T Nation

Why Go Barefoot?


Quick question: What is the logic in the advice of going barefoot or wearing flat shoes for squats/deadlifts? Doesn't the extra stress on the arch of the foot decrease the arch, pushing the foot into overpronation?


because normal trainers(sneakers) have stupid squishy soles which prevent effective force/weight transfer into the floor.
and im pretty sure my feet dont flatten out when i lift


There are varying opinions on this- as evidenced by the popularity of using heeled shoes to squat (and sometimes even pull). However the ideas is that the flat sole enables the lifter to better focus on driving through the floor with his heels.

Arch support can be an issue as well- but a heeled shoe won't address that necessarily. If you have high arches, this can contributed to rolling your feet inward on squats, resulting in an inefficitent transfer of force and, potentially, nagging tweaks and imbalances. A chiro recommended arch supports for me- Superfeet I think, they sell them at some sporting goods stores. I use them now with a pair of Vans hi-tops and they work really well.


Also for DLs, the thinner your shoe's sole is the less distance you have to pull


I have poor ankle mobility and slightly long femurs, so I like having a heel when I squat. Otherwise I have to lean very far forward and it becomes more of a low back exercise than a leg exercise.

That being said, hard - solid soles (which me squat shoes are - I deadlift in chucks) transfer force better than cushioned shoes as people above have stated.

Going barefoot also has the benefit of strengthing your feet as they have to support themselves rather than have the shoe support them. I would do this, but I don't think my gym would approve.


Agreed. I am stronger barefoot than with my chuck's on.


For deadlifting, barefoot= less distance to lift the bar.
For Squats- barefoot= better form, plain and simple. Some shoes force your heals up just by the way the shoe is made.

Chuck Taylors pretty much=barefeet. So that is also an option.....of Five finger shoes. I don't have them, but I have heard and read a lot about their usefulness.



I also find that I am stronger, and MUCH more stable bare feet.
I have a huge arch, and I don't have problems without support from shoes. Also, I wear custom made orthodic inserts in my shoes, and it still helps much more to be with bare feet.



Three main reasons:

  1. Force transfer. I notice a huge difference in the strength of my pull between wearing nothing, and wearing Nike Frees.
  2. Less distance to pull. = More weight.

into your hips much better. This is the biggest reason for me. People even like using Vibrams over barefoot (with socks) because they can feel their toes gripping harder. I can vouch for this.


Unless you squat with a very close stance, I wouldn't ever recommend squatting barefoot or in five fingers. The lack of a solid base and side wall makes it far more difficult to spread the floor and force your knees out.


About the five fingers. I have a pair and will do anything (deadlift, bench, prowler, hill sprint, tire flip) in them except for wide stance squat. It just feels weird to me.