You don't need to compromise flexibility training for strength work, according to Eric Lichter, director of football performance at The Ohio State University. He says the Romanian Deadlift "strengthens the glutes, hamstrings and lower back, [and] increases the flexibility of these essential football muscles."
USC football S+C coach Chris Carlisle explains that because the RDL is a closed-chain movement, the hamstrings and glutes work "in conjunction with each other so an imbalance or overdevelopment of one does not occur. This is the best way to train these muscles, because that is how they are used on the field."
Furthermore, the RDL prevents quad dominance, which often results from regularly performing lower body lifts, like Squats and Leg Presses. All in all, RDLs will help you achieve what flexibility programs are geared toward: injury prevention and improved performance.
Three RDL Variations
Focus on: Working through a full range of motion, bringing dumbbells as low as flexibility allows. "The hamstrings are often overlooked, especially for big guys," says two-time Pro Bowl center LeCharles Bentley. He adds that tightness in the hamstrings is very common for offensive linemen throughout the course of a season, making the Dumbbell RDL a valuable in-season lift.
Coaching Point: Keep dumbbells close to legs throughout movement
Focus on: "A massive stretch on the [hamstrings] and the glutes," says Luke Richesson, former performance specialist with Athletes' Performance and current strength coach for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
"The Speed RDL can be implemented [into] a speed and strength program with a lower-body emphasis," he says.
"The bottom line is we're training for symmetry. Many high school level athletes do a lot of lower-body pressing, but they neglect the pulling."
Sets/Reps: 10x2, 40 sec. rest
Coaching Point: Accelerate the bar rapidly once it clears your knees and hold for a one-second count at the top
Single-Leg Kettlebell RDL
Focus on: Stability and balance on one foot. "So many athletes that are really strong on two legs, when we put them on one leg with a stimulus in their hands, they're all over the place," says Clif Marshall, performance director at Ignition Athletics Performance Group. "We try to work stability, balance and strengthening the hamstring."
Sets/Reps: 3x6 each leg, 60 sec. rest
Coaching Points: Hold kettlebell in opposite hand of balancing leg // Maintain slight bend in balancing knee
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