Home » 5 Best Shoes for Leg Day (2022) | Picks for Squats, Free Weights, and More

5 Best Shoes for Leg Day (2022) | Picks for Squats, Free Weights, and More

From my clients and through my training shoe reviews, I’m constantly being asked about which shoes are best for leg day. When considering the best shoes for leg day, I think it’s important to break this topic into different performance categories.

If we can better understand how you plan to train in the shoes, then we can select good leg day shoes for the context of your needs. For example, the best leg day shoes for a weathered bodybuilder will generally look different than a more beginner recreational lifter.

Different leg day training contexts will come along with different training demands and leg day shoe needs. As a strength coach, this is also my coaching brain kicks on because different shoes can change biomechanics, and if I can help you better understand this, then you can make more educated shoe choices for leg day. 

In this article, I’m going to include cross-training shoes, barefoot shoes, and weightlifting shoes that all excel for leg day and explain why I like each of these picks for particular contexts.

under armour tribase reign 4 for lifting

Best Training Shoes for Leg Day

When considering and testing the best training shoe for leg day I’m focused on two key performance areas. First, I focus on the stability of the shoe and the extent to which you could load the shoe’s midsole without glaring compression, stability, and balance issues.

Second, I’m focused on the shoe’s versatility and who they’ll work best for. Will they be best for recreational lifters who want a training shoe for a bit of everything, just CrossFit, or just leg day?

1. STR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer

The STR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer is one of my go-to training shoes for tackling leg days. This model is also one of my top picks for CrossFit, so if you’re someone primarily focused on tackling CrossFit workouts with some heavy leg days, then this model will work well for you.

The Haze Trainer features STR/KE MVMNT’s signature Cush50 midsole which does a great job at providing a good amount of stability for a variety of lifts. I’ve squatted 405 lbs in this model with no compression issues and frequently use them for my machine-based leg days.

 

Another aspect to like about this shoe for leg day is the Cross-Platform outsole that STR/KE MVMNT uses in this model. The outsole and midsole put together in this shoe offer a highly versatile feel with a good amount of articulation which other training shoes fall short for.

If you like having a more “minimalist” feel with your training shoes and want a high amount of articulation and ground feedback with your training shoes, then the Haze Trainer is a good model to look into.

  • Best For: Heavy Leg Days, Recreational Lifting, and CrossFit
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 11.2 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewSTR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up Model: RAD ONE

STRIKE MVMNT Haze Trainer

$150

STRIKE MVMNT Haze Trainer
4.8
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.8

Best For

  • Heavy Lifting
  • Cross-Training Workouts
  • Athletic-Focused Sessions
  • Shorter Runs (<3 miles)

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Custom Orthotics

2. Nike Metcon 7

Another great training shoe option outside of the Haze Trainer and RAD ONE is the Nike Metcon 7. This model delivers a strong level of stability and has multiple construction features to help them excel in CrossFit and cross-training sessions

This model features Nike React Foam in its midsole and overall this material gives you a nice level of stability while also being responsive enough for tackling plyometrics, athletic-focused training, and HIIT workouts.

nike metcon 7 for squats

I’ve squatted over 405 lbs in this model without any compression issues and I also like the tread you get on this shoe for training on different surfaces. The outsole grips the floor well and articulates fairly well for unilateral leg day exercises.

I also like the built-in Hyperlift insert in this model and the additional stability it provides in the heel. I think if you’re someone who wants a shoe that works well for leg days, can excel in CrossFit workouts, and enjoy an athletic fit with your shoes, then the Metcon 7 is a good model to look into.

  • Best For: Leg Days, HIIT, and CrossFit-Style Training
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 12.4 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewNike Metcon 7 Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up Model: Reebok Nano X2

Nike Metcon 7

$130

Nike Metcon 7
4.5
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.4

Best For

  • Heavy Training
  • CrossFit Workouts
  • Rope Climbs
  • Plyos and Agility Workouts
  • Short Runs

Falls Short

  • For Long-Distance Runs
  • For Wider Feet

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Leg Day

To assess and test the best weightlifting shoes for leg day I’m primarily focused on how stable a weightlifting shoe is under different weights. Since most lifters will be using their weightlifting shoes for squats, clean & jerks, snatches, and machine work, the shoe needs to be stable and provide a secure foot position.

I’m also concerned with the shoe’s overall durability. Weightlifting shoes can be investments, so having models that last a while can be key for prolonging your investment.

1. Reebok Legacy Lifter II

My favorite weightlifting shoe for leg days is the Reebok Legacy Lifter II. I’ve competed in this model and have multiple squat PRs in this shoe and it has yet to let me down.

The heel in this shoe comes in at .86″ and is made with a durable TPU. I like this heel height for a variety of lifters and think they’ll work with a wide range of anatomies and ankle mobilities.

squatting in reebok legacy lifter 2

The upper construction in this shoe is also fairly durable. I have yet to run into breakdown issues in my model and have used them for countless leg day and squat sessions. I think your investment will last with this weightlifting shoe if you take care of them.

The midfoot security in this shoe is also solid for anyone who plans to use these shoes for different types of leg days and for tackling movements like clean & jerks and snatches. This shoe locks down the feet well.

  • Best For: Weightlifting, Squats, and Other Heel Wedge-Focused Exercises
  • Heel Height: 22mm (.86 inches)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size, athletes with wider feet may want to size up a half size
  • Read My Review: Reebok Legacy Lifter II Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up Model: Nike Romaleos 4

Reebok Legacy Lifter 2

$200

Reebok Legacy Lifter 2
4.5
Stability
4.6
Durability
4.5
Quality
4.5

Best For

  • Weightlifting
  • Squats
  • Accessories With an Elevated Heel
  • Heel Height: 0.86″

Falls Short

  • For Functional Fitness Workouts

2. Nike Savaleos

The Nike Savaleos is a good weightlifting shoe for beginners that want a pair of lifting shoes for leg day. This model is what I would describe as a beginner-friendly weightlifting shoe.

This shoe features a heel height that is said to be around .6″ in height. I think this is a good level of heel elevation for lifters who have never worn weightlifting shoes and are transitioning to these shoes for squats, weightlifting, and leg day.

nike savaleos for squats

The outsole in this shoe grips different surfaces well so you won’t have slippage issues in this shoe. I also like that this model has a fairly lower price point at $120 USD compared to other weightlifting shoes.

I think if you’re a beginner or someone who wants to save a bit of money on their weightlifting shoes for leg day, then the Nike Savaleos is a good shoe to look into. 

  • Best For: Weightlifting, Squats, and CrossFit-Style Training
  • Heel Height: 15mm (.6 inches)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size, but if you have a wider foot, then go up a half size
  • Read My Review: Nike Savaleos Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up Model: Nike Romaleos 4

Nike Savaleos

$120

Nike Savaleos
3.9
Stability
3.9
Versatility
3.9
Durability
3.8

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Beginner Weightlifters
  • Versatile-Style Training

Falls Short

  • For Maximal Training
  • For Long-Term Durability

Best Barefoot Shoes for Leg Day

When considering the best barefoot shoes for lifting and more specifically leg day, I have two performance criteria I’m assessing. First, I’m looking at the outsole and the tread it provides on different surfaces.

Second, I’m concerned with the shoe’s overall durability. Since barefoot shoes can be so minimal, I want to make sure the upper and sole can both withstand the stress that generally comes along with different leg days.

1. Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

My favorite barefoot shoe for leg day is the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III. This model has been solid across the board for every leg day that I’ve thrown at them and I find myself constantly reaching for them in my gym bag.

The Active Sole construction is minimal and it articulates really well for leg days. If you want maximal ground contact when training, then this model will work for your training needs and it has adequate traction.

 

I also like the width of the toe box and how easy it is to splay the toes and how well the sole moves when tackling both static and dynamic leg exercises. I’ll use the Primus Lite III most for accessory leg exercises and for lifts where I have active foot and lower body muscle-bias exercises programmed.

If you’re looking for a consistent barefoot shoe that works well for leg days and looks good for daily wear, then the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is a good barefoot shoe to look into.

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

2. Xero Shoes Zelen

Another great barefoot shoe for leg days is the Xero Shoes Zelen. I like this model a lot for leg day training for three key reasons. First, the Xero Shoes Zelen is a good hybrid training barefoot shoe.

If you’re someone who likes to blend leg day exercises with things like sprints and agility work and you want a barefoot shoe for tackling your workouts, then you’ll enjoy Zelen’s performance.

Me lifting in and testing the Xero Shoes Zelen

Second, I like the outsole and removable sockliner in this model. The outsole grips the floor well in gyms and it excels for outdoor workouts and running. The removable sockliner is also nice for providing you with some variance in how much “cushion” these shoes will provide.

Third, this model is made with responsible-sourced materials, so it’s a slightly more sustainable option compared to its peers. If you’re in need of a barefoot shoe that can tackle hybrid workout leg days, then the Xero Shoes Zelen is a good option to explore.

  • Best For: Running/Sprinting, General Lifting, and Heavy Leg Days
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Weight: 8 ounces (size 10 high-top model)
  • Read My Review: Xero Shoe Zelen Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up Model: Xero Shoes HFS

Xero Shoes Zelen

$129.99

Xero Shoes Zelen
4.7
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • Short and Mid-Range Runs
  • Outdoor Training
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Environmental-Conscious Shoppers

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Colder Months

Best General Shoes for Leg Day

When it comes to general shoes for leg day, I’m most interested in how dynamic a shoe can be. A good general shoe needs to possess the capabilities of performing strongly for heavy leg days while also looking good on a daily basis.

These are shoes that may not necessarily be marketed as “leg day” only shoes but can work in this context really well for a variety of lifters.

1. Nike Blazer Mid ’77 Vintage

My top pick for a general shoe for leg day is the Nike Blazer Mid ’77 Vintage (note the regular Blazer Mid ’77 also works well here). This model takes my top pick over more traditional general shoes like Converse for three key reasons.

First, the sole of the Nike Blazer Mid ’77 has a good amount of maneuverability to it. Despite being a mid-top shoe, this shoe’s sole articulates well and never feels stiff when performing movements like lunges where you want the shoe’s sole to be pliable.

Working Out In the Nike Blazer Mid 77 Vintage

Second, the outsole tread provides a nice amount of grip on different surfaces. This shoe features a full rubber outsole with a herringbone tread pattern. You never run into slippage issues on turf, rubber gym floor, or wooden platforms in this model.

Third and lastly, it looks stylish and the upper construction is pretty durable. The upper on this model features leather and synthetic materials and this shoe is easy to wear out and about with multiple outfits.

Nike Blazer Mid '77 Vintage

$100

Nike Blazer Mid 77 Vintage
4.5
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.3
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Barbell Training
  • Daily and Casual Wear

Falls Short

  • For Versatile Training
  • For Breathability

2. Vans Sk8-Hi

The Vans Sk8-Hi is another great general shoe that works well for leg days. I like this model most for recreational lifting and for beginners wanting a fairly cost-efficient daily wear shoe that they can also train legs in.

This shoe has two key features that make it great for leg day. First, they have a stable rubber sole so they work well for accommodating a variety of loads and lifting needs.

vans sk8 hi for lifting weights

Second, this shoe also features Vans’ signature waffle tread pattern. This tread provides ample grip on a variety of surfaces since it’s technically designed for skateboarding and it has a good amount of durability so it should last you a while. 

Another added bonus is that the Vans Sk8-Hi looks great for daily wear. The upper is durable in this shoe and it features the classic Vans branding that many enjoy.

Vans Sk8-Hi

$70

vans sk8 hi
4.7
Stability
4.8
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.7

Best For

  • Barbell Training
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Squats and Deadlifts
  • Daily Wear

Falls Short

  • For Breathability
  • For Versatile Training

Best Flat Shoes for Leg Day

When considering the best flat shoes for leg day, I have two main criteria that I consider. First, I look at the model’s heel-to-toe drop to ensure the model is truly flat for anyone that wants a 0mm heel-to-toe drop.

Second, I consider the shoe’s midsole and outsole and how they influence stability in different contexts. Will the shoe work well for heavy squats, machine work, and free-weight exercises?

1. Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star

If you’re looking for a tried and true flat leg day shoe, then the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star is a good model to look into. This shoe has been used by countless lifters over the years due to its flat construction and stability.

The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star has a 0mm heel-to-toe drop and its sole is built with a rubber material that does a fairly good job at resisting compression during heavy leg day sessions.

converse bad for lifting

I also like that the price point for the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star is pretty fair and that they can be worn on a casual basis. Since Nike about Converse, they’ve made the insole in this shoe slightly softer which gives this shoe a better “all-day” feel for recreational lifters that want to wear them outside of the gym.

I’ve competed in powerlifting with Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star high-top shoes before and they performed well. The only caveat with Converse is that their sizing can be a little limiting for lifters with wider feet.

  • Best For: Recreational Lifting and Leg Days
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Weight: 14.3 ounces (size 10 high-top model)
  • Read My ReviewConverse Vs Vans
  • Comparable Runner-Up Model: Vans Sk8-Hi

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star

$60

Converse Taylor All-Star
4.3
Stability
4.7
Versatility
3.8
Durability
4.0

Best For

  • Powerlifting
  • Heavier Strength Training
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Deadlifting

Falls Short

  • For Versatile Training
  • Long-Term Durability

2. Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is making my list for the second time as being a good viable flat shoe for leg day. It’s important to note that the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is a barefoot shoe so it will provide a very different feel compared to the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star.

I like the Primus Lite III for leg days for three key reasons. First, the Active Sole that Vivobarefoot uses in this model articulates really well and gives you a nice level of ground feedback. This is most noticeable when doing things like lunges and split squats.

 

Second, the insole in this shoe can be removed which is awesome for giving you an even “closer” to the ground feel. If you want to fully feel the ground when squatting or on the platforms of the machines you’re using.

Third, this shoe looks good for daily wear and it can work in a variety of training settings. If you want to start wearing barefoot shoes more regularly and you want a pair for leg day, then this is a good option to look into.

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

What Shoes Are Best for Leg Day?

The best shoes for leg day will be shoes that align with your leg day goals. Whether you’re tackling barbell squats, other free-weight leg exercises, or machine work, you’ll want to find leg day footwear that works well with your lifting mechanics and your anatomy.

 When considering great leg day shoes, I look at three key construction characteristics that can all influence a shoe’s performance for various leg day exercises and workouts.

1. Outsole Traction and Material

For leg day, you’ll generally want a shoe that has an outsole that offers a high amount of traction. I generally recommend looking for shoes with full or almost full rubber outsoles.

Reebok Nano X2 Vs Reebok Nano X1 Construction

Reebok Nano X1 and Nano X2. Examples of training shoes with full rubber outsoles.

Rubber outsoles will provide higher amounts of traction across different surfaces. Traction is essential for pretty much every leg day exercise including things like barbell squats, leg presses, lunges, and split squats.

With more traction, you’ll have less slippage in different training settings and your shoe’s durability will increase because the rubber outsole will help protect the midsole from early breakdown.

Vans versus Converse Outsole construction

2. Midsole Material and Stability

In addition to a shoe’s outsole, considering the midsole and its material can also be a crucial construction trait to consider. This aspect is important because different midsoles will provide different amounts of stability.

Stability in your shoe can be important as the weight gets heavier in your leg day exercises. This is why I always recommend not squatting in running shoes that feature thick foam midsoles.

Squatting 405 lbs In the Reebok Nano X2 Lifting Test

With heavier leg days, you’ll want to find shoes with denser midsole materials. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re using cross-training shoes for squats, look for medium to high-density midsole foams.

3. Heel-to-Toe Drop and Your Needs

The last aspect that I consider is the heel-to-toe drop, also referred to as offset, of the shoe. A shoe’s heel-to-toe drop is defined as the difference in height between where your heel and forefoot sit in a shoe.

Different heel-to-toe drops can influence lifting mechanics and the heel-to-toe drop that you use should be reflective of your individual training needs and wants.

squatting in reebok legacy lifter 2

This is where experimenting with different heel-to-toe drops in shoes and cross-referencing what you prefer for certain exercises and workouts is important.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” heel-to-toe drop that is superior to other drops. The heel-to-toe that you use and prefer should be individual and align with your anatomical needs and training goals.

Why Flat Shoes for Leg Day?

Flat shoes are often thought to be better for leg day because they provide a flat surface to lift on, but that statement needs a little more context. In the context of leg days, can flat shoes be useful for some lifters absolutely? Yes. However, they’re not necessarily a must or the best footwear option for everyone.

For example, let’s say you’re a taller lifter who has some ankle mobility constraints and you want a good pair of shoes for squats and you’re considering a flat shoe, a cross-training shoe, and a pair of weightlifting shoes.

flat vs heeled shoes in squats

In this context, a pair of flat shoes may not be the best leg day option for you because when squatting in them you’ll need a level of ankle mobility you may not possess. For this example, a pair of cross-training shoes or weightlifting shoes with a higher heel-to-toe drop would be better options due to how they’ll assist your squat performance.

Another good example here would be if you’re wanting to create a quad bias with free weights or when using machines. To do this, we’ll want to get your knee to track further over the toes to create a greater stretch and demand on the quads.

quad biased leg press

Quad Biased Leg Press.

With a shoe with a slightly higher heel-to-toe drop, we can better do this due to how that shoe will feed into our lower body mechanics. A slightly higher heel will put the foot into a plantarflexed position, to begin with, which can then create a better environment for allowing the knees to track.

All this being said, there needs to be more context applied to the idea that a “flat shoe is always better for leg days and training”. They can certainly be useful for some lifters, but they also may not align with everyone’s lifting mechanics and anatomical needs.

Trying the Nike Blazer Mid 77 for Lifting

From a coaching perspective, my advice here is to experiment with different types of footwear for different exercises and styles of training. By doing this, you can better assess which shoes will assist your performance best when working towards your leg day goals, and have the right tools for the job.

As a personal example, I’ll use weightlifting shoes for barbell squat variations and quad-biased exercises, then flatter shoes or cross-training shoes for accessory work depending on the style of leg exercises I have programmed.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
What shoes should you do leg day in?

A:
The best shoes for leg day should be based on how you plan to train in them. As a general rule of thumb, you'll typically want a shoe with a full rubber outsole, a good level of stability, and a heel-to-toe drop that aligns with your specific training needs.

Q:
Do you need shoes for leg day?

A:
Not necessarily! A lot of lifters enjoy training barefoot for leg day and it can work really well. When considering training in shoes versus barefoot, I'd suggest shifting your mindset to how footwear or lack thereof shifts your lifting mechanics. For example, not every lifter will have the mobility requirements for every exercise to efficiently train legs barefoot.

Q:
Why do people do leg day in flat shoes?

A:
Personal preference. There's a false idea that flat shoes are always inherently better for leg days compared to shoes with higher heel-to-toe drops. Footwear choice needs context and the type of footwear you wear should be individual for your lifting demands and mechanics.

Takeaway Thoughts

When tackling leg day and lower body training having the right shoes can help with performance. As you get more niche and serious with your leg day training, a pair of shoes and their importance increases.

We all train differently and we have different leg day goals. If you can identify how you plan to train most often in your shoes, then you can make the best choice based on your leg day needs.

If you have questions on any of the shoes featured in this article, 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.

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