The Importance of Deadlifts For Runners (Plus the variations you need)

If you’re serious about improving your running performance and reducing injury risk, you should deadlift, and deadlift a lot.

But why? Running is, after all, an endurance sport that doesn’t require a lot of body strength.

That’s wrong. So wrong!

Here’s an interesting fact, strength training is a must for runners, and the deadlift, among its many variations, is one of the best, runner-friendly, strength exercises in the universe.

In this article, I’m sharing with you some of the reasons the deadlift works very well for runners as well as a few of the most efficient deadlift variations to add to your cross-training routine.

Here we go!

What’s A Deadlift?

The deadlift is one of the supreme strength exercises and ideal for runners to boost up their body strength and endurance.

This exercise is a compound exercise that targets virtually every major muscle, especially the trunk muscles of the posterior chain, including the back muscles, glutes, and hamstrings—important running muscles that help propel us forward and are key for optimal speed and stability while running.

So how you deadlift properly?

Luckily there are many deadlift variations you can add to your cross-training routine. But make sure you’re doing them right. Otherwise, you may hurt yourself, and you don’t want that.

Choose the variation(s) that works the best for you, depending on your personal preference, injury history, and training goals.

Beginners Start Slooooow

Beginners, start with a relatively lightweight and focus on proper form. So if you are a beginner, start with relatively lightweight (a 40-pound loaded bar, for instance) and focus on your technique. Ego won’t work here, make sure to make form a priority.

Deadlift Variations For Runners

Here are six deadlift variations to try, whether you’re seeking to improve your strength, speed, power or endurance

  1. Conventional Deadlift

This is the classic form of a deadlift and the foundation of all other variations. Get this one right, and the other versions will come in handy.

There is a lot to cover here, so please hang with me here.

Proper Form

Stand tall,  feet a bit wider than shoulder-width apart, toes pointing straight ahead or slightly outward. Line up the balls of your feet under the bar.

Then, hinge from the hips, bend your knees, then grip the barbell with shoulder width or slightly wider with an overhand grip. This is your starting position.

Be kind to your spine. Always protect your spine by activating your core. I’m talking about your abdominal muscles here. If you feel somehow painful in your lower back, drop it down, activate more.

Next, raise the weight up by extending your hips and. Remember to contract your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles while keeping the weight close to your body head up, chests out, back flat, and knees pointed in the same direction throughout the movement. Hold for a moment, then slowly bring the weight down to the floor by bending your hips and knees.

  1. Sumo Deadlift

The sumo deadlift is the wider stance version of a deadlift, and it focuses primarily on the quadriceps, the inner thighs, and glutes. The move can also help you improve your range of motion needed for lifting heavier weights without injury.

Proper Form

Start by standing tall,  feet twice shoulder-width apart, toes pointing out at an angle, chest up,  again core should be activated.

Next, while keeping your back flat, bend your knees, hold the bar and lift it up by pressing through your heels and thrusting your hips forward.

Stand all the way up, pause, then slowly lower it to starting position and repeat.

3. Romanian Deadlift

The Romanian Deadlift is a fantastic variation for the hamstrings, an important running muscles. Feel free to perform it by either using a loaded barbell or with dumbbells.

Proper Form

Begin by standing with shoulder width or a narrower stance—depending on your own personal preference.

Grab the bar from the floor with shoulder width to wide overhead grip and keep looking straight ahead as you lift the weight up.

Next, while keeping your arms straight and knees slightly bent, slowly bend at your hip joint and lower the loaded barbell as far as you can without rounding your back.

Make sure to extend your hips forward until you starting feeling a good stretch in the back of your thighs. Bend down as far as your flexibility allows, but don’t force it; otherwise, expect trouble.

Once you reach the bottom portion, pause, then pull the weight back up to starting position and repeat. Make sure to squeeze your hamstrings and core muscles at the top of the motion.

4. Trap Bar Deadlift

Trap Bar version is back friendliest deadlift-. No room for injury to stop you. This variation helps you cut injury risk while upping your ability to lift heavier loads.

Proper Form

Stand in the center of the trap bar, bend your hips and knees, then lower down until your thighs are parallel to the floor.

Next, while keeping your back straight and core engaged, grab hold of the bar’s handles using a neutral grip, then lift it up by thrusting your hips forward, pause, then slowly return to the starting position.

5. Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift

The Kettlebell Sumo Deadlift focuses on the inner thighs and lower back muscles. It also improves balance, strength, coordination in the entire lower body.

Proper Form

Assume a wider stance, your toes pointing outwards, core engaged, and back flat.

Next, while bending at the hips, grasp a kettlebell of challenging weight with both hands, then lift up off the ground by extending your knees and hips. Then, stand tall with chest out, head held high, and core engaged.

Lift the kettlebell off the floor by extending your hips and knees. Make sure to stand tall, with chest out, core engaged, and back straight.

Pause, breathe, then lower to starting position.

6. Single-Leg Deadlift

The Single-Leg Deadlift works the glutes like nothing else. The glutes are the central power of your running stride, and essential for keeping stability throughout your gait. Make sure to build the proper form first before do it with single leg.

I’d suggest that you perform this variation with a kettlebell as it’s more convenient, but feel free to use other tools.

Proper Form

Hold a 15 to 20-pound kettlebell in your right hand, and lift your left foot slightly off the ground.

Next, while activating your core and keeping your back straight, lean your entire torso forward and lower the weight toward the floor by bending at the hip and extending the left leg behind.

Hold for a count of three, then press back up to starting position.

Super worth a try, right? For a stable posture during your running schedule. Deadlift not as scary as the name, though. What are you waiting for? J

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