Your question: Is there a difference between the stiff-legged deadlift and the romanian deadlift, or are they basically the same exercise?
The background: Although they look similar to the untrained eye, the stiff-legged and romanian deadlifts differ in both execution and results. First let’s consider how to properly perform each.
Stand with your feet about hip- to shoulder-width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Grasp a barbell with an overhand, shoulder-width grip, your arms extended in front of your thighs. Lean forward from your hips, pushing your glutes back and maintaining the arch in your lower back as you guide the bar down the front of your legs until it comes to about mid-shin. The bar should always be in contact with your legs. Extend your hips to return to the start position.
With a hip- to shoulder-width stance, hold a loaded barbell in front of your thighs with an overhand, shoulder-width grip. Bend at the waist, keeping your knees straight as you lower the bar toward the floor; it should remain a few inches in front of your legs. Pause briefly before extending your torso to return to a standing position.