Do you want to develop nice-looking legs and glutes? One of the best ways to achieve this goal is by working out the hamstrings as well as the quads. In my experience as a competitor and coach, the hamstrings look amazing when in proportion to the quads (the front of the thighs) but can be a little hard to develop. However, with the necessary emphasis, they can be super powerful.
A great exercise for the hamstrings is the deadlift. This compound move helps to cultivate strength and muscle mass. There are many variations to this amazing exercise, such as the traditional deadlift, sumo deadlift, Romanian deadlift, stiff-legged deadlift, etc. The deadlift variation I’m addressing today is the Romanian Deadlift. It is performed by maintaining the legs more straight throughout the movement than the traditional deadlift. Romanian deadlifts can be performed bilaterally or unilaterally. In the video clip, I am performing the exercise unilaterally -meaning, one leg at a time. This variation is called the Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift.
Below we’ll look deeper into Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts and we’ll cover the following:
- Muscles involved in Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
- Benefits associated with Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
- How to properly do Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
- Common mistakes when performing single-leg Romanian deadlifts
- Video on how to do Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
- Hamstring, quad, and glute exercises to complete your leg workout
What Muscles Do Romanian Deadlifts Work?
- Hamstrings (hams): Located on the posterior thigh in between the hip and the knee, and are composed of three muscle groups (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris – long and short heads). These muscles are antagonists to the quadriceps and are involved in hip and knee movements. Hamstrings are essential for daily movement (walking), to speed up (running), and decelerate (stop), and they help flex the knee and extend the hips.
- Gluteal Muscles (buttocks): These muscles are involved in the extension, abduction, and rotation of the hip joint. They also help keep the body erect and assist human locomotion (running, jumping, sprinting, etc).
- Erector Spinae (lower back): Set of muscles that run vertically along the side of the vertebral column, originating at the hip and extending up to the skull. These muscles help rotate and extend the spine and neck.
- Adductor Magnus: Large triangular muscles, situated on the inside of the thighs. They adduct the legs, moving them toward each other, rotate the leg inwards, and extend the hips.
- Upper Back Muscles: Trapezius (large paired muscles that extend longitudinally from the posterior top of the neck to the middle of the back and laterally from one end of the scapula to the other end). They support the arm and retract, rotate, and depress the scapula. In the movement, they keep the torso and shoulder from rounding forwards in the lift. Rhomboids (muscles that go on top of the scapula on each side of the upper back). They move and support the scapula. In the RDL, they maintain a flat back, resist spinal flexion and rounding of the shoulders.
- Forearms: Located in the upper limbs between the elbows and the wrists. They help hold the weight.
- Gastrocnemius: Superficial two-headed muscles that are in the back part of the lower leg, forming the calves. They flex the foot at the ankle joint and the leg at the knee joint. They are involved in fast movements such as running and jumping.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift Benefits
- Efficiency: The single-leg Romanian deadlift is a compound exercise that engages multiple joints and muscle groups simultaneously.
- Fat Loss: Since it works multiple muscles, it helps burn more calories and, subsequently, more fat.
- Aesthetics: The single-leg Romanian Deadlift helps sculpt a rounded booty and beautiful legs.
- Balance: This unilateral exercise, which trains each leg separately, activates your stabilizing muscles, and helps you become more balanced and coordinated.
- Alignment: Working one leg at a time, also, helps you to deal with misalignments in your body and correct imbalances. This makes you more symmetrical and avoids overcompensating from your dominant side.
- Flexibility & Mobility: The single-leg Romanian deadlift involves a big movement, which helps you increase your hip’s range of motion and make you more mobile.
- Core Strengthening: This movement stimulates your lower back and core area, helping to improve your posture and prevent injuries.
- Grip Strength: Deadlifts help to strengthen your grip, as you have to hold the hanging weight by your tights.
- Lower Back Health: Single-leg Romanian deadlift strengthen your lower back, which keeps your back healthy and even helps to prevent and deal with back pain.
- Versatility: This exercise can be performed by anyone, any time, anywhere. You can perform it using your body weight, a barbell, dumbbells, kettlebells, or resistance bands.
How to Do Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts
There are a few ways of doing single-leg Romanian deadlifts. If you are a beginner, you can just use your own body weight and keep one hand by your side and the other in front of your quads. Later on, you can incorporate weights to single-leg Romanian deadlifts. Here is how to proceed:
- Stand tall with your chin and chest up, shoulders back, and your core tight.
- Keep your feet hips apart and hold the weight by your thigh in an overhand grip with your hand.
- Maintain the back straight and shoulders back, lower your torso keeping the weight in front of your quad, and lifting one leg off the ground. Move your foot behind you and hinge at the hips to lean further forwards.
- Keep raising your back leg behind you, lowering until you feel the stretch in your standing leg’s hamstring.
- Bring that leg back to the starting position.
- You can keep working on that leg for 8-15 repetitions and switch legs, or alternate legs.
Avoid Single-Leg Romanian Deadlifts Mistakes
- Make sure that you are holding the weight in the right hand. The hand holding the weight is on the same side of the leg that’s lifting back.
- Avoid moving your neck, keep it in a neutral position throughout the movement.
- Make sure to put the emphasis on the right muscles, squeezing the glutes of the leg that’s planted on the floor.
- Keep a soft bend on the knees. Avoid locking them.
- Avoid bending the back leg much, a slight bend is fine, but try to extend it back as much as possible.
- Avoid rounding your back or rounding your shoulders forward to avoid putting unnecessary stress on your back.
Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift Video
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The Fitness Wellness Mentor