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11 Romanian Deadlift Alternatives You Can Do At Home

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The Romanian Deadlift is a variation of the standard deadlift that works the lower back, glutes and hamstrings. While it does that job effectively, it is not the best option if you are wanting to isolate any of those three muscle groups. 

This is also an exercise that requires an Olympic barbell and a decent amount of weight. If you’re training at home, you might not have either of these. Finally, if you’ve got an injury that prevents you from lifting heavy, you also need alternative exercises. 

In my 35 years as a personal trainer, I’ve worked with people who have had each of those situations. Most of them trained out of their home gym.

That has meant that I have had to come up with alternatives to the Romanian deadlift that work the same muscles as good or better and that are suitable for home gym workouts. 

In this article, I’ll lay out the 11 best Romanian deadlift alternatives that are suitable for home gym training.


What Muscles are Worked by the Romanian Deadlift?

The Romanian Deadlift primarily works the following muscle groups:

  • Hamstrings
  • Glutes
  • Lower back
  • Traps
  • Calves
  • Forearms (grip)

It also helps to engage the core and improve balance and stability.

Romanian Deadlift Muscles Used

How Does the Romanian Deadlift Differ from the Standard Deadlift?

The Romanian Deadlift is different from the standard deadlift in that the movement focuses on using the hips and legs to lift the weight, rather than the back.

It ‘loads’ these muscles by putting the hips into flexion, and keeping the legs straighter throughout the movement.

The standard deadlift involves lifting the weight from the floor to a standing position with a bend in the knees, while the Romanian Deadlift starts from the knee and emphasizes the use of the hips and legs to lift the weight.

Why is it Called the Romanian Deadlift?

The Romanian Deadlift is named after the Romanian weightlifter Nicu Vlad who popularized the exercise in the 1970s. It is believed that he developed this exercise as a way to target the muscles of the legs and hips, which were under-developed in traditional deadlifting exercises. 

The name “Romanian” reflects its origin and association with Romanian weightlifting.

Is the Romanian Deadlift a Better Exercise than the Standard Deadlift?

It depends on individual goals and personal preferences. The Romanian Deadlift and the standard deadlift both target different muscle groups and have different movement patterns. 

The standard deadlift primarily works the back, legs and glutes, while the Romanian Deadlift focuses more on the hips and hamstrings. Neither exercise is inherently “better” than the other.

It’s best to include both exercises in a workout routine for a balanced and comprehensive strength training program.

How Did We Choose Our Romanian Deadlift Alternatives?

An effective Romanian Deadlift alternative should target similar muscle groups and mimic the movement pattern of the Romanian Deadlift. The key action of the exercise is hip extension, with the hips being mainly responsible for moving the resistance. 

There is virtually no knee extension on this exercise, so a good Romanian deadlift alternative will not include knee extension exercise like squats.

Even though the Romanian deadlift is done with a barbell, effective alternatives can be done using dumbbells, resistance bands and bodyweight. 


Equipment Needed for These Exercises


11 Romanian Deadlift Alternatives that Replicate the Same Movement Pattern

Romanian Deadlift Alternative Infographic part 1

1. Dumbbell Good Morning

Equipment needed for the dumbbell good morning:

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Adjustable Dumbbells

SMRFT Nüobell 80LB Classic
Read our best adjustable dumbbell guide here

These are the dumbbells we recommend for ‘most people’.

We have spent over 50 hours of research and compared over 100 dumbbells. Adjustable dumbbells make sense for most home gyms as they save space.

The Nüobell dumbbells go all the way to 80lbs per hand. This means they are much more versatile than most 50lbs adjustable dumbbells. You can use these for heavy shrugs, squats and bench press etc.

The main reason they are the top pick is because of their shape. They actually feel like real dumbbells and are not awkward to lift like some others.

How to do the dumbbell good morning:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a dumbbell hugged into your chest with your palms facing in.
  2. Maintaining an upright torso with a neutral spine position, pivot at the hips to push your butt back as you lower your torso to a parallel position.
  3. Reverse the motion to return to the start position.  Push your hips forward and squeeze your glutes as you return to the start position. 

Good morning muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

2. Kettlebell Swing

Equipment needed for the kettlebell swing:

How to do the kettlebell swing:

  1. Place the kettlebell on the floor in front of you.
  2. Put your weight on your heels while you stand with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  3. Reach down and take the handle with both hands in an overhand grasp while leaning back into your hips.
  4. Swing the bell between your legs and as you aggressively stand up, snap your hips forwards. Squeeze your butt while extending your spine while you do this.
  5. Raise your arms to your chest.
  6. Lower under control and repeat.

Kettlebell swing muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back
  • Core

3. Lateral Bridge Pulses

Equipment needed for lateral bridge pulses:

  • Booty Band

How to do lateral bridge pulses:

  1. Put the booty band around your thighs just below your knees while lying on your back on the floor with your legs bent.
  2. As you lift your hips up towards the ceiling, drive through your heels. Keep your head, shoulder blades, and hands all on the floor.
  3. Pulse three times up and down when at the highest position.
  4. Lower and repeat.

Lateral bridge pulses muscles worked:

  • Glutes

4. Iso Hip Thruster + Abduction

Equipment needed for iso hip thruster + abduction:

  • Loop resistance band

How to do the iso hip thruster + abduction

  1. Position yourself on an exercise mat, face up, on your hands and knees, with a resistance band wrapped around your mid-thighs. 
  2. Raise your hips as high as you can. 
  3. Spread your thighs apart. 
  4. Bring your thighs back together and lower to the starting position.

Iso hip thruster + abduction muscles worked:

  • Glutes

5. Dumbbell Romanian Deadlift

Equipment needed for dumbbell Romanian deadlift:

How to do the dumbbell Romanian deadlift:

  1. Stand with your hip width apart and a pair of dumbbells held at your sides.
  2. Maintaining an upright torso and tight core, hinge at the hips to push the butt back.
  3. As your torso comes down to a parallel position, bring the dumbbells to the front of the body.
  4. Squeeze the glutes as you return to the start position. 

Dumbbell Romanian deadlift muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

6. Single Leg DB Romanian Deadlift

Equipment needed for the single leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift:

Note: want to build your quads but can’t do squats? Check out our 5 best hack squat alternatives you can do at home.

How to do the single leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift:

  1. Stand with feet hip width apart and a pair of dumbbells held at your sides.
  2. Maintaining an upright torso and tight core, hinge at the hips to push the butt back.
  3. At the same time push your right leg back and up so that the foot is slightly off the floor. 
  4. As your torso comes down to a parallel position, bring the dumbbells to the front of the body.
  5. Squeeze the glutes as you return to the start position. 
  6. Do all of your reps with the right leg extending back and up and then repeat on the other side.

Single leg dumbbell Romanian deadlift muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings
  • Lower back

Romanian Deadlift Alternative Infographic part 2

7. Band Pull Through

Equipment needed for the band pull through:

How to do the band pull through:

  1. Attach a resistance band to a secure upright about a foot from the floor. Stand about three feet in front of the upright facing away from it and grab the band through your legs with a double overhand grip. Maintain an even body weight and have a slight bend in your knees. 
  2. Hinge your hips as you drive your butt back.
  3. Push forward to come up to full hip extension and an upright body posture.
  4. Lower and repeat. 

Band pull through muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

8. Superman

Equipment needed for the superman:

  • None

How to do the superman:

  1. Lie face down on the floor with arms and legs outstretched.
  2. Stretch out your hands and toes as you arch your body to form a banana shape and achieve spinal extension.
  3. Tense your lower back and hold.
  4. Lower and repeat.

Superman muscles worked:

  • Lower back (erector spinae)

9. Seated Torso Extension

Equipment needed for the seated torso extension:

  • None

How to do the seated torso extension:

  1. Sit on a bench with your back upright in a neutral position. Hold your hands in front of your chest.
  2. Round your spine as you bring your head down toward your knees.
  3. Now arch your back as you return to the start position.

Seated torso extension muscles worked:

  • Lower back (erector spinae)

10. Banded Good Morning

Equipment needed for the banded good morning:

How to do the banded good morning:

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder width apart and a loop resistance band under your feet and over your neck so that the band travels up the front of your body.
  2. Maintaining a slight bend in your knees, hinge your hips to bring your torso down to a near parallel position. Make sure that your shins remain vertical and do not round your back.
  3. Return to the start position.

Banded good morning muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

11. Bench Reverse Hyper Extension

Equipment needed for the bench reverse hyper extension:

  • None

How to do the bench reverse hyper extension:

  1. Lie face down on a bench so that your legs are hanging off the edge. Straighten your legs out in mid air. Grabs the sides of the bench for stability.
  2. Hinge from the hips to bring your legs up 10-12 inches.
  3. Lower under control to the start position

Bench reverse hyper extension muscles worked:

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings

Note: you can get a good effect by doing the reverse hyper extension on a table or a bench.

However, if you’re considering getting a proper machine to get the full impact of this exercise’s original version, check out our in-depth best reverse hyperextension machine guide.


Romanian Deadlift Alternatives: The bottom line

The 11 Romanian deadlift alternatives are very effective home gym friendly alternatives to the barbell Romanian deadlift. Some of them work all three of the key muscles worked by the original exercise – the glutes, hamstrings and lower back – while others isolate one of them. 

Give each exercise a trial and then select 2-3 of them to add to your posterior chain workout program.

Want to add  a squat rack to your home gym set-up? Check out our comprehensive overview of the 17 best squat racks on today’s market.

Want to improve your home gym?

Use the hours of research, testing and experience inside the ultimate guide to build a home gym. Find out…

  • The 4 items of kit every gym needs
  • What you should avoid
  • Where to find bargains and discounts

Click here to learn more about how to build a home gym.

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Steve is a certified personal trainer, current home gym owner, former gym owner, and copywriter. He joined his first gym at age 15 and, five years later, he was managing his own studio. In 1987, he became the first personal fitness trainer in New Zealand.

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