Dumbbell RDL (How To, Muscles Worked, Benefits)

The dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is a lower-body exercise that is used primarily as an accessory movement to help lifters gain strength and hypertrophy for their hamstrings and glute muscles.

In this article, I am going to explain how to properly execute the dumbbell RDL, some coaching points, muscles worked, and give some alternatives.

How To Do Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts

Equipment Needed

  • Dumbbells (Kettlebells can also be used in place of dumbbells)

Step-by-Step Instruction

  • With the two dumbbells or kettlebells at your feet, you should hinge at the waist and bend at the knee, keeping a nice flat back, and lift the dumbbells off the ground.
  • Standing nice and tall, squeeze the shoulder blades back and create tension in the abdomen.
  • Keeping a neutral spine, fixing the eyes forward (DO NOT CRANE THE NECK BACK).
  • Initiate the movement by pushing the hips back, hinging at the waist, and keeping a slight bend in the knee.
  • The eccentric movement will continue until the dumbbells are about 3/4 down your shins.
  • Once the dumbbells are about 3/4 of the way down your shins, start to extend the hips, keeping tension in the abdomen and keeping the upper back nice and tight, straightening the knees until you return to standing in the starting position.

Coaching Points

It is important for the lifter to maintain a neutral spine, maintaining tension in the abdomen and upper back. Remember to breathe in and hold the breath during eccentric (lowering the weight) and breathe out as you perform the concentric movement (bringing the weight back up).


The Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is a great exercise for improving strength, power, and overall functional movement.

Some benefits of the Dumbbell RDL include:

  1. Improved muscle balance: The Dumbbell RDL helps to strengthen and develop the muscles of the posterior chain, which can help to improve muscle balance and reduce the risk of injury.
  2. Increased lower body strength: The RDL targets the muscles of the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back, which can help to improve overall lower body strength and power.
  3. Improved functional movement: The RDL requires you to hinge at the hips and maintain a neutral spine, which can help not only improve athletic performance but can also improve your ability to perform everyday movements, such as picking up heavy objects.
  4. Increased muscle mass: The RDL can help to increase muscle mass in the lower body, particularly in the glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.

Muscles Worked

  • Hamstrings
  • Glute Muscles
  • Upper and Lower Back

Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift Alternatives

If you need an alternative for Dumbbell RDLs, for whatever reason, here are a few alternatives you might be able to use as a replacement.

Barbell RDL

Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

The Barbell RDL is a great exercise for improving lower body strength and power, as well as overall balance and stability.

While it may not be suitable for everyone, it can be a good alternative to the Dumbbell RDL for those who are looking to challenge themselves with heavier loads and improve their strength and power.

Banded Good Mornings

A Banded Good Morning is an exercise where the lifter puts a band around their neck, resting on the traps (remember don’t crane the neck upward), and performs the hip hinge pattern which would be identical to the dumbbell RDL.

This is beneficial for novice lifters looking for a different form of resistance and also serves as a great warm-up movement for the more experienced lifter getting ready for squats and deadlifts.



A Hyperextension is an exercise where the lifter locks themselves into a glute-ham raise machine, facing the floor. The athlete should ensure the crease of their hip is at the edge of the pad as they fully extend their body (always remember to have your feet locked in so you don’t faceplant).

The athlete will control themselves down, keeping good tension in the abdomen, until their torso is about perpendicular to the floor. At this point the athlete will perform the concentric movement, using their hamstrings, low back, and glutes to lock in the repetition at the top of the movement.

More Links and Info

Looking for more great Lower Body Lifts? Head over to the exercise library where there is a great collection of exercises with step-by-step instructions. All for free.

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