T Nation

Can't Feel Legs Working on Romanian Deadlift. Advice?

  1. Soreness: First, soreness does not equal growth stimulus. I just have to put that out there. Go run a marathon or do 500 push-ups tomorrow. You will be sore as fuck for the next week but will have done nothing to grow big legs or a big chest. Also, you will likely never feel soreness in your glutes from any compound movement, ever, so don’t waste your time chasing that, ever.

  2. Next, I am uniquely qualified to help you. RDLs happen to be my favorite exercise and I have a 20-year love affair with them. I just hit 585x5 the other day.

  3. I believe the reason you are not feeling the exercise in your hamstrings and is that you are going too low and both your t-spine and L-spine are going into flexion in the bottom position. You are distributing the load across 4 levers, instead of two. Try this and let us know if it helps…

Move your feet closer together, no wider than directly under your hips. Point your toes straight forward, not out at a 45, like in the vid. At the top, squeeze your shoulder blades together like you are trying to hold a pool noodle between them and lock them in that position. Take in a big breath to create a big, high chest. Strive to your upper body locked in this position for the entirety of the set. Initiate the descent by thinking about recreating that photo shoot Kim Kardashian did where they set a glass of wine on her ass and using your hip flexors to pull your hips back. Continue lowering the bar by continuing to pull your hips back, rather than lowering the bar. The bar will lower on its own as your hips hinge. Continue to descend until your hamstrings feel tight. Then reverse the movement.

If you keep shoulders back, big chest, and pull your hips back with your hip flexors, you should not be able to descend much below knee height. At 2-3 inches below your knees, you should feel a full stretch of the hammies.

Get this form down and add weight, and you will feel it in your legs.

1 Like

ok i’ll try it next leg day, thank you so much for the advice!

1 Like

Big emphasis on this. Working on the hips moving straight back instead of down or worse, not at all, is key

1 Like

So, the hip hinge is obviously a super important part of the exercise, and you’re spot on, but I’ll go ahead and disagree with this:

I get where your head is with this, but people will actively arch their backs to make this happen, and a back arch under weight is shearing force on the spine. I do think you’re likely overcorrecting to offset a rounded T/L spine, but - and this is just my opinion - arched-spine lifts have caused as many, if not more injuries, than round-back lifts, and many people upon hearing this will skip over neutral spine straight into arched spine, which is not only bad for the back, but a nightmare for the hips.

I don’t mean to insinuate that you don’t know how to do the exercise, only that a newer lifter might take your advice too far.


@flappinit Good point man. I agree with everything you said. I probably shouldn’t have used such an extreme example.

It’s just so damn hard to keep Kim K out of my mind.

@taproot i hope I didn’t cause you any trouble recommending pushing your butt back like Kim K. Flappinit is right, that was too extreme an example. Strive to keep a neutral spine throughout. For most newer lifters this will require a mental cue to “contract lower erectors, push hips back”. It was easier to say “recreate Kim K photo shoot”. Upon further examination of Kim’s ass, it was a bit of an extreme example.

1 Like

I started messing with this position or stretch after seeing Knees Over Toes Guy mention it as step one to strengthen groin muscles.

I can’t wishbone my legs that far, or course. But pushing my heels “away” and getting my legs all the way straight really showed me how my weak, tight adductors were making me excessively arch my lower back and taking tension off my hamstrings.

Allowing adductors to relax and stretch into the tension vs clenching tight during hinging has been good.

I had the same thought, not enough weight. Strengthlevel stats would set the weight for squat and RDL at roughly the same. It may seem intimidating for the lower back to use that heavy weight, but if you keep a neutral spine it should be OK. Movement-wise try to “hinge” at the hip more - your butt should move backward, and as @mechinos mentioned, think of pushing your legs backward, along with thrusting hips forward.

Just a suggestion, try RDLs with a trap bar and leave out the last bit of hip extension.

I’ve been doing this for a few weeks and I feel it much more in the hams.

Do RDLs like you are trying to push a door with your butt. If you wanna feel the hams, do a few sets of luying leg curls before the RDLs and see how it goes for the muscle mind connection after into the RDLs.

Dont do RDLs too slow as a beginner. You will transfer the movement a lot to the low back muscles. Do a butt push to door movement with a safe weight. Not a but hit either, just a nice gentle push.