Romanian Deadlift vs Deadlift: Differences, Strengths & More

Man in the gym mid-deadlift with pedestal socks on

Posted on January 17th, 2022 to Education

What Does RDL Stand For?

The RDL, or Romanian deadlift, is a standard in the gym routine of many weight lifting aficionados. Romanian deadlifts are not the same as traditional deadlifts. Here, we’ll explore the difference between the two, helping you understand how both the traditional deadlift and the RDL can fit into your strength training routine.

Differences Between Deadlift & Romanian Deadlift

If you’re wondering about the difference between RDL vs deadlift, you’re not alone. The movements look similar in the gym, but work different muscle groups and require a different focus.

First, click here to take a look at the correct way to perform each exercise.

Romanian Deadlift vs. Deadlift

  • An RDL starts in a standing position, while a conventional deadlift starts from the bottom of the lift.
  • A standard deadlift begins with a concentric range of motion, while a Romanian deadlift begins with an eccentric range of motion.
  • The range of motion in a standard deadlift involves movement of the hips, knees, and ankles, while the range of motion involved in a Romanian deadlift mainly involves the hips.
  • The conventional deadlift requires the lifter to push away from the floor, while the Romanian deadlift requires a motion of pulling the hips through.
  • During a Romanian deadlift, the shoulders align far behind the bar. During a traditional deadlift, the shoulders are much closer to being fully aligned with the bar.

How To Do Romanian Deadlift

  • Pick up weight from a rack (weight should be resting at approximately hip-height position).
  • Pick up weight, step back from the rack. Position feet shoulder-width apart.
  • Bend knees slightly, shift weight to the heels.
  • Hinge forward at the hips, with the barbell on the thighs as you shoot the hips backward.
  • Continue to push the hips backward as the barbell moves just below the knees.
  • Squeeze the glutes to drive the hips forward and return to a standing position.

Related: Best Deadlift Socks

How To Do A Conventional Deadlift

  • Begin with the barbell on the floor, place the mid-foot area directly underneath the barbell.
  • Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, bend knees and place hands on a barbell on either side of shins.
  • Drop hips to start position.
  • Stand up, pushing the floor away by driving up through the knees, driving hips and gluteus through.
  • Return to the starting position.

Frequently Asked Questions On RDLs

Can RDLs replace deadlifts?

If you have an injury or other issue that prevents you from doing traditional deadlifts, Romanian deadlifts can be a good alternative. Ideally, both types of lifts can be included in a strength training program. Romanian deadlifts provide an important opportunity to strengthen the back and the hamstrings, while traditional deadlifts provide a heavier focus on the quads.

What Muscles Do Deadlifts Work vs. RDL?

  • A standard deadlift involves the quads, hamstrings, erectors, gluteus, rhombus, abdominal, and obliques.
  • The Romanian deadlift involves the hamstrings, lower/middle/upper back, gluteus, and forearms.

Related: The Best Socks for Weightlifting, Deadlifting & Powerlifting

Are RDL’s harder?

Most people find that they’re able to lift more weight with the traditional deadlift than the Romanian deadlift. That being said, differences in strength and exercise preference may make the Romanian deadlift feel easier for some people.

Which is better deadlift or RDL?

Both the traditional deadlift and the Romanian deadlift have benefits and can make up important components of a strength training program. The traditional deadlift can help build quad strength, while Romanian deadlifts are better suited for building hamstring strength.

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