How to Properly Do a Romanian Deadlift with Dumbbells

Use this awesome strength training exercise to improve muscle imbalances you didn't even know you had.

Don't let the scary-sounding name fool you — this exercise is for everyone. Because the Romanian deadlift with dumbbells (demonstrated here by NYC-based trainer Rachel Mariotti) engages the muscles in the back of your body that other exercises don't always hit, it's a must-do for anyone looking to get (and stay) strong.

The big difference between the Romanian deadlift and the conventional deadlift is that, during this move, your hips don't go as far down, which loads the hamstrings more, explains Stephany Bolivar, a CrossFit coach and personal trainer at ICE NYC at the time of this article's original publication.

That's key for people assigned female at birth, who tend to have stronger quadriceps muscles than hamstring muscles — a muscle imbalance that's been linked to ACL injuries in athletes. Having a greater balance between the two muscle groups can also indicate better running performance, according to a study of female runners. (Here's how to diagnose — and fix — your body's muscle imbalances.)

Romanian Deadlift with Dumbbells Benefits and Variations

Similar to the conventional deadlift, the Romanian deadlift works your posterior chain, which includes your lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. This move also involves core engagement, so you'll build strength and stability there, too. (See also: Why Core Strength Is So Important)

"Because of how high the hips are during this movement, you may not be able to lower the weights as far down as you can in your conventional deadlift," says Bolivar. Don't compromise form for distance traveled just because you have limited mobility in your hamstrings, she advises. (Don't worry, you can always improve your mobility.)

If you're new to deadlifting, start out with light weights until you feel comfortable with the movement. From there, you can progressively increase the load. You can stick with dumbbells or try doing a barbell deadlift for a new challenge.

Need to scale back? Don't lower the weights as far down. To increase the challenge, change your foot position to a staggered stance, and eventually, try a single-leg deadlift. (Here are some other ways to make your deadlifts easier or harder.)

How to Do a Romanian Deadlift with Dumbbells

A. Stand with feet hips-width apart and knees soft, holding dumbbells in front of hips with palms facing thighs.

B. Keeping spine in neutral position and squeezing shoulder blades, start sending hips back.

C. Lower dumbbells in front of shins, keeping them close to the body. Once the dumbbells pass the knees, do not allow the hips to sink further.

D. At the bottom of the movement, maintain a neutral spine and drive through heels to fully extend hips and knees, squeezing glutes at the top of the movement.

Romanian Deadlift Form Tips

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