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I'm going to a fairly small gym (because I live in a very rural area) with very little various possibilities when it comes to equipment and stuff. I'm doing back extension with extra weight for training my lower back. I now wanted to switch that out with deadlifts in my routine.

Problem with that is, the gym doesn't got matts to put under the bar or anything that would dampen the weight drop. So I thought about implementing romanian deadlifts instead, as I then don't drop the bar every single rep.

I know that regular deadlifts are one of the best exercises one could do in the gym (if executed correctly). But what about the romanian ones? Is it worth switching the back extension. My overall goal is building muscle.

  • What is the floor made of, and what are the weights made of? If it is iron weights on a concrete floor, that would be bad, but if there is any rubber on the floor or rubber on the weights, that may be ok. – David Scarlett Sep 4 '18 at 0:31
  • The plates are coated in rubber, the floor is some kind of very thin carpet. But I asked the owner about doing deadlifts (since literally nobody there does them) and he said he'd prefer me not doing them, hence I'm trying to figure out if romanian ones are worth. – Suimon Sep 4 '18 at 6:00
  • Wait, why would you drop the bar every single rep? – Dark Hippo Sep 5 '18 at 15:32
  • In short, the back extension and RDL (Romanian Dead Lifts) are similar in terms of which muscles they work but extensions are more focused on lower back where RDLs focus more on Hamstrings. I would say try it but expect RDLs to be substantially harder on your nervous system than extensions and allow adequate recovery. Also, please make sure to start with a low weight with RDLs. Usually RDL weight is substantially lower than regular dead lifts. – Clintus Sep 6 '18 at 2:57
  • @DarkHippo In a regular deadlift the eccentric is very fast and you let the weight hit the ground (controlled though). Thats what I mean with dropping. – Suimon Sep 6 '18 at 6:37
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If your gym has a power rack, you could set-up very low rack pulls. Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkg3Rd4Vnls

The other option is do a deadlift, but don't touch the ground each rep.

Or start in a RDL position, but do a full deadlift range of motion, without touching the ground.

One way to help with this is rather than use 45lb plates on each side, use 25 lbers, so you have more room until you hit the ground. Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9rYbDx8vzao

That's one of the biggest differences with a RDL- in a deadlift, the eccentric (lowering) phase tends to not get worked as much as in a RDL, because people are often not as controlled, hence the noise when touching the ground. As you alluded to, "the weight drop."

If in either one you're in a conventional stance though, the differences are so minor they don't matter for most. If you were competing, then that ability to lift the bar from a dead start, at the bottom, really matters. When you're just trying to work some muscle, it's no big deal.

Hell, if building muscle is your goal, you can make an argument you want that extra eccentric work, which means RDLs have an advantage.

(I don't want to make this a concentric vs eccentric debate, but here is one study showing the benefits of eccentric training on quadricep hypertrophy.)

As an aside, my experience in gyms has been it's no so much deadlifting owners have a problem with, it's the attitude that too many end up have while doing them. If you're grunting where people 20 feet away can hear you, yelling, letting the weight free fall, that's where the problem comes in. But it's not like any of that is necessary.

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