Are you looking to hit that next PR but find you are having difficulty in doing so? You may just be wearing the wrong type of shoes. It might sound strange to think that your shoes are keeping you from lifting heavy, but it’s true. With the wrong type of support, you may cause not only pain in your feet, but pain in other places such as your back.
Having the proper form when lifting is one thing, but without the proper support at the base (your feet), you’ll be not only risking an injury but also limiting yourself. If you’re unsure of where to start, we’ve got you covered. From the proper ankle support, powerlifting, Olympic lifting, heavy squats and more, we’re going to talk about some of the best weightlifting shoes out there to keep you pain free and well on your way to hitting your next big PR!
Best Weightlifting Shoes Comparison Chart
|Image||Product||Heel Type||Price||Where to Buy?|
|1. Nobull Men’s Training Shoe||Raised||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|2. Nordic Powerlifting Shoes for Heavy Weightlifting – Men’s Squat Shoe||Flat||$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|3. Inov-8 Men’s Bare-XF V2 Shoe||Flat||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|4. Nike Romaleos 3 Men’s Weight Lifting Shoes||Raised||$$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|5. Adidas Men’s Adipower Weightlifting Shoe||Raised||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|6. Reebok Men’s TR 2.0 Cross-Trainer Weightlifting Shoe||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|7. Otomix Stingray Escape Weightlifting Shoe||Flat||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|8. Adidas Men’s Lesitung 16 Weightlifting Shoe||Raised||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|9. Reebok Men’s Lifter Weightlifting Shoe||Raised||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|10. Inov-8 Men’s Fast lift 335 Weightlifting Shoe||Flat||$||Check Price On Amazon|
|11. Otomix Ninja Warrior Weightlifting Shoe||Flat||$$||Check Price On Amazon|
|11. Pendlay Men’s Black Weightlifting Shoes||Flat||$$$||Check Price On Amazon|
The Function of Weightlifting Shoes and Why You Need Them
You’ve probably heard a few different things when it comes to the type of shoe you should be wearing when lifting heavy. Some people advocate for barefoot lifting while others are supporters of a good pair of weightlifting shoes. Let’s take a quick look at how weightlifting shoes function and why you really do need a solid pair.
The performance of your joints and even your muscle system can be adjusted and changed by just changing the elevation in which you stand. Your foot function goes well beyond just your overall range of motion, it’s a masterpiece of many different components of the kinetic chain including your own nervous system. The wrong stance can put you at risk for injury which could keep you from hitting that next PR for quite some time. Therefore, getting the proper elevation to help provide a solid base can really make a world of a difference.
The depth of your squat is related to that of your hip joint. The structure of your hip joint will play a deciding role in the overall range of motion as well as any risks you may experience during your squat. The proper distribution of the stress on your hip joint can be adjusted with the right pair of weightlifting shoes.
Ankle Support & Mobility
Your range of motion can have a great influence over the movement of your lower body. Therefore, it’s important to choose a weightlifting shoe that allows for flexibility most suited for your body. Everyone is different, so it’s important to determine your mobility score and range of motion prior to choosing a shoe so that you know which style and design you should choose.
A good pair of weightlifting shoes can help to alleviate any chronic injuries and pain you may experience with weightlifting by restricting those excessive movements and motions.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Weightlifting Shoes
It’s important to pay attention to a few key factors when you are choosing weightlifting shoes. These factors include:
Heel height is one of the most important factors to consider when buying weightlifting shoes. Most weightlifting shoes feature a higher heel when you compare them with regular shoes. This helps you to adapt to a better position when weightlifting. A higher heel is great for squats because it helps you to establish a better position and base without losing balance. The higher heel enables you to keep your torso in more of a straight line allowing you to focus all energy and strength on just lifting your weights.
Standard heel height for weightlifting shoes is 0.75” but some designs feature a higher heel of 1” and lower heels at 0.6”. Choosing a heel height will depend on the strength sport you are participating in as well as your height. In powerlifting a lower heel works better to help provide a strong base, while taller lifters will often want a higher heel to help compensate. Below you will find a chart to help you determine the best heel height based on your height and squatting style.
Lifting Shoe Heel Height Comparison Chart
|Torso Length||Long Legs||Short Legs|
|Long Torso||Under 0.75”||0.75”|
|Short Torso||Over 0.75”||Under 0.75”|
Squatting Style Powerlifting Shoe Comparison Chart
|Heel Height||Narrow Stance||Wider Stance||Higher Bar||Lower Bar|
Using a higher heel provides you with more ankle range of motion. A low heel is much better for shorter athletes and those who have a low-bar squatting style. A low-bar squatting style uses more hip hinge motion versus ankle mobility.
While most may argue that the look and style of a shoe doesn’t matter, but let’s face it, you want a pair that brings out your personality and style. Consider the following when you are choosing a pair of weightlifting shoes:
- Lacing Technology
- Heel Material
- Straps Design
- Location of the Straps
- Sole Design
Older style weightlifting shoes were designed in more of a high-top manner, while many newer versions feature low tops as well. When considering the design and comfort you will want to consider the ankle level of your shoe. Some people feel that higher top shoes are more restrictive when it comes to ankle movements. But this really depends on your own preference.
Durability and Material
Durability is another factor that should not be overlooked when it comes to buying a quality pair of weightlifting shoes. If you plan on using your shoes for solely lifting weights, you’ll want to look for shoes designed with a tough, stiff upper portion, this means you won’t have a lot of flexibility when bending the sole.
But if you plan on using your shoes for a variety of workouts, you may want to choose a multi-purpose weight lifting shoe. These styles of shoes have a more rigid sole that allows for more flexibility. This allows you to combine different workout styles such as cardio and calisthenics with weightlifting.
One thing you’ll notice right away when it comes to weightlifting shoes is that there are different types of heel materials that you can choose from, based on your preferences. These include:
Plastic heels are often made from a TPU material which is the most common type of material used in lifting shoes. This plastic style heel provides you with a hard base and they are generally considered more durable than leather and wood heels.
Wood heel shoes are for lifters who are looking to get a more old school style shoe with a strong, solid base. This style of sole allows you to feel the floor much better and is one of the most common style of heels used by Olympic weightlifting athletes.
There are only a few styles of shoes that feature a stacked leather heel. These styles of shoes also are for lifters looking for a more old school look and feel. However, one downside to leather heel shoes is they are not as durable as plastic.
Comfort and Fit
Comfort should always be a factor when choosing a weightlifting shoe. It’s important to make sure your shoes fit snug. If you feel like your toes are being pinched, chances are these shoes are too small. Having the incorrect size can create additional issues and put you at risk for further injury as well. You want to choose a pair that is comfortable to wear and fits securely so that you have a strong support base when lifting.
To help find a comfortable shoe get into a squatting position, jump and then down a few times. Roll each of your ankles over to the sides and other positions you may place them in while lifting. These types of motions will help you to get a better feel for the shoe when lifting. A good secure fit should hug your foot without being too tight. It shouldn’t restrict you from any motions either. Ask yourself the following questions when trying on a weightlifting shoe to determine the comfort.
- Is the shoe narrow or wider?
- How secure do the straps and laces feel?
- Does it offer removable sole support?
Most weightlifting shoes will have your typical shoe laces you find in other styles of shoes. Others however may feature their own style of lacing system that’s referred to as a BOA lacing system. The BOA lacing system are made from wire and crank tightly to customize your own tightness by turning a knob. Pulling the knob loosens the wires so you can take the shoes off with ease. The only issue that many lifters have with the BOA lacing system is the shoes own ability to keep a constant tightness.
A common misconception when it comes to weightlifting shoes is that a shoe that has a lot of cushion is always better in terms of support. While this may be true when you are looking for running shoes, weightlifting shoes are a different ballgame entirely. A little bit of cushion is necessary for comfort, but it’s much better to get a weightlifting shoe that gives you closer access to the ground. This will provide you with a stable and stronger base. The best thing to remember when it comes to cushion is MORE cushion is not BETTER.
Security and Straps
Another factor for weightlifting shoes to consider is the number of straps it contains. Most types have one strap, but others come with two to provide an extra level of security when it comes to increasing your ankle mobility especially for squatting. Straps add an extra layer of mobility to help lock your feet into place right from the center. They also help by providing more stability and flexibility for your ankles. This is added to help hold your feet in place, so they are not sliding around within your shoe, keeping everything supportive and tight.
If you are concerned with ankle mobility and in need of extra support or security, you may want to consider a style that comes with two straps or a thicker strap. The number or style of strap really comes down to your own preference when lifting.
When determining the style and type of weightlifting shoe you should purchase, it’s important to consider its function. There are many different styles of weightlifting shoes that work best for different lifts. There are generally four types of weightlifting shoes, these include:
Different Types of Lifting Shoes
Olympic Weightlifting Shoes
Considered to be higher end shoes, this style offers the most stability when it comes to lifting heavy. They typically have a much higher heel with thicker and flat soles. This is for the extra mobility that these shoes offer. If you are focusing on clean and jerk lifts or snatches, you’ll want to consider an Olympic weightlifting shoe. These styles of shoes will offer you a better posture with a much deeper squat which are both essential features of clean, jerk and snatch olympic lifts.
Powerlifting shoes are for lifts that you do more frequently at a much faster pace. They help to give you just the right low back squat support while still helping with your posture and protecting your joints from a forward motion when you are lifting. They have a slighter higher heel but not quite as high as the Olympic styles.
Squatting and Deadlifting Shoes
While Olympic shoes may be suitable for deadlifting the increased heel, height doesn’t provide you with the best options when it comes to stability and force transference. A flatter sole shoe from toe all the way to the heel is the best choice for deadlifting shoes.
Most squatting shoes will have wooden heels with a higher heel length to give you a higher stance for squatting. This helps to make sure the downward force you experience isn’t wasted to provide you with the best possible leverage to avoid any movement forward. This will help you to maintain your strength throughout your squat.
Multi-Training or CrossFit Shoes
These styles of shoes still provide you with support for lifting but also more flexibility for other workout routines such as cardio or calisthenics. It’s important to remember they aren’t the best for when it comes to pure running. But they do offer more support for lifting and jumping.
Shoe security is also important in CrossFit exercises so crossfit specific shoes are made specifically for that purpose. When you move from motion to motion you will want to make sure your shoe stays in place. A strap option that covers the middle of your foot may be a suitable option as well as two straps to provide you with better shoe security, the choice really depends on your preference.
Benefits of Weightlifting Shoes
By now you understand what weightlifting shoes are and what they are designed for, but do you really know why they are beneficial to your weightlifting routine? Let’s look at their benefits and how they help you to improve.
A Firm Solid Base
To get the best results out of your weightlifting you want to have a solid base. This can help to generate the maximum amount of power to help you push through your lifts. Having a hard sole that most weightlifting shoes offer can help you to utilize the force your body is generating to propel you effectively through your lifts. For deadlifts, if you can generate much more force into the ground, you will be able to pull that bar much easier and smoother. A firm solid platform will also help you with snatch, clean and jerk movements by giving you the force to generate the weight upwards easily.
Snug, Sturdy Support
When you lift weights, you want to have control over your body, it’s movements and your techniques. This all starts right with your feet. Weightlifting shoes provide extra security to ensure your feet are strapped into place to prevent any slipping or lateral movement. This can help you when you are pushing through to new PRs. Many weightlifters have been known to experience rollovers of their ankles during a movement which has been known to cause ligament tears or even worse.
Increase in Traction
The last thing you’ll want to have happen when you have heavy weights above your head is for your feet to slip. Weightlifting shoes soles provide you with a secure grip to ensure you have a stable base when lifting.
Improvement in Ankle Mobility
The higher heel of a weightlifting shoe can help provide the proper foot positioning for lifting and squatting. This height increase helps to reduce the range of motion that is needed from your ankle, which reduces stress placed on your ankle during these lifts.
Protection for Your Knees
When your feet aren’t aligned properly, your ankle will project upward. This will cause the joints to gain additional stress especially in your knees. Having a proper pair of weightlifting shoes can help you avoid injuries to the knee by ensuring your ankles are aligned correctly.
Can You Lift in Running Shoes?
Running shoes and weightlifting shoes are in opposite worlds when it comes to overall performance with weightlifting. Running shoes have more cushion while your traditional weightlifting shoes are harder. While weightlifting shoes have a flatter sole, running shoes provide heavy arch support to ensure your foot is always properly positioned when running on different surfaces. Many running shoes also have a raised toe to help increase your forefoot mobility, this is so your running stride can remain uncompromised. These features when put together do not create a solid, firm base for weightlifting which is exactly what you are looking for.
Problems with Running Shoes for Lifting
While running shoes provide great support for the repetitive motion of running, weightlifting really requires a different form of support entirely. When you are lifting heavy, you want a more rigid, solid sole so that you can really drive your heels into the floor for maximum power in exercises like that of deadlifting and squatting.
Having an unstable base and surface will inhibit your power when lifting and increase your risk of injury. When you use weightlifting shoes that provide you with a more solid base and foundation, you can drive all that power into the lift instead of worrying about stabilizing your feet like you would have to do with running shoes.
A lack of stability will make it more challenging for you to learn any new movements or lifts. This will lead to the development of poor movement and poster and overtime can create a higher risk of injury. When you squat on an unstable base for example, your knees may tend to cave which will increase the stress and pressure on the joints, leading to a higher risk of injury in the future.
When it comes to having strong feet, you won’t get that from lifting in running shoes. The arch support offered in running shoes doesn’t help in muscle development in your feet, it does the opposite and prevents it. When you lift in running shoes, you are getting your body stronger, everywhere except your feet, and which part of your body is consistent in almost every lift you complete?
Top Weightlifting Shoe (Olympic & Powerlifting) Reviews
We’ve looked through countless number of weightlifting shoes to help provide you with the very best in the market.
Nobull Men’s Training Shoe
Nobull Men’s Training shoes are designed for maximum performance when lifting heavy. They offer great support, flexibility and traction. Designed for multi environments, they can be used for your indoor weightlifting or even outdoor weightlifting competitions.
- Lightweight and flexible
- Seamless one-piece design with abrasion resistant material
- Included medial guards for extra protection and security on sidewalls
- Narrow toe
- Minimal arch support
Nordic Powerlifting Shoes for Heavy Weightlifting – Men’s Squat Shoe
The Nordic Powerlifting shoe features and open forefoot made from quality breathable mesh. The reinforced stitching and sturdy Velcro strapping provide increased stability and superior durability. This heel measures at 1.4” to help for those who need a higher heel. The additional height helps to increase stability and provides you with the ability to squat deeper, making these shoes suitable for heavy squats.
- Provides a solid, stable base for lifting
- Higher heel for added depth in squats
- Suitable for those with wide feet
- Sole durability is lacking
Inov-8 Men’s Bare-XF V2 Shoe
The Inov-8 is made from a textile and synthetic material giving it added durability. The rubber sole is great for those in speed training. The lightweight fit offers great breathability and more room for your toes. The meta-flex technology provides a natural flexing of your foot allowing to adapt to the environment with ease.
- Great for CrossFit and speed training workouts
- Lightweight, low heel makes these suitable for deadlifting
- The rubber sole adds support and security to provide a no-slip base
- Only a few color themes / options available
- Sole insole may ride up making the fit uncomfortable
Nike Romaleos 3 Men’s Weight Lifting Shoes
The Nike Romaleos 3 Weight Lifting Shoes are great for anyone who loves lifting weights. They provide a good deal of stability and help to lock your feet into a secure base throughout any lifting sessions. They also have an added feature of coming with interchangeable soles so that you can switch between a more firm or softer type of support depending on what type of exercise and lifts you will be performing. The firm support soles provide you that extra grip for deadlifts. The midfoot nylon strap system provides you a dynamic and stable position. These are a great shoe for anyone strength training and lifting.
Multiple color options available
Lightweight material keeps these from weighing your feet down
Interchangeable insoles for additional support
The strap has been reported to break easily
Adidas Men’s Adipower Weightlifting Shoe
The Adidas Men’s Adipower Weightlifting shoe is available in a variety of different color choices, all adorned with the infamous Adidas stripes. Made from a high quality TPU rubber for the sole to securely hold your base in with any lift. The fully adjustable style hook and loop strap helps to provide added stability and durability. Added vent flow openings on the shoe helps to provide extra breathability for those long hours of wear.
- Multiple color options available
- Great for squats
- Suitable shoes for those just starting out in a weightlifting program
- Durability of sole is not that great
- Metal clip in laces may fall off
Reebok Men’s TR 2.0 Cross-Trainer Weightlifting Shoe
These Rebook Cross Training Weightlifting shoes are a multi-purpose shoe designed for CrossFit and other high-speed lifting exercises. They have been specially designed to help provide cradle support to your arch. They also provide great flexibility and comfort to give you a much better balance and more wide range of motion within your lunges and squats. The added benefit is that they come in a variety of colors and themes for you to choose from.
- Variety of color options available
- Constructed with an Imeva Sole
- Multi-surface outer sole offers increased stability
- Width sizes run small
- Thin insole
Otomix Stingray Escape Weightlifting Shoe
Created with the world of MMA and lifting intertwined, the Otomix Stingray Escape lifting shoes are lightweight, but they deliver on the support and stability they offer, especially around the ankles. They provide ultimate flexibility and a wider range of motion for all kinds of exercises. The leather and suede design come in four different color options. These make a great shoe for powerlifters.
- Great for powerlifting
- Thin sole for a grounded base
- Lightweight but durable
- Available in four different colors
- Seems may rip from repeated use
Adidas Men’s Lesitung 16 Weightlifting Shoe
The Adidas Men’s Lesitung Weightlifting Shoes were constructed to fit you just like a glove to provide support for powerlifting and large PRs! With the added security and stability to your base, you will be ready to increase not only in reps but weight as well. The Micro adjusting BOA lacing system provides a flexible but secure hold. Lightweight design gives you added flexibility and increased breathability. The flat outer sole provides a secure rear cradle for those heavy deadlifts.
- Durable rubber sole
- Micro adjusting BOA lacing for added security
- Lightweight design for increased flexibility
- Bright orange, vibrant color
- Sizes tend to run smaller, not true to size
Reebok Men’s Lifter Weightlifting Shoe
The Reebok Men’s Lifter Weightlifting Shoe provides a great deal of stability for any powerlifting sessions. The heat activated strap works to mold into your foot shape for a truly customized fit. The added heel clips help to hold your foot securely in place and the two strap closures offer that additional lock for an even more secure hold. These are a great choice for those that want a quality versatile shoe without the need to change between multiple pairs.
- Available in five different color themes
- Dual hook closers add additional security
- The anti-friction lining provides a comfortable fit
- Sizes run small, purchase a size up for a better fit
Inov-8 Men’s Fast lift 335 Weightlifting Shoe
The Inov-8 Men’s Fast lift Weightlifting Shoe offers a nylon lightweight design to provide you with increased durability and breathability. An adjustable hook and loop system help to provide you with an increase in security to keep your foot strapped in place all workout long. The rubber sole offers superior grip for those workouts that require a better, more stable base, like deadlifts. The flexibility in design makes these a great choice too for those who participate in CrossFit or fast impact style weightlifting.
- Secure hold with the adjustable hook and loop strap system
- Lightweight, flexible design for fast lifts
- Available only in two different color themes
- Sizes tend to run a bit smaller, not true to size
Otomix Ninja Warrior Weightlifting Shoe
The Otomix Ninja Warrior shoe delivers a solid 0.75” heel height and make for a great starter pair of weightlifting shoes for those just first starting out. They are designed from real leather with a solid rubber sole, which provides you with a great grip. They are lightweight but incredibly durable. The thin sole provides a superior grip on the ground below you.
- Durable and quality construction
- Wider toe box is great for those with wide feet
- Only comes in white red and green
- Sizes run about a ½ size too small
Pendlay Men’s Black Weightlifting Shoes
Created from a synthetic leather and nylon mesh material, these shoes are lightweight but super tough and durable. There are two metatarsal straps to provide ultimate security when lifting. The wide toe box makes these a great choice for anyone who has wide feet. The 3-4-inch heel height is great for those needing that extra boost to ensure proper form and alignment.
- Lighter, stronger sole
- Sizing isn’t true to size
Final Recommendations About Lifting Shoes
Throughout history there have been many styles and designs when it comes to weightlifting shoes. Considering your personal preferences as well as additional factors like heel height, shoe security, material and more will help you provide you with the best information needed when finding that perfect weightlifting shoe.
You’ll be surprised how different a good pair of weightlifting shoes will feel. You will help to limit the amount of strain on your legs during a workout and help prevent any risk of injury. Hopefully this guide has helped to provide you with detailed information on what you should know when it comes to finding the best pair for you. The bottom line is this, weightlifting shoes got their name for a reason. They were created to help increase your performance during weightlifting sessions while reducing your risk of injury. The benefits that they offer outweigh any doubts you may have in purchasing a pair. The best thing you can do right now, is to get out of those running shoes when you are lifting ASAP!
Frequently Asked Questions About Weightlifting Shoes
It’s only natural to be curious about weightlifting shoes when you are looking to buy them. We’ve put together some of the more frequently asked questions to help give you some answers that may assist you in buying the best pair for your needs.
I’m new to Olympic lifting, do I really need a pair of weightlifting shoes?
If you aren’t trying to improve on your lifts, increase in weight or repetition and are satisfied with where you start, then no you don’t need them. But chances are even a newbie weightlifter doesn’t want to stay where they started at and has a goal of lifting heavy. Because of this a good, solid pair of weightlifting shoes is a must. Once you’ve committed yourself to lifting on a more consistent basis, having a good pair of shoes will be one of the most vital pieces you’ll need for your workout.
Do weightlifting shoes really help?
Wearing them won’t instantly turn you into a professional weightlifter, but they will increase your range of motion in the ankle, help to provide you with a solid starting squat base and reduce your risk of injury during many lifts. An added benefit is that because of these pros, you’ll be able to lift more weight, and isn’t that something we all strive for as weightlifters?
How can weightlifting shoes help with my squat depth for powerlifting?
Hip pain or even tightness in the hop joint can inhibit your ability to achieve a low, proper squat depth. This is usually due to the top of the thigh bone not being able to glide smoothly back into the pelvis. Weightlifting shoes for squats are created specifically to help you maintain the right squatting position. This allows you to hinge at the hip easier and provide for a smoother glide into a deeper squatting position.
Why do I have to worry about heel height?
An elevated heel in a pair of weightlifting shoes can help to enhance your own ability to make sure you have the proper posture while lifting. Repetitive motion and movements that are common in weightlifting can place extra stress on your joints, and without the right stance and position, this can put you at a higher risk of injury. Heel elevations help to increase your mobility and flexibility as well which can help you reach those goals and PRs in no time without hurting yourself of course!
How do weightlifting shoes reduce injury?
A good pair of weightlifting shoes customized to your style of workout and lift can help provide you with that solid base you need to start. The proper heel height will also allow you to maintain the correct form throughout the lift helping to reduce the risk of injury to your muscles as well as your joints.
What should I expect after I switch shoes?
If you’ve been weightlifting in a non-weightlifting shoe for some time, you may feel worse in the beginning when you first start. This really shouldn’t surprise you as you will be completely changing the way you are lifting. And like all other changes there is a period of adjustment. This adjustment period won’t mean your shoes aren’t working or that it was a bad idea to switch, it will just mean you will get used to the new, proper way over time. The raised heel in weightlifting shoes may make you feel like you are standing too far forward at first. This is because you haven’t gotten adjusted to your body’s new balance yet. Within a few weeks your body will adjust and become used to the new proper form and alignment.
How long do weightlifting shoes last?
Most weightlifting shoes can last anywhere from one to five years. They may not show their signs of wear and tear on the exterior, but you will notice the upper portion of the shoe starts to lose some of its rigidity. The best clue to needing to replace your weightlifting shoes is to listen to your body. If your cushioning feels a bit off or you don’t feel like you have the proper support anymore it may be time.