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Home » 8 Best Shoes for Squats (2022 Update) | Top Picks for Big Squats

8 Best Shoes for Squats (2022 Update) | Top Picks for Big Squats

When considering what the best shoes are for squats I like to take an approach that accounts for your training needs. As opposed to just listing off an arbitrary list of best squat shoes, I think it’s more productive to create sub-categories for different training contexts. 

I like making performance sub-categories because athletes and lifters will need different things out of their shoes for squats. For example, a powerlifter will have different squat goals from a recreational lifter who wants a pair of cross-training shoes for squats.

On top of this, we all have different squat shoe preferences and needs when it comes to our squat mechanics. That being said, if you are interested exclusively in weightlifting shoes, then I’d suggest checking out my best weightlifting shoes round-up. 

In this article, I’m going to discuss a variety of performance categories with different shoe options for tackling big squats. Whether you want wide-foot-friendly shoes, training shoes for squats, or weightlifting shoes, I’ll discuss them below.

Testing the Adidas Powerlift 5 for squats

On the market for deadlift shoes, too? Make sure you check out my Best Deadlift Shoes Round-Up to be matched with your perfect deadlift shoes.

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Squats

Weightlifting shoes are a popular shoe choice for tackling heavy squats. There is a lot that goes into weightlifting shoes and how they can manipulate your lifting mechanics especially when it comes to squats.

If you’re in the market for a good pair of weightlifting shoes primarily for squatting, then check out my two favorite options below. For more niche picks and needs, again, I’d suggest checking out my best weightlifting shoes article.

Top Pick: TYR L-1 Lifter

The TYR L-1 Lifter is taking my top pick as the best weightlifting shoe for squats. In the context of weightlifitng shoes, TYR is relatively new to this shoe category and their model has a few key construction details that earn them my top pick.

Testing the TYR L-1 Lifter Weightlifting Shoes for squats

The first aspect to like about the TYR L-1 Lifter is its toe box construction. TYR’s claim to fame with the L-1 Lifter is that it’s designed to be purposely wide with an anatomical toe box that doesn’t have a harsh taper like traditional weightlifting shoes.

I really enjoy the wider toe box in the TYR L-1 Lifter, especially for squats because it supports toe splay which can then translate to better balance during heavy sets. On heavier sets over 405 lbs, I can sometimes shift forward so the extra toe box width was nice for gripping the floor and adjusting mid-set.

Testing the TYR L-1 Lifter for squats

The final two aspects to like about the TYR L-1 Lifter are its midfoot security and heel construction. This shoe features dual midfoot straps that provide you with a nice locked-down feeling and the TPU heel is plenty stable for even the heaviest squats.

  • Best For: Weightlifting Athletes, Recreational Lifters, Wider Feet
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 440 lbs
  • Weight: 19.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel Height: .83″ (21mm)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for most. Wide feet, go up a half size.
  • Read My Full Review: TYR L-1 Lifter Review

TYR L1-Lifter

$199.99

TYR L-1 Lifter Product Shot
4.7
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.7

Best For

  • Weightlifting
  • Squats
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Wider Feet

Falls Short

  • For Narrow Feet
  • For Budget-Conscious Shoppers

Second Pick: Reebok Legacy Lifter 2

The Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 has been a really consistent weightlifting shoe for squats for me. I’ve competed twice in the Reebok Legacy Lifter 2s and they’ve been exceptional across the board for a few different reasons.

squatting in reebok legacy lifter 2

First, I enjoy this model’s overall durability and have yet to notice any breakdown issues with this shoe’s upper, outsole, and strap. The Reebok Legacy Lifter II somewhat feels like a tank and it should be plenty durable for most lifters

Second, this shoe provides a .86″ heel which is awesome for taller individuals and those with longer legs like myself. The slightly more aggressive heel height helps feed better into squat mechanics for taller athletes.

Reebok Legacy Lifter II for powerlifting

The third and last reason why I’ve been enjoying the Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 is their toe box maneuverability. This model is relatively easy to break in and hugs the foot really well.

  • Best For: All types of athletes who want a good pair of squat shoes.
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 440 lbs
  • Weight: 21.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel Height: .86″ (22mm)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for most. Wide feet, skip this model.
  • Read My Full Review: Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 Review

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

Best Training Shoes for Squats

If you’re a recreational lifter, into CrossFit, or want just one pair of workout shoes for all of your training, then you’ve likely considered which cross-training shoes are best for squats. I’m constantly squatting fairly heavily in my training shoes and there are a few key characteristics that I look for.

First, I assess a training shoe’s stability and how they manage different loads. Second, I’m looking at their versatility and how they fair a variety of exercises while also excelling at squats.

Top Pick: TYR CXT-1 Trainer

The TYR CXT-1 Trainer is taking my top pick as the best cross-training shoe for squats. I like the TYR CXT-1 Trainer for squats specifically for two key squat-related reasons.

Testing the TYR CXT-1 Trainer for Squatting

First, this model comes with a 9mm heel-to-toe drop which is higher than most cross-training shoes. If you like more “heel” when squatting, then I think you’ll enjoy this aspect with the CXT-1 Trainer’s construction.

As a lankier guy, I appreciate a higher heel when it comes to squats, thrusters, and wall balls, which is why I’ll often reach for this model for workouts with more deep hip flexion work. The higher heel doesn’t take away from the shoe’s overall versatility.

Testing the TYR CXT-1 Trainer for Functional Fitness

Second, I like the stability that you get from this shoe’s Stability Platform construction and Surge NRG foam midsole. This model doesn’t compress easily under heavy weight and I feel comfortable squatting over 405 lbs in this model.

  • Best For: All types of athletes who like trainers with higher heel-to-toe drops.
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 425 lbs
  • Weight: 12.95 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 9mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for most. Wide feet, size up a half size.
  • Read My Full Review: TYR CXT-1 Trainer Review

TYR CXT-1 Trainer

$130

TYR CXT-1 Trainer Product Shot
4.6
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • CrossFit/Cross-Training
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Athletic-Style Workouts
  • Athletes That Like Higher Drops

Falls Short

  • For Minimal Drop Lovers
  • For Athletes That Like “Minimalist-Style” Shoes

Second Pick: Nike Metcon 8

The Nike Metcon 8 is taking my second pick as the best training shoe for squats. Similar to the Nike Metcon 7, the Nike Metcon 8 delivers consistent performance and a nice level of stability for squats.

Nike Metcon 7 Vs Nike Metcon 8 for squats

Regarding stability, the Nike Metcon 8 provides a variable midsole construction. In the forefoot, you get Nike Reach Foam which gives this shoe’s forefoot a more pliable and versatile feeling, then in the heel, you have a plastic Hyperlift insert.

Despite the forefoot being a little softer than the heel, I don’t think you’ll have issues squatting heavy in the Nike Metcon 8. This shoe’s stability was plenty fine for squats up to and over 405 lbs and I enjoyed their performance overall.

Testing the Nike Metcon 8 for squats

I also like that Nike increased the durability of the Nike Metcon 8’s upper construction around the toe box. This model shouldn’t have the same rip issues that the Nike Metcon 7’s chain-link mesh experienced around the toe box.

  • Best For: Recreational Lifters and CrossFit Athletes
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 430 lbs
  • Weight: 12.40 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for most. Wide feet, skip this model.
  • Read My Full Review: Nike Metcon 8 Review

Nike Metcon 8

$130

Nike Metcon 8 Product Shot
4.5
Stability
4.5
Versatility
4.3
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • Cross-Training
  • CrossFit and CrossFit-Style Workouts
  • Lifting

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet
  • For Running

Best Squat Shoes for Powerlifting

If you’re a powerlifter looking for squats shoes, then you’ll most likely have two concerns. The first is if the shoes align with your squat style. Powerlifters will have specific squat styles and not every shoe and heel-to-toe drop will align with one’s mechanics.

Second, if the shoes are stable enough to accommodate even your heaviest training sessions. The last thing you want is a pair of shoes compressing or causing any self-doubt in your overall stability and balance mid-squats.

Top Pick: Reebok Legacy Lifter 2

For the first squat shoe for powerlifting, I’m going to discuss one of my favorite weightlifting shoe options, the Reebok Legacy Lifter 2. Not every powerlifter will want an elevated heel when squatting.

 

More specifically, some of my low-bar squatting friends may find that elevated heels conflict with their lifting mechanics while others who have a more hybrid par position like myself that sits between a true “low-bar” and “high-bar” position may want an elevated heel.

The Reebok Legacy Lifter II provides an awesome level of stability and its outsole grips the floor really well. In the context of powerlifting, I liked how the rubber outsole interacted with the carpet that most powerlifting federations have you squat on. I didn’t have issues with my grip on the carpet which is always a plus.

Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 Pros

I also like the deeper boot construction of the Legacy Lifter II and how the midfoot strap can be easily adjusted for different food anatomies. If you’re a powerlifter that loves squatting with an elevated heel, then you can’t really go wrong with the Legacy Lifter II.

  • Best For: All types of athletes who want a good pair of squat shoes.
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 440 lbs
  • Weight: 21.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel Height: .86″ (22mm)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for most. Wide feet, skip this model.
  • Read My Full Review: Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 Review

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

Second Pick: TYR L-1 Lifter

When it comes to squat shoes for powerlifting, you really can’t fault the TYR L-1 Lifter or Reebok Legacy Lifter II. To be honest, either of these weightlifting shoes can fulfill the top pick here as they’re both solid options for powerlifting.

Using the TYR L1-Lifter for Squats

I like the TYR L-1 Lifter for powerlifting due to its “anchor-like” feeling and its wider toe box. This shoe feels stable and secure when you’re squatting in them and the outsole does a great job of laying flat and gripping the floor for different squat styles.

The wider toe box is also a major plus of the TYR L-1 Lifter for powerlifters with wider feet. If you have wide feet or want more toe box room, then I’d suggest passing on the Legacy Lifter II and going with the TYR L-1 Lifter instead.

Nike Romaleos 4 Versus TYR L1-Lifter

My only knock against the TYR L-1 Lifter for powerlifting is that it can run a little hot for longer squat sessions due to its heavier upper construction. However, this shouldn’t be a huge deal for most athletes and you may just need to be more strategic with your sock choice.

  • Best For: Weightlifting Athletes, Powerlifters, Recreational Lifters, Wider Feet
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 440 lbs
  • Weight: 19.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel Height: .83″ (21mm)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for most. Wide feet, go up a half size.
  • Read My Full Review: TYR L-1 Lifter Review

TYR L1-Lifter

$199.99

TYR L-1 Lifter Product Shot
4.7
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.7

Best For

  • Weightlifting
  • Squats
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Wider Feet

Falls Short

  • For Narrow Feet
  • For Budget-Conscious Shoppers

Best Barefoot Shoes for Squats

Barefoot shoes have steadily grown in popularity as being awesome shop options for lifting. If you love having a barefoot positioning when squatting, then you’ve likely considered barefoot shoes for squats before.

In all of my barefoot shoe testing, there are a lot of models that excel really well for squats, but there are two that stand out to me personally that I always end up reaching for.

Top Pick: Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III is one of my go-to barefoot shoes for tackling squats and general lifting. This model has a few construction features that I really like for lifting and general wear.

For starters, this shoe has a super minimalist outsole construction so you can really feel the ground below your feet when training in these. You can also remove their insole to get even closer to the ground.

So, if you like wearing barefoot shoes on wedges when squatting, you’ll have ample points of contact in this model with your squat style. Additionally, the toe box in this shoe provides a nice width so even wider-footed individuals should have no problem splaying the toes during squats.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III for Men

The last aspect to like about this model is that they’re fairly aesthetic and they work really well as daily drivers, too. Not every pair of barefoot shoes has a nice clean appearance, but I think the Primus Lite IIIs do a good job at walking that line of performance and appearance.

  • Best For: Recreational Lifters and Daily Wear
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 385 lbs
  • Weight: 8.85 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for most. In-between sizing, size up.
  • Read My Full Review: Vivobarefoot 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

Second Pick: Tolos Archetype 1.0

The Tolos Archetype 1.0 is taking my second pick as the best barefoot shoe for squatting. When it comes to squatting in barefoot shoes, I’ve enjoyed rotating my Tolos and Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III back and forth.

Tolos Archetype 1.0 sole tread construction

For squats, I like the Tolos Archetype 1.0’s construction for three key reasons. First, this shoe has a nice level of width through the forefoot so it promotes a nice level of toe splay for squats.

Second, you get a nice level of grip with the Tolos Archetype 1.0’s sole and its tread pattern. For single-leg squat work and bilateral squats on different surfaces, I don’t think you’ll experience slip issues whatsoever in the Archetype 1.0s.

Testing the Tolos Archetype 1.0 for leg day

Third and lastly, I like that this model has a nice level of versatility. This shoe works well for versatile training and it can be worn out and about and look casual. It’s a good barefoot shoe for heavy squats and doing a little bit of everything in.

  • Best For: Recreational Lifters and Daily Wear
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 375 lbs
  • Weight: 7.85 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size for most.
  • Read My Full Review: Tolos Archetype 1.0 Review

Tolos Archetype 1.0

$115

Tolos Archetype 1.0 Product Shot
4.8
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.8
Durability
4.7

Best For

  • Daily/Casual Wear
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Athletic Training
  • All-Around Performance for the Price

Falls Short

  • For Custom Insoles

Best Budget Squat Shoes

For those on a budget looking for a solid pair of shoes for squatting with a little research, there are a good amount of different squat shoe options that you can go with.

Below, I’m going to provide one budget-friendly shoe that has zero drop construction and one budget-friendly weightlifting shoe. Note, there are other options, too, and if you’re interested in those feel free to reach out and I can suggest more models.

Top Pick: Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star

The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star is taking my top pick for the best budget squat shoes and shoes for squats. When it comes to a tried and true budget-friendly shoe for heavy lifting, it’s tough to fault the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star’s performance.

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Review

The Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star low-top model comes in at a price of $60 USD while the high-top model has a price point of $65 USD. Compared to other shoes with comparable stabilities for squats, it’s tough to find consistent shoes that match these prices.

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars have been used for lifting, and more specifically squats, for multiple reasons. For starters,  they have a nice level of stability. Their rubber midsole construction doesn’t compress under heavy weight which is great for different strength levels.

Are Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Good for Lifting

Another perk of the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star for squats is their outsole grip. Whether you’re squatting on rubber gym floors, wooden platforms, or competition carpets (in powerlifting), you shouldn’t generally experience slip issues in Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

  • Best For: Recreational Lifters, Budget Shoppers, and Daily Wear
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 430 lbs
  • Weight: 14.3 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: Go down a half size.
  • Read My Full Review: Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Review

Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star

$65

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

Second Pick: Reebok Lifter PR II

For those looking for a budget weightlifting shoe for squatting, then the Reebok Lifter PR II is a good option to look into. This shoe features a fairly strong construction for the beginner or budget-conscious shopper they’re a fine weightlifting shoe tackling squats.

Reebok Lifter PR II Performance and Lifting Review

The Reebok Lifter PR II has a price point of $100 USD and is easily one of the best entry-level weightlifting shoes. This model delivers a lot of key construction features that most will want for squatting for a good price.

This shoe’s TPU heel does a great job of providing stability for heavy sets and if you’re new to weightlifting shoes or a beginner, I think you’ll be plenty fine with this model’s overall stability.

Reebok Lifter PR II Outsole Construction Review

I also like the midfoot security that you get with this shoe. The single midfoot strap provides more than enough security to promote a nice “locked-down” feeling and the outsole grips the floor well so you shouldn’t have slip issues in these when squatting. 

  • Best For: Beginners, Budget-Shoppers, Squats, and Weightlifting
  • Heaviest Squat In Them (thus far!): 365 lbs
  • Effective Heel Height: 15mm/.6″
  • Weight: 12.90 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size (neutral width)
  • Read My Review: Reebok Lifter PR II Review

Reebok Lifter PR II

$100

Reebok Lifter PR II Product Shot
4.5
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Weightlifting
  • Cross-Training
  • Cost-Efficiency

Falls Short

  • For Lifters That Want a Higher Heel
  • For Construction Quality Control

What Shoes Are Best for Squatting?

When asking the question, “What shoes are best for squatting?” we should explore the surrounding context of the ask. There are no definitive shoe options when it comes to great shoes for squatting because lifters and athletes will have different needs when seeking out great squat shoes.

In reality, instead of pigeonholing a few different shoes for squatting that may not work for everyone, we should instead focus on the construction characteristics of a shoe that make them great for squatting.

Squatting in regular shoes

Whether you’re a CrossFit athlete, a true beginner, a weightlifter a diehard powerlifter, or a recreational lifter, there are three construction aspects that I always look for when considering different shoes for squatting for different lifters. These three construction traits include:

  1. Stable Midsole and Outsole Construction: This ensures the shoe doesn’t compress under squats which could cause you to lose balance and see a dip in performance.
  2. Adequate Outsole Traction: Good traction on an outsole is a must, especially for heavier sessions. The last thing you want is your shoe sliding from under you when you’re training.
  3. Heel-To-Toe Drop That Aligns With Your Squats: Every shoe’s heel-to-toe drop will be slightly different so exploring different options to see which aligns with your squat patterning can be really useful for contextualizing which shoes you should grab for squatting. For example, do you want and prefer an elevated heel, a minimal drop, or a zero drop?

If you use the three construction traits above to guide your shoe selection, then you can’t really go wrong with your choice. There is no “one-size-fits-all” squat shoe.

Can Beginners Wear Squat Shoes?

Without creating confusion here, when lifters say “squat shoes” and “lifting shoes” they really mean weightlifting shoes. That being said, the topic of beginners wearing squat shoes, AKA weightlifting shoes is a popular topic and there isn’t really a one-size-fits-all answer here.

I’m going to provide context per what I recommend to a lot of the beginner lifters and athletes that I work with who ask this question. In my coaching opinion, beginners can absolutely wear weightlifting shoes especially when they help athletes improve their form.

 

As a beginner, we have an awesome opportunity to build good mechanics and create strong habits. If a weightlifting shoe helps an athlete be more conscious of their and improve their squat mechanics, then weightlifting shoes can be a really useful tool for teaching and creating strong mechanics.

There is no list of minimum requirements for wearing weightlifting shoes. For example, you do not need to be a strength sports athlete or squat a certain amount to benefit from training with an elevated heel. That being said, explore different foot positions while squatting to see what creates the more positive form outcome for your needs and skill level.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Which shoes are best for squats?

A:
The best shoes for squats will be dependent on your training needs and squat mechanics, and there's no one-size-fits-all shoe for squats. As a general rule of thumb, the best shoes for squatting will provide a stable construction, a heel-to-toe drop that works for your squat mechanics, and an outsole that grips the floor well.

Q:
Do shoes matter for squats?

A:
Shoes can certainly matter for squats. As you get more niche and serious about your training, your footwear choice can have an impact on your squat mechanics. For example, if you're a strength sports athlete or someone training heavier, then you'll want a pair of shoes that properly support your squat needs.

Q:
Do you need flat shoes for squats?

A:
You don't necessarily need flat shoes for squats. Some lifters like squatting with flat shoes while others enjoy lifting with an elevated heel. Your shoe choice for squats should align with your needs, wants, and goals with your training. A great pair of shoes for squats should be tailored to your individuality.

Takeaway Thoughts

When considering the best shoes for squatting, I’d suggest exploring the context of your overall training and why you want this pair of shoes. There are a ton of different shoes on the market for squatting and if you can apply the context of training needs when selecting various shoes, then you can make more educated buying decisions.

If you need additional help picking the perfect pair of shoes for squatting for your needs, 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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