Better off barefoot? Think again…

Posted by Sean Nunan on

Feeling a bit cynical about weightlifting shoes?

Honestly, that’s okay. We’ve all been part of the barefoot brotherhood at some point in our lifting journey, passionately justifying our right to train sans-sneakers, and subjecting everyone else in the gym to our sweaty sock smell.

Most barefoot fanatics like to hark back to prehistoric times to explain why we should be training with no shoes at the gym. Being barefoot is raw, primitive and how humans were born to be. Our ancestors didn’t have creature comforts like weightlifting shoes, so why should we?

It’s also worth bearing in mind our ancestors also didn’t do five plate barbell back squats and WOD’s, which is why a pair of lifting shoes can be super beneficial for busting through plateaus and crushing those heavy lifts.

So if you’re ready to graduate into the serious lifter’s club, a pair of hardcore lifting shoes can be the catalyst to take your training to the next level. 

While there are some kinematic benefits to training without footwear like increased proprioception and kinesthetic awareness, a pair of serious lifting kicks like the Kai Greene D-Mak’s offer all of the benefits of barefoot, with increased power and support.

In comparison with weightlifting shoes, barefoot training also tends to cause greater internal knee rotation and forward trunk lean during exercises like the all-important back squat. This places more stress on your back and knees, ultimately leading to serious injuries and keeping you out of the squat rack.

Barefoot lifting has also been shown to increase muscular activation of the tibialis anterior in the downward squat movement. The tibialis anterior is a leg muscle which acts as an ankle joint stabilizer during the squat, indicating that barefoot lifting can decrease stability. 

Lifting shoes like the Kai Greene signature series feature a sole specifically created to grip to rubber gym floors. Engineered for maximum grip and traction, the soles provide a stable surface for a greater transfer for force, helping you generate more power in heavy lifts like the squat and deadlift. However the soles are still thin enough to offer that barefoot feel, increasing your leg day power, as the energy you’re exerting doesn’t have to travel through a thick, chunky sole. 

While many lifters opt for a rugged pair of Chuck Taylor’s as their barefoot alternative, they lack the ankle support offered by proper lifting shoes. The high top design found in shoes like the D-Mak’s offers the ankle and Achilles support that barefoot lifting can’t deliver, helping to prevent ankle rolling and spreading the floor for maximum drive when you’ve got five plates stacked on the bar. When we squat, our feet have a natural tendency to flare out. When your feet flare out barefoot or in a pair of Chucks, there’s little to no side support surrounding the ankle and above the sole. The high top profile of the D-Mak’s offers the perfect antidote to ankle rolls. 


Ready to join the serious lifter’s club? 

Want to break from the barefoot bandwagon?

The Kai Greene signature series by Ryderwear is the perfect entry into the world of serious weightlifting shoes.

Kai could’ve lent his name to any shoe in the world. He chose the Ryderwear D-Mak.


We’ve collaborated with a legend of lifting to bring you a hardcore bodybuilding shoe engineered to help you maximize your lifts and hit your PB’s. With a high top profile to give the lifter unrivaled stability and confidence, the D-Mak is the ultimate hardcore lifting shoe, created for heavy, compound movements such as squats and deadlifts.

The KGXRW series also features a Kai Greene debossed signature, and comes packaged in a limited edition, keepsake shoe box completed with two limited edition tags.

Discover an epic collaboration between Ryderwear and an icon of lifting

Shop the Kai Greene Signature series today