The most common of these mistakes is people going too low with the barbell. “Use a full range of motion” is a common cliché heard in fitness videos. It does NOT apply to all exercises and especially not the RDL. Hamstring flexibility differs greatly among individuals. Some can bend over with their legs locked and touch their palms to the ground, while others may only be able to get their fingertips to their knees. People lie all along this “hamstring flexibility spectrum” and this ultimately dictates how low to go with the RDL. Use the drill in the beginning of the video and this will tell you where your end range of motion lies.
It may take a little experimentation with the Romanian Deadlift to nail it down, but if done correctly it will greatly strengthen your lower back.
Want to dig a little deeper? Read on.
Will it actually strengthen my lower back?
To be honest, I was surprised there was not more hard evidence of the RDL (or any deadlift for that matter) showing an increase in strength specifically for the lower back. This is not to say that what I just wrote was completely false. I know many people who would agree with the importance of using deadlifts and their variations to improve lower back strength. But does it technically strengthen the lower back?
This raises the question of whether deadlifts strengthen the lower back muscles or if there is something else it does to improve strength in general making people think their lower back is stronger.
To keep it short, here are the benefits of deadlifts that can contribute to lower back “strength”:
Now some of these benefits are debatable, but even if you only gain one of these, they are still very much worth doing. My opinion: You will receive all of these benefits. That is why I have all of my clients doing some form of deadlifts.
This post and www.jyfit.com is for general informational and educational purposes only. The information in this post or on www.jyfit.com should not be construed as medical advice.
1) James Steele, Stewart Bruce-Low and Dave Smith. A review of the specificity of exercises extensors designed for conditioning the lumbar. Br J Sports Med published online October 3, 2013. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2013-092197.
2) McGill. 2007. Low Back Disorders: Evidence-Based Prevention and Rehabilitation, Second Edition. Champaign, IL. Human Kinetics.
Personal Trainer in a private studio serving Palo Alto, Los Altos, and Mountain View. Located in Palo Alto, CA 94306. RDL, romanian deadlift, lower back strengthening.
Jerry Yuhara, CPT, CES, CMT #75123
4193 El Camino Real
Palo Alto, CA 94306
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