As a gym owner and someone who has been weightlifting for over 20 years, I have seen my fair share of improper form with a variety of exercises. One of the most important reasons to maintain proper form during weight lifting exercises is to prevent injury. When we lift a lot of heavy weight, this can cause the body to become misaligned that can place your tendons, muscles and joints in positions that can potentially cause strains or tears. The top three exercises I see performed incorrectly are the Romanian Deadlift, the Back Squat, and Pull-Ups. Today, I want to focus on the Romanian Deadlift.
The Romanian Deadlift, or RDL, is an excellent lift for developing strength and lean muscle mass in your posterior chain. Whether your goal is a great physique, a bigger squat or deadlift, or to run faster, the RDL can help you get there.
Unfortunately, the RDL is one of the most difficult lifts to perfect. The concepts of a neutral spine, loading the hips by pushing them back, or keeping the weight on the heels, make it a challenging lift. But with practice and perfection, it is one of the best lifts you can do!
Head and Neck: Proper alignment of the head and neck is critical when lifting. This is especially important in a posterior chain dominant lift like the RDL. The chin should be tucked in slightly, and the neck in a neutral alignment with the rest of your torso.
Chest: With the RDL the chest should be up. Someone should be able to read the front of your shirt if you are in proper form. Keep your chest up throughout the lift. This can be difficult to perfect but keep working on keeping the chest up without excessively extending your neck.
Lower Back: The lower back in a resting position should have slight lordosis. The goal is to maintain that throughout the lift. A neutral spine will really allow you to work through the hamstrings and glutes.
Knees: This is a biggie and where many go wrong. Throughout the RDL, you need about 15-20 degrees of knee flexion from the start. Too much and you won’t hit the hamstrings effectively. Too little and it turns into a stiff leg deadlift.
Feet: Your feet should be pointed straight ahead using a hip-width stance, and the weight should be shifted towards the heels.