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I recently started powerlifting (Starting Strength), and I have a rather frivolous concern. What if I drop a weight plate on my feet? Between warming up and work sets, there is a lot of loading/unloading and carrying weight plates around. I've been lifting barefoot and am willing to invest in shoes, but in a battle between a 25-lb plate and a pair of Chuck Taylors, I'm sure the plate would still win hands-down.

Am I being a total wuss? Do people actually drop plates on their feet? Would weightlifting shoes provide any real protection?

  • 2
    heh - don't hold the plates over your feet! – G__ Sep 22 '14 at 18:53
  • @Greg, fair enough! I could hold them against my side, I guess. – half-pass Sep 23 '14 at 4:57
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Moving around a weight room has caused more injuries than training has, for me.

You can trip, people leave crap strewn about, and as you mentioned it's easy to drop a plate. Shoes won't protect you from a falling 45lb but they'll probably prevent or at least greatly minimize a stubbed toe. Something stupid like that can sideline you for a week. Walking around a squat rack all woozy from heavy lifts is just begging for smacking your foot into something.

Specifically related to moving plates around though, I try to approach heavy plates like I would any serious lift. Keep the plate close to your body, grab it with two hands, and don't get lazy-tough-guy trying to hold two 45's. Take your time. Keep things organized and clean. If you're strength training you have enough time between sets to straighten up the plates.

Pro-tip for unloading deadlift plates: use a fractional or 2.5lb tiny plate as a "speed bump", rolling the inner plate onto it, which will lift the outer plates in the air. Repeat for the other side until you're just left with the interior plates (135lb if they're 45's).

It's a good question though. Similar problems develop when people finish squatting then lazily walk back to the pins and lean forward at the waist with ~300lbs on their back, trashing their lower backs. People take the lift seriously, but then revert right back to lazy-dangerous mode.

I actually find stuff like this a side (and real world) benefit to strength training: you learn how to move heavy things around. I tried to pick something up the other day and nudging it around figured it was about ~150lbs, something I would never try to lift unless I had my game face on and was in proper form.

  • Makes sense. Thanks. I can't quite envision the speed-bump thing for unloading deadlifts, though. – half-pass Sep 23 '14 at 4:55
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    @half-pass Here's a picture that might help. You really just need to kick it up high enough to get the outer plates off the ground, and the smaller it is the easier it is to roll it up there. muscleandfitness.com/workouts/workout-tips/… – Eric Sep 23 '14 at 6:12
  • Good call on the lazy re-rack. Now I gotta go out and see if I'm doing it. – TurningOutAwesome Sep 23 '14 at 20:35
  • Very good point. So far all the injuries I've had (fortunately, small ones, but even a small one can make you unable to do something for a week or two) were because I was sloppy doing something or moving stuff around. You've got to pay attention, and if you do not, you'll be reminded of why you have to, sooner or later. – StasM Oct 3 '14 at 19:30
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What if I drop a weight plate on my feet?

It will hurt. It may injure you. It's possible it will injure you severely and permanently.

I've been lifting barefoot...Do people actually drop plates on their feet? Would weightlifting shoes provide any real protection?

People drop plates, rarely. I've dropped a five pound plate from hip height and let a fifty-pounder slip and fall flat from upright. The fiver hit my toes in Converse and it hurt but that's it. The fifty missed, and boy am I glad.

Shoes help a little, but sometimes a little is a big difference. FiveFingers and Chucks are minimal protection; bulkier weightlifting-specific shoes might help more.

  • And if you are really scared, construction workers use boots with steel toes, get one and forget your worries. – Cleber Goncalves Sep 26 '14 at 19:32
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Yes, you are being a total wuss, but it is curable. Keep training, get comfortable around heavier objects, and soon you will be handling the big plates with ease.

  • 1
    Ha. Well, I suspected that. – half-pass Oct 3 '14 at 3:23

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