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Deadlift vs. Romanian Deadlift: Be taught the Finest Technique to Hit Your Posterior Chain


When it’s time to focus on your posterior chain — glutes, hamstrings, and decrease again — many lifters will be spoiled for alternative relating to selecting efficient workout routines. Two of the preferred actions that find yourself within the highlight are the traditional deadlift and its barely extra targeted twin, the Romanian deadlift (RDL).

Each of those workout routines use a “hip hinge” motion to construct muscle whereas creating the form of sensible, real-world power that makes you the go-to individual when your mates need assistance shifting. Each workout routines even have distinctive traits that might make every one an efficient alternative underneath sure situations and coaching contexts.

person in gym bending forward with barbell in hands

Credit score: YAKOBCHUK VIACHESLAV / Shutterstock

There isn’t any “proper” or “improper” reply when it’s time to decide on your deadlift. You merely want a greater understanding of what these two hinging actions can supply. So in the event you’re in a sure “one deadlift guidelines the world” camp, your eyes are about to be opened to a brand new mind-set about these highly effective pulls.

Deadlift and Romanian Deadlift

Train Variations

For consistency’s sake all through the article, “the deadlift” refers back to the typical deadlift, whereas the Romanian deadlift refers, clearly, to the Romanian deadlift variation. In the event you’re interested by sumo deadlifts, sorry, but they’re not part of this conversation. However, they do share many of the same characteristics as the conventional deadlift.

Muscle Activation

Both the deadlift and Romanian deadlift involve hip extension, your glutes and hamstrings are activated and trained effectively. However, the deadlift starts from the floor and involves a more significant knee bend aka knee flexion.

This factor alone makes a huge difference because it’s what gives you more leverage to lift more weight with the classic deadlift. This is also why it’s a preferred stance for competitive powerlifters.

Powerlifter performing deadlift in contestCredit: Real Sports Photos / Shutterstock

The improved leverage increases quadriceps activation, making the deadlift one of the most comprehensive lower body exercises by involving the glutes, hamstrings, and quads as one unit. The relatively heavy load and overall stability requirements also increase the demands on your core and back muscles.

Contrastingly, the Romanian deadlift is performed without significant knee flexion. This limits your leverage while involving many of the same muscles — except for the quadriceps. This is why the RDL is often considered a primary hamstring exercise. (1)

Eccentric Emphasis

The Romanian deadlift begins from the highest, when you are standing upright, and it focuses on controlling the decreasing section (eccentric). This managed eccentric emphasis is what offers you comparatively extra management over the motion.

Usually talking, many individuals don’t management their eccentrics throughout typical deadlifts. They sometimes elevate the load explosively earlier than dropping the load practically as shortly. This drop is usually (and sadly) accompanied by a celebratory scream after every profitable elevate no matter health club etiquette.

This distinction within the eccentric emphasis, or lack of, could make the cadence and total impact of the workout routines fairly distinct. With the upper diploma of eccentric management, Romanian deadlifts could also be higher for coaching muscular deceleration (essential for athleticism) in addition to hip and hamstring flexibility-related variations.

Vary of Movement

In a deadlift, the added knee flexion reduces the required vary of movement at hip extension — since you’re bending at your knees, you’ll be able to elevate the load with out bending considerably at your waist. This additionally limits the vary of movement in your glutes and hamstrings, particularly of their stretched place (on the backside of the train).

The aim of a Romanian deadlift is to push your hips again and never carry out any giant diploma of knee flexion. Mix this with the eccentric management talked about earlier and also you get a for much longer vary of movement along with your glutes and hamstrings, particularly within the stretched place which latest analysis is discovering to be extremely anabolic. (2)

Power Potential

Between the 2 actions, the deadlift is usually extra common as a result of its nature and total method help you elevate comparatively heavier weights. That’s why it made the listing as one of many three actions carried out in aggressive powerlifting.

For non-powerlifters, typical deadlifts can merely really feel invigorating and motivating due to the sheer strength-building potential they provide.

Long-haired person in gym holding barbellCredit score: BigBlueStudio / Shutterstock

Romanian deadlifts enable for much less absolute load due to their mechanics. No knee flexion means fewer muscle mass concerned and fewer loading potential. They’re nonetheless a doubtlessly heavy train, however Romanian deadlift PRs aren’t bragged about practically as typically. When individuals ask how a lot you deadlift, it’s secure to imagine they’re speaking about typical deadlifts from the ground.


This is likely one of the essential variations that many individuals overlook. Not solely is the extent of fatigue completely different, however the kind of fatigue is completely different between the 2 actions.

As a result of deadlifts contain extra muscle mass and are sometimes carried out heavier, they’re usually extra fatiguing. Whether or not you practice with comparatively increased reps or low reps, you’ll be able to typically depend on feeling fairly beat up after doing deadlifts.

Particularly as you get extra superior, one or two units of deadlifts with a difficult weight or important quantity can go away you fried. That is typically described as “systemic fatigue,” the place your entire physique is affected. Anecdotally, some individuals additionally are inclined to really feel extra joint stress with deadlifts.

Romanian deadlifts are sometimes carried out with comparatively lighter weights, in order that they set off much less joint stress and are much less systemically fatiguing. This makes Romanian deadlifts usually simpler to get well from. Nonetheless, they will produce extra fatigue and muscle soreness within the native muscle mass particularly concerned within the train.

Romanian deadlifts additionally contain a number of eccentric stretching. Such a stress by way of an extended vary of movement inflicts a better diploma of muscle harm. After you’ve pushed your self with Romanian deadlifts, you’ll be able to really feel a transparent distinction the place your glutes and hamstrings might even really feel like they’re tearing. This causes your glutes and hamstrings to be extra sore.

Train Similarities

Each workout routines have variations that may be an element, relying in your aim. Nonetheless, additionally they share elementary similarities and crossover. Most individuals within the health club, except for aggressive powerlifters, would probably not discover a drastic distinction in long-term progress in the event that they have been to substitute one for the opposite.

Hip Hinges

The deadlift and Romanian deadlift are each “hip hinges” — your physique primarily strikes by bending on the hips. This motion trains many muscle mass all through your physique by coordinating power, drive switch, and stability out of your decrease to higher physique.

Bald person in gym doing barbell deadliftCredit score: UfaBiaPhoto / Shutterstock

This complete impact permits you to construct power, muscle, and athleticism. Fulfilling these roles is usually extra vital than a few of their distinctive variations.

Posterior Chain Improvement

Your glutes and hamstrings, alongside along with your low again, are all focused with each the deadlift and Romanian deadlift. In different phrases, these workout routines develop that bottom many individuals are after.

You want some form of fundamental hip hinge in your coaching program to effectively goal these eye-catching glute and hamstring muscle mass, whereas additionally strengthening your low again.

Constructing a robust posterior chain has additionally been proven to assist preserve power and doubtlessly lower the overall danger of harm and incidence of again ache. (3)

Tips on how to Do the Deadlift

The deadlift is usually thought of one of many foundational lifts that each newbie within the health club ought to study. Whereas that will or will not be true, the deadlift (as a hip hinge) stays a elementary motion sample that targets a wide range of muscle mass out of your hamstrings to your higher again.

This makes it an environment friendly and efficient train for a number of targets, and mastering this train ought to probably be on the to-do listing for almost all of gym-goers.

Stand earlier than a bar along with your toes hip-width aside and the bar lined up over the center of your toes. Seize the bar along with your fingers barely wider than shoulder-width aside. Modify barely to get your shins near the bar.
Bend at your hips and knees, decreasing your self down whereas sustaining a impartial backbone. Your shoulders must be barely in entrance of the bar and your gaze must be targeted on a spot on the ground a couple of toes in entrance of the bar.
Have interaction your core and lat muscle mass to stabilize your backbone. Grip the bar arduous, take a deep breath, and brace your core. Drive by way of your legs, whereas extending (straightening) your hips and knees concurrently.
Hold your chest up. The barbell ought to transfer in a vertical path, staying involved along with your legs as you arise.
Drive by way of your heels till you attain a totally upright place. On the prime of the motion, squeeze your glutes to realize a robust lockout. Your hips and knees must be totally prolonged.
To decrease the bar, hinge at your hips, push your hips again, and bend your knees barely. Keep away from rounding your again or letting the barbell drift away out of your legs. Decrease with management — don’t merely drop the bar.
As soon as the barbell is again on the bottom, take a second to reset your beginning place earlier than starting the following repetition.

Tips on how to Do the Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift might have a fame as being extra “for muscle” somewhat than “for power,” however that’s not likely correct. The elevated glute and hamstring recruitment can positively profit muscle-building, however you’ll be able to nonetheless step by step work as much as comparatively heavy weights within the elevate in the event you select to coach for power.

Alternatively, some lifters deal with the longer vary of movement and elevated stretching provided by the Romanian deadlift. In any case, it’s a flexible train that may be a key participant in any exercise routine.

Grasp a barbell utilizing an overhand grip, along with your fingers barely wider than shoulder-width aside. Stand along with your toes hip-width aside, permitting the bar to relaxation towards your higher thighs. Both start with the bar in a rack or deadlift the bar into place.
Have interaction your core. Push your glutes backward and hinge at your hips to start the motion. Hold a slight bend in your knees however keep away from extreme knee flexion. Keep a straight again as you progress.
Decrease the barbell alongside the entrance of your thighs. Proceed descending till you’re feeling a stretch in your hamstrings. Keep away from rounding your again in the course of the descent.
To seek out the underside place, if mobility permits, intention in your torso to achieve virtually parallel to the bottom with the barbell someplace between your knees and ankles.
To return upright, drive your hips ahead and squeeze your glutes. Hold your again straight and deal with feeling your hamstrings and glutes elevate the load. As you arise, preserve management and keep away from any jerking motions.

When to Program the Deadlift vs. Romanian Deadlift

For most individuals, the simplest approach to program these workout routines is to easily change from utilizing the traditional deadlift to the Romanian deadlift. The Romanian deadlift is superior for constructing lean muscle in your glutes and hamstrings, which is usually a better precedence than lifting heavy weights.

Normally, in the event you’re seeking to construct the very best stage of power and also you desire a extra complete train that recruits the utmost variety of muscle mass, think about programming the deadlift.

Nonetheless, the Romanian deadlift is the higher alternative for a posterior chain hypertrophy train. It takes the glutes and hamstrings by way of an extended vary of movement with a muscle-building stretch.

Each are demanding compound workout routines that must be programmed early in your leg day, ideally as your first or second exercise. To reduce cumulative stress and fatigue on supporting muscles, avoid programming anything too demanding on the lower back in the next workout, like back squats or direct back extensions.

Pick Your Heavy Hinges

The deadlift and Romanian deadlift are both highly effective hip hinges that will get you strong and build plenty muscle. While this might sound oversimplified, it’s not entirely wrong to think of the deadlift as a “high leverage lift that cuts range of motion to move big weights” while the Romanian deadlift is a “more controlled, long range of motion muscle-builder for the glutes and hamstrings.” You can’t go wrong with either, but one might edge forward depending on your specific needs.


Martín-Fuentes, I., Oliva-Lozano, J. M., & Muyor, J. M. (2020). Electromyographic activity in deadlift exercise and its variants. A systematic review. PloS one, 15(2), e0229507.
Nunes, J. P., Schoenfeld, B. J., Nakamura, M., Ribeiro, A. S., Cunha, P. M., & Cyrino, E. S. (2020). Does stretch training induce muscle hypertrophy in humans? A review of the literature. Clinical physiology and functional imaging, 40(3), 148–156.
Tataryn, N., Simas, V., Catterall, T., Furness, J., & Keogh, J. W. L. (2021). Posterior-Chain Resistance Training Compared to General Exercise and Walking Programmes for the Treatment of Chronic Low Back Pain in the General Population: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Sports medicine – open, 7(1), 17.

Featured Image: 4 PM production / Shutterstock


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