Deadlift slippers are relatively simple in design and their name suggests their exact usage, deadlifting. When considering deadlift footwear, there are a few key factors to consider. Deadlift slippers, much like deadlift shoes, are a popular option for serious lifters looking to optimize their deadlifts.
If you’re on the market considering new deadlift footwear, then you’ve likely thought about deadlift slippers. As a powerlifter, deadlift slippers are a go-to for both competition and training purposes, and for good reason.
Deadlift slippers help limit the total range of motion you need to deadlift and allow you to truly ground and root the feet, so they’re great for those who are trying to really dial in every aspect of their deadlift. In this article, we’re going to dive into the pros and cons that come along with deadlift slippers.
What Are Deadlift Slippers?
Deadlift slippers are designed to support deadlift performance by limiting the total amount of material that separates the foot from the ground. They’ll generally have straps for upper foot security and rubber soles to promote traction and overall grip.
In the context of strength sports and lifting, deadlift slippers are designed to limit the overall range of motion you need to lift weight and replicate a more “barefoot” feeling when you can’t physically train barefoot. They’re also permitted in powerlifting competitions, so powerlifters will often reach for them and utilize them for this reason.
Deadlift Slippers Benefits
Generally speaking, if you’re looking into deadlift slippers there are going to be six major pros and benefits to consider. Some of these will be contextually more appropriate than others for certain lifters based on the context they’re wanting to use deadlift slippers in.
1. Decrease Deadlift Range of Motion
The first major benefit, and something we’ve already mentioned, is that deadlift slippers help limit the total range of motion you need to lift weight in the deadlift. When setting up for deadlifts, we need to have consistent mechanics that allow us to leverage our deadlift prime movers accordingly.
This means dialing in our hip, knee, and torso positioning to put ourselves in the best means possible to move the maximal amount of weight possible for our abilities. If we can limit the amount of material between our feet and the floor, we’ll decrease the range of motion we need to lift the weight from start to finish.
As the weight on the bar gets heavier, this can be a big deal especially because max-out attempts can often be a game of inches. So, if we can save some distance between our feet and the floor with deadlift slippers, then we’ll gain some performance benefit from them.
2. Adequate Outsole Traction
Another benefit of deadlift slippers is that pretty much every deadlift slipper utilizes a full rubber outsole. This is great because they’ll be able to provide grip on multiple surfaces. If you use shoes like Converse, then you may run into issues with their outsole durability because they can deteriorate and the material under them usually lacks gripping properties.
With deadlift slippers, you’re getting footwear with full rubber outsoles so even there is a little breakdown, generally, they’ll still have adequate rubber to provide traction and grip.
In the context of deadlifts, this is incredibly important because rooting the feet and keeping them secure can be a make or break for strong pulls. Factor in that gym surfaces vary a lot along with competition platforms being made of carpet (usually), and you’ll want to consider your footwear to avoid losing balance when deadlifting.
3. Powerlifting Competition Approved
For powerlifters, a big deciding factor in one’s deadlift footwear can be competition approval. In most federations, deadlift slippers will be perfectly fine to compete in. Generally, the rule is that you need footwear that covers the toes and wraps around the entire foot, which deadlift slippers do with ease.
If you’re a competitive or prospective powerlifter, I’d highly suggest checking out your federation’s equipment rules and the deadlift slipper’s description to ensure they are permitted for competition. Most deadlift slippers like the Lifting Large Ground-Lock Deadlift Slippers are approved for federations like the IPF, IPL, and USPA.
4. Good for Conventional and Sumo Deadlifters
When considering deadlift footwear, you should also consider your deadlift style as your deadlift mechanics can dictate how a shoe will perform. For conventional deadlifts, you can generally get away with using a wider variety of shoes since there’s much less potential to have the feet slip mid-rep.
For sumo deadlifters, your mechanics can put your body into an environment where the feet can be much more prone to slipping. As you spread the floor and produce force in doing so, you need shoes that can grip really well to prevent sliding mid-rep.
Generally, deadlift slippers will be a good option for this with their full rubber outsoles that often wrap up the lateral sides of the shoe.
5. Provide Toe Box Room for Toe Splay
To fully root the feet, you’ll want to have adequate toe box room to splay the toes and grip the floor. When working to optimize balance and foot position, we ideally want to create a tripod foot position which is the rooting of the base of the big toe, pinky toe, and heel.
With their wider toe boxes, deadlift slippers do a really good job at providing the feet with enough room to stretch, grip, and root themselves.
6. Affordable Deadlift Footwear Option
The price of deadlift slippers could also be a benefit worth considering. Since deadlift slippers are so niche in their functionality, their price points that often sit between $20-40 USD can be much easier to get behind than a pair of deadlift shoes that can cost $90 USD plus.
For the recreational lifter that is considering getting more niche with their training, deadlift slippers can be a great affordable option to start experimenting with.
Deadlift Slippers Drawbacks
While deadlift slippers have their list of benefits, they do have a couple of drawbacks worth considering if you’re on the fence about investing in a pair.
1. Limited Functionality
As their name states, deadlift slippers will only really benefit those wanting to deadlift. They’re not like barefoot shoes or Vans in the context that they can have multiple functionalities and be worn on a daily basis.
If you want a pair of shoes for daily wear, deadlifts, and even recreational lifting, then I’d highly suggest checking out shoes like Vans and Converse.
2. Long-Term Durability
Another drawback of deadlift slippers is that their lifespan usually isn’t the longest. Since deadlift slippers are made with lighter materials and are minimalist in design, they can break down faster than traditional deadlift and training shoes.
For those wanting their deadlift slippers to go the distance, I’d highly suggest limiting their use for deadlift sessions and to store them in neutral climates. Basically, avoid getting them dirty or moist if you want their materials to last longer.
3. Upper Materials Can Fold
It’s important to get the sizing right for your deadlift slippers. Otherwise, you can run into issues with the lateral materials of the slippers folding when performing sumo deadlifts.
When sumo deadlifting, the feet can slide laterally and if your deadlift slippers have a ton of space in them, then you can run into the problem of the material folding under itself which could impact your balance and performance.
How to Prevent This: Try to find deadlift slippers that leave roughly ~.3″ or less in the toe box. This will usually provide you with a tight enough deadlift slipper to where it doesn’t slide, but also give you enough room so they’re not miserably tight.
Are Deadlift Slippers Right for You?
Hopefully, this article helped provide further insights into if deadlift slippers are right for you. There are multiple pros and cons that come along with deadlift slippers and your choice to invest in a pair should align with said benefits and drawbacks.
If you have any questions about deadlift slippers, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly)!