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When it comes to lifting weights, far too many people focus on weightlifting belts, gloves and lifting straps, while completely ignoring the gym shoes they choose to wear. Not only can the right shoes boost your performance and help you lift more weight, but the wrong shoes can also be dangerous and increase the risk of injury.

Now, you don’t want to blindly pick up a pair of weightlifting shoes and wear them for every workout. Different shoes serve different purposes, and your training style dictates the type of shoe you should be wearing.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about weightlifting shoes, share our favorite shoes for any training goal and explain exactly how shoes can impact your workout.

Our Picks for the Best Weight Lifting Shoes: 

adidas

Pros:

  • The shoe has a moderate heel lift, making it suitable for most types of weightlifting.
  • The strap and lace combination, along with a midsole stability wedge, is designed to keep you anchored in place during your most intensive lifts. 

Cons:

  • If you want the highest possible heel lift, these may be a little bit too low.
  • If you’re doing functional training, with a lot of running and dynamic movement, the flat, secure sole may restrict your movement too much. 

The adidas Powerlift 5 is the most versatile weightlifting shoe on the market. Featuring a modest heel raise, a flat-soled stable surface, and a combination of laces and straps to keep you secure, this shoe has a smart collection of features that can make nearly any weightlifter happy. Plus, it’s reasonably priced at $120.

The Powerlift 5 doesn’t have the highest heel lift of all the shoes on our list, but unless you specialize in Olympic lifts and prefer the highest possible heel, you shouldn’t have any problems. This shoe is a bit stiff, so walking around for a normal workout may be uncomfortable. For those who train with lots of running, jumping and agility mixed in with their lifting–like Crossfit athletes–this shoe may be a bit too stiff to wear for the entire workout.

If you don’t mind changing into these shoes only when you need them, you’ll love the adidas Powerlift 5.

  • Price: At $120, these shoes are right in the middle of the pack. They’re about the same cost as high-end running shoes, but not quite as expensive as some of the other options on our list.
  • Material: The canvas upper portion is made of at least 50% recycled materials, for a lightweight, breathable and sustainable fit. The bottom features a rubber outsole to increase traction and stability.
  • Color options: The unisex Powerlift 5s are available in four colors for men and women. 

Purchase adidas Powerlift 5


Reebok

Pros:

  • The cushioned bottom makes for a comfortable, versatile fit, perfect for functional training.
  • The ROPEPRO+ is a unique feature that’s not commonly seen in shoes, designed for those who regularly climb ropes during their training.

Cons:

  • The flexible, cushioned bottom is designed to add comfort, but it’s not quite as stable as a pure weightlifting shoe.
  • The knit upper can quickly break or tear for some users.

The Reebok Nano X2 was specifically designed to meet the varied demands of CrossFit. Whether you’re lifting, running, jumping or climbing a rope, the versatile Nano X2 is one of the best CrossFit shoes on the market.

It’s designed to be secure enough for heavy lifts, but flexible enough to run, jump and change directions. The shoes also feature Reebok’s ROPEPRO+ edges on the outsole, which help secure your grip when climbing ropes.

Related Post: The Best Crossfit Equipment for Your 2022 Home Gym

The only downside is potentially the quality. Some Amazon reviewers claim that the shoes fall apart and rip after several wears, but many other users report no issues at all. The knit upper isn’t the most durable material, so we’d guess that the quality and longevity really depend on exactly how much wear and tear you put on these shoes. 

  • Price: These shoes cost $135, which is on the higher end of a mid-range shoe.
  • Material: The upper portion is made of Flexweave knit for a breathable shoe, and the sole is made from Floatride Energy Foam to provide cushion and comfort for running and jumping.
  • Color options: The Nano X2 currently comes in 10 colors for both men’s and women’s options. 

Reebok Nano X2


Nike

Pros:

  • The built-in heel-plate is designed to provide a stable lifting surface.
  • The foam bottoms aim to provide a comfortable, flexible training surface, with a rubber outsole that still provides grip and traction.

Cons:

  • This shoe is designed to be versatile, so it may not have a high enough heel lift for pure weightlifters.

Nike Metcon 7s–the latest in Nike’s popular Metcon series–elevated the multi-purpose training shoe to a new level. Unlike Nike Romaleos, Nike’s pure Olympic lifting shoe, the Metcon is designed to be used for any kind of workout, making it a great choice for beginners who haven’t focused on one lifting specialty.

While older Metcon models included a removable lifting heel insert, the Metcon 7 features a wide, flat heel with an inner plate to evenly distribute weight across the entire heel. It’s a modest heel lift that helps you squat more comfortably, but it’s not so high that it disrupts your other training.

Related Post: The Best Nike Shoes for Men in 2022

The bottom features Nike React foam for a comfortable ride for any running and jumping, and the outer rubber sole is designed to grip roads, boxes, and even climbing ropes. Nike has also included a tab that secures your laces, so you don’t have to worry about them coming untied mid-workout. 

  • Price: These shoes cost $130, right in line with some of the other options on our list.
  • Material: The bottom portion is made from Nike React Foam, wrapped in a durable, high-traction rubber wrap. The top is made of a lightweight mesh with textured overlays.
  • Color options: The Metcon 7 comes in 5 colors for men, and 6 colors for women. 

Nike Metcon 7 


NOBULL

Pros:

  • High-quality, durable, hand-crafted shoe built to last.
  • The heel lift is designed for Olympic lifting, providing a secure, stable foundation for squats, cleans, jerks and any other Olympic lift.

Cons:

  • These shoes are designed purely for weightlifting, so they won’t be the best shoes to walk around in or wear for any sort of cross-training.
  • At this price, only having one purpose may be a negative for those who do more than weightlifting. 

The NOBULL Lifter is an extremely high-quality, handmade Olympic weightlifting shoe, designed to last with a focus on quality above all else.

This is a simple, raised-heel weightlifting shoe, designed purely for weightlifting. While it doesn’t offer the versatility of the Nano X2 or Metcon 7, this is the highest quality shoe on our list. The NOBULL Lifter also features an 18.5mm heel-to-toe drop, a high lift designed to help Olympic lifters train with a full range of motion.

Each shoe is made with high-quality leather and handmade by a master craftsman. The Lifter’s stacked leather heel consists of individually cut layers, bonded, waxed, finished and buffed to reveal the natural grains.

 If Olympic lifting is your passion, these are an excellent shoe, but if you need something more versatile that can get you through any kind of workout, we’d recommend a different option.

  • Price: The NOBULL Lifter is an extremely high-quality, handmade shoe, which means it can’t be cheap. At $299, it is the highest-priced shoe on our list.
  • Material: The elevated heel is made from multiple layers of wood, and the top features hand-selected, durable leather, rich in natural oils.
  • Color options: The unisex Powerlift 5s are available in four colors for men and women. 

Purchase NOBULL Lifter 


Puma

Pros:

  • The wide base and toe box provide a stable surface that keeps your feet anchored in place while squatting, deadlifting or any other sort of weight lifting.
  • These are extremely durable, especially for the relatively low price point.

Cons:

  • The heel lift isn’t quite as high as some other shoes, so those who prefer a higher lift may struggle with these shoes.
  • These shoes run small—order half a size up from your normal size. 

One of the lowest-priced options on our list, the Puma FUSE is a durable pair of training shoes, with enough versatility to perform nearly any sort of workout.

With a wide toe box and a TPU clip wrapped around the heel for added stability, these shoes are sure to keep you locked in place throughout your squat workout. The top is made of high-tensile mesh, designed to withstand any stressors from your training.

Related Post: Best Squat Machines of 2022

The bottom features PUMAGRIP rubber, for maximum traction during your training. The wide base is perfect for lifting, though these shoes aren’t a great fit for running due to their stiffness.

  • Price: The Puma FUSE is only $90, a very affordable price, especially for the durability you’re getting.
  • Material: The canvas upper portion is made of at least 50% recycled materials, for a lightweight, breathable and sustainable fit. The bottom features a rubber outsole to increase traction and stability.
  • Color options: The Puma FUSE shoes come in three colors and are unisex (aka, men’s sizing—women should order 1.5 sizes down for their equivalent size). 

Purchase Puma Fuse


Converse

Pros:

  • Stable, flat surface is designed for deadlifting and strength training.
  • An iconic shoe, making these stylish both in and out of the gym.
  • They’re very affordable, and come in nearly any color you can imagine.

Cons:

  • These shoes aren’t designed for fitness activities, so while they’re great for weightlifting, they’re a poor choice for running, jumping or any other sort of cross-training. 

Walk into any weightlifting gym or powerlifting competition, and you’ll likely see plenty of people wearing the iconic Converse Chuck Taylor shoe, one of the most popular lifting shoes of all time, especially for those who prefer the minimalist look.

Budget-friendly, stylish and flat-soled, these shoes are an excellent choice for anyone on a budget. While they aren’t specifically designed for weightlifting, the flat, sturdy sole provides a very stable base.

They don’t have a heel lift, but some users prefer a flat shoe, even during squats, and the flat sole is an excellent choice for any deadlift variation. Unlike many other options on our list, the high top Chuck Taylor also offers a bit of ankle support, if you don’t like using low-top shoes.

  • Price: At $65 for the high-top option, and $60 for the low-top, the price is excellent for budget-oriented lifters.
  • Material: The canvas upper portion makes for a lightweight shoe, and the rubber, flat sole provides a stable base for lifting.
  • Color options: The Chuck Taylor All-Star comes in 11 base colors, and for an additional $20, you can create your own custom pair, with nearly any color combination you can think of. 

Purchase Chuck Taylor All Starts


Do – Win

Pros:

  • A 0.75-inch hard plastic heel is ideal height for Olympic lifting.
  • The double-strap design will keep your feet securely locked in place.
  • A wide design stands apart from the competitors, as these were designed to accommodate even the widest feet.

Cons:

  • Like other pure lifting shoes, a steep heel and stiff bottom mean these shoes are best for weightlifting, and won’t work well for other forms of cross-training.

Designed for Olympic weightlifting, the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes are our pick for anyone looking for a sturdy, high-heeled and wide lifting shoe.

Do-Win intentionally makes its shoes wider than most, looking to provide a comfortable fit for athletes who find other brands’ shoes too narrow and restrictive. With a sturdy base, two straps for stability and security and a high-traction sole, we recommend these shoes for any athletes with wide feet who focus primarily on weightlifting movements.

The stiff support means they’re not the best choice for cross-training, but they’re an excellent choice for Olympic lifting and squatting.

  • Price: The Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes are $95—more affordable than many other weightlifting shoes.
  • Material: Synthetic leather and nylon mesh make up the upper portion, with an elevated hard plastic heel.
  • Color options: The Do-Win Weightlifting shoes come in one color, a unisex black design. 

Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes


Why Buy Weightlifting Shoes?

While it may seem like a shoe is a shoe, when it comes to weight lifting, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A good weightlifting shoe provides a stable, safe foundation for training, and helps you maintain the proper position for training.

When performing any exercise on your feet, you want to make sure the force your body generates goes directly into the ground, rather than through a cushion.

If you try to strength train with cushioned running shoes, which are designed to absorb impact, you’ll likely feel your feet shifting around and wobbling a bit, which can be dangerous with a heavy load on your back. If you want to feel this at home, try squatting on one leg with a bare foot on the ground, then try the same thing standing on a pillow.

This is a bit more exaggerated than with running shoes, but the same principle applies. It’s not just squatting that requires a stable foundation. Deadlift, overhead pressing, lunging or any other strength-based exercise will be much safer with a firm, steady foundation.

Benefits of Weightlifting Shoes

Safety aside, let’s look at some of the benefits of using a weightlifting shoe, compared to working out barefoot or in sturdy non-running shoes. 

Whether you’re using squat shoes, deadlift shoes or Olympic lifting shoes, you’ll find that proper footwear provides a stable, safe foundation for training. Most weightlifting movements, particularly those that use a barbell, involve precise, complex movements.

Lifting shoes that are designed to support the movement you’re training stabilize your foot, help you lift more comfortably and ensure your body stays in the proper position.

Related Post: 10 Best Lifting Straps for Weightlifting

What Kind of Weightlifting Shoes Are There?

We’ll start with squat shoes, which have an elevated heel. By changing the angle of your foot, the biomechanics of the entire exercise change. You’ll feel the movement significantly more in your quads, which is the primary target muscle when squatting, and most users find they can squat much deeper, without having to over-arch their lower back. 

If you don’t like the raised heel for your squats, or you’re working on deadlifts, overhead pressing or other movements, you can also use a flat-soled shoe. These are designed to provide zero heel lift and lock your foot into the ground, without providing the unstable cushion of a running shoe.

How to Use Weightlifting Shoes

If you’re using flat-soled shoes, you really don’t need to do anything special. Wear them to the gym, train as you normally would, and consider trading them for cushioned running shoes if you plan to do any cardio or non-lifting activity.

With the elevated heel of squat shoes, you may find that walking around is a bit awkward, with such a high heel lift. The soles often have no give or bend, and the shoes may make your feet feel heavy.

Many weightlifters will wear regular shoes to the gym, and bring their squat shoes in a separate gym bag. This way, you can change into your squat shoes, do your exercises and then put your regular shoes back on when you’re finished. 

What to Look for in Weightlifting Shoes

Not all shoes are created equal, and even if you’ve decided on flat shoes versus squat shoes, there are still a range of options to suit your needs. Here are the key points we suggest looking for. 

Fit

This may seem obvious, but proper fit is essential. With weightlifting shoes, especially squat shoes, there’s often a Velcro strap that goes over the laces, offering extra support and security, while keeping your laces together.

This means that the shoe may feel slightly narrower than a normal shoe. If you have wide feet, you may need to go up half a size. 

Heel Height

The height of your heel lift is also important, and most manufacturers sell varying heights depending on your goals. For those with limited ankle mobility, a higher heel makes it easier to squat through a full range of motion without your heel lifting off the ground.

If you’re doing serious Olympic lifting, you’ll likely want to choose a shoe with a steeper heel height, which helps you get into the deep squatting positions, especially with front squats.

If you’re doing a more balanced program, with back squats, overhead presses and lunges, then a smaller heel lift will likely be just fine. 

Cost

Finally, you need to consider your budget, and how often you’ll be using these shoes. Weightlifting shoes may be more expensive than regular running shoes, especially those with a high-heel lift. If you know you’re going to be doing serious lifting for years to come, it’s probably worth the investment!

However, if you’re just getting started and want to test the waters of weightlifting shoes, you may want to consider starting with a more affordable pair to see how you like them. 

FAQs

    • Are flat shoes best for lifting?

This depends! If you’re squatting, you may want to use a heel lift, allowing you to squat deeper without losing stability. However, some users who have good mobility and no issues with deep squats find that the heel lift is a bit too much.

To test this for yourself, you can try some bodyweight squats at home with your bare feet, and compare it to squatting with your heels slightly elevated, on something like a book.

If you find that squatting with your heels up feels more comfortable, and allows you to squat deeper without your heels lifting on the ground, you’ll likely do well with a heel lift. However, if you prefer the feeling of a flat foot, and don’t notice your heel lifting at the bottom, flat shoes are fine to use.

The only time you should avoid an elevated heel is when performing deadlifts, though it’s easy to bring along a pair of flat shoes, or even deadlift in your socks if the gym allows it.

    • How do I pick a powerlifting shoe?

 When powerlifting, you should consider the needs of your sport. Powerlifting involves the bench press, squat and deadlift, so you’ll likely need multiple pairs of shoes, with a different pair for whatever you’re training that day.

For deadlifting, flat shoes are generally recommended since the movement involves sitting back on your heels, and you shouldn’t have any heel lift. With squatting, a heel lift will be helpful, and with the bench press, the shoe choice doesn’t make much of an impact.

Many powerlifters will wear a flat-soled shoe–like the Chuck Taylor–the majority of the time, and change into squat shoes when squatting or using the leg press.

    • Are running shoes good for lifting?

 No, running shoes are not ideal for weightlifting. If you’re simply strength training with some machines or light dumbbells, you’ll be fine, but if you’re doing heavy barbell lifts, running shoes don’t provide a stable base for training.

Even with movements like lunging or step-ups, most lifters find that running shoes don’t offer enough stability to safely train. 

Related Post: Best Running Shoes for Men

Related Post: Best Running Shoes for Women

    • Should I wear lifting shoes for deadlifts?

This is completely optional!

For deadlifts, you want a flat foot, so flat-soled shoes or even barefoot is most ideal. Now if you’re training in a commercial gym, check the rules before taking your shoes off, as many facilities require shoes at all times.

However, if you’re lifting at home, or in a powerlifting-focused gym, you may be able to deadlift in your socks. And wherever you are, deadlifting in flat-soled shoes is always a good idea.

Outside of that, lifting shoes are optional for deadlifts.

Final Thoughts

For anyone serious about strength training, weightlifting shoes are a fantastic investment. Whether you’re looking for a pure Olympic lifting shoe like the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe or a more versatile option like the Nike Metcon, you’re sure to find what you need on this list. 

Prices are accurate and items in stock as of publishing time.

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