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Deadlift Vs. Romanian Deadlift: What are the Differences, Benefits & How to Do Them


Deadlift Vs. Romanian Deadlift: What are the Differences, Benefits & How to Do Them
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Many distinct deadlifting exercises exist now. The standard deadlift and Romanian deadlifts are two popular alternatives.

So, what distinguishes the Romanian deadlift from the deadlift? At the end of the day it comes down to the amount of knee flexion and range of motion involved.

When performing a deadlift, you begin at the bottom, emphasizing your quads and middle back more. The former allows a greater weight to be lifted when comparing the deadlift to the Romanian deadlift.

In this article, we will go through the main differences between the two approaches, the advantages of each, and the best way to execute each exercise so that you may build muscle as efficiently as possible.

Differences Between a Deadlift and Romanian Deadlift

To begin, let's make sure we have the proper naming.

There are a few different names for the "deadlift," including the "conventional deadlift" and the "traditional deadlift." You are free to use either of these names whenever you see fit.

The abbreviation "RDL" is commonly used to refer to the Romanian deadlift.

Having said that, you must have a solid understanding of the critical distinctions between the standard and the Romanian deadlift. Now, let’s take a look at the differences between the two:

Starting Position

In contrast to the Romanian deadlift, which begins with the lifter standing, the traditional deadlift begins from the floor.

Type of Motion

As opposed to the Romanian deadlift, which begins with the "eccentric" range of motion (a downward motion), the deadlift begins with the "concentric" range of motion (an upward motion).

Fundamental Forces

The traditional deadlift is taught as a "push" off the floor with the knees, but the Romanian deadlift is instructed as a "pull" from the pelvis.

Shoulder Positioning

When doing a deadlift, the shoulders are positioned slightly in front of the barbell; however, when performing a Romanian deadlift, the shoulders are positioned much further in front of the barbell.

The Motion of Hip Hinges

The deadlift and the Romanian deadlift both include hinging from the hips; however, the Romanian deadlift is taught to hinge more, with a strong emphasis placed on drawing the hips back as the barbell is lowered.

Regular deadlift involves knee movement alongside the hip, while RDL entirely depends on hip hinges.

Muscles Involved

The standard and the Romanian deadlift work many of the same muscles in the body. But on the other hand, the quads are activated more during the deadlift, but the glutes and hamstrings are activated more during the Romanian deadlift.

Let's take a more in-depth look at the deadlift and the Romanian deadlift, including topics such as how to properly set up each exercise, helpful tips, and the muscles engaged.

How to Do the Deadlift

The main difference between doing a regular and Romanian deadlift is that the traditional deadlift requires you to touch the platform at some point during the movement.

  • Take a position where your feet are roughly hip-width apart from one another. To secure them to the ground, twist them in opposite directions. While maintaining a vertical position for your shins, hinge on bringing your shoulders over the bar. At the same time, move your butt back behind you.
  • Your hands can be wider or on the inside of your feet to properly grab the bar. Brace your core. To assist in activating your lats, bring your shoulders back and down.
  • Utilize your feet and legs to propel yourself through the floor. Keep the bar close to your body as you lift it to a standing position. By clenching your glutes, you can prevent movement in your hips.
  • Be sure to press down with your legs and maintain your hips back in the hinge, so your lower back isn't forced to perform all the effort. This will assist in ensuring that your lower back isn't overworked.
  • Another helpful tip is to concentrate on maintaining your shoulders back and down to engage the assistance of your upper back in securing the bar.

Common Mistakes - Deadlift

The following are the most often occurring errors in the deadlift:

  • Bringing the rounding motion through the middle of the back. This is most likely because you are utilizing an excessively heavy weight.
  • Letting your hips rise too swiftly off the floor when you get up from a squatting position. This occurs because your quadriceps are not actively engaged when you begin the exercise by extending your knee.
  • Allowing the barbell to move away from your body when you lift it. This can happen if the barbell is not placed on the body at the beginning or if the lats are not strong enough to maintain control of the barbell position during the lift.
  • Grip Failure. If your hands and forearms need to be stronger, it won't matter how strong your legs and back are since you won't be able to hold the bar.

Benefits of Deadlift

Some of the advantages of performing deadlifts include the following:

  • Increasing one's hip, thigh, and back muscle bulk while simultaneously strengthening those areas
  • Enhancing one's awareness of their own body, coordination, and balance
  • Enhancing jump performance
  • Increasing bone mineral density while simultaneously avoiding its decrease
  • Physiotherapy and rehabilitation of the knee following knee replacement surgery
  • Reducing the likelihood of developing overuse injuries to the ankle, knee, and leg

Conventional Deadlift Muscles Used

Traditional deadlifts target multiple muscle groups, including the glutes, quadriceps, and erector spinae, but the primary focus is on the hamstrings, which include the biceps femoris, semitendinosus, and semimembranosus. The adductors, calves, traps, and forearms are the secondary muscle groups targeted when doing a conventional deadlift.

The erector spinae and quadriceps are activated more by traditional deadlifts than Romanian ones. This is the primary distinction between the two.

Primary Muscles

  • Semitendinosus
  • Semimembranosus
  • Hamstrings
  • Biceps femoris
  • Erector spinae
  • Quads
  • Gluteus Maximus

Secondary Muscles

  • Lats
  • Traps
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Calves
  • Forearm flexors

How to Do the Romanian Deadlift

Even while the Romanian deadlift does not require as large of a range of motion as the standard deadlift, it still takes a great deal of technique that has been precisely honed.

  • Maintain a standing position in which your feet are hip to shoulder width apart, and your toes are pointed forward. Place the barbell so that it is resting on your shoelaces or in the middle of your foot.
  • As you hinge down to grip the bar, ensure that your hands are slightly broader than the width of your hips or shoulders, depending on your foot stance. Maintain an upright and neutral posture by pulling your shoulders back and down. Come to a standing position.
  • Maintain a braced core and repeat the previous step of pushing your hips back. Make sure that your knees are directly above your ankles at all times.
  • Ensure the bar is just a short distance from your body as you hinge. Stop when the bar is approximately shin height, which is when it will be a few inches below your knees.
  • Get back up to a standing position. You must maintain complete command of your fall at all times.

Common Mistakes - RDL

The following are the most often occurring errors in the deadlift:

  • Bringing the knees together at the full range of motion and locking them there. If you want to properly tilt forward at the hips without putting too much strain on your low back, you should constantly preserve a tiny bend in your knees. This is something you should remember to do.
  • Bringing the barbell closer to the body by bending the knees. You should always have a very tiny bend in your knees. However, you don't want to "squat" the weight any lower than necessary by bending your knees more than they already are. This will ensure that your glutes remain loaded throughout the action, no matter what stage you are in.
  • Taking a step too far down. The range of motion must be restricted to the area immediately below the knee. This will prevent the Romanian deadlift from devolving into a traditional deadlift in which the knees need to be bent to bring the barbell to the floor.
  • Not maintaining a watchful eye on you. If you can move the barbell away from your thighs, you will find it much simpler to round your middle back. Additionally, it will throw the majority of the tension on your hamstrings, which is fine, but you won't get the advantage of exercising both your glutes and your hamstrings simultaneously, which is a shame.

Benefits of Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian deadlift offers several advantages, including the following:

  • Increased muscle mass in the hamstrings and glutes
  • Strengthening of the hip extension muscle
  • Being an effective means of instructing beginner weightlifters in the "hip hinge" position
  • Strong relevance to other athletic movements, such as those in Olympic weightlifting.
  • avoiding injuries connected to the hamstring by increasing one's level of strength and control

Romanian Deadlift Muscles Used

The hamstrings and glutes are the primary muscles that get worked during Romanian deadlifts. However, they also work the erectors, forearm flexors, calves, and adductors in a supplementary manner.

Primary Muscles

  • Hamstrings
  • Biceps Femoris
  • Semitendinosus
  • Semimembranosus
  • Gluteus Maximus

Secondary Muscles

  • Erector spinae
  • Adductor Magnus
  • Calves
  • Forearm flexors

Conventional Deadlift or Romanian Deadlift—Which One is Better?

Romanian deadlifts are superior to traditional deadlifts in terms of their ability to target the glutes and hamstrings effectively. In addition, they are less taxing on the body, which makes it possible to recover from them more quickly.

The conventional deadlift is the best exercise to perform if you are short on time and want to train multiple muscle groups simultaneously. This is because the conventional deadlift simultaneously works the quadriceps, back, hamstrings, and glutes.

A traditional deadlift offers various benefits, mainly since it is considered a more functional activity. In everyday life, you are more likely to choose something randomly from a group than to complete a Romanian deadlift.

Having said that, if you are experiencing low back pain or have had injuries to your lower back, performing a Romanian deadlift will enable you to still train your hamstrings and glutes in the most effective manner possible.

Both workouts boost strength and development in the posterior chain; therefore, you should attempt both to determine which one you prefer more.

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