Exercise physiologist Irv Rubenstein skips stiff-leg deadlifts, in which you bend forward at the hips while holding a barbell or dumbbells. Locked-out knees while bending forward with a heavy weight creates elevated stress on the spine, says Rubenstein. “Furthermore, when the hips flex to whatever angle the hamstrings allow, the spine will start to flex if you try to go further, which could lead to a number of spine and disk problems.” Instead, Rubenstein does a Romanian deadlift, which allows greater hip flexion before the spine is compromised.
Best Exercise for Hip and Leg Strength = Romanian Deadlift
Trainer to the trainers, Nick Tumminello, owner of Performance University in Fort Lauderdale, recommends the Romanian deadlift (RDL) for building functional strength in the hips and legs. According to Tumminello, the RDL has high functional carry over to common everyday tasks like lifting your kids or picking something up off the floor. HOW TO DO IT: Stand tall holding a barbell or dumbbells against the front of your thighs. With a slight bend in your knees, keep your back straight and hinge at your hips, slowly lowering the weights toward the floor. Stop when your torso is parallel with the floor. Reverse the motion by exploding your hips forward, hinging back up to the starting position. Keep the weights as close to your body as possible. Keep your hips high, unlike in the conventional deadlift. Keep your back flat at all times during the exercise. Perform three to five sets of three to five reps.