How to Spot in a Romanian Deadlift

Young man lifting barbell, low angle view

The Romanian deadlift is a great exercise for your hip flexors and hamstrings, but when done incorrectly it can wreak havoc on your lower back. As a spotter, you provide security and encouragement while also helping the lifter maintain proper form. While you don't hold the bar on a deadlift -- if the lifter is in trouble, he can simply drop the weight to the floor -- you can help him achieve maximum performance.

Keep the lifting area clear and free of debris. The lifter should have a clean area where she can drop the weight without worrying about hitting a gym bag, dumbbell or human foot.

Avoid grabbing the bar, even if it appears the lifter is close to failure. If he loses control, he can simply drop the weight, which is far safer for both lifter and spotter.

Communicate with the lifter to get a clear picture of what she expects of you as a spotter. Make sure you are both on the same page in terms of numbers of reps, warning signals and help with technique.

Help the lifter maintain proper form by placing one hand on his lower back. Get permission from the lifter before attempting this. It is critical that the lower back should remain arched, not rounded, during the deadlift. Keep your hand firmly pressed against the back to keep the back from rounding, which can lead to back injury.


Another optional spotting technique for the deadlift is to keep one hand planted on her lower back and wrap your other forearm against the lifter's chest just below the shoulders. This ensures that the lifter keeps her chest up rather than "caved in," which puts too much stress on the ligaments of the upper spine and can cause injury.


The Romanian deadlift should not be attempted if you have recently suffered an injury to your hamstrings or back. Consult with your doctor or physical therapist before starting any new exercise routine.