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The 5 Best Barefoot Shoes for Lifting and Working Out In 2024

Best Barefoot Shoes for Lifting Round Up

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Barefoot shoes continue to grow in popularity as viable footwear options for working out and lifting. 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 my best barefoot shoes for working out and lifting article, I’m going to discuss why I like each pair of barefoot shoes below for certain lifting, performance, and workout settings.

My Top Barefoot Shoe Picks for Lifting

UPDATE INFO: I updated this article in January 2024 to reflect changes in my CrossFit, cross-training, and budget sections. These changes reflect newer and stronger-performing barefoot shoe picks.

Testing the TYR DropZero Barefoot Trainer Stability

Best for Lifting: Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

How I Chose: When assessing the best barefoot shoe for strength training, I’m concerned with three performance areas. First, I want to make sure the barefoot shoe’s sole grips different surfaces well like wooden platforms and rubber gym floors.

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.

Pros

  1. Wide forefoot for splaying the toes
  2. The flexible sole with removable insole option
  3. Breathable upper

Cons

  1. High price point
  2. The outsole durability can lack with a lot of concrete use

Primus Lite III Specs

  • 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

$160

vivobarefoot primus lite 3
4.8
Stability
4.8
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

Why I Chose the Primus Lite III

My 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.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii shoe review

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 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 regarding 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 daily.

vivobarefoot primus lite iii lifting

Best for CrossFit: Vivobarefoot Motus Strength

How I Chose: 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.

Pros

  1. Outsole has good traction
  2. The sidewalls promote additional lateral support and durability
  3. Nice wide toe box

Cons

  1. Expensive price point
  2. Not the most breathable

Motus Strength Specs

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF

$200

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Barefoot Shoes Product Shot
4.7
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.8

Best For

  • Lifting
  • Cross-Training
  • CrossFit WODs
  • Short Runs
  • Athletic Sessions

Falls Short

  • For Cost Efficiency
  • For Longer Runs

Why I Chose the Motus Strength

The Vivobarefoot Motus Strength is a fantastic barefoot shoe for CrossFit and it’s one of the first models I’ve thoroughly enjoyed across all of my CrossFit WODs. This shoe works well for CrossFit for a few reasons.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Review

For starters, the upper of the Motus Strength is more rigid than other barefoot shoes. This is great for prolonging this shoe’s durability during rope climbs and it’s great for protecting the feet from abrasion.

The grippy outsole of this shoe is also a perk for CrossFit WODs. This model has more aggressive lugs than its peers like the Primus Lite Knit and III which is great for locking the feet down when squatting, snatching, and clean & jerking.

This shoe’s outsole wraps are also a nice subtle perk that boosts this shoe’s performance for CrossFit. The reinforced toe box and lateral side walls give you security and durability which is clutch since this shoe’s price point is higher.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for Lifting

Best for Cross-Training: Tolos Archetype 2.0

How I Chose: 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.

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

Pros

  1. Low stack height promotes ground feet
  2. The grippy outsole has good traction
  3. Wide toe box

Cons

  1. High-volume feet can find these uncomfortable
  2. The not the best breathability

Archetype 2.0 Specs

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.85 ounces (size 10 high-top model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size
  • Read My Review: Tolos Archetype 2.0 Review

Tolos Archetype 2.0

$120

Tolos Archetype 2.0 Product Image
4.8
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.9
Durability
4.6
Quality
4.8

Best For

  • Casual Wear
  • Cross-Training
  • Athletic Workouts
  • Strength Training
  • Sprints

Falls Short

  • For Breathability
  • For Longer Runs

Why I Chose the Tolos Archetype 2.0

The Tolos Archetype 2.0 has been a stellar barefoot shoe for my cross-training and athletic-focused workouts. This shoe is super popular in the movement culture crowd and that’s for good reason.

Tolos 2.0 for Daily Wear

I like the Archetype 2.0’s sock-like fit for cross-training because it gives this shoe a seamless fit and feel. When jumping and doing explosive exercises, this shoe moves well with the foot and has a good amount of upper security.

The outsole tread and design of the Archetype 2.0 are also nice for promoting grip on different surfaces. This shoe works well on turf, wooden platforms, and rubber gym floors so they’re a good pick for versatile training settings.

Another perk of the Archetype 2.0 that transcends lifting and cross-training is that they look good for a fair price. If you want a shoe for cross-training and wearing out and about then it’s tough to fault the Tolos Archetype 2.0’s performance.

Tolos Archetype 2.0 for Deadlifts

Best Beginner Shoe for Lifting: Xero Shoes Prio

How I Chose: 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. 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.

Pros

  1. Good entry-level barefoot gym shoes
  2. Decent price point for its versatility
  3. Removable insole for getting closer to the floor

Cons

  1. Upper can look dated and clunky
  2. The long-term durability can be variable

Prio Construction Specs

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 8.85 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Xero 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

Why I Chose the 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.

xero shoes prio lifting performance review

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 helps 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.

Xero Shoes Prio Budget Friendly

Best Budget Shoe for Lifting: WHITIN Minimalist Shoes

How I Chose: 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.

If you want a barefoot shoe that has great width and versatility for a very fair price then it’s tough to be the WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers. These shoes work great for walking, beginners, and you can even do some light training in them.

Pros

  1. Surprisingly well-rouned performance
  2. Awesome price point
  3. Great for wide feet

Cons

  1. Not the best upper security for serious training
  2. Durability can be variable

Specs to Know

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 10.15 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size (if you’re in-between sizes, size up)
  • Read My ReviewWHITIN Barefoot Sneakers Review

WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers

$59.99

4.6
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.5
Quality
4.6

Best For

  • Barefoot Shoe Beginners
  • Walking and Standing
  • Budget Conscious Shoppers
  • Medium to Wide Feet

Falls Short

  • For Long-Term Durability
  • For Squeaking On Certain Floors

Why I Chose the WHITIN Model Here

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-$60 USD.

Testing the WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers for Multi Season Use

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.

Testing the WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers Sizing

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.

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).

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

4 thoughts on “The 5 Best Barefoot Shoes for Lifting and Working Out In 2024”

    1. Thank you! I used to rock the older models and liked them, but haven’t had a chance to test the 5 thoroughly yet. They remind me of the Bare-XF 210 V3 from Inov-8. This is perfect timing because I bought a pair a couple of days ago because Merrell is having a nice sale atm. Stay tuned for a full review, friend!

    1. Ah, I’m sorry the UX was sub-par for you and the ads were populating in poor locations. The ads do help keep the business alive and going though, so I apologize on that front!

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