How To Do Russian Deadlift Properly

The Russian deadlift is a slight variation from the traditional deadlift exercise. In this deadlift, the knees bend slightly as you lower your upper body.

It is a strength exercise that works the hamstrings and glutes to build muscle. Proper form is crucial to this work out which is why you should follow this guide.

  • Set up a bar with your preferred weight.
  • Stand with your feet planted at shoulder-width apart, toes pointing forward and knees slightly bent.
  • Grip the bar with an underhand grip wider than shoulder-width, close to your waist.
  • Your back should be straight and your head facing forward.
  • Tip forward, pressing the hips back.
  • Make sure your knees don’t bow inwards or outwards, keep them stable.
  • Lower the bar to your shins, keeping the spine neutral.
  • Pause then squeeze the glutes as you bring the hips forward.
  • Raise to your starting position.
  • This is a single rep. Perform six to eight for each set.

MUSCLES WORKED BY THE RUSSIAN DEADLIFT

THE HAMSTRINGS

The hamstrings are muscles of the posterior thigh (between the hip and knee), that are responsible for the extension of the knee. There are three muscles namely; semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and biceps femoris. They are susceptible to injury and tightness, which makes them a priority in your workout routine.

THE GLUTES

The glutes are the three muscles located in the butt and hips. These are the gluteus maximus (the largest of the three), the gluteus medius and the gluteus minimus. The gluteal muscles together abduct, rotate and extend the hip.

THE QUADRICEPS

The quadriceps, found in the front thigh, are commonly known as the quads. The four muscles that make up the quads are the rectus femoris, vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis. They are responsible for thigh rotation and abduction, knee extension and stabilization.

THE CORE

The core, commonly known as the torso, is made up of a number of muscles in the abdomen, lower back, and mid-back. These muscles include the transversus abdominis, obliques, rectus abdominis and erector spinae. They mainly stabilize the thorax during dynamic movement.

BENEFITS OF PERFORMING THE RUSSIAN DEADLIFT

INCREASES STRENGTH

Not only are your legs guaranteed to benefit from the Russian deadlifts, but you back as well. Most, if not all deadlift exercises, lead to an increase in muscle and strength in target muscles. In this case, you may realize with time that you can lift more weight and with less strain. This is great motivation for you to keep working out.

BURNS CALORIES

Burning of calories usually equates losing fat. If you want to replace that body fat with muscle then the Russian deadlifts may be a great fit for you. This exercise works many muscles, which in turn burns a lot of fat in your body to get you healthy and well-toned.

IMPROVES POSTURE

With your spine remaining neutral through your motion, the body posture improves. This prevents back pain and slightly relieves pain caused by poor posture. Keep proper form with your back and shoulders aligned to reap this benefit. Surely, you don’t want to cause strain in your back!

IMPROVES CORE STABILITY

Deadlifting and weightlifting in general, requires the core to be tightened so the back remains straight. This increases the strength in your core, which consequently, improves core stability. Improved core stability makes other workout like squats much easier since the core stabilizes the body during movement.

ALTERNATIVES TO THE RUSSIAN DEADLIFT

TRADITIONAL DEADLIFT

The deadlift is a very common strength workout and one of the three powerlifting exercises. The Russian deadlift resembles the traditional deadlift with only slight variations such as squatting in traditional deadlifts.

  • Stand with your feet under your barbell on the ground.
  • Hinge at the hips and knees as you go down into a squat to grip the barbell with a mixed grip or overhand grip.
  • Slowly straighten the back and tighten the core to raise your body. The barbell should be at knee level here.
  • Inhale as you straighten completely; bring the barbell up along with you. Exhale.
  • Hinge at the hips and knees once more to lower back to starting position.

GOOD MORNINGS

Good mornings are a barbell exercise that are a bit more taxing on the back than normal deadlifts. Because of this, you should use less weight than deadlifts or use a bar alone if you are a beginner.

  • Stand straight facing a barbell rack with your legs planted at shoulder-width distance.
  • Grip the bar and place it on the traps (upper back) keeping a wide grip on it.
  • Hinge at the hips as you lower to the floor.
  • Keep your back, legs and neck straight.
  • Once your upper body is parallel to the floor, pause.
  • Now raise your body as you bring the hips forward to your starting position.

KETTLEBELL SWING

The kettlebell swing is a great posterior chain exercise that works the hamstrings, glutes and core.

  • Place a kettlebell between your legs, which are planted at shoulder-width apart.
  • Press the hips back and slightly bend at the knees so you can reach for your kettlebell.
  • Grip the kettlebell handle with both hands.
  • Squeeze your hamstrings and tighten your core as you rise.
  • Swing the kettlebell up (as high as you can) to about shoulder height.
  • Let the kettlebell naturally swing back between your legs as you press the hips back once again.
  • Continue this motion for your set of about twelve reps.

COMMON MISTAKES WHEN PERFORMING THE RUSSIAN DEADLIFT

ROUNDED BACK

Arching the back is a common but very erroneous way to carry out any deadlift. You risk ruining your posture and straining muscles that aren’t meant to be engaged. This is likely to cause back pain. Keep the spine neutral to prevent this.

PROTRACTING THE SHOULDERS

Your back isn’t the only part that needs alignment, the shoulder need to be checked as well. Rolling your shoulders forward increases your chances of arching the back. Instead, retract or roll the shoulders back to keep them aligned with your spine.

LOWERING THE BAR TOO FAR DOWN

Lowering the bar too close to the ground will likely ruin your posture. You are not going down into a true squat so your weight should skirt around the shins or just under the knee. The instance you feel your back begin to round, rise back to starting position.

CONCLUSION

The Russian deadlift is a weight exercise that will work wonders for your posterior chain. Not only will your hamstrings, glutes and quads benefit, but you will also train yourself to lift more weight. Gradually improving your form with practice will make deadlifts a go-to work out for you.