F.I.T. Blog

Learn to Love the RDL!

It was a bright and beautiful morning. I was getting out of my hotel bed not yet knowing that what I experienced that day would change my life.

You see, I was at my first seminar solely about fitness: coaching, business, everything.
And it was that day that I met my now friend Pamela MacElree. She was educating on kettlebell work and I was super excited. I loved the idea of kettlebells and had messed around with them a bit but not learned from an expert.

But that wasn’t what was life changing about this experience.

She taught me and the group something so basic that it’s one of the first things you do when you figure out how to stand up as a toddler.

The hip hinge. More specifically the RDL or Romanian Deadlift

It’s crazy because I didn’t know anyone was teaching it or if they were, it was an accessory to the deadlift so the technical nuances of it were lost in the fray.

Since that life changing day, I have LOVED RDLs. That’s where the kettlebell work started for me and that’s where I want to start you today.

Because, in my opinion, it’s one of the best exercises to develop a well structured backside, otherwise known as the posterior chain. But it has to be done correctly.

That last point is key because there are many ways to accomplish the RDL exercise. I have used many of them, probably not most because everywhere you look you can find a new variation.

But for today’s purposes, I want to create a well structured backside, which means we need to build on areas often neglected and likely expose weaknesses in the process.

Which is why I am going to discuss the Kettlebell (KB) RDL in Internal Torque (IT).

Torque is a concept that has been well documented in the strength community but the idea of there being two types of torque, internal and external, is an idea I first came across only a few months ago from Julien Pineau, creator of Strongfit.

Doing KB RDLs in IT crushes the inner hamstrings (semimembranosus and semitendinosus) along with the biggest butt muscle in the group, the gluteus maximus!

Let’s stop here for a second. I mean, be honest, who doesn’t want to say they have a super strong GLUTEUS MAXIMUS! It just sounds like an awesome muscle, right?

But this version of the RDL doesn’t look like some others with extremely bowed out knees and weight shifting dramatically from toes to heels or towards the outside of the foot.

In fact, totally contrary. The tension, or torque, is being created towards the midline of the body, hence the term internal torque.

This maximally engages the inner hamstring muscles (much easier to spell!) and the glute max tremendously on the descent into the hinge. Thus, they are the primary movers out of the transition point.

The big key is, during KB RDLs in IT, we don’t actually want to fully extend the hips and go into external torque. We want to burn out the IT muscles so we stop short of full extension and start hinging again.

It won’t take long and you will be begging to be allowed to roll towards your lateral hamstrings or the little glute helpers on the lateral parts of your butt. DON’T DO IT!

Stay with the tension, stretch and fatigue until you mentally can’t keep pushing it. Good things will come from work like this.

Some might even call it life changing!

Coach Jared