T Nation

Which Deadlift?


Hi, I was just wondering which form of deadlift you guys would recommend. I've read that stiff-legged has a greater chance of injury (but works more muscles?). Although it seems that when a lot of people refer to the deadlift, they're talking about the stiff-legged variant, which would suggest that this might be the best.

Also is there much difference between the loads that you should be able to lift with the different variants?



deadlifting is great! i prefer it to squatting being that i work out primarily at my house when nobody is home.

i try to vary my deadlift every 3-4 weeks. Typically, I will cycle between SLDL or sumo (two boxes) off of a 6" box, traditional deadlift, sumo, snatch grip dl (usually at the end of a workout), and dumbbell deadlifts.
i just believe in varying things whenever possible for optimum results (probably not alone on that one).

for me, there is a definate difference in the load between the different types of dl's performed. however, i continue to do them to incorporate different points of the body.
if i had to pick one, sldl off a box.


I use conventional deadlifts from the floor and Romanian Deadlifts (similar to Stiff-legged deads).


What is a Romanian Deadlift?

I know Dead, sumo, stiff-leg, and snatch grip. What is a Romanian though?


I only do conventional and sumo, as for as stiff legged variation, i never do it, i prefer good mornings and romanian DL.


Concerning the later aspect of your question, biomechanically speaking, the shortest distance the bar must travel to lock out (point A to Z) will allow for the largest comparative load, given good form. Hence in dl's off pins/blocks, one can move the most weight. Body type and an individual's own strengths and weaknesses also play a large role in which dl is the 'strongest.' Each dl also has its own unique role in building strength. No one accusses SLDL as being the centerpiece of a legs session, but I find it a solid secondary move to hit my hamstrings. Check this site for how-to's on each of the DLs and then go try them all out for yourself, focusing on form over weight, which will come in time.


Not entirely true. Try pulling off blocks off floor, halfway up shins, right below knees, right above knees and you'll understand. Its not exactly a linear relationship like you're implying or even an exponential one. Fuck there is really no relationship. Except some places you're biomechanically stronger and speed will blast you through these places in the longer variants.

On the subjects of which to use. Do them all. Just like you do for upper body. I assume you do a ton of various pressing exercises. Do the same for lower.


If you do use stifflegged, DON'T round your back. Talk about degenerative disk issues.

jva.ontariostrongman.ca has some good info on deadlift forms and how to do an RDL correctly.



any dead lift well be benificial to you as long as you have good posture. this is hard to achieve during deadlifts because you can easily lose form diring deadlifts without noticing. so unless u got sum1 watchin you tellin you wot to do then heres sum general points.
1. shoulder's back
2. bring head back and tuck chin in.
3. check you have slight curve in lower back before lifting.

this will feel uncomfortable but it's how it needs to be done to reduce case's of injury.


There's also a matter of starting speed. When pulling from blocks or rack you must accelerate the bar from zero. Compare that to full version where bar alredy has some speed from the first pull. Also, RDLs start with an eccentric so you can use the stored elastic energy etc.

In my opinion, SLDLs are are harder on the low back since you're supposed to go straight down. In RDL, the key motion is pushing the ass back while low back remains arched.

I think a good choice would be doing heavy conventional DLs one one day of the week, and then some lighter RDLs on another day.


Thanks for your advice guys.

Part of the reason that I asked this question in the first place is that I tried doing the stiff-legged deadlift in the past, and never felt that I could get my back in the right position. I've been doing the bent-legged variant for a couple of months now, but will change when I start my next training cycle.

I've also noticed that the weights that I have been moving in the deadlift are a lot less than I squatted in the past (although unfortunately I've had to use the leg-press for the last few months, as my gym doesn't have a squat rack).

If I was to post my lifts up for you, could I get an opinion on whether I'm comparatively weak in the deadlift?


If you are biomechanically average, the squat and deadlift should be roughly the same. If you have short legs and arms, your deadlift will suffer. Also, are you comparing a below parallel squat? Most think they squat fine for depth, but don't go low enough and those squats will be higher in weight.


I am pretty tall 6'2" and my conventional DL will always be stronger than my sumo even though the bar travels further. It's a matter of levers not just the distance the bar travels


I look up at the ceiling, even just with my eyes.

In general, the body follows the head. This helps keep a nice arch in the back.

Dan "My two cents" McVicker


Interesting point about the squats. When you say to go below parallel, do you mean just below, but still not as far as a 'deep squat'?



If there's room for deadlifts in your gym you can also use frontsquats, provided your flexibility allows it. Powerclean the wieght and squat. An excercise can't get better than that.