Muscles Targeted: Although this exercise is mainly for developing the hamstrings (muscle on the back of the leg), it’s also an excellent movement for the lower back. A big contributing muscle group when barbell Romanian deadlifts are performed is the quadratus lumborum or more often called the muscles of the mid to lower back. This is because the key movement of the barbell Romanian deadlifts is the flexion and extension of the hip joint that comes from the direct contractions of the back region. Also involved and assisting the quadratus lumborum throughout the exercise are the hamstrings (back of the thighs) because these muscles integrate with the stability of the hips as well as perform in coordination with the middle and lower back muscles. These muscles in the middle and lower back are used and targeted during the barbell Romanian deadlifts, aiding in its ability to help increase strength, endurance and stability. Assistance from the upper back, arms and forearms, this mid-lower back exercise becomes more stable and controlled making it more manageable while executed with several repetitions and sets.
Exercise Instructions: Grab a barbell with both hands using an overhand grip about shoulder width apart and let the barbell hang down in front of your body. Begin this movement by bending at the waist and slowly lowering the barbell to the floor. Be sure to keep a slight bend in your knees and really let the weight of the barbell bring you down. Keeping the knees completely straight will turn this exercise into the stiff-legged deadlift and bending too much with the knees will turn it into a regular deadlift so make sure you use a moderate amount of knee bend so you feel maximum tension on your hamstrings and lower back. On the way up, really focus on a nice smooth tempo. It is very important to keep your back flat with your shoulders back and avoid rounding or hunching your back throughout this exercise.
Why This Exercise is Important: Proper technique and execution of the barbell Romanian deadlifts is an important contribution to gaining flexibility, strength, endurance and stability of the quadratus lumborum, especially since it acts as a valuable prime mover of the torso. Another important point to consider when the barbell Romanian deadlifts are concerned is its ability to increase the middle and lower back muscles’ capacity to cope with stress. This importance extends to the fact that a stronger back facilitates and translates to a better adaptation to any type of activity that can be encountered in daily living. Also of notable importance is the current issue in relation to lower back pain that many individuals experience. Engaging not only in learning and performing the barbell Romanian deadlifts but also in an actual exercise program improves overall strength and stability.
Things To Avoid: The barbell Romanian deadlifts are performed with the knees slightly bent. One thing to avoid is overly bending the knees or straightening them since it directly misses the proper form and technique that needs to be achieved. The entire back must also be taken into consideration and must be kept at its most erect and straight position. This means to avoid looking towards the floor and eventually tucking the chin in towards the chest. Always assume a position where the hips are pulled towards the back, the chest is kept upright by looking towards the front and lifting the chin up, which causes the rest of the back to maintain a neutral position with the shoulders and hips along a straight line. Also avoid leaning too far back when you reach the top of the exercise.
Reps and Sets: Improving muscular endurance with barbell Romanian deadlifts means performing 15 to 20 repetitions of 2 to 3 sets. When muscular strength is the main goal for the exercise, it is advised that 10 to 12 repetitions of 3 to 4 sets are done. If the extra challenge of gaining power is needed, 6-8 repetitions of 4-5 sets is the best program to use.
Other Exercises To Use: Creating a complete lower back program that matches well with the barbell Romanian deadlifts can be done in combination with dumbbell stiff-legged deadlifts, hyperextensions and lying back presses (Supermans). These exercises all contribute to increasing strength, endurance and stability of the mid to lower back region. View our extensive database of exercise guides for a comprehensive list of exercises that target the lower back.