This week's exercise of the week is a Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift. I thought that since I introduced an anterior focused exercise last week this week I would shed some light on one of my favorite exercises for developing the posterior chain. There is some discussion circulating about what a proper Romanian Deadlift (RDL) looks like, but in my opinion the biggest difference between an RDL and a conventional deadlift is the limited knee flexion and increased focus on the hip hinge. I love this exercise because it works well as an initial starting point for teaching one to find there hips and bend through their hips rather than their lumbar spine.

The RDL is a versatile exercise that can be done in a variety of positions, environments, and loaded with a number of different modes. I prefer to start people off with a dumbbell variation because it allows the individuals to manipulate the load out of their way when they extend their hips at the top of the movement.

To properly perform an RDL you want to begin standing upright with your shoulders, hips, and knees in a straight line with the spine in a neutral position. You want to maintain the neutral spine position throughout the entire exercise. Begin the movement my slightly flexing the knees once this position is assumed do not flex the knee any further. The rest of the exercise's motion should come from the flexion of the hips, think about driving your butt towards the wall behind you. As your hips flex backwards the dumbbells should migrate from the sides of your legs to the front of your body remaining close to your legs as you flex your hips. When the bottom position is reached you should feel a tight stretch in your hamstrings. Once you have maxed out your hip flexion range of motion. Initiate the the concentric part of the movement by  extending the hips forward and squeezing the glutes. Remember to extend the knees as well and finish standing upright once again. This concentric motion should appear as if you are humping the air in front of you.
Remember that your range of motion will not be as great when you begin using the exercise in your program. But slowly over time with proper hip mobility drills one should be able to increase their range of motion drastically. Focus on moving through hips rather than reaching for the floor. This is not an exercise focused on the lower back, but rather on practicing proper hip hinge patterning and development of the glutes and hamstrings.

I recommend using this exercise once a week atleast focusing on movement quality over load. Once your proficiency has increased then begin placing increased loads throughout the movement. Variations of this exercise are numerous so if this doesn't quite work for you chances are there is a variation out there that better suits your physiology.

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