August 2014 Newsletter

This article relates to weight training, weight lifting, hypertrophy training, strength training, conditioning or whatever else you wish to call ‘lifting steel’ or ‘pumping iron’ in a commercial leisure facility / health club / gymnasium environment.

The general ethos of the article below applies to us all in this IHRSA accredited FA registered health club. I would like to point out that for anyone who is a professional or elite Power or Olympic lifter? Well, of course you are not necessarily covered in the below observations taken from our international governing bodies of the ACSM, IDEA, IHRSA or FA in Australia.

In general, basic out & out weight training aka lifting steel does not require special equipment, not even chalk, wraps, straps, bespoke shoes, weight belts etc. They are all optional extras. Remember that chalk is prohibited here in HLFCH, again nobody should require it as nobody is that competitive as to require PB lifts with chalk as an aid. If you have to, then cheat & use writs wraps / straps.

Granted those involved in ‘naked lifting’ or ‘raw lifting’ do use these core essentials but the gyms that offer such a platform are hardcore pure strength centers & are few & far between, namely in Europe & the USA.

So long as you have basic attire & have your wits about you with your limbs & core ready to work you are set to rock & roll. In this club we also ask you consider your fellow members & use a workout towel under your body on equipment & like all mainstream clubs we ask that your personal hygiene is good & that you refrain from using chalk or chalk substitutes as they stain & mark the gym & other people.

Onto the seemingly omnipresent question as to wearing any training shoes or going barefoot when executing dead lifts & / or squats on the Olympic platform.

There are only pros to wearing trainers & cons to going barefoot, no pro’s to going barefoot in most professional trainer’s opinion. In a commercial entity like Healthy Life you have NO option to go barefoot as it contravenes OH&S laws in Australia as well as negates the club’s public liability / indemnity & insurance.

So, having established that nobody has the option of barefoot lifting from a legal & best practice perspective let me try to clarify the reality which is evidenced that there really is NO benefit to training barefoot in either of these techniques, not even when raw or naked lifting is taking place.

ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine) along with NSCA (National Strength & Conditioning Association) all concur that athletes, even elite Power & Olympic lifters should wear hard soled, rigid shoes or flat soled trainers or professional lifting shoes, heeled woods, platforms or flats when executing Dead Lifts or Squats. No you do not need heels for Squats or flats for dead lifts but you could have a pair of each.

Just for reference when was the last time you ever saw a Power Lifting competitor or an Olympic competitor for that matter ever compete barefoot? Precisely, never in the history of the two sports has this ever occurred. The IOC (International Olympic Association) prohibit barefoot lifting not just from an OH&S perspective but from a safe movement / biomechanical & anatomically best form perspective too.

All begs the question why Joe Blogs down his local gym thinks he is best lifting barefoot? He isn’t but magazine-banter, ‘argh-argh’ male-machismo along with the occasional article from some wayward instructor in some popular fitness publication leads them to believe they are. They are not.

If you want to get serious about Dead Lifts & Squats then invest in the correct Olympic Lifting wooden soled shoes with zero give & no suspension for Squats & invest in a pair of ‘power lifting solid soled flats’ for Dead Lifts.

They won’t be useful for anything else but they will provide for that near perfect lateral & bi-lateral cross-foot support as well as the essential rock solid foundation under foot for the huge torsion forces put through the foot when shifting major weights & creating mega straight line & lateral torque & forces as you lift these Olympic bars laden with Olympic discs.

That said, rather pointless going barefoot on a rubberized floor as the movement / suspension in the club provided rubberized floor alone means the 100% stability a platform / flats / wooden heeled / soled lifter seeks is already negated by our suspension padded rubber platform.

Remember we do not have a wooden solid Power lifting platform, instead we have a rubberized padded suspension based amateur power lifting platform for general strength lifting, all to say rather futile trying to lift barefoot for that solid based platform as the base we provide is padded.

Absolutely you are best not using running soled, gel, arc, high-suspension or cantilever soled shoes when executing either of the two aforementioned techniques.

We certainly recommend the mainstay branded lifting shoes or low-flat sled trainers, perhaps a martial art shoe or if you genuinely want that barefoot feeling then by all means use a ‘five fingered vibram sole’ or similar flat firm based low-slung trainer. But to attempt these techniques barefoot is as dangerous & non-supportive.

If squatting & your shoe has a small heel, the biomechanics of your squat alter, just as they do with an external toe wedge or heel wedge. You are much more upright & can easily go deeper with heels. A pair of weightlifting shoes will also provide stability since the sole is made out of very thick material or wood.

The only downside of using weightlifting shoes is that at the bottom of the squat your knees travel forward a little bit further. This could cause knee joint pain but again when using rear wooden wedges / supports the same scenario would be created.

In summary; No chalk & training with shoes on = lift off.