Our feet set the foundation for everything we do.  They give the rest of our body a stable foundation from which to move.  Any imperfections that show up in our stance will present problems that multiply the further up the kinetic chain we go.  

Feet too wide?  It’s going to be hard to keep your knees tracking over your toes, your grip will probably end up too wide, and you won’t be able to jump as hard.

Toes turned out too far? It’s going to be much harder to engage your glutes and you’ll probably deal with your feet rolling onto their inside edges as well.

And so on.

So here are a few tips that will help you use your feet optimally:

  • Remember proper foot positioning…at setup, we want our heels under our hips for any of our weightlifting movements.  We call this our jumping position.  After we jump the barbell off the ground performing cleans and snatches, when we land our feet should move from under our hips to just outside shoulder-width apart.  This wider landing position will allow our hips room to get down into a proper squat.  
  • Maintaining proper foot balance throughout lifts is extremely important.  Think of your foot as a tripod, with three balance points–one behind the big toe, one behind the small toe, and one under your heel.  At setup we want equal pressure on all three points.  At no point in any lift should we feel more pressure in our front two points than in our heel point. 
  • We really need to focus on maintaining a stable and natural arch, especially when squatting.  Think about squeezing the ground with your toes.  Jamb your big toe into the ground and keep it there throughout your lift. Doing this will help activate your arch, maintain a stable platform, and will naturally lead to the tripod foot described above.  Squeezing the ground with your toes will help those of you whose feet tend to roll inward when you squat.
  • Finally, as you squat, think about actively “screwing” your feet into the ground. 

Try this at home–take your shoes and socks off and do a few air squats.  Doing this barefoot will really help you get everything dialed in.  Is your stance the proper width?  Do you have that tripod feeling under your foot?  Are you jamming that big toe into the ground?  Treat these things like a checklist until they become second nature.  

Many failed lifts can be traced back to poor use of the feet.  Use these tips to help you be successful the next time you’re in the gym!

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