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GM vs RDL & DL Technique

I’m new to weight training, so please humour me!

Am I correct in assuming that good mornings and Romanian deadlifts are essentially the same, except for where the weight is held? If so, what is the difference between the two lifts in terms of muscles targetted, etc?

Also, when doing deadlifts, should the weight be allowed to sit on the floor between reps, so that you’re essentially doing multiple singles in fast succession?


Well AFAIK romanian deadlifts are simply a stiff-legged deadlift with a slight knee bend (ie knees are not locked out).

Personally I wouldn’t even consider doing good mornings. They are a risky exercise which put alot of stress on the lower back. The only movement I have seen that they might be benificial for is a power-lifting squat where the back lags behind the hips when coming up from the bottom position.

There are PLENTY of other exercises that will work your lower back if that’s what you’re looking for.

Also, if you imagine a line drawn straight up from the feet, the path the weight travels through in a variety of deadlifts is meant to be kept very close this line, while the path in good-mornings is further out.


Om my god, have you actually read anything about good morning??? There are a lot of us doing GM but we practice SAFETY. It’s one of main exercises for westside template because it’s the one of the better back builders! It’s only dangerous when you don’t know how to do it!

As for GM vs RDL vs DL, they just work differently. GM seems to place more emphasis on the spine errectors, RDL more on hammies, DL more overall but EXTREMELY CNS taxing if done heavy lifting so we don’t do them that often. I usually alternate GM,DL and Squat for main exercises. RDL is more of accessory exercise for squat days.

Thanks for the responses. I’ve just started Westside for Skinny Bastards, and I’ve used squats for both of the legs workouts I’ve done so far. I’ll use wide grip DLs tomorrow. I was thinking of using GMs as an alternative to RDLs for the supplementary posterior chain exercise.

[quote]Tungsten wrote:

Om my god, have you actually read anything about good morning??? There are a lot of us doing GM but we practice SAFETY. It’s one of main exercises for westside template because it’s the one of the better back builders! It’s only dangerous when you don’t know how to do it!

As for GM vs RDL vs DL, they just work differently. GM seems to place more emphasis on the spine errectors, RDL more on hammies, DL more overall but EXTREMELY CNS taxing if done heavy lifting so we don’t do them that often. I usually alternate GM,DL and Squat for main exercises. RDL is more of accessory exercise for squat days.[/quote]

I would agree with Tunsten. GMs, if done properly, are a very good exercise. They tend to hit the back more than the hammies but you can play around with your leg stance to make variations. RDLs and SDLs are primarily accessory movements, atleast in the Westside template. Personally, I don’t like SDLs a lot as many people recommend rounding your back to lower the weight as much as possible.

Anyway, get your form right and start light.


GM’s and RDL’s are actually very different exercises. RDL’s are done primrily to build up glute and hammies and teach finishing technique for the deadlift. I recall Tate saying done correctly, GM’s train everthing from the muscles in your temples to your toes.

In regards to pulls, you are probably going to get people telling you not to rep pulls. IMO, if you are new to weight training, it is a good way to build mass. Just make sure to wave intensity. In other words, don’t go into the gym each week and pull til failure. It will hurt your recovery.

Anyway, I favor a “dead stop” approach to pulls. One rep at at time. The main reason being I have watched too many newbies who figure out that a bounce off the floor makes it seem easier. Every time I see this, their hips are coming up prematurely and their form is very inconsistent. I would not go so far to say you should stand up for each pull and reset. Just focus on staying tight, pulling in lots of air and breaking the floor with your leg drive. If you can’t break the floor with leg drive, (keeping your hips down) take weight off the bar until you can.

I guess I have a question for you. If you are new to weight training, do you know how to use your abs to stabilize your core? This is going to be real important if you plan to start pulling.

Good luck.

I agree completely with Tungston.

The safety issue can be addressed by using a power cage. Saying good mornings are bad for the lower back is like saying squats are bad for your knees. They are just hard and most people look for any excuse to avoid doing them.
The guy with 95lbs on his back doing good mornings for the first time is feeling the same pain as the veteran lifter doing them with 500+. The veteral lifter has just gotten stronger and built up to heavier weight.

The best exercise to make you stronger is exactly the one you are avoiding.

Thanks for all the tips. I only plan on doing DLs every 2nd or 3rd week anyway, so there shouldn’t be an issue with recovery.

I’ll try using GMs instead of RDLs for an auxiliary exercise. This should hopefully allow me to get used to the exercise before using too heavy weights (I’ll be doing 3-4 sets of 8-10 reps).

I’ve done a bit of rowing (all last year. I did weight training as well, but badly and very infrequently… as in I’d sometimes go a couple of months without doing any weights at all!) and you use your abs to stabilise your core in this. There’s obviously a greatly reduced loading in rowing, but it’s a similar movement to deadlifts, and I think the principal is the same.

As an aside, are there established records for raw, natural lifts, or are all the records going to be with suits, etc. and at meets where the drug-testing isn’t very strenous/doesn’t exist? It’d be nice to have some long-term goals, and I don’t want to have to compare my lifts to those done using suits and steroids (equally, I don’t want to be able to look at any big lift and use the excuse “I’ll never be able to do that; they’re on roids/have fancy equipment”).

I’m far from ideally built for powerlifting (6’5" and 15 stone; a year ago I was 12 stone!), but as I intend to do it mainly to help other sports, I’m keen to see what I can do anyway.

Thanks for bringing me into the conversation. So you know, I’m hoping to use 105 the next time I do GMs. I could probably do more but I’m really focusing on keeping my form perfect.

I’m still a little nervous about doing them wrong. In time, I’m sure I will get over that.


Hmmmm… as you pointed out, Dave Tate seems quite keen on GMs! Therefore, by argumentum ad verecundiam, they must be good! Well, actually, they do seem pretty effective, so hopefully I’ll see decent results from them. When you said you lift 105, is that pounds or kilos? As I’ve never tried them, I’m not sure what kind of weights I’ll be able to lift safely. I’ll start with the bar and see what feels comfortable to begin with.

I’m keen on trying out cleans, mainly because they look fun, but also because they appear to be good for developing power. However, I’m not sure where they’d fit in to the Westside for skinny bastards programme that I’m following at the moment. Where would be the most suitable place to substitute them in?


Offering an opposing point of view… Artie Dreschler in his magnificent OL treatise, “The Olympic Lifting Encyclopedia” does not care for the good morning exercise, stating that the same benefits can be derived from RDLs along with the additional work RDLs provide to the mid and upper back regions.

Now, it really depends on one’s training goals. If someone is a powerlifter doing Westside I suppose they’ll want to include the GM due to the need to strengthen the posterior chain for wide-stance low bar squatting, etc. However, I don’t believe everyone falls into this category. Christian T. loves the RDL and it is a great foundational exercise.

It’s all a matter of perspective and exactly what someone is trying to do.

If you were going to do cleans I would be inclined to stick them on squat day before your main squat exercise, this could be either DE or ME day. I do them on their own back day because I like olys and the variants.

Grey area, GM’s are a great exercise and you’re approaching it the right way by using it as an assistance exercise at first. And once you’re ready they are an excellent ME squat exercise.

Deadlifts, I take my hands completely off the bar and stand up between reps. That way I know I am not getting any aid from the stretch shortening cycle. When you are trying to pull a max DL it starts from the floor without any added elastic energy from a preceding eccentric phase.

Goodmornings offer a benefit that romanian deadlifts do not, and that is the ability to strain with a maximum load for a significant time under tension. Also, the number one reason people miss on the squat is dumping the bar forward, and what better exercise to correct this than the goodmorning, which essentially has you bend forward and shift your hips back in the squat and recover. I often utilize RDL’s in my westside template as well, as they are wonderful for strengthing the hamstrings, lower back, and upper back musculature; however, they do not have the benefit of teaching one how to really strain with a weight.

You can strain on RDLs aka as CleanDeadlifts as well :slight_smile:

Can someone point me to a proper description/illustration on how to do GM’s properly?

iluminatae, go to elitefts.com, click on Q & A, and in the Exercise Index you should find Good Mornings. There are probably also good descriptions in some of the T-Mag articles by Dave Tate (like 8 Keys), but these can also be found at Elitefts.com.

As for the technique, thinking of them as an RDL with the bar on your back could be useful as long as you haven’t been looking at bodybuilding mags with guys on blocks getting a ridiculous ROM. In terms of muscle recruitment, the main diff is that the RDL will work more traps, lats and forarms while the Good Morning might put more emphasis on hams and erectors, but both are good for these purposes.


While I realize that of course one can strain on RDL’s as well, especially with maximum weights, the strain is not near as abundant as a heavy triple with a goodmorning. The point of the post was to emphasize that goodmornings teach you to strain against a weight by recovering from a disadvantaegd position.

Dreschler prefers RDLs because they are more specific to OLing. Tate prefers GMs because they are beneficial to the power squat. Two completely different sports, and two completely different exercises, arguing which is better (OL vs PL, RDL vs GM), or more difficult is absurd.

As far as GMs being bad see the enclosed CS quote:

?Best exercise for teenagers and newbies: Multiple sets of shut-the-fuck-up.

Teenagers/beginners who come onto a bodybuilding discussion forum need to perform endless sets of shutting the fuck up instead of passing out bad advice they learned from flipping through Flex at Wal-Mart while waiting on mom to checkout. Read, listen, learn. Don’t use up too many calories talking.

And remember, asking questions is good, but asking too many questions can also be a form of procrastination.

Shut up. Listen. Learn. Lift.?

Tried GMs today. They hurt my lower back, despite me being careful with technique and using a low weight, so I’ll stick with RDLs for the time being.

I also had great fun doing wide grip deadlifts! The problem with deadlifts is that when my back hurts/is sore, I’m not sure if this is muscular soreness, or something more serious.

Rick Jak.:

You’re sporting a lot of attitude. I think the guy who started this thread is just trying to learn something… he’s not claiming he’s an expert.

I disagree that GM’s and RDL’s are COMPLETELY different exercises. Very similar movement patterns are involved. However, I’m not saying they are exactly the same. People should try both and perhaps can include both in their training as they see fit.

Bill Starr happens to like GM’s a lot and I certainly respect his point of view.