Leave your trainers in your locker to be in the zeitgeist with the latest fitness trend. Try these moves...
‘Trainers force your toes upwards, which affects your balance,’ explains Stephen McKirgan, personal trainer and creator of the barefoot training class at The Third Space Gym. ‘Barefoot, your toes can grip the ground so you can get into a deeper squat, engaging your bum and leg muscles, without risking the lower back strain that comes from wearing a thick sole,’ he says. You may find it harder to balance at first, but your stability will soon improve.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, arms straight out in front of you.
Squat down and as you rise back up, lift up onto your toes. Hold for a couple of seconds before lowering down into the next squat.
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‘Trainers lift your heels, shortening your calf muscles, so you can’t activate them properly during dead lifts. Without shoes, your calves and bum stretch completely so you work the muscles much more effectively,’ explains Stephen.
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand in front of your thighs.
Draw back your shoulder blades and pull in your stomach, then bend forward at your hips, slowly lowering the dumbbells until they’re just below your knees and your torso is parallel with the floor, keeping your back slightly arched.
Pause, then slowly come back up to the start position.
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‘This move is all about power and range of motion, both of which are reduced when you’re wearing trainers,’ says Stephen. ‘Ditching your shoes means your feet can grip the ground, stabilising your legs and core. This allows your shoulders to open so you can push up properly.’
Stand with your feet hip-width apart, elbows bent, holding the dumbbells in front of your chest as though you’re checking your nails.
Press both hands up above your head, turning your palms to face forwards.
Lower back to the start position, turning your hands back in.
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‘Cushioning gives you too much spring with too little control,’ says Stephen. ‘With your feet planted firmly on the ground, you can generate more power to get the snap that makes this move so great for total body toning.’
Stand with your feet slightly wider than shoulder-width apart, holding the kettlebell down in front of you.
Squat, then rise, swinging the kettlebell up to just above eye level, tightening your tummy and tucking in your bum as you snap your legs and arms straight.
Let the kettlebell swing back down between your thighs, bending your knees again as you do so.
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‘This move is great for toning your back but a lot of people find it difficult to do in cushioned, bulky trainers. It’s much easier to balance when barefoot,’ says Stephen.
Holding a dumbbell in each hand, stand with your legs slightly bent and lean forwards until the dumbbells are straight down in front of you. Your back should be flat, not arched.
Pull them up towards your waistline, staying in the bent-over position, pulling in your shoulder blades as you do so.
Lower until your arms are straight again to complete the first rep.
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Not ready for total barefoot transition? Check out our pick of the best minimalist trainers.
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