My FiveFingers

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The Beauty of Weight Lifting

by Emily Gindle » on Mar 04, 2011 5

There’s something really amazing about Olympic lifting, in that it gives you an opportunity to show yourself what you’re capable of.

I would never have picked up weights if it weren’t for having a boyfriend as a trainer. It was something that never, ever interested me. I was more into yoga, running, kayaking, rock climbing; I felt these activities had a mental component that was absent in the mindless activity of lifting weights in a gym.

Clearly I had no idea what I was talking about. There’s something really confidence-inspiring in looking at a stack of weights and learning how to functionally move it around. There’s something worthy in knowing that you can lift more than your body weight. And it’s even more amazing when hundreds of squats pay off in a hike feeling far less grueling than it did before. Or when so many pull-ups and shoulder presses suddenly boost your recovery time when you fall off a hard climb. The payoff of all that training is to be able to get back on and try again. To know that you always have more in you to give, and that you can stay in control right at your limit.

There are days when I don’t give myself this much credit. I feel tired and sloppy, I feel like I’m slacking off. Within any training modality, there are always goals ahead of you and sometimes it’s so hard to feel progress happening. But the beauty of training at all is that you work through it. You’re training yourself mentally and emotionally as much as you are physically, and just showing up to train is a habit that can steady you in the long run when you’re going through a phase of instability.

Not much of this relates to Fivefingers except that those of us who wear them are an experimental and dedicated crowd. I train in Fivefingers, just like I do everything in Fivefingers. While they weren’t exactly a gateway into the CrossFit and Olympic lifting I’ve been learning, they are perfect for it; and I think they’ve opened up a whole awareness toward my body that I didn’t have before. As someone who has done yoga for years, I always felt I was connected to my body, but I never thought about it as much as I do now, thinking and talking and writing about my Fivefingers on a daily basis. And I must say, if you’ve never tried CrossFit or Olympic lifting (as opposed to isolated weight lifting), it’s exhilarating to see how strong you are, and these modalities are a good method for finding that out.

(Especially as a woman, I’ve redefined what I think is beautiful and sexy; I used to think, as most girls do from TV and pop culture magazines, that skinny was beautiful. I was frustrated with my short, kind of curvy body. I wasn’t long and slender like I thought I wanted to be. Now I love having strength. It’s not even about what I look like anymore; it just feels sexy to be athletic, and my body takes whatever shape it happens to be. Anyway, we were talking about Fivefingers…)

People love Fivefingers for running and gym workouts because they give you such direct feedback to what your body is doing. If you’re off balance, you can tell immediately which part of your foot is taking too much weight. If your running style is hurting you, you feel it right away. It’s so easy to make corrections when you have so much information about how your body is designed to work.

For weight lifting specifically, Fivefingers get you as flat to the ground as possible, and you don’t loose any power into the cushion of a shoe. A lot of people lift in Converse shoes, because they’re so thin. Fivefingers give you a more fine-tuned control over your balance, being able to press with your toes and feel any instabilities.

Here’s a little tip, too: Injinji now makes over-the-calf toe socks. Perfect for wearing with your Fivefingers when you’re doing potentially shin-scraping lifts like deadlifts, cleans, and snatches. Learning good form is of course tantamount, but it only takes bloodying your shins once to really appreciate a small bit of insurance against doing it again.


  1. David Duffer

    March 22nd, 2011 at 5:15 am

    I love your posts Emily; informative and very well written. I wish more women could see the benefits of resistance-based training. As for VFF shoes, I bought my first pair (Komodo Sports) 5 days ago and have worn nothing but them since; tonight, I picked up a 2nd pair – the TrekSports. Simply put, this is the best money I’ve ever spent on shoes. I absolutely love them. :)


    • Emily

      March 22nd, 2011 at 11:20 pm

      Thanks for the encouragement, David! I think a lot of women are put off by resistance training because it seems too tough, but they don’t realize that everyone starts somewhere before we all learn what we’re capable of. So glad you’re loving the VFFs. They make everything so much more engaging!


      • Liz

        April 12th, 2011 at 9:18 pm

        Great post! It’s nice to hear other women enjoy lifting. I’ve always preferred weightlifting over every other type of exercise, and I just bought my first pair of VFF’s today. I can’t wait to try them out, especially after reading positive posts like this.


  2. AlaneATX

    November 27th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    I, too, train and workout in my vff’s. All my friends and family think I’m crazy but I don’t care! I love them and take pictures of wherever I am working out in them as I travel.
    I can also relate to your comments about body image. Having worked out with a trainer now for almost two years and lifting weights ad part of my training, my goals have changed from being skinny to being healthy. I love being athletic and strong!
    Thank you for your motivating comments and blog!


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