The Best Footwear for Training

Almost every athlete I train comes to our sessions wearing some form of "minimalist" footwear.

Deep inside, I secretly hope spending time with me has made them see The Benefits of Barefoot Training.

Unfortunately, I think many of our guys are missing the mark.

Regardless if the sneaker separates some of the toes or if it has a soft material surrounding the upper portion of the foot, what I really look for is the depth of the bottom sole.

Without fail, 90% of my guys come in with sneakers with a high sole - completely defeating the purpose of the minimalist footwear.

Rather than bash certain brands of sneakers, I am going to give a brief evaluation of the 3 types of "minimalist" footwear that I have worn.

1. Nike Free
Nike Free 7.0

This was the first minimalist sneaker I ever wore.
I give it a great deal of credit for strengthening my feet and adding ankle mobility.

In addition, it actually helped me get an arch in my foot.

(If my feet were not so ugly, I would show before and after pictures)

Unfortunately, as I gained the arch in my foot, my shoe size decreased and my Nike Frees no longer fit.

When I went to get new a new pair, I found that Nike was making the sole much bigger. (Just look at the picture above again and you will see my point.)

With that, I no longer wore Nike Frees.

2. Vibram Five Fingers

Vibram Five Fingers

After finally getting an arch in my foot, these shoes were exactly what I needed.

Not only did I have really flat feet (before the Frees), my toes were all crunched together.
Even if tried with all of my might, I could not separate my toes.

The beauty of the Vibram Five Fingers, is that if forces you to separate your toes - all of them.

Not just a few of them, like some other minimalist sneakers try to pull off.

Thanks to the Five Fingers, I can now easily separate my toes.

Not only does it relieve me of the frustration of not having control over my entire body, it also has made me better at things like squatting, deadlifting, and running.

By expanding my toes somewhat, it gives my feet more surface area for contact as they push off the ground.

My only gripe with the Five Fingers is that it takes me about 10 minutes to put them on.

(I don't blame Vibram for this - I blame my giant big toe. It takes some time to actually get that sucker into a sneaker).

3. New Balance Minimus

I have only worn these sneakers for about a month, but I am extremely happy with them.

They have a very small sole, yet it doesn't feel like a nightmare when I jump or run.

In addition, I get a very similar training effect to the Vibram Five, but without all the struggle of trying to get my fat toes into the toe slots.

If I could blend the Vibram Five and the Minimus, I would be a happy man.

4. Chuck Taylor's

Offline, a few people asked why I did not "give love" to Chuck Taylor's.

Chuck Taylor's (Converse All-Stars)

The real reason is that I never wore them.

This is most likely blasphemy to all true powerlifters.

But I am not a powerlifter.

I am an athlete from Staten Island.

We don't wear Chuck Taylor's.


Anonymous said... check it out they are true barefoot shoes not minimalist their training shoe which is the aqua Lite has a 3mm sole

George Mahoney said...

Thanks for the tip.

I will have to experiment.