Evolve your RDL

Evolve your RDL

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The Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian Deadlift (RDL), is a posterior chain exercise that primarily targets the Hamstring, Glutes and Back muscles. The RDL demonstrates the hip hinge in its most basic form, which is why is it so widely used and transferable to other sport and non-sporting movements.

Hinging

The hip hinge itself is a foundational movement pattern that, in my experience, is the most difficult for clients to grasp. Altered movement patterns, length/tension relationships, underactive/overactive muscle activation and general lack of movement quality can all play a role in someone’s ability to perform a hip hinge correctly.

 

However, once you’ve nailed the hip hinge, its uses will translate into everyday functionality, sporting performance and other exercises.

 

More on how to correctly do the hip hinge will be shown in in the videos below, or alternatively you can contact me here for some advice!

 

Moving to a single leg

If you can do an RDL comfortably, then you may want to start developing your unilateral strength and core stability with a Single-leg RDL (SLRDL)

 

The Single-leg RDL takes the hip hinge to a new level as it challenges your core through anti-rotation, whilst challenging your glutes to stabilise your hips and keep your pelvis level.

 

I wouldn’t recommend jumping straight into SLRDL’s without having firmly developed the hip hinge movement pattern. Poor form and suboptimal movement don’t mix well with any exercise, let alone a unilateral one.

 

Let’s take a look at some progressions to get you building some unilateral stability.

The progressions

To progress to a single-leg RDL, you want to begin to get comfortable on one leg whilst still using the same movement pattern. The progression exercises below provide just that as you become more accustomed to using one leg to complete the movement. 

Conventional RDL

First up is the conventional Romanian Deadlift. This is the basic movement pattern of a hip hinge and provides the foundation for all of the progressions on this page.  

 

Key points

  • Feet hip width apart
  • Weight shifted in heels but feet flat 
  • Keep a neutral spine, shoulders back and down (tight to the armpit)
  • With soft knees, drive your hips back, whilst bring your chest towards the floor 

Considerations 

  • Look for tension in the hamstrings
  • You knees should remain firmly behind your toes

Staggered RDL

Next is the staggered RDL, still with a two legged based of support but your weight shifted unevenly between them

 

Key points

  • Staggered stance with the focus being on the lead leg
  • Weight shifted in heels but feet flat 
  • Hold the weight in the opposing arm to the lead leg
  • Keep a neutral spine, shoulders back and down (tight to the armpit)
  • With soft knees, drive your hips back, whilst bringing your chest towards the floor 

Considerations 

  • Look for tension in the lead hamstring
  • You knees should remain firmly behind your toes
  • Avoid rotation through the pelvis

RDL to Single Leg

Now we’re starting to build some comfort and strength with being on one leg. Complete a conventional RDL as shown above, but at the bottom of the movement extend one leg back, leaving you to complete the rest of the movement on one leg.

 

Key points

  • Feet hip width apart 
  • Weight shifted in heels but feet flat 
  • Keep a neutral spine, shoulders back and down (tight to the armpit)
  • With soft knees, drive your hips back, whilst bringing your chest towards the floor 
  • Once at the bottom of the movement (as low as you can with a neutral spine), retract one leg from the movement and pull yourself to a standing position with the remaining leg,

Considerations 

  • Look for tension in the hamstrings
  • Shift your weight onto one leg as you extend one leg back
  • You knees should remain firmly behind your toes
  • Avoid rotation through the pelvis

Single Leg From Floor

The final exercise before doing a fully fledged Single leg RDL, is essentially the same movement pattern but without the eccentric part of the movement. 

 

Key points

 

  • Position the Kettlebell on the floor in front of one foot (this will be the same leg that you extend back as you complete the movement
  • Feet hip width apart 
  • Weight shifted in heels but feet flat
  • Keep a neutral spine, shoulders back and down (tight to the armpit) 
  • On one leg, drive your hips back whilst extending the other leg back (the side the weight is positioned) whilst bringing your chest towards the floor 
  •  Grab the weight with your opposing arm to the working leg, and pull your hips forward into a standing position
  • Reset and complete again

Considerations 

  • Look for tension in the hamstrings
  • Shift your weight onto one leg as you extend one leg back
  • You knees should remain firmly behind your toes
  • Avoid rotation through the pelvis

Single Leg RDL

The last exercise is, of course, the Single leg RDL. If you completed the exercises leading up to this, until you felt comfortable with each of them, then you should be ready for the single leg.


Key points


  • Start off holding the weight in one hand 
  • Feet hip width apart 
  • Weight shifted in heels but feet flat
  • Keep a neutral spine, shoulders back and down (tight to the armpit) 
  • On one leg, drive your hips back whilst extending the other leg back (the side the weight is positioned) whilst bringing your chest towards the floor 
  •  Lower the weight towards the floor, pulling yourself back to the start position just before the weight touches the ground (if you cannot go this low, then go to wherever is comfortable whilst maintaining a neutral spine)
  • Reset and complete again

Considerations 

  • Look for tension in the hamstrings
  • Shift your weight onto one leg as you extend one leg back
  • You knees should remain firmly behind your toes
  • Avoid rotation through the pelvis

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