Thread: RDL vs SLDL
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Old 03-13-2013, 12:26 PM   #25
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Max Brawn

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Originally Posted by MikeM View Post
I like Fazc's comment about the purpose of the lifts, but more clarity could be useful here too.
You're my man, Mike.

The whole idea about differentiating the lifts based on arbitrary starting from the floor, or from the hang or whatever is completely missing the point. It's missing the forest for the tree's and it's not the way I would teach the movement at all.

The RDL serves the purpose of strengthening a strong arched back position where the hamstring and hips are the primary flexors and movers. So the type of position you would need to maintain for a strong Power Clean or a strong strict olympic-style Deadlift or pull. Very little quad involvement and the lower back is only statically strengthened, not through the range of motion.

You can think of the RDL being there to prevent the lower back from being strengthened in a flexed position. So it's the type of thing we might do to prevent someone from rounding too much on a deadlift, or perhaps the type of thing we'd do to assist a power clean and particularly the first pull into most of the cleaning movements. That is where the back is nicely arched, which includes both the hips coming through and the upper back arched.

The SLDL serves the purpose of strengthening a (relatively) rounded back position. It's the type of thing you would use to strengthen those grinding lifts like the full deadlift, lifting stones or anything where the back needs to flex under load. It mimics that position and strengthens those points, so that is why you would use it.

So of course you *could* teach whatever the hell you like, and Yates, McDonald etc can teach whatever they like as well. But as individuals actually understanding and thinking the difference between why you might use one or the other is very valuable and you don't need to understand complex biomechanics for it either, you just need an open mind. If they both essentially mould into the same thing you're missing key exercises which can greatly increase your power and that of people you train.

Finally the start positions are merely a function of flexibility and body limitations. If your entire back is solid, allowing the hams/hips to be the prime flexors and movers then you will have to start from the top as few could reach down to the floor like that.

I assume the SLDL is mostly for lower back? And RDL is mostly for hamstring?
As you probably guessed already, it's really about strengthening body positions rather then individual muscles. The SLDL strengthens the lower backs ability to flex, the RDL strengthens the lower backs ability to maintain a solid position. Two very different purposes.

Finally, finally, finally... The following is a purely tongue-in-cheek comment so all of you take it as such.

Why don't we just get Rippetoe, McDonald and Yates (and Gallagher!) here, or better still go off to their boards to debate this. Since obviously none of us grown men here are capable of reasoning our own points without resorting to "yeah but Rippetoe said this" or "Yates did that" lol

If that offends you, then sorry just blame my quirky english humour.
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