Build Ride-Ready Strength With This Romanian Deadlift Workout
Many athletes may associate the traditional deadlift exercise with body-building, rather than riding, but this move (and its variations) benefit cyclists in more ways than one.
Practicing Romanian deadlifts a.k.a. RDLs strengthens the quads, glutes, and hamstrings, as well as the core, arm, and back muscles. In other words, you power up your entire posterior chain (or back of body), while building stability.
The best part: Instead of making you find creative ways to add this move to an existing strength session, we’ve eliminated the guesswork and had Yusuf Jeffers, NASM-certified personal trainer and USATF-certified running coach in New York City create this full RDL workout that you can seamlessly add to your schedule.
The Benefits of this RDL Workout for Cyclists
The muscles that comprise your posterior chain—those glutes, hamstrings, calves, erector spinae (along the spine), lats (the biggest muscle of the back), and rear shoulder muscles—all come into play while you’re cycling, says Jeffers. And they’re the same muscles you strengthen with the RDL.
“RDLs not only build strength in the lower body, but they also help strengthen the muscles in back and core to help with maintaining proper posture while performing exercise,” says Jeffers.
The RDL also differs slightly from the traditional deadlift in that it puts more emphasis on the power-producing glutes and hamstrings (because your legs stay straighter), rather than also getting more quads involved like the traditional move.
In addition to RDL variations, this well-crafted workout from Jeffers includes a warmup to wake up your muscles and prime them for powerful lifts. You’ll also mix in accessory work for active recovery and a way to work smaller muscle groups, like those of the upper body.
How to use this list: Do the exercises in the order listed below for 8 to 12 reps each. To warm up, complete one set of exercises 1 to 4. For exercises 5 to 10, complete 3 to 4 sets. While practicing exercises 5 to 10 (the strength moves) focus on eccentric control, which means moving slowly through the lowering phase of the move, says Jeffers.
Each move is demonstrated by Jeffers in the video above so you can learn the proper form. For this workout, you will need a set of dumbbells or kettlebells, a mini resistance band, a large resistance band. A workout mat is optional.
Warmup, 1 round
1. Cat Cow
Start on all fours with knees under hips, wrists under shoulders, and palms flat on the mat. Inhale to arch back, drop the belly, and tilt head up. Exhale and round back, tucking chin and hips downward. That’s 1 rep. Repeat, moving with your breath.
2. Bird Dog
Start on all fours with knees under hips, wrists under shoulders, and palms flat on the mat. Engage core, keeping back flat and spine straight. Extend right arm and left leg, keeping hips and shoulders square to floor. Hold for a few seconds. Pull knee and elbow back in, under torso. Then return to all fours. Repeat on other sides. Continue alternating.
3. Downdog With Foot Pedal
Start on all fours with knees under hips, wrists under shoulders, and palms flat on the mat. Hips should be above or slightly in front of knees. Tuck toes and lift knees off the floor, lifting hips up and back into an inverted V shape. Gently try to straighten legs, while on tips of toes. Bend right knee, drop left heel, and hold for 3 seconds. Then bend left knee, drop right heel, and hold for 3 seconds. Continue alternating.
4. Hinge to Squat
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, hands down by sides. Hinge at hips by sending butt straight back. Keep back flat. Hands should hover over toes. Bend knees to drop hips down as far as possible into a squat, with arms extended in front of you. Then raise hips up and strengthen legs, keeping back flat. Slowly lift torso to stand up straight. Repeat.
Strength Set, 3-4 rounds
5. Banded Good Morning
Loop one end of a large resistance band over head and across upper back. Step onto the other end of the band, placing feet about shoulder-width apart. (To keep band from slipping, bring hands in front of hips and maintain a light grip on band.) With a flat back and knees slightly bent, hinge at the hips, sending butt straight back and lowering torso until you feel a stretch in back of legs. Keep back flat. Engage glutes and drive feet into the floor to stand back up. Repeat.
6. Romanian Deadlift
Holding a weight in both hands about shoulder-width apart, stand with feet hip-width apart, chest tall. Bend knees slightly and pack shoulders down back. Slowly send butt back, hinging at the hips while keeping back straight and abs tight. Engage hamstrings and glutes to resist the downward pull of gravity as the weight lowers toward the floor. Lower as far as you can until you feel tension along the backs of legs. Then drive feet into the ground to stand back up. Repeat.
7. Lat Pull
Wrap a long resistance band around a set of weights, pole, or table. Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, holding the resistance band with both hands. With back flat, slightly hinge at the hips, then pull the resistance band toward outer thighs so there’s tension in the band. Bring arms forward to release tension. Stay in the hinge position. Repeat.
8. Staggered-Stance Romanian Deadlift
Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Hold a weight in each hand, arms down in front of you, palms facing you. Step right foot back so toes are in line with left heel. Using right foot as a kick stand to maintain balance, transfer most of weight to left leg. This is the starting position. With a soft bend in both knees, hinge at hips by sending butt straight back, and lower torso toward floor. Keep back straight, shoulders pulled down and back. Then, lower until you feel a slight pull in back of legs. Drive left foot into floor to stand all the way back up, returning to starting position. Repeat. Keep core engaged the entire time.
9. Banded Glute Bridge With Weighted Hold
Lie faceup, knees bent, feet planted on the floor, and mini resistance band around legs just above knees. Grab a weight in each hand, then extend arms up, weights over shoulders. Drive through heels, contracting the glutes to lift hips up toward the ceiling. Body should form a straight line from shoulders to knees. Pause for a few seconds. Then lower back down slowly, while keeping arms extended. Repeat.
10. Single-Leg Romanian Deadlift
Stand with weight in left hand. Shift weight to right leg, and with a soft bend in right knee, hinge at the hips by sending butt back. Keep back flat, shoulders down, and core engaged as torso reaches toward the floor and left leg lifts straight back behind you. Only lower until you feel a slight pull in right back of leg; you don’t have to lower weight to ground, but keep weight close to body. Drive right foot into floor to stand back up, squeezing glutes. Repeat for reps. Then switch sides.
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