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The 5 Best Flat Shoes for Lifting and Working Out (2024)

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In the gym, flat shoes are a popular option for lifters from all walks of life. In general, lifting in “flats” versus shoes with higher heel elevation comes down to personal preference and the context of the training.

For example, for low-bar squats, I prefer to squat in flat shoes, but for high-bar squats, I’ll use weightlifting shoes. In both scenarios, I’m selecting footwear that allows me to perform my best and that’s how I’d suggest you approach flat shoes for lifting.

In this article, I’m going to cover five of my favorite flat shoes for lifting. Some of the flat shoes below will be minimalist while others will have a higher stack height. I included a range of options for variety.

Flat shoes can be great for lifting if you love to train and lift with a flat foot position and no heel elevation. A flat shoe’s use will come down to personal preference and I regularly rotate flat shoes with different heel elevations depending on what I’m doing.

My Top Picks for Flat Shoes for Lifting

Are you in the market for new minimalist shoes? Make sure you check out my article covering my go-to barefoot shoes. I have picks for a wide range of contexts.

Best Overall Flat Shoes for Lifting

If you’re someone who needs a flat shoe for all types of training, then you’ll want a model that is well-rounded regarding its construction and performance.

Top Pick: Tolos Archetype 2.0

The Tolos Archetype 2.0 is my top pick for the best flat shoe for lifting. This model is a minimalist shoe, so if you’re not wanting a shoe with a lot of flexibility, ground feel, and a low stack height, then you’ll want to consider other options.

Tolos Archetype 2.0 for Deadlifts

 

In the context of lifting, there are two things that I really enjoy about the Tolos Archetype 1.0. First, this shoe’s sole has a ton of flexibility and since it doesn’t have an insole you get a lot of ground feel with this model.

This shoe provides a lot of ground feedback during squats, lunges, and deadlifts, and the tread does a good job overall of promoting grip for different lifting settings.

Tolos 2.0 for Daily Wear

Second, this shoe has a nice versatility outside of the gym so if you want a solid shoe for lifting and daily wear, the Tolos Archetype 1.0 is a great option to look into. Plus, its price point is lower than most of its high-performance Vivobarefoot peers.

  • Best For: Heavy Lifting and Barbell Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 7.85 oz
  • Removable Insole: Doesn’t come with an insole
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My Review: Read My 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

Best Flat Shoes for Squats

If you want flat shoes for squats then you’ll want to explore more that have a good width through their toe box for promoting balance and ground feedback, and you’ll want a shoe with good traction.

Top Pick: Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF

The Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF is earning my top pick as the best flat shoe for squats. Much like the Tolos Archetype 1.0, this model is another barefoot shoe that will have a minimalist stack height.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF Sizing

Compared to other barefoot shoes, the Motus Strength JJF has been a stellar option for squats and heavy leg days. This shoe has a good amount of flexibility to it and has a little more stack height compared to some of its peers.

I see that as a good thing as it can help make this model a little more beginner-friendly for barefoot shoe beginners. This model’s sole construction also has a ton of grip with its 1.5mm lugs which is great for all types of squats and squat styles.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for deadlifts

The final perk of this shoe is that it also works well for cross-training and CrossFit, so if your concern is your shoe’s squat performance with it also having a high level of versatility then I think you’ll enjoy the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF.

  • Best For: Heavy Lifting, Cross-Training, and Barbell Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 10.25 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

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

Best Flat Shoes for Gym Beginners

For beginners wanting a flat shoe in the gym, you’ll want to explore options that have good price points that also deliver strong performances across the board.

Top Pick: Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star

The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star is my top pick as the best flat shoes for gym beginners. Due to their consistency, Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes have been used in the gym for decades.

Are Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Good for Lifting

Unlike the barefoot shoes in this list, the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star will be a flat shoe that has a little more stack height and midsole. This can be great because you won’t need to acclimate to Converse when using them for lifting.

Converse can also be great for beginners because of their midsole stability. The denser midsole material used in Converse won’t compress when tackling heavy squats, deadlifts, and machine work, and they generally have a good amount of grip to them.

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star for Lifting

The final perk of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star shoes for beginners is that they cost around $50-60 USD depending on the model you go with. If you do pick a pair for lifting, I’d highly suggest going with the “wide” option.

  • Best For: Recreational Lifting and Casual Deadlifting
  • Max Deadlift In This Shoe (thus far!): 565 lbs
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Weight: 14.3 ounces (size 10 high-top model)
  • For More InfoRead My Review

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star
4.4
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.3
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Weight Training
  • Beginner Lifters
  • Powerlifting
  • Casual and Daily Wear

Falls Short

  • For Wider Feet
  • For Versatile Training

Best Flat Shoes for Deadlifts/Powerlifting

In the context of flat shoes for deadlifts and powerlifting, you’ll want to look for shoes that have superior grip and a good level of stability.

Top Pick: AVANCUS Apex Power

The AVANCUS Apex Power is taking my top pick as the best flat shoe for deadlifts and powerlifting. In the context of deadlifts and powerlifting, the Apex Power was quite literally designed for these activities so it does really well in these verticals.

AVANCUS Apex Power Shoe Review

For deadlifts, this shoe’s outsole grip is awesome, and whether you deadlift sumo or conventional, slip and traction issues should never be a problem in this model no matter the surface you’re training on.

This model’s outsole also has medial and lateral outsole wraps which help give this shoe a ton of security when pressing into the sides of this shoe for squats, deadlifts, and bench presses.

Me Testing the AVANCUS Apex Power for Deadlifting

The width and minimal stack height in the AVANCUS Apex Power are also great for promoting balance and ground feedback for deadlifts and powerlifting-style workouts. 

  • Best For: Deadlift-Focused Goals and Powerlifting Athletes
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Weight: 11.45 ounces (size 10 model)
  • For More Info: Read My Review

AVANCUS Apex Power

AVANCUS Apex Power Product Shot
4.8
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.8

Best For

  • Deadlifting (Sumo and Conventional)
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Versatile Workouts
  • Minimalist Shoe Lovers

Falls Short

  • For Daily Wear

Best Budget Flat Shoes for Working Out

There’s no denying the fact that shoes are continually getting more expensive. Below are a few good budget options for those who want cheap flat shoes for working out.

Top Pick: WHITIN Barefoot Shoes

If you want to spend as little as possible for a pair of flat shoes for working out then it could be worth looking into some of the WHITIN barefoot shoe options.

whitin minimalist trail runner on trails

There are multiple WHITIN options available on Amazon and they all cost between $40-60 USD. I’ve trained in the knit, mesh, and trail running options and they’ve all done fairly well for recreational training sessions.

These shoes have a little more stack height compared to some of their “true” barefoot shoe peers. This can be a good thing for lifters from all walks of life as they’ll be easier to acclimate to and where for longer durations and all types of workouts.

Testing the WHITIN Barefoot Sneakers for Multi Season Use

The outsole tread in all of the WHITIN shoes also does a good job of promoting grip on different surfaces. My only knock against these shoes is that their durability can be a little variable, and in the mesh and knit models, their upper security can lack during explosive work.

  • Best For: Budget Shoppers, Casual Lifting, and Daily Wear
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 10.15 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size (if you’re in-between sizes, size up)
  • For More Info: Read My 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 Use Flat Shoes for Working Out?

Generally speaking, the use of flat shoes for working out will come down to personal preference. Some lifters love training with a flat foot while others like using some form of heel elevation.

In the context of “why” you may want to explore using flat shoes for working out, I’ll discuss a couple of contexts where flat shoes can make sense in my coaching opinion.

1. You Want to Passively Work On Ankle Mobility

When you train in flat shoes your ankles will be forced to work through a greater range of motion because you don’t have any form of heel elevation to assist with forward knee translation.

At times, I’ll have lifters use flat shoes for exercises like Bulgarian split squats and lunges because typically they’ll be easier to perform with a flat foot position compared to something like a back squat and you’ll have to work through greater ranges of motion.

Bulgarian Split Squat Strength Benefits

By giving a lifter exercises that they can perform with good form with a flat foot position you’ll typically be able to get some passive and indirect ankle range of motion work.

2. You Like How Flat Shoes Make You Feel Balanced

Another reason why some lifters prefer flat shoes for training is because they can sometimes support balance. For exercises like deadlifts and Romanian deadlifts a flatter foot position will usually feel more comfortable when executing reps.

How To Romanian Deadlift Step 3

If you find that you constantly feel pitched forward when working out in traditional training shoes, then it may be time to explore using flat shoes for your next workout sessions.

Takeaway Thoughts

Flat shoes come in all shapes and forms and this style of footwear is a popular option for lifting and working out. If you want flat shoes for lifting then it’s a good idea to define what type of shoe you’re after.

For example, do you want a flat minimalist shoe or a flat shoe with a little more stack height? These are questions that you should define before making your next purchase.

If you have additional questions about the flat shoes featured in this article, drop a comment below or reach out to me via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

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.

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