On today’s episode of Live Lean TV, I’m sharing the benefits of barefoot training and answering a viewer question on: is barefoot training good for you?
This is another post from our #TBT Q&A series.
So first, I’m going to share my answer to this question from 2012.
Then I’ll answer the same question again today, with more detail.
Question from Antony on Facebook: I have seen guys lifting barefoot or with Vibrams, Are there any physical benefits to wearing them, or is it personal preference?
I love lifting barefoot because it feels more minimalistic and primal.
In other words, walking around barefoot is more in the way our bodies were meant to be.
Give it a try.
You’ll notice that you’ll get stronger feet, and you’ll hit your calves a lot harder.
Plus, you will feel a lot more tension than if you’re lifting in really soft cushioned sneakers.
So if you haven’t tried barefoot training yet, give it a try and let me know what you think.
First of all, as much of a sneakerhead as I am, I love being barefoot, without socks, as much as I can throughout the day.
Now when it comes to training barefoot, I’m also a fan, but I don’t do it as much as I would like, since the gym I train in requires footwear.
If you watched my 4 minute at home tabata workout to lose weight fast video, you would have seen me wearing those funny looking shoes with toes, called Vibrams.
Although they were decent, being a sneakerhead, I had a hard time rocking them because they were so dorky looking.
Fortunately today there are many flat soled, minimalist sneakers on the market, that don’t look so dorky.
Barefoot training shoes should make it feel like you’re wearing nothing on your feet.
However, it’s also important to find a flat soled pair of sneakers with a wide toe box.
Having a wider toe box means your toes will not be squished together.
This is important because having your toes in a more natural position of being spread apart helps both your feet and ankles.
Here’s a pair that I have my eye on that I’ve heard really good things about, including a very wide toe box.
Even though barefoot training can be beneficial, training barefoot for an hour in the gym is not for everyone, especially if you currently have really weak feet.
If you’re wondering if you have weak feet, ask yourself this.
If you’ve been wearing shoes, especially high heels, for the majority of the day, for the past 20-30 years, you probably have very weak feet.
When you wear shoes, the function and movement of the muscles in the feet becomes diminished.
Think about what happens to your muscles when you have a limb in cast.
They’re limited in what they can do, so they are not getting stronger, nor are they being used properly.
This does not mean starting tomorrow, you should hit the gym for a full barefoot workout or go for a long run barefoot.
I wouldn’t recommend this until you know your feet are strong enough.
Like any other muscle in the body, strengthening your feet takes reps.
When the muscles in the foot are still weak, excessive barefoot training can cause shin splints and put you at risk for injuries in your back, hips, and knees.
Therefore if you interested in trying barefoot training, it’s very important to slowly build up your tolerance with smaller doses of barefoot workouts.
For example, start with completing one set barefoot, then put your shoes back on.
It’s also important to be aware of how you walk.
A lot of people tend to be flat footed with caved in arches.
This may cause pronation of the foot when you walk.
A pronated foot can lead to internal rotation of the hip, thus ultimately causing hip, knee and lower back pain.
When you have the proper arch in your foot, your hip externally rotates.
This is important, especially when squatting.
An externally rotated hip can help the movement pattern of your knee tracking over your baby toe.
This correct movement pattern can then help alleviate knee pain.
So next time you are going for a walk, pay attention to how you heel strike and land your foot.
For example, take a video and watch to see if your foot pronates, i.e. caves in, when you land on the ground.
Regardless if you are training upper body or training legs, stabilizing your body is so important.
This stability all starts with your feet.
Having strong feet will help you stabilize your pelvis, your trunk, and scapula.
So the next time you get ready to deadlift, try grounding your feet into the floor.
Also spread your toes open.
The feeling of doing this is easier when you’re barefoot.
This helps you feel your feet pressing into the ground, rather than having a thick sneaker sole in between.
Start by going for a slow walk on an incline treadmill for 5 minutes to really feel your feet.
Also, walk outside barefoot when possible and really focus on trying to spread your toes.
Once you’re ready, try squatting or deadlifting barefoot, but be smart about it.
The goal in the beginning is not to hit a PR with your deadlift.
Start with light weight or even just bodyweight.
Really focus on form, spreading your toes, and grounding your feet into the floor.
You should feel a big difference and connection to the floor when you’re barefoot.
Overtime, this should help you safely build up your foot strength.
Start by taking our FREE Live Lean Body Quiz to get access to the best program specific to your goals, current fitness level, and access to equipment.
If you enjoyed this post, please support this blog, by clicking the social media buttons to share this with your friends.
Subscribe to our Live Lean TV YouTube channel and leave a comment below on what you want to see in future posts.
Be sure to share your answers in the comment section below.
Check out our free workout videos here.
Check out my free recipe cooking videos here.
Brad Gouthro is the founder of Live Lean TV, a media company focused on helping men and women “Live Lean” 365 days a year. Brad’s programs and content have helped millions of people all over the world learn how to get in shape, and more importantly, sustain it for life.