What is the Difference Between RDL and Deadlift?

The Romanian Deadlift (RDL) and the conventional Deadlift are both popular lower body exercises for women used in strength training, but they have subtle differences in terms of technique.

In this blog post, I’m going to walk you through the technique differences along with how I program for each exercise.

I’ve always believed that if you can deadlift, then you can RDL, and vice versa.

Technique wise, the main difference between the two is what happens at the knee.

When deadlifting, once the bar has cleared your knees on the way down, the knee will bend more and the shin will push forward, until the plates touch the ground.

Because there is a little more knee bend involved in the deadlift, it will involve some quads, not a lot – just little.

How much knee bend in the deadlift? I’ll show you in this video…

When performing an RDL, once the bar has cleared your knees on the way down, the knee will hold its bend, the shin will remain vertical, and for most people the range of motion will stop just below the knee to halfway on the shin.

Because there is very little knee bend in the RDL, it won’t involve as much quads as the deadlift.

If you get the RDL right, you will meet this checklist…

Programming Differences Between RDL and Deadlift

At the end of the day, you could program both exercises equally, if you wished.

Meaning, you could program both to build strength and muscle.

But I personally like to program the deadlift for strength building and the RDL for muscle building – specifically the glutes, hamstrings and lower.

For deadlifts I like to keep reps in the 1-5 rep range, and RDL’s in the 5-12 rep range.

Here’s some of my favourite sets and reps to build deadlift strength:

In summary, the main difference between the Romanian Deadlift and the conventional Deadlift lies in the degree of knee bend and range of motion.

Both are great for building strength and muscle, and I generally lean towards the deadlift when wanting to build raw strength and the RDL for building muscle.

Both exercises have their place in strength training routines, and it’s essential to use proper form and technique for each to maximize their benefits and reduce the risk of injury.

Oh by the way, whenever you’re ready, here are 3 more ways I can help you:

1. Grab a free copy of my new workout program, Athletic Curves

If you’ve been exercising more and eating less and still stuck in a plateau then you need the simple 4 week workout that builds a strong, fit and athletic hourglass figure. Download your copy here.

2. Join GWL with Grant connect with girls who lift from around the world

It’s our new free Facebook group where girls who lift from all around the world can chat, learn and inspire each other. Click here to join.

3. Get technique feedback from me
If you would like me to take a look at your lift and offer some tips, just send your video to one of my social media accounts linked down below:


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About The Author

Grant Lofthouse

Grant Lofthouse is personal trainer with over 10 years experience who helps his clients break fat loss, muscle building and strength plateaus by using simple strength and nutrition systems.