Last updated on October 29th, 2022 at 04:06 pm
It’s actually an extremely commonly asked question, “Are Romanian Deadlifts Better With Barbell or Dumbbells?”
I guess we all know that Romanian deadlifts are a fantastic exercise for your glutes and hamstrings, and even for your lower back.
Plus, training your posterior chain can have a multitude of positive effects on your overall physique?
However, is training Romanian deadlifts with a barbell or dumbbells more advantageous?
Then again, does it really matter or make a difference?
Allow me to reveal all.
Are Romanian Deadlifts Better With Barbell or Dumbbells?
Romanian deadlifts with a barbell is generally considered the better option. This is mainly because it allows you to use more weight, which is better for overall strength and muscular development. However, dumbbell Romanian deadlifts allow for greater range of motion, as you don’t have to worry about the plates touching the ground. That being said, performing barbell Romanian deadlifts while standing on a platform also increases your ROM.
The Case For Barbell Romanian Deadlifts
Firstly, I have to say whether one exercise is “better” than another mainly comes down to personal opinion.
So, you’re always going to get two sides of the story when comparing two separate exercises.
Now, I think there are some fantastic advantages to dumbbell Romanian deadlifts, and I’ll cover these in a moment.
Plus, I think it’s important to add that I regularly perform both barbell and dumbbell Romanian deadlifts.
In other words, I’m not completely discounting one exercise over the other.
That being said, in MY personal opinion, barbell Romanian deadlifts will always be better.
The main reason for this simply comes down to the amount of weight you can typically shift with a barbell.
Of course, I understand that training in the gym isn’t always about lifting as much weight as possible.
Plus, I regularly perform exercises in the hypertrophy and muscular endurance range.
However, as the posterior chain houses some of the largest muscles in the body, I personally like to go heavy.
You Can Still Go “Heavy” With Dumbbells
Obviously, depending on your size and physical capabilities, it may be difficult to find dumbbells heavy enough for Romanian deadlifts.
But, if I’m being completely honest, due to my size, this isn’t actually an issue for me.
My gym has dumbbells up to 60kg and this is more than enough for me to do Romanian deadlifts with.
However, looking at the bigger picture, I understand that this is probably not enough weight for many heavier athletes in the gym.
Now, one of the main things you’ll hear against barbell Romanian deadlifts is that your range of motion is limited
So, if your aim is to perform the movement for hypertrophy, you could in fact be limiting potential muscular growth.
Let’s face facts, those 45lbs plates will typically come into contact with the ground before you’ve hit the full range of motion.
However, you can of course negate this by simply standing on top of a platform.
And this is why I feel that the barbell Romanian deadlift is the better movement.
The Case For Dumbbell Romanian Deadlifts
Okay, so I’ve mentioned that I also regularly perform dumbbell Romanian deadlifts.
For me, and due to my size, it doesn’t make a great deal of difference whether I use a barbell or dumbbells.
However, as I’ve said, I understand that this may not be the greatest option for heavier athletes in the gym.
Now, I’ve spoken of the potential for increased range of motion when using dumbbells.
But, I’ve also said that you can overcome this by standing on a platform, while performing barbell Romanian deadlifts.
Nevertheless, there is one slight issue with range of motion when using a barbell.
If you’re used to always using a barbell for Romanian deadlifts you’ll typically always target the floor in order to achieve a great range of motion.
Unfortunately, this is almost ingrained in your mind, so even when you perform barbell Romanian deadlifts on a platform, you still tend to aim for the floor.
What happens here is that you’ll typically go deeper than you should, and also deeper than you can control.
What I mean by this is there is the potential to go so deep when standing on a platform that you end up rounding your back.
This obviously is not what you’re looking for and it immediately takes most of the strain off the posterior chain.
In fact, once you’ve gone “too deep” and allowed your back to round, you’re no longer training your glutes, hamstrings, and erector spinae muscles.
And unfortunately, your lower back has to take up the strain.
Body Alignment is Better With Dumbbell RDLs
A final factor to consider about using dumbbells for Romanian deadlifts is that it allows you to maintain body alignment to a much greater degree.
Realistically, when you use a barbell, your focus is much more on getting those plates as close to the ground as possible.
This is when it’s easy to forget that you have to keep your body perfectly aligned during the movement.
In effect, you’re no longer training Romanian deadlifts to hit the target muscles, but rather you’re concentrating on the position of the barbell.
However, with dumbbells, as you know that you’re going to get a full range of motion, you concentrate far more on maintaining body alignment throughout each and every rep.
This for me is extremely important for overall muscular development, as well as avoiding injury.
That being said, I have clearly stated that my preference is to use a barbell.
But, I have also mentioned that I like to perform both Romanian deadlift variations.
So, while one exercise could be “better” for you and your specific body type, this doesn’t mean that you should completely ignore the other.
How To – Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift
So, I hope you understand that whether Romanian Deadlifts are better with a barbell or dumbbells will typically come down to personal opinion.
Basically, they both have various benefits.
That being said, for me, the barbell loaded Romanian deadlift will always be better, simply due to the fact that you can pull more weight.
Obviously, depending on your size and strength, this may not even be an issue, as your gym may have dumbbells more than heavy enough for you.
Furthermore, in defence of dumbbell RDLs, they do allow for a greater range of motion, which is ideal for muscular development.
That being said, you can also perform barbell Romanian deadlifts on a raised platform, which will also increase the range of motion.
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Hi, I’m Partha, owner and founder of My Bodyweight Exercises. I am a Level 3 Personal Trainer and Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the Register of Exercise Professionals, United Kingdom. I have been a regular gym-goer since 2000 and coaching clients since 2012. My aim is to help you achieve your body composition goals.