The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is a key strength exercise within the Hinge-Deadlift Sub-Category and a cornerstone exercise in many athlete’s hamstring training for performance and injury prevention but there’s so many more possibilities for LTAD with this fantastic exercise which has good opportunities for heavy loading and functional relevance to the Olympic Lifts.
Progression Aspect 1:
The first progression is of reduced positive constraint on lumbar spine posture and saggital plane lumbo-pelvic control during a hip hinge. Taking the bar off of the shoulders and gripping it in the hands at the waist is a task that presents an elevated challenge to that lumbo-control. Without the constraint of load on the shoulders, some athletes will default to lumbar-flexion under this challenge, some will lumbar-extend.
We consider neither optimal.
Not that either spinal posture is inherently good or bad, the task here is simply to retain a stiffened, ‘braced lumbar neutral’ to provide easy access to True Hip Extension and minimise vertebral shearing stress from hip extension in lumbar extension/anterior pelvic tilt.
Progression Aspect 2:
The second aspect of progression exemplifies our whole body approach to strength training for LTAD and sports performance. One in which neighbouring joints form synergistic pairs in every larger coordination strategies that span the body.
The RDL serves as a connector point for the Upper Body Hz Push & Pull and the Hinge Corrective Themes to merge together. In heavily abstracted terms that means linking shoulder stability to lumbar spine and pelvis stability. At a ‘Corrective’ level we’re integrating the most fundamental shoulder stability skill (centering humeral head with scapula retraction/posterior tilt) with the most fundamental trunk skill (maintenance of braced lumbar neutral) under a somewhat functionally relevant challenge (hip flexion. and hip extension).
How does we aim to do this?
A barbell gripped in the hands during an RDL creates a distraction load on stable shoulder position taught through the Upper Body Corrective Phases. Provided these scapula skills are in place, we’ll look to integrate this complex shoulder girdle stability into the lumbar spine and the powerful posterior chain for which the RDL is best known.