Should you deadlift without shoes? Why do people squat barefoot?

Not all gym shoes are created equal, especially if you’re working on strength and power. We all know how important and useful shoes can be for sports performance, but how can they affect lifting performance? Do we require shoes if we’re squatting and deadlifting, for example?

Weightlifting footwear is one of my favourite complicated topics to get into and debate. There are a lot of misunderstandings about which footwear is ideal for lifting weights out there. You may become even more dynamic with your training if you understand what types of footwear, or lack thereof, can help your lifting performance.

Should you deadlift without shoes
Should you deadlift without shoes

In this post, we’ll look at whether or not footwear is required for workouts like deadlifts. We’ll go over some of the complexities of this subject, so keep reading if you’re interested in learning more about training and footwear.

Is it necessary to wear shoes when playing Deadlif?

Is it necessary to wear shoes when playing Deadlif?

For deadlifts and squats, no shoes are required. It’s crucial to note, however, that your choice of footwear for deadlifts and squats might have an impact on your overall movement mechanics and performance.

This is due to the fact that different shoes have different levels of stability and heel heights, which can affect how we support the body in deadlifts and how much ankle mobility we require to reach particular squat depths.

Squats and deadlifts do not necessitate the use of shoes, and you can execute them properly barefoot. Certain deadlift and squat shoes can improve performance in some situations, and they’re useful to have in crowded commercial gyms where going barefoot isn’t an option, but shoes (and specifically designed squat and deadlift shoes, at that!) aren’t a must-have if you prefer to squat and deadlift barefoot.

Why do people perform deadlifts without wearing shoes?

Why do people perform deadlifts without wearing shoes?

Lifters perform deadlifts without shoes for a variety of reasons. The primary and most common argument is that lifters will be closer to the ground if they do not wear shoes. This can aid in reducing the overall range of motion required to lift the weight, which can improve performance when working at or near maximum loads.

Super heavy deadlifts can be a game of inches in a lot of scenarios. So, if we can reduce our deadlift range of motion by.5′′-1′′, we should be able to enhance our performance even more.

The second reason, which is related to the first, is that it makes you feel more connected to the earth. Deadlifts begin with the feet, and if we can fully ground our feet to establish a more sturdy basis to lift from, we’ll feel more stable during our pull. This is a crucial component of powerful deadlifts, particularly when breaking the floor.

The third and more complicated explanation is that our deadlift mechanics can be affected by our footwear. Let’s pretend we’re doing deadlifts in a pair of thick running shoes with a significant heel-to-toe drop. Our deadlift setup will be slightly altered by this thicker pair of shoes with a slightly higher heel. This is why I advise against deadlifting when wearing weightlifting shoes.

What Are the Best Deadlift Shoes?

What Are the Best Deadlift Shoes?

If you don’t want to deadlift barefoot or are unable to do so due to gym restrictions and rules, you’re probably thinking which shoes are best for deadlifts. The greatest deadlifting shoes will have two main features in common: 1) zero drop and 2) minimal stack heights.

The first point to mention about zero drop is that it refers to shoes with a 0mm heel-to-toe drop or offset. Because there is no elevation between the base of the heel and the forefoot, these shoes are designed to mimic barefoot walking.

The second element to consider when it comes to minimalist stack heights is shoes with very thin soles that separate the foot from the ground. This gives you a more “natural” connection to the ground and minimises the overall range of motion that a shoe adds to your deadlift.

Barefoot shoes, deadlift slippers, and deadlift shoes are all excellent examples. All of these shoes have extremely minimalist soles that are ideal for deadlifting.

Why do people squat barefoot?

Why do people squat barefoot?

Lifters and athletes would typically squat without shoes for two reasons: 1) they love feeling the ground with their foot to the maximum extent possible when training for stability, and 2) they genuinely enjoy training barefoot and it feeds well into their squat movement mechanics.

It’s crucial to understand how lifting barefoot affects ankle mechanics when we squat without shoes. If we don’t have any kind of heel elevation, the ankle will have to move through more ranges of motion in order to accomplish particular squat depths.

Let’s compare a weightlifting shoe to barefoot lifting for reference. A weightlifting shoe will have a raised heel that can be anywhere between.6′′ and 1′′ tall. Before beginning the lowering portion of the squat, lift the heel to place the foot in a plantarflexed position.

We can modify the demands on the body when accomplishing specific squat depths if we can generate more knee tracking with a raised heel. Squatting barefoot or with shoes isn’t always better or worse; they’re just different in terms of the stress they place on the body when attempting to reach specific squat depths.

How Effective Are Squat Shoes?

How Effective Are Squat Shoes?

The amount of assistance provided by weightlifting shoes (squat shoes) is dependent on a number of parameters, and no two lifters are alike. Weightlifting shoes can assist some lifters reach larger squat depths while keeping their body mechanics more upright.

When examining how a pair of weightlifting shoes can affect one’s lifting squat performance, there are three crucial factors to consider.

  • Squat Form Abilities: Your training age and squat abilities can both affect your squat form.
  • Anthropometrics and Anatomy: Height and limb lengths can have an impact.
  • Levels of Mobility: Your present levels of mobility can also play a factor.

All three of these factors can have a significant impact on how well a pair of weightlifting shoes can help you lift.

Should you deadlift without shoes: Review

Should you deadlift without shoes: Review

It depends on the type of shoes you’re referring to. Although, in the big scheme of things, your footwear is unimportant, if you’re aiming to deadlift very heavy weights, you’ll want as little padding between your feet as possible.

Yes, I would deadlift barefoot if you’re talking about running shoes, but if you’re talking about flat-soled shoes like Converse and Vans, you should be alright. If you’re talking about lightly soled shoes, which have recently become popular, these will outperform flat soled shoes.

Having said that, there’s no damage in deadlifting barefoot.


There are a number of factors that can determine whether you should deadlift barefoot or in shoes.

What matters most is that you’re thinking about all of the layers and elements that come with your footwear choices and how they might affect your lifting performance.

And this article will help you answer the following questions about should you deadlift without shoes:

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Field John

If you are an avid believer in health and fitness and want to do something for your team, I can help. As the founder of Field Goals Fitness, I lead a collective of health and fitness professionals dedicated to helping Australians lead a more active and healthier lifestyle. With a warm, friendly, and supportive approach that gets results, I enjoy helping individuals & organisations achieve sustainable success with their health and fitness goals. Certifying as a Personal Trainer in 2009, was a turning point in my life. I had spent 14 years in the corporate world in Business Development roles and decided to take all that I had learnt in sales and marketing and start my own business.

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