The Romanian Deadlift is a compound movement. This means that it activates almost every muscle in your body to complete this exercise. Thus, it burns a lot of calories and it needs your entire focus.
A variation of this move is the Stiff-legged Deadlift. Here you keep your knees much more straight and don’t move them during the exercise (keep them “stiff”). The stiff-legged Deadlift activates the hamstrings to a higher degree than the Romanian Deadlift.
However, the muscles that are primarily worked are the Glutes, Hamstrings and Lower Back.
Today, I would like to share a little trick of mine to further increase gluteal activation and help you build more strength in your hamstrings and glutes: Elevating your toes!
The Romanian Deadlift with toes elevated
Before I explain the advanced version, elevating the toes, I would like to point out important cues for proper form for the traditional variation of the Romanian Deadlift.
Romanian Deadlift: Tips for proper form
- Start with bodyweight, until you have learned the movement. You need to hinge from your hips and not bend over with your upper body.
- Try to keep your upper body in a straight line, do not round your upper back and do not hyperextend your lower back either.
- Always pretend like you have a little purse in your armpit. If you let your arms hang loose, the purse will fall down. This trick activates the Latissimus dorsi and makes sure you pull your shoulder blades down and back.
- Keep your arms and the weight close to your body. It is tempting to let the weight hang to the front but that will increase the pressure on your lower back. Only go as low as you can keep the weight close to your body
- Contract your Glutes and Core at all times. The moment you cannot feel your Core or Glutes contract anymore, stop and don’t go lower. Your muscles should control the movement, as your joints are not strong enough for that.
- Slightly raise your toes: You need to keep your weight in your heels to properly engage the Glutes and Hamstrings. Thus, you can slightly raise your toes to shift your weight more back.
- Use your Glutes to come up: Imagine you have a pencil in between your glutes and it should not fall down. Squeeze your muscles the whole time, especially when coming up. Do not thrust your hips forward but slowly tilt your pelvis posteriorly to fully engage the Glutes.
- Don’t look down: Don’t hyperextend your neck but don’t look down at your feet. Whenever I do that, I start to round my Upper Back. Keep your head in a slightly arched position and fix a point on the wall.
- Use your Gluteus Medius: When you come up, try to push the ground apart with your feet. This will activate the gluteus medius and not only improve the shape of your behind, but also stabilize your pelvis.
No muscle group is left out with this exercise. Try wearing a heart-rate monitor while doing deadlifts. If you are doing it right, keeping tension in your muscles and lifting heavy, your heart-rate should be high in the 160s after this exercise.
Today’s Tip: Romanian Deadlift with Toes elevated
Here is a Video demonstrating this variation of the Romanian Deadlift.
The elevation of the toes increases the tension in the Glutes and Hamstrings.
However, I only recommend this for an advanced trainee, who has already done the traditional form many times.
You do not need to lift heavy weights with this variation. Also, you will not be able to lower the weight as much as you would in a traditional stiff-legged Deadlift.
However, if you are looking for more of a challenge for your hamstrings and glutes, you should definitely try this out.
I was sore for three days when I first tried this exercise!
Have you tried elevating your toes before?
Comment and share if you liked this!
Wish you all a wonderful day,