Why You Should Workout Without Shoes

In this blog post, we’ll explore the benefits of working out without shoes and why you should consider giving it a try.

Benefits of Working Out Without Shoes

Working out without shoes can be beneficial for both your physical and mental health. This is because going barefoot can help your body to become stronger and more balanced, as well as helping to address common physical issues such as back or knee pain. Furthermore, going barefoot can also help to improve your body’s awareness of its environment, allowing for increased coordination and reflexes. In this article, we will discuss the many benefits of working out without shoes.

Improved balance

Working out without shoes can improve your balance significantly. Wearing running shoes increases the size of your base of support and makes small adjustments an easier task. When you exercise without shoes, you are forcing your body to call on smaller muscle groups around the ankles, feet, and calves in order to right itself and keep you balanced. This helps your body understand more deeply the proprioception of where it is located in space and how it interacts with its environment. The improved balance has many benefits including increased joint stabilization and decreased risk for injuries. Additionally, working out without shoes improves coordination by allowing for even weight distribution through feet as well as helping with posture from the awareness of spine alignment due to improved sensory feedback from feet contact with ground.

Improved proprioception

Going barefoot, or wearing minimal footwear such as Vibram® FiveFingers, can help you increase your proprioception and agility. Proprioception is the body’s ability to accurately detect movements, pressure and equilibrium via nerve impulses from muscles and ligaments. When paired with a sound understanding of your form, good proprioception can help you move more efficiently through space and better adapt to changes in terrain during physical activities.

In bare feet, the neurological cues sent to the brain provide important information that helps athletes maintain balance and stiffness within their muscles while performing complex exercises. Improving proprioception also leads to better posture and stability when relocating weight as well as improved reflexes which enhances overall mobility.

In addition to improved proprioception while working out without shoes, you will also experience increased cognitive awareness when compared to traditional footwear due to the heightened levels of sensory stimulation within the skin of your feet when going barefoot or with minimal protection. This helps optimize balance through dynamic stabilization of movement patterns by increasing stability in heel strike for running along with stability for bodyweight exercises that often involve quick direction changes such as dynamic calisthenics work including burpees or jump squats.

Improved foot and ankle strength

A major benefit of working out without shoes is the increased strengthening of your feet and ankles. By removing shoes during exercise, muscles at the bottom and sides of your feet are forced to work harder in order to keep you balanced while performing exercises. This increases muscle memory, coordination and power. Additionally, strengthening your feet and ankles can help reduce the risk of injury associated with performing intense workouts or sports due to improved shock absorption.

Working out without shoes has also shown some improvement in posture as it requires maintaining a more neutral back position as you move through an exercise or sport. Your body is compensating for being barefoot by spreading small muscles out which can act as brace points for higher level forces throughout movements such as running or jumping. Proper posture may also lead to increased core strength which can be beneficial in most physical activities.

Tips for Working Out Without Shoes

Working out without shoes can be a great way to engage more muscles and increase stability throughout your workout. It will also help you improve your balance and proprioception. To get started, you need to make sure that you are properly prepared and understand the safety measures and tips for working out without shoes. Let’s look at a few of these tips to get you started.

Start slow

When you first get started with working out without shoes, it is important to begin slowly. This means not running (or walking at a brisk pace) just yet. Start by focusing on gently activities such as yoga poses, resistance band exercises, stretching and bodyweight movements. These exercises help you gradually build a strong foundation for walking and running later on. Additionally, starting slowly helps your body adjust to standing and exercising for longer periods of time on an uneven surface. Once you are more comfortable with the basics of working out without shoes, you can add in more challenging moves and start incorporating a jogging or walking routine.

Focus on proper form

When you are exercising without shoes, focus on proper form. Having the proper form will help to ensure that you practice effective movement patterns and that you move safely throughout your workout. Good form will also make sure that you are engaging the musculature correctly, resulting in a more intense and efficient workout.

Remember to be conscious of your posture and aim for an upright position when performing exercises such as squats, lunges, push-ups and burpees. Keep your shoulders rolled back and down away from your ears while concentrating on engaging your core muscles throughout the entire exercise. Focus on using slow controlled movements so that your body has time to adjust to the ground beneath it. Breathe deeply with each rep instead of holding your breath — this will help prevent dizziness or lightheadedness during challenging workouts or moments within a movement when balance may need adjusting. If extra stability is needed try reaching out with opposite hand and foot or widening the stance of an exercise like squats or lunges. Working out barefoot can be incredibly beneficial, but always be mindful of working within any pain threshold aware that pain is often an indicator for either rest or modification of an exercise.

Choose the right surface

When working out without shoes, it’s important to select a surface that can give you proper support and cushioning. Ideally you should choose a soft, padded surface that is appropriate for barefoot running or walking. Some of the best surfaces are found in nature such as grass, sand or even dirt trails. In addition, certain surfaces like foam mats and floor mats can also provide ideal footing while working out without shoes. For additional protection, consider the use of sandals or minimalist footwear with thin soles to absorb shock and impact during your workouts.

Exercises to Try

Working out without shoes can provide various benefits to your physical health and well-being. There are many exercises you can do without shoes that allow you to engage different muscles and build strength. In this section, we are going to look at some of the best exercises you can do without wearing shoes. Keep reading to find out more.


Squats are one of the most effective exercises you can do without shoes—it’s a great way to improve your balance, coordination, and overall strength. This exercise targets your legs and glutes and is excellent for improving core stability and building greater lower-body mobility.

To perform a squat, stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart, with toes pointing outwards slightly. Place your hands in front of you at chest level or above your head. Tighten core muscles, keep the chest up, bend through the hips and knees as you lower down into a squat position. Pause while keeping your weight evenly distributed throughout the feet until the hamstrings reach parallel with the ground. Contract glutes as you press through heels to return back to standing position when reaching desired depth. Make sure to keep a neutral spine, practice good breathing technique (inhaling through nose or mouth as you lower into squat & exhale out either nose or mouth when extending back up) and make sure to not lock out knees at the top of movement – allow for slight bend if needed! Try using this exercise without shoes for added balance challenge.


Lunges are a great way to add strength and variety to your lower body workout without the need for special equipment. Lunges can be done both forward and backward, as well as to the side, which provides an excellent range of motion and flexibility that is difficult to achieve with running shoes. The muscles in your quads, hamstrings and core will all benefit from this exercise.

When doing lunges, it is important to keep your head up and maintain a straight posture while engaging your core abs. Start in a standing position with feet together (toe pointed out if needed) then step one foot forward approximately two feet ahead of the other foot. Bend both knees at once and lower into a lunge position – create 90-degree angles in each leg – then slowly return back up, step back together so that you return to starting point. Alternate legs by repeating on the opposite side for 10 repetitions per side for two sets. It’s also helpful to try adding weights or resistance bands for added difficulty if necessary; but make sure you have proper form each time first!


Push-ups are one of the most revered exercises since they work multiple muscles groups. When done without shoes, you not only increase the strength of your arms and chest, but also engage core stabilizing muscles as your body attempts to keep balance on the unstable surface. Doing push-ups without shoes forces the muscles of your feet and ankles to contract, creating more stability throughout the entire movement and potentially reducing overall risk of injury. Additionally, because you’ll be using less muscle in the lower portion of your body, it will give your arms and chest a good workout.

To properly do a push-up without shoes: Starting from an all-fours position with feet flat on the ground, move into a plank by extending your arms directly underneath your shoulders so you are balanced on both hands and toes. Engage core and glutes to keep hips stable as you lower yourself towards the ground until torso (elbows) reach 90 degrees before pushing back up with control to starting position. Make sure to maintain straight line from head through heels for proper form throughout entire exercise.


Planks are some of the most effective exercises you can do, both with and without shoes. When done in bare feet, the exercise requires an even higher level of activation between the muscles and your mind as you are forced to focus on your body’s balance and stability. It involves engaging all your core muscles as well as other stabilizing muscles to hold your body in a plank position for a certain length of time. This isometric exercise forces all the smaller muscle fibers in the legs and feet to work, which increases neuromuscular strength and helps improve overall balance. To perform a plank without shoes, start by standing in an upright position with feet hip-width apart. Bend at the knee until you reach a push-up position, then lower yourself into a forearm plank with hands directly under your shoulders. Keep your abs tight, squeeze your glutes, lift through the chest and spine, avoid arching or sagging back. While keeping elbows close to sides of body try to hold this front facing elbow plank position for 30 seconds or more depending on desired difficulty level.*

Safety Tips

Working out without shoes can be beneficial for your body, as it allows you to feel the ground and build strength in your feet and ankles. This type of barefoot training can help improve balance and posture, as well as helping to reduce the impact on joints. However, safety should always be your top priority when working out without shoes. In this article, we will cover some important tips to keep in mind when training on hard surfaces.

Warm up before exercising

Before starting any type of exercise, warm-up your body with at least five minutes of active stretching—gentle range of motion exercises, like neck rolls and shoulder rolls, followed by dynamic movements like jogging and calf stretches. Warming up helps increase your body temperature and prepares your muscles for exercise. This is important when exercising without shoes on because it can help reduce the risk of strains or sprains to the feet or ankles.

Additionally, it is important to check the surface you are working out on. Make sure that you have a clean flat surface to work out on, free from any debris that can be hazardous. Glass, nails, rocks or sticks are just a few examples of sharp things that should be avoided if possible. If working out outdoors make sure to inspect the area you intend to do your workout before beginning. Shoes provide protection when running barefoot outdoors but if you decide to go barefoot in these conditions make sure the ground is free from major obstacles or sharp objects before proceeding with caution.

Wear socks or foot wraps

Working out without shoes can help you develop muscles and increase your balance; but it’s important to take safety into consideration. To protect your feet from dirt, contamination, and potential injury, it’s important to wear socks or some type of foot wrap.

Socks are great for keeping your feet clean while also providing cushion and support. Synthetic or wool sport-focused socks are best because they help to wick away sweat, while their thinner material helps preserve a good amount of sensitivity in the soles of your feet as you work out. You may even want to double-up on socks if you require added support or stability in your workouts.

Foot wraps can be especially beneficial if you plan on doing Pilates or barefoot bar exercises without shoes. They will provide the extra grip and arch protection necessary for those types of workouts. There are a variety of wraps available that should fit the needs and intensity level of any workout routine, from light training to heavy lifting. Be sure to find foot wraps that are designed with breathable materials — this will reduce stress on the bottom of your feet while promoting healthy circulation.

Listen to your body

When working out without shoes, it is important to listen to your body and make sure you are not overworking yourself. Working out without shoes can help put you in touch with your body in a new way. For example, when running on a trail, you will be able to feel the ground better and work on nailing the mechanics of a good running form. However, this connection with the ground can also cause greater fatigue if you are not careful. Make sure you give your body enough rest and remember to begin at low intensity when first starting out as it traditionally takes some time for muscular development in the feet and lower legs. Rather than trying to do too much too soon and risk injury, take it slow and focus on perfecting your form first before slowly increasing intensity as you become used to running without shoes.


Ultimately, whether or not you should work out without shoes depends on your activity or sport of choice and the terrain you are working out on. If possible, it’s always beneficial to try a few different types of training: both with and without shoes — to see which works best for you. You might even find that alternating between barefoot workouts, minimalist shoes and a traditional pair of running trainers can help your overall performance.

It’s important to remember that, however you decide to exercise without shoes, take the time to develop your proprioception slowly, increasing the intensity increasingly while being careful with movements designed by experts based on data that takes into account body weight, age and level of experience when starting out.

Finally, if you decide to do any kind of exercise barefoot, be sure to wear shoes any time there is risk of stepping on broken glass or other debris — which can ruin your workout plans in one fell swoop!

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