The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is a highly popular exercise in the gym that targets your glutes, hamstrings and lower back. It’s one of the most effective ways to load your hamstrings and built strong glutes, but as with any exercise, poor form will limit your progress. Here’s some common mistakes to watch out for and how you can maximize your results from this great leg-day exercise.
Letting your back ’round’
The biggest problem with back rounding on exercises is that you’ll find it much harder to tolerate heavier weights without feeling some sort of discomfort or pain. By maintaining a ‘neutral’ spine (keeping it straight throughout the movement), you can reduce the chance of injuries as well as strengthen your lower back. One of the best ways to do this (outside of using a mirror) is by bracing your core (keep it tight) for all reps. This will help stabilize your spine and keep form tight.
Fully locking your knees out
Believe it or not this is actually a different exercise that not many people realize. Keeping the knees fully locked out while performing this exercise is called a STIFF LEG DEADLIFT…a romanian deadlift will have a slight bend in the knees throughout. Romanian deadlifts are designed to have the bar stop around shin level, while stiff-leg deadlifts can be lowered closer to the ground, sometimes touching. Romanian deadlifts are better for engaging the glutes, while a stiff-leg will give you more hamstring and lower back targeting.
Reaching forward instead of down
Another common mistake done on this exercise is by initiating the deadlift by reaching forward with your arms instead of pushing your hips back. The further away the weight is from your body, the more stress you’re putting on your spine (which can again lead to rounding). Drive your hips back, reach down and keep the barbell/dumbbells close to your body. This will allow you to use your glutes & hamstrings more effectively while keeping your spine in a healthy, stable position.