Do you realize the impact the footwear you choose when training with kettlebells has on your strength, balance, and cordination? Kettlebell training – and most other training, in fact – is best done with no shoes at all.
According to this article in New York Magazine:
Prior to the invention of shoes, people had healthier feet. The modern Zulu population, which often goes barefoot, had the healthiest feet in a study sited in the above article. Europeans, the habitual shoe wearers, had the most foot problems.
So here are five reasons why you should think about losing your shoes for your next kettlebell training session:
1. ‘Feel’ the floor
Going barefoot allows you to build a nice strong base from the ground up for performing kettlebell drills. Also, cross trainers or running shoes may have elevation in the sole as to pitch your feet forward and impair mobility.
2. Strengthen the foot muscles
You get this only with barefoot (and some very unique footwear that I’ll mention in a bit) training. Plus you can use your toes to grip things better.
3. Improves balance
This is almost immediate. Just try it and report back.
4. No tension loss
If you follow Pavel’s teachings, you know that tension is strength. So cushy shoes are out.
5. Proper gait
Wearing shoes makes natural gait impossible. And chronic shoe wearing can result in lower and upper back pain.
So now let me address the common objections I get to this:
“I train in a gym and I can’t take my shoes off”
“I train at the local park and don’t want to cut my feet/step in dog poo/etc.
“I don’t want to drop a kettlebell on my foot”
Stop being a sissy 🙂
But if these are serious problems for you,Vibram Five Fingers are a cool alternative footwear that are well worth a look. Wearing a pair of Vibrams is, from a biomechanical standpoint, like going barefoot, but gives you some protection against the elements.
Check out this article on Tim Ferriss’s Four Hour Blog for more about problems with wearing shoes and the Vibram Five Fingers:
I don’t personally own a pair of Vibrams (I just train barefoot), but I know a lot of kettlebell people who love them. It comes down to preference and convenience in the end.
What kind of footwear do you sport in your kettlebell training?