Difference Between Deadlift and Romanian Deadlift (With Table)

Deadlifts have been known to the mankind as the king of exercises 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.

Deadlift vs Romanian Deadlift

The main 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.

A deadlift is also popular as a conventional deadlift or traditional deadlift. It is one of the very few exercises which involves almost every body part in general. Convectional deadlift begins with the 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 deadlift and stiff-legged deadlift are almost the same exercises. Romanian deadlift begins with an eccentric range of motion i.e., downward motion. Romanian deadlifts are performed by athletes on leg days because it works best on hamstrings and glutes. This exercise has been significantly considered by many athletes to enhance their strength in the hamstrings.

Comparison Table Between Deadlift and Romanian Deadlift

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 which is performed in this era too with the same enthusiasm. The conventional deadlift is also performed by athletes who are working on their strength because here one can lift heavier in comparison to 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, namely the setup, the initial drive, and then 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 the pushing of 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?

If an athlete has a back pain and still wants to perform a deadlift, the Romanian deadlift is the right option. It is one of those exercises that do not harm the lower back and focus 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.

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 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 Romanian deadlift, maintaining the correct form is a pre-requisite.


The conventional deadlift and the Romanian deadlift are one of the most important exercises that one should look out for to enhance the strength of the body and maintain a good posture at the same time.

Since both the exercises have a lot of engagement with the spine, the athletes should keep in mind to maintain a good posture. Even if they go with heavier weights in the former one, there shouldn’t be a lot of work for the backbone, keeping them injury-free. Maintenance of precaution is essential to avoid any accident during practicing.


  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1466853X12000491
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