Lifting Shoes VS Barefoot/Minimalist Shoes

BrandonT

Double-Digit Post Count

Any thoughts on what Mark Rippetoe said that should be used for shoes? It kinda does make sense.
 

jca17

More than 300 posts
"Lifting heavy weights is potentially damaging to a bare foot. You aren't supposed to lift bare footed."
Lifting heavy weights is also potentially damaging to the hands, elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, and knees. But the pros outweigh the cons.
That is a very vague statement. The thing is, Mark clearly knows his stuff with the barbell, but every opinion he has is "fact" when there is more than one way to do something.
If the sole doesn't compress, then its not even "absorbing" forces from your foot, which is exactly what you want! Yeah, it could come into play when you are pressing the limits of human ability, but this is purely a matter of whatever you feel like doing. The big benefit is that with the heel lift, you get to make up for some mobility issues in the squat. Why not address those issues and train them? Yeah, your numbers will go down, but if you aren't competing, its about the training effect, not the total weight. We try to make light weights heavier, right?

I remember seeing him in a discussion with Dan John, and in the conversation you couldn't come up with more polar opposite intellectual approaches to strength training. Dan John even tried to give Mark a gracious cue to open mindedness when he suggested that if Mark came across a more effective method to teach the squat in a group setting, he would use it. Mark just replied, "No, I wouldn't change the way I do things." And that clip plays in my mind any time I consider advice from Mark.
 

BrandonT

Double-Digit Post Count
"Lifting heavy weights is potentially damaging to a bare foot. You aren't supposed to lift bare footed."
Lifting heavy weights is also potentially damaging to the hands, elbows, shoulders, spine, hips, and knees. But the pros outweigh the cons.
That is a very vague statement. The thing is, Mark clearly knows his stuff with the barbell, but every opinion he has is "fact" when there is more than one way to do something.
If the sole doesn't compress, then its not even "absorbing" forces from your foot, which is exactly what you want! Yeah, it could come into play when you are pressing the limits of human ability, but this is purely a matter of whatever you feel like doing. The big benefit is that with the heel lift, you get to make up for some mobility issues in the squat. Why not address those issues and train them? Yeah, your numbers will go down, but if you aren't competing, its about the training effect, not the total weight. We try to make light weights heavier, right?

I remember seeing him in a discussion with Dan John, and in the conversation you couldn't come up with more polar opposite intellectual approaches to strength training. Dan John even tried to give Mark a gracious cue to open mindedness when he suggested that if Mark came across a more effective method to teach the squat in a group setting, he would use it. Mark just replied, "No, I wouldn't change the way I do things." And that clip plays in my mind any time I consider advice from Mark.
Yea I agree..... I been watching/listening to all the top power people for the past 2 weeks. I know his book must be real good and he has affected change in the community. I see the narrow mindedness as his weakness and it even got me hesitant to buy his book. Instead I got the Strong First:Foundations of Strength video. I really like the SFG community better as for more practicality in the exercises and movements. Also I am working on minimalist running.
 

Matts

More than 300 posts
not saying it applies here, but one always has to be wary of the Dunning-Kruger Effect. Choose your goal- do you want strong feet and proprioception, or to make shoe companies happy and rich?
 

MikeMoran

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I remember seeing him in a discussion with Dan John, and in the conversation you couldn't come up with more polar opposite intellectual approaches to strength training. Dan John even tried to give Mark a gracious cue to open mindedness when he suggested that if Mark came across a more effective method to teach the squat in a group setting, he would use it. Mark just replied, "No, I wouldn't change the way I do things." And that clip plays in my mind any time I consider advice from Mark.
Seen it and had the same conclusion as you.
 

Baker

Triple-Digit Post Count
I like Rip, but his dogma frequently crosses the line to arrogance. It doesn't matter if he's talking about squats or whiskey. It seems disingenuous at time.

It makes me wonder if he has intentionally adopted "the grumpy old coach" personna as a branding tactic.
 

1FG

Triple-Digit Post Count
I went through a stint of starting strength last summer and fall. I used adidas powerlifts after starting out with Chuck Taylor's. Switching to the powerlifts I noticed an immediate increase in stability and went on to quickly hit PRs in my squat and DL.

If I was to include barbell training again I would most certainly wear the powerlifts. They're awesome shoes!

I can't commit on KB training and specific shoes. I train KBs at home and I've never worn shoes. In fact I've rarely worn shorts since I train alone :D
 

Ny Wc

Double-Digit Post Count
I like Rip, but his dogma frequently crosses the line to arrogance. It doesn't matter if he's talking about squats or whiskey. It seems disingenuous at time.

It makes me wonder if he has intentionally adopted "the grumpy old coach" personna as a branding tactic.
ditto
 

Will Moore

Triple-Digit Post Count
Training should begin and end with, "What are your goals?"

I see the potential of Weightlifting or Powerlifting shoes for a Weightlifter, Powerlifter, or competitive CrossFitter. I struggle with what they truly offer someone pursuing general purpose goals, martial arts, or other natural movements like climbing, Parkour, MovNat, etc. Then again, I also struggle with other gear that gives one a false sense of their potential on a day to day basis.

To be transparent, I happen to like New Balance Minimus shoes. I wear them daily and also have a pair that I train in. If NB still made them in brown leather, I would have a pair of them, as well. If they made a similar dress shoe, I would also own a pair. They work for me and I see them as restorative.

I believe a better initial investment is on quality instruction.

Answer, "What are your goals?" and then you can answer if Weightlifting shoes are necessary or even important.

Respectfully.
 

Geoff Chafe

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I am a huge fan of the Addias Adi Power Weightlifting shoe for barbell training. They cost around $200, but they are still going strong after about 3 years.

I prefer to kettlebell barefoot. Just seems natural. Fits with the minimilist primal vibe. I have rucked my 24kg on some hikes and S&S'ed in my Salewa hiking boots in some cool locations. My wife thinks I am crazy, maybe I am.

I feel I get the benefits of heavy weight training and barefoot training in a fair balance.
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I also agree that Ripp is way too dogmatic and has become arrogant. And there is a bit of the Dunning-Kruger effect. Ripp thinks that because he knows how to design a decent beginner's strength program that this knowledge also makes him an expert on building strength in Olympic lifters (they should low-bar squat, deadlift, and bench press according to Ripp) and other fields.

I deadlift in socks. Lately I've tried some TGUs and also prefer socks. No problems yet. Why? Because lifting this way makes your feet stronger. The muscles and ligaments of the foot adapt to weight training the same as any other muscle/joint structure. For all other lifts I like weightlifting shoes simply because I've been doing Olympic lifting over the past several years and I'm used to my OL shoes.
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
BTW - I saw Andy Bolton do his 1,000 lbs. deadlift wearing "deadlift slippers," which are nothing more than short socks with some rubber on the bottom. No foot support at all. Never heard that Andy had any foot problems. Of course, Ripp's response to this would be that Andy is a "genetic freak." That is his standard response when you present facts and evidence that contradict his way of doing things - that the fact or example involves a genetic freak and does not apply to the rest of us. Yeah, well, genetics doesn't account for everything. While it probably takes better than average genetics to deadlift 1,000, there is no reason why a person with only half that capacity, a 500 lbs. deadlift, couldn't develop the necessary foot strength to lift their 500 deadlift in socks.
 

Geoff Chafe

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I often PTTP deadlift in the neighbourhood of 450lb barefoot, and I do not have any foot problems. Conventional and Sumo deadlifting with a heal screws up my bar path. I instinctively end up turning it into a Clean Deadlift with a 1st and 2nd pull.

I do barbell Olympic style squat and barbell press in weightlifting shoes though.
 
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Glen

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@MikeTheBear to be fair to rippitoe I believe he only recommends lifting shoes for squats from what I read.

Deadlift slippers are a common thing in powerlifting and if you look at how rippitoe teaches deadlifts the more vertical shin angle of slippers/barefoot/flats would suit this.

I love lifting shoes (own adipowers) for olympic lifts and barbell squats of all types but go socks, slippers or rebook crossfit lite for other things
 

Steve Freides

Forum Administrator
Staff member
Senior Certified Instructor
Ladies and Gentlemen, I remind you that "we don't say you're wrong, only that we know what we do works."

Mr. Rippetoe is a serious lifter, a serious teacher, he does his homework, he thinks a lot about his approach, and perhaps most important, he has brought success to many of his students.

-S-
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
@MikeTheBear to be fair to rippitoe I believe he only recommends lifting shoes for squats from what I read.

Deadlift slippers are a common thing in powerlifting and if you look at how rippitoe teaches deadlifts the more vertical shin angle of slippers/barefoot/flats would suit this.

I love lifting shoes (own adipowers) for olympic lifts and barbell squats of all types but go socks, slippers or rebook crossfit lite for other things
I'm a big fan of my weightlifting shoes as well. I have the old VS Athletic shoes that looked like ugly bowling shoes, but they fit my wide-ish feet so I love them. VS has recently redesigned their shoes so they look better. I'm not objecting to Ripp recommending OL shoes in general as I think they are a good choice. My objection was to his general statement that lifting without shoes can damage the foot. He provides no evidence for this statement other than "because I said so." Human history would suggest the opposite. Our early ancestors walked barefoot or with very minimalist foot covering, yet they ran, hunted, and likely carried tools and weapons. While I'm sure that some cavemen may have developed foot issues, those who had to sit out for too long due to injury probably did not survive. There's a reason why flat feet are not that common.

To be fair to Ripp it is not 100% wrong. I have read that someone who wants to transition to barefoot lifting should do so gradually because the muscles and joints of the foot will initially be sore as they adapt to the greater demands that come with being shoeless. But this is true of all muscles and joints.
 

John Spezzano

Triple-Digit Post Count
Team Leader Certified Instructor
Elite Certified Instructor
I agree with @Geoff Chafe: barefoot for KBs (as I was initially introduced to the training) and weightlifting shoes for all things squat, snatch and clean. I also use Adi Power, definitely worth the money.

I deadlift barefoot and have not had issues, but my dead lift is only 405 (175 bw) so maybe I'm not at the numbers that Rippetoe is referring to that cause injury. I've been barefoot a lot of my life (martial arts) so I prefer it whenever I can. However, when it comes to snatches, cleans and overhead squats with the bar, I definitely prefer shoes.

I don't agree with @jca17's criticism of the shoe as primarily a means of compensating for mobility issues. Successful competitors in weightlifting are some of the most mobile athletes in the world (see below) and I'd wager they don't wear the shoes for no reason. Raising the heel of people with really tight ankles is definitely helpful for adequate squat movement, but for most people with at least average mobility I think it's the stability that a solid shoe provides that helps the most.


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Geoff Chafe

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
To squat deep with a vertical torso the knees have to travel way out over the toes. You initiate the squat with the knees, not the hips. You need a heel for that, as you see above.

I have used the Adipowers since they came out. I just got the Adidas Leistungs, and they have even more heel, and are they claim to be the most technically advanced weightlifting shoe ever. They are awesome.
 

MikeTheBear

Quadruple-Digit Post Count
I don't agree with @jca17's criticism of the shoe as primarily a means of compensating for mobility issues. Successful competitors in weightlifting are some of the most mobile athletes in the world (see below) and I'd wager they don't wear the shoes for no reason. Raising the heel of people with really tight ankles is definitely helpful for adequate squat movement, but for most people with at least average mobility I think it's the stability that a solid shoe provides that helps the most.
I agree with your disagreement. To quote Yogi Berra, half the battle of Olympic lifting is 80% about getting into the proper positions. :) Anyone halfway serious about Olympic lifting is going to work on developing the mobility to get into the proper positions. This includes ankle mobility even if the athlete wears OL shoes with a raised heel. I found that the raised heel gave me a bit of extra stability in an overhead squat and front squat positions of the snatch and clean, respectively. Not to mention the huge benefit of being very solid and stable. OL shoes are not a crutch, they are proper equipment.

Also, shoes are required in OL competitions, even the smaller local ones. In fact, one small local meet which was not even USAW sanctioned prohibited Vibram Five Fingers. My guess is that deadlift slippers would not have passed, either. Shoes mean shoes. Train barefoot all you want, but if you want to step on the platform, you need to be accustomed to lifting in some sort of shoe.
 
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