Training

What Happens When You Have A Pulled Glute From Deadlifts

Updated January 29th 2022

Deadlifts are the best exercise to develop your posterior chain.

Tackling on your glutes, hamstrings, back, and hips, deadlifts are the foundation for every strength training and bodybuilding program.

Getting to deadlift 4 plates should be a piece of cake.

Progress and strength come from being consistent and healthy in the gym.

But what happens when you feel that you pulled your glutes from the deadlift?

Pulled glute from deadlift

  • 46% of chronic butt pain also showed glute medius tears
  • 70% of people with lumbar-sacral pain and leg pain was found to have glute medius weakness

Research shows that glute pain may actually be a compounding issue since it ties in so many leg and back motions.

If you pulled your glute from a deadlift, stop and evaluate the situation.

If you can still deadlift, proceed cautiously.

Your 405lbs deadlift can wait.

Use your best judgment and find out the best ways you can move while not causing yourself any agony and pain.

Glute strains, glute tears, and torn glutes are rarely seen in many medical practices as glute strains are characterized by excessive tearing of one or more gluteal muscles—

  • the gluteus maximus
  • the gluteus medius
  • the gluteus minimus.

A majority of glute strains that occur are usually classified as a grade 2 strain, which means a significant number of muscle fibers are torn, with a moderate amount of function loss.

Most deadlifters who pulled their glute usually experience some pain but are still able to use their glutes.

This would be classified as a grade 1 strain.

Here are some strategies to cope with having a pulled glute from deadlifting:

New to deadlifting

If you have not been doing full deadlifts in the past, there is a good chance you may have pulled your glutes.

Though it may not be debilitating at first, issues can become much worse if you do not implement solutions to correct any weaknesses.

After doing some research, there are some lifters that only do Romanian deadlifts for a couple of months as their main deadlift movement.

Things are all well and good.

They are making progress every workout and they are getting stronger.

However, one workout, these lifters decide to do full range of motion deadlifts instead of the usual Romanian deadlifts they were accustomed to.

Side note, which are better for your glutes actually, good mornings vs Romanian deadlifts?

After a few reps or even after the set, these lifters immediately felt a strong tension in the glutes.

Their glutes are twitching, and they definitely feel as if they pulled their glute muscles.

Aside from never practicing a full deadlift, your legs were also very straight, which means you were performing a close variation to a stiff-legged deadlift, one of the best exercises to hit your posterior chain.

So, if you have not done deadlifts at all, either because you have taken a gym hiatus or you are new to lifting, you may feel an incredible amount of pressure in your glutes for the very first time.

Solutions

As a beginner or someone who is returning to the gym, this is the normal process to get accustomed to heavy lifting.

Your body needs to train itself to handle the training weights so that you can hit the gym hard next time.

This is why you need to run a program like Greyskull LP.

If the pain and tightness do not go away after a few days, consult with a doctor.

Usually, newbies can experience DOMS for up to 10 days, depending on how hard you pushed yourself during the first couple of workouts.

Piriformis Syndrome

Piriformis syndrome occurs when there is an irritation of your piriformis, a muscle that runs across the middle of your butt and is located behind the gluteus maximus, that causes pressure to be exerted on your sciatic nerve.

The sciatic nerve runs across your butt and into your thighs and lower back.

An inflamed, tight, or strained piriformis can lead to pain in your glutes, legs, and lower back.

The pain usually gets worse when you are sitting down or when you start to actively fire your glutes.

The piriformis is responsible for rotating the hip outward when you point your toes out to the side.

It also helps your hip abduct when your hips are in a flexed position.

Which deadlift style can lead to piriformis syndrome

The sumo deadlifter is more likely to develop piriformis syndrome than a conventional deadlifter.

In a sumo deadlift, less strain is placed on the lower back due to having a wider stance.

As a result, more pressure is placed on the glutes and quads in order to pick the weight off the ground.

Since you are also externally rotating your hip, all deadlifters who point their toes out can definitely increase their chances of developing piriformis syndrome.

Weak or inactive glutes

At the same time, lack of activity can also be blamed for piriformis syndrome.

If you spend most of your day sitting down, jumping straight into deadlifts without any proper warmups may create more harm than good.

Your piriformis can be irritated and you may feel that you have pulled your glute.

You could have other issues that may result from weak glutes as well— research revealed that weak glutes will show an:

  • Increase reliance on hip adductors
  • Increase reliance on hamstrings

Since deadlifts are a major compound movement that works on the posterior chain, it is often recommended in many people's programming.

So, it is definitely advised to continue to do deadlifts in order to strengthen your glutes.

At the same time, be mindful of your recovery and whether or not you need to warm up more.

Solutions

Stretches, rest, and mobility work of your hips, glutes, and hamstrings can help alleviate tension in your glutes.

  • Lying piriformis stretch

With your back on the ground, keep your hips also on the ground and fold the leg with the impacted glutes on top of the other leg.

Lift up the other leg so that the folded leg is closer to your chest.

Gently, push the folded leg down so that you can feel a stretch in your piriformis.

Hold it for 20-30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

  • Sitting piriformis stretch

While sitting in a chair, bend the leg of the impacted glute so that your ankle rests on your other knee.

Then, bend forward until you can feel a stretch on your piriformis.

Your goal is to try to get your chest towards your bent leg.

When you begin to feel a stretch on your glutes, hold it for 20-30 seconds.

Glute medius

These muscles are located in the upper region of your glutes.

They are responsible for:

  1. Hip abduction
  2. Anterior fibers, flexion and hip internal rotation
  3. Posterior fibers, extension and hip external rotation

Lifters will usually experience pain or soreness during the top of the deadlift lockout.

This could also be related to if you take your deadlift breath at the top or bottom.

The pain will persist as long as the lifter continues to do deadlifts.

Solutions

Many lifters found that this is not a serious injury and can usually be remedied at home.

By massaging their glutes and doing light stretches, many lifters are able to resume their normal training workouts within a week.

Usually, lifters use foam rollers (this is one similar to what I have with accupoints) to relax their glutes and to promote more blood flow in the area.

Another solution is to reduce the volume or taking a couple of days off. If you have been strength training for a long time, a couple of days of rest can do you some good.

  • Gluteus medius standing wall stretch

With the impacted glute facing the wall, the leg closest to the wall will be crisscrossed behind the front leg.

Now, placing one hand on your hips, push your hips into the wall.

Your back leg can come off the ground and lean over in the opposite direction with the further shoulder.

You should feel a stretch in your upper glute and hold that position for 20-30 seconds.

What to do if you have a pulled glute from deadlifts?

Stop deadlifting, for now at least

Many lifters will tell you to push through the pain.

However, that does not make too much sense.

If your body was healthy, would it send any pain signals to stop you from doing any lifts?

Something is wrong and you should address it.

Do not try to manage through the pain unless you want to take more time to recovery from your pulled glute.

This is sort of similar to a first time lower back pain from deadlifts.

Pain-free movement

One of the keys to recovery is to find pain-free movements that you can do.

Are deadlifts giving you glute pain?

What about squats?

Can you do Romanian deadlifts?

What about rack pulls?

There are a lot of lower body compound exercises that you can choose from in order to temporarily substitute for the deadlift.

The main point is to find exercises that do not cause you pain or discomfort.

However, you might feel that once you pull your glutes during the deadlift, that you might want to just take some time off.

Just like other injuries like hands hurting during the deadlift or deadlift shoulder pain, overuse injuries are nothing to take lightly.

A decrease in training intensity, volume, or both may be needed to help reduce pain and support healing.

I have had injuries and have taken both sides of the approach—

  • full rest and doing nothing
  • training pain-free

I felt a lot better physically and mentally when I trained.

Even though I barely take time off in the gym, doing partial movements that I could do was still great for me. 

This is one of the differences between a deload week vs a week off.

By the time my injury healed, I did not have to do a full reset on the lift.

Only a partial lift since I was still working the same muscles just as hard.

This might be a good time to fix any weaknesses such as hips shooting up during the deadlift.

Glute Activation

After a couple of days of rest and you no longer feel pain, one of the best things you can do is to start moving.

Two very good exercises to do are:

  1. single leg bridges
  2. side planks with leg raises
  3. straight leg raises.

There are tons of glute activation exercises that you can do.

You can also use Titan's glute hamstring H PND Combo to really get your posterior chain working.

Trying to activate the muscle and stimulate functionality and flexibility is important for recovery.

Conclusion

Glute pulls from a deadlift can be a result of one or more things.

However, overutilized or underutilized muscles are usually two contributing factors that decide whether or not you will feel any muscular or nerve pain from deadlifts.

Having your quads sore not glutes from squats might also be an indication that your glutes might not be firing properly. 

Why don't I feel deadlifts in my glutes?

No external rotation of your feet and improper form are two reasons why you do not feel the deadlifts in your glutes.

If you are utilizing your lower back too much during the deadlift, you are not fully activating your hamstrings and glutes in order to help finish the lift safely.

You will develop bad habits and overcompensation that will eventually lead to certain muscle weaknesses, which can cause injuries.

So, one good way to avoid this negative feedback cycle is to do some preactivation glute drills that I listed above in this article.

You can use your own as well because the main point of performing some glute activation drill is to wake up the muscle and get it to fire.

You are performing deadlifts, so glute max, being one of the biggest muscles in your body, should be awake and ready to help you extend your thigh to finish the lift.

How do deadlifts activate glutes?

You can activate your glutes with deadlifts in two primary ways—

  1. Perform glute isolation exercises prior to deadlifting
  2. Use a deadlift variation that works the glutes more

As discussed earlier, performing glute isolation exercises like the single-leg bridge, straight leg raises, fire hydrants, just to name a few... will signal to your body to work these muscles.

When you perform them directly before performing deadlifts, you will see an increased usage of glute muscles since you primed your body for the movement.

As for the most glute-friendly deadlift variation, your best bet is to perform the sumo deadlift over the conventional deadlift.

But if you insist on performing the conventional deadlift, turning your toes to point away from each other will increase the external rotation of your leg, which is one of the primary functions of the glutes.

Performing your glute's biomechanics role will increase its activation.

Do you squeeze your glutes during deadlifts?

At the top of the deadlift during lockout, lifters should squeeze their glutes to remain in an erect and strong position.

While it is uncommon to talk about lockout strength, being about to squeeze your glutes will play a significant role in deadlift strength.

It is just that for many people, lockout strength is not a weakness since breaking the weight off the floor during the deadlift is often the first issue.

Do deadlifts make your glutes bigger?

Deadlifts will make your glutes bigger and stronger when performed with the following rep schemes—

  • 50-65% of your 1 rep max, for 3-5 sets of 8-12 reps
  • 75-85% of your 1 rep max, for 3-5 reps of 3-6 reps

Your program should be very specific on what rep range and intensity you should do in order to gain glute size.

Chances are unless you have been working out for years and decades, you just want some confirmation on doing the right exercises for the best possible results.

Here are some reasons why deadlifts make your butt bigger—

  1. Gradual increase in volume means more work capacity
  2. More work capacity means more metabolic stress
  3. More metabolic stress means more damage, and your body need to recover from that

And the cycle continues to repeat itself until you get your desired results, whether you are cutting or bulking.


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