I've been doing StrongLifts 5x5 program for past one-and-half month. Currently my squat has just crossed my bodweight. And my deadlift is 10kgs more than my squat. My goal is to squat 2 times my bodyweight and deadlift 2.5 times my bodyweight.

I squat ass-to-ground and I've been doing all exercises barefoot on a concrete floor covered with 1/2 inch rubber padding. I don't have any mobility issues and so far I didn't face problems of any kind. Can I safely continue like this? Even Arnold did the same:

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It also makes me wonder, if going barefoot is safe then why would people always recommend weightlifting shoes? I'm bit confused. Honestly I cannot afford weightlifting shoes. I have running shoes but I read that running shoes are worse than barefoot.

I don't know if this has anything to do with going barefoot. But after today's workout, I'm feeling a burning sensation in my feet. I read online that it could be due to Vitamin B12 deficiency (and I was recommended Vitamin B12 in the past, though not for the same reason)

  • I don't know where you're getting your information, but if you don't have any imbalances in your feet/legs, barefoot squatting is ace. If you DO have imbalances, you can get weightlifting shoes made specifically for your feet, which would be better than the alternatives. – Alec Nov 4 '15 at 18:05
  • @Alec: How do I know if I have any imbalances? – claws Nov 4 '15 at 18:09
  • Some become apparent through continued training. Others can only be exposed by getting your body scanned and measured, so your doctor or a physical therapist would be the best options. – Alec Nov 4 '15 at 18:11
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    This question is kind of all over the place. Burning feet, is it OK to squat barefoot, why isn't it recommended...what is the single most important question? – Dave Liepmann Nov 4 '15 at 19:16
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    Possible duplicate of squatting barefoot, bad reputation for gym! – Sean Duggan Nov 4 '15 at 19:42

I haven't heard of any reliable sources recommending not squatting barefooted. The only reasons I can think of are probable imbalances (the one Alec suggested) , hygiene issues (some gyms may not like you squatting barefooted due to cleanliness) and dropping the weights on your toes (which even with shoes wouldn't make too much difference to the health of your feet).

Whereas squatting with bare feet, can be advantageous in a few aspects, such as:

  • One of the most important things in squatting is to keep the weight on your heels. Wearing shoes (especially those with big heels) can push your centre of gravity forward.
  • Better balance, more tactile feedback from the floor due to absence of a compressible cushion in between.
  • Bare feet can give you more 'grip' on the floor than shoes.
  • Improves mobility, allowing you to squat deeper, especially important if you're an ass to the grass man like myself.

Overall if it's okay with your gym, I would keep on squatting barefooted. I currently do it as well, and would totally recommend it to anyone who squats.

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  • I used to do "ass to the grass" squats, then someone said that I should stop midway in an invisible chair position. What do you recommend? – a25bedc5-3d09-41b8-82fb-ea6c353d75ae Aug 29 '16 at 15:59

Potential issues with barefoot lifting:

  • No ankle support / Flat heels - Some people argue that one of the advantages of proper weightlifting shoes is that they provide support and stability for your ankles by their stiffness and the raised heel gives you a better angle on your ankles by angling your feet forward.
  • Drop protection - While the average set of shoes aren't going to do a lot to save your toes if you drop a weight plate on them, it's still more than bare feet offer you.
  • Sanitation - Gym floors are gross places. Exposing bare skin on them can lead to nasty diseases such as MRSA or Athlete's Foot.

Personally, I think that none of these ascend to the height of being important enough to avoid bare feet, especially since shoes are dank caverns that incubate mold and bacteria.

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    Angling your feet forward however can be a dis-advantage if one is squatting with heavy weights, due to your centre of gravity being shifted forwards away from your heels. fitness.stackexchange.com/questions/3000/… – Tarius Nov 4 '15 at 18:50
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    @Tarius Ankle dorsiflexion is more commonly a more severe issue than being pitched forward when squatting maximally deep. – Dave Liepmann Nov 4 '15 at 19:14
  • I agree poor dorsiflexion can lead to imbalances particularly while ass to grass squatting. However if this was a serious enough issue that requires wearing shoes to fix: I would thoroughly recommend to solve this problem through strengthening and increasing flexibility of the ankles first before attempting deep heavy squats. – Tarius Nov 4 '15 at 19:25

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