What Are The Best Weightlifting Shoes?

By Steve Hall

May 4, 2021

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When you are just getting started with weightlifting and strength training it's natural to wonder what the best kind of shoes are for lifting weights.

The best shoes for weightlifting have a thicker, flatter sole than standard air cushioned sneakers. This provides more stability and reduces pressure on your legs and knees. Squash or basketball shoes work well for lighter weights. For heavier weights consider specially designed weightlifting shoes.

In this article we go through the benefits of the various types of shoes you can use for weightlifting in more detail so you can decide what is best for you.

weightlifting shoes

best weightlifting shoes for beginners

If you're a beginner it doesn't matter too much which shoes you choose as long as they have a flat sole. You can get just about any kind of footwear, even the cheapest pair will work for lighter weights at the beginning . Try to go with weightlifting specific brands.

are squash shoes good for lifting weights?

Squash shoes are great for lifting but they can be used only for certain exercises. These sneakers have a hard sole which makes them perfect for squats and deadlifts because it provides more stability than cushioned soles of running shoes. Squatting (especially with big weights) in regular sneakers could cause knee problems or bad form due to lack of ankle support.

are basketball shoes good for lifting weights?

Like with squash shoes, you should stick with a hard-soled shoe. The majority of sneakers made for walking or running have cushioned soles which could be problematic if you're planning on lifting heavier weights. Basketball shoes are also great but they aren't ideal for wearing all day during a training session.

Should I Lift Weights Barefoot?

Wearing shoes will give you better stabilization and support throughout the exercises. You might need them when increasing your squat or deadlift with heavier weights but with lighter weights going barefoot is a great way to build strength in your feet and challenge your ankle mobility. It will help you keep your balance more effectively and lift more weight on other exercises.

Are Special Weightlifting Shoes Necessary?

You don't have to buy a pair of special weightlifting shoes in order to get stronger and gain muscle mass. However they can provide additional benefits which might turn out to be useful.

Weightlifting shoes can provide much better support for the ankles, knees and back. It might be advisable to wear them when you go heavier on squats and deadlifts because they can prevent bad form caused by lack of ankle mobility.

At the end of the day Weightlifting shoes are designed to help you perform your best and keep you from sustaining injuries. If you're serious about your training and especially if you intend to use heavier and heavier weights then they are definitely worth it.

The History Of weightlifting shoes

The weightlifting shoe came about based on how a weightlifter would set up to complete a lift and move their body under the barbell. 

In order to lift heavier weights athletes figured out that the faster they got under the bar and the lower they were able to get meant they had less of a distance to travel. Original techniques consisted of different foot placements.

With these techniques, boxing shoes or sneakers were good enough. It wasn’t until weightlifters figured out that they could get even lower under the bar by significantly pushing the front shin forward which would cause flexion in the ankle. However it was hard to keep the foot flat on the floor with this new technique. In comes the heeled shoe.

The heel on a weightlifting shoe was designed to enable greater movement in the ankle. Flat boxing shoes and boots just weren’t cutting it. That’s when specialized shoes began to be created. The first weightlifting shoe was a high top with a heel. However it was found that the high tops were too restrictive and eventually chopped down to a low cut shoe.

weightlifting shoes history

That’s when Adidas decided to begin working hand in hand with weightlifters to find the perfect harmony in form and function. Adidas was the first and only manufacturer of weightlifting shoes for nearly 40 years. They’ve since gone on to establish the standard in which a weightlifting shoe is designed.

Benefits of a weightlifting shoe

The balance between form and function is what’s necessary in a weightlifting shoe. They’ve been designed for the sole purpose of improving mobility, increasing stability and enhancing lifts. Their main benefit is flat out increased performance.

Weightlifting and power lifting shoes offer you extra support and stability, not only in the heel but also the bottom of your feet. They'll allow you to lift more weight with better form, because they reduce pressure on your legs and lower back, while protecting your ankles and feet.

How much do weightlifting shoes cost?

Weightlifting shoes cost between $70-$200. Most of the good weightlifting shoes have similar features and a flat sole; however, their prices may vary depending on size, brand name or materials used to make them.

Before purchasing, make sure to try on several pairs. It's really important that they feel good and give you proper support. I would suggest finding a local store where you can try out at least three different brands before deciding which one is best for you.

What to look for in a weightlifting shoe

When you set out to grab a pair of weightlifting shoes it might get a little confusing. Even though they are simple in design they are quite complex. You’ll want to consider a few things. The main decision making factors are going to be heel heights, straps/ tightening, heel material and lacing.

A good weightlifting shoe has an upper boot that is typically a little higher allowing for more stability in the ankle area, at least one strap or some sort of tightening mechanism, more room in the toes, a slightly elevated heel around ¾’s of an inch and stiff heels made from wood, EVA or leather.

Your body’s makeup will come into play when choosing the right heel height. The average heel height is about ¾’s of an inch. This is okay for most but might need to be increased or decreased if you have a long or short torso. Taller heels will however increase the range of motion in the ankles.

Securing mechanisms using come in the form of a strap or two with typical laces but a more modern version of a weightlifting shoe might incorporate BOA technology. BOA is a securing mechanism that allows you to dial in on the exact tightness of the shoe. It’s a little dial you turn to increase the tightness of the cable. A standard single strap shoe will suffice though.

Heels come in a variety of materials. The basic element you’re looking for is stiffness. You don’t want them to have any give whatsoever. That’s the whole point of the shoe, increased stability. The standard variety is a form of EVA or extremely hard plastic. There are other options like wood or stacked leather. It’s all preference really as they initially do the same thing.

If you buy a weightlifting shoe just make sure it’s gonna be stable and secure, that’s it honestly.

Why are weightlifting shoes flat?

The flat, hard soles of weightlifting shoes are designed specifically for the plantar-flexed position of a squat or deadlift: Your toes are extended downward and touching the floor.

The plantar-flexed position of your feet in a squat is nature's way to support the lower back - you should never let your knees cave as if you were going to do a knee bend.

What Is the Best weightlifting shoe?

The Adidas Powerlift 4 weightlifting shoes are without doubt very sturdy shoes. Since buying them I've not had any issues with them and I now don't worry about my foot slipping or not being stable enough.

The Adidas Powerlift 4 weightlifting shoes are excellent. The sole is made of a grippy rubber and the wedge at the back of the shoe is made out of a much more solid hard rubber. The upper is a lightweight canvas making this an all round, very high quality weightlifting shoe.

As a loyal Adidas fan I must admit I bought the Adidas Powerlift 4 Weightlifting Shoe out of pure brand preference. as they are the brand with the most history in weightlifting shoes. There were a few other shoes on the market at the time like the Nike Romaleos but I couldn’t be swayed by the neon green.

I also figured that since a lot of Olympic Weightlifters wore them they must be pretty good! What I did find was that they had high rated reviews and for the most part others who had purchased them were happy.

When wearing the Adidas Powerlift 4 weightlifting shoes I've gained mobility in my ankles and have been able to get lower with my squats. That slight wedge makes it so my tight calves can be stretched. In retrospect I really should have worked on my flexibility as that was the main issue, but these shoes did help out a lot. I worked up from 315lbs to a current 405lbs.

I did use my Adidas Powerlift 4 shoes for lifts other than the squat. Initially I kept them on for my full day’s worth of training except for deadlifts. However I was also incorporating olympic style lifts into my routine since my gym buddy was an Oly lifter. The shoes naturally helped a lot in the basic olympic lifts.

adidas powerlift 4
adidas powerlift 4 shoes

They have so far lasted well. I've been using them for over 2 years now and they are still in excellent condition. If I was in the position to purchase another weightlifting shoe I probably would go back to them even though there are many more brands on the market now. My experience has been great. I got what I expected out of the shoes and do see a real value in having them.

Conclusion

My experience with the Adidas Powerlift 4 weightlifting shoes has been above and beyond what I expected. Truthfully they really did give me the advantage I was looking for. If I you are considering buying weightlifting shoes then I highly recommend them.

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Steve Hall

Steve is a strength training fanatic who geeks out over the best, most efficient workouts, nutrition and gear to help get you stronger and healthier!

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