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Romanian vs. Stiff Deadlift


I was visiting another weight training site looking in their exercise technique forum where they described the following video as Romanian DL.


I then looked at a video at BSU strength lab where they show the following as Romanian DL


They describe the RDL having the bar 6-8 inches from the shins.

Is the first video actually a stiff leg deadlift?


People always get these two confused and/or use these terms interchangeably. The first video is an RDL. The bar 6"-8" from the shins is a stiff-legged DL.


The BSU description says for the RDL:

"Unlike the stiff leg deadlift, allow the barbell to deviate from the shins approximately 6-8 inches"

Are you saying they are incorrect?


Yea, I have no idea why they'd have the bar 6-8 inches from the shin on the RDL. I suppose it would be possible to do them this way, but it would be harder on your back and you wouldn't be able to use as much weight. On stiff legged deadlifts, on the other hand, it's really difficult to keep the bar against your shins (in fact if you did I'm pretty sure your shoulders would be in front of the bar, which would pull your body forward, which would make the lift more difficult and expose you to injury).


Okay, but in the Single-Leg Supplements article the RDL is demonstrated as a one-legged, cross-body, stiff-legged deadlft. What gives?


Now I've seen 3 different descriptions for this exercise. Any more?


I'm interested in this question, too. I just started doing RDLs after doing SLDLs for many months. For both I have the bar skimming my shins, but have my knees somewhat bent for the RDLs and knees straight (but not locked) for SLDLs.

I notice the bar sometimes gets a little away from my shins at the end of my sets, which I thought was my form slipping... Any thoughts?


The putfile video is a near-perfect RDL. The only thing that could make it better is more ROM through hamstring flexibility.



These are more videos from exrx and strengthlab. Both call these stiff leg dead lift.

Are these then really RDL?




Don't take my word for it. Here is the definitive explanation of the RDL from the man himself, Dan John. If your RDL doesn't look like this, it's wrong.

I agree with the statement that the Putfile is near perfect RDL form but needs a bit more ROM.



Both of these look like RDLs. The name "Romanian" DL has a bit of a history to it. U.S. weightlifters first saw this exercise performed by Romanian weightlifter Nicu Vlad. No U.S. lifter had ever seen it done. So, the started to call it the "Romanian" DL. Since then, there have been a few strength coaches who, because they probably suck as strength coaches or otherwise have nothing better to do, have written these tirades about how the RDL was not invented by Romanians, that other countries used it to, and so the name "Romanian" DL is incorrect, and really it should be called a "semi-stiff legged DL" or some such similar name. That's nice if you're teaching linguistics, but it's totally irrelevant for our purposes. Unfortunately, this has resulted in all of this unnecessary confusion. Some coaches call RDLs stiff-legged DLs. I've even heard coaches call the stiff-legged DL (where the knees do not bend at all, which BTW, when I tried this made my knees hurt for three days) and RDL. This is all nonsense. If you want a great hamstring/lower back exercise, do the exercise described in Dan John's "Get Up!" that I linked to earlier. What you call it is up to you.


Thanks for the pdf and explanation.


The BSU one is good, it looks like he just needs to stand on a platform because the floor stopped his ROM.

I don't know what the hell the exrx one was supposed to be. The back-buster special? It's neither stiff-legged nor and RDL. Looks just like a regular deadlift done off a platform with piss-poor back posture. Don't trust any of the videos on exrx, most of them are junk.



Forgot to add, the comments on the exrx one are wrong. It's very possible to work the hamstrings in a dynamic fashion while keeping the lower back locked isometrically, you just actually have to bend at the hip (which the people in the videos seem adamantly opposed to).