View Full Version : Barefoot squats/deads??

Tony Ferous
02-22-2010, 05:28 AM
Im sure there was a related thread but couldnt find it...any issues or contraindications on doing squats and deadlifts barefoot?

Ive been doing it for a few weeks with zero ill effects, seems like the natural thing to do and feels good.

Steven Low
02-22-2010, 06:13 AM
Nope, it's better barefoot because of the better feel/proprioception/etc.

As long as you avoid getting your feet smashed.

Greg Davis
02-22-2010, 07:11 AM
thats how i roll at my grappling gym in the weight room since it's required to take off shoes everywhere..

Ben Smith
02-22-2010, 07:17 AM

If you read through the comments, Justin and Gant chime in with some thoughts. They haven't convinced me yet, but they are generally smarter about this stuff than I am. I'm "bugbomb".

Garrett Smith
02-22-2010, 07:17 AM
IMO, squats no, DLs yes.

Gavin Harrison
02-22-2010, 08:41 AM
It'd definitely better than doing either in crosstrainers, or any sort of squishy shoe. I haven't tried WL shoes or PL shoes, only converses and skate shoes which are also fine.

Allen Yeh
02-22-2010, 10:49 AM
I like barefoot for DL's but wouldn't recommend them for weighted squats.

Garrett Smith
02-22-2010, 11:23 AM
Baby, Bathwater, Gear (http://startingstrength.com/articles/baby_bathwater_gear_gibson.pdf)
There are some purists who believe a squat is tainted unless itís done in bare feet and presumably as close to naked as circumstances allow (One wonders if they feel the squat rack is an unnatural copout too since it holds the weight for you and lets you squat more because you didnít have to Steinborn the
bar onto your back). But the more sensible among us will adorn our bodies appropriately. At the very least a shirt made mostly of cotton should be worn so that the bar does not slide around on your slick, sweaty back. We sensible folk will also give a lot of attention to what we put on our feet when we squat. We tend to like a non-compressible sole and a little bit of heel.

Scouring the internet gives me the impression that there are way too many people trying to barbell back squat in as close to a ďnaturalĒ state as possible. And this extends to the angle of their feet relative to their tibiae. That is to say, they donít want their footwear to have any heel. They see the heel as a crutch for what they deem a flexibility problem in either the hamstrings or the calves. This betrays a profound disrespect for critical thinking and a flagrant disregard of the realities of anatomy and physics.

Iíd ask heel-haters to try to squat with the balls of their feet elevated to demonstrate the aforementioned anatomy and physics at work. Itís not flexibility at issue here. What we have are changes in balance resulting in stresses being shifted to different muscle groups. Balls of feet elevated will require the lifter to perform more of a good morning in order to stay in balance and get depth; the shins will be nearly vertical and the knees well behind the toes which means the hip angle will be much more acute than the knee angle. Therefore the stress of moving the weight is placed almost entirely on the glutes and hamstrings. As the angle of the foot moves to flat and then to heels elevated, the balance shifts and with it so does the stress. The higher the heel, the farther out over the toes the knees have to move to maintain balance as the lifter descends with the barbell; the more acute the knee angle and more open the hip angle. The quads are able to get more of the action while the hamstrings have less to do (the glutes and hamstrings still have to work hard to maintain the resulting more open hip angle). The higher the heel, the more the stress is shunted to the quads and away from the posterior chain.

A slightly elevated heel distributes the stress equitably between the knee extensors and the hip extensors. An elevated heel is not a copout due to lack of flexibility; itís a legitimate training device with a specific function. I know it will make some angry or sad to read it, but Nature did not provide you with an ideal foot angle on flat ground for the purpose of balancing the work between the anterior and posterior muscles in the barbell back squat.

Insistence on barbell squatting au naturale is a waste of effort. Squatting is natural. Barbell squatting certainly is not. The plate-loaded barbell with rotating collars is an artifact of industrial civilization. (So is a squat rack, by the way.) Again, the equipment that allows us to perform this wonderful, strength-building movement is in a sense ďgearĒ itself. It is no crime to add more accessories to make their use safer and more productive.

Robert Callahan
02-22-2010, 11:52 AM
As a rule of thumb if you want to train the squat heavy you should have weightlifting shoes. The deadlift can be done barefoot, wearing shoes or not is more of a function of body type (long femurs + short arms + long torso = no shoes) and training (ie Oly lifters probably want to DL in shoes since it is more sport specific).

That said you can squat barefoot and you won't hurt yourself or anything, you just need to be more careful as you get heavy and realize you won't get as heavy as you otherwise could.

If you have any flexibility problems shoes can help out a lot also. I had a kid who has a hell of a time getting below parallel barefoot with solid lumbar control but with shoes his form cleans right up.

Gant Grimes
02-22-2010, 12:51 PM

If you read through the comments, Justin and Gant chime in with some thoughts. They haven't convinced me yet, but they are generally smarter about this stuff than I am. I'm "bugbomb".

Yes. So wear shoes. At least for squats.

I now wear a slight heel for DLs and am much happier.

Blair Lowe
02-22-2010, 12:53 PM
I've had no problem squatting (any kind) or DL barefoot and since I am barefoot significantly more than I wear shoes (prob by a factor of 5-10x), I prefer it. This is how I've always been for the last 30 years.

Shoes will help those ankle flexion issues out a lot and of course most people just aren't used to not wearing shoes.

If someone is going to train to compete PL or WL it's probably a better idea to train how you are going to compete.

Not wearing shoes has not limited my DL and BS but I'm sure they have a bit more room that could be explored by a focused program on them.