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What is a Romanian Deadlift and Why Should You Care?

Feb 03, 2018

What is a Romanian deadlift — and why does it matter?

Not everyone cares about deadlifts.

However, some of you really do.

If you are new to deadlifts and are researching all the variants, you’ve come to the right place.

What is a Romanian Deadlift - Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting Belt

The Romanian deadlift takes the conventional deadlift and slows it down.

Not in terms of achieving strength and results, but in the importance of maintaining form.

But, before we get into form, let me recommend the Dark Iron Fitness weightlifting belt.

You’ll want a heavy-duty belt for all deadlifts — but especially Romanian.

Anyway, let’s figure out what the Romanian deadlift is and why it matters!

Related: How Often Should I Deadlift?


What is a Romanian Deadlift? — Understanding Deadlifting in General

Conventional and Sumo Deadlift

What is a Romanian Deadlift - Sumo vs ConventionalTo understand the Romanian deadlift, you should first understand conventional (and sumo) deadlifts.

The conventional deadlift is often done with a barbell; your feet are placed within your grip.

When you pull the deadlift, you straighten your legs and use hip drive towards the bar.

For sumo deadlifting, you’re doing essentially the same thing but with a different stance.

Sumo has your legs wide and your grip inside of your leg position.

Mastering these two forms is crucial to deadlifting.

The more you are familiar with these more “popular” deadlifts, the better you’ll understand Romanian deadlifts.

Related: 4 Benefits of Trap Bar Deadlifts Over Conventional Deadlifts


Romanian Deadlift

What is a Romanian Deadlift - Romanian Deadlift FormUnlike the conventional and sumo deadlifts, the Romanian starts very differently.

You’ll want to first start standing, with the barbell at your thighs.

Then, bending down with your back straight, the bar should glide down toward your ankles.

With your hips and glutes back, you’ll then contract your glutes and pull the bar back up to your starting position.

The differences between the Romanian and conventional deadlifts are highly noticeable visually and in practice.

Regardless, all of these deadlift variations are meant to target your back and lower body.

They may hit different muscles more at different intensities, but that’s the beauty of variations in deadlifting.


What is a Romanian Deadlift in Terms of Form?

Proper Romanian Deadlift Form

What is a Romanian Deadlift - Romanian TechniqueYour Romanian deadlift form should closely mimic conventional deadlifting.

You won’t see someone doing a Romanian deadlift in a sumo stance (at least you shouldn’t).

When you have your feet shoulder-width apart and grip equally wide, you have more control.

If your feet were spread in a sumo position, you would have a lot of forward lean as you start the Romanian deadlift.

For some people, even those who regularly deadlift, the Romanian form can be uncomfortable.

As you aren’t starting fresh from the bottom for each rep, you may exhaust yourself faster.

To maintain that strict form and safe posture, I recommend getting a weightlifting belt from Dark Iron Fitness.

Form will always be the most important part of all deadlifting, so make sure you know what it means to have good form during a Romanian deadlift.


Similar Styles to Romanian Deadlifting

What is a Romanian Deadlift - Stiff-legged DeadliftsYes, the conventional and sumo deadlift are similar in that they are also deadlifts.

However, they don’t closely resemble how the Romanian deadlift performs.

Stiff-legged deadlifts will be about as close as it comes to Romanian.

With the SLD, you are targeting your hamstrings for the most part.

When doing the RDL, you target your hips, glutes and the mobility aspect.

In a sense, the Romanian and Stiff-legged are somewhat interchangeable.

But, whereas the Romanian deadlift may sometimes have a slight bend in your knees, the stiff-legged is usually performed very strict to its name — stiff-legged.

Both are great for helping with mobility and dynamic flexibility for your hamstrings and lower back.

Related: Romanian vs Stiff Leg Deadlifts


What is a Romanian Deadlift to You?

Why Romanian Deadlifting is Beneficial

What is a Romanian Deadlift - Hamstring MusclesRomanian deadlifts are beneficial because they take a different approach to deadlifting.

Unlike conventional and sumo deadlifts, you are focusing more on mobility, which helps in so many other ways.

In conjunction with your other deadlifts, you’ll be making strides to being all around fit.

We’re talking power, speed, explosiveness, muscle, and flexibility.

I guarantee if you are an intermediate or experienced lifter who has plateaued with deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts will help break your plateau.

Your body will get accustomed to conventional lifting, and throwing a wrench into that routine will help.

Let the variety out there help maximize your deadlifting — go Romanian every now and then.

Related: The Benefits of Bulgarian Split Squats


Why Romanian Deadlifting isn’t Just an Alternative to Conventional

What is a Romanian Deadlift - Romanian Start PositionThough I’ve painted the Romanian as an alternative or variation to conventional — that’s not all it is.

In itself, the Romanian deadlift holds its own as a hardcore, standalone movement.

You can do Romanian deadlifts by themselves if you want.

As we’ve gone over, the Romanian works a different set of muscles and focuses on mobility.

What this means is that you can hone in on those muscles and use the Romanian as your main way of building them.

If you add in other secondary movements or assistance exercises, then your routine will be prime.

Don’t ever look at the Romanian deadlift as something only used instead of conventional deadlifts — they are just as beneficial and important.

Related: Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts


Conclusion — What is a Romanian Deadlift Overall?

The Deadlift to Deadlift Better
What is a Romanian Deadlift - Romanian Deadlift Athleticism

So, what is a Romanian deadlift, again?

Well, it’s the “backbone” of the deadlifting movement.

Why do I say that? Because it helps build your foundation to all deadlifting.

Yes, conventional deadlifting is the bread and butter, but Romanian builds vital muscles and works your hips exceptionally.

This hip-hinge work is important because it translates to all deadlifting and other workouts as well.

Your squatting, jumping, sprinting, climbing, etc. will all benefit from this.

Essentially your Romanian deadlift results can help you optimize your other workouts’ results.

Interesting, right?

You’re working out to get better at working out!


The Deadlift for Athletes

Athletes will benefit tremendously from the strength, speed, explosiveness and mobility gains.

What is a Romanian Deadlift - Dark Iron Fitness Weightlifting BeltJust always make sure to perform your deadlifts safely, with the help of the Dark Iron Fitness weightlifting belt, if you are serious about lifting.

Also, keep your form correct, your range of motion should be complete and don’t lift more than you’re capable of lifting.

With time, practice and further training, your lifts will get heavier.

Don’t be discouraged if your Romanian deadlift is not as impressive as your conventional deadlift.

You should only compare your beginning stage of Romanian deadlift to where you are currently — week after week.

Progression takes time and it’s not reasonable to compare different exercises too closely, no matter how similar they seem.

Your barbell curl, dumbbell curl, and seated machine curl are not going to have the same lift numbers.

The same concept applies to Romanian deadlifting compared to other deadlifts.

Enjoy the learning process and be encouraged by the fact that you now know what a Romanian deadlift is!

Related: Deadlifts with Dumbbells vs Barbell: Battle Royale