Smith machine and dumbbell equipment in the gym

How to do Smith Machine RDLs

Smith Machine RDLs are a variation of the Romanian deadlift, which is a posterior chain exercise that targets the hamstrings and glutes. The Smith machine is a device that has a barbell fixed on steel rails, allowing only vertical movement. By using the Smith machine, you can simplify the RDL movement and increase the load on the target muscles. In this article, I will explain the benefits, form, and tips of Smith Machine RDLs.

Benefits of Smith Machine RDLs

Smith Machine RDLs have several benefits over the traditional barbell RDLs, such as:

  • More accessible for beginners: The Smith machine provides stability and guidance for the barbell, making it easier to learn the proper form and technique of the RDL movement.
  • Less resistance: The Smith machine bar weight is less than an Olympic barbell, so you can start with less than 45 lbs of resistance. This can help you avoid injury and focus on muscle contraction.
  • More load on the hamstrings and glutes: The Smith machine reduces the need for balancing and stabilization of the barbell unlike free weights. This results in an emphasis on engaging the larger muscles in your backside promoting muscle growth and enhanced strength.

Form of Smith Machine RDLs

To perform Smith Machine RDLs correctly, follow these steps:

  • Stand in front of the bar with your feet shoulder-width apart and your toes slightly pointed out.
  • Grab the bar with an overhand grip just outside your thighs and unlock it from the hooks.
  • Stand up with your arms, legs, and back straight. This is your starting position.
  • Bend at the hips and slowly lower the bar down the front of your legs, keeping it close to your body.
  • As you lower the bar, bend your knees slightly while keeping your back straight and your chest up.
  • Once the bar passes just below your knees, squeeze your hamstrings and glutes and drive your hips forward to return to the starting position.
  • Repeat this movement for the desired number of reps.

Here is a video demonstration of how to do Smith Machine RDLs:

How to Romanian Deadlift (RDL) on the Smith Machine

Tips for Smith Machine RDLs

To get the most out of Smith Machine RDLs, keep these tips in mind:

  • Don’t round your back: Keep your back straight and neutral throughout the movement. Don’t let your shoulders roll forward or your lower back arch excessively. This can cause injury and reduce the effectiveness of the exercise.
  • Don’t lock your knees: Keep a slight bend in your knees as you lower and raise the bar. Don’t lock them out at the top or bottom of the movement. This can put too much stress on your joints and take away tension from your muscles.
  • Don’t bounce or jerk: Lower and raise the bar in a smooth and controlled manner. Don’t bounce or jerk it at any point of the movement. This can cause momentum and reduce muscle activation.
  • Don’t go too low or too high: Lower the bar until it reaches just below your knees or until you feel a stretch in your hamstrings. Don’t go any lower than that or you may lose tension in your muscles or compromise your form. Raise the bar until you are standing upright with your hips fully extended. Don’t go any higher than that or you may hyperextend your back or lose tension in your muscles.


Smith Machine Romanian deadlifts (RDLs) provide an opportunity to target and strengthen your hamstrings and glutes. They are particularly advantageous for newcomers as they are simpler to grasp and execute compared to barbell RDLs. By adhering to correct form and technique you can experience the advantages of this exercise that targets your chain. Consider incorporating Smith Machine RDLs into your leg day regimen and witness the impact they have, on both your physical performance and overall physique.

James Freeman


Meet James Freeman, a California native whose passion for fitness emerged during challenging times, reshaping his life. With over two decades of coaching experience, he's not just a coach; he's a real-life example, shedding over 100 pounds in a journey to a healthier lifestyle. Beyond his coaching career, James is passionate about inspiring at-risk youth and promoting wellness in schools. In his downtime, he enjoys swimming and cycling, connecting with nature. Join him on his Instagram and LinkedIn profiles for insights into his empowering fitness journey.