T Nation

Strength Shoes?


Anybody ever used strength shoes? Any recommendations? Do you just wear them in the gym for an hour or two. Don't they help with calve development?


i have the stregth shoes. do i use them-no. do they work-yes. were they worth the money-no. If you decide to buy them get them in the color black, not white. Mine are the old school ones with only white. I'm embarrased to use them. I get the same workout by doing sprints with my track shoes with spikes on the real track since i'm basically sprinting on my calves. I would suggest you buy yourself some real sprinting shoes with spikes and go do sprints and other running movements on a real track. if you don't have access to a track then maybe you might think about getting the strength shoes. laters pk


Big D - I saw an ad for strength shoes when I was a soph in HS...back in '88. I sent in my $100+ and recieved them in 'old school white'. I immediately jumped into their workouts for fb and bb. By the 2nd week I was trippling those workouts and began doing plyometrics and full court bb. Just to give you an idea, I took my vertical from a 'pre-shoe' level of 31" to 39" in about 6 weeks, and my calves got up to about 19". For fb I was able to drop my 40 by .3. I was conducting about 3 45 minute w.o's a week that included speed and agility work, running, depth jumps and squat jumps with dumbells. Bear in mind I was already a plateaued stage and in great shape, I wouldn't reccommend that you jump into that severe a protocol without preparation. In fact, I just started to use them again last week..wow. I forgot what REAL calf soreness was. You'll find that after a workout, the only way you can walk is FLAT footed. The amount of overload that is put on your lower legs is truly phenominal, IF you work it hard and aggressively. From a mass perspective, I can't promise you much, perhaps 1-2 inches over a few months...however, athletically, they are absolutely worth it...just DON'T back squat in them :slightly_smiling:


My intuition is that the weaker your calves are relative to your quats, hams, and glutes, the more these shoes will help you. JRandall, does/did this apply to you?


Actually, Staley, I'm pretty fortunate in regards to lower body genetics. Before my strength shoe work, I had 16 in calves (I was 16 at the time) and did significant calf work before their intro. At the time I was heavily involved in shotokan karate, powerlifting, fb, bb, tennis etc. (I was and am a sports junkie)So my total leg development was pretty exceptional. Now, at 29 I have 19" calves (5'11" 210 - 12% bf) and am rehabbing my left acl from replacement surgery in april. So in answer to your question, I was shocked at the level of response that I received from the strength shoe work that I did and am currently undertaking again. I believe the level of intensity that I applied to my workouts in the shoes really taxed the type II (and type I for that matter, as I did prolonged workouts) fibers in my calves and quads and strongly increased their neuromuscular response and explosiveness, due to the tremendous overload that I placed on them. Bear in mind that I basically ended up quadrupling the 'advised' workouts that came with the shoes with the additional depth jumps/box jumps and jump roping and sprinting that I undertook, I also did alot of standing broad jumps...as we know most generic prescribed workouts are the equivalant of the RDA for nutrition! I eventually worked into SHORT hill training sprint workouts that increased my overall speed as well as calf development. However, to keep a LONG response short, in regards to the average trainer, I believe you would be absolutely correct. If an individual is lacking in calf development the potential results, in a periodized program would be HUGE. I had a college buddy with zero calf development, that played d-2 ball that already had a 40" vertical, I convinced him to get a pair and gradually got him into a similar protocol, and he put on 6".....all with no squats...as he was a pansy in regards to lifting. I really think ANYONE can benefit from intense work with these shoes...however, as you pointed out, the weaker the calves, the quicker and easier the response....and as with any advanced athlete, if you are already balanced and have proportional strength it WILL take additional time, intensity and effort. I would absolutely recommend them for any and all athletic endeavors...not to replace renegade training, obviously, but as a supplement used to get every last ounce of quickness and explosiveness out of your body.


i used them for a short time back when i was playing basketball in highschool. my overall feeling is that they are very good if used correctly and very harmful if used incorrectly. make sure you follow the protocol and get used to walking around in them and do light jogging prior to ever doing any intense work. As stated by JRandall, the exercises provided are just a taste of what you can do with the shoes. Experiment and determine what you can do and what works best for you. You do NOT just wear them for an hour or two in the gym. You perform specialized workouts with them on, doing sprints, bounds, rope work, jumps, etc. My suggestion would be to do the same type of work before doing them with the strength shoes. If anything, they make workouts fun and torture your calves. Good luck!


I believe a big reason some people receive a lot of benefit from them is that they reinforce jumping technique. The follow through portion of a vertical jump should be a powerful extension of the foot pushing off the balls of the foot. With strength shoes you're in this position constantly when wearing the shoes so if nothing else you're improving this facet by stretching the ankle and achilles tendon region and therefore making the pushoff easier. Keep in mind the studies done on strength shoes (sportsci.org) haven't shown any substantial difference between groups trained with strength shoes and groups trained without although they have shown a greater risk of injuries in the strength shoe group. Having said that I used them as a 15 yr old back in the late 80's when they first came out. They did help me with footwork, agility, speed and explosiveness at the time but not to the extent that weight training did several years later. I recommend an athlete first strengthen the most important contributors to the vertical jump (posterior chain, hips, shoulders, traps, quadriceps) and once this base of strength and explosiveness is layed down the strength shoes might help increase the gastrocnemius related vertical jump gains.


Thanks for the info! If anyone would like to further commment, one more question: Are there any recommendations on a supplier or brand name?


I agree with Kelly...the shoes are NOT a foundational consideration...just like most acceleration programs should'nt be...for speed and conditioning. The foundation of strength and speed is absolutely built in the weight room and on the field....once you have laid the physical and neurological foundations, and of course continue to build on them, the shoes can be a very big supplement to your performances and workouts.