Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift: How to, Muscles worked, Benefits and Alternatives

If you’re one of the fitness enthusiasts who love working out using the dumbbells, then you should definitely try the “Romanian Deadlift” with the dumbbells. Before moving forward I just want to tell you that the barbell Romanian deadlift is better than the dumbbell RDL. But if you only have access to the dumbbells or you want to try the dumbbell variation, then this will be one of the best compound exercises for you.

In this article, I’m going to share everything about the “Dumbbell Romanian deadlift” For example, how to do dumbbell RDL with proper techniques, what muscles worked and the benefits of doing the Romanian deadlift as well as what are the alternatives.

The Romanian deadlift is among the best variations of deadlift which is used to develop the strength of the posterior chain muscles, including the hamstrings, gluteus, lumbar spine and adductors. Doing perfectly will help also strengthen your core, lower back, and reduce the risk of lower back injuries.

Well, one of the common mistake people do especially beginners is that they don’t use heavyweight exercises; like bench press, squats and deadlift which is important for overall fitness like strength, power and stamina. If you’re not doing them, it’s time to get started.

How to do Romanian deadlift with the dumbbell with proper techniques and step-by-step instructions


Dumbbell RDL

Romanian Dumbbell Deadlift Technique

Life is not perfect but exercises can be if we follow the proper technique. The proper technique plays a big role in weight loss and muscle gain. It is also important for injuries, the right way of training reduces the risk of injuries while the improper technique increases the risk of injuries and strain.

So, if you want to get the best from this exercise, you must follow the right techniques. And these are like shooting fishes in a barrel.

Here are I’m going to share seven basic rules of the Romanian deadlift that will help you in your training.

1. Breathing

Multiple studies have shown that breathing between the pulling or lifting may cause strains or soreness. And this is true because when I had no idea about proper breathing during exercises, I often feel uneasy during or after the training. But when I started inhaling just before the lifting and exhaling after the lift, I feel the difference. So try this technique if you’re not doing this. I hope it will help.

2. Holding Chest Up

The Romanian deadlift is different from the conventional deadlift, so their techniques are. And in the Romanian deadlift, one needs to keep the chest up throughout the movement.

3. Keeping Back Straight

The common mistake made by most of the gym junkies is rounding the back during the Romanian deadlift whether its dumbbell or barbell variation. Keeping your back straight greatly reduces the lower back stress and injuries, and properly engaged the working muscles.

4. Bracing Abdominal Muscles

Keeping the core tight during the dumbbell Romanian deadlift reduce the stress on the lower back. And allow you to lift heavier weights so that you can perform each rep efficiently.

5. Standing Through Heels

The main muscles work during the deadlift is the lower body. This is why it is important to push through your heels to return to the standing position. So at the time of lifting the dead weight from the floor, use your feet to stand straight with raising your shoulder blades together.

6. Look Forward and Downward

It is not necessary to look forward during the Romanian deadlift. The proper way to execute the move is to look forward in the standing position. And look downward as your torso goes down to lift the weight or lower the weight.

7. Avoid Locking out your knees

To avoid much stress on the lower back, avoid locking out your knees. We know that in the dumbbell Romanian deadlift we don’t bend knees much but locking out them can also be unsafe. So when your lower your body down you can fractionally bend your knees and lift the weights.


How To Dumbbell RDL: Step-By-Step Instructions

  1. First of all, take two dumbbells according to your lifting strength, and place them in front of you close to your feet.
  2. Stand upright with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Slightly bend your knees and hips, and grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip with your palms are facing your body.
  4. Keeping your chest up, and core tight, lift the dumbbells (raise your shoulder blades together) and use your heels to stand straight. That’s one repetition.
  5. To perform the next repetition, slowly lower your torso while keeping your chest high and shoulder blades together. Go as low as you can but do not land the dumbbells on the floor.
  6. Hold for a couple of seconds, and make sure your hamstrings are engaged and then slowly return to the starting position by pushing through your heels and then press the hips forward. And repeat these steps for the maximum number of times.
  7. Do not bend your knees like squats or other deadlift variations. Maintain only a slight bend in your knees and hips, so that you can feel a good stretch in your hamstrings.
  8. Keep the dumbbells close to your body during the movement.

Which muscles worked when you do Romanian deadlift with the dumbbells?

Basically, the lower body muscles engage during the Romanian deadlift.

primary muscles worked while performing the dumbbell RDL

  1. Biceps femoris which include two semi-muscles called semitendonosus and semimemtranosus. Or collectively we can say Hamstrings (the fourth-largest muscles in the human body).
  2. Gluteus or Butt: The Gluteus Maximus is one of the primary muscles engaged during the dumbbell RDL. And gluteus is made up of three muscles Maximus, medius and minimus, and is the largest muscles in the human body.
  3. The erector spinae: It is located on your back and consists of three sub muscles. And these muscles are engaged throughout the movement and support your whole spine while bending and flexing.

Other than the above three muscles, the dumbbell RDL also works on different muscles such as:

  • Core
  • Trapezius
  • Adductor magus
  • Gastrocnemius, and
  • forearm flexors.

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift Benefits

1. RDL helps us learn the proper movement and biomechanics of standing hip flexion and extension

Learning the proper biomechanics of standing hip flexion and extension helps us in basic exercises like squatting and other deadlift variations. Whether you perform the weighted squats or where you need to pick up the weight from the floor, this hip mechanics is important.

2. RDL strengthen gluteus and hamstrings

Strengthen gluteus and hamstrings is one of the important benefits of the Romanian dumbbell deadlift. Strong gluteal and hamstring muscles help in other exercises like running, jumping, squatting and deadlifting.

3. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift Increases strength and Stability

If you do it properly, your muscles of the spine work to maintain stability. It also strengthens the posterior chain muscles which are responsible for extending the hips and knees when your foot is planted on the ground. Apart from this, it also improves core, forearm flexors and grip strength.


Dumbbell RDL Alternatives

Barbell RDL

  • Place a loaded barbell in front of you close to your feet.
  • Stand upright in the shoulder-width stance.
  • Slightly bend your knees and lower your torso to grab the bar with an overhand grip (maintain flat back and keep your chest high).
  • Keeping your core tight, push through your heels to return to the standing position. This is your one repetition.
  • To perform the next rep, lower your torso as low as possible with a slight bend in your knees. And without landing the bar on the ground push through your heels to return to the standing position.
  • Repeat as many times as you like.

Dumbbell Stiff-Leg Deadlift

  • Place a pair of dumbbells on the floor in front of you close to your feet.
  • Stand straight in the hip-width stance.
  • Lower your torso to grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip while keeping your leg stiff. As you lower your trunk keep your back flat and chest high.
  • Now, push through your heels to return to the standing position. This is your one repetition.
  • To do the next repetitions, repeat the same steps but do not land the dumbbells on the floor. Repeat as many times as you can.

Single-Leg Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

  • Stand straight with holding a dumbbell in each hand with a neutral grip. Your palms are facing inward.
  • Kick your right leg back as you lower your trunk (along with the dumbbells) but keep your hips square all the time.
  • Once your chest is parallel to the floor, use your left heel to stand upright. Repeat this move as many times as you can.

Final Words

The dumbbell Romanian deadlift is must-do exercise and you may try at least once in two weeks. If you feel lower back pain after doing this move, use gym-belt. Because a waist belt may protect your back from injuries as well as allows you to lift heavier weight. If you still feel uncomfortable with this exercise you may seek personal trainer assistance. You can also do dumbbell RDL at your home because it won’t require much space. Follow the technique and instructions properly, and train safely.

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