Footwear: Elaborated

I want to delve a little deeper into the footwear topic I touched on here. I mentioned how modern shoes pretty much suck, disrupt your natural running stride, and are likely doing more harm than good. Now, this doesn't mean you should denounce all worldly possessions and go all Lord of the Flies about it...

That escalated quickly.

Nevertheless, here is a brief guide to footwear choices, depending on the workout...

Chucks: Everything

The classic Chuck Taylors are very versatile, cost-effective, and damn stylish. Chucks are excellent for the powerlifts (squat, deadlift, press) and acceptable for the Olympic lifts (snatch, clean, jerk). The lack of arch support will help build stronger feet, but I recommend easing into these badboys. In other words, doing a 100-rep box jump workout having never worn Chucks could result in an injury, shin splits, or possibly plantar fasciitis. Personally, I prefer the low-tops because the world must bask in the glory of my ankles.

Inov8 / Nike Free: Everything (I think)

I actually have no personal experience with either of these brands, but I've heard nothing but good things. The goal/effect is similar to barefoot training, but there's more interior padding so it'll make for a better transition from those shitty Nike Shox to stronger feet. They're both extremely light weight, pretty cool looking, and will certainly be better than whatever the hell these are.

Oly Shoes: The Lifts & Some Low Impact Metcons

Weightlifting shoes are obviously preferred for the snatch and the clean & jerk, but they're also excellent for back squats, front squats, overhead squats, shoulder presses, push presses, Bulgarian split squats, and so on. Note: I prefer people deadlift barefoot or without an elevated heel. The strap/s on the front will stabilize your foot laterally inside the shoe, while the elevated heel will help keep one's torso more erect, especially during squats. The resulting feeling is that you're seemingly cemented into the ground i.e. stable as shit. Everyone I've recommended Oly shoes to has experienced positive results almost immediately. Generally speaking, weightlifting shoes shouldn't be worn for metcons, but it depends on the metcon in question. I will get more into this later.

Vibrams / Barefoot: Power Lifts & Lower Impact Metcons

Despite looking semi-ridiculous, Vibrams are actually excellent for your foot health. The will help strengthen your arches and improve your running patterns, which will both result in less long-term injuries. The biggest problem I see is people not appropriately easing into them. You can't just run a 5k barefoot without having properly prepared your feet for that kind of stress. Slowly building up the requisite foot strength will pay off in the long run (pun totally intended).

Don't worry, I'm not just going to reference a bunch of shoes without talking about the workouts they'd best be worn in. Oh no, I'll feed you, baby birds. So let's take a look at some sample workouts, the best options for footwear, and the reasoning behind each choice...

Example A
3 Rounds:
10 Burpee
10 Front Squat, 185lbs
10 Pull-ups

Shoes: Oly, Chuck, Vibram/Barefoot, Inov8/NikeFree

A workout like this can be done with any of the above options, but I'd recommend Oly shoes as a first choice. The limiting factor for most people will be the heavy front squats, so weightlifting shoes will help the most. The Inov8/NikeFree option is last because of all the choices, they are the least stable for front squats.

Example B
3 Rounds:
Run 400m
30 Double-unders
15 Box Jumps (30")

Shoes: Inov8/Nike Free, Chucks, Vibram/Barefoot

This one is kind of a three-way tie. Any of the above options is acceptable, provided your feet are adapted and prepared for this kind of stress. It's a lot of running and jumping so Vibrams or barefoot means your feet will take a beating. Oly shoes are obviously not an option as this metcon should obviously not be done while wearing something with wooden heels.

Example C
Snatch 1RM

Shoes: Oly, Chucks, Inov8/NikeFree

For the Olympic lifts, the first choice is obvious. If you don't have weightlifting shoes, Chucks will probably be your next best option. Failing that, go with Inov8's or Nike Free's. Try to avoid O-lifting barefoot or in Vibrams. Depending on one's technique, the feet can strike the ground with a lot of impact. You're better off with some shoe rather than no shoe, even if only for a slightly elevated heel.

Example D
Deadlift 1RM

Shoes: Vibram/Barefoot, Chucks

We want our heels as close to the ground as possible when deadlifting heavy loads, so an elevated heel of any kind will not do us any favors. Staying back on our heels allows us to keep the bar close and helps utilize the posterior chain more effectively.

Again, please note that this isn't some crusade to get you to throw out your LA Gear light-ups and buy fancy new kicks, but start thinking about how your footwear may be affecting your workouts and if some change is needed.


  1. Great read again Quint. And YES, depending on ones technique with the Snatch, ones feet CAN strike the ground with a lot of impact.

  2. The "whatever the hell these are" shoes like suspiciously similar to your shoes....

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