“Bare feet or flat shoes for deadlifts?” – Chris White

It depends.

How thick are the soles on the flat shoes? 

For deads, it is not only acceptable to pull in socks or bare feet; it is encouraged.  The closer your feet get to the ground, the shorter the range of motion your deadlift becomes. To understand this concept, imagine you’re deadlifting while standing on a 4″ block. The bar will have to travel an additional 4″ to lockout. The same is true if you wear Nike Frees or old school Converse Chuck Taylors. You will have to pull the bar through a greater range of motion.

Pulling without footwear has another benefit too. You are more stable. If you deadlift with a shoe that has a spongy sole, then your feet will be shifting around when you lift the weight. The goal when deadlifting is to “anchor” yourself into the floor, setup in a good position, and create lots of tension before the bar even moves. This can’t happen if you are wearing the typical running or training shoe that most lifters wear. 

If you like the feel of a shoe, your best bet is a pair of flat wrestling shoes.

NEXT: Warm-Up Sets >>

“What percent of your 1RM should I use as a warm-up set?” – Peter Salas

There really isn’t anything set in stone for your warm-up sets. You can take as little or as many sets as you need. Sometimes when you’re beat up, you will need more prep to get ready. And, when you’re feeling good or you’re trying for a new PR for a specific lift, you’ll want to minimize the warm-up sets and just take as few as you need. 

The key, though, is to never skip the warm-up. It will prepare you for the workout, get the targeted muscle groups firing, and groove the movement pattern for the primary exercise.

Here is a very simple warm-up sequence that I like to use:

Set 1:  barbell only x 10-20 reps
Set 2:  50% of the weight you’ll use for your first working set* x 8-10 reps
Set 3:  75% of the weight you’ll use for your first working set* x 3-5 reps

Go to work!

* Example: Bench Press

If my workout calls for 4 sets of 8 reps for bench press and my first set will be 225 lbs, my warm-up will look like:

Set 1:  barbell only x 20 reps
Set 2:  50% x 225 lbs = 110 lbs x 10 reps
Set 3:  75% x 225 lbs = 165 lbs x 8 reps
Set 4:  225 lbs x 8 reps

And so on into the workout.

Meet the Lift Doctor

Jim Smith is a highly respected, world-renowned strength and conditioning coach. A member of the LIVESTRONG.com Fitness Advisory Board, Jim has been called one of the most “innovative strength coaches” in the fitness industry. Training athletes, fitness enthusiasts and weekend warriors, Jim has dedicated himself to helping them reach “beyond their potential.” He is also the owner of Diesel Strength & Conditioning in Elmira, NY.