Deadlifting Barefoot: Here’s Why

deadlifting barefoot

Do you practice deadlifting barefoot or with socks or shoes? Practicing with barefoot is much more comfortable. By deadlifting barefoot, you can get results, such as:

  • Make the exercise easy
  • It helps to shift the weight
  • Engages the posture muscles
  • It lowers the distance and makes lifting more natural.

Sometimes the gym does not allow you to take off your shoes. In that case, you should change the gym. If you are shy about deadlifting barefoot, then you can try buying flatter shoes for practice.

You can try an active foot vs. passive foot. This idea initiated form squats, but it also works well with deadlift practice.

Active vs. passive foot

During the deadlift, you need to keep your feet in an arched shape. However, most people make the mistake of losing this shape, and the feet turn flat, making it an uncomfortable position.

deadlift barefoot

One solution to this problem is using orthotics. Although it is not a perfect solution, therefore, you can try active foot here. It teaches you how to divide the loads into three different points on the foot.

These three points are located at the heel, big toe, and little toe. In addition to that, you will corkscrew your feet to the ground, as if you are trying to rip off the ground. This movement improves the hips and its stability.

Make a heel print in the floor

If you are practicing deadlift, you should know that it is both pushing and pulling exercises. When you are exercising, it is like pushing a barrel by applying force on the floor as hard as you can.

A good technique is to ‘make a heel print on the floor.’ You will be surprised at how much you can move by using this method. It is almost like you have magically moved 20 pounds more than you usually do.

Deadlifting barefoot: 4 reasons to do so

You might think deadlift barefoot is a new idea. But actually, it is quite old. If you check out powerlifters and bodybuilders, you will see them practicing barefoot.

Many people have been using this idea for a long time. Even some celebrities were seen to deadlift barefoot when they were practicing.

1) Barefoot deadlifting increases balance

The difference while practicing barefoot is that you will have more balance over your body. As you practice, you will realize that you are more aware of small movements in your body. This allows you to gain more control over motion.

However, when you are running with a shoe pair, it feels different. Since there is a sole curvature to the shoe, it makes you unstable.

It is because your feet try to find balance from the center of the foot. But the sole stops it from getting that sensation.

barefoot deadlifting

If you are deadlifting without any load, then this might not be difficult. However, if you are doing it with the load, then it can be extremely tough.

So, when you are deadlifting barefoot, it is easier for your mind to find the balance from your feet. Hence it is easier to lift the weight above the ground. The same is true for powerlifters when they practice, they push the ground to apply force.

2) The barefoot deadlift has a shorter range of motion

A short-range is said to be the biggest advantage of the deadlift barefoot. Since shorter distance means less work.

Work done is considered being the product of work and distance. So, when the distance is shorter, it means less work is done. Anyone who is lifting the weight can use this to an advantage.

In the gym, the shoes that you are supposed to wear will have sole. They range from 0.5 inches to 1.5 inches. If you are wearing shoes during deadlifting, the weight does not cover much distance that the sole thickness.

For an everyday gym practitioner, this is not a big issue. But for a powerlifter, it matters a lot. For getting 1 rep max, he will take all advantage he can to complete the lift.

When you are practicing barefoot, the distance between your feet and the floor is the minimum. So, there is the least work done to lift the weight. As a result, one gains the most benefits by practicing barefoot rather than with shoes.

3) Deadlifting barefoot activates hip extensor muscle

Another big advantage of deadlifting barefoot is that it gives you more control of motion. The hip extensor muscle lets you shift the weight and change position. Muscles such as the adductor and glutes allow you to do that.

However, all these abilities do not mean deadlifting gives strength to your hip extensor muscle if you practice barefoot. It only means without shoes, the practice is easier. As a result, deadlift without shoes is a better option.

deadlifting barefoot

Let us see how barefoot helps while deadlifting. When you are wearing shoes, it turns the body balance at the front of the foot. As you try to balance, your knees bent, making it move even more forward near the barbell.

In this case, the pressure affects the knee extensor muscle instead of the hip extensor muscle. At this point, it is hard for the knee muscles to apply the force.

It is not like your knee extensors should not work while deadlifting. But there should be a balance between hip extensors and knee extensors for applying force. By wearing shoes, the entire pressure of deadlift lies on the knee extensors.

Different types of shoes affect deadlifting forces differently. The shoes that have a heel is troublesome in this case. Unfortunately, most gym shoes are with a higher heel, which is an issue in deadlifting.

4) More efficient force transfer

One huge benefit of deadlifting barefoot is that you can transfer the force directly to the ground. You may find some special exercise shoes such as running shoes or cross-trainers.

These have air-based or gel-based sole. They are designed especially for exercise and sports activity. However, they are not good for deadlifting.

Shoes are designed to take and distribute forces to the ground. It is said by Dr. Aaron Horchig of Squat University, that they make some exercise easy.

If you squat with these shoes, it will feel like you are standing on a big marshmallow while practicing.

However, when maximally lifting, there should be no disturbance while transferring force from feet to the floor. This is why deadlifting barefoot is better. It does not affect the force transfer during exercise.

Further reading: 100 Rep Challenge: Your Path to a Badass Body Physics

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