A. Squat 5 x 3: 3min rest
* 75-80% 1RM
B1. Barbell Row 4 x 12; 1min rest
B2. Facepulls 4 x 12; 1min rest
C1. Standing Core x 3 sets; 30sec rest
C2. Copenhagen Plank 3 x 20-30sec; 1min rest
Recently I was asked do I always squat in my socks and what is my take on lifting shoes. My answer was long winded – as usual. I am writing down an answer here to try and make order of my own thoughts…
Essentially my reply was ‘it depends on the context’. This is a pretty standard and safe answer for the majority of fitness related questions.
Recently I hit 2 lifetime PRs on the squat in just my socks. A few years ago this would have been unfathomable. From over a decade of playing football and the same for Brazilian jiujitsu, my ankle mobility is terrible. This has always been a problem for me. No doubt it contributed to my knee injuries over the years.
I would always wear lifting shoes to squat – even a bodyweight (air squat) looked awful unless I was wearing shoes with raised heels. This was essentially an over-reliance (dependance) on a piece of equipment in order to perform a relatively simple physical movement.
I made a point of trying to improve my mobility – and this took a long time. In the back of my mind I knew it was a cop out to be moving large(ish) weights on a barbell and then not be able to achieve the same position with no weight.
Also, contending with another recent knee injury – I wanted the double benefit of making sure my ankle mobility remained sufficient and also the recruitment of any extra posterior chain from squatting in my socks.
Again this is context. There will absolutely be times that I will squat in lifting shoes again – and I am not a competitive lifter either, so in terms of sports specificity I would recommend a different approach.
In terms of members in the gym, I would make recommendations depending on what is going on with their movement and mobility. Some folks squat in their socks, others with lifting shoes. One consistent though is avoiding squatting heavy in runners or ‘cushiony’ / spongy soles that cause instability under larger loads. Again, mobility / co-oordination / competence in movements change over time and I would encourage folks to play around with both.
Some folks feel the need to have different footwear for every workout and are as concerned with whether they have Nano 4’s or 5’s then with actually having competent motor skills. Ironically this is the essence of constantly varied – being able to address physical tasks adequately with minimal preparation and regardless of equipment. If you cannot perform a proficient air squat in your socks or you can’t achieve depth with an empty barbell (i.e , need ‘weight on the bar’ to squat properly), should you be really loading up a movement on shoddy foundations?