Deadlift vs Romanian Deadlift: Difference and Comparison

Deadlifts have been known to mankind as the king of exercise for a long time. Deadlift is primarily of two types – Conventional Deadlift and Romanian deadlift. They have been commonly practiced on back day and leg day, respectively. These two variations target different groups of muscles because of their range of motion.


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Key Takeaways

  1. Traditional deadlifts start with the weight on the ground, whereas Romanian deadlifts begin from standing.
  2. Deadlifts primarily target the posterior chain, while Romanian deadlifts emphasize the hamstrings and glutes.
  3. Proper form is critical in both exercises to prevent injury and maximize muscle engagement.

Deadlift vs Romanian Deadlift

The difference between the two is that the deadlift focuses on the back and is performed by the athletes on their back day, whereas the Romanian deadlift focuses on the glutes and hamstrings, so it can be seen being performed by the athletes on their leg day.

Deadlift vs Romanian Deadlift

A deadlift is also popular as a conventional deadlift or traditional deadlift. It is one of the few exercises involving almost every body part in general. Conventional deadlift begins with a concentric range of motion, i.e., upwards. Targeting more than one group of muscles, this compound exercise is used by athletes to work on their backs.

While Romanian and stiff-legged deadlifts are almost the same exercises, Romanian deadlifts begin with an eccentric range of motion, i.e., downward motion. Athletes perform Romanian deadlifts on leg days because it works best on the hamstrings and glutes. Many athletes have significantly considered this exercise to enhance their strength in the hamstrings.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDeadliftRomanian Deadlift
Group of muscles This form of the deadlift focuses on the hamstrings and glutes. This form of the deadlift focuses on the biceps, traps, lats, core, glutes, and quads.
Range of motion This exercise lays more importance on the concentric range of motion, that is, the upward motion of the barThis exercise lay more stress on the eccentric motion, that is, the downward motion of the bar
Chances of injury While performing heavy, the conventional deadlift is a riskier exercise as compared to the Romanian deadlift, because this exercise is one of the best exercises to push the limit of the bodyIf performed with the correct form and lighter weights, this exercise can be safer than the conventional deadlift
Variations It is better to perform the conventional deadlift with the barbell as it is a compound exercise involving multiple muscles. It can be performed with the barbell, dumbbell, Bosu ball, trap bar, etc.
Extra Equipment In competitions, the conventional deadlifts are performed in a special suit, which keeps the body tight and provides some extra strengthThis form of the deadlift does not need any extra equipment and can be performed normally, given that the posture is correct

What is Deadlift?

The conventional deadlift is one of the most basic exercises which is performed in the gym. It’s an old-school exercise that is performed in this era too, with the same enthusiasm. The conventional deadlift is also performed by athletes working on their strength because here, one can lift heavier compared to the Romanian deadlift.

The history of the deadlift goes back to the 1700s when a British strongman, Thomas Topham, was famous for his odd strength feats in the harness lifts. The German strength pioneer Hermann Goerner earned a lot of prominence with his acts of fighting an elephant, deadlifting 793 lb, and one-hand deadlifting 727 lbs helped him gain a lot of prominences.

The mechanism can be divided into three parts: the setup, the initial drive, and the lockout. The setup includes loading up of the muscles like gluteus maximus, biceps femoris, semitendinosus, etc., eccentrically while the muscles of the lumbar contract isometrically to stabilize the spine.

The drive includes pushing the heels and maintaining a depressed scapula and a long, tense back to avoid injury. Then comes the final lockout. To engage the muscles of the lumbar spine and abdomen in tandem with the glutes, one must be completely erect with a neutral spine and powerful hip extension.


What is Romanian Deadlift?

The Romanian deadlift is the right option if an athlete has back pain and still wants to perform a deadlift. It is one exercise that does not harm the lower back and focuses more on the glutes and hamstrings. It activates the hip flexors and increases the mobility of the hips.

As the name suggests, this form of the deadlift was invented or, rather made popular by the Romanian weightlifter Nicu Vlad, an Olympic medalist. This proves that the Romanian deadlift is not only an exercise that can be just performed by some fitness enthusiasts but also in any form of sport to maintain the strength of the legs.

The correct way to perform the Romanian deadlift is to start with the bar and grip it with the palms down. Then, lift the bar as close to the body as possible with the hips and hamstrings intact.

In the process, the athlete can bend the back to some extent, but the legs should be straight. To finish with, the bar is pulled up in front of the thighs with one motion till the spine is at an angle of 90 degrees with the ground.

romanian deadlift

Main Differences Between Deadlift and Romanian Deadlift

  1. The conventional deadlift mostly focuses on the lats, lower back, trapezius, and core muscles, while the Romanian deadlift focuses more on the hamstrings and the glutes.
  2. The rep range while performing a deadlift can vary from 1-15, while the rep range of a Romanian deadlift should be 10-12.
  3. The conventional deadlift is a compound exercise that can be performed in circuit training, 5×5 training, particular muscle training (back), and others, while the Romanian deadlift should not be performed more than two times a week.
  4. The deadlift can be performed with heavier weights, as preferred by the athletes, but the Romanian deadlift should be performed with lighter weights in comparison to the former.
  5. Sometimes, the form of performing a conventional deadlift can be overlooked, while in the case of a Romanian deadlift, maintaining the correct form is a pre-requisite.
Difference Between Deadlift and Romanian Deadlift
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