In short: Vibram FiveFingers are excellent shoes for squats and deadlifts because they emulate the feeling of being barefoot. They can help you make better connections between your foot and the floor, get immediate feedback on technique issues, and diagnose movement limitations.
Barefoot lifting is all the rage these days. In fact, many people are considering lifting while wearing Vibrams. Let’s find out whether Vibram FiveFingers are good for lifting or not.
Wearing Vibram FiveFingers during lifting. Is there any upside?
Although barefoot weight lifting can offer benefits, most experts warn there are a number of risks, including the potential for injury, if not done properly. Let’s consider the factors.
1. Emulate the feeling of being barefoot
Going barefoot — whether running, strength training or simply walking around — requires the muscles of the feet to work harder. This is what Vibram FiveFingers emulates.
When wearing barefoot shoes, like Vibram FiveFingers, small muscles like the abductor hallucis, which spans the arch of your foot and controls the big toe, and the posterior tibialis, which supports the arch, start working more, which ultimately gives you a stronger foot.
Spending more time wearing Vibrams may also increase the ability to sense where your feet are in space, as well as how they move, which in turn can help you maintain stability while lifting.
2. FiveFingers won’t necessarily help you lift more
Barefoot weight training may contribute to better foot strength, balance, and stability, but there’s no concrete evidence it can dramatically improve your performance or help you lift more.
According to this study, there is no significant difference in performance between barefoot lifting and regular lifting (with shoes), although deadlifting with shoes requires a little bit more work.
You are about an inch higher if you’re wearing lifting shoes compared to Vibram FiveFingers. This extra inch is nothing for a single lift but can add up over the course of a training cycle.
3. Heavy lifts require dedicated lifting shoes
If you are a casual lifter, and you are planning to squat and deadlift light to moderate weights during training, there is no problem with wearing Vibram FiveFingers.
However, when lifting significantly more than you weigh, proper shoes become essential. Instead of wearing Vibrams, do yourself a favor and invest in dedicated lifting shoes.
Proper weightlifting shoes have hand, dense, incompressible soles. They also have wedged heels that tilt the foot forward, which provides the stability to help you maintain good form.
It is easier to find balance with lifting shoes because of the extra lift in the heel, which helps keep the center of mass of the barbell more in line with your center of mass.
This helps keep your torso more upright, which in turn reduces the amount of pressure placed on your lower back, which can help prevent injury.
Get used to FiveFingers before squatting or deadlifting heavy weights
Before you start lifting heavy weights while wearing Vibram FiveFingers, it’s a good idea to ease into it and get used to the shoes, especially if this is your first time wearing barefoot shoes.
1. Bodyweight squats
Performing bodyweight squats is a great way to get to know your posture before you start lifting heavy weights. Put on your Vibram FiveFingers and let’s get started.
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, with your feet turned out slightly open the hip joint (pointing at 11 and 1). Place your hands anywhere that is comfortable.
Lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Pause, then return to the starting position. Repeat. Do 5 sets of 10 repetitions while wearing your FiveFingers.
While you may find it hard to squat any lower, with some practice you may be able to get deeper. Make sure you keep your back straight through and your feet flat on the floor.
During this exercise, you will engage your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, and the muscles in your core. You’ll also be getting a lot of feedback from your feet to help you move properly.
2. Single-leg deadlifts
A single-leg deadlift is a hip-hinge movement that strengthens the back, core, and legs. This variation of a deadlift involves one leg lifting off the ground and extending out behind you.
Standing with your feet hip-width apart and parallel. Lean forward in your hips, shifting your weight onto one leg while your other leg engages and starts to extend straight behind you.
Lift your extended leg and pitch your body forward until your body forms a “T” shape. Your arms should be hanging straight down. Keep a slight bend in your standing leg.
Slowly bring in your extended leg and return to the starting position. Repeat with the other leg.
This is a tricky exercise for your balance, but your big toe is your friend here. Pushing it into the floor will help to keep you balanced and less likely to roll your weight to the outside of your foot.
Now you know whether Vibram FiveFingers are good for squats and deadlifts, or not. Try both Vibrams and lifting shoes. If you try both and prefer barefoot or Vibrams, go for it
By wearing Vibram FiveFingers you will be able to better feel when your feet are moving. Try to keep your feet flat on the floor and push yourself up using the muscles in your bum.