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Weight lifting shoes: Where's the threshold?

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  • Weight lifting shoes: Where's the threshold?

    So it's obvious that when you're lifting really heavy weights (squat, deadlift, maybe even press) you benefit from weight lifting shoes. I don't have any, and I'm a beginner lifter. My question to experienced lifters: If my goal is not to become a competitive athlete (in which case I would obviously need weight lifting shoes), can I get by without the shoes up to an advanced level - or is the threshold from which on I need the shoes so low that in order to really benefit from the lifting, I need the shoes?

    I'm a tall guy (5'9''), pretty heavy at 220# with quite a lot of body fat (just short of being obese). Yesterday I did a 20 reps set of full back squats with 120lbs on the bar, and although it was metabolically challenging, it didn't feel at all like my shoes were a limiting factor (sneakers, flat uncushioned sole but no heel). I guess what I'm wondering is at which point the shoes will become a limiting factor. My goal is not to squat as much weight as I can - since I'm doing this for health and fitness, my goal is to substantially improve the weight on the bar (realistically: up to about 300#, which would be twice my lean body mass).

    Opinions?
    MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

  • #2
    meh. I lift in Chucks for nearly everything. For squats (I'm at 305, which is about 1.5x bodyweight), I do use weightlifting shoes to position my knees better, but if I"m not doing it that heavy, I may just use my Chucks.

    You can get by without shoes for a good long time. At some point, you may find it useful. Rippetoe recommends them, but YMMV. I've found that my groin muscles are less likely to get tweaked if I wear them when lifting heavy. But if you're doing 20 reps, you don't need them. I'd cut down on the reps, though, and up the intensity. 3 sets of 5 reps at a higher intensity is better than 20 reps.

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    • #3
      +1... back when I used to powerlift I wore chucks as well... and so did many other power lifters I knew. I also wore them for running for wrestling training.

      Now a days I wear skateboard shoes (DCs) or my Vffs depending on my mood. Honestly the whole elivated heal in lifiting shoes is to help with squatting for people who are not flexable enough to get to parallel

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      • #4
        I wear my merrell trail gloves... love those shoes for just about everything

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        • #5
          why is it obvious? most people i know lift in vibrams, chucks, flipflops or even barefoot. since i lift at home, i'm always barefoot. when i used to go to a public gym, i would lift in flip flops, and just kick them off to squat or deadlift. if you watch the world's strongest man, most of those guys typically do the squat and deadlift-type events barefoot. don't fall in to the trap of thinking shoes will make you perform better. you think those nikes will make you jump higher too?

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          • #6
            nice responses. you'll get the most out of it with no shoes. grab the floor with your feet

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Abu Reena View Post
              meh. I lift in Chucks for nearly everything. For squats (I'm at 305, which is about 1.5x bodyweight), I do use weightlifting shoes to position my knees better, but if I"m not doing it that heavy, I may just use my Chucks.

              You can get by without shoes for a good long time. At some point, you may find it useful. Rippetoe recommends them, but YMMV. I've found that my groin muscles are less likely to get tweaked if I wear them when lifting heavy. But if you're doing 20 reps, you don't need them. I'd cut down on the reps, though, and up the intensity. 3 sets of 5 reps at a higher intensity is better than 20 reps.
              Those 20 reps are with rest-pause though - those reps are pretty intense and usually aimed for to try with your 10RM weight. Rippetoe writes some pretty poetic stuff in "Strong Enough?" about these 20 rep sets, and it has become my understanding that when you say "20 rep squats" it implies rest-pause.
              MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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              • #8
                The shoes are more for competition to make the lifts easier. You want to get stronger so don't make it easier. Chucks or barefoot.
                Eating primal is not a diet, it is a way of life.
                PS
                Don't forget to play!

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                • #9
                  1) @glockin grok: I am flexible enough to go ass to grass barefooted. Using oly shoes positions the knee better when lifting heavy. Need not be done, but I found it helps my form.

                  2) @Mike: I think Rip would tell you that you're better off doing Starting Strength (3x5) rather than 20 rep sets. Those things are fine if you have a really good strength base, but you'd be better off squatting serious weight for 5 reps than 120 lbs for 20.

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                  • #10
                    ^ Duly noted ... I'm currently doing 3x5 mainly and sometimes I'll do 20 reps instead, since I really need the metabolic conditioning. In addition I'm also throwing in overhead squats with light weights (e.g. just the bar) and front squats with reduced weight and reps purely to improve mobility and posture.
                    MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                    • #11
                      Don't the weight lifting shoes have a pretty high heel lift? Seems that would make doing some moves such as squats a lot easier. Id day there was more of an advantage thing going for the shoes more then anything else. In other words, if you aren't competing you probably don't need them.
                      Primal Chaos
                      37yo 6'5"
                      6-19-2011 393lbs 60" waist
                      current 338lbs 49" waist
                      goal 240lbs 35" waist

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                      • #12
                        I lift at home and always go barefoot. Except when I'm warming up with a jumprope. Jumpropes sting like the dickens when they hit bare feet. Jumprope == Merrells, everything == barefoot.

                        If you are lifting for strength and health, you probably don't want anything that makes it easier, right? You aren't looking to set a record, you are looking to strengthen your body.

                        -Me

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                        • #13
                          I consider myself an intermediate lifter(sq415/b295/dead500) and don't feel I'm even close to needing lifting shoes. I might get some, but they'd be more of a luxury.
                          Lifting Journal

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                          • #14
                            ^ Thanks Apex, that kind of confirms what I thought. As far as progress is concerned, we'll see how far I can go anyway, considering that I began my training about two years ago at the age of 35. In any case, I'll be happy to simply double my current PRs and then simply see how it goes from there.
                            MikeEnRegalia's Blog - Nutrition, Dieting, Exercise and other stuff ;-)

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                            • #15
                              Mike, do you lift at home or a gym? I lift in my basement and do everything completely barefoot. I'm not a very advanced lifter, but I do deadlift twice my BW comfortably in bare feet. I see no reason that lifting shoes would be better than barefoot.

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