The Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a barbell weightlifting exercise that targets your [posterior chain](https://www.masterclass.com/articles/posterior-chain-exercises), including your glutes, spinal erectors, and hamstrings. The Romanian deadlift activates these lower body muscle groups by incorporating the hips more than a traditional deadlift. Variations on the Romanian deadlift involve different equipment like a kettlebell or dumbbell. \n\nThere are a few differences between the Romanian deadlift and the conventional deadlift.\n\n- __The Romanian deadlift starts from a standing position__. The clearest difference between the Romanian deadlift and the traditional deadlift is how the two exercises begin. While a traditional deadlift starts by lifting the barbell from the floor, the RDL starts by lowering it from waist level. \n- __The RDL emphasizes hip hinge movement__. While the two deadlifting variations have a similar range of motion, there is a slight difference between their hip hinging movements. For the RDL, you extend your hips further behind than you do for a traditional deadlift, moving into a posture that encourages strong glute and hamstring activation. You then pull your hips through, keeping your back straight and squeezing your glutes as you lift the barbell back to the starting position.\n- __The RDL targets slightly different muscle groups__. The traditional deadlift puts more emphasis on the quadriceps in the fronts of your thighs, while the Romanian deadlift specifically activates the hamstrings and glutes on the backside of your lower body.\n\nFor the Romanian deadlift, begin by using a barbell with a weight that you can control for 2–3 sets of 8–12 repetitions. Choose a weight that allows you to maintain good technique throughout all sets and repetitions.\n\n1. Start standing. Hold the barbell with an overhand grip. Your posture should be tall with your feet hip-width apart and a slight bend in your knees. Your shoulders should be directly over your hips with a neutral head and neck position. Your chin should remain tucked throughout the movement—as if you were holding an egg under your chin. Keep your weight evenly distributed along the entire foot, and grip the floor with your feet for stability. Your arms should remain long, with a slight bend in your elbows. All of your repetitions should begin from this position.\n2. Begin the downward movement. While keeping the barbell close to your body and maintaining a neutral spine, hinge your hips until you feel a stretch in the backs of your legs. Keep your knees bent during the downward movement, but maintain an upright shin position. \n3. Continue moving downward until the bar reaches just below your knees or your mid-shin, depending on your level of flexibility. At the end of the downward movement, you should feel the weight in your mid-feet and heels without allowing your toes to lift off the ground.\n4. Begin the upward movement. While maintaining a neutral spine, keep the barbell close to your body, and start your upward movement by pushing your feet through the floor. As you stand, squeeze your glutes and allow your hips to travel forward. Keep your arms long, and finish the movement by returning to a standing position while maintaining a neutral spine position. \n5. At the end of each repetition, your shoulders should finish directly over your hips. Imagine that your pelvis is a bucket filled with water and you’re attempting not to spill water out of the front, back, or sides of the bucket.\nIf you have a previous or pre-existing health condition, consult your physician before beginning an exercise program. Proper exercise technique is essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of an exercise program, but you may need to modify each exercise to attain optimal results based on your individual needs. Always select a weight that allows you to have full control of your body throughout the movement. When performing any exercise, pay close attention to your body, and stop immediately if you note pain or discomfort.\n\nIn order to see continual progress and build body strength, incorporate proper warm-ups, rest, and nutrition into your exercise program. Your results will ultimately be based on your ability to adequately recover from your workouts. Rest for 24 to 48 hours before training the same muscle groups to allow sufficient recovery.\nThrow on some athleisure, fire up a [MasterClass Annual Membership](https://www.masterclass.com), and get ready to sweat it out with exclusive instructional videos from Nike Master Trainer and *GQ* fitness specialist Joe Holder. Want to improve your cardiovascular endurance? Give Joe’s HIIT workout a go. Trying to get a little swole? He’s got a strength training workout for that. From fitness tips to nutrition hacks, Joe will have you feeling healthier in no time.\nThe Romanian deadlift can be a useful addition to your strength training program.