T Nation

RDL vs. Good Morning


A friend of mine who I have learned the vast majority of my training knowledge from pointed something out to me that I felt like I should share here; the RDL and the good morning are the same exact movement. Maybe everyone else already realizes this, but it was a revelation for me, and also made me wonder why anyone would want to do a good morning over an RDL. The only difference is you're working your grip a little bit simultaneously and its a little safer if you go to failure you don't have to drop the bar over your head (OK maybe not safer but more comfortable)

So I guess the main reason I felt like posting here was to ask if I'm missing something, is there any reason to do the good morning over the RDL?


not the same


Yes, the good morning is more squat-specific, so if you want to raise your squat, good mornings will help you more than Romanian deadlifts. The good morning also works the spinal erectors to a greater degree than the Romanian deadlift. Personally, I also feel my hamstrings working harder during a good morning.


Actually, I find the opposite to be true. GMins help my deadlift more then my squat and RDL murder my hamstring more then another movement. I guess the take home lesson here is that everyone is different.


Definitely not the same movement. You may be moving in similar moment pattern, but the distribution of the load is complete different making it a complete different exercise. The GMing will smash your lower back much more than the RDL.


Well, from the pictures halfway down this article: http://www.T-Nation.com/article/performance_training/erector_set it seems the body position is exactly the same (except for the arms) in the starting and finishing positions, and the weight is being applied along the same plane, so how are they different? I can't see how the position of the arms would emphasize low back/hams.

Also it seems like there is little agreement on which one works hams/lower back better, which is a sign they are about the same.


Have you tried both of theses exercises? If you have, do they feel the exact same when you do them? If you have not tried them then do so. You will realize they are not the same at all. They just work roughly the same muscles.


Ehhhh..... if they were the same movement could you not use the same weight?


Uhhh. Well. Uhhh. Nevermind. What he said.

Do this. Get on an ab bench and do a set with weight on your chest. Now put the weight behind your head.

Report back with your observations.


RDL is all hammies for me with a little back, but GMs fry my lower back better than anything. Definitely not the same to me.


Your Body position in a Good-Morning should resemble a conventional Deadlift more than a Romanian Deadlift.

Good-Mornings also prevent you from using weight that's too heavy. If you Deadlift 405, you'll probably be stuck doing Good-Mornings around 225. But you can probably do RDLS with 315 or more. The Good-Mornings will be more difficult, but the RDLs will put a greater load on your body.

I also think that RDLs just hit the Hamstrings more while Good-Mornings hit the Glutes more. I can't really explain why but it's just what I experience. If you're a Hamstring dominant person like a sprinter, you might want to choose Good-Mornings over RDLs. If you're a bodybuilder and you want your Hamstrings to hang but you want a tiny waist and a tiny butt, then RDLs are probably better. It would be good to use both.

Good-Mornings are about as close to a Glute-Isolation exercise you can get and RDLs are the only Hamstring-Isolation work you can get at most gyms without using a Leg Curl Machine.


Right on the mark.

Use the goodmornings if you have glute problems. RDL if you have hamstring problems.

BTW not the same exercise by a long shot..


They are quite similar, they both really hit the posterior chain (erectors, glutes, hams). RDL's also hit the traps and the grip, which sometimes you want to work but sometimes you don't. As someone else mentioned the leverage is not the same, the bar is closer to your body in the RDL and a little farther out in the GM which is why the weight is not the same.

Squats and step-ups are the exact same movement, as is a bench press and push-ups, but that doesn't mean they have the exact same benefits. Use both.


The RDL and Good Morning are definitely not the same exercise.

Kind of a bad comparison between bench press (open chain) vs. a push-up (closed chain), but I understand your point.


This makes a lot of sense to me, thanks Tim.


I didn't say they were the same EXERCISE, obviously they are two different exercises. However they are the essentially the exact same movement. Do you disagree with this? If so, what movements do you see are taking place in each exercise?

As an above poster noted, the body positioning is nearly identical in the GM and the RDL, as these pics from Mike Robertson's article pretty clearly demonstrate.




Good Mornings should not look like a conventional deadlift. In a conventional deadlift your knees should go forward, equal to or often beyond your toes. That should not happen at all in a GM. In fact, a GM should look a lot like a... RDL.

I agree it is possible you might feel the RDL more in the hams, but to say a GM is a glute isolation exercise is not accurate. The erectors and hamstrings play a huge role in the exercise as well. Nor are RDL's a hamstring isolation exercise given the glutes, erectors, traps, and forearm flexors are all heavily involved.


I'm still waiting for an answer as to how if they're the same exercise then why can't you use the same weight...?

(Tim H, I realise you're not saying this, and I agree they're similar movements, but I think they will effect your body in substantially different ways)


Bingo! Similar but the angle of the bar relative to the angle of movement changes the stress on the muscles.

You can't use the same weight because the bar is further from the fulcrum point making the stress higher in it. Teeter totter physics problem.

Not the same exercise.