Category Archives: balancing

Loose the Shoes

Pavel Tstasouline says it, Steve Maxwell insists on it, power lifters, gymnasts and martial artists don’t think twice about it.

Train barefoot, or as close as you can to it.

Get some martial art shoes, power lifting slippers, converse, cheap squash shoes, dunlops green flash, or even, if your a hard core strength type a pair of flip flops.

Me, I like to go natural, no shoes or socks.

Now obviously employ some common sense here. I’m not talking about going out pounding the pavement or something similar, I’m talking about in the gym, on the weight room floor or in your own home.

But why?

There are a multitude of sensors, nerves and muscles in the foot that when encased in your top of the range Nike Air trainers, just don’t need to work. They get lazy and like anything else in the body, get weak.

This can lead to a whole range of problems right up the body from collapsed arches, shin and knee pain, sciatic pain, hip misalignment, back and neck pain.

The usually prescription is orthotics. I say get the shoes off and get the feet strong, allow the sensors and proprioceptors the option of working. These sensors in the foot let the rest of the body know whats going on, how to balance, what impact to brace for, how much force to contract with.

Much is written about the “ends of the chain”, usually meaning grip strength, but little is released regarding foot strength. After all what is it that takes all the weight?
You got it, the things you stand on, your feet.

I have an athlete training with me, she suffers arthritic knee pain. Since loosing the shoes in the gym she’s noticed strength and stability increases that take pressure off the knees. And that was within a week of me suggesting it. Her arches are beginning to reform (they were half way collapsed) her ankles no longer roll inwards and her balance it far, far better then it ever was. She can’t believe the difference.

Don’t just take my word on this, try it out. Get the shoes off before you get under the bar, let me know how you get on.


Wild Geese
every cause but our own

Brutal Wall Walking for Serious Power

By Jim Smith, CSCS

Hand balancing and other gymnastic movements were used by the old-time strongmen such as Eugen Sandow, Otto Arco and Sig Klein. As you know, these physical culturalists had some of the strongest and most ripped abdominals ever displayed. In fact, some of their feats of strength have yet to be equaled. What most don’t realize is that these men used gymnastics and simple bodyweight movements to build their insane strength.

A movement that I utilize with my wrestlers and combat athletes is wall walking. It is one segment of the full execution of walking on your hands. The full version of walking on your hands takes a while to really get the hang of, so working the same musculature but with a more rudimentary movement is easy and quicker to implement.

Wall walking involves having the athlete setup in a hand stand position against a wall. From there, they will walk their hands out until their body is parallel to the ground. To complete the movement, they begin walking their feet back up, returning to the starting position close to the wall. That is one rep. Continue walking out and walking back up the wall for the desired volume or until the athlete collapses!

Building huge upper body strength, elite levels of torso strength and helping to regulate breathing, wall walking will without a doubt provide your athletes with a truly brutal exercise that will have them crushing their opponents.

About the Author
Jim Smith is a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist and an expert trainer who writes for Men’s Fitness and the Elite Q/A Staff. Jim has been involved in strength training as a performance enhancement specialist for over 8 years and has worked with athletes from various sports who compete at various levels. He has published articles about his unique training style and innovative methods for many prominent strength and fitness related sites. He is also the authored of three renowned strength manuals. For more innovative training solutions, visit

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Wild Geese
any cause but our own