The Deadlift: Not a Great Muscle Builder?
While the deadlift plays a huge role in strength, power, and injury resilience, it’s not the best movement for building muscle. It may sound like absolute blasphemy that the king of all exercises won’t optimally build muscle, but there’s a better option if your main goal is hypertrophy.
Here’s the deal: The standard deadlift is really lagging in controlled eccentric overload. That’s the “negative” or when you lower the bar back to the ground. Once you get heavy, this becomes unsafe. This eccentric portion of the lift is arguably the most pivotal phase for overloading contractile units and sparking the breakdown and remodeling phase of tissue that leads to muscular hypertrophy.
Do the RDL
The hip hinge movement pattern can be trained many ways, including my favorite posterior chain movement, the Romanian deadlift or RDL. Every training program should include it.
The RDL or Romanian Deadlift
So what’s the difference between the traditional deadlift and the RDL? Two words: eccentric loading.
The reason the RDL is so effective for building mass through the hamstrings, glutes, and back is that it incorporates both the eccentric (lowering) and concentric (lifting) portions of the movement. It also “stretches” the hamstrings, which elicits an anabolic effect when loaded properly.
Does This Mean You Shouldn’t Deadlift?
Hell no. But if your goal is to build a big and strong backside, don’t neglect foundational principles of exercise science, biomechanics, and movement anatomy like training each phase of a lift.
Just remember, every deadlift is a hip hinge, but not every hip hinge needs to be a traditional barbell deadlift.