Anatomical reason not to lift barefoot in a home gym? Anatomical reason not to lift barefoot in a home gym?

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Thread: Anatomical reason not to lift barefoot in a home gym?

  1. #1
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    Default Anatomical reason not to lift barefoot in a home gym?

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    I am 69 years old, 5’10’ and 200 lbs. I have been lifting weights at a local gym for about 6 months - using their methodology, which included bench press, deadlift, squat - and a bunch of auxiliary exercises.

    I really liked getting under the barbell, but I think Starting Strength makes a lot more sense, and I have started to put together a simple home gym in my garage - I’ve got a power cage, bench and barbell, and as soon as I recover from COVID, I will pick up some used plates.

    I have a question about lifting shoes - or actually no shoes.

    I can understand that you would not want people working out barefoot in a commercial gym for sanitary reasons, but are there anatomical reasons not to lift in bare feet?

    As I said earlier, I am 69 years old, and my wife and I do a lot of social dancing. About 10 years ago, I was having a lot of issues with various kinds of foot/knee pain dancing, and I had seen podiatrists and was trying out various kinds of insoles and supports.

    One night my wife and I got to a dance, and I only had one dance shoe. I thought, “What the heck am I going to do?”

    So I danced barefoot - and had no foot pain at all. I had blisters on my feet, but no other issues.

    After that, I danced barefoot for a while, and that seemed to solve all of the problems with my feet.

    Since then, I have sought out minimal footwear - in the sense of very thin soles and no arch support. That pretty much means trail running sandals when the weather is warm and Vibram FiveFingers when the weather is colder.

    I wore FiveFingers/sandals when I worked out at the gym for the last 6 months, and did not notice any problems.

    Are there good anatomical reasons not to lift weights in bare feet at a home gym?

  2. #2
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    There are at least 200 posts on these forums regarding this topic. SEARCH FUNCTION.

  3. #3
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    1. If you drop a weight on your foot then your anatomical reasons will change immediately.

    2. There's no support interface for your foot and the ground. Would you play soccer barefoot or in cleats?

  4. #4
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    I squat barefoot. No problems.
    It is against the "rules" of starting strength so don't expect much from this forum about it, other than ridicule. My advice is to try it. If you don't like it, get some squat shoes.
    Also important to check if you have a leg length discrepancy before your squat gets too heavy, regardless of footwear choice.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kansan View Post
    I squat barefoot. No problems.
    It is against the "rules" of starting strength so don't expect much from this forum about it, other than ridicule. My advice is to try it. If you don't like it, get some squat shoes.
    Also important to check if you have a leg length discrepancy before your squat gets too heavy, regardless of footwear choice.
    The fact that you squat barefoot and have not had any problems so far does not mean that squatting without shoes is better than squatting with squat shoes. Kinda like we all know people who smoke who don't have cancer. I don't expect you to understand this.

  6. #6
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    Yes, smoking is exactly like not wearing shoes. Genius.
    The three best reasons to wear shoes would be:
    1) traction, no one wants to slip with 400+ pounds on their back.
    2) heel elevation, to make hitting depth easier if you have limited ankle mobility and to increase quadriceps activity.
    3) arch support. Theoretically a lot of weight on your back without arch support could hurt your feet.
    A fourth reason could be to protect your feet (dropped weight, etc), which will hurt no matter what but will likely cause less damage if you have a shoe on.
    Personally, I have never had a problem with traction. The flooring in my home gym is rubber I have not slipped (yet), but even if I do, I'm in a rack. It could still cause damage, but likely it would be limited.
    I squat below parallel so ankle mobility is not a problem and I don't care about 'quads"
    So far my feet hurt less squatting barefoot than when I wore shoes. Currently squatting 450+ lbs for sets of 5. If my arches start to hurt I will reluctantly go back to shoes.
    fyi, 49 year old male, 5ft 7, 190ish lbs
    There are many, many benefits to having a home gym, one of which is to wear, or not wear, whatever you want, including shoes.
    Squatting barefoot is not for everyone, but there is nothing wrong with trying it as long as you know the potential problems so you can recognize them early and keep them from becoming significant. I don't expect you to understand this Rip.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kansan View Post
    I don't expect you to understand this Rip.
    You're right about this one thing.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kansan View Post
    Currently squatting 450+ lbs for sets of 5. If my arches start to hurt I will reluctantly go back to shoes.
    fyi, 49 year old male, 5ft 7, 190ish lbs
    Really? You squat 450+ for sets of 5 at 49 yrs old and 5'7 190? The IPF masters 2 (50-59) record at 83k / 183 lbs is about 535 lbs. I'd say you have a good shot at it when you turn 50 because you could probably put on another 7-10 lbs and still make the 183 weight with a well done water cut. Your current 1RM should already be well over 500 if not 510 if not 520. You could almost certainly take the IPL records today if you cared, with even a half decent water cut.
    If those really are your numbers, you might consider going for some squat records; at least you can always look back and say you did it.

  9. #9
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    Typical Rip response.
    Please enlighten me and anyone else reading this thread why my reasons for wearing shoes is incorrect.
    Thanks in advance for your insight and wisdom.

  10. #10
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    starting strength coach development program
    Quote Originally Posted by Kansan View Post
    Currently squatting 450+ lbs for sets of 5.
    Lets get some eyes on that.

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