The simple answer to "can I lift weights barefoot?"

Plus: Learning to lift is like falling in love, the ugly truth about getting shredded, and why you should not "start each deadlift in a squatting position", for the love of all that is holy. This is Link Letter 54!

The simple answer to "can I lift weights barefoot?"
The author exercising her home gym privilege of deadlifting in flip flops.


~Discord Pick of the Week: I can’t paste it in here for copyright reasons, but if you’re in the Discord, go to the #general-chat and search “flea market” for some amazing spreads from a book called “Bodybuilding for Women.” You won’t regret it!

Also, a few people were wondering what the woman who set records in her firefighter physical test in last week’s newsletter had to actually… do. Here is a video that is confusingly structured but nonetheless gives you an idea: dragging bodies, I-beams, and hoses a certain number of feet; stair climbs; carrying equipment; and more!~

How to feel about turning preparedness for an epochally disastrous earthquake into time trials… that’s an exercise left to the reader.

I appreciated this bit from Bill Hader’s Hollywood Reporter profile:

The rhythms of running Barry are a more natural fit for Hader than Saturday Night Live ever was, and he has acquired some tools from years of therapy for his anxiety, like letting go of what he calls “false truths.” Together with his childhood friend and Barry writer Duffy Boudreau, Hader has written a feature script, which he plans to direct but not star in. He’s gotten some script notes from industry colleagues who once would have made him “spazzy,” Alfonso Cuarón and Rian Johnson.
While Hader still regards these filmmakers with awe, he says he no longer barrages them with questions. “It’s like going up to somebody who’s married and you’ve never been in love before. And you’re like, ‘How do you fall in love? What’s that like?’ Once you fall in love yourself, you’re like, ‘Oh, I have my own way of doing this thing.’ It takes the sheen off of it. ‘Oh, it’s that? Oh.’ The mystery’s gone.”

Honestly [“this is like lifting” voice], this is like lifting. There are one million questions to pepper people with about working out. You can pepper all day. But I think eventually you learn to lean into the experience of getting to know it. As annoying as it is to me to not have perfect detailed instructions, the “learning how to figure it out” part is part of it.

Why the popularity of “low-impact exercise” continues to chap my ass
“Low-impact” does not actually mean “easy”: The false promises of the yogas, barres, spinnings, golfs, and HIIT circuits of the world.

Kobe Bryant via Derek Carr:

This one time they asked him, “What would you tell your 18-year-old self if you could go back and tell him anything.” And he goes, “I would tell him to stretch.” [laughs] I thought that was interesting.

You’ve been warned! (Here is how to stretch.)

The Ugly Truth About Getting Shredded. This video dovetails kind of nicely with Alan Thrall’s recent video on whether he takes steroids (spoiler: he doesn’t) and where he admits his best strength numbers are probably, at this point, behind him. And, as he says, that’s okay!

An actually clever breakdown here of “Why would anyone do 2 sets of 10 pushups when you can just do 20 pushups?

If you’ve ever wondered how the magical process of hypertrophy works: Here is a super-, super-technical four-part breakdown. Even if you don’t read it all, you may be interested to know that it’s not a perfectly understood process yet! Kind of cool.

A legendary move from the Patagonia founder: giving the company away to trusts that will work on the climate crisis.

Two words for the #beanhive: marinated beans.


How did I read two whole articles this week about lifting weights barefoot and still end up totally unsatisfied with the answers? They protest too much on too many counts. This can be so much simpler:

(a) You should lift heavy weights in flat, stable shoes, such as Chucks or Vans or at least plausible-deniability no-drop “slippers” like A7’s slippers or the hype-y Notorious lifters, UNLESS

(b1) you find yourself without those shoes temporarily (e.g. you are traveling), and IF

(b2) the gym allows you to do it (not all do, for valid safety reasons).

So for instance: You are traveling for work and found a powerlifting gym and want to squat, but the only footwear you have is big chunky fashion sneakers? It is better to take those off and squat barefoot than to wear the fashion sneakers.

Put another way:

Non-lifting-oriented footwear (running sneakers, fashion sneakers, high heels, platform boots) < bare feet < lifting-oriented footwear (flat, stable shoes, deadlift slippers, squat/weightlifting shoes, etc.)

That’s it. This isn’t complicated. There are no health advantages to bare feet vs. a flat, stable shoe. You do not need to, and should not, go around to gyms in your stocking feet arguing with gym owners about the biomechanics of your metatarsals and so forth, even if it means you get to go viral on TikTok. Cut it out.

(A little media-insider perspective: When a publication makes an article to capture readers searching for a particular term, such as “can i lift weights barefoot,” word count matters; Google tends to float articles up higher in the results if they are longer (but not "lorem ipsum" longer). So when you search a term and end up on an article that seems to go on and on at the expense of straightforwardly answering what was probably a relatively simple question, now you know why!)

I read this sentence from the New York Times many times: “Start each deadlift in a squatting position.” What??? I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. No! It’s wrong! Squats and deadlifts are two different things! Please stop! You’ve done enough harm already to my sport! “Make sure that your arms are shoulder-width apart.” … I… What??? I would challenge this paper to a duel if it were a corporeal being. Relevant New Yorker cartoon!!!

The endless torment of the “recipe?” guy. I do think these people can be safely ignored 99.9% of the time, but also they should stop.

Britney Spears body-shamed a bunch of women this week. Okay look, this is not good. But I want to say, of all the people who do and say things like this, I wonder about Britney the least; society has worked harder to break few brains than hers.


Bah gawd that’s Kate Beaton’s music! Incredible that the word “Tumblr” is not breathed even once in this profile.

Amazing thread of trade secrets.

I love Rico Nasty.

I do not keep a diary although I plan to start doing so any day now.” (You better be keeping a diary of your lifts, at least!)

That’s all for this week! I love you for reading, thank you, let’s go—