Which weightlifting shoes are best?
For many people, a pair of solid training shoes is all they need on their feet to get in a good workout. However, any serious lifter knows that rocking a pair of good weightlifting shoes can take your gains to the next level. If you perform free-weight exercises like squats, snatches and cleans, the best weightlifting shoes, like the Adidas Adipower II, can provide increased mobility, stability and proprioception.
What to know before you buy weightlifting shoes
Types of exercise
Just as there are different niches of running shoes, there are also weightlifting shoes that meet specific needs as well. For example, if you plan on perfecting your squats and deadlift form, you need a pair of good flat weightlifting shoes that offer straps for a tighter fit.
On the other hand, if you lift weights for CrossFit, you need a pair of shoes that have a stiff, flat bottom to help with squats but are versatile and flexible enough to help with other exercises like jumps.
Regardless of the type of exercises in your routine, in order to stay safe, it’s recommended that you look for shoes with wide-toe boxes to help you stay grounded. Any serious weightlifter will tell you that, while weightlifting belts are a great addition to your toolbox, even a pair of cheap weightlifting shoes can seriously step up your game.
Besides the flat soles, one of the main reasons athletes prefer to use weightlifting shoes in their strength routine is the elevated heel. The shoes provide a stacked heel that stabilizes an athlete’s form and mobility support.
When you have weightlifting shoes with decently elevated heels, they increase your ankles’ range of motion, leading to a deeper squat and improved upright position and balance. The elevated heel also allows your body to maximize your muscles and force as you push the back up. In turn, the additional support can also help prevent your knees from painfully caving in.
Most weightlifting shoes have anywhere between a quarter of an inch to a full inch of heel height. You should try on several pairs before deciding which one is the most comfortable for you.
In general, lower heels are better for people who have short legs and torsos, a wider stance and more flexibility. Standard heel-height shoes are better for those with a longer torso and shorter legs, while higher heel-height shoes are best for people with long legs and torsos who take a narrow stance for squats.
Every good pair of shoes, regardless of their intended use, should last for several years. Weightlifting shoes must be able to handle the intensity of a powerful workout session, time after time. While cheap ones tend to fall apart quickly, sometimes the best weightlifting shoes actually start feeling even more comfortable over time.
What to look for in quality weightlifting shoes
Your workout routine already has you sweating enough: Let your feet breathe by looking for weightlifting shoes with mesh panels or perforation holes that can help excess moisture evaporate.
While running shoes tend to have heavily cushioned, extremely comfortable soles and plenty of breathability, cushioned soles present a significant obstacle to safely lifting weights:
Most free-weight exercises involve pressing your feet against the ground for maximum impact, so a heavily cushioned, compressible sole can cause your weight to shift. That ultimately leads to rolled ankles, loss of balance and at times even more severe injuries.
Firm footing is critical when attempting to lift heavier weights. Most of the best weightlifting shoes offer one or two ankle straps that lay on top of the laces to help secure your feet and prevent them from moving around.
Common sense says that shoes with firm soles and hard upper lips sound extremely uncomfortable. But if you think about it, one of the classic weightlifting shoes, Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Tops, has everything weightlifters look for in a shoe. And if you’ve ever worn one, you’d know it’s more comfortable than it looks.
Luckily, modern technology has improved the quality of weightlifting shoes. Now you get the comfort you need to keep you going while maintaining the firmness required to help prevent injuries.
How much you can expect to spend on weightlifting shoes
The amount you will pay for weightlifting shoes varies greatly on several factors, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $60 for Chuck Taylors all the way up to $200 for handmade Nobull lifting shoes.
Best weightlifting shoes FAQ
Can I wear my running shoes to lift weights?
A. There are several ways to identify whether you have the perfect fit. First, place your heel firmly against the back of your shoe. There must be no more than an eighth of an inch between your longest toe and the furthest point on the shoe. It should also be wide enough to be comfortable but not wide enough that your feet feel like they’re sliding around. Lastly, while it’s true that weightlifting shoes should be tight, they also mustn’t cause any discomfort or feel like they’re restricting your blood flow.
Are flat shoes better for lifting?
A. Many people debate about the benefits of weightlifting shoes, but the general consensus among professional weightlifters is that such shoes help your overall lifting ability. As mentioned earlier, running shoes are not ideal for lifting heavy weights. Neither is lifting barefoot, if done incorrectly: While there’s nothing wrong with lifting barefoot when conducting static exercises, there are risks that present themselves when you lift barefoot for dynamic exercises like a snatch. But if you’re just getting into weightlifting, there’s no need to invest in the more serious shoes just yet. Chuck Taylors provide everything beginners need.
What’s the best weightlifting shoe to buy?
Top weightlifting shoes
What you need to know: Adidas presents a fully dynamic shoe able to handle Olympic-level workouts with additional details to improve durability and comfort.
What you’ll love: Originally designed for Olympians, the improved AdiPower II gives its wearers a more breathable design with reinforced support and padding in the heel and forefoot. The heels height suits wide ranges of people with narrow and wide feet.
What you should consider: There are limited color options available.
Top weightlifting shoes for the money
What you need to know: The Metcon 6 is the perfect lifting shoe for those who have a more varied workout.
What you’ll love: Unlike other weightlifting shoes, the Metcon 6 is cushioned to allow for high-impact exercises, while also having a firm, flat heel to support intense lifting sessions. The durable outsoles and treads provide so much traction that you won’t slide around even when climbing or running.
What you should consider: Due to increased cushioning, it’s not as stable as its non-compressible soled competitors.
Where to buy: Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods
Worth checking out
What you need to know: Chuck Taylors are a sensible shoe that you can comfortably wear in and out of the gym.
What you’ll love: These All Stars are a classic that has been around forever. It just so happens that their wide toe box helps provide stability while the high-top fabric helps support your ankles. Like all the best weightlifting shoes, it’s also minimally cushioned, creating increased balance and weight distribution.
What you should consider: Converse shoe sizes have a reputation for running large.
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Christopher Lee writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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