20 Best Weightlifting & Powerlifting Shoes for Men & Women Reviewed 2023
If you ask a longtime pro lifter what the best Olympic weightlifting shoe is, you are bound to hear either the Asics TOW 727 or Nike Romaleos 2.
Well, guess what?
These models are nearly impossible to get unless used or otherwise sketchy, over the top expensive or simply not available. Trust me, I looked!
Hot tip: The Romaleos 3XD is the shoe closest to the Romaleos 2 in terms of performance, feel and design.
So, now that we have that out of the way, let’s look at the best weightlifting shoes available in 2023, so you can realistically pick up a pair.
Here are the 20 best weightlifting shoes of 2023 carefully chosen, researched and reviewed by me. Plus I include a short buying guide and FAQs so you can get your questions answered.
- TOP 20 Best Weightlifting & Powerlifting Shoes for 2023
- Nike Men's Romaleos 3 Weightlifting Shoes
- Nike Men's Romaleos 3 XD Training Shoe
- Adidas Men's Leistung 16 II Cross Trainer
- Adidas Men's Adipower Weightlifting 2
- Reebok Men's Legacylifter Cross Trainer
- Adidas Men's Powerlift 4 Shoes
- Reebok Men's Nano 9 Cross Trainer
- Asics Men's Lift Trainer Cross Trainer
- VS Athletics Men's Weightlifting Shoe II
- Sabo Men's Deadlift Shoes
- Adidas Men's Performance Crazy Power
- Inov-8 Men's Fastlift 400 Boa Training Shoes
- Adidas Men's Power Perfect III Cross Trainer
- Nordic Lifting Men's Megin Powerlifting Shoes
- Nike Men's Metcon 2 Training Shoe
- Adidas Men's Performance Powerlift 2 Trainer
- Pendlay Men's Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
- Reebok Women's CrossFit Nano 4.0 Training Shoe
- Pendlay Women's Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
- Inov-8 Women’s Fastlift 360 Weightlifting Shoes
- What Makes Weightlifting Shoes Different from Other Sports Shoes?
- What You Should Look for in Lifting Shoes
- Weightlifting Shoe FAQs
- One Last Thing…
TOP 20 Best Weightlifting & Powerlifting Shoes for 2023
All of these shoes fit the criteria for excellent weightlifting shoes. The majority of these are Olympic lifting shoes, but a few of them will also fit the Crossfit style workout too.
Note: these shoes are NOT in any particular order. Eg. I think the Romaleos 3XD are better than the Romaleos 3, despite their place on this list.
Nike Men's Romaleos 3 Weightlifting Shoes
Review: The Nike Romaleos 3s are a more flexible, lightweight lifting shoe, compared to most other lifting shoes, including its predecessor, the Romaleos 2.
The soft sole insert and more flexible material make this shoe light. This lifting shoe is also a little lower in the heel that other traditional lifting shoes.
All in all, this is a great crossover shoe if you CrossFit and lift, but those who strictly lift usually prefer the previous model.
However, other weight lifters like the fact that the shoe is more flexible in the front, allows your foot good contact and therefore feedback in the front, and they also like the single strap, vs the two straps the previous model has.
- Include lace locks to keep the laces tight.
- More flexible than other lifters.
- Lighter than other lifting shoes.
- Less durable than the previous model.
A true lifting shoe that is more flexible and lighter than other lifters.
Nike Men's Romaleos 3 XD Training Shoe
Review: Nike redesigned the Romaleos 3 due to customer feedback and that is how the Romaleos 3 XD shoe came about.
It is a very similar shoe, except the tongue is more durable and Nike used material similar to what the vastly popular Romaleos 2s are made of, which will stand up to much more abuse.
Since Romaleos 2s are virtually impossible to find in the market today, the Romaleos 3 XD is the best choice from the Romaleos line.
While this model only uses one strap, where the Romaleos 2 had two straps, the strap is extra wide and now comes with a metal loop and performs just as well.
- Bigger and thicker tongue than the model 3.
- Uses more sturdy material on the upper than the model 3.
- Uses a metal strap loop for durability.
- Fits narrow.
The best, most durable Romaleos shoe to get if you cannot find a pair of Romaleos 2.
Adidas Men's Leistung 16 II Cross Trainer
Review: The Adidas Leistung IIs are a middle of the road lifting shoe with a higher than average heel height of 1 inch. I personally like the boa lace tightening system and the tightening dial on the top of the shoe that allows you to get a secure locked-in fit.
Overall, the Leistung II is a durable, popular shoe, and ideal for lifters with a more limited ROM.
- 1 inch heel, higher than Romaleos and Adipower heel.
- Boa close system provides a snug fit and prevents heel slip.
- Durable outer that is moderately, but not overly flexible.
- Some feel the heel height pushes them forward too much.
A top rated, high quality lifting shoe with a high heel, great for lifters with ROM challenges.
Adidas Men's Adipower Weightlifting 2
- adidas quality
- Imported by adidas
Review: The Adidas Adipower 2 shoes have a .75 inch heel, which is high enough for most lifters, except those who have problems with their range of motion. A lower heel is more comfortable for most, unless the lifter needs a higher heel to perform the lift correctly.
The Adipower 2 shoes are pretty durable and you can expect at least a few seasons out of them, unlike some other crossover style lifting shoes, although they are not as flexible as crossover shoes either, so there is a tradeoff.
- Lower ¾ inch heels are high enough for most lifters.
- Durable and long-lasting.
- More comfortable than other lifting shoes.
- The toe curves up ever so slightly, the previous model was completely flat.
Durability and comfort, paired with a moderate heel height make these the best powerlifting shoes of 2023 for most lifters.
Reebok Men's Legacylifter Cross Trainer
Review: The Reebok Legacylifters are a substantial lifting shoe that will appeal to a specific audience. Specifically, those that want a lower heel and narrower fit, with a flat insole.
If you have no problem with your ROM and you do not like how high the heel is on some lifters are, and you have narrow feet, these may just be the perfect lifter shoe for you.
On top of that, these shoes are pretty durable and will last you at least a few good years.
- Relatively low heel for a lifter at 22mm.
- Virtually no arch support, if you like a flat insole.
- Flat, wide stable heel.
- Runs narrow, even in the toebox.
Best weightlifting shoes for women and men with narrow feet.
Adidas Men's Powerlift 4 Shoes
- Heel height (shoe plus insole height): 28 mm (size 9)
- Narrow, snug fit; Lace closure with a hook-and-loop strap
- Canvas upper for soft comfort and durability; Open forefoot and flexible toe design
- Adiwear outsole offers the ultimate in high-wear durability
- Lightweight, locked-down feel
Review: The Adidas Powerlift 4 is an affordable shoe with a relatively high heel. The heel itself is 1 inch, and with the insole, its 1.1 inches, so it is great for lifters with limited ankle mobility.
I personally also love the aesthetics of this shoe. Some lifting shoes look like orthotic shoes, but these do not. They have a stylish canvas upper and the Adidas three-stripe design overlay on the upper.
- High heel, 1.1 inches (28mm) including the insole, ideal for those with limited ankle mobility.
- Comfortable, breathable and stylish canvas upper.
- Wide strap, keeps foot secure and locked in.
- Runs narrow.
Affordable weightlifting shoes that do not feel cheap, very stylish too!
Reebok Men's Nano 9 Cross Trainer
Review: The Nano 9 is a cross-training shoe that performs well for heavy lifts, but also does well for other exercises like jumping, climbing and lateral moves.
If squats and deadlifts are a part of your workout, but you want a versatile shoe that you can use for other movements, the Nano 9 is a great choice.
- Concave bootie style heel, resists heel slip.
- Compression resistant insole.
- Steady, stable flat shoe provides good lifting foundation.
- Not a dedicated lifting shoe, heel height is not very high.
The perfect shoes for those whose workouts include, but are not limited to weight lifting.
Asics Men's Lift Trainer Cross Trainer
- Feather Last
- Enhanced forefoot stability.
- Synthetic Leather and Mesh Upper
- Lightweight, comfortable and breathable, enhancing performance and fit.
- California Slip Lasting
Review: Great, affordable pair of lifting shoes for beginners. The heel is ridged and stable and the ¾ inch heel height really helps your form.
I really like the mesh panel in the upper, it allows air to circulate and keeps your feet comfortable.
- ¾ inch heel.
- Sold flat sole provides stable base.
- Flexible enough for Olympic lifts like the clean.
- Runs large.
Affordable, top-quality lifting shoe that is great for Olympic lifts.
VS Athletics Men's Weightlifting Shoe II
- Hard rubber material on bottom of shoe.
- 2 "Hook & Loop" straps over laces for added support.
- Comes with free VS shoe bag
- Rruns a half size small depedning on your width
Review: The VS Athletics weightlifting shoes are in the midrange as far as price, and are of good quality. They have a high, 1 inch heel, so if you have trouble with your ROM or ankle mobility, these will help.
They are for lifting only and are NOT a crossover shoe, which means they have a ridged, inflexible sole and wide flat base that feels secure when lifting and will help improve your form and performance.
- 1 inch heel height, perfect for ROM and ankle mobility problems.
- Dedicated lifting shoe, hard inflexible sole.
- Double Velcro straps, secure locked-in fit.
- Durable, will last several seasons.
- Run narrow, especially in the toe.
- Runs a half size small.
Durable lifting shoes with a nice high heel, solid inflexible sole and double straps for a locked in feel.
Sabo Men's Deadlift Shoes
- New anatomical last was created especially for deadlifting.
- New non-marking outsole is made of high density material with a special design for traction. Soles are ultra thin: 2mm-5mm.
- Two lateral straps allowing for an individual fit and precise tuning of tightness for the foot, ankle and heel.
- High cut upper and materials optimal for training.
- Side support on the outsole allows you to spread the floor without your feet rolling over, unlike slippers.
Review: Sabo Deadlift shoes have a flat thin sole with no heel drop, almost like the Vans or Converse (chucks) some lifters use. If you have no ROM or ankle mobility issues, these shoes are great for deadlifts, sumo deadlifts, squats and more.
They are also flexible enough to use with other exercises so they can be considered cross-over shoes.
They have an ankle strap, which actually helps with arch support, believe it or not. Even though the insole itself is flat and has little arch support, the ankle strap will help. Plus since these are high tops, they have lateral and ankle support too.
- Flat, thin sole, stable base for deadlifts and squats.
- Metatarsal strap provides arch support.
- Hi-top design provides lateral support.
- Flexible some makes these shoes versatile.
- No arch support.
- No heel drop.
Best deadlift and squat shoes with a little ankle support and flexibility for other moves.
Adidas Men's Performance Crazy Power
Review: The Crazy Power Trainer is a functional fitness shoe with a weight lifting bent. It has a wide flat base and a very low heel drop of just 3mm, so you will not feel like it pushes you forward at all, which is fine if your ROM and ankle mobility are good.
They have a minimal cushion and do not compress under heavyweight, which is a must when lifting heavyweight, because you need the shoes to remain stable. The metatarsal strap keeps foot locked in and prevents heel slip.
- Ideal for wide feet.
- Metatarsal strap locks in feet and offers some arch support.
- Flexible in the front, solid and stable in the heel.
- Wide, flat, stable base for lifting heavy.
- No heel height means not ideal for people with limited ankle mobility.
A functional trainer that performs like a lifting shoe with stability and a solid insole.
Inov-8 Men's Fastlift 400 Boa Training Shoes
Review: Inov-8 makes one of the best weightlifting shoes for flat feet. They are both stable and designed with a flexible forefoot so they transition from lifting to other types of functional training easily.
Inov-8 makes a high-quality shoe, and the Fastlift 400 maintain the reputation of excellence.
You will not be disappointed with the quality of these shoes and they will last longer than most other lifting shoes available.
- Micro adjustable BOA dial on the strap insures a perfect fit.
- Flexible forefront toe area allows you to use this shoe for lifting and other cross-training moves as well.
- Very versatile.
- Heel cage and power truss technology built into the heel endow the lifting shoe with lateral stability and a solid secure base.
- These shoes are among the most expensive lifting shoes available.
- The heel to toe drop is less steep in these lifting shoes than most others.
These shoes were built with attention to detail. They have a rubber toe bumper for grip during functional moves, and added durability overall.
The forefoot is flexible, a feature not often found in lifting shoes, plus the strap adjusts in micro increments and can be dialed in to fit your foot exactly.
Adidas Men's Power Perfect III Cross Trainer
- Synthetic upper for durability and light weight
- Adiwear outsole offers the ultimate in high-wear durability
- Hook-and-loop instep strap for rearfoot integrity; Integral rearfoot heel support for superb lightweight stability
- Derby construction for lateral locked-down support
- Weightlifting-engineered, high-density, die-cut wedge midsole for a stable platform
Review: The Adidas Power Perfect III is affordable and appropriate for all levels of lifters, making them one of the best Olympic lifting shoes at this price point.
They support really heavyweight without complaint and are designed just for lifting. The shoes have a decidedly narrow snug fit, which works well for lifters with slender to normal width feet.
They offer great quality, at a lower price point than similar quality shoes. They are stable, offer plenty of support and will improve your form.
- These shoes have a moderate .75” heel lift, which is not as high as some, but tall enough to push the knees forward and encourage good form.
- These lifting shoes are reasonably priced, a great value.
- For the price, these shoes are surprisingly long-lasting.
- The ring for the strap is made from plastic, which could be problematic if you over-tighten the shoes.
- Shoes have a snug narrow fit, they feel very secure, but may not be good for wide feet.
The shoe fits true to size as far as length is concerned. The toe box is a decent width, but the midsole is narrower.
They are designed with a mesh panel toe so you will feel comfortable and dry during extended and intense lifting sessions.
Nordic Lifting Men's Megin Powerlifting Shoes
- POWERLIFTING SHOES - Maximum Lifting Performance - by Premium Weightlifting Brand Nordic Lifting
- PROVIDES OLYMPIC STABILITY - Good foot support ensures a powerful workout & greater lifting gains
- LONG-LASTING QUALITY - Built to last, even under immense stress. Our warranty backs it up
- IMPROVE LIFTING POSTURE - Perfect for powerlifters & all other sportsmen working with heavy weights
- INCLUDED - 1 x Pair of MEGIN Powerlifting Shoes, 1 x Premium Box - 1 Year Manufacturer’s Warranty
Review: The Nordic Lifting Megin powerlifting shoe is a high-quality lifting shoe designed for squats, deadlifts and leg presses.
Nordic Lifting prides itself on making high-quality shoes, at an affordable price, with an excellent presentation. The packaging of these shoes is top-notch. The shoes themselves are well made for the most part.
Aside from the insole slipping from time to time, the shoes fit snugly and are designed with a mesh panel over the toe so air can circulate, which makes them quite comfortable.
- Great weightlifting shoes for wide feet.
- 1.4” heel height to encourage correct lifting posture.
- Breathable mesh toe, very lightweight shoe.
- Packaged beautifully, nice presentation with a proper box.
- Heel is higher than most lifting shoes, may be challenging to perform a deadlift wearing these shoes.
- The insoles have a tendency to slide.
These are among the best weightlifting shoes for wide feet.
The heel is very high, higher than most other lifting shoes, but the sole is flat and ridged and you feel anchored to the floor while wearing them.
Nike Men's Metcon 2 Training Shoe
Review: The Metcon trainer is for the fitness enthusiast who likes to do a little bit of everything. If you’re a maniac at the gym and you’re looking to find one (and only one) pair of shoes that will provide you with sufficient support and comfort for a large variety of workout activities, think of the Metcon as your catch-all.
Lift, run, and stretch all in a single pair of shoes. These shoes promise to do about a million different things, and they really live up to their promise. This is a pair of trainers that can do a ton of things, and helping you lift is only one of them.
As far as quality goes, you’re putting every penny of your money to good use. Nothing tops these shoes, since they offer such versatile performance.
- These come in over a dozen styles. Whether you’re loud and out there or a little more subdued, you’ll find a color scheme that matches your personality.
- These are a combination of synthetic material and mesh to make the shoes easy to clean and super breathable.
- These are one of few cross-training shoes that are designed not only for heavy lifting, but also for climbing. This is the most versatility you’re ever going to find.
- The insole is lined with a dual intensity foam that will adapt to your movements and provide you with the exact kind of support you need.
- These will work as ideal CrossFit training shoes if you’ve never been fond of similar models on the market. They’re designed for performance in a variety of situations, and this makes them perfect for a hardcore WOD.
- These shoes run a little small in the toe. Unless you have very narrow feet, you might want to opt for a size up to improve the comfort level.
- The Metcon is kind of shallow – if you prefer shoes that fully cover your ankle, you’re not going to like them. You’ll get more flexibility, but you might feel a little less secure.
These are very comfortable shoes is you’re using them for the right reasons. You just need to make sure you’re getting the right size in order to maximize that comfort level.
Since these are low top shoes, it’s very easy to bend and flex the ankle comfortably.
Some lifters will see that as a con, but people who want their shoes to perform perfectly through a wide range of workouts are going to love it.
Adidas Men's Performance Powerlift 2 Trainer
- Wide-sized for increased comfort
- Synthetic leather upper for light weight, support and durability
- Flexible welded 3-Stripes
- Weightlifting-engineered, high-density, die-cut midsole wedge for lightweight stability
- Single instep strap for added rearfoot integrity; Wedge heel height configured specifically for weightlifting; Flat-profile outsole
Review: These shoes are perfect for Olympic weightlifting, but there’s no reason you can’t use them for your CrossFit style lifts.
The design of these shoes is both stylish and functional, so you won’t have to settle for a less attractive shoe or compromise on quality.
Adidas has always made quality shoes, and this style is no exception. In terms of quality for the price, these weightlifting shoes shine.
They’re not as expensive as newer technology weightlifting shoes, but if you only need something that’s durable and reliable enough for simple lifting a few times a week, this is exactly the quality you’re looking for.
- Lightweight synthetic leather upper is durable and attractive.
- Slightly raised, dense heel provides great stability.
- Midsole wedge provides support without adding weight to the shoe.
- Design provides posture support, encouraging you to maintain proper stance while lifting.
- Upper has venting holes to promote airflow, making shoes easier to wear for prolonged periods of lifting.
- Shoe is constructed wider than average, but may fit too tightly on people with bulky calves or large toes.
- Strap is located at the top, so it won’t provide enough support for feet that become narrow towards the toe.
- While the elevation in the heel makes deadlifts easier, it may take some getting used to.
The star feature providing comfort for these shoes is the vent holes that allow air circulation. If your feet never feel too hot in the shoes.
Pendlay Men's Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
- Synthetic Leather - Nylon Mesh
- Two Metatarsal Straps
- Do-Win Wide Toebox Design
- Improved Weightlifting Shoe Sole is Stronger and more Flexible
- 3-4 inch heel height
Review: If you need reliable weightlifting shoes and you’re working with a limited budget, you’d be surprised how big Pendlay comes through with their answer to the best weightlifting shoe search.
These may not be as fancy as bigger brand names, but they certainly deliver their promises. Pendlay proves it’s possible to be thrifty and still walk away with a shoe that’s made to last.
For the price, you’re getting excellent quality shoes. These aren’t reinforced as heavily as many top brand weightlifting shoes are, but if you only lift for short periods a few times a week, you won’t need your shoes to be so strongly reinforced.
They’re well worth the price tag, and perfect for the casual lifting enthusiast.
- Heel height is set at exactly three-quarters of an inch, which is the specified standard for Olympic weightlifting.
- One-piece sole is strong and flexible, making these shoes comfortable to wear for longer periods of time.
- Unique sole design is slightly springy, but won’t push you forward like running shoes. Stepping down is comfortable.
- Shoes are made from leather, making them slightly more durable than synthetic material.
- Shoes are not recommended for activities other than weightlifting. If you’re using these for CrossFit, you may have to change your shoes before your WOD.
- Toes are slightly narrow.
Comfort is one of the largest advantages of this shoe. The flexible sole makes it easier to walk short distances with your weights, because rigid soles may work against you as you step.
They also offer superior arch support, so if you have high arches, you’ll be cushioned enough while you step.
Reebok Women's CrossFit Nano 4.0 Training Shoe
Review: Ladies lift too, and Reebok knows this. A lot of women opt for men’s lifting shoes because women’s lifting shoes generally are not durable enough.
The problem with men’s lifting shoes is that they’re designed for a man’s feet, and don’t provide proper support. Reebok’s answer to this problem is pretty impressive.
These are easily one of the best women’s lifting shoes that money can buy – and they’re even better than the 5.0.
The 5.0 had some upgrades, but took away a lot of the features that made these shoes so great. The combination of quality, style, and price wins out here.
- Exterior of the upper is protected with Reebok’s Duracage, holding your foot in place.
- Feet are hugged snugly with Reebok’s RopePro protection wrap around the top of the mesh shoes, making them breathable and secure.
- Shoes provide just enough shock absorption to make these shoes great for both lifting and WODs.
- Sole is designed for maximum traction.
- Curved design makes for a comfortable fit.
- May not work well for people with flat feet.
- Not optimized for running.
- If you have narrow toes, the toe box may be a bit too roomy.
If you desperately need toe space, you’re going to love these shoes. A lot of women’s lifting shoes are far too narrow in the front, and make for uncomfortable lifting.
These provide you enough space to move your feet around inside your shoes, which is exactly what you need to do after you’ve been standing in one spot lifting for a very long time.
Pendlay Women's Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
- Synthetic Leather - Nylon Mesh
- Two Metatarsal Straps
- Do-Win Wide Toebox Design
- Improved Weightlifting Shoe Sole is Stronger and more Flexible
- 3-4 inch heel height
Review: The Pendlay Do-Win weightlifting shoes for women are a great beginner shoe and are easy on the budget.
They have the features you would expect from a dedicated lifting shoe, like the cupped heel, .75 inch heel and tightening strap. The strap is a bit narrower than other shoes, but since these shoes are so lightweight, the thinner strap is enough to lock in your foot.
These woman’s lifting shoes are more flexible than most, so some may find them more comfortable.
- Cupped heel prevents heel slip and locks in the heel.
- ¾ inch heel height.
- Light and flexible.
- Decent arch support.
- Not as durable as more expensive lifters.
Best weightlifting shoes for flat feet, good women’s budget shoes with all the features you need.
Inov-8 Women’s Fastlift 360 Weightlifting Shoes
- THE ULTIMATE STABILITY – An external heel cage (EHC) and POWERTRUSS technology through the heel provides support and stability. The single, classic strap over the mid-foot keeps your foot supported during workouts
- SUPERIOR GRIP – inov-8 sticky rubber outsoles provide unwavering traction during fast, explosive movements and under load keeping you secure whilst weightlifting
- MOVE FREE – META-FLEX technology in the forefoot paired with a highly flexible and lightweight upper, the FASTLIFT 360 moves with the natural motion of your foot
- STAY PROTECTED – The most protective and durable weightlifting shoe to date. The upper features ballistic nylon overlays, a super-durable yet flexible material, offering the ultimate protection whilst allowing your foot freedom of movement
- EXTREMELY DURABLE – Made from high quality materials so that it performs better, for longer
Review: The Inov-8 Fastlift 360 comes in both men’s and women’s models. They are great for lifters with wide feet.
They are very light compared to traditional lifters, but they remain stable and have a modest heel height of 16.5 mm, if you like a lower heel you will like how this shoe feels.
- Lower heel, just 16.5 mm high.
- Flexible yet stable sole.
- Very light weight.
- Not a dedicated lifter, but a great crossover shoe.
Best weightlifting shoes for wide feet for women.
What Makes Weightlifting Shoes Different from Other Sports Shoes?
Contrary to popular belief, weightlifting shoes are very different from other kinds of athletic shoes.
Don’t lift weights in running shoes!
Running shoes are designed for running. Running shoes are cushioned and springy, rounded at the toe and heel. It’s these exact features that make running shoes SUCK for lifting weights.
Running shoes will not provide the flat stable base you need to lift heavy.
What Dedicated Olympic Lifting Shoes do
When you lift, you stand in one place and hoist a heavy barbell. You need your shoes and feet to stay put with no wobbling. That’s what the hard flat base and NO cushion in weightlifting shoes does.
Powerlifting and weightlifting shoes also have a heel height of .75 to 1 inch to raise your heel off the ground. This gets you in the best position to lift and improves your form. The best powerlifting shoes may even help you lift more weight if you get the right pair.
You should be wearing a pair of weightlifting shoes that help your feet stay firmly on the ground.
You don’t want a shoe that’s going to interfere with your lifting power.
You need to generate the power from the ground up, and stay firmly planted on the floor since you push up from the heel.
In short, best weightlifting shoes are made without all of the padding that running shoes utilize.
They allow your body to communicate directly with the ground, and give you better balance for raising the bar as high as you can.
When you dig your feet into the ground or the mat with weightlifting shoes on, the lack of padding will help you feel glued to the ground because you don’t have the unstable cushioned barrier caused by running shoes.
What You Should Look for in Lifting Shoes
The height of the heel on Olympic weightlifting shoes is between .75 and 1 inch. This increases your ankles range of motion and allows you to get into a good lifting position.
Higher heels allow you to squat deeper and keep your torso more upright than totally flat shoes.
Ultimately this improves your form and takes strain off your back and knees.
Non-compressible Insole Returns Your Energy Back Into Your Lift
When choosing a weightlifting shoe, the shoe should have minimal to no cushion. Cushion adds instability. Plus, under heavyweight, cushion will compress and get ruined anyways.
Plus, cushion is designed to absorb force, which is exactly what you don’t want while lifting. You want all the force you put into the lift returned back.
So if you push through with your heel, you want that energy returned back up into your lift, not absorbed by the shock-absorbing cushion of a shoe.
What you want is a solid dense heel and a flat, hard sole. This is the most stable combo that will make your feet feel planted to the floor.
Straps Keep Your Feet Secure and Locked-in
Another thing to consider is the straps.
Many weightlifting shoes come with at least two straps across the foot. This is because everyone’s foot is a different width.
While a general fit may be okay with other kinds of shoes used for athletic activities, weightlifting shoes are a bit different. These straps should be secured over the foot, tightly, but comfortably so.
This will give you as close to a custom fit as you can get with shoes you’ve purchased off the rack.
Look for a pair of weightlifting shoes with at least one strap to keep your feet securely locked in as you lift.
Weightlifting Shoe FAQs
Are Weightlifting Shoes Worth it?
If you are not a dedicated weightlifter, as in weightlifting is not the only exercise you do, they are not absolutely necessary.
That does not mean they are not worth it. Weightlifting shoes, in almost every case, ARE worth it.
Most weight lifters figure this out after buying and using their first pair of dedicated lifting shoes. After they try them, they wonder why they did not use them from the start.
A pair of dedicated weightlifting shoes can improve your form, minimize or eliminate knee, ankle and back pain and even increase your numbers.
Dedicated Olympic weightlifters nearly always use weightlifting shoes. There is a reason for that.
Do Weightlifting Shoes Make a Difference?
If you have been lifting in a regular tennis shoe you will notice the difference.
Once you switch to a dedicated weightlifting shoe or a cross-over shoe that is designed for heavy lifting, you will notice your feet feel glued to the floor, they will not move, thanks to the wide solid base of the shoe.
When you lift heavy, you push through your feet, so you need a stable base, which tennis shoes and running shoes cannot provide.
Regular sneakers have too much cushion which compresses and becomes unstable under heavy weight. They also have rounded toes and heels which destabilizes them under a heavy load.
The raised heel on a dedicated weightlifting shoe has a high heel, between .75 and 1 inch. This heel actually gives you a better ROM and makes getting deep on a squat more do-able.
You may increase your weight and lifts will feel more natural and secure with a pair of weightlifting shoes.
Are Converse Good for Weightlifting?
Many weight lifters like to use a flat-soled shoe with no heel at least some of the time.
Converse, aka chucks, are flat-soled shoes with no heel height and no padding, making them a popular and inexpensive option for lifting weight.
Converse sneakers are particularly popular for deadlifts because the flat outsole and wide base allows your feet to stay in contact with the floor, without the instability caused by cushioned shoes.
Plus, if you are a beginner or student on a budget, you can wear your converse on the way to the gym, and use them to lift, and they are a bargain compared to dedicated weightlifting shoes. They are flexible for a little running and walking and other exercises you might do at the gym
They are not equal to dedicated weightlifting shoes.
If you get serious about Olympic lifting, a pair of dedicated weightlifting shoes with a high heel rise, from .75 to 1 inch is what you need.
The heel rise of dedicated weightlifting shoes will increase your range of motion, increase your squat depth, and help prevent your knees from traveling too far forward. Three things that converse cannot do for you.
Can You Deadlift without Shoes?
Many people do deadlift in barefoot, socks, or even the flat-footed, no cushion Converse shoes.
Those are all fine options for deadlifting.
When it comes to other Olympic lifts nothing beats the performance of dedicated Olympic lifting shoes.
These shoes give you better dorsiflexion and a more stable base for lifting. You will get deeper in a squat, your knees will stay out of the way of the bar, your torso will stay more upright and you will have less knee and ankle pain.
Can I Lift Weight in My CrossFit Shoes?
You can, and many do in fact perform the Olympic lifts using a good pair of CrossFit shoes.
CrossFit shoes have minimal cushioning so they are stable.
CrossFit shoes have a wide flat sole, creating a good base and good foot contact with the ground.
The thing Olympic lifting shoes have that CrossFit shoes do not is the raised heel. The heel on lifting shoes is from .75 inches to 1 inch. This increases your range of motion and ankle mobility, making it easier to get deep in a squat, they are more stable, they will help improve your form and technique and they may actually help you lift more weight.
If you want a pair of CrossFit shoes to use for lifting I have a list here of the best CrossFit shoes for men and the best CrossFit shoes for women.
But if you plan of dedicating yourself to weightlifting, I HIGHLY recommend a pair of Olympic weightlifting shoes.
One Last Thing…
Now you can see why weightlifting shoes are the right tool for the job when it comes to Olympic lifting, it’s time to pick up a pair for yourself and start reaping the benefits.
You should also know that weightlifting shoes are not ideal for other exercises in the gym, especially, jogging, treadmill or cardio workouts. If you need a pair of regular gym shoes for cardio and other workouts, I have a list of the best workout shoes here.
If you are in the process of assembling your own home weightlifting gym, take a look at these gems. The best weightlifting equipment for home. Get your home gym in order today.
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