Daniel – yeah, I love deadlifts. At the moment, my hands let me down after a while…they need to build up the grip strength. Otherwise, done properly, it is an essential exercise for me and for my patients!

  1. Christian Krase

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  2. Ted

    Antony, you say you teach the RDL to nearly all of your back pain patients. Do you have all of them use a straight bar, or do you at times prefer they use a trap bar, dumbbells or kettlebells? Thank you!

    If you have the time, I would also love to hear your opinion on the Good Morning and whether you think it is a valuable exercise when performed correctly.

    1. Hi Ted.

      Yes, we teach it with nothing in their hands first, then progress with all of the equipment you listed.

      With nothing in their hands first, it teaches dissociation of their hips from their pelvis and back and how to maintain neutral spine. Most people have a tendency to hyperextend their back which leads to problems like excessive flexion of the back does.

      Good mornings are a good exercise as well but again, a lot of people hyper extend their back to prevent excessive flexion. This could be a problem with some patients who have issues with posterior compression of the spine.

      Most people use a load that is too heavy for themselves…

      1. Ted

        Thank you for the quick reply, Antony.

        I know what you mean. A female friend of mine had the problem of hyper extending the back. I suggested to her to try this and it helped her a lot:

        1. Hmm. That can work but if they have the right control, it can still be bad.

          I actually use 2 methods.

          1. Tape the lower back with a strip of rigid tape applied when standing normally. It goes over the centre of the spine. The idea is that you maintain the same spinal curve, assuming you start in a good position.

          2. Use a dowel/broomstick to touch your head, mid back and tailbone. Keep your 3 points of contact still as you Deadlift.

          Combined with the tape, you will learn to move from your hips and not your back.

          Try that and let me know what you think

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