Do Romanian Deadlifts Increase Flexibility?

romanian deadlift
October 5, 2022 0 Comments

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In this article I will be answering the question “do romanian deadlifts increase flexibility?”. Romanian deadlifts are a fantastic assistance exercise for the deadlift and can also be used as a standalone movement in their own right.

Many high level bodybuilders exclusively use the romanian deadlift as their primary hip hinge movement. This speaks volumes as to the effectiveness of the exercise for building up the posterior chain muscles.

This article will examine whether romanian deadlifts can increase flexibility. 

Do Romanian Deadlifts Increase Flexibility?

The answer is yes, romanian deadlifts can be used effectively to increase hamstring strength and improve flexibility. The key is to gradually allow yourself to become accustomed to going through the range of motion with extra weight.

You can also lower the bar down further on your legs for a greater stretch on the hamstrings. If you increase the range of motion in this way and increase the weights incrementally, your hamstrings will become a lot more flexible. 

The Correct Technique

It is always important to establish the correct technique from the outset on every exercise. Mark Rippetoe does a great job in this video of outlining the right way to perform romanian deadlifts.

Ideally you should take the bar out of a rack and walk back a few steps. Then you initiate the hip hinge from here. Be sure to keep your lower back locked in extension and push your butt back. Then bring the bar down your legs keeping close contact.

You should stop just below your knees as you feel the stretch in the hamstrings. Then use the stretch reflex to come back up. This exercise is fantastic for making your hamstrings stronger and also building up your butt and lower back strength. 

You can choose to extend the range of motion on the way down for a deeper stretch. Be sure to ease into this over time and start lighter. This will increase the flexibility of your hamstrings. 

There is a good article from Physical Culture Study about the origins of the romanian deadlift which you can read here.

Relationship Between Muscle Strength And Muscle Flexibility

There is a study published in the International Journal Of Physiology, Nutrition And Physical Education from 2018 [1] that discusses the relationship between strength and flexibility as it pertains to muscle. 

The romanian deadlift is an exercise that has unlimited loading potential and can make your hamstrings and posterior chain as a whole brutally strong. It can also improve flexibility in the posterior chain muscles.

But it is also good to explore the relationship between strength and flexibility. This study examines this in detail and I will discuss the main findings now. The study in question involved 40 male college students from 18-25 years of age. 

Descriptive statistics (mean and standard deviation) and correlation coefficient of grip strength, arm strength, abdominal strength, leg strength and flexibility were taken. The statistical significance was set at 0.05. 

The study showed that there was significant relationship between abdominal strength and flexibility. But there was an insignificant relationship of flexibility with hand grip strength, arm strength and leg strength.

The romanian deadlift does work the core muscles hard – especially as you ramp up the weight over time. Therefore, it will also improve muscle flexibility at the same time. 

correlation between strength and flexibility

AlphaDestiny’s Views On The Romanian Deadlift

There is a good video from AlphaDestiny which can be viewed below where he discusses the utility of the romanian deadlift. He is also a big believer in this exercise for deadlift assistance work or as a standalone hip hinge movement.

He also talks about the big benefits of extra time under tension that the romanian deadlift offers. Your spinal erectors are forced to continue working and have to stay locked into extension. This also means that the romanian deadlift is better suited for hypertrophy.

This explains why there are so many bodybuilders that are using the romanian deadlift as their primary hip hinge movement in the gym. You can build lots of muscle all over your body just by using this exercise consistently and applying a progressive overload component. 

In addition, the strength and size that you acquire from RDLs will serve you in all deadlifting variations. There is a high degree of carryover to the deadlift, trap bar deadlift, snatch grip deadlift, etc. 

My Own Experiences With The RDL

Now I am going to share my own experiences with the romanian deadlift. I used to perform heavy barbell romanian deadlifts when I was younger with upwards of 3 plates per side for sets of 5. 

I would take a double overhand grip with straps, unrack the bar and walk out with the weight a few steps. Then I would start the exercise as per the instructions outlined by Mark Rippetoe in the video at the beginning of this article.

I found the exercise to be great for increasing my hamstring strength and flexibility at the same time. I loved the pump that I would get in the hamstrings. In addition I also found this exercise to work the glutes and lower back really hard. Your posterior chain as a whole would be strengthened significantly from regular RDL’s.

Nowadays, I do a split leg RDL variation with dumbbells. I use higher reps for this exercise and focus on pausing at the bottom of each rep for a split second. This is to really stretch the hamstrings fully and take out the stretch reflex. 

There are many different variations of the RDL that you can try in your training. Overall, the exercise will serve you well and help to increase your flexibility. 

Final Thoughts

Do romanian deadlifts increase flexibility? The answer is yes they can. The first step is to ensure that you are performing the exercise with good and efficient technique.

If your hamstrings are very tight to start with then you should ease into the movement slowly. Start by lowering the bar down to just above knee height, then lower down to just below your knees.

As you expand the range of motion slowly under control your hamstrings will become more flexible and you will also be able to reap the full benefits of this great exercise.

If you have any comments on this topic please leave them below. As always, stay safe and enjoy your training!

>> RELATED: How to build bigger glutes


[1] Mahulkar, S.S., 2018. Relationship of muscle strength with muscle flexibility.

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