Should runners deadlift?

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  March 3, 2020

What are the benefits of deadlift training on your running? Sam MacIntosh takes a look...

More and more women are hitting the squat rack these days, which is awesome, especially if you’re looking for stronger legs and powerful glutes to get you across the finish line. But there’s another barbell lift that can be hugely beneficial for female runners: the humble deadlift.

The deadlift strengthens the posterior chain, or the muscles on the back of your body: your glutes, hamstrings, spine, and – further up – your trapezoids and deltoids. If you view the finish line of a long event, you’ll see a sea of athletes hunched over as their posterior chains succumb to fatigue. If you make the deadlift a staple in your strength routine, you’ll find a straight back and relaxed shoulders and arms easier to maintain on distance events. This means no hunching, better arm swing, and, most importantly, faster times.

The deadlift also increases your core stability, minimising any rocking as you run and saving your hips from the impact and grinding of high volume training. Plus, the deadlift’s ‘hinge’ movement teaches you to fire your hamstrings and glutes to bring more power to your stride. ⁣It’ll also help strengthen your hip thrusts.

The only downside to the deadlift is that it can cause you damage if you execute it wrong. Novice lifters can attempt to pull a bar from the ground with their torso instead of engaging their core and pushing from the legs, causing what’s called an ‘angry cat back’. Your spine won’t be too keen on that, and nor will your partner if you have to spend the rest of the week sitting on the sofa and demanding snacks!

If you don’t have a decent coach to take you through the finer points, we recommend starting out with dumbbell variations, like Romanian deadlifts. Do bodyweight repetitions at first, placing your foot behind you in a staggered stance, then progress up to single leg versions, then add weight.

The deadlift has a bad rep, but you don’t have to be the teen in the backwards cap at the gym who bellows melodramatically every time he does it. As women, and particularly as female runners, we can also be reluctant to try exercises that might make us ‘bulky’ – the deadlift will make you strong. Trust us: it’s your secret weapon to becoming a better runner.

Check out Endure Stronger for more information.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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