Romanian Deadlifts are like blankets. Seriously, they are, and as August comes to a close, I bet you know exactly what I mean. The evenings are getting cooler, and if you’re like me, you like to wrap yourself in a blanket when you fall asleep. The thing is, if the blanket is too heavy, you’ll become too warm, overheat, and then slide a foot out.
That’s where the blanket develops a mind of it’s own, climbs off of the bed, crawls across the room, and lodges itself exactly an inch outside of your reach from the bed. When you wake up at 3am because you’re cold, you need to climb out of bed to get it. Ain’t that the worst?
Romanian Deadlifts are like blankets.
When classifying lower body exercises as “hip dominant” or “knee dominant”, we’re really looking at degrees of flexion at the hip and knee. Knee dominant exercises, such as the squat, have similar degrees of knee and hip flexion. Hip dominant exercises rely mostly on hip flexion. If you want to learn more about it, check out this video of Dan John talking about the hinge and the Hinge Assessment Tool. If not, here’s a picture of me doing an RDL. There is an observable amount of knee flexion, but with the vertical shin angle that you see, this would be classified as a hip dominant exercise:
As an exercise to practice the hip hinge, I love Romanian deadlifts. I’m not sure if they’re from Romania, but they’re still a great exercise. Thing is, they don’t really help your deadlift. There isn’t a lot of carry over; conventional deadlifts require some knee flexion and quad strength off of the floor, and once you reach your knees, your hamstrings and glutes take over. You likely RDL far less weight than you can deadlift, so it doesn’t train the hips under the necessary loads.
That does not mean that you shouldn’t do them; it just means you shouldn’t rely on them for building your deadlift. I consider the RDL an important exercise, and if you need help, check out Mike Robertson’s Perfecting the Romanian Deadlift.
Remember; a heavy blanket might seem like a good idea, but once you’re using it, it’s not all that convenient You’ll fluctuate between using it and not using, until you realize that you’re better of with a lighter blanket but perhaps warmer pajamas or a second layer. Sure, it’s nice, but if you’re already good at it, it might not be the best idea for your programming.
The video below is from Clint Darden, who is one of the funniest guys in the strength world:
Clint mentions the Dimel deadlift, which is a fairly uncommon variation. This is essentially an eccentric deadlift to just below the knees, then a strong lockout at the top. The ‘standard’ WSB protocol seems to be or 20 reps. Here’s a video from Date Tate of EliteFTS teaching the Dimel Deadlift:
Deadlifts are absolutely awesome, and should be included in almost every program, when appropriate. If you’ve been deadlift for a while, you might realize that the Romanian Deadlift is a blanket. It’s definitely awesome, but it’s not going to get the job done if you’re looking for a bigger deadlift. This is on my mind because I’m reintroducing deadlifts into my program, and when I pick things up and put them down, I want them to be as heavy as possible. Hell, I want to set off the lunk alarm at the closest Planet Fitness, which is at least 5 miles away. Some PR’s are in order!
Give the Dimel deadlift a try and let me know what you think. Then make sure to include the RDL, too. R2D2.