How To Do Romanian Deadlifts With Dumbbells

 If you’re enthusiastic about fitness and love to lift weights, then we suggest you try the ‘Romanian Deadlift’ with dumbbells to switch up your routine and get those muscles working without always turning to the barbell.

Though the barbell, in some situations, can be a better option, in some cases, you don’t always have access to that piece of equipment and this means the dumbbell variation will become one of the best compound exercises for you instead.

This article looks at the Romanian deadlift, the muscles worked and proper technique, and most of all, how to perform the exercise using only dumbbells. 

How To Do Romanian Deadlifts With Dumbbells

Why The Romanian Deadlift?

The Romanian deadlift is one of the best variations of a deadlift and can develop the posterior chain muscles, including hamstrings, lumbar spine, gluteus, and adductors. Performing a perfect Romanian deadlift will also strengthen your core and lower back, as well as reduce the risk of lower back injuries. 

Primary Muscles Worked

  • Biceps Femoris

This includes two semi-muscles called semitendonosus and semimemtranosus. Collectively, we call them hamstrings and they are the fourth-largest muscles in the human body.

  • Gluteus

The Gluteus Maximus is one of the primary muscles used during a dumbbell RDL. The gluteus is made up of three muscles Maximus, medium, and minimus. It is the largest group of muscles in the body.

  • The Erector Spine

This is located on your back and consists of three sub muscles. These muscles are engaged throughout the movement and can support your spine as you bend and flex.

Other Muscles Include:

  • The Core
  • Adductor Magus
  • Trapezius
  • Forearm Flexors
  • Gastrocnemius

A lot of beginners make the same mistake and avoid heavyweight exercises when they first start out. Heavyweight exercises include not only the deadlift but also squats and the bench press and these are important to improve strength, stamina, and power.

If you don’t have access to a barbell, however, dumbbells can come in handy and are great alternatives to get you started.

How Do I Perform The Romanian Deadlift Using Dumbbells?

  1. Take two dumbbells, according to your lifting strength, and place them out in front of you, close to your feet.
  2. Next, you need to stand upright and keep your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Bend your knees and hips slightly and grab the dumbbells with an overhand grip and make sure your palms are facing your body.
  4. Keep the chest up. Keep your core tight before lifting up the dumbbells. To do this, lift your shoulder blades and make use of your heels to make sure you are standing straight. This will be your first rep in your set.
  5. To move on to the next rep, lower your torso slowly whilst keeping your chest high and your shoulder blades together. Go as low as you feel comfortable with but avoid landing the dumbbells on the floor.
  6. Hold this position for a few seconds and ensure your hamstrings are completely engaged. Slowly return to the starting position by pushing up through your heels and pressing your hips forward. Repeat these steps and you increase your reps.
  7. Avoid bending your knees like squats or other deadlift variations. Keep a slight bend in your knees and hips and this should help you feel the stretch in your hamstrings.
  8. One of the most important things to note is that throughout the movement, you need to keep the dumbbells close to your body.

Romanian Deadlift Technique

Proper technique whilst performing exercises is key to not only avoiding injury but also to weight loss and muscle gain.

The techniques we have listed below are important not to perform the Romanian deadlift with dumbbells and will help you minimize your risk of injury or strain.

Romanian Deadlift

1. Breathe

Though we need to breathe, breathing between pulling or lifting may cause strain. Instead, try to inhale just before lifting and exhale after the lift.

2. Hold That Chest Up

Unlike other forms of the deadlift, the chest needs to be kept up throughout the movement whilst performing a Romanian deadlift.

3. Keep The Back Straight

Whether this is a dumbbell or a barbell variation, keeping your back straight whilst performing a Romanian deadlift is key to reducing lower back stress and injuries. It also ensures you are properly engaging the working muscles.

4. Brace The Abdominal Muscles

You need to keep your core tight whilst performing the Romanian deadlift with dumbbells as this will also reduce lower back stress and allow you to lift heavier weights whilst performing each rep efficiently.

5. Stand Through Your Heels

You are mainly working your lower body whilst performing a deadlift and this is why it is so important to push through your heels and return to the standing position. Use your feet to stand straight and raise your shoulder blades together when lifting the dead weight.

6. Look Forward and Downward

It is not necessary to look forward during a Romanian deadlift, but the proper way to execute the move is to look forward when you reach the standing position, then look downward as your torso goes down to lift or lower the weight.

7. Avoid Locking Out Your Knees

To avoid lower back stress, avoid locking your knees. Although the move does not require you to bend them too much, locking them can also be unsafe. When you lower your body down, fractionally bend your knees to lift the weights.


There are many benefits to performing the Romanian deadlift using dumbbells and these include:

  • Helps Us Understand the Movement and Biomechanics of Hip Flexion and Extension Whilst Standing- This will help in other deadlift variations, as well as squatting.
  • Strengthens Gluteus and Hamstrings- Strengthening these muscles help with other exercises from running and jumping, to squatting and deadlifting.
  • Increases Strength and Stability- If you execute the move properly, your muscles of the spine work to keep stability. This strengthens the posterior chain muscles, which are responsible for extending the hips and knees when your foot is planted on the ground. It also improves forearm flexors, grip strength, and core strength.

Final Thoughts

The dumbbell Romanian deadlift is great to add to your workout routine, especially if you do can’t access a barbell and want to strengthen those gluteus muscles and hamstrings.

If you feel pain in your lower back, ensure you are performing the move correctly and if the pain does not subside, try a gym belt. This will protect your back and allow you to lift heavier weights.

Since the exercise only requires dumbbells and not a lot of space, feel free to also try this exercise at home if you can’t get to the gym, just ensure you are following proper instructions and lift safely! Happy lifting!

Kevin Harris