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Back-Friendly RDL Variations ?


Hello from France,

I love so much RDL as an assistance move for my 5/3/1 work, I don't want to stop them...the problem is that after adding weight weeks after weeks, my Barbell RDL becomes to be painfull for my lower back.

Is there any article or ideas here to help me use a more back-friendly variation ?

With DB, I can't load as much as with BB and plates.
I remember reading an article about doing them on the Smith machine, but can't remember the author and the details.
Any idea ?

Thank you !


pull throughs train hip extension with no spinal loading but it's hard to load them up heavy


Do the single leg version with the non-working leg in the air behind you. I've had no back problems with these, balance is a bit tough at first but you get used to it.

Or you could try the Split-stance RDLs that Ben Bruno talked about http://www.T-Nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/ultimate_hamstring_movement



White page, jskrabac...


Check again tomorrow. It's a youtube link.


Still nothing...



Throw that into youtube and see if it works.


You could try some single leg vatiations featured in this article

But there could be an underlying issue, RDLs shouldn't be hurting you in the first place so take some time to step back and dial your form in properly before pushing the weights up again. Post a video if you would like.


Mat, dumbbells are one of the most back-friendly options because you can't load them as much as a barbell. The neutral-grip also helps to center the load across the shoulders/upper back/spine, instead of having the weight slightly in front of the body's center. A trap bar would be a similar idea.

Ben Bruno's recent article about the staggered stance RDL is worth checking out:

Definitely worth repeating.


staggered-stance RDL


I find for RDL's I don't need to use much weight at all to absolutely destroy my hamstrings/glutes... I mean like 25-35% of my Deadlift 1RM, just focus on the stretch, pushing your ass back, etc... I could literally just go in and do 5 sets of those and I'd be quite sore the next day.

Although this is better if your goals are more BB-related, for PLing I doubt doing them this way would have much carryover.


Forget the advanced versions and single leg versions. It's good your back is hurting. Your body is telling you something, probably that your not doing the exercise correctly, which is the most logical explanation for your back pain.

Your thought process shouldn't be ok then let me do a different exercise but instead, if I'm not doing this exercise correctly, whats the chance I am going to do other exercises that work in essentially the same way correctly.

The answer is you probably wont.

Glute activation buddy. Don't think I'm fine it's the exercise that is the problem. Trust me. It's you.


Do you have a pre-existing back injury?

As a rule of thumb though, I think most people go too heavy on RDLs for their own good. I know I used to. I used to always be trying to add more and more weight, without paying attention to how well I actually felt them working my hammies/glutes. Was doing in the low 400's for 5-10 reps, but barely felt them in anything but my back. Now, I will either do them slowly, with a pause at the bottom, or just high volume, like 225 or so for a few sets of 20-25 reps.

FWIW, I do train primarily for powerlifting purposes. I'll do RDLs after my squat movement.


Thanks to everyone.