Doing strength training barefoot

What is your opinion on doing strength training barefoot?

I have been exercising actively for the past 8-9 months. For cardio I have been primarily doing Zumba and Body Step, and for strength training I have done circuit type exercises and as of June I have started a Body Pump class. Somewhere in March I began experiencing knee pain (sometimes ankle pain too) after my training sessions which became worse over time. From late July to mid August I took a break to allow my knees to recover, but as soon as I restarted again I could feel that the pain would come back. About two weeks ago I was doing a Body Pump class and because the room was stuffy I followed the example of another person and took my shoes off during the training. I was amazed to see that not only did I feel no pain at all from the training, but I also executed the exercises much better and with less effort. As of then I have been as an experiment doing every strength exercise barefoot and still kept my shoes while doing cardio. Any pain that used to bother me is suddenly gone and I am making faster progress with my training, which leads me to a thought that I have been using some absolutely terrible shoes, because of which I have been probably doing the exercises all wrong. But hey, they were cheap.

At this point I am fine with this footwear arrangement (will get some sort of training socks out of hygiene concerns), however on two occasions I have had people beg me not to do it. The first is a friend who believes that this is a drastic change which should not be done before a doctor is seen. The second is my own mother who thinks that it's dangerous for the ankles, and her most emphasized argument is that if instructors at the gym are not doing it, then I shouldn't as well.

So I am curios what is your opinion about it? How do you feel about doing barefoot strength training?

I should probably mention that I am female, age 23, 162 cm tall, 53-54 kg, with a bit of muscle mass and no perceived or diagnosed problems with any part of my legs.


  • Okiludy
    Okiludy Posts: 558 Member
    edited August 2017
    Lots of people prefer deadlifting in socks. Not too big a deal on that lift. On squats I hate the olympic shoes and would rather be in as flat and hard as possible. I don't see much an issue with barefoot training. Not much different than me in my Vans or people in wrestling shoes. How much ankle support is in a pair of Chuck's anyway?
  • capaul42
    capaul42 Posts: 1,390 Member
    I do all my strength training barefoot or in yoga socks. I train at home so no issues with other people. If I absolutely must wear shoes, I have a pair of new balance sneakers which are zero rise. Almost as good as bare.
  • Erik8484
    Erik8484 Posts: 458 Member
    edited August 2017
    My gym has a policy that you have to wear shoes that encase your whole foot for safety/hygeine reasons. If you accidentally kick a piece of equipment, or drop a weight on your foot, the shoe will at least stop you from bleeding all over everything.
  • SonyaCele
    SonyaCele Posts: 2,841 Member
    i used to run on my treadmill barefoot, or with socks. I liked it, its less impact on my knees because its requires a different stride. And i don't think i could lift barefoot just because of phobias of dropping a weight , as if shoes would help, I do lift in flat chucks.

    so you have people telling you not to do things barefooted? there is nothing wrong with being barefoot, we don't need shoes. Although sometimes there is a transition period needed going from shoes to barefoot, its not anything major that you need to get a dr approval. if you are comfortable lifting barefoot, go barefoot.
  • deputy_randolph
    deputy_randolph Posts: 940 Member
    You need a flat shoe if you are lifting heavy...have you ever seen the video of the woman deadlifting in heels? It's not pretty.

    At minimum, you should wear socks in public spaces...'cause gross. I personally prefer shoes over socks for the traction of the soles on the platform...I don't want to be all cool deadlifting 250lbs+ and then slip, b/c of slippery socks...embarrassing.
  • jemhh
    jemhh Posts: 14,262 Member
    I lift barefoot or in socks--at home--several times a week. It's fine.

    I do wear squat shoes for some squat variations but that's because I like elevated heels for those.
  • Shawshankcan
    Shawshankcan Posts: 900 Member
    Most people who give advice don't have a clue what they are talking about and still have mindsets dating back to the 70s.

    For deadlifts, I prefer a wrestling shoe and I squat/ohp in olympic lifting shoes. The others it doesn't matter to me what I wear really. (Unless I am going moving events for strongman, than I become a real princess about it.)

    The idea of squating/deadlifting in running shoes boggles my mind.
  • cgvet37
    cgvet37 Posts: 1,189 Member
    I deadlift in socks.
  • rybo
    rybo Posts: 5,424 Member
    I'm a huge fan of barefoot lifting. I've been to many boutique style gyms that encourage it, or at least in socks. When I'm at home I'm almost always barefoot, when I am at the gym, it's as minimal shoes as I can.
  • GiddyupTim
    GiddyupTim Posts: 2,819 Member
    I deadlift and squat in socks, when the gym allows or I don't get caught. Course, I don't own lifting shoes.....Maybe if I did, I wouldn't do barefoot. But I like lifting without shoes.
  • canadianlbs
    canadianlbs Posts: 5,199 Member
    can't squat without my squat shoes. for everything else, i've started to go sockfoot if a) i can get away with and b) i don't feel ignorant and inconsiderate. depends on which space i'm in, who's there, and other factors like that.

    i'm pretty law-abiding and i also get the whole 'ewww' factor of it for other people. i've started pushing that line a little bit though, because right now i just can't get my left foot to function as well when it's shut in a shoe.
  • SCoil123
    SCoil123 Posts: 2,108 Member
    My trainer recommends weight lifting shoes or socks to lift
  • MellowGa
    MellowGa Posts: 1,305 Member
    I do it barefoot at home
  • firef1y72
    firef1y72 Posts: 1,579 Member
    I do most of my lifting in just socks, my gym is fine with it and I'm not the only one. I also do bodypump barefoot, I tried wearing trainers but 100+ squats in 6 minutes is hard enough in just my socks let alone in trainers that mean my feet aren't in their usual position. I do have a pair of squat shoes but since losing weight my feet have shrunk so they don't fit so well. Which is a shame because those shoes were brill and saved my socks from getting so gym grimy.
  • jelly_potato
    jelly_potato Posts: 77 Member
    Thank you all very much for sharing your opinions and experiences, I didn't expect to get so many reassuring responses. It seems I thought it was a bigger deal than it really is, so I can take a breath of relief. After reading a few comments I checked my shoes and they are definitely lifting my sole, so weight lifting and squatting at an angle might as well have been the problem all along. I don't train at the gym, but instead in a dance type hall and with access to a personal mat, so random accidents and hygiene issues are less of a concern in my case. I am considering investing in minimalistic shoes, but I'll see first how it goes with the grip socks. I am certainly not a heavy lifter, so I don't need to resolve this immediately. I mean the total weight from both sides of the barbel is about 6-7 kg, I might just as well put two average grocery bags on each side and won't notice a difference :wink: .
  • jelly_potato
    jelly_potato Posts: 77 Member
    I have found that I have much better control over my body when I'm barefoot, my form has significantly improved from several weeks ago. Thank you for the link, I'll definitely take a look at it.
  • stanmann571
    stanmann571 Posts: 5,728 Member
    Just because it can't be said enough.

    Yoga socks, Chuck tailors, Wrestling shoes, Vibrams. Wear them when lifting.
  • Chieflrg
    Chieflrg Posts: 9,098 Member
    It's dependant on your goals.

    I'm a powerlifter and found that barefoot lifting is not nearly as stable as a good pair of lifting shoes.

    There are a few PL's that wear slippers for deads, but it's not the norm.

    I can see less of a deal if one performing general fitness.
  • LeanButNotMean44
    LeanButNotMean44 Posts: 852 Member
    Although my gym requires shoes to be worn at all times, I still squat in socks. Weight lifting shoes (at least the ones I've seen) are $$$, and I am not willing to pay that price. I do deadlift in shoes, but after reading that so many here deadlift in socks, I'll probably try it.
  • ManBehindTheMask
    ManBehindTheMask Posts: 615 Member
    I wear whatever im wearing on my feet at time in the gym. My form is just fine as is the weight i move. I'm not an elite athlete or anywhere near, so dont stress too much about specific footwear for this lift, specific for that. I go, train, leave, no worries

    Each to their own - although it's a bit embarrassing seeing someone squatting 40kg in their adidas powerlifts IMO