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The 9 Best Weightlifting Shoes of 2024 (Unbiased and Hand-Tested)

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As a seasoned strength coach and the brains behind That Fit Friend, I’ve laced up more weightlifting shoes than I can count. I’ve also bought more pairs than my bank statement can support, but hey, this addiction is better than most I suppose.

Much like cross-training shoes, I think of weightlifting shoes as tools. Understanding the why behind using heel-elevated lifting shoes can be useful as it can then help you decide if they’re worth it for your training goals.

If you’re new to weightlifting shoes, these shoes are designed to promote your performance for squats, and weightlifting (snatch and clean & jerk), and can be useful for quad-focused exercises. For example, I love using weightlifting shoes on the leg press and hack squats.

When testing lifting shoes, I constantly assess stability, security, and durability. For example, if I’m squatting 405 lbs in the TYR L-1 Lifter, I’m assessing how stable this model feels compared to its peers, like the Reebok Legacy Lifter 3 and Adidas Adipower 3.

My Favorite Weightlifting Shoes In 2024

Best Weightlifting Shoes That Fit Friend

FYI: I fund and run That Fit Friend by myself. I’ve purchased every weightlifting shoe featured in this list, I haven’t been gifted any products for placement. If you decide to buy a pair of shoes on my round-up, it helps keep the lights on here if you go through my links. Thank you and reach out if you have questions!

Tips Before You Buy

  • Proper Fit is Crucial: The right weightlifting shoes should offer a secure, snug fit but accommodating for your toes, maintaining stability and safety during heavy lifts.
  • Heel Construction Matters: Shoes with a solid, non-compressible heel, such as TPU or wooden heels, provide critical support for exercises like squats and deadlifts.
  • Versatility and Durability: High-performing shoes like those with TPU heels balance robust support with agility, suitable for a variety of exercises and providing long-term durability.
  • Comfort Equals Performance: Beyond just enhancing performance, a comfortable pair of weightlifting shoes can prevent injuries and improve overall training endurance.
  • Invest in Quality for Longevity: Ensure shoes are not only fit for purpose but are also well-made to avoid frequent replacements, focusing on features like heel stability and grip.

How I Test Weightlifting Shoes

I’ve been reviewing and testing weightlifting shoes for the last seven years, during which time I’ve fine-tuned my review process to focus on three key things.

What's inside a lifting shoe, That Fit Friend best weightlifting shoes

First, I focus on a weightlifting shoe’s stability. This is paramount to focus on because most lifters are buying weightlifting shoes for big squats, clean & jerks, and snatches so stability is necessary. Different weightlifting shoes will utilize different midsole materials which can influence their stability, flexibility, and ground feel.

Second, I focus on a shoe’s durability. Weightlifting shoes are a pretty expensive investment for many, so I’m always paying attention to a shoe’s ability to last a while so you can get the most out of your shoes.

Third and lastly, I’m factoring in value. What does that mean? Cross-referencing a shoe’s materials with its cost to evaluate if a shoe is worth it and to assess WHO it’s worth it for. A beginner doesn’t need to drop $200+ on a pair of weightlifting shoe in most cases, IMO.

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Men | Reebok Legacy Lifter 3

What I Like

  • Good stability for squats and other lifts
  • Strong upper security
  • Outsole has great grip

What I Don’t Like

  • Upper lacks breathability
  • Higher price point

Reebok Legacy Lifter 3 Review

Who Should Buy the Legacy Lifter 3

  1. Athletes who want a stable shoe for squats and weightlifting.
  2. Lifters that like heavier and more rigid shoes for squatting.
  3. Anyone who wants a shoe that will last a while that is consistent across the board.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Legacy Lifter 3

  1. Athletes who hate heavier shoes for training.
  2. Lifters with wider feet (3E or wider stay away).

Specs Overview

  • Max Weight Squatted In These (thus far!): 415 lb back squat, 365 lb front squat
  • Effective Heel Height: 22mm/.86″
  • Weight: 18.85 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size (neutral width)
  • Read My Review

Reebok Legacy Lifter III

$220

Reebok Legacy Lifter III Product Shot
4.4
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.4

Best For

  • Squats
  • Weightlifting
  • Recreational Strength Work
  • Narrow and Neutral-Width Feet

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet
  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Athletes That Like Lighter Weight Shoes

Reebok Legacy Lifter 3 Performance Review

The Reebok Legacy Lifter 3 is a really strong option for the squat and weightlifting-focused guy. This model delivers consistent performance in a variety of training settings and is a good “all-in-one” style weightlifting shoe.

This model features a stable TPU heel with an effective heel height of 22mm or .86 inches. When it comes to moving heavy weight in squats, cleans, and snatches, the Reebok Legacy Lifter 3 delivers a strong performance and is similar to the Legacy Lifter 2.

The adjustable thicker midfoot strap on this model also does a good job of promoting overall foot security. This strap system feels durable and much less clunky compared to the original Reebok Legacy Lifter and the Pump system can be useful for promoting security.

The toe box in this model has a nice level of maneuverability and I’d describe its fit as neutral. It’s not going to be the best option for wide feet, but for most foot anatomies, the Legacy Lifter 3 delivers a good fit.

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Women | Adidas Adipower 3

What to Like

  • TPU midsole and heel are stable
  • Upper breathes fairly well
  • Good midfoot and toe box security

What to Not Like

  • Toe box can feel snug for wide feet
  • Higher price point

Adidas Adipower 3 Midsole Review

Who Should Buy the Adipower 3

  1. Athletes who want a consistent shoe for doing squats and weightlifting.
  2. Lifters with narrow to medium foot widths.
  3. Anyone needing that “first” weightlifting shoe that will last them a while.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Adipower 3

  1. Athletes who want more flexible toe boxes that have more malleability.
  2. Lifters with wider feet who need more toe box room.

Specs Overview

  • Effective Heel Height: 22mm/.86″
  • Weight: 17.60 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size (neutral width)
  • Read My Review

Adidas Adipower 3

Adidas Adipower III Product Shot
4.4
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.0
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Weightlifting
  • Squats and Lower Body Exercises
  • Narrow and Neutral-Width Feet

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet
  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Forefoot Mobility

Adidas Adipower 3 Review

The Adidas Adipower 3 is a great option that usually works great for women’s foot anatomies. This weightlifting shoe delivers a strong performance in the gym for a variety of training contexts.

This shoe’s ripstop upper construction does a good job with durability and it delivers one of the better-looking appearances of weightlifting shoes. The TPU heel in this model is stable and feels relatively lightweight.

The midfoot strap is also well-built, and its construction feels similar to that of the original Adidas Adipower. For squats, weightlifting, and recreational lifting, the Adidas Adipower 3 does a good job.

One core reason why this model made the top of this list, though, is due to its last construction. The Adipower 3 has a neutral and narrower width so it has an “athletic” fit to it when training. I included wider options below if you need more width.

Best Budget Lifting Shoes | Reebok Lifter PR 3

What I Like

  • Strong well-rounded performance
  • Great for beginners and recreational lifters
  • Good price point

What I Don’t Like

  • May lack for lifters wanting more heel height

Testing the Reebok Lifter PR 3 for Clean and jerk

Who Should Buy the Lifter PR 3

  1. Beginners who want a consistent shoe that will last a while.
  2. Athletes that like lower heels for squatting and training.
  3. Recreational lifters who are on the fence about what to buy — seriously, just grab these for a good price.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Lifter PR 3

  1. Athletes who like more “snappy” midsoles and heels when catching weight.
  2. Lifters with 3E or wider feet.

Specs Overview

  • Max Weight Squatted In These (thus far!): 395 lb back squat, 475 lb Hatfield squat
  • Effective Heel Height: 15mm/.6″
  • Weight: 17.60 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size (neutral width)
  • Read My Review

Reebok Lifter PR 3

Reebok Lifter PR 3 Product Shot
4.6
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Squats & Recreational Lifting
  • Beginners to Weightlifting Shoes
  • Beginner Weightlifters
  • Cost-Efficiency

Falls Short

  • For Notably Wide Feet
  • For Those That Need a Higher Heel Height

Reebok Lifter PR 3 Weightlifting Shoe Sizing

The Reebok Lifter PR 3 is a tried and true model with a good price point. It’s tough to fault the construction and performance of the Reebok Lifter PR 3 for its $100 or lower price point.

Additionally, you can often find this model marked down with multiple colorways on sale, so more than likely, you’ll be able to find them for less than $100 which is even better.

This shoe delivers a stable high-density EVA midsole and its midfoot strap has a nice level of security. Plus, unlike other budget weightlifting shoes that you’ll find on Amazon, both of these construction features feel pretty durable and well-constructed.

The textile upper on this model breathes pretty well and it’s a good “all-in-one” style weightlifting shoe for someone wanting to save. Whether you’re new to weightlifting shoes or you want to save money, this is a good consistent model to explore.

Top Pick for CrossFit Athletes | Inov-8 Fastlift Power G 380

What I Like

  • Great for lifters that love forefoot flexibility
  • Good stability through the heel
  • Outsole has good traction

What I Don’t Like

  • May feel too flexible in the forefoot for some
  • Higher price point

Testing the Inov 8 Fastlift Power G 380 for squats

Who Should Buy the Fastlift Power G 380

  1. Lifters who want a shoe with a flexible toe box with a lot of ground feel.
  2. Athletes who want a good weightlifting shoe for everything.
  3. Anyone who likes lightweight shoes and actively seeks that out when buying.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Fastlift Power G 380

  1. Lifters that enjoy heavier shoes with more built-out outsoles and uppers.
  2. Athletes that like lower heel heights.

Specs Overview

  • Max Weight Squatted In These (thus far!): 385 lb back squat, 430 lb Hatfield squat
  • Effective Heel Height: 22mm/.86″
  • Weight: 13.50 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size (neutral width)
  • Fastlift Power G 380: Read My Review

Inov-8 Fastlift Power G 380

$210

Inov-8 Fastlift Power G 380 Review
4.6
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.4
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • Squats and Leg Workouts
  • Weightlifting (Clean & Jerk/Snatch)
  • Functional Fitness Workouts
  • Narrow and Neutral Width Feet

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet

Inov 8 Fastlift Power G 380 In Depth Review

The Inov-8 Fastlift Power G 380 is one of my favorite lifting shoe picks for CrossFit athletes. In the context of CrossFit, this model delivers a consistent, stable, and versatile performance for a few reasons.

First, this shoe features a stable and lightweight graphene-infused power heel. Compared to other weightlifting shoes, this model has a lighter weight which is great for more dynamic training sessions.

Second, the ripstop upper and graphene rubber outsole are durable and the midfoot strap delivers a solid level of security. From a durability and security standpoint, this shoe does a really good job.

Third and lastly, this model’s toe box has a lot more maneuverability compared to other weightlifting shoes. This is a big reason why this model is taking my top pick here because blocky and stiff toe boxes can feel rough during CrossFit workouts.

Best for Powerlifting | TYR L-1 Lifter

What I Like

  • TPU midsole and heel are stable
  • Rubber outsole provides good traction
  • Dual-straps promote security

What I Don’t Like

  • Upper lacks breathability and can feel heavy
  • Outsole lipping can occur (TYR typically replaces if this happens)

TYR L-1 Lifter Weightlifting Shoes Review

Who Should Buy the L-1 Lifter

  1. Lifters who want a shoe with a wider toe box.
  2. Athletes who like heavier shoes that feel anchored when training.
  3. Powerlifters who like squatting with a slightly higher heel.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the L-1 Lifter

  1. Lifters with narrow feet in the toe box area.
  2. Athletes with lower volume feet (straps may run too long for you).

Specs Overview

  • Max Weight Squatted In These (thus far!): 420 lb back squat, 375 lb front squat
  • Effective Heel Height: 21mm/.83″
  • Weight: 19.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size for most. Size up a half-size for wide feet.
  • TYR L-1 Lifter: Read My Review

TYR L1-Lifter

$199.99

TYR L-1 Lifter Product Shot
4.4
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • Weightlifting
  • Squats
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Wider Feet

Falls Short

  • For Narrow Feet
  • For Budget-Conscious Shoppers
  • For Long-Term Sole Durability

Using the TYR L1-Lifter for Squats

The TYR L-1 Lifter is my favorite pick for powerlifting and I enjoy its consistency and width. Shoes for squats for powerlifting can vary greatly depending on your squat style, anatomy, and mechanical needs.

If you’re someone who likes competing in powerlifting with lifting shoes then I think you’ll like the TYR L-1 Lifter for a couple of reasons. First, the TPU midsole and thicker rubber outsole have a nice level of stability for different lifting thresholds.

Second, the wider toe box is great for accommodating different foot anatomies, and compared to other weightlifting shoes you will get more width in the TYR L-1 Lifter. I like this because the toe box “feel” isn’t as drastic when switching to barefoot shoes for my deadlifts.

Third and lastly, the midfoot security is also solid on the TYR L-1 Lifter. With the heavier upper and dual straps, you should have a nice level of security. Plus, if you’re only wearing these for squat sessions they should last a while.

Top Pick for Wide Feet | TYR L-1 Lifter

What I Like

  • Wider toe box is great for toe splay
  • TPU midsole and heel are stable
  • Good upper security

What I Don’t Like

  • Upper lacks breathability
  • Despite being “wide” they can still be a miss for feet wider than EE-width

Testing the TYR L-1 Lifter Weightlifting Shoes for squats

Who Should Buy the L-1 Lifter

  1. Lifters who want a shoe with a wider toe box.
  2. Athletes who like heavier shoes that feel anchored when training.
  3. Anyone who likes squatting with a slightly higher heel.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the L-1 Lifter

  1. Lifters with narrow feet in the toe box area.
  2. Athletes who also plan to use these in more versatile contexts outside of powerlifting (like leaving them on throughout CrossFit WODs, this won’t be applicable for most).

Specs Overview

  • Max Weight Squatted In These (thus far!): 420 lb back squat, 375 lb front squat
  • Effective Heel Height: 21mm/.83″
  • Weight: 19.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size for most. Size up a half-size for wide feet.
  • TYR L-1 Lifter: Read My Review

TYR L1-Lifter

$199.99

TYR L-1 Lifter Product Shot
4.4
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • Weightlifting
  • Squats
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Wider Feet

Falls Short

  • For Narrow Feet
  • For Budget-Conscious Shoppers
  • For Long-Term Sole Durability

Nike Romaleos 4 Versus TYR L1-Lifter

The TYR L-1 Lifter is my favorite option for wide feet, and note, I have E-width feet. In the context of toe box width in weightlifting shoes, there isn’t a model that competes with the TYR L-1 Lifter.

This model’s main claim to fame is its width and I think most lifters will enjoy how much they can splay their toes in this model. Regarding width, I would compare the TYR L-1 Lifter’s toe box shape and construction to a Xero Shoes Prio (a popular barefoot shoe).

Outside of being wider than other weightlifting shoes on the market, the TYR L-1 Lifter also delivers a strong performance in the gym. This model is plenty stable for heavy squats and gave me no issues when squatting up to 440 lbs in them.

Additionally, the dual straps provide this shoe’s midfoot a nice level of security, so they should work pretty well for recreational lifting, weightlifting, and even functional fitness workouts.

Top Pick for Flat Feet | NOBULL Canvas Lifter

What I Like

  • More comfortable fit for flat feet
  • Good stability for heavy squats
  • Anatomical-shaped toe box

What I Don’t Like

  • Toe spring can feel excessive
  • Upper lacks breathability

Testing the NOBULL Canvas Lifter for Cleans

Who Should Buy the Canvas Lifter

  1. Lifters who like wider-fitting shoes with less arch.
  2. Beginners needing a first weightlifting shoe.
  3. Athletes who want a quality feeling shoe for a decent price.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Canvas Lifter

  1. Lifters that struggle with “being forward” in their pulls.
  2. Athletes who like flatter feeling shoes.

Specs Overview

  • Max Weight Squatted In These (thus far!): 375 lb back squat, 335 lb front squat
  • Effective Heel Height: 17.5mm/.68″
  • Weight: 15.50 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size (neutral width)
  • NOBULL Canvas Lifter: Read My Review

NOBULL Canvas Lifter

$149

NOBULL Canvas Lifter Product Shot
4.3
Stability
4.5
Versatility
4.5
Durability
4.4
Quality
4.1

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Squats
  • Weightlifting
  • Medium to Slightly Wider Feet

Falls Short

  • For Flatter Toe Box Lovers
  • For Exceptionally Wide Feet

NOBULL Canvas Lifter sizing and fit

The NOBULL Canvas Lifter is a strong option for flat feet. This model has steadily grown on me regarding its performance and I think it’s a decent option for flatter feet.

The NOBULL Canvas Lifter is designed to have a more anatomical-shaped toe box and it doesn’t have an aggressive arch or midfoot like some of the other lifting shoes in this list.

Regarding performance, the NOBULL Canvas Lifter is pretty standard across the board. This shoe features a high-density EVA foam for its midsole and heel so compression shouldn’t be an issue in this shoe when moving weight.

Additionally, the single midfoot strap and canvas upper do a pretty good job of promoting overall security when training. I also like that this model costs around $149.99 which is a lower price point than most premium weightlifting shoes.

Best Option for Beginners | Adidas Powerlift 5

What I Like

  • Strong option for beginners
  • Good stability for squats
  • Upper and strap provide good security

What I Don’t Like

  • EVA can lack snappiness and ground feedback
  • Run narrow for wide feet

Adidas Powerlift 5 Performance Review

Who Should Buy the Powerlift 5

  1. Beginners wanting a first pair of weightlifting shoes.
  2. Athletes with narrower feet.
  3. Lifters who like lower heel heights.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Powerlift 5

  1. Anyone with wide feet.
  2. Weightlifing athletes who want higher heels.
  3. Lifters who like flexible toe boxes.

Specs Overview

  • Max Weight Squatted In These (thus far!): 405 lb back squat, 355 lb front squat
  • Effective Heel Height: 15mm/.6″
  • Weight: 14.40 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size (neutral width)
  • Powerlift 5: Review My Review

Adidas Powerlift 5

Adidas Powerlift 5 Product Shot
4.3
Stability
4.5
Versatility
4.3
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • Beginner Powerlifters
  • Recreational Lifters
  • Budget-Conscious Shoppers

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet
  • For Quality

Adidas Powerlift 5

The Adidas Powerlift 5 is my favorite beginner-friendly lifting shoe. This model delivers a strong performance in the gym and has a price point that sits around $120.

This model features a high-density EVA foam heel and midsole, which is plenty stable for most beginners getting into weightlifting shoes. The midfoot strap on this model also does a good job supporting foot security when training.

The flexible mesh and canvas upper also do a good job of supporting this shoe’s breathability. I also like the rubber outsole and the level of tread you get with the Adidas Powerlift 5 on rubber gym floors, wooden platforms, and machines.

Another reason why I like the Adidas Powerlift 5 for beginners is their overall versatility. They do a good job for a variety of training contexts so if you’re trying to figure out the “when to wear” for weightlifting shoes and your training, they’re a good pick.

Top Pick Narrow Feet |Nike Romaleos 4

What I Like

  • Good stability for heavy lifts
  • Dual straps provide ample upper security
  • Outsole grips different floors well

What I Don’t Like

  • Upper can feel limiting for high-volume feet
  • Toe box isn’t the widest
  • Forefoot can feel wicked rigid

Nike Romaleos 4 for squatting

Who Should Buy the Romaleos 4

  1. Athletes who have narrower feet.
  2. Lifters that like snug-fitting toe boxes and shoes with midfoot support.
  3. Lifters who like heavier shoes with flatter feeling platforms.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Romaleos 4

  1. Anyone with wide feet.
  2. Athletes with flatter feet who despite arch in their shoes.

Specs Overview

  • Max Weight Squatted In These (thus far!): 405 lb back squat, 355 lb front squat
  • Effective Heel Height: 20mm/.78″
  • Weight: 12.90 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size (neutral/narrow width)
  • Nike Rom 4: Read My Review

Nike Romaleos 4

$200

nike romaleos 4
4.4
Stability
4.8
Durability
4.3
Quality
4.4

Best For

  • Weightlifting (Snatch and Clean & Jerk)
  • Squats
  • Exercises Where a Heel Wedge Is Desired

Falls Short

  • For Wider Footed Athletes
  • For Cost-Efficiency

nike romaleos 4 performance and price

The Nike Romaleos 4 is a consistent and strong pick for lifters with narrow feet. Compared to other weightlifting shoes, this model does a good job for narrow feet for two specific reasons.

First, the fit of this model is what I would describe as neutral with a bias towards being more narrow. Second, the upper volume in this shoe is pretty low so it gives you a snug fit through the midfoot and toe box.

If you often find that you’re sliding around in weightlifting shoes or as though you can’t get them tight enough, I don’t think you’ll have these issues with the Nike Romaleos 4.

The Romaleos 4’s TPU heel provides a nice solid base to lift on and this shoe’s dual strap system provides a nice level of midfoot security. For squats, weightlifting, and recreational lifting, the Nike Romaleos 4 does a good job.

How Should Your Weightlifting Shoes Fit?

Answer: When sizing weightlifting shoes, I often suggest having around a .5 inch of space at the end of your toe box. This is typically a good metric to work off of for most weightlifting shoes.

Having around a half inch of space will typically give you enough room in the toe box to not feel cramped, but it will also allow you to tighten your shoes enough to prevent sliding into the toe box when training.

How should weightlifting shoes fit

Before investing in new weightlifting shoes, I’d highly suggest making sure the shoe aligns with your foot anatomy. Some shoes will have different upper volumes and widths, which will make them better or worse for your individual needs.

My advice is to always look at reviews on a shoe’s product page for feedback from others and to cross-reference with other long-form reviews. You can also always reach out to me if you have additional weightlifting shoe questions.

Can Beginners Wear Lifting Shoes?

Absolutely. There is no set rule for when you can wear lifting shoes for training and a beginner can wear these shoes to promote their performance with squats, clean & jerks, and snatches.

Beginners Can Absolutely Wear Lifting Shoes

In my coaching opinion, lifting shoes can be great tools to have on hand so you can rotate your footwear based on your training needs. For example, if you like squatting with an elevated heel versus in flat shoes, then they can be a great supportive tool for your training.

Testing the UA Reign Lifter for squats

Plus, you can then rotate your shoes based on what you find helps you perform the best based on the workout you’re doing. This is a strategy that I and a lot of lifters use when chasing specific performance and lift-focused goals.

On top of this, if you find yourself wanting heel elevation for your squats, then a weightlifting shoe is a much better option than using a plate under the heel as a weightlifting shoe’s sole will give your foot more surface area which can then, in turn, can increase your stability and balance.

Testing the ANTA 2 Weightlifting Shoes for squats

The takeaway point here is that beginners can certainly rock lifting shoes and I think it can be counterproductive to “wait for the right time” to invest in a good pair. Think of weightlifting shoes as tools, and you want the right tools for certain types of jobs.

Coaching Tip: If you’re brand new to weightlifting shoes, I’d suggest wearing them for training sessions where you’re working on sub-maximal loads to get used to this style of footwear as opposed to going super heavy right away.

Using a tempo can also be great to help you “feel” the difference when wearing these shoes compared to your normal workout shoes.

Will Weightlifting Shoes Help My Squat?

Weightlifting shoes can be useful tools for promoting stronger squat performance. If you’re investing in your first pair of weightlifting shoes and you’ve been training in flat shoes like Vans, then I’d suggest acclimating to this style of footwear slowly.

Reebok Legacy Lifter 3 Performance Review

For example, when you go from a flat shoe to a heel-elevated shoe it’s normal to see your form also change in certain lifts. A weightlifting shoe’s elevated heel will change your foot’s position, which will then shift your ankle, knee, hip, and torso mechanics.

In simplistic terms, a shoe’s elevated heel will typically allow you to feel like you can more comfortably track the knees over the toes while achieving more squat depth and maintaining an upright torso.

flat vs heeled shoes in squats

Weightlifting shoes can help promote better squat mechanics because they can help you better balance the barbell over the midfoot when squatting and promote overall stability which can help with power production, in addition to the aforementioned balance benefit.

How to Clean Weightlifting Shoes

To properly clean weightlifting shoes, I’d suggest using a spot-clean technique. This is what I also recommend doing for training shoes and it’s a cleaning technique that should help you get more out of your shoes.

Since weightlifting shoes cost a little more than traditional training shoes, it can be super useful to prolong your investment by taking good care of the shoes and keeping them relatively clean.

How to Clean Weightlifting Shoes

  • Step 1: Grab a washcloth, a soft soap (void of harsh dyes and fragrances), and some lukewarm water.
  • Step 2: Wipe down and spot clean areas that have signs of dirt buildup by putting a little soap on your washcloth and getting it a little damp.
  • Step 3: After you’re satisfied with your work, remove the shoe’s insoles and place them in a dry area.

By doing this every few months, you can easily make your weightlifting shoes last longer and get more for your investment. For gym bag users, it can also be a good idea to either open your gym bag post-training session to let it air out or to remove your shoes entirely.

When to Use Weightlifting Shoes

There can be multiple reasons why you’d want to use weightlifting shoes in the gym and for your training. A weightlifting shoe’s use will typically be based on how you train and your anatomical needs.

Generally speaking, you’ll use weightlifting shoes for the following:

  • The Sport of Weightlifting (snatch and clean & jerk)
  • Strength Sports Like Powerlifting, CrossFit, and Strongman (if you like squatting with an elevated heel)
  • Squats
  • Accessory Exercises Where An Elevated Heel Is Desired

Weightlifting Shoe Spectrum of Specificity

A weightlifting shoe will essentially replicate what a heel wedge does for your training. That being said, there are countless reasons why and when you’d want to use weightlifting shoes for your training and this will be based on your individual needs.

Flat Shoes Vs Weightlifting Shoes

A common question that I receive from clients and on YouTube is about the use of flat shoes versus weightlifting shoes. When considering your footwear for training, and more specifically, squats and weightlifting, it can be useful to acknowledge the demands of the activity.

0mm Heel-to-Toe Drop Vs 15-25mm Heel-to-Toe Drop

Shoes like barefoot shoes, Vans, and Converse have a 0mm heel-to-toe drop or zero-drop construction. This means that when you’re wearing these shoes your feet will be flat with the ground with no heel elevation.

Are Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Good for Lifting

A weightlifting shoe will have anywhere from .5 inches to 1 inch of heel elevation, which puts the foot into a plantarflexed position when wearing these shoes. Plantarflexion means that your toes are flexed downwards below the heel (dorsiflexion is flexing upwards).

The way a flat shoe and an elevated heel shoe will feel for your lifting and squatting can feel drastically different depending on your lifting mechanics and anatomy. Anatomical differences like hip structure, femur neck length, and femur head shape can influence this.

Velaasa Strake Weightlifting Shoes Squat Review

Heel Elevation Can Be Great for Taller Lifters

For example, some taller lifters may find that it feels nearly impossible to hit quality squat depth with good mechanics in flat shoes while a shorter lifter or more mobile lifter may have no issues with this style of footwear.

This is important to recognize because if you can understand what shoes allow you to perform your best for certain lifting contexts, you can select the gear that helps you perform your strongest.

Testing Inov-8 Fastlift 360 for working out

Rotating Between Flat and Heel Elevated Shoes Can Be Good for Goals

In my coaching opinion, there’s no inherent benefit to only wearing flat shoes or only weightlifting shoes. I like to think of shoes as tools and you’ll want to pick the footwear that allows you to perform your best at high thresholds.

From a programming point of view, I squat best with weightlifting shoes as I’m a lanky guy with mediocre mobility. This means that I’ll wear weightlifting shoes when I’m prepping for a meet or I’m pushing high intensities in sessions, then opt for flat shoes which I feel less comfortable in for lower threshold workouts and activities.

Testing the Legends Luka Shorts for Weight Training

This allows me to have a variance in the range of motion demands that I’ll experience while training with different shoes which can be great for things like sport carryover and exposing my ankles/feet to different environments which can translate to building tissue strength.

Long story short, I’d suggest playing with different types of footwear while training. You’ll likely find that you enjoy what type of footwear for certain workouts over others. This is normal and it’s important to recognize what allows you to perform your best.

What to Look for In Weightlifting Shoes

When you’re looking into buying either your first pair of weightlifting shoes or your next pair, there are a few key construction details that I’d suggest paying attention to.

Since weightlifting shoes have a higher price point and increased level of specificity to their constructions, it’s a good idea to make sure you’re investing in a shoe that best aligns with your needs.

parts of a lifting shoe

In my coaching and reviewer opinion, there are five key things to look at in a weightlifting shoe before investing in them.

Quality 1: Well-Built Outsole

Ideally, you’ll want a shoe with a strong and well-built outsole to promote traction and long-term durability. Avoid weightlifting shoes that utilize any material other than rubber, in my opinion.

Quality 2: High-Quality Midsole/Heel

When it comes to long-term durability and performance, I’d suggest exploring shoes with heels first built with TPU, then wood, high-density foam, and stacked leather in that order. TPU tends to run lighter, have great stability, and last longer.

Quality 3: Good Midfoot Security

Midfoot constructions built with thicker straps, metal anchors for the straps, and double-stitching will usually last longer and give you the best security.

Quality 4: Reinforced Upper Constructions

Upper constructions can be huge for preventing spillover when catching weight and for promoting long-term durability. Look for uppers that have reinforced stitching and curated overlays.

Quality 5: Proper Fit for Your Foot

Every weightlifting shoe will fit slightly differently, so doing a little research to identify different fits can be great for your comfort and performance. I’d suggest looking at a shoe’s fit in my reviews and reviews on product pages.

If you can nail these five construction features in your next pair of weightlifting shoes, then you should be well on your way to quality pair that should last a while and perform well.

Final Verdict

There are countless weightlifting shoes on the market and each model has its list of pros and cons. Weightlifting shoes can be useful tools in the gym and for your training based on your individual needs.

When looking into new weightlifting shoes, I’d highly suggest checking out the differences that exist between the market’s current models to ensure you find a pair that fits your needs best.

If you have additional questions on any of the weightlifting shoes featured in this round-up, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Can beginners wear lifting shoes?

A:
Absolutely. Weightlifting shoes can be useful for lifters from all walks of life. For beginners specifically, they can be useful tools for teaching strong squat mechanics.

Q:
Should you deadlift in weightlifting shoes?

A:
When it comes to deadlifting in weightlifting shoes, I always liken it to the classic saying, Just because you can, doesn't mean you should. A weightlifting shoe can add more range of motion to your deadlift and alter your deadlift setup mechanics.
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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