Deadlift vs RDL

Deadlift is one of the four exercises that you absolutely want to include in your strength training routines.

If deadlift is missing from your workouts, you are missing a tremendous toning and strengthening benefit this lower body exercise offers.

The other three must-do exercises are squat, chest press, and shoulder press. All three are also excellent at developing strength and increasing lean muscle tones (think slimming effect!). 

But you may ask, shouldn't all exercises foster strength and muscle development?

You are right! Many do. But what sets these four exercises apart from the rest is their involvement of multiple muscles and more importantly, larger muscles. Deadlift, squat, chest press, and shoulder press are considered compound exercises.

Read Next: Deadlift vs Good Morning

Compound exercises recruit the body's largest muscle groups.

This involvement of large muscles results in more energy expenditure, and the best part is this energy expenditure happens both during and after the workout. Greater the energy expenditure, more calories and fat you burn, so any exercise that results in greater energy expenditure, bigger results you leap from your workout.

If you want to learn more about energy expenditure, read Afterburn-Effect. It explains the benefits in greater detail. 

Whether your fitness goal is to lose weight, lower your body fat percentage or get stronger,  you can expect maximum benefits by incorporating compound exercises into your workout routines.

In fact, not including compound exercises in your workouts is almost like not doing the real work it takes to get to your goal. Or more bluntly put, you won't most likely reach your goal without compound exercises. 

RDL vs  Deadlift

RDL, short for Romanian Deadlift is one of the most popular deadlifts among many deadlift variations there is.

Deadlifts have been seen as manly exercises up to this point, but the popularity of Romanian Deadlift is truly making a positive difference in women's adaptation of this highly effective lower body exercise.

Today, you find many women across different fitness disciplines performing Romanian Deadlifts, and you can witness this at various gyms including Cross Fit gyms and local commercial gyms.

It's truly rewarding to see how wide it's spreading and how more women are taking advantage of this great exercise. 

Regular Deadlift

Deadlift as its name implies, is a resistance training exercise that you lift dead weights. Dead weight is referred to weight that has no momentum.

In all, deadlift is an exercise that you lift weights that are on the ground. Because deadlift is all about lifting weight off the floor, it can be as simple as bending down to pick something off the floor. 

However, like many exercises, deadlifts have evolved to many different forms and variations, and Romanian Deadlift is one of the new exercises born out of Deadlift. Compared to traditional deadlift, Romanian Deadlift is easier to learn and perform.

It's mostly due to the difference in its starting point. Traditional deadlift starts by bending down.

You lifts weights off the ground from the low point.

Romanian Deadlift on the other hand starts from a standing position with weights in your hands and bend down from your hips to a lower point where your flexibility allows you to reach. In essence, Romanian Deadlift is reverse of traditional deadlift.

It's easier to learn for someone new to exercises. Though it's beginner friendly, its difficulty level can easily go up by adjusting exercise variables such as reps, sets, and resistance. Read Exercise Sets and Reps to learn more about how to adjust any exercise to fit your fitness level. 

Muscles: Romanian Deadlift (RDL)

The discussion of different ways to perform deadlifts would have no meaning unless we address the benefits you can leap from each deadlift.

The Romanian Deadlift exercise works your hamstrings and lower back much more than the conventional deadlift. This is because Romanian Deadlift is performed with rather straight legs compared to the traditional deadlift and relies heavily on the hamstrings and lower back as sources of strength.

On contrary, the conventional deadlift primarily uses glutes when lifting weights off the floor. Because the traditional deadlift involves the whole body and glutes, it allows lifting of heavier weights than Romanian Deadlift.

Noting these differences in muscle usage helps you choose the right deadlift for your fitness level, goal, and needs.

It's also important to note that lifting heavier weights should often mean less repetitions and lower weights should mean higher repetitions.

Exercise Sets and Reps explains the appropriate use of exercise variables, so if you are not sure how to select the right exercise variables, read the article and come back to read the rest here


How to Do a Romanian Dealdlift

Since this exercise can be performed anywhere with a wide variety of weight equipments, it’s highly recommended for travelers and stay at home moms with no time to hit the gym. If done correctly, you should feel the back of your legs working as you perform the exercise. 

If you are learning the exercise, begin with just bodyweight. As you gain confidence in performing Romanian Deadlift (RDL), add weights (dumbbells) to increase the intensity.

Caution: If you have back issues, please consult with your doctor before performing this exercise. It’s extremely important to learn how to perform RDL before adding weights. 

Exercise Instructions: 

  1. Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and hold a dumbbell in each hand in front of you.
  2. Slightly bend your knees before starting. Bend your torso at the hips as you push back your hips as far as you can. Your dumbbells should reach your knee level, but please account your flexibility level. 
  3. Come back up to the starting position by squeezing your butt and pushing your hips forward. Repeat 10 times to complete the set.


  • Feel the strength in the back of your legs. 
  • Keep your dumbbells close to your body during the entire movement. 
  • Don’t curve your back. 

How to Do the Deadlift

The regular deadlift requires you to lift the weight off the floor. A barbell is often considered most suitable weight equipment for deadlift, but if you are new to this exercise, start with just a bar with no additional weight. 

How to do a deadlift properly

  1. Begin by standing in front of a barbell with your chins close to the bar. With feet hip width-apart, bend at knees and hips to grab the bar with an overheand grip. Keep your hands outside your legs, wider than your shoulders width.
  2. Lower your hips until they are slightly above the barbell bar. Push down through you heels, contract your glutes(butt), and brace your core as you lift the barbell to your hip level.
  3. Reverse the movement by lowering the bar back to the floor.

The primary muscles used in the conventional deadlift are: glutes, hamstrings, lower back, core and traps. It's an exercise that utilizes the whole body, thus allows you to lift heavier weights than other exercises such as Romanian Deadlift does. 

Works Cited:

  • "Romanian Deadlift - Barbell (Underhand Grip)." Core Performance Core Daily. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2015.
  • "Dead Lift." The Free Dictionary. Farlex, n.d. Web. 16 July 2015.
  • Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 16 July 2015.
  • "Five Reasons Everyone Should Deadlift." Poliquin Group. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2015.
  • "Take Your Deadlift From Suck to Sick." Take Your Deadlift From Suck to Sick. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 July 2015.


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