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Barbell Russian Dead Lifts to Barbell Romanian Dead Lifts with Barbell Dead Rows

By RealJock Staff

This exercise provided courtesy of Billy Polson, founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, voted best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006.

From Eastern Europe comes this power lifter's dream: a combination Russian dead lift, Romanian dead lift, and barbell dead row that will train your back and legs for strength and power. The key is to keep your back flat—no slumping!

Muscles Worked

Starting Position
Stand upright in front of a weighted barbell with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart and take up a modified squat position, with your knees slightly bent, hips pressed slightly back, and back flat. From the modified squat, grip the barbell with both hands about shoulder-width apart and palms facing you. The barbell should be at the level of the middle of your shins, either resting on the floor (if the plates are large) or held off the floor in your hands. Keep the majority of your weight back on your heels, while still applying pressure through the balls of your feet (see Photo 1).


  1. From the starting position, keeping your chest forward, use your legs to lift the barbell and stand up to a fully upright position (see Photos 2 and 3).
  2. From the standing position, bend slowly at the hips and slightly at the knees, keeping your arms hanging down perpendicular to the floor, until your hips are bent at nearly a 90-degree angle. Be sure to keep your back flat—no rounding (see Photo 4).
  3. When your back is flat and your hips are at a 90-degree angle, raise the bar directly up toward your breastbone. Bend your elbows and bring your shoulder blades together behind you to lift the bar; your elbows should stay close to your body (see Photo 5).
  4. Slowly lower the barbell back to your mid-shin level (see Photo 6).
  5. When your arms are fully extended, slowly bring your upper body back to a chest-front standing position using the strength of your hamstrings and glutes. Maintain a perfectly flat back and keep your belly button pulled in to your spine, creating the feeling of an internal weight belt. Your arms will stretch straight down holding the barbell (see Photo 7).
  6. Finally, from the standing position press your hips behind you and bend your knees as you sit into a squat. Keep your back flat as you squat down. Lower the barbell to the floor or down to your shin-level starting position before repeating the entire sequence (see Photo 8).
About Billy Polson: Billy Polson is the founder and co-owner of DIAKADI Body training gym, which was voted the best personal training gym in San Francisco by CitySearch in 2006. A competitive swimmer and triathlete in his own right, Polson has over 15 years of experience working as a coach and trainer, and was recently named by Men's Journal Magazine (December 2005) as one of the Top 100 Trainers in America.