Romanian Deadlift vs Stiff Leg Deadlift

Published by PowerQuad Fitness on June 19, 2023.


Today, we're diving deep into the world of leg day exercises. We all know that killer leg gains are a crucial part of everyone's fitness journey. When it comes to targeting those hamstrings and building a solid posterior chain, two exercises often come up: the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) and the Stiff Leg Deadlift (SLDL). But which one reigns supreme? Buckle up and prepare to learn which of these exercises will take your gains to the next level!

Differences Between The RDL and SLDL

The Romanian Deadlift, also known as the RDL, has been a staple in many leg workouts for ages. This exercise focuses on the hamstrings while also engaging the glutes and lower back. Grabbing a barbell with an overhand grip, keep your feet shoulder-width apart and maintain a slight bend in your knees. As you lower the barbell towards the ground, push your hips back, ensuring your back stays straight and your core is engaged. Feel that sweet hamstring stretch, bro! Return to the starting position by engaging your glutes and driving your hips forward.

On the other hand, we have the Stiff Leg Deadlift, or SLDL, which is often mistaken for the RDL's twin. While these two exercises may seem similar, there are some key differences. The SLDL puts greater emphasis on hamstring activation by maintaining a straighter leg throughout the movement. Similar to the RDL, hold a barbell with an overhand grip, keeping your feet shoulder-width apart. Maintain a slight bend in your knees but resist the urge to lower the barbell too close to the ground. With a strong core and a straight back, hinge at the hips, pushing your glutes backward, and lowering the barbell down. Focus on the stretch in your hamstrings, bro. Drive your hips forward as you return to the starting position.

Now, let's compare these two leg day warriors. The RDL offers a slightly larger range of motion due to the deeper hip hinge. This extra range means your hamstrings experience a more intense stretch and activation, leading to enhanced muscle growth. Additionally, the RDL also places some emphasis on the lower back, making it a more well-rounded exercise. It's a great choice if you're looking to build strength and size in your hamstrings and glutes while also developing a solid lower back.

On the flip side, the SLDL targets the hamstrings with laser-like precision. By maintaining a straighter leg throughout the exercise, you'll experience a more concentrated hamstring contraction, especially around the insertion point near the glutes. If you want to prioritize hamstring development and improve overall posterior chain strength, the SLDL might be your best bet.

What's Right For You?

So, which exercise should you choose? The answer lies in your goals and personal preference. If you're aiming for an overall leg day that hits multiple muscle groups while prioritizing hamstring development, go for the RDL. It's a solid compound exercise that will give you that well-rounded leg pump.

However, if you're seeking to fine-tune your hamstrings, improve flexibility, and activate those hard-to-reach muscle fibers, the SLDL is the way to go. It's all about that concentrated burn!

Remember, regardless of which exercise you choose, form is key. Start with lighter weights to master the correct technique, and gradually increase the load as you gain confidence and strength. Never compromise on your form, as it's crucial for injury prevention and optimal muscle activation.


So, there you have it—the lowdown on the Romanian Deadlift and the Stiff Leg  Deadlift. Both exercises have their unique benefits and can be valuable additions to your leg day routine. Whether you go for the RDL or the SLDL, what matters most is giving it your all and pushing yourself to the limit.

Safety and Routine Tips

Now, let's talk about some tips and precautions when performing these exercises. First and foremost, warm up properly before attempting heavy lifts. Engage in dynamic stretches and mobility exercises to prepare your muscles and joints for the workout ahead. This will help prevent injuries and ensure maximum performance.

When it comes to the RDL, remember to maintain a strong, stable core throughout the movement. Keep your back flat, and avoid rounding or arching it excessively. It's crucial to push your hips back and hinge at the hips while maintaining a slight knee bend. This will enable you to target those hamstrings effectively while minimizing stress on the lower back.

For the SLDL, it's essential to focus on the mind-muscle connection. Feel the stretch in your hamstrings as you hinge forward, but avoid going too low to prevent excessive strain on the lower back. Keep your knees slightly bent, maintain a straight back, and engage your glutes as you lift the weight. Visualize your hamstrings contracting and working hard with each repetition.

As with any exercise, listen to your body. If you experience any sharp pain or discomfort, stop immediately and consult a fitness professional or healthcare provider. Form and safety should always be your top priority.

To reap the maximum benefits of these deadlift variations, incorporate them strategically into your leg day routine. Aim for 3-4 sets of 8-12 reps, adjusting the weight accordingly to challenge yourself while maintaining proper form. As you progress, consider incorporating progressive overload by gradually increasing the weight over time.


Stay focused, stay determined, and keep grinding. Leg day never looked so good!

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