As a skateboarder growing up, I never really thought about why I would sometimes gravitate and use my skate shoes for lifting weights and working out. I remember going to the skate park at 13 with my friends, skating all day, then coming home and working out in my skate shoes before hockey practice.
It never really occurred to me to switch into something like cross-training shoes. Outside of being an overall lazy person (which I still am to this day), I wouldn’t change my shoes because I enjoyed my skate shoes and how they fit. The skate shoes felt natural to keep on for weight lifting sessions.
This is not by chance and wearing skate shoes for working out and lifting weights is a topic that I’ve been asked about a few times on my YouTube channel. Are skate shoes good for working out?
Some skate shoes can be awesome options for working out and I’m going to discuss why below. Now, do I still wear my skate shoes for cross-training sessions and heavy lifts? No, I use shoes that are more specific in nature, but for general training sessions, skate shoes can be good options.
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Author’s Note: When I say “skateboarder” growing up, please note, that I was okay, but never super great. If you’re a really great skateboarder — mad props and I’m seriously jealous. Just wanted to make it clear that I’m good for a kickflip here and there, but not elite by any means.
Can I Work Out In Skate Shoes?
Skate shoes can be a fairly good footwear option for working out and lifting weights. They deliver a fairly stable construction and have rubber outsoles that provide adequate traction on rubber gym floors, wooden platforms, and machines where you’ll be using these shoes.
If you’re a skateboarder that is considering the idea of wearing skate shoes for working out, then you should be fine doing so. Granted, will skate shoes excel for every form of working out? Not necessarily, but for lifting weights, stability training, and more static strength work skate shoes work really well.
Why Are Skate Shoes Good for Working Out?
Outside of the above, as a strength coach, I always like to share additional context as to why certain shoes can be good for working out. Below, I’m going to outline three reasons why skate shoes can be great for lifting weight and general workouts.
This way you can assess if your skate shoes will work for your training needs or if you should invest in an additional pair of training shoes for accommodating your needs.
1. Skate Shoes Have Decent Stability
The first reason why skate shoes can be good shoes for working out is that they generally have a good amount of stability that comes with them. This means that their insole, midsole, and outsole constructions limit overall compression when training and lifting in them.
When lifting weights and working out, stability can be important for balance and overall performance output. A good example here of what not to do is squatting or deadlifting with something like a running shoe that has a thick and squishy midsole.
Skate shoes on the other hand are designed to walk the fine line between being stable and versatile for skating purposes. For example, if you’re hitting stair sets, you’ll want your shoes to provide a little cushion but not so much that you can’t ground the feet on your board.
For lifting and working out, this is a good thing because the shoes will be stable under heavy lifts but also cushioned enough to provide some ground feedback when doing things like lunges, split squats, and even some versatile exercises like box jumps and burpees.
2. Skate Shoes Have Good Grip and Durability
Another reason why skate shoes can be good options for working out is their outsole grip and their durability. When training, the last thing you want to worry about is slippage due to outsoles giving out or lacking adequate tread.
Most skate shoes have full rubber outsoles for gripping skateboards and the ground. This is a good thing for working out because it increases the amount of grip you’ll get from your skate shoes on different gym surfaces like turf, rubber floors, and wooden platforms and floors.
On top of their grip, skate shoes also inherently have good amounts of durability. Most skate shoes will have toe boxes and uppers made with reinforced and layered materials to prevent breakdown from grip tape and the beating skateboarding can have on shoes.
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These features carry over really well for lifting and working out and should increase your shoe’s overall performance in the gym, especially if you’re only using your skate shoes for strength work where you’re not going to be getting a ton of upper abrasion.
3. Skate Shoes Have Good Widths
The final reason why skate shoes can be good shoes for working out is that they generally have a good amount of width to them. When skating, more surface area and ground contact between the feet and your board and the ground can be beneficial.
This is similar to working out and how beneficial it can be to have more surface area where the feet can engage with the ground when training.
For example, in deadlifts and squats, you’ll generally want shoes that have widths that allow the toes to splay and the feet to fully engage with the ground. In skate shoes, you’ll usually have a fair amount of width inherently due to the skate-focused construction.
4. Skate Shoes Have Lower Heel-to-Toe Drops
Another reason why skate shoes can be beneficial for working out is that most skate shoes have 0mm or lower heel-to-toe drops. In the context of training, a 0mm or low heel-to-toe drop can be useful for some workout settings.
This does not mean that 0mm and low heel-to-toe drops are inherently better than higher heel-to-toe drop shoes, but they can be useful for having some carryover from your skating to training.
For example, the ankle mobility demands of your skating and workout sessions will be somewhat similar if you’re using the same shoes. What comes to mind here is squatting and how your mechanics will be similar when absorbing the impact of a trick and when training if you’re wearing the same shoes.
Why Can Skate Shoes Fall Short for Working Out?
Despite being decent options for lifting weights and general training, skate shoes will have some limitations for working out due to their construction and how you plan to use your shoes.
Below, are two reasons why skate shoes can fall short for certain types of workouts.
1. Skate Shoes Can Be Fairly Heavy and Clunky
One drawback to skate shoes and working out is that they can feel fairly heavy and clunky at times. Let’s say you’re tackling a workout with plyometrics or a CrossFit workout with a time-focused component.
In these contexts, you’ll want lighter shoes that provide a little more responsiveness to tackle the tasks at hand. A heavy skate shoe can feel blocky and as fatigue starts to set in you may notice this and see performance start to dip.
This is why I recommend limiting skate shoes for more static strength work and very casual cross-training sessions. Using something like a Vans Sk8-Hi for multiple box jumps could be counterproductive.
2. Skate Shoes Heel-to-Toe Drops May Not Work for Every Workout
While zero and low heel-to-toe drops can be useful in certain training contexts, they may not align with everyone’s training goals. For example, if you like having a higher drop for working out, then you might not enjoy how a skate shoe performs for you.
Let’s say you’re performing back squats and you notice that it’s hard to hit depth with your skate shoes. In this case, you may want to look into a shoe cross-training shoes with a higher drop, a pair of weightlifting shoes, or opt for a wedge to use with your skate shoes.
Essentially, a flatter shoe may not align with everyone’s mobility constraints, training goals, and lifting mechanics.
What Types of Workouts Are Best/Worst for Skate Shoes?
Now that I’ve discussed the why behind skate shoes, I want to talk about what types of workouts are best to do in skate shoes and where they’ll fall short.
Since skate shoes are not necessarily made for working out, I think it’s important to understand where they can excel and where their performance will start to drop off. As with any shoe and specific activities, as you get more niche with your training, you’ll want a pair of shoes to accommodate the tasks at hand.
For example, if you’re serious about training your clean & jerk and snatch, then you’ll likely want a pair of weightlifting shoes or cross-training shoes for training. That isn’t to say you can’t use skate shoes for weightlifting, but you might find their performance is limited.
Similarly, if I was getting more serious with my skateboarding, then I’d likely want to ditch my cross-training shoes and opt for a pair of skate shoes. There’s a spectrum of specificity that should be considered when opting for your footwear.
Workouts Where Skate Shoes Work Well
- Recreational Lifting Sessions
- Very Casual Cross-Training Sessions
- Stability-Focused Training Sessions
Workouts Where Skate Shoes Fall Short
- CrossFit Workouts
- Athletic-Focused Training
- Running Workouts
Essentially, any type of workout that entails CrossFit-style training, running, or a lot of jumping skate shoes and their performance can start to fall off. This is due to them lacking construction features that feed well into these activities.
Can You Run In Skate Shoes?
In general, skate shoes can be great options for lifting weights and general workouts, but you’ll want to pass on them for running. While their construction can have a positive carryover for lifting weights, this is not the case for running.
If you’re considering wearing your skate shoes for gym sessions and thought, “Well, maybe I could just wear them for short runs pre or post-lift, too.” I’d suggest instead investing in a pair of good running shoes.
Skate shoes can be pretty heavy at times and when it comes to running, the type of shoe that you’ll need should be specific to your running demands and needs. For example, investing in a pair of running shoes that matches your gait pattern well can save you from discomfort during your runs.
That being said, I’d suggest skipping on skate shoes for running even if it’s for shorter runs that you’re tackling pre and post-workout.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Q:Can you work out in skate shoes?
Q:Are skate shoes like Vans good for CrossFit?
Skate shoes can be a pretty good footwear option for working out and lifting weights. They offer a good level of stability, grippy outsoles, and inherently have good durability.
As you get more specific with your training, skate shoes and their performance can start to fall off, so it’s important to understand that this type of footwear will have its limitations when working out.
If you have additional questions on this topic or if your skate shoes will work for your training sessions, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly).