I'm rehabbing a pulled hamstring, so I'm doing weight lifting for the first time, on the instructions of the physio.

She has me doing both "Good Mornings" and "Romanian Deadlifts".

It seems like the action in both of these is exactly the same? (except the arms/ upper body, obviously?) Should it be exactly the same action? Or is my technique wrong for one or the other?

Assuming that it is the same action, then I assume that the different position of the weight changes the biomechanics of the action, thus putting stress into different muscles / different parts of the same muscle / etc.

  • Comments are for clarifying questions and answers, not presenting your own personal rant. If you feel that you have a recommendation about what to do or not to do, present it as an answer.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 12, 2017 at 15:41

2 Answers 2


Romanian deadlifts and good mornings are both hinge patterns, however there are some major differences. Such as the lever action in relation to where the load is placed. A true good morning is a posteriorly top loaded hip hinge. The difference being the loading vector and range of motion.

The good morning is what is called a class three lever (Romanian dead-lifts are a class one lever).

  • The load is at one end, in this case on your upper back.
  • The force is generated from the musculature of the hips, with the bend (or fulcrum) of the movement bearing down from the pelvis, through the feet, and into the floor.

Essentially in a good morning, the entire length of the body is acting as a lever arm with the load being distributed throughout your entire posterior chain. That's a lot of muscle worked. This is an important concept to grasp. The good morning is not simply a "lower back exercise". Done properly, the good morning works the entire length of the erector spinae.

I would do both as your PT has recommended.


Put very simply - yes the motion is very similar and they're both great exercises. The same "major" muscles are activated but at a different times and for different durations. You're teaching your muscles to activate correctly. It helps with balance, stability and improves overall movement quality.




  • +1. GM's are one of the more overlooked exercises. They can be approximated with reverse situps, but you (mostly) miss out on glute/hamstring activation.
    – JohnP
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 15:11
  • Appreciate the +1 John! Actually that's one of their strengths -- controlling your forward bend your eccentrically contracting your hamstrings. Also returning to the start position requires concentric contraction of your glutes. The exercise has it all.
    – Mike-DHSc
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 16:03
  • I don't see how the RDL and GM can be different classes of lever. In an RDL, the arms just transmit the force of gravity to the shoulders, so for both exercises, the load, gravity, is at the shoulders. The force comes from the hams and the glutes, and they work at the hips, so that's our fulcrum. The torso is our lever, but whether this is class 1 or 3 is merely a matter of perspective: do you want to focus on the tendons attaching above (class 3) or below (class 1) the hip? In any case, the mechanics are the same in both cases. Poliquin was rong!
    – flies
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 20:17
  • The main distinction between the exercises is the length of the lever arm. If you recall your physics 101, the length of the lever arm is the distance between fulcrum and load perpendicular to the load, meaning that the horizontal distance between the hips and the load is the lever arm. At the bottom of a hinge, the shoulder socket is slightly closer to the hips than the bar would be in a GM, so the RDL has a slightly shorter lever arm. (Also, like, there's no bar pressing on your upper back, and you have to grip the bar, so there's that.)
    – flies
    Commented Oct 10, 2018 at 20:21

You are correct that they are the same action other than the bar placement.

Both exercises place a high degree of emphasis on your posterior chain -- the group of muscles comprising your hamstrings, glutes, adductors and lower back. You also need a strong midsection and core to maintain your lower back arch and to stop yourself from rounding over. Romanian deadlifts have the added bonus of targeting your forearm muscles too, as you have to hold the bar for a sustained period.

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