With your feet in the pulling position and holding the bar in a clean grip, bend your knees slightly with your trunk vertical—this is the start position and the position you’ll return to at the end of each rep. Keeping the same slight bend in the knees, set your back tightly and hinge at the hips as far as you can without losing the straight line in your back. Keep the bar close to your body! Once you reach your lowest point (while keeping the bar close to you and your back in position), return to standing while maintaining the same slight bend in the knees.
Why do RDL’s?
The RDL strengthens the back arch along with the glutes and hamstrings, but places somewhat less emphasis on the hamstrings because the knees remain bent throughout. Because of this bend, it can also be used as a way to reinforce the knee movement under the bar as occurs in the snatch and clean pulls. It also strengthens the lats and shoulders because of the effort to keep the bar close to the legs with the shoulders in front of the bar. It can also strengthen grip, but may be performed with straps.
Chad Vaughn, a two time Olympian, calls RDL’s on of the 5 best assistance exercises to improve your Olympic lift. He explains, “the most important position of the snatch and clean is the transition point when the bar is right above the knees. This is where the lifter goes from lifting the bar with the legs and holding the position with the back to putting speed and power into the bar as he stands with his posterior chain. I’m looking for vertical shins, the bar close to the body and the shoulders in front of the bar. One way to strengthen and reinforce this position is via the Romanian deadlift (RDL): from a standing position, lower the bar to that point right above the knees and then go back up. Go lower for extra strength and flexibility work. In my world, an RDL is defined as a form of the deadlift in which the body is bent at the hips while the knees are only slightly bent, requiring more back and hamstrings to move the weight down and up…What I recommend when doing an RDL for ideal positioning and technique strength is to just focus on the range of motion from standing down to that transition point (bar above knee). Get to that point, hold three to five seconds, and then come back up while maintaining the perfect body position established at that lowest point.”