Home » 5 Best Barefoot Shoes for Lifting and Working Out

5 Best Barefoot Shoes for Lifting and Working Out

Barefoot shoes continue to grow in popularity as being viable footwear options for working out and lifting. Personally, I love rotating barefoot shoes in with my cross-training shoes for lifting and working out. Both footwear options provide a nice blend of different feelings when squatting, deadlifting, and doing some recreational training.

If you’re brand new to barefoot shoes, then you’ve likely wondered which barefoot shoes are best for working out and lifting. Not all barefoot shoes are created equal, so I wanted to put together a list of some of my favorite barefoot shoes for lifting and working out. Barefoot shoes can be awesome options for working out when you want a nice “close-to-the-ground” feel when training.

In this best barefoot shoes for working out and lifting round-up, I’m going to discuss why I like each pair of barefoot shoes below for certain lifting, performance, and workout settings.

 

Looking for new barefoot shoes? Check out my Best Barefoot Shoes round-up to be matched with the perfect pairs for things like CrossFit, hiking, and much more.

Best Barefoot Shoes for Lifting

When assessing the best barefoot shoe for lifting and general strength training, I’m concerned with three key performance areas. First, I want to make sure the barefoot shoe’s sole grips different surfaces well like wooden platforms and rubber gym floors so you never run into traction issues while lifting.

Second, I assess the shoe’s toe box and if it has a good width for accommodating full toe splay. Third and lastly, I look into the shoe’s overall durability and assess if it’s a good barefoot shoe for recreational lifting, general strength training, and barbell work.

My Top Pick: Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

The favorite barefoot shoe for lifting and overall strength training is the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III. This model ticks a lot of boxes when it comes to being a strong performer in the gym and when working out.

I like the width of this shoe’s toe box and think it will work with a variety of foot anatomies. The Active Sole in this shoe also provides a nice level of foot articulation and the rubber sole grips different gym floors really well.

 

I also like that you can take the insole out in this shoe to get closer to the ground for things like deadlifts and that the internal portion of the shoe is finished. This is great for durability purposes and for providing you with a variety in regard to how this shoe fits and feels.

The final aspect to like about the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is that it’s a good shoe for daily wear as well. This model has a clear aesthetic which makes it a dynamic option for both working out and wearing on a daily basis.

  • Best For: Heavy Lifting, Casual Workouts, and Barbell Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.85 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size, but there are no half sizes (except for 12.5)
  • Read My ReviewVivobarefoot Primus Lite III Review

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

$145.00

vivobarefoot primus lite 3
4.8
Stability
4.9
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.8

Best For

  • Heavy Weight Training
  • Daily Wear
  • Casual Workouts
  • Lighter Runs and Athletic Training

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Longer Barefoot-Style Running Workouts

 

Best Barefoot Shoe for CrossFit

When assessing the best barefoot shoes for CrossFit, I’m mostly concerned with a shoe’s ability to be durable and versatile for the demands of CrossFit workouts.

For example, the shoe needs to have an upper construction that can hold up rope climbs, burpees, and other exercises where abrasion is normal.

My Top Pick: Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3

My favorite barefoot shoe for CrossFit is the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3. This shoe does an exceptional job across the board at delivering a strong performance for CrossFit workouts and exercises that you’ll regularly tackle during WODs.

I like the Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3’s upper construction for CrossFit and like that it features Inov-8’s signature Rope-Tec through its midfoot. This feature is essentially additional upper layers to promote durability and a little extra grip when rope climbing.

 

The toe box in this model also has additional layering for promoting their durability during exercises that have toe dragging like burpees. Thus far, I’ve yet to have issues with the upper durability in this model during CrossFit-style training.

The 3mm Power Footbed in this shoe is also great for providing a super minimalist feel when training and working to get a lot of foot articulation. The only caveat to this model is that its toe box isn’t the widest and if you want maximal width with a barefoot shoe for CrossFit, then you may want to look into the Xero Shoes 360.

  • Best For: CrossFit, Lifting, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 6.95 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3 Review

Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V3

$120

inov 8 bare xf 210 v3
4.8
Stability
4.9
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.8

Best For

  • Functional Fitness
  • Heavy Resistance Training
  • Daily Wear
  • Shorter and Mid-Range Runs

Falls Short

  • For Delivering Maximal Toe Box Width
  • For Lateral Training

 

Best Barefoot Shoe for Cross-Training

When assessing the best barefoot shoes for cross-training, I assess a shoe’s overall versatility and how it holds up to the demands of things like lifting, Crossfit, and even athletic-focused training.

Basically, a shoe needs to be able to excel in pretty much every performance setting and context you can throw at them. Durability is also an aspect I consider when looking into the sub-category of cross-training.

My Top Pick: Xero Shoes 360

The Xero Shoes 360 are a really good barefoot shoe for tackling the different demands that can come from cross-training. This shoe’s upper construction offers a nice amount of breathability and additional durability features for abrasion resistance.

The toe box on this model has an additional upper layer for preventing breakdown during toe dragging exercises and there’s an additional 3D rubber wrap covering the toe box and lower midfoot for long-term durability support.

 

I also like that this shoe comes with a removable insole and finished internal construction. This helps provide some variance in regard to how much “cushion” this shoe has, so if you’re new to barefoot shoes and cross-training you can keep the insole in and it will provide a more comfortable feel, relatively speaking in the context of barefoot shoes, that is.

The sole of this shoe is also another one of its perks for cross-training. I like that the sole wraps up the medial and lateral sides of the shoe at the base of the forefoot and this feature helps this model excel for multi-directional exercises and adds another layer of sole durability.

  • Best For: CrossFit, Cross-Training, and Lifting
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 10.2 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Xero Shoes 360 Review

Xero Shoes 360

$119.99

Xero Shoes 360
4.5
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • Heavy Lifting
  • Functional Fitness Workouts
  • Short Runs and Sprints
  • Daily Wear

Falls Short

  • For Long-Term Durability

 

Best Beginner Barefoot Shoe for Lifting

When considering the best beginner barefoot shoe for lifting I’m concerned with two primary performance areas. First, is the barefoot shoe a good all-around model for general lifting and working out?

Second, I’m considering the price point. Personally, I think opting for a lower-priced high-quality barefoot shoe is a good call for beginners because then you won’t be breaking the bank in the event you’re not a fan of barefoot shoes for lifting.

My Top Pick: Xero Shoes Prio

My favorite beginner barefoot shoe for lifting is the Xero Shoes Prio. This barefoot shoe is what I would consider a tried and true barefoot shoe that works well in a variety of contexts.

The Xero Shoes Prio can work well for lifting, casual running, daily wear, and pretty much everything else. This model has a durable sole and upper construction that help it be a dynamic barefoot shoe in a variety of performance contexts.

 

I also like that this shoe has a removable insole with a finished internal construction. If you’re new to barefoot shoes this is great because it provides you with a little bit of variance to acclimate to this style of footwear.

Regarding price, the Xero Shoes Prio costs $89.99 USD which is less than the other performance-specific barefoot shoes featured in this list. As a first barefoot shoe for beginners, I think the Xero Shoes Prio is a good pick.

  • Best For: Heavy Lifting and Barbell Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.85 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewXero Shoes Prio Review

Xero Shoes Prio

$89.99

Xero Shoes Prio
4.7
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.7

Best For

  • Heavy Barbell Work
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Casual Runs
  • Barefoot Shoe Newbies
  • Cost Efficiency

Falls Short

  • For Dedicated Barefoot Runners

 

Best Budget-Friendly Barefoot Shoe for Lifting

When looking into budget-friend barefoot shoes for lifting there is one main criterion that I’m considering and that’s price. Are the shoes super budget-friendly compared to other barefoot shoes for lifting? 

I also pay attention to performance but use price as my leading factor for establishing and selecting models that fit this performance category well.

My Top Pick: WHITIN Minimalist Shoes

It’s really tough to fault the WHITIN Minimalist Shoes when it comes to price. WHITIN is an Amazon-owned company that has a variety of minimalist shoes and styles that generally range from $30-$45 USD.

Compared to the other models on this list, these are by far the most cost-efficient barefoot shoes on this list. This model works well for its price and it can also be a good option for beginners who want to spend the least amount possible.

 

This shoe has a rubber sole that grips different surfaces well and in the gym, these shoes do an adequate job. Their upper is fairly durable for their price and the lacing system is decently secure.

The only two drawbacks to these shoes are their smell when they first arrive and their appearance. This shoe has a strong rubber smell when they’re brand new and their appearance is not the best. For example, my girlfriend says I have dinosaur toes and feet when I wear them.

  • Best For: Casual Training, Light Hikes, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 11.6 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewWHITIN Trail Runner Review

WHITIN Trail Runner

$40

whitin trail runner shoe
4.2
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.2
Quality
4.1

Best For

  • Casual Trail Running
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Daily Wear
  • Budget Shoppers

Falls Short

  • For Serious Training and Trails
  • For Long-Term Durability

 

Are Barefoot Shoes Good for Lifting?

Barefoot shoes can be good shoes for lifting for a couple of reasons. Before diving into these reasons though I want to make it clear that barefoot shoes can be great footwear options for lifting, but they’re not an end-all-be-all.

For example, I personally like rotating barefoot shoes in with my training shoes and weightlifting shoes because each style of footwear will be slightly better for certain contexts.

I think it’s important to keep an objective eye in regard to your footwear usage and to not fall into the trap of being “this is the best and only thing that works.” Below are two of my favorite reasons for using barefoot shoes in my training.

1. Great for Deadlifts and  Deadlift Variations

If you love to deadlift and regularly hit different deadlift variations with your training, then you’ll enjoy how barefoot shoes feel for this performance context. A barefoot shoe’s minimalist stack height, thin sole, and wide construction are fantastic for helping you get closer to the ground and promote stability.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii lifting

In the context of deadlifts and deadlift variations, this can be great because it helps you cut down on the total range of motion that you need to lift weight and it can help you better root the feet through the floor which can help with power production in some contexts.

If you’re really trying to optimize your deadlift performance, then it’s hard to fault barefoot shoes and how their construction support deadlifts.

2. Good for Foot Articulation and Active Foot Exercises

Another reason why barefoot shoes can be great for lifting is for the contexts of promoting foot articulation and building the feet. The thin soles on barefoot shoes promote their ability to easily bend and move with the natural mechanics of the foot.

Barefoot Shoes for Lifting and Working Out

This is great for anyone working to train their feet doing things like active foot exercises. It’s also a perk for lifters that want a high level of ground feedback for sensory purposes and for creating biases in how they’re sequencing the displacement of load through certain parts of the foot.

For example, if you’re tackling something like walking lunges in barefoot shoes, then you’ll likely notice that the shoes move really well with you and provide you with a high level of maneuverability.

How Should Barefoot Shoes Fit?

Generally, I recommend sizing your barefoot shoes so you have between .3″-6.” of space at the end of your shoe’s toe box. This is generally a good range for most foot anatomies and it doesn’t make barefoot shoes feel too cramped when working out.

how should barefoot shoes fit

If you have a more narrow foot, then you may want to stay on the lower end of this range, and if you have a wider foot, then you may want to opt for the larger range here. With so many different foot anatomies, barefoot shoe sizing needs to be individual.

This range is also generally a good bet for preventing any form of heel slip in your shoes. However, if you have additional barefoot sizing and fit questions, drop a comment below and I can try to help you out accordingly.

What Does Zero Drop Mean?

Zero drop indicates that a shoe’s heel-to-toe drop is 0mm. This means that the base of the heel and forefoot are sitting even with one another in a flat position.

What does Zero Drop Mean

Barefoot shoes are often referenced as having zero-drop construction, which simply means that the barefoot shoe’s heel-to-toe drop is 0mm. This is standard for pretty much all barefoot shoes since their purpose is to promote and flat and “natural” fit and feel that replicates being barefoot.

If you’re interested in the nitty-gritty details of using a zero drop shoe for lifting, then I’d suggest checking out my flat shoes for lifting article. This piece of content goes into more depth on the use of flat shoes for lifting and the contexts in which they’re useful.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Are barefoot shoes good for weight training?

A:
Barefoot shoes can be great footwear options for weight training. More specifically, barefoot shoes can be great footwear picks for deadlifts and lower body days where you desire a high amount of ground feedback.

Q:
Are barefoot shoes good for deadlifting?

A:
Barefoot shoes are great footwear options for deadlifts. Their minimalist soles help limit the total deadlift range of motion that you need to lift weight and their wide toe box construction promotes full toe splay for stability.

Takeaway Thoughts

Barefoot shoes can be great footwear options for lifting and working out. They come with minimalist soles and zero drop constructions which can be useful and beneficial in certain lifting contexts.

With so many barefoot shoes on the market, it can be overwhelming trying to find the perfect pair of barefoot shoes for lifting.

If you have any questions on the barefoot shoes mentioned above, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly).

That Fit Friend is a site that is supported by myself (Jake Boly) and its readers. If you purchase products through affiliates links on this site, then I may receive a small commission on the sale. These commissions help keep the lights on here at That Fit Friend so I can continue to create content and they help me purchase new models to review!

nv-author-image

Jake Boly

I've been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I've trained hundreds of clients, written thousands of articles, reviewed over 100+ pairs of training shoes, and have produced a large list of training videos. I live and breathe fitness and training gear, and I think it's important that reviewers walk the walk with the gear they're testing. As for my educational background, I have my Masters in Sports Science, Bachelors in Exercise Science, and have my CSCS.

2 thoughts on “5 Best Barefoot Shoes for Lifting and Working Out”

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