Deadlift vs. Romanian Deadlift: Differences, Benefits, How Tos

Deadlift vs. Romanian Deadlift: Differences, Benefits, How Tos

Deadlifts are a great way to increase whole-body strength, muscle mass, and quantify your gains. Within the fitness community, however, there’s some debate about the comparative advantages of the conventional deadlift versus the Romanian deadlift.

In fact, there are important differences between the two types of deadlifts, which means they can serve different purposes in your workout routine. Let’s break things down.

The Conventional Deadlift

The conventional deadlift, often simply called the deadlift, seems pretty straightforward: lift a heavy object off the floor and then put it back down.

It also seems like it’s easy to judge whether you’ve performed the exercise successfully. You can either lift the weight or not, right?

But experienced athletes know there’s a lot more to performing a deadlift properly. Although the deadlift might be a great way of showing off pure strength, it takes more than raw power to do a deadlift right. As you’ll see below, technique matters.


The traditional deadlift is a great way to work the muscles in the posterior chain, specifically your quads, traps, lats, erector spinae, glutes, and hamstrings.

Your core abdominal muscles work with your lower back muscles to stabilize your spine as you lift, and the muscles and ligaments in your hip joints work to flex and extend.

Another great thing about the deadlift is that it’s a highly accessible exercise. You can deadlift at your local gym using a barbell and plates or in your home gym with minimal equipment, and it’s an easy exercise to adapt to individual fitness levels by using greater or lesser amounts of weight.


While you can deadlift using a nearly limitless variety of techniques and equipment, including kettlebells or dumbbells, it’s most common to deadlift with a barbell or purpose-made deadlift bar. We’ll assume that’s what you’re using for the rest of this guide.

  1. To begin, stand with the bar on the floor in front of you and your feet as wide apart as your hips or shoulders (depending on your body type and personal preference) and slightly under the bar.
  2. Next, bend at the waist and grab the bar with both hands. Your hands should be as far apart as your legs or slightly wider.
  3. Bend your knees until your shins touch the bar. Now, while keeping your back straight, lift your chest, brace your core, and stand up while pushing your feet into the floor.
  4. Keep the bar close to your body. Let your neck stay in a neutral position — do not look up.
  5. At the top of the lift, hold your shoulders back and straighten your spine. Pause, then reverse the motion to bring the bar back to the floor in a controlled way — don’t drop the bar. (Nobody likes that person!)


The Romanian Deadlift

Now that you know the correct technique for a conventional deadlift, let’s dive into what goes into a Romanian deadlift.

Although the conventional and Romanian deadlifts use similar positions and motions, they’re distinct exercises. A Romanian deadlift is simply a deadlift in which your body bends at the hips but not at the knees, and the bar doesn’t touch the floor between reps.


The Romanian deadlift works many of the same muscles as the conventional version. The main difference is that the conventional deadlift uses more of the quads and mid-back, while the Romanian deadlift targets the glutes and hamstrings to a greater extent.

Like the traditional deadlift, the Romanian deadlift builds core and back strength, and is also accessible and easy to do in a home gym environment.


The process of completing a Romanian deadlift is very similar to that of a traditional deadlift. Here’s how it works.

  1. To perform a Romanian deadlift, start with a traditional deadlift. Then stand up straight with your feet hip-width apart, holding the barbell in front of your thighs in an overhand grip.
  2. Keeping your back straight, push your hips back behind your heels until your torso is at about a 45-degree angle relative to the floor. Compared to the conventional deadlift, your legs remain fairly straight throughout the exercise, with less bend in your knees.
  3. As you hinge at the hips, lower the barbell down your shins. Keep your head in line and your shoulder blades drawn toward each other.
  4. When the barbell is below your knees, pause, then move your hips forward and drive down through your heels to straighten up and return to the starting position. The bar shouldn’t touch the ground between each rep.


Remember to take the same precautions while completing a Romanian deadlift as you would for a standard deadlift.

Which Deadlift Is Better?

Now that you understand the differences between the traditional deadlift and Romanian deadlift — such as the muscle groups worked and the difference in technique — which exercise should you be doing?

The reality is, neither one is better than the other, and there’s no need to choose. Both versions of the deadlift have a place in a good strength training routine. But one or the other might be a better fit for you when you take your goals and personal situation into account.

When to choose conventional deadlifts

As an exercise for building upper and lower body muscle strength and mass, the traditional deadlift is pretty much unparalleled. It engages more muscles than any other exercise, even the squat.

Compared to some other exercises, the deadlift is highly practical and functional because it builds muscles and mimics the motion needed to lift and carry heavy objects in real-life situations.

When it comes to working out, traditional deadlifts are ideal if you’re looking to get stronger or max out on your lift. They’re also useful for Olympic weightlift training, as they are a great supplement to all of the standard Olympic lifts.

When to choose Romanian deadlifts

Your body is constantly under tension in the Romanian deadlift. That means it’s more of a control exercise than one of explosive power.

As we mentioned earlier, the Romanian deadlift targets certain leg muscles, especially the hamstrings, more than the conventional version of the exercise. This makes it a good option to incorporate into your leg day routine.

Generally, you perform a Romanian deadlift with less weight, so it can be used as a developmental exercise for improving your conventional deadlifts. It’s also ideal for beginners looking to reduce the risk of injury while getting stronger, and for people with lower back pain.

Deadlift Safety

Like any exercise, doing deadlifts can result in injuries if you don’t know your limits or you use poor technique. Because of the large amounts of weight you might be using and the inherent strain on your back and spine, proper form is especially important.

If you’re new to deadlifting, consult a coach or fitness instructor to develop good form and avoid bad habits that will be hard to break later. Start out light and avoid the temptation to use too much weight too fast for the sake of ego.

Safety tips

  • In both the traditional and Romanian deadlift, keep the barbell as close to your body as possible. Don’t let the bar drift out in front of you.
  • Remember that a deadlift is primarily about your legs,not your arms. Trying to rip the bar off the floor, or lifting with only your arms, is called “jerking” your deadlift. When you do this, you can’t properly engage your leg muscles and you endanger your back.
  • Lock your elbows, keep your arms straight, and lift slowly and smoothly, only accelerating once the bar is past your knees.
  • Avoid arching or rounding your back during a deadlift. Keep your spine neutral. Many people who suffer from a bad back have been able to improve their condition by doing deadlifts, but poor form can result in injuries like pinched nerves and bulging discs.
  • When doing conventional deadlifts, avoid letting the bar bounce off the floor to start another rep as it can bounce back into your shins, which can cause a painful bruise — and can even bounce away from you and put more stress on your lower back.
  • Don’t lean back at the top of the deadlift, which can squeeze your spinal discs. And don’t shrug your shoulders, which can potentially damage your rotator cuff.
  • Don’t let your hips rise before the bar rises. Push hard against the floor with your feet so that your hips and chest rise at the same time and your legs help lift the weight.
  • While some muscle soreness after intense workouts is normal, stop lifting if you feel pain. Consult a doctor if the pain doesn’t go away after resting and icing.


The Best Equipment for Safe, Effective Deadlifts

Although you can perform deadlifts with kettlebells, dumbbells, or barbells, consider investing in an olympic barbell or a specialized deadlifting barbell, like the Titan Series Deadlift Bar, to get the most out of the exercise.

The Titan Series Deadlift Bar features aggressive diamond textured knurling to ensure a steady grip — but no center knurling, which helps protect your neck and chest.

And with a bar shaft that’s balanced, ground, polished, and tested, you’ll always have the perfect amount of fluid, flexing movement through your lift. Plus, a bright zinc coating protects against scratches and corrosion, while bronze bushings between the shaft and sleeve provide a smooth and consistent roll.

Combine the Titan Series Deadlift Bar with weight plates, like our Elite Classic Color Bumper Plates or Cast Iron Olympic Plates, for an all-around outstanding at-home strength training experience.

Whatever your fitness goals, Titan Fitness is here to help you achieve them and maximize your potential. We believe premium-quality fitness equipment should be accessible to everyone, so check out our shop and unleash your Titan!