The Eastern Block countries get credit for all of the badass exercises. There’s the Russian Twist, where you sit on the floor and wield a medicine ball side-to-side in an arcing pattern, and the Bulgarian Split Squat, where you set a foot on a platform behind you and basically do a single leg lunge. The Romanian Deadlift is another cool Eastern Block strength-builder, and it’s our next key exercise in building resilient hamstrings.  

The Romanian Deadlift takes the eccentric stress of the Hamstrings Progression on Swiss to another level.  In this exercise, you will use the body learning from the Seated Hamstrings Mobility to keep your back in a neutral position, and the strength you developed in the Hamstrings Progression on Swiss exercise series.  I strongly recommend you master Level 2 of the Hamstrings Progression on Swiss before starting the Romanian Deadlift.

The key part of this exercise is back safety. When you’re watching the accompanying video for this exercise, pay close attention to the instructions to use the hip joint movement to keep stress off of the lower back.  The way I teach this movement is focused on feeling the hamstrings and glutes doing the work, and your lower back feeling “neutral”, meaning that you don’t feel strain or much effort in the lower back. The hips sit back until the hamstrings stretch, and the hips push forward to stand you back up. The spine doesn’t change its shape.

Check out the Romanian Deadlift video:

The benefits of the Romanian Deadlift include:

  • More eccentric stress on your hamstrings to make them more resilient to injuries.
  • A great full-body exercise that strengthens your hamstrings, glutes, lower and upper back, and trunk muscles.
  • Great lifting practice to learn how to keep your spine protected when you need to lift and move heavy objects.
  • Building strength, size, and tone of your hamstrings, glutes, and back muscles.

I recommend doing the following set, rep, and weight progression with the Romanian Deadlift.  Note that I’m guiding you to take your time letting your body adapt to this exercise, as it can make your hamstrings very sore. I once made the mistake of doing too much too soon, and was sore for almost two weeks! Overtraining like this has many negative consequences.

Week 1: 2 sets of 15 reps with no weight.

Week 2: 2 sets of 15 reps with a weight that makes for a 50% effort, or an effort of 5 on a scale of 1-10.

Week 3+: Do the same as week 2 until your hamstrings don’t get sore after your workout. This may take a few weeks.

When your hamstrings are no longer sore in the days following the progression above, progress to the following:

Week 1: 2 sets of 15 reps with 40% effort (note that this will be a heavier weight than you used in Week 2 above).  30 – 45 second rest intervals between sets.

Week 2: 2 sets of 12 reps with a weight that gives you a 50% effort.

Week 3: 2 sets of 10 reps with a weight that gives you a 60% effort.

Week 4: 3 sets of 15 reps with the weight you used in week 2.

Week 5: 3 sets of 12 reps with the weight you used in week 3.

Week 6: 3 sets of 10 reps with a weight that is heavier than in week 5.

Feel free to e-mail me at if you have any questions.