A popular question that I often receive in regard to cross-training shoe reviews on my YouTube channel is, “Can I do heavy deadlifts in this model?” My answer generally entails some level of, “That depends. What are your goals and how heavy are you training?”
By defining these questions, we can make more educated choices for which cross-training shoes will fit our needs best. Not every cross-trainer is created equal and some cross-training shoes will offer more stability than others.
On top of this, from a coaching point of view, we’ll want a cross-training shoe with a minimal heel-to-toe drop if the goal is deadlifting big weight as we’ll want to limit the total range of motion we’re having to pull. In this article, I’m going to discuss four of my favorite cross-training shoes for deadlifts, and more specifically, heavy deadlifting.
- Under Armour TriBase Reign 3
- Reebok Nano X
- Nike Metcon 6
- NOBULL High-Top Trainers
- New Balance Minimus Prevail
To add context and depth to this list, I’d also suggest checking out how I define heavy in regard to this list and performance. Plus, why the midsole and outsole construction matter on these cross-training shoes and why heel-to-toe drop matters for deadlifting.
- What Is “Heavy” In Context to This Article?
- Midsole and Outsole Construction
- Cross-Training Shoes Heel-to-Drop and Deadlifting
5 Best Cross-Training Shoes for Deadlifting
If you’re on the market looking for a pair of cross-training shoes for your general training and want to make sure they can support heavy deadlifts, then I got you covered. As a recreational powerlifter, I’m constantly testing different cross-training shoes when deadlifting loads up to 550 lbs.
1. Under Armour TriBase Reign 3
The Under Armour TriBase Reign 3s have a lot of aspects going for them when it comes to supporting performance. In regard to deadlifts specifically, I think there are three key construction traits that play really well into how this performs for deadlifts.
First, this model has a 2mm heel-to-toe drop which makes it one of the flattest cross-trainers on the market at the moment. Most cross-trainers have 4-6mm drops which are low, but at heavy loads, even 2mm can matter at times. A lower heel-to-toe drop will resemble how it feels to be barefoot with nothing under the feet.
Second, this model’s midsole construction isn’t incredibly thick which is nice because it adds to the flatter feel that this model has when supporting ground content. Speaking of ground contact, the last aspect I like about this shoe is the Under Armour TriBase outsole construction. This supports a grounded foot position which is essential for rooting the feet into the ground when moving big weight.
Why I Like the UA TriBase Reign 3s for Deadlifts
- 2mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
- Decently Limited Midsole Construction
- TriBase Outsole Construction
- Shop the UA TriBase Reign 3 (UA $120 USD)
- Shop the UA TriBase Reign 3 (Amazon 119 USD)
2. Reebok Nano X
The Reebok Nano X is a great shoe all-around for training and it’s also a solid model for deadlifting. Similar to the TriBase Reign 3, I think there are three construction aspects that make this model great for deadlifting (the Nano 9 is also solid, too as they have a similar construction in regard to the midsole, outsole, and last!).
The first reason I like the Nano X (and 9) for deadlifting is their wider toe boxes. If you’re someone that likes to have a little room in their training shoe’s toe box to splay the toes and really grip the floor, then I think you’ll like the Nano X (and 9). The X’s upper construction is a bit thicker while the 9’s has a bit more stretch.
Another aspect that I like about these models is their split outsole construction. Reebok put this into these shoes to promote versatility, but I’ve found that the split outsole also does a great job of promoting stability. Overall, the outsole construction is flat throughout the heel, mid-foot, and forefoot which is great for rooting the feet.
The last aspect that I like about this model is the 4mm heel-to-toe drop and additional TPU heel wrap. For most lifters, a 4mm heel-to-toe drop will work just fine for recreational deadlifting and it’s somewhat standard across the board for popular cross-training shoes.
Why I Like the Reebok Nano X (and 9) for Deadlifts
- Wider Toe Box Accommodates Toe Splay
- Flat, Stable Outsole
- 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop and TPU Counter
- Shop the Reebok Nano X (Reebok $130 USD)
- Shop the Reebok Nano X (Amazon $90-120 USD)
- Shop the Reebok Nano 9 (Amazon $70-120 USD)
3. Nike Metcon 6
The Nike Metcon 6 is also another great cross-training shoe option for tackling stability in deadlifts. The newer Nike React Metcon Turbo does a fairly good job, but with the React insole which has a bit more responsiveness, I’m still taking the Metcon 6 for deadlifts.
The first reason I’m taking the Nike Metcon 6 over the React Metcon Turbo for deadlifts is the overall outsole and midsole construction. This model’s outsole does a great job at supporting ground contact and the midsole is minimal and does a great job at resisting compression across the board.
On top of these construction aspects, I actually really like the split insole construction in this model. The forefoot insole has a slightly more compressive nature to it, but it doesn’t limit stability. In fact, I think it helps promote your ability to really grip the ground during heavy sets.
The last aspect that I like about the Nike Metcon 6 is the 4mm heel-to-toe drop which is consistent with the Nike Metcon cross-training shoe line. It’s a good balance for those wanting this model to deadlift and train with other exercises.
Why I Like the Nike Metcon 6 for Deadlifts
- Stable Outsole and Minimal Midsole Construction
- Split Insole
- 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
- Shop the Nike Metcon 6 (Nike $130)
4. NOBULL Trainers (High-Top Model)
Personally, I really like high-top training shoes for deadlifting. When I want to rock high-top shoes, I’ll rotate between the NOBULL High-Top Trainers and Converse High-Tops (not a training shoe though, hence why they’re not included!).
The NOBULL High-Top Trainers are great for deadlifts for three key reasons. First and foremost, if you like having a high-top construction for deadlifts, then this will be the best training shoe for tackling that need. The high-top portion of this model does a fairly good job at providing additional ankle support.
Another reason why I like this model for deadlifts is the midsole and outsole construction. The outsole is flatter with a lug pattern that promotes full foot traction, and the midsole is relatively “minimal” in nature and doesn’t compress under a variety of loads. I’ve competed in a powerlifting meet in this shoe and they performed well.
The final reason why I like the NOBULL High-Top Trainers for deadlifting is their 4mm heel-to-toe drop. This gives you a low-to-the-ground feeling, but can also support other lifting styles which is great for versatility.
Why I Like the NOBULL High-Top Trainers for Deadlifts
- High-Top Construction (for that love that style!)
- Stable Midsole and Outsole
- 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
- Shop the NOBULL High Top Trainers (Rogue Fitness $139)
5. New Balance Minimus Prevail
The New Balance Minimus Prevail is also another solid option for the lifter that prioritizes deadlifting in their cross-training shoes. This model has three key construction aspects that I really like.
The first reason I really enjoy the New Balance Minimus Prevail’s is their Vibram® outsole construction. This was a really cool collaboration and the outsole construction on this model does a great job at promoting ground contact and stability.
Another aspect that I like about this model is the minimal and lightweight midsole construction. New Balance uses their REVlite midsole technology in this model which makes helps promote a “minimal” feeling — hence the name Minimus.
The final aspect that the New Balance Minimus Prevails have going for them is their 4mm heel-to-toe drop construction. With the lower midsole construction and 4mm heel-to-toe drop, you can really feel grounded in deadlifts with this model.
Why I Like the New Balance Minimus Prevail for Deadlifts
- Vibram Outsole Construction
- REVlite Midsole Is Lightweight and Minimal
- 4mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
- Shop New Balance Minimus Prevail (New Balance $120 USD)
- Shop New Balance Minimus Prevail (Amazon $100-120 USD)
What Is “Heavy” In the Context of This Article?
I’ve deadlifted in all of the shoes featured in this article with up to 450-510 lbs. Now, it depends on the training cycle I’m in, but generally, I’ll try to hit similar weights in every shoe so I can gauge their ability to perform in niche aspects.
That being said, this can mean hitting lower rep barbell deadlift sets and higher rep trap bar deadlift sets. Basically, I like to focus on how each model accommodates compression, and I’ll also add holds at the top here and there with deadlifts and add a bit of weight shifting to really get a good grasp on how these models do.
Midsole and Outsole Construction
Midsole and outsole construction can play a huge role in promoting stability in cross-training shoes when deadlifting. From a topical point of view and as a general rule of thumb, you’ll want limited material between the foot and the ground to promote overall stability and ground contact.
Generally speaking, a midsole made with higher-density EVA foam will do a really good job at resisting compression. When it comes to outsoles, rubber construction is usually going to be the move as this promotes overall traction and rubber outsoles don’t really compress under heavy loads.
Why Heel-to-Toe Drop Matters
As a general rule of thumb, a lower heel-to-toe drop in a cross-training shoe will be better for supporting deadlift performance. When deadlifting, we want to limit the total range of motion we need to move the weight as this can help support our abilities when working with maximal weights.
A higher heel-to-toe drop will bring the heel upwards, which can then add more range of motion to a deadlift but also alter starting positions and hip mechanics when pulling. For recreational athletes, this doesn’t matter to a large degree, but for those working with maximal weights for their body — this can make a big difference for performance outcomes.
Basically, aim for a lower heel-to-toe drop if deadlifting is at the top of priorities when investing in new cross-training shoes.
Comparing Other Models
Not interested in these five cross-training shoes? I’ve reviewed countless models, check out how multiple models compare below.
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