Men’s Open Bodybuilder Hunter Labrada’s 4 Tips for Better RDLs

A strong posterior chain can improve aesthetics and overall functionality. The Romanian deadlift (RDL) is a hip-hinge that biases the hamstrings, glutes, and erector spinae. IFBB Pro League Men’s Open division competitor Hunter Labrada published a video on his YouTube channel, sharing four tips and cues to perform barbell RDLs to maximize results and minimize injury risk. 

Labrada’s four main RDL training tips for hamstring hypertrophy are:

Place two-inch blocks under the weight plates

Focus on the existing range of motion

Keep your core braced and lats contracted

Avoid scapula retraction

Check out his explanations and demonstrations below: 

[Related: Chris Bumstead Gives a Full Tour of His Personal Gym; No Bench Press?]

Deficit Block & Existing Range of Motion

Labrada elevates a barbell with two-inch blocks on each side. This limits his range of motion so he can ensure proper form.

It takes the last two inches off the movement, where I lose my brace, and my back rounds.

Labrada is improving his hamstring flexibility to deadlift from the floor. He believes resistance training should maximize performance within current limitations, not push beyond the body’s capabilities.

Core Engagement & Lat Activation

Labrada provides two cues for optimal RDL mechanics:

Constant core engagement.

Constant lat activation throughout the range of motion (ROM).

There should be no scapula retraction during the exercise.

The 31-year-old recommends internally rotating the shoulders while holding the barbell for maximum lat engagement. From the waist up, think braced core and packed lats.

Labrada’s Romanian Deadlift Technique

Labrada employed a hip-width stance with his feet parallel. He bent his knees slightly, hinged at the hips, and grabbed the barbell with a slightly wider-than-shoulder-width overhand grip.

The Texas native maintained a braced core and straight back throughout the exercise. He lifted the barbell off the floor by driving his hips forward and squeezing the glutes.

Labrada lowered the barbell to the two-inch blocks slowly, keeping it close to the shins. He maintained slight knee flexion and pushed the hips back as he lowered his torso toward the floor.

The conventional RDL technique typically reverses the movement around the mid-shin level; Labrada gently tapped the weight plates on the two-inch blocks with each rep. He maintained a steady cadence throughout the set. 

Labrada’s top set was an impressive 545 pounds for eight reps. He used lifting straps and appeared to train without a lifting belt.

Looking Forward

Labrada must win an IFBB Pro show by Sept. 15, 2024, to qualify for the 2024 Mr. Olympia, scheduled for Oct. 10-13 in Las Vegas, NV. Labrada ranked sixth overall in the 2023 Mr. Olympia contest.

Featured image: @hunterlabrada on Instagram

The post Men’s Open Bodybuilder Hunter Labrada’s 4 Tips for Better RDLs appeared first on BarBend.


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