“Wow those are some old school shoes you lifting in,” someone tells me as I walk by them with my Chuck Taylors. The guy is sitting on an exercise ball while I’m lacing up my Chucks for my workout. Deadlifts.
“Yup, these shoes are solid,” I replied, because I actually think my black Chucks looks pretty snazzy.
“How can you workout in those? There’s no support or cushion,” he asked with his new colorful nikes, which I don’t understand how the designer comes up with those ridiculous color combos. I told him that the flat soles allow me to apply even amount of force to the ground, practically allows me to “feel” the floor beneath much better rather than having a large layer of cushion (like most shoes have). As I wanted to continue on, he interrupted me and said, “That doesn’t make much sense, “feel” the ground?”
At this point I was done trying to be nice and explain, I had to get ready to deadlift. I wanted to grab a 45 and throw it at his head, or maybe pop his exercises ball so he could fall on his ass, or maybe stomp on his nice clean shoes and make him have a panic attack. I also had to restrain from saying, “If you actually lifted heavy, you would understand. If you actually trained period, you would understand. See that huge guy over there squatting over 500lbs, look at his shoes? Flat soles, jackass! If you don’t want to listen don’t ask next time.” But I didn’t.
So Why Flat Sole Shoes?
If you had to choose ONLY one personal equipment (belt, straps, gloves, wrist wraps, shoes, etc.) which one would you pick? If I had to choose one, I would have chosen my lifting straps. Maybe someone of you thought the same maybe not. My first encounter with shoes being important was when I started to powerlift. The group of guys I lifted with all had a certain pair of shoes they wore when it came to squats or deadlifts.
I just had my typical New Balance shoes with nice comfortable cushioning. I was the weakest one in the group when it came to those two lifts so I started to get curious. I asked why they used those shoes. They told me why and I was curious to see if what they said was actually true. They were stronger than me and if it was something they felt was important it must be. So I went out and got a pair of Chuck Taylors, and it was one of the most important things I added to my gym bag.
There are a wide range of shoes that have flat soles that range from around $50 to probably around $200. If you actually care about your training especially when it comes to deadlifting and squatting, then you should pay attention to this.
The main reason why we want flat sole shoes is because of the lack of heel compressibility. When you drive out from the bottom of the squat or deadlift you want all that force going into the floor. If you are wearing one of those shoes with nice cushioning, shock absorbers, or air cells, then a good percentage of the force will be absorbed before it hits the ground.
Now if you do have those kinds of shoes, I’m not telling you to never wear them. They are perfectly fine for running. You want to make sure that there is nothing between you and the floor when training, especially when you squat or deadlift.
This was just a simple two reasons to why it’s important to think about what shoes to wear. A lot of people question why I wear Chuck Taylors and these are the reason I use. Some listen, and some just don’t get it. Which is fine. If you never tried flat sole shoes before maybe you should give it a try, you will feel a big difference. For those of you who have the right shoes, keep crushing weights.
- Rippetoes, M., Kilgore L. Starting Strength 2nd edition: Basic Barbell Training. The Aasgaard Company. Texas 2007
- Siff, Mel PhD. Supertraining. Supertraining Institute. Denver 2004