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Old 02-02-2013, 12:45 PM   #1
repoman0
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Default Barefoot olympic lifting

What do you guys think about doing power cleans / jerks and snatch barefoot?

I never thought much of it - I started doing regular lifts like squat, deadlift, and press with no shoes probably a year ago and that has been great. I can get squats well below parallel, even at >1.5x body weight, and deadlifts feel very stable with feet in direct contact with the floor. So, since I don't own any shoes I like doing regular lifts in, when adding olympic lifts a few months back to my regular routine, I automatically started them barefoot too.

Anyway one of the guys I see at my gym / lift with sometimes thinks I'm crazy and am gonna hurt my feet. (Most people who tell me I'm doing things wrong I just ignore but this guy actually knows stuff). My feet never hurt and don't get sore. On power clean days I do a total of probably 30-35 reps at work weight to practice form. So while they aren't super heavy yet (~1x bw), it's a decent amount of volume.

Anyone else do barefoot oly lifts? Am I hurting myself without knowing it?
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Old 02-02-2013, 01:26 PM   #2
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Just make sure the ground where you are doesn't have any splinters...

My only issue is the stability when your doing a Jerk or just OLifting in general. Your feet are going to move very fast if you do the lifts correctly.

See how you get on but I've never lifted barefoot ever on the OLifts. I always recommend people to get Oly shoes to OLift and squat in.

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Old 02-02-2013, 03:17 PM   #3
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I don't know about hurting yourself...maybe when you start getting heavy and the sudden impact/compression can injure your joints?

But my first concern would be like Koing's - stability and traction. As you're going from the jumping to landing position, I'd be worried about my feet sliding. My first pair of Oly shoes were cheapo VS Dynamics and they cost me $50 on sale...not much of an investment considering what you're getting out of them.
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Old 02-02-2013, 05:05 PM   #4
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I don't know about hurting yourself...maybe when you start getting heavy and the sudden impact/compression can injure your joints?

But my first concern would be like Koing's - stability and traction. As you're going from the jumping to landing position, I'd be worried about my feet sliding. My first pair of Oly shoes were cheapo VS Dynamics and they cost me $50 on sale...not much of an investment considering what you're getting out of them.
I don't think it'll be the impact as oly shoes are really hard as well. My concern would be going over on your ankle...

I have 4 Oly shoes old Adidas from 1999, AdiStars 04 and 2 Nikes, one white and one dark grey/ blue.

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Old 02-02-2013, 09:49 PM   #5
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Squats, deadlifts, thrusters..etc etc
If I'm in front of the squat racks...I'm in my socks.
Use to where my vibrams
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:07 PM   #6
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To be perfectly honest, Oly lifters wear a shoe with a heel because it's very rare that someone has so much ankle motion to hit an ATG squat in a flat shoe, let alone barefoot. I wouldn't be so worried about the bones in your foot as much as compensations you may experience at the knee and hip, if you start to move through your midfoot instead of your ankle. Personally, I would Oly lift in Oly shoes. If not available due to cost, I'd lift in a solid, thrift-store dress shoe. They're built very similarly and a lot of power lifters used to use them in back in the day. You'd have to re-coat the bottom with a rubber sole, but that's not difficult especially if you know a local cobbler.
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:41 PM   #7
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Makes sense. I still picture myself slipping on the platform and everything coming crashing down. :p
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Old 02-03-2013, 01:23 PM   #8
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To be perfectly honest, Oly lifters wear a shoe with a heel because it's very rare that someone has so much ankle motion to hit an ATG squat in a flat shoe, let alone barefoot. I wouldn't be so worried about the bones in your foot as much as compensations you may experience at the knee and hip, if you start to move through your midfoot instead of your ankle.
I'm probably being dumb, but how can I test for this? All of my squats are ATG squats (now that I looked it up and know what that means) and are always barefoot. And they're done properly, with weight on heels and straight back. I've gotten comments a bunch of times on how deep they are; personally I always found it easier than trying to stop halfway, which feels like a lot of pressure on my knees.

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Old 02-03-2013, 01:53 PM   #9
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I'm probably being dumb, but how can I test for this? All of my squats are ATG squats (now that I looked it up and know what that means) and are always barefoot. And they're done properly, with weight on heels and straight back. I've gotten comments a bunch of times on how deep they are; personally I always found it easier than trying to stop halfway, which feels like a lot of pressure on my knees.
Take a form video from the side and from the back - that'd be the easiest and most functional. Post it here and we can tell ya.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:03 PM   #10
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Take a form video from the side and from the back - that'd be the easiest and most functional. Post it here and we can tell ya.
Will do, thanks! Tomorrow is a light squat day, I'll see if I can grab someone to take the video or balance my phone somehow.
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Old 02-03-2013, 02:16 PM   #11
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Will do, thanks! Tomorrow is a light squat day, I'll see if I can grab someone to take the video or balance my phone somehow.
Sounds good - I'll check it out the same day it's up, most likely.
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Old 02-05-2013, 07:24 PM   #12
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Alright, got it - didn't end up going yesterday. Here's the link: http://youtu.be/W8-YzjCiXIA

Hopefully you can see enough, the second angle is kind of awkward. Felt kinda shaky, I don't think I waited long enough between the previous set and that one.

Thanks for taking a look!
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Old 02-05-2013, 10:33 PM   #13
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Alright, got it - didn't end up going yesterday. Here's the link: http://youtu.be/W8-YzjCiXIA

Hopefully you can see enough, the second angle is kind of awkward. Felt kinda shaky, I don't think I waited long enough between the previous set and that one.

Thanks for taking a look!
Hm, I actually needed a view directly from the back (completely behind you) to assess your ankles. That doesn't seem to be a huge problem, but your squat depth definitely is. You're going way too low for your hip range of motion. What I mean by that is in a normal squat, you should only go as deep as you can while maintaining a neutral spine. That means, your low back should stay in the same orientation throughout the squat. You go too low, such that you get significant rounding of the low back (lumbar flexion), which puts you at serious risk of injury, including disc herniation, erector spinae strain, SI joint dysfunction, etc. You've gotta work on not going so low, as you're putting yourself at significant risk. With that, I can't talk much about your ankles (as they are explicitly blocked from the behind-ish view). It looks like you keep your knees out well so you should be alright there.

Also, something you may want to look into is improving your hip drive. You have a very quad dominant squat. You're focusing on locking out your knees while you should moreso focus on pushing your hips through. I definitely would modify your squat speed a bit, stressing constant bar speed. You slow down a lot at the bottom, and lock out with a vengeance at the top. It should be more consistent than that and I think it has to do with your hip drive.
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Old 02-05-2013, 11:04 PM   #14
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Hm, I actually needed a view directly from the back (completely behind you) to assess your ankles. That doesn't seem to be a huge problem, but your squat depth definitely is. You're going way too low for your hip range of motion. What I mean by that is in a normal squat, you should only go as deep as you can while maintaining a neutral spine. That means, your low back should stay in the same orientation throughout the squat. You go too low, such that you get significant rounding of the low back (lumbar flexion), which puts you at serious risk of injury, including disc herniation, erector spinae strain, SI joint dysfunction, etc. You've gotta work on not going so low, as you're putting yourself at significant risk. With that, I can't talk much about your ankles (as they are explicitly blocked from the behind-ish view). It looks like you keep your knees out well so you should be alright there.
Trying to figure out what you mean in the mirror here. My back stays pretty arched (not really straight) throughout the whole thing, and then in the last inch or so at the bottom becomes "straight" - doesn't appear to be "rounded" at all, that doesn't happen unless I lean forward at the bottom. Not sure what neutral means - straight I assume?

I thought the problem would be that I was raising my butt too fast on a couple of these and it made my back really arched on the way up.

I'm having a hard time figuring out how to stop at the point where my back goes from arched to straight. It looks like it's only about an inch or so from "thighs to calves" depth.

Also, I can make my back stay at the same angle (looks straight) all the way to the bottom if I don't purposefully arch my back/raise my butt up first. It changes the way I stand up from the bottom completely

Quote:
Also, something you may want to look into is improving your hip drive. You have a very quad dominant squat. You're focusing on locking out your knees while you should moreso focus on pushing your hips through. I definitely would modify your squat speed a bit, stressing constant bar speed. You slow down a lot at the bottom, and lock out with a vengeance at the top. It should be more consistent than that and I think it has to do with your hip drive.
Yeah, I've always had a problem figuring out what "hip drive" really means. I'll play with it next gym day.

Thanks!

Last edited by repoman0; 02-05-2013 at 11:14 PM.
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Old 02-06-2013, 01:11 AM   #15
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Trying to figure out what you mean in the mirror here. My back stays pretty arched (not really straight) throughout the whole thing, and then in the last inch or so at the bottom becomes "straight" - doesn't appear to be "rounded" at all, that doesn't happen unless I lean forward at the bottom. Not sure what neutral means - straight I assume?

I thought the problem would be that I was raising my butt too fast on a couple of these and it made my back really arched on the way up.

I'm having a hard time figuring out how to stop at the point where my back goes from arched to straight. It looks like it's only about an inch or so from "thighs to calves" depth.

Also, I can make my back stay at the same angle (looks straight) all the way to the bottom if I don't purposefully arch my back/raise my butt up first. It changes the way I stand up from the bottom completely

Yeah, I've always had a problem figuring out what "hip drive" really means. I'll play with it next gym day.

Thanks!
Ok, so let me explain a bit more. Your back should be neutral - i.e. slightly arched - throughout the entire exercise. If it goes flat, that is considered rounding as you begin to flex through your lumbar vertebrae. You actually go so far as to reverse the arch and curve the opposite way, going WAY too far down for your hip range of motion.

You actually begin to get the "butt wink" or lumbar spine flexion fairly early on. I've watched it frame-by-frame and you start to flex your lumbar spine even before your hips get below your knees/get parallel. It's happening way further up than you think it is. This is a pretty significant sign of reduced core awareness and control. It doesn't mean you're not strong, but it does mean you need to focus on form a bit more. What you need to do is to pay more attention to the sensation at your back. If you feel that you start to feel like your back is moving or you're feeling more stretch/tension on it, you're likely hitting the point at which you should stop. This is something that usually requires some re-training with box squats, manual cuing, checking your form videos regularly, etc.

Hip drive really just means the proportion of force you're generating with your hips (glutes) as compared to your knees (mainly quads and hamstrings). You want to have a ton of drive from your glutes and slightly less from your quads. If you squat with a quad-dominant strategy, you tend to quickly snap your knees straight at the finish, as opposed to squeezing your hips forward less abruptly.
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Old 02-07-2013, 10:36 AM   #16
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Thanks for all the good info. One more thing: anything I can do to improve hip mobility and eventually safely continue to squat lower?
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Old 02-07-2013, 11:08 AM   #17
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mobilitywod.com has hip stretches and exercises.
low bar squats, you should look a 1-2 feet in front of you on the ground.
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Old 02-07-2013, 09:56 PM   #18
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Nice, thanks.

Also, damn.. did non-full depth squats today and only ended up putting 155 on the bar. I was supposed to hit 240 today. I don't know if it's because I'm not used to it, am still not doing it quite right, or just need to work back up to where I was, but it feels waaaaaaay harder. It was weird doing bench press and power cleans with more weight than that.

Also, it felt like it was hitting my quads super hard compared to how it usually feels.
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