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Deadlifting Is Good for Running and the Brain

This week my coach posted a video of me deadlifting 190 lbs for a deadlift PR. I was not going for a PR, as a matter of fact, it has been a year and a half since I deadlifted 185 lbs and I only did that once. We did it because Friday is deadlift day and I did not have a run planned and we thought, “why not see if you can pull 190?” I probably could have lifted 200 or more but that is not why I am deadlifting.


I started learning how to deadlift probably 8 years ago when I began my twice a week training with a strength and conditioning personal trainer. I don’t really remember how I learned, but most likely I learned to lift a kettlebell off the ground. I do remember I worked for weeks, months and years on proper positioning, breathing and movement throughout the lift.

During the first year I also decided to take up running as a way to increase my fitness and learn something new. As my running progressed, my deadlifting progressed. The deadlift helps to reinforce a strong, neutral spine and forward trunk posture. Along with strengthening the core muscles supporting the spine, the deadlift also helps to increase arm strength, hip flexion and extension, and the muscles in the posterior chain-the hamstrings and glutes. In addition to increasing strength, deadlifting also helps to increase explosiveness and power by utilizing the body’s need for fast twitch muscle fibers, which help with running fast. Okay, so I am not that fast, but women have fewer fast twitch type muscle fibers than men,

And keep in mind that fast-twitch muscle depletes with age considerably more than slow-twitch, so increasing muscle power is less feasible later in life.- Justin White for Greatist, Aug 6, 2015 


I would typically work on some form of deadlift technique at least once a week, sometimes I would lift lighter with more reps, and some weeks I would lift progressively heavier singles.


Over time, my once a week deadlifting turned into hundreds of thousands of reps over many years. I worked on variations occasionally, like the Romanian Deadlift or straight leg deadlift, the Sumo deadlift and a wide stance deadlift, and a single leg deadlift with dumbbells. I could probably have continued to work to increase my weight, but that was never the goal. My goal has always been to increase explosiveness and power, improving my conditioning and maintain my strength as I get older. This last year at Gain Strength and Conditioning I have been focusing more on technique and conditioning, working on higher rep sets with moderate weight to improve my endurance. The deadlift for me is one of the basics; it may not seem exciting or interesting to do something you have been doing for 8 years-the newness has definitely worn off-but the benefits of practicing a lift you are good at outweigh doing something new with bells and whistles sometimes.

So when I decided to try to lift 190 lbs last week I felt good, but it was not the same feeling as if I were working on increasing my weight as a goal. I used to think that mattered, because I am all about the numbers. I realized I could lift heavier than 190, and I am curious, but it is enough-for now-for me to be able to stand over the bar and know I can lift something heavy without hurting myself. I also know WHY I am deadlifting. Deadlifting will help me improve in other lifts and activities, for now it is running, but who knows what it will be in the future. Lifting is good for the body and good for the brain.


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