Best Romanian Deadlift (RDL) Variations to Improve Leg Muscles 

Best Romanian Deadlift (RDL) Variations to Improve Leg Muscles 

The Romanian Deadlift is a weight training exercise that utilizes a barbell to strengthen your hamstrings, gluteal muscles, grip, and core strength. The muscles specifically worked include the erector spinae, gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, semimembranosus, adductor Magnus, gastrocnemius, trapezius, and forearm. These compound exercises are used explicitly for lower-body power and strength and can be helpful for athletes who do jumping, running, sprinting, and agility work in their sports.

A Romanian Deadlift variation is an exercise that is meant to enhance the standard Romanian Deadlift. Furthermore, Romanian Deadlift variations are used to help bodybuilders and weightlifters who frequently do the regular barbell deadlift variation and need a slight variation to challenge muscles in other ways. The Romanian Deadlift targets the hamstrings to a higher degree, which can help with posterior leg strength and build a more significant mass in your legs. 

The main Romanian deadlift exercises to help your legs grow include the regular barbell deadlift, single-leg kettlebell deadlift, single-leg machine leg press, front squat, barbell back squat, reverse lunge, and lateral lunge to build strength in your abductors, adductors, quadriceps, gluteal muscles, and hamstrings. 

This movement is a classic eight-related exercise that can help with the traditional barbell deadlift used in Strongman competitions and weightlifting competitions as one of the main lifts. Beginners in the gym can often use lightweight Romanian deadlifts to build hamstring strength and learn how to hinge at their hips before moving on to try the traditional barbell deadlift or single leg RDL variation. 

1. Barbell Romanian Deadlift

The barbell Romanian deadlift is a Romanian deadlift variation exercise that works the hamstrings, gluteal muscles, erector spinae, gluteus, hamstrings, adductors, gastrocnemius, and forearms. This exercise is helpful for bodybuilders, weightlifters, and athletes who want to boost their jumping and sprinting power.

Alternatives of this exercise include the single leg RDL, double-leg leg press machine, front squat, single-leg glute bridge, and traditional barbell deadlift. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to keep your legs locked out. Users can prevent this mistake by keeping a slight bend in their knees and keeping their arms straight during the movement.

The toughness of this exercise is 5 out of 10 since it is often thought of as more manageable than the traditional Deadlift and useful even when using lightweight. 

2. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

The Dumbbell Romanian deadlift is a Romanian deadlift exercise variation that works the erector spinae, forearms, trapezius, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, and gluteus maximus. This exercise is good for beginners who don’t feel comfortable using the barbell yet in their workout plan.

Alternatives to this exercise include the barbell Romanian deadlift, single-leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift, barbell deadlift, and single-leg Bosu ball dumbbell deadlift. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to move the dumbbells far away from your body. Two tips to avoid this mistake are to keep your dumbbells against your legs and to hinge at your hips.

The toughness level of this exercise is a 3 out of 10 since it is easier than using a barbell and can be effective while using lightweight dumbbells. 

3. Single-Leg Barbell Romanian Deadlift

The single-leg Romanian barbell deadlift is one of the Single-leg Romanian deadlift variations that taxes the erector spinae, forearms, hamstrings, glutes, trapezius, and adductors. This exercise is suitable for weightlifters, bodybuilders, and athletes who want to work on single-leg and unilateral strength. 

Alternatives to this exercise include the single-leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift, single-leg dumbbell traditional deadlift, barbell Romanian deadlift, and leg curl machine. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to lean one way with your bumper body. Users can prevent this mistake by bracing their cores and keeping their arms straight.

The toughness of this exercise is a 6 out of 10 since it requires more balance, posture, core strength, and proper form to do correctly and safely. 

4. Banded Barbell Romanian Deadlift

The banded barbell Romanian deadlift is a Romanian deadlift exercise variation that works the erector spinae, trapezius, gastrocnemius, hamstrings, adductors, and forearms. This exercise is beneficial for athletes who want to work on their explosiveness, speed, and power. 

Alternatives to this exercise include the banded trap bar deadlift, banded traditional barbell deadlift, trap bar Romanian Deadlift, and single-leg dumbbell deadlift. One mistake to avoid during this exercise is to go too far through the entire motion. Users can prevent this mistake by going slow during the eccentric portion of the lift and moving quickly through the concentric part of the lift.

The toughness level of this exercise is a 5 out of 10 since it requires more thought and neuromuscular activity. 

5. Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift 

The trap bar Romanian deadlift is a Romanian deadlift variation that works the erector spinae, hamstrings, glutes, adductors, forearms, and trapezius. This exercise works well for athletes who want to build their jumping power since the biomechanics of this bar closely mimic the athletic stance you will find in most sports.

Alternatives of this exercise include the barbell Romanian deadlift, Dumbbell Romanian deadlift, jump squat, explosive med ball squat jump, and single-leg glute bridge. A mistake to avoid during this exercise is having your knees cave inward. Users can avoid this mistake by keeping their knees tracking over their toes and keeping their chests upright.

The toughness level of this exercise is a 5 out of 10 since it is often easier to hold than the traditional barbell during the hip hinge movement. 

6. Snatch-Grip Romanian Deadlift

The snatch-grip Romanian Deadlift is a Romanian deadlift exercise variation that works the glutes, hamstrings, latissimus dorsi, deltoids, and erector spinae. Since there is a wider grip, the upper back and middle back are worked more so than the traditional pronated grip. A Snatch-Grip Romanian Deadlift is an excellent choice for Olympic weightlifters who want to work on their overhead snatch and overhead squat.

Alternatives to this exercise include the pronounced regular grip deadlift, alternating grip Romanian deadlift, one arm dumbbell snatch, and barbell snatch. One mistake to avoid with this exercise is putting your chest too far over the bar. Users can prevent this mistake by keeping a wide grip and keeping their shoulder blades pulled down their back.

The toughness level of this exercise is a 7 out of 10 since it requires better technique and more shoulder flexibility to perform correctly. 

7. Split-Stance Romanian Deadlift

The split-stance Romanian Deadlift is a Romanian deadlift exercise variation that works the glutes, hamstrings, gastrocnemius, forearms, and core. Since this uses a split stance that you find in many sports, this exercise is good for athletes who frequently do a lot of running and sprinting. 

Alternatives to this exercise include the split-stance dumbbell deadlift, dumbbell lunge, barbell back rack lunge, and barbell Romanian deadlift. One mistake in this exercise is to move your feet too far together during the exercise. Two tips to avoid this mistake include bending your arms and moving your head too far forward. 

What to know about Romanian Deadlift variations?

Individuals should know that Romanian deadlift variations help target your hamstrings more than your glutes than a traditional barbell exercise. Furthermore, they can be helpful for athletes for jumping and sprinting power. Lastly, Romanian deadlift variations can be used for beginners who are not used to more challenging exercises. 

What are the common mistakes in doing the Romanian Deadlift Variations?

The common mistakes while doing the Romanian deadlift variations include having an incorrect hip angle, using the incorrect grip, and not keeping your arms straight during the motion. Users need to focus on keeping their hips at the right angle to make sure the hamstrings are targeted during the entire range of motion, feeling a pull during the eccentric portion of the lift and a squeeze during the eccentric half of the lift. Furthermore, keeping a straight head and neck angle is essential to avoid neck strain during the pulling half of the movement. 

Which type of Romanian Deadlift variation is beginner-friendly?

The best Romanian deadlift variations that are beginner-friendly include dumbbell variations and bodyweight variations. The best bodyweight variations include the single-leg glute bridge, two-leg glute bridge, and alternating stance glute bridge. For the weighted versions, the Dumbbell Romanian deadlift, dumbbell deadlift, and split stance dumbbell RDL are good options for beginners who do not want to use the barbell yet. 

Which type of Romanian Deadlift variation is good for weightlifters?

Weightlifters want to focus on building strength and targeting the big muscle groups to increase their big lifts, including their back squat and deadlift. The Romanian Deadlift is a great way to build their hamstrings, glutes, adductors, and trapezius for their lifting competitions. 

The best Romanian deadlift variation exercises for weightlifters include the barbell Romanian deadlift, single-leg Romanian Deadlift, banded bar Romanian Deadlift, and trap bar Deadlift. 

Which type of Romanian Deadlift variation is good for athletes?

Athletes need to use the Romanian Deadlift to build lower body strength, power, and explosiveness. The best Romanian deadlift variations for athletes include those that focus on the athletic stance and proper athletic form. The best Romanian deadlift variation for athletes consists of the trap bar deadlift, banded barbell deadlift, split-stance deadlift, and single-leg RDL. 

Which type of Romanian Deadlift variation is good for bodybuilders?

Bodybuilders want to focus on smaller muscle groups that may be often overlooked in some lifts but can be helpful during bodybuilding competitions. Bodybuilders want to focus on the Romanian deadlift version that targets smaller muscles, such as the barbell Romanian deadlift, snatch grip barbell Romanian Deadlift, banded bar deadlift, and split-stance dumbbell deadlift. 

What are the Romanian Deadlift Variations with Dumbbells?

The Romanian deadlift variations that use dumbbells include the Dumbbell Romanian deadlift and the split-stance dumbbell Romanian Deadlift variation. Users can also try the single-leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift as one of the single-leg Romanian deadlift variations for unilateral power and strength. 

Which Romanian Deadlift is better for Building Leg Muscles?

Users may wonder why the Romanian deadlift is the best variation for athletes and bodybuilders alike. The proficiency of this exercise is due to the focus on the entire posterior chain, which helps build muscle and power. 

Furthermore, various Romanian deadlift options are good for building leg muscles. All options can be good for building leg muscles or hypertrophy if you program them correctly, usually using between 3-5 sets and 5-8 reps for hypertrophy and strength. The best Romanian Deadlift for building the big leg muscles used frequently in running, jumping, and sprinting include the barbell Romanian deadlift and the trap bar Romanian deadlift. 

What are the alternatives to Romanian Deadlift Exercises?

There are numerous alternatives to the Romanian deadlift exercise that users can choose based on hire equipment and their experience, such as the following. 

  1. Barbell Romanian Deadlift
  2. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
  3. Single-Leg Barbell Romanian Deadlift
  4. Banded Barbell Romanian Deadlift
  5. Trap Bar Romanian Deadlift 
  6. Banded Barbell Romanian Deadlift
  7. Snatch-Grip Romanian Deadlift
  8. Split-Stance Romanian Deadlift
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