Difference Between SLDL and RDL

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I am amazed that people spend so much time and energy arguing about the difference between these two exercises – The stiff legged dead lift and the romanian dead lift.  Personally, I dont like either exercise which is why I made up my own variant of these exercises which I call the SDL or Scooby Dead Lift.  Although Mark Rippetoe is the acknowledged expert on strength training, many people still disagree with his definitions of these two exercises.  Before I describe the SDL and why I like it so much, lets talk about the RDL and the SLDL.   The most widely accepted form for these exercises would be the form described by Mark Rippetoe.  Although he would probably describe these exercises in a different way, here are the form elements:

Romanian Deadlift (Isolation exercise)

  • starting position is from the hang position, not with the bar on the floor
  • knees straight but not locked
  • double overhand grip
  • back remains in neutral position
  • set is one fluid motion without bar ever resting on ground between reps

Stiff Legged Deadlift (compound exercise)

  • starting position is bar on the floor
  • knees bent at bottom, straightened at top
  • double overhand grip
  • back remains in neutral position
  • each rep starts again with bar resting on ground
  • bar does not touch legs till its higher than the knees

Now lets talk about what a lot of people disagree on.   Some people describe the RDL as also starting from the hang rather than with the bar on the floor.  Many folks do not keep the back in the neutral position in the SLDL but roll the back over like a hissing cat to allow the bar to go lower.   Some people to the RDL with the knees bent rather than straight which really blurs the line between the SLDL and the RDL.   So rather than get involved in what is “right” I have come up with my own exercise,the SDL.  By some peoples definition, my SDL is an RDL but to avoid arguments, I have given this exercise a new name 🙂

Goals of the SDL (Scooby Dead Lift)

  1. Increase hamstring strength
  2. Increase hamstring flexibility
  3. Safely increase spinal extensor strength
  4. Safely increase spinal extensor muscular endurance to help prevent lower back pain*

Here are the form elements of the Scooby Deadlift (SDL)

  • use opposing grip
  • start from hang position
  • back is motionless in neutral position
  • bar slides along the front of the leg all the way up
  • legs remain straight but not locked during whole movement
  • set is one fluid motion without bar ever resting on ground between reps
  • go slowly, 2s up 2s down – goal is to make the set last at least 30s
  • stretch hamstrings at bottom but keep back in neutral position
Scooby Deadlift (SDL)

Here is a video showing how to perform the SDL:

 

* Biering-Sorensen F., “Physical Measurements As Risk Indicators for Low Back Trouble Over a One-Year Period,” Spine, Vol. 9, No. 2, 1984, pp. 106-119.

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