What’s the Difference Between RDL and Good Morning?

In the realm of strength training, the Romanian deadlift (RDL) and the Good Morning are two highly effective lower body exercises that target the posterior chain, helping to build strength and muscle, and enhance athletic performance.

In this blog post, we will delve into the nuances of the Romanian deadlift and the Good Morning, highlighting their subtle differences:

Understanding the Romanian Deadlift (RDL):

The Romanian deadlift, often referred to as the RDL, is an exercise that primarily targets the muscles of the glutes, followed by the hamstrings and lower back.

Due to the load being placed in the hands, the grip (if you don’t use straps) and the upper back muscles are also involved.

It involves hinging at the hips while maintaining a vertical shin via a slight bend in the knees, and the barbell is held in the hands.

The RDL requires a controlled descent of the barbell, keeping it close to the shins and driving the hips back. The main movement occurs during the upward phase, where the hips are thrust forward, and the body returns to an upright position.

RDL Key Points:

  • Emphasis on hip hinge movement.
  • Slight knee flexion with engaged core.
  • Load is placed in the hands.
  • Targets glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
  • Helps improve hip mobility and posterior chain strength.
  • Provides some carryover benefits for deadlifting technique.

Unraveling the Good Morning:

The good morning exercise is another effective posterior chain exercise that involves the same muscles as the Romanian deadlift with a little more emphasis on the lower back and core.

The load is placed on the rear delts, similar to a low bar back squat. Avoid placing the bar high up on the neck as you will get pulled too far forward.

Due to the load placement, this will require more lower back and core tension / stiffness.

The movement is also executed by hinging the hips while maintaining a vertical shin.

Good Morning Key Points:

  • Emphasis on hip hinge movement whilst holding a vertical shin.
  • Barbell placed on the rear delts. Avoid placing high up on the bar as this will feel horrible and pull you too far forward.
  • Targets glutes, hamstrings, and lower back.
  • Can be utilized to strengthen the lower back and improve squatting and deadlifting performance.

Programming The RDL vs Good Morning:

Both are fantastic exercises for building strength and muscle for the glutes, hamstrings and lower back.

In my Strong Not Skinny coaching program, I’m a big fan of spending 8-12 weeks on the RDL, then moving onto the Good Morning for 8-12 weeks.

For example:

Weeks 1-8: RDL

Weeks 9-16: Good Morning

During your RDL phase you’ll notice that your grip will probably be the limiting factor so you can fix that with some straps.

Then during your Good Morning phase you’ll notice that your lower back will probably be the limiting factor, which is fine, this is your chance to strengthen it.

Also, during your Good Morning phase you will not be able to lift the same amount as your RDL due to the longer moment arm (see pic below):

This is completely fine, this will challenge the core and lower back a little more, but like I said, this is your chance to strengthen it.

There’s a fair chance when you head back to RDL’s at a later stage, they’re a bit stronger (despite not doing them) because you’ve strengthened some weak links.

In summary, the Romanian deadlift (RDL) and the good morning are two powerful exercises designed to strengthen the posterior chain muscles and improve overall athletic performance.

While both exercises share lots of similarities, such as the hip hinge movement and targeting the glutes and hamstrings, they differ in terms of load placement and moment arms.

Incorporating both the RDL and good morning into your training routine can provide a comprehensive approach to building strength, improving posture, and building the glutes, hamstrings and lower back.

As with any exercise, it’s essential to perform them with proper form and gradually progress in weight to reap the full benefits of these valuable movements.

So, whether you’re a seasoned lifter or a fitness enthusiast looking to take your strength training to the next level, don’t hesitate to incorporate the Romanian deadlift and the good morning into your workout regimen for a stronger and more resilient posterior chain.

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.