The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) is an effective exercise for developing a strong and explosive hip extension pattern for boxing.
In this article, we will learn:
The key benefits of performing the RDL for boxing and combat sports
How, when and where to use the RDL in a strength training programme
Common mistakes and limitations with the RDL movement.
Named after the Romanian weightlifter Nicu Vlad who pioneered the movement in his training, the RDL is a fantastic exercise which has a wide variety of benefits.
Benefits of the RDL
Develops the posterior chain – This is important to improve function of glutes and hamstrings, as well as strengthening the lower back and core. The posterior chain is typically not strengthened through traditional boxing methods, therefore this is a useful addition to training.
Movement assessments show that boxers are quad-dominant athletes and find it difficult to hinge at the hips, this means that the glutes can become underactive. The Romanian deadlift is a great tool to learn the hip-hinge pattern and develop the glutes.
Promotes a forceful hip extension, which is important for transferring force generated from floor, to the hips and through to the core.
Develops core strength, which is important for rotational velocity during punching, and effective mass.
A large eccentric component to the lift will strengthen hamstrings and glutes, this develops an effective stretch shortening cycle whilst reducing the likelihood of injury.
Often, this movement is performed incorrectly or at the wrong time, and we frequently see some common errors.
Lower back rounding can occur when the athlete is not correctly performing the hip hinge pattern, with the hips travelling backwards. It’s important to learn how to hinge at the hips, before loading this movement. We use broomstick hip hinges to teach this movement and provide good foundations.
People often perform this exercise for high repetitions with high loads. Due to the high eccentric demand with the movement, this can often create a lot of soreness around the hamstrings. For this reason, we tend to use this exercise further out from competition. This prevents muscle soreness from negatively impacting important training sessions such as sparring or pads.
Closer to a fight, we’ll develop the hip hinge movement with speed and explosiveness. This may include exercises such as kettlebell swings, speed deadlifts, or clean pulls. This can translate the good strength foundations from the Romanian deadlifts into explosive speed, which can be used in a boxer’s tapering phase to fire them up nicely.
The Romanian deadlift can develop strength of the muscles in the posterior chain, including the glutes and hamstrings. This is important for boxers as it is typically not strengthened through traditional training methods.
Some common mistakes can be made around programming and technique when performing this movement. It’s important to make sure it is performed correctly, and at the right time, to optimise improvements in strength for boxing.
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