We are back with Move of the Week! Time to fire up that posterior chain…and feel the pain in the days after!
THE MOVE: Romanian Deadlift with Mid-shin Pause
MOVEMENT PATTERN AND MUSCLES WORKED: Hinge pattern: posterior chain (hamstrings, glutes, upper back) and grip.
WHY DO IT: Some of us already know that the Romanian Deadlift (or RDL for short) has a propensity to cause incredibly sore hamstrings and glutes in the days after a training session. This is because of the incredible amount of eccentric control needed by the hamstrings to perform this movement, especially as the weights get heavy.
That soreness you feel is from the eccentric control you need in this movement to hinge at the hips, which lengthens the hamstrings. By doing this, you’re basically building your hamstrings’ tolerance and strength at increasing muscle lengths.
Today’s move takes this concept a step further by introducing a pause at the bottom of the lift. This isometric portion is no fun–especially at end-range. However, it’s a nice addition that will help build a stronger posterior chain in the long run.
Furthermore, because there is so much time under tension here, the RDL with Mid-shin Pause is a great teaching tool for keeping neutral spine throughout a hinge motion. This is especially true when the bar is closest to the ground, where it is hardest to keep the torso solid and the spine neutral. It’s a great way to “bulletproof” the back, so to speak.
HOW TO DO IT: For this exercise, load up a barbell and set up in a tall position with the barbell in your hands. Your joints should be stacked; hips over knees over toes, shoulders over elbows over hands. Now brace your core and unlock your knees. Hinge by slowly sitting your hips back, letting the tension build gradually in your hamstrings, and allowing the bar to descend as you hinge. Your shins should remain vertical throughout this movement. Don’t let your back round and think about keeping your ribs down but your chest up, maintaining a neutral spine. You’ll know something is wrong if you feel this in your lower back, and not the hamstrings.
Go down until the bar is at mid-shin. Your hamstrings should be on hellfire here. Hold this position for 2-3 seconds, and drive up through the heels to stand straight up. Think about squeezing the glutes and extending the hips through to finish the movement.
For the RDL with Mid-shin Pause, I’d recommend 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps, depending on how you would like to use it. You can go heavy as a main lift, and in this case sticking closer to 4 sets of 5 might be better. As an assistance exercise, sticking closer to 3 sets of 8 should be sufficient. If you’re looking for a progression to the normal RDL, be sure to give today’s move a shot. Let us know what you think on Twitter or Instagram @halevylife !
by Jeremy Lau
Jeremy Lau is a Senior Staff Coach at Halevy Life.
Jeremy graduated cum laude from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a BSc. in Biomedical Engineering and received his Master’s in Exercise Physiology at Columbia University. In addition to his academic accolades, Jeremy is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS).
Prior to joining the team at Halevy Life, Jeremy completed a coaching internship at Cressey Sports Performance, where he coached both amateur and professional athletes, among whom were many professional MLB baseball players.
As an athlete, Jeremy has played baseball competitively for most of his life.