What Do I Need In My Gym Bag? (Part 2)
WHAT KIND OF LIFTING SHOES?
Everybody loves shoes, women more so than men, but what do you know about lifting shoes? You don’t wear them with jeans! A good lifting shoe will ensure that you have a stable secure footing and giving you an instant boost in confidence when you go from regular sneakers to lifting shoes. This is a must-have if you’re a serious strength athlete (in my opinion). This blog discussed how a good lifting shoe will benefit your strength training. First, let’s explore your feet. Did you know that your feet and ankles are very strong mechanical structures? Each foot contains 26 bones, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. So, in both feet, that’s 52 bones, which makes a quarter of all the bones in your body. Why do feet sweat so much? That’s because there is a colossal number of sweat glands, 250,000 to be exact. Sounds like a lot, but, the amount of pounding your feet take daily and the fact they support your entire body may have something to do with it.
TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: Our feet are very important to us, we need to look after them. Always be mindful of the type of footwear you buy. Women are much more likely to suffer from foot-related issues than men, primarily due to the types of shoes they buy.
Now back to our gym bag, your lifting shoes better be in there. Lifting shoes? Why do you ask? Nothing wrong with what I am wearing, they feel great, also lifting shoes are so expensive, I will pass. …...Not a good idea.
Lifting shoes can have different meanings for different athletes, weightlifters, powerlifters or strong men. Let’s look at what type of shoe you need.
This is probably what most strength athletes think about when they refer to lifting shoes. If you’re aspiring to be a weightlifter or are new to the game, you can’t go without these. The aim of the game is to lift as much weight as you can in the snatch and clean and jerk, well if you’re wearing weightlifting shoes that will help you achieve the goal. Shoes make you stronger? …. fantastic!!!
It’s not magic, you’re not instantly going to lift 100 kgs or more, there is a little more involved. The instant benefit you will realize is the raised heel that comes with the weightlifting shoe. So, what does the raised heel do for us? As a weightlifter, being flexible and working on mobility/agility is key to getting into strong positions such as catching the bar during the snatch. The raised heel allows the lifters ankle to have greater range of motion. A lot of people when they get introduced to lifting weights, have flexibility issues which comes to the forefront when learning to squat. Most older lifting newbies have a hard time getting to the bottom position of the squat. The lifting shoe will help you get there. This does not mean that you should not be working on your flexibility, that is a must, just that the shoe will get you in position much easier.
The Olympic lifts are extremely explosive lifts where the strength, efficiency, and speed of your body is tested maximally. The solid footing enables you to generate more power off the floor, if you compare that to running shoes, the soft sole will absorb some of that power, thereby taking away from the lift. Running shoes offer no support and will eventually destabilize you when the bar gets heavy. Another point to mention is that the lifting shoe enables hip flexion and allows full extension throughout the Olympic lifts.
I always squat in weightlifting shoes, back squat and front squat. The raised heel allows you to keep alignment of the lumbar spine and pelvis, which will enable the lifter to keep the position of the bar mid foot.
If you prefer squatting with a much wider stance with a low bar position the weight is thrusted up with a lot of the power coming from the posterior chain. A flat sole can allow the lifter to get into the bottom position. This style of squatting relies a lot more on hip flexion, knee and ankle flexion is reduced. Typically, a lot of powerlifters will use shoes like Chuck Taylors to squat in. These shoes have a solid base and offer “some” ankle support. Oh, and yes you can wear Chuck Taylors with jeans.
Will your deadlift improve with weightlifting shoes? NOPE! The raised heel in weightlifting shoes means now you will have to pull the bar a little higher to full lockout, if you’re going for a maximum effort lift, then, you need all the help you can get. So, it’s better to be a little closer to the ground. The other issue is that with a weightlifting shoe the heel moves your weight a little forward. This will be problematic if you’re going for an all-out effort as the bar needs to be close to your body and not forward.
Personally, I like deadlifting in wrestling shoes. They offer a flat sole, with very little cushioning and gives you some ankle support. The main thing is that I feel it gives me a solid footing.
I think it would be very difficult to come up with some hard and fast rules for what type of shoes will work best for you. The best thing a lifter can do is to pick a shoe through trial and error, see if you perform better. Try various shoes and see how easily you can get into the bottom position, it should not feel too uncomfortable. The type of shoe that feels good to you will be based on your flexibility, and the length of your legs, the height of heel can vary from 0.65” to 1”, you may find some shoes in the eastern hemisphere that have greater heel height than 1”. One thing for sure, get yourself a pair of lifting shoes and see your numbers increase. Remember to keep them in your gym bag.
In the next gym bag blog series we will be discussing pre-workout and post workout supplements. Please feel free to comment and ask questions, I look forward to reading and responding to them. Till the next time my friends…….
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