Having a nicely-shaped behind that fills out jeans is a goal of many strength-training women. Squats and lunges are commonly done to achieve a rounded, firm tush, but if you have bad knees these moves may be a no-go. The Romanian deadlift is an alternative exercise that is easier on knees but still trains your hamstrings, glutes and lower back.
To do the Romanian deadlift, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a barbell with an overhand grip. Let the barbell rest in front of your thighs. Hinge forward from the hips as you kick them back. Slide the bar down along your legs until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Maintain a slight bend in the knees -- do not lock the joints. Your back should be parallel to the floor at the bottom of the movement. Return to the standing position without rounding your back.
The Romanian deadlift and the stiff-legged deadlift look similar, but the Romanian deadlift calls for slightly bent knees. This position prevents over-straining the joint and adding pressure that can lead to injury. By bending the knees just a little, you keep the tension on the muscles you want to work.
The Romanian deadlift primarily targets the hamstrings at the back of the thighs. You also target the gluteus maximus, the erector spinae along the spine and the calves. Most exercises, including squats and lunges, engage the quadriceps along with the backside muscles. Many women are already quad-dominant and suffer from weaker glutes and hamstrings. The Romanian deadlift gives your knees and your quads a break from training so your derriere and hamstrings are front and center.
While the Romanian deadlift may be easier on the knees than other leg exercises, it can be taxing to the low back. If you suffer from low back pain, consult a physician before adding the move to your routine, and if you feel any pain in your back while executing the move, stop immediately. Using too much weight or allowing your abdominal muscles to disengage while you lower the weight can cause strain to the back during the exercise.
- Bodybuilding.com: Romanian Deadlift
- ExRx.net: Romanian Deadlift
- Bodybuilding.com: Knee Injury Prevention
- Bodybuilding.com: Romanian Deadlifts: Training the Other Half of Your Legs
- The Female Body Breakthrough; Rachel Cosgrove
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.