Is it a good method to do Calves Raises barefoot? I am working on balance/stability, and realized when shoes aren't on, there is much greater range in toes and feet flexion. Interested in knowing if this a general health/fitness recommended method with dumbbells on each side, or is better to use training shoes?

I am thinking this is never seen much as a training method, due to risk of slight pain due to weights falling, however if that risk can be mitigated with light weights, then it should help more with my balance training.

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  • Training barefoot is ALWAYS superior to training with shoes on. The foot is a highly complex thing, and wrapping it in something that prevents it moving fully is never a good idea. If you have weak feet, it might take a little while to get used to, but they should strengthen as you train and move more barefoot.
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 9:03
  • hi @DarkHippo feel free to write as answer and I can send points, thanks
    – mattsmith5
    Commented Dec 7, 2021 at 9:18

1 Answer 1


I wouldn't go as far to say that training barefoot is always superior to training with shoes on. There are situations where certain types of shoes provide some benefit to being completely barefoot.

In most situations though, shoes do not really provide any benefit other than comfort and sometimes can be detrimental. Really heavy, thick soled shoes (as shown in the image) in particular can be troublesome because the padding actually makes the feet a little unstable which causes the ankles to roll back and forth which creates a loss of stability. This is why flat-soled shoes like Chuck Taylor's or Vans are in-fashion gym apparel these days. Depending on gym rules, a lot of people wear Crocs these days because aside from being extremely fashion-forward, comfortable, and utilitarian, they're very easy to slip on and off for particular exercises.

Specifically for calf raises, I find that I still roll my feet in flat shoes. There is much more engagement in the calf if I do them barefoot. The difference is apparent in video. Being barefoot also gives better feedback so you can better feel how your feet move. Shoes will blunt that sensation.

So yes. It's perfectly reasonable to do calf raises barefoot if you feel better engagement and want the additional feedback.

For the safety concerns, it would be slightly better to wear a leather shoe than being barefoot. The shoe will blunt the impact a little. If dropping dumbbells on your feet is a great concern, then feel free to wear shoes. It won't make a large difference. Although, the risk is never fully mitigated. It still hurts a lot.

  • Fair point, I hadn't considered weightlifting shoes, though there is a part of my brain that believes that weightlifting shoes mainly make up for lack of ankle and hip mobility, but I don't have enough experience of the Olympic lifts to really tell. I'm also pretty sure that one of the main benefits of wearing shoes in the gym is that if you DO happen to drop a heavy weight on your foot, it will at least keep the mess contained and make the clean up easier :D
    – Dark Hippo
    Commented Dec 10, 2021 at 9:12

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