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Romanian Deadlift vs standard deadlift

Which would be better for gaining overall mass?

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Original post by Agent456
Which would be better for gaining overall mass?


Probably the standard deadlift, since, due to the heavier weight, it'll work the back harder.

But you can do both.
RDL is the better hypertrophy movement

If you deadlift less than 200kg though as a bloke, I suspect it makes negligible difference
Reply 3
Original post by Angry cucumber
RDL is the better hypertrophy movement

If you deadlift less than 200kg though as a bloke, I suspect it makes negligible difference

Yep, I agree with this. When you can deadlift over 200kg, the RDL has a way better stimulus to fatigue ratio so you can do more volume without over taxing the low back.
Original post by Angry cucumber
RDL is the better hypertrophy movement

If you deadlift less than 200kg though as a bloke, I suspect it makes negligible difference

Weight is relative so i dont understand this point

Original post by Agent456
Which would be better for gaining overall mass?

Regular deadlift will allow you to use more weight and so will fatigue more musculature overall. Romanian deadlift is more of a hypertrophy focused exercise for the hamstrings and glutes
(edited 1 year ago)
Original post by sam152624662
Regular deadlift will allow you to use more weight and so will fatigue more musculature overall. Romanian deadlift is more of a hypertrophy focused exercise for the hamstrings


If you're weak, picking superior hypertrophy exercises is a moot point. Unless you're like sub 5'7, 200kg is a reasonable goal for just about anyone

Romanians are savage on the entire posterior chain, not just hamstrings. Great general muscle builder
(edited 1 year ago)
Reply 6
Original post by sam152624662
Weight is relative so i dont understand this point


Regular deadlift will allow you to use more weight and so will fatigue more musculature overall. Romanian deadlift is more of a hypertrophy focused exercise for the hamstrings

And to expand on the stimulus to fatigue ratio point, the stronger you are, the more fatigue you accumulate by lifting near maximal loads. Somone whose deadlift 1 rep max is 100 kg can deadlift 80 kg for 5s several times a week, no problem. If your dealift 1 rep max is 250kg, pulling 200kg+ too often will put you in a recovery deficit and potentially wreck your low back. You need much longer to recover properly from that (without drugs). However, the same stronger person could RDL 150kg for sets of 10 - 12 more often and still recover easily, accumulating more volume and therefore more hypertrophy. Generally, novices don't have to worry about this kind of thing because they're not strong enough for it to matter.
I stop doing deadlift years ago. unless your goal is Strength I wouldn't bother. low reward to risk ratio for size. fries cns and my other lifts went down


many skinny guys deadliftjng big numbers. if you wanna grow your lower back and hams just do rdl with half the weight
I would say the conventional deadlift generally because they recruit more muscles in the body than RDL's. They do activate the quads more than RDL's which focus more on the glutes and hamstrings but they both work the posterior chain really well. It really depends on the person though which is better for overall mass because the statement that RDL's are a better hypertrophy movement does depend on how strong someone's lower back is because if it's weak, it will tax the hamstrings a lot more and if they're weak, then they wouldn't be able to achieve the same amount of volume on RDL's than the conventional deadlift. It really does depend on the individual and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.
Reply 9
Original post by super_hannah
I would say the conventional deadlift generally because they recruit more muscles in the body than RDL's. They do activate the quads more than RDL's which focus more on the glutes and hamstrings but they both work the posterior chain really well. It really depends on the person though which is better for overall mass because the statement that RDL's are a better hypertrophy movement does depend on how strong someone's lower back is because if it's weak, it will tax the hamstrings a lot more and if they're weak, then they wouldn't be able to achieve the same amount of volume on RDL's than the conventional deadlift. It really does depend on the individual and where their strengths and weaknesses lie.

I'm not sure I agree that a weak back will mean the hamstrings get taxed more. If the back is the weak link, it will fail before the hamstrings do, meaning the hamstrings did not get stimulated as much, because from the perspective of the hamstrings, the set ended early. And in this case, that would make the RDL not such a great hamstrings hypertrophy excercises for someone in this situation, so I do agree it varies a bit between individuals. There is no doubt in my mind though, that RDLs have a far superior stimulus to fatigue ratio to conventional deadlifts, meaning for most people, it will be the better hypertrophy exercise.
Original post by Kyri
I'm not sure I agree that a weak back will mean the hamstrings get taxed more. If the back is the weak link, it will fail before the hamstrings do, meaning the hamstrings did not get stimulated as much, because from the perspective of the hamstrings, the set ended early. And in this case, that would make the RDL not such a great hamstrings hypertrophy excercises for someone in this situation, so I do agree it varies a bit between individuals. There is no doubt in my mind though, that RDLs have a far superior stimulus to fatigue ratio to conventional deadlifts, meaning for most people, it will be the better hypertrophy exercise.

It will put more pressure on your hamstrings definitely because your hamstrings work to maintain spinal alignment by stabilizing your hips and if you have a weak back and struggle to maintain a neutral spine for long, your hamstrings will be taxed more. If the back is the weak link and it's the first to fatigue and not enough reps were completed it's because it's not strong enough. It depends on the individual though but if you want to target your hamstrings more specifically, I would say do RDL's definitely but for a great all-rounder, I would definitely go conventional deadlift because of its biomechanics. Yes, you get more tired more quickly doing a conventional deadlift but that is because it is possible for most people to lift more weight doing a conventional deadlift than an RDL so effectively there is more mechanical tension and there is a greater, larger and deeper range of motion at the hips, knees and ankles during your standard deadlift hence leading it to have a better strength curve than an RDL (particularly on the concentric phase of the motion) and promoting better muscle hypertrophy for your whole posterior chain.
Anyone declaring deadlifts as a better hypertrophy exercises over deadlifts, needs to look at see how many bodybuilders do conventional deads.

The answer is practically none, the fatigue to hypertrophy stimulus once you're decently- very strong isn't worth it for most. RDLs use less weight and are hence better for a lot of reasonably strong people
Reply 12
Original post by Angry cucumber
Anyone declaring deadlifts as a better hypertrophy exercises over deadlifts, needs to look at see how many bodybuilders do conventional deads.

The answer is practically none, the fatigue to hypertrophy stimulus once you're decently- very strong isn't worth it for most. RDLs use less weight and are hence better for a lot of reasonably strong people

I think the bolded bit is the main source of disagreement. A large proportion of casual lifters aren't that strong yet and have no problem doing conventional deadlifts multiple times a week. Yes, deadlifts work more muscles than RDLs, but that's exactly why they're so fatiguing once you're pulling over 200 kg. Being strong requires excellent technique, and if just one muscle group is fried from deadlifts two days ago (usually the low back), the whole movement suffers. In a very strong person, the hamstrings won't be taking up the slack for the low back. You just won't be able to lift as much as you usually can, which is not productive work. In a compound exercise, your weakest link is always the limiting factor.

Original post by super_hannah
It will put more pressure on your hamstrings definitely because your hamstrings work to maintain spinal alignment by stabilizing your hips and if you have a weak back and struggle to maintain a neutral spine for long, your hamstrings will be taxed more. If the back is the weak link and it's the first to fatigue and not enough reps were completed it's because it's not strong enough. It depends on the individual though but if you want to target your hamstrings more specifically, I would say do RDL's definitely but for a great all-rounder, I would definitely go conventional deadlift because of its biomechanics. Yes, you get more tired more quickly doing a conventional deadlift but that is because it is possible for most people to lift more weight doing a conventional deadlift than an RDL so effectively there is more mechanical tension and there is a greater, larger and deeper range of motion at the hips, knees and ankles during your standard deadlift hence leading it to have a better strength curve than an RDL (particularly on the concentric phase of the motion) and promoting better muscle hypertrophy for your whole posterior chain.

Yes, deadlifts allow you to lift more weight which is why they are a great strength exercise, but for a hypertrophy focus, that extra tension is distributed over more muscles. Yes, they bring more quads into it than RDLs, but they're still crap at building quads compared to high bar or front squats, both using less weight, both of which cause less fatigue. Deadlifts hit hamstrings, but because the knee angle changes together with the hip angle, RDLs with fixed knee angle are far better at hitting hamstrings, using less weight, causing less fatigue. Why do bodybuilders even do isolation exercises if compounds hit everything anyway? Partly to work on weaknesses, but also because isolations give a decent growth stimulus with very little fatigue. They can recover quickly, and come back and hit the same muscles to stimulate growth multiple times a week. Otherwise bodybuilders would do nothing but compound exercises. Even powerlifters do some isolation work to bring up weakness at very little fatigue cost. Hypertrophy isn't just about how much growth you can stimulate in one gym session. If that was the case, deadlifts are king. Muscle growth takes years so being able to stimulate growth session after session without being held back by a sore back is important.

As for the bit about hamstring working more if the back fatigues... can we agree that the hamstring don't get hit harder if your grip fails? How about getting the bar off your chest in a bench press if your pecs have failed? Triceps aren't going to do that. Just as hamstrings won't re-establish a neutral back if the spinal erectors have failed and cause the bar to move downwards.
Original post by Angry cucumber
Anyone declaring deadlifts as a better hypertrophy exercises over deadlifts, needs to look at see how many bodybuilders do conventional deads.

The answer is practically none, the fatigue to hypertrophy stimulus once you're decently- very strong isn't worth it for most. RDLs use less weight and are hence better for a lot of reasonably strong people

Yes I agree, bodybuilders typically train in a larger rep range with higher volume and RDL's are good for that because they are not as tiring as conventional deadlifts. But for all-round general hypertrophy training for better overall body mass, strength and particularly for beginners, conventional deadlifts are the lift you want to be doing because they recruit more muscles that RDL's and a lot more of the upper body. You can still be in good hypertrophy with your standard deadlift. You're never ever going to meet the same amount of mechanical tension (a key stimulant for muscle fibre growth) in RDL's as conventional deadlifts, even if you're doing more reps because you can't do as heavy weight on standard deadlifts as RDL's. Yes, you can bang out more reps on RDL's which can lead to more metabolic fatigue (another way to stimulate muscle growth) but with more mechanical tension as the conventional deadlift offers, more myofibular muscle growth occurs and with more metabolic fatigue, more sarcoplasmic muscle growth occurs. For overall mass, myofibular is the type of muscle growth you want to stimulate, it's denser and less watery and 'puffy' as sarcoplasmic muscle which is basically solutes in the muscle fibres and it does not last as long as myofibular muscle because the body will just get rid of the solutes if it's not being used.
Original post by Kyri
I think the bolded bit is the main source of disagreement. A large proportion of casual lifters aren't that strong yet and have no problem doing conventional deadlifts multiple times a week. Yes, deadlifts work more muscles than RDLs, but that's exactly why they're so fatiguing once you're pulling over 200 kg. Being strong requires excellent technique, and if just one muscle group is fried from deadlifts two days ago (usually the low back), the whole movement suffers. In a very strong person, the hamstrings won't be taking up the slack for the low back. You just won't be able to lift as much as you usually can, which is not productive work. In a compound exercise, your weakest link is always the limiting factor.


Yes, deadlifts allow you to lift more weight which is why they are a great strength exercise, but for a hypertrophy focus, that extra tension is distributed over more muscles. Yes, they bring more quads into it than RDLs, but they're still crap at building quads compared to high bar or front squats, both using less weight, both of which cause less fatigue. Deadlifts hit hamstrings, but because the knee angle changes together with the hip angle, RDLs with fixed knee angle are far better at hitting hamstrings, using less weight, causing less fatigue. Why do bodybuilders even do isolation exercises if compounds hit everything anyway? Partly to work on weaknesses, but also because isolations give a decent growth stimulus with very little fatigue. They can recover quickly, and come back and hit the same muscles to stimulate growth multiple times a week. Otherwise bodybuilders would do nothing but compound exercises. Even powerlifters do some isolation work to bring up weakness at very little fatigue cost. Hypertrophy isn't just about how much growth you can stimulate in one gym session. If that was the case, deadlifts are king. Muscle growth takes years so being able to stimulate growth session after session without being held back by a sore back is important.

As for the bit about hamstring working more if the back fatigues... can we agree that the hamstring don't get hit harder if your grip fails? How about getting the bar off your chest in a bench press if your pecs have failed? Triceps aren't going to do that. Just as hamstrings won't re-establish a neutral back if the spinal erectors have failed and cause the bar to move downwards.

You can still be in hypertrophy with your conventional deadlift though. Like when I train, I do 3 x sets of 6-10 reps- still muscular hypertrophy. With a hypertrophy focus, tension is not going to be distributed over more muscles, RDL's have more of a hamstring focus and don't target your upper back like conventional deads do.
Bodybuilders still do compounds. Isolations get in a bit of extra volume which is what bodybuilders need and how they train aka high volume, high reps. However, isolations will never build as much muscle as your compounds. Compounds make up roughly 90% of your muscle growth, isolations are like that extra 10% boost and you can typically do more reps of them because you will do them at a lower weight. Yes, muscle growth takes years but the thing is, you'll gain muscle whether you're lifting your 1 rep max or lifting multiple reps...it's just stimulating different muscle fibres and a different way of training. It also depends on what type of muscle you want to build aka myofibular or sarcoplasmic. You could still do conventional deadlifts every session if you wanted to because your body adapts over time to the stimulus you're putting it under.
Your spinal erectors won't be working as hard as your hamstrings in your standard deadlift because your back will get fatigued more quickly which will put your hamstrings under more stress. Yes I agree, your hamstrings will not re-establish a neutral spine if the spinal erectors are seriously fatigued but they help to stabilize your hips and aid in spinal alignment during movement. However you cannot compare a bench press to a deadlift. In bench press, if your pecs fail, it's more likely your shoulders are going to come in to play before your triceps and it really does depend how strong your triceps are if you want to lift the bar off your chest.
Reply 15
Original post by super_hannah
You can still be in hypertrophy with your conventional deadlift though. Like when I train, I do 3 x sets of 6-10 reps- still muscular hypertrophy. With a hypertrophy focus, tension is not going to be distributed over more muscles, RDL's have more of a hamstring focus and don't target your upper back like conventional deads do.
Bodybuilders still do compounds. Isolations get in a bit of extra volume which is what bodybuilders need and how they train aka high volume, high reps. However, isolations will never build as much muscle as your compounds. Compounds make up roughly 90% of your muscle growth, isolations are like that extra 10% boost and you can typically do more reps of them because you will do them at a lower weight. Yes, muscle growth takes years but the thing is, you'll gain muscle whether you're lifting your 1 rep max or lifting multiple reps...it's just stimulating different muscle fibres and a different way of training. It also depends on what type of muscle you want to build aka myofibular or sarcoplasmic. You could still do conventional deadlifts every session if you wanted to because your body adapts over time to the stimulus you're putting it under.
Your spinal erectors won't be working as hard as your hamstrings in your standard deadlift because your back will get fatigued more quickly which will put your hamstrings under more stress. Yes I agree, your hamstrings will not re-establish a neutral spine if the spinal erectors are seriously fatigued but they help to stabilize your hips and aid in spinal alignment during movement. However you cannot compare a bench press to a deadlift. In bench press, if your pecs fail, it's more likely your shoulders are going to come in to play before your triceps and it really does depend how strong your triceps are if you want to lift the bar off your chest.

Haha I don't think we're going to completely agree on this. I agree with a lot more of what you're saying if we're talking about beginners to early intermediates. Perhaps I'm thinking of this more from the perspective of someone who has built up a fair bit of strength over the years. Like, theoretically, it shouldn't matter if you lift 1 rep maxes or many reps per set, as long as you get close to failure, but this isn't going to to be realistic or effective if you're deadlifting over 5 plates. Stimulus to fatigue ratio becomes extremely important the more advanced you get. For beginners, I actually would advise a lot of conventional deadlifts, but not for hypertrophy specifically. More so to learn the movement pattern, get good technique and build a base of strength. Beginners can stimulate hypertrophy with almost anything anyway (as long as it's not dumb).

The comparison with the bench press was just to make the point that muscles can only compensate for others so much. As in, if you're using a true bench press weight (as in not close grip, which would be lighter), the shoulders and triceps won't get the bar off the chest without assistance from the pecs. In the same way, if you're using increased weight because it's a conventional deadlift, the hamstrings won't be able to complete the lift without the assistance of the spinal erectors. If the spinal erectors get fried, and you're using a suitable working weight, it's set over.
Just YouTube stimulus to fatigue ratio deadlift. As Kyri says, once you're reasonably strong you have to pay attention to it. I'm an intermediate these days, I still convy deadlift, but moving towards more RDLs as convy deadlifts bury me for a few days. God knows what happens when you're trying to use deadlifts as a hypertrophy exercise pulling another plate a side
IMO Romanian as (well for me atleast) it allows me to get a better contraction on my back than a barbell
Reply 18
Original post by Angry cucumber
Just YouTube stimulus to fatigue ratio deadlift. As Kyri says, once you're reasonably strong you have to pay attention to it. I'm an intermediate these days, I still convy deadlift, but moving towards more RDLs as convy deadlifts bury me for a few days. God knows what happens when you're trying to use deadlifts as a hypertrophy exercise pulling another plate a side

Mike Israetel of the renaissance periodization channel explains this concept (and others) really well. It's generally an excellent YouTube channel.
Original post by Kyri
Mike Israetel of the renaissance periodization channel explains this concept (and others) really well. It's generally an excellent YouTube channel.


I've watched probably half of all the videos on the entire channel, great resource. I don't fully subscribe to the amount of volume they prescribe, but yeah, Dr Mike's lectures >>>

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