Trainer, author, and fitness model Kirk Charles, NASM-CPT CES, knows that as you get older, life can get more complicated. But that shouldn’t prevent you from being on top of your game. He’ll help to answer the tough training questions that come with age so you too can be Fit Beyond 40.
I’ve always been aware that my hamstrings and glutes are not as strong as I would like, so I do deadlifts and squats on a regular basis. However, I’ve just become aware of how powerful the Romanian deadlift can be by using an offset stance. The position puts most of your weight on your front leg, which throws you off balance a bit, so your core is more engaged to help maintain your posture while executing the movement. So, in one exercise, you train your lower body and core, challenge your balance, and engage your posterior chain. The exercise is also less challenging than some purely unilateral moves because you keep both feet on the ground, but it can still be quite challenging.
To start, grab a barbell or set of dumbbells with a slightly lighter load than you would use for the standard Romanian deadlift. Take your normal stance with your feet about shoulder width apart. Stand straight and tall, holding the barbell in your hands at about mid-thigh level. Squeeze your shoulder blades and your glutes. To go into the offset position, bring your feet closer together, then step your right foot back. From that position your left foot should be firmly on the ground, while you’re on the front of your right foot.
From the starting position proceed as though you were doing a standard Romanian deadlift—push your butt back and bend your front knee slightly to hinge and lower the weight with control. As you’re hinging at the hips and descending, be mindful to keep your hips square (facing forward) and your neck in a neutral position. Keep the weight close to your body throughout the movement, too. Most of your weight should be on your left leg (front leg), while using the right foot on the ground to maintain balance. Go down as deep as comfortable for you without rounding your back.
Like some other older men, you may not be able to go down that far into the hip hinge. A little below knee depth with the barbell is as low as I can go without excessively bending my knees or rounding my back. Those are two compensations to go deeper that you don’t want to make, due to restricted hip mobility and/or hamstring flexibility. That said, you should feel your hamstrings stretching at the bottom of the exercise.
While doing the offset Romanian deadlift you may feel your core working in overdrive to keep yourself stable, especially if you’re moving more weight. Try starting with a light weight to make sure you can move properly with all of these factors at play. Try 4 sets of 8 reps on each side to get started.
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