So you’ve been lifting for a while now and you are finally ready to get serious about strength training. We know, it’s a big step and can seem a little scary when you are just getting started but take it from us, you have nothing to fear. Especially if you start out with the right equipment. And, no we aren’t referring to the rock hard guns you’re toting, we are talking about getting some lifting shoes.
Though many of you won’t consider this a particularly interesting aspect of building muscle just remember that good balance and stability starts in your feet, so if you want to start lifting some heavy duty iron you are going to want to make sure your feet stay safely planted to the ground. If you are looking to start weightlifting, or are already a bodybuilder but need a new pair of kicks, you have come to the right place. Today we are going to be talking about the benefits of getting shoes specifically designed for deadlifting/weight training and how to determine which ones are the best deadlifting shoes.
Don’t have time to read the whole article? Our research concluded that these are the best lifting shoes of 2018:
- Nike Men’s Romaleos
- SABO Deadlift Shoes
- adidas Performance Adipower Weightlifting Trainer
- Inov-8 Men’s Fastlift 325 Cross-Trainer Shoe
- adidas Performance Men’s P1245 Powerlift.3 Cross-trainer Shoe
- Reebok Men’s R CrossFit Lifter 2.0
- Adidas Performance Men’s Powerlift 2
- Pendlay Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
- Reebok Men’s Lifter Pr Cross-trainer Shoe
Why Buy Specialized Lifting Shoes?
Lifting shoes are designed specifically for lifting, which means that ankle support and stability are the primary focus of the shoe. They’re designed specifically for lifting so they may help prevent injuries during workout sessions, which can be debilitating when you are looking at 100 pounds or more of weight going wrong. While we can’t convince you ourselves that you need them, hopefully we have some desirable information for you to use below.
Performance: Like machines in a gym, what you use during your training sessions allows you to increase your performance and get better results – same applies to your footwear. There is a lot happening with your feet that you may not notice during a workout but it is important that they’re properly taken care of with the correct shoe for what you do. This includes your ankles as well in the case where you are going to be doing the lifting. Without this additional stability and support you may lose your balance, roll your ankle, and/or fall. Shoes are just as important as the exercises themselves.
You’ll be able to lift more: While you won’t turn into the Hulk by slipping on a pair of lifting shoes, but you’ll certainly be able to lift more, train harder, and achieve better results- even if you are just starting out! The issue with traditional sneakers is that they have a cushion to absorb force, thus reducing the amount of force you are exerting, making it harder for you to lift the weights. Without any cushion there is nothing for your feet to push into, allowing more of your force to be used the way you intended it to be used- lifting weights.
The first real benefit of buying shoes for deadlifting is that they will allow you to lift more weight. Not in a crazy marketing gimmick kind of way, but because running shoes have a lot of padding in the sole which is designed to absorb force. This is good for running as it cushions your foot on impact but it is the exact opposite of what you want when weight lifting. The idea in lifting weights is to increase the amount of force you are able to exert, not absorb it. Those little-cushioned shoes of yours are essentially sucking out the energy you need to be able to lift heavier weights by allowing you to generate more power from the floor and apply more force needed to lift the weights.
Specialization: Running shoes provide very little ankle support as runners do not typically take on 25% of their bodyweight or more. While this is okay for those who don’t do intensive workouts, this isn’t great for lifting. Weightlifting shoes are heavier than running shoes and force your feet to stay planted on the ground, this works well for additional stability when you are lifting weights. They also offer more stability for your ankles to prevent rolls, snaps, or twists.
Support: We’ve touched upon support in the aforementioned sections, but we think it deserves its own little area to touch base on it more. Think of the form you use; you use this form for the safety of weight lifting. If you were to take the wrong form and try to lift you could seriously get in injured. The same is true for not being properly attired for training.
Better form: It’s normal for lifting shoes to have heels, which creates an incline when you squat. The aforementioned incline allows for better posturing without even thinking about it, which is great if you are a beginner, but also essential even if you are a pro. The better your posture and your form, the more the workouts will work and the better results you’ll have. Additionally, the less likely you are to injure yourself while lifting.
The other major benefit of getting a shoe designed for weightlifting is that it will give you better stability and form. No one wants to hurt themselves when they are lifting weights; it’s like… a super bad idea. So, manufacturers definitely have this in mind when they make their shoes. They want you to be stable and not slip around with a one hundred pound barbell lifted over your head. A correctly designed lifting shoe will also help you improve your form, which will get you a better workout overall.
The 10 Best Lifting Shoes of 2018
Finding the best lifting shoes may be overwhelming if you’re unsure of how to go about it, as you may be a newbie to lifting. We encourage you to continue reading and learn more about various styles of shoes for lifting that could cater to your style and your feet.
Nike’s Romaleos are often hailed as the best lifting shoes on the market, or they at least consistently place within the best lifting shoes. Many users report ease of deadlifting, squatting, presses, and other lifting activities that are often difficult to perform in higher ankle lifting shoes.
- Hook and loop secure strapping
- ¾ inch
- Additional insoles
The Romaleos come with additional insoles that can be swapped out when needed, one is softer for training, while the other is stiffer and is meant for competitions. Their flat sole is meant to be able to withstand the toll that lifting takes on shoes while adding additional stability and reducing the amount of wear in the heel. The heel is a ¾ inch, so it is perfect for beginners and experts, depending on your needs, and the strapping is secure enough to keep your foot and your shoes from budging while lifting.
The Romaleos offer additional stability, strength training, and versatility within weight lifting. They’re perfect for beginners and pros alike, so there’s little chance that you will outgrow them before the wear out, and they’re durable enough to withstand even the most avid weight lifter’s punishments.
These shoes are not meant for CrossFit training, and they would certainly hinder your movements during the process of attempting CrossFit. However, this means that they offer more ankle stability than shoes that were designed for both, allowing your additional performance if your primary goal is to lift. If you really want to get into CrossFit in addition to lifting you could always purchase shoes specific for CrossFit as well.
First up on our list we have the SABO Deadlift Shoe. Let’s take a closer look at what kind of features it’s bringing into the competition first.
- Made with fabric and leather
- Laces and straps for added fitting
- High-cut upper for ankle support
- High-density non-marking out-sole
- Lifted heel
These weightlifting shoes by SABO are made with a combination of fabric and leather for comfort and durability with the added combination of laces and straps for the best of both worlds in securing your foot in place. The high-cut upper is designed to give your ankle improved support and stability with a high-density outsole to increase pressure from floor to weights. Finally, the SABO Deadlift Shoes have a lifted heel to get the most out of your sets.
The biggest advantage to going with the brand SABO, in general, is that they make some of the thinnest soles you can find in a weightlifting shoe, which is right around the three-millimeter range. And the Deadlift is certainly no exception. It uses a combination of fabric and leather for durability, breathability, and keeping the shoe as lightweight as they can. The high-cut upper wraps around your ankle giving some added support and protection in order to ensure there are no accidents. This shoe is ideal for those who may have issues with rolling their ankles. Finally, the SABO features a lifted heel, which will greatly improve your squatting and clean stances and help align your torso with the floor.
The only disadvantage to this shoe is the limited range of motion that the high ankle support effects. Overall, we would consider the high ankle support a good thing, however if a wide range of motion is your priority then you may want to go with a lower support.
Next up in our number two spot we have the highly recognizable brand in fitness, adidas Performance Adipower Weightlifting Trainer Shoe. Let’s see what this tried and tested brand has to offer.
- Synthetic leather and fabric
- Laces and straps for added fitting
- Rubber soles with lightweight polymer
- Ventilating openings for comfort
This shoe brought to us by adidas uses synthetic leather and fabric for a super lightweight shoe with a high degree of flexibility. This shoe also features the laces with the straps for adjusting the shoe to fit your foot perfectly and securely. The soles are made of a hard rubber and a lightweight polymer for a hard sole that doesn’t weight your foot down. The heel also raises for the best in balance and the synthetic material displays air holes in the side to vent your shoes.
One of the best advantages this shoe has over the competition is the ventilation it has set up in the synthetic material. This will help keep your foot dry and prevent the development of fungus and other unpleasant foot problems. A well-ventilated shoe will also be more odor resistant, so you won’t have to worry about bringing your shoes home with you or how badly they might stink up a locker. Don’t get us wrong; they might still have some odor issues; however, it will just be reduced. The synthetic materials also allow the shoe to be very flexible meaning it is more likely to fit oddly shaped feet or that you won’t have as much of an issue finding a comfortable spot for your foot to securely tie in while inside the shoe.
The only disadvantage with this shoe is how flexible it is. Though this is good for a wide range of movement it will not help your foot stay in place within the shoe should it not be a perfect fit. It does have the laces with the straps to help adjust to this issue. However, it is our personal opinion that the material the shoe is made from be more firm and add some more stability to the positioning of your foot.
Up next is the Inov-8 Fastlift CrossTrainer and here is what the team had to say about it:
- Made with synthetic fabric
- Very flexible
- Lightest shoe for weightlifting
- External heel cage designed for stability
The Invo-8 is made with synthetic fabric much like our previous entry and is also a very flexible shoe with the laces and mid-step locking strap for added security. This shoe also boasts that it is the lightest shoe on the market right now that is available, and it achieves those bragging rights by using the lightest in materials technology. This shoe also features an external heel cage to give the heel all the support it needs in order to elevate the body and align the torso properly.
The major benefit of synthetic fabric is that it is cost effective to produce and highly breathable. This means that the shoe overall will be less expensive to purchase, and the material will be aerated better for comfort. Additionally, the Invo-8 features a heel cage is designed to elevate the user high enough to align their torso with their stance and allow for deeper squats. This can activate different muscle groups and allow for more force in pushing the weight upward.
The disadvantage to this product is that like some previous entries so far the material used for the upper and midsole are flexible. This makes for a comfortable fit but can also cause the foot to slide around unpredictably.
Here in the number 5 spot we have another entry from adidas with the Powerlift.3 Cross Trainer, let’s take a look and see if it is offering anything unique.
- Made with synthetic fabric
- Made with rubber sole
- Laces and straps for added fitting
Much like the previous entry with adidas the Powerlift is also made with synthetic material and keeps lightweight maneuverability in mind with the thin upper support. It also features very thin rubber soles with a small lift in the heel for better balance and an open foot front for better ventilation. Finally, it features what we have come to expect in a weightlifting shoe with the double action of laces and mid-step strap to make sure your foot is secure.
Much like it’s cousin in the our number two spot, the adidas Powerlift Cross Trainer features improved ventilation as one of its major benefits. Only this time they are being ventilation to new heights. Ok, maybe we are going a little overboard there, but the ventilation is definitely improved. Better ventilation means less foot irritation and it also lowers the probability of your feet stinking after you’re done training. The mesh covering around the toe lets air move in and out of the shoe easily for a breezy, comfortable fit.
Unfortunately, much like the previous entry the major disadvantage to this product is the lack of support you get from the shoe. The low ankles allow for a wide range of motion however if you have an issue with weak ankles or have a propensity to roll on them the lower heel is not for you. Also, the flexibility of the material doesn’t inspire much confidence either.
Reebok’s 2.0 was released in 2014 after the original R CrossFit Lifter, and they made a lot of improvements on the second model that the original didn’t have. This shoe is available in 10 different color combinations and holds strong to Reebok’s reputation of being a well-balanced performance shoe.
- Large contact area with the floor
- ¾ inch heel
- Hook and loop strapping
- Multi-purpose shoe
The CrossFit Lifter 2.0 was created for lifters who enjoy CrossFit, or CrossFitters who enjoy lifting (whichever you prefer.) The ¾ inch heel helps boost your lifting efforts to achieve results quicker with less energy, but the lower drop makes moving much easier when pursuing CrossFit based activities. The large contact area with the floor provides additional stability (as well as traction) and the hook and loop strapping provides much-needed ankle support.
This shoe is great for someone who wants the best of both worlds. It is great for CrossFit as it allows a good range of motion, and it is great for lifting as it offers a large contact area with the floor. The additional heel will add depth to your lifting routine as well as an added level of complexity to your CrossFit training program.
This shoe is not designed with ankle support as a priority, so it is probably best not to use it for lifting massive amounts of weight (please use your best judgment as to what “massive amounts” implies.) However, this is a great shoe for someone who doesn’t want to pick one form of training over the other, or even someone who’s edging their way from one type of training to another and just trying to “test it out.”
The Powerlift 2 is a reliable lifting shoe that provides support while being extremely lightweight. If you think the lightweight aspect downplays the performance of the shoe, you’re sadly mistaken.
- ½ inch heel
- Easy to move around in
- Good multi-functional shoe
The half inch heel is a good starting point for beginner lifters, and the lightweight design makes it easy to move around while wearing this shoe. Although it was not designed expressly with CrossFit in mind, it is quite possible that it would be a good candidate for a hybrid shoe.
The Powerlifter 2 is a great option for those who want to get into lifting but do not have a large budget. It is also a great option for those who think they may want to also get into CrossFit training as they’re easy to transfer into CrossFit. The slightly lower slope of the heel makes them easier to maneuver in than regular or traditional lifting shoes.
Although the heel size is a bonus if you want these shoes to also be used as a part of your CrossFit routine, there is also a downside to them as they do not allow you to get the most out of your workout like you could if they were ¾ of an inch or even an inch. However, these could be a great option for someone who wants a hybrid shoe, or even someone who wants to start lifting but is not certain about lifting or lifting shoes just yet.
Inov-8’s FastLift 325 was built to withstand rugged training, demanding conditions, and developed to produce results through innovative technologies and developments. They’ve created several things in this one model that are hard to find (if not impossible to find) in any other shoe on the market.
- .65” heel
- Power-Truss heel system
- Heel Cupping for lateral stability
The Fastlift 325 offers a heel that’s slightly below ideal for bodybuilders, but it’s a heel height that’s great for weight lifters. The Power-Truss heel system provides stability is nearly impossible to force flex, the lightweight design makes them easy to maneuver and train in, while the slight heel cupping of the inner sole allows for additional later stability.
This shoe was built for weight lifters who want ease, convenience, and no-nonsense training shoes. They’re durable, lightweight, offer great stability, and keep your feet firmly planted on the ground for maximum results with minimum effort.
This shoe was not created with CrossTraining in mind, and the Fastlift doesn’t provide as much ankle support as many other models do. Although they are still a great option for lifting, as not everyone wants to or can lift an abundance of weight. While it doesn’t affect the performance of lifting on the lower to mid-sized end, it’s something to think about for those looking to do CrossFit intensive work almost immediately.
The Pendlay lifting shoes are a great option for someone who wants a mix of value and performance without breaking the bank.
- ¾ inch heel
- Strong and flexible sole
- Designed for Olympic weightlifting
- Sturdy strapping
The ¾ inch heel provides the perfect slop for maximizing your effort when weight lifting. The company does say that these shoes were designed for Oly weightlifting only, which means that they were designed with your specific needs in mind if you’re an Oly weight lifter. The sturdy strapping provides additional and much-needed ankle support while the strong and flexible sole keeps you firmly planted on the ground, but makes it more comfortable to walk while wearing these shoes.
These shoes are sturdy, strong, and reliable- which is perfect when weight lifting. Being strong and sturdy, the reliability is amplified and lifting heavier weight within these shoes can keep you setting personal records while maintaining the safety of your form.
The Do-Wins are specifically designed for Oly weightlifting, and if you’re not specifically Oly weightlifting, it might be a good idea to consider adding it to your regular weight lifting routine as it creates diversity in your workout. If you are Oly weightlifting, this shouldn’t be an issue, and the performance isn’t affected. It’s hard to find a pair of shoes catered to one type of lifting, and we think these do the job nicely.
And rounding off the list in our number five sport we have another familiar name in athletics with the Reebok Lifter Pr Cross Trainer. Let’s take one last look at the competition before announcing our winner.
- Made with synthetic leather and fabric
- Laces and straps for added fitting
- Contours to your foot
- Uses anti-friction technology
Like we have grown accustomed to seeing on this list this shoe features a combination of synthetic leather and fabric with the laces and midsole strap for increased support and stability. The aforementioned shoe also uses a heat-activated material that contours to your foot without needing to break it in first and is also anti-friction.
Easily the coolest thing about this shoe is the technology it uses to reduce friction and the amount of time needed to break it in. Using a heat activated material the inside of the shoe will contour to your foot for the most comfortable fit imaginable without the arduous process of breaking in the shoe. This shoe is perfect for those you prioritize comfort, as it will be virtually impossible for the shoe to fit strangely.
The only disadvantage we can see with this product is the same technology that allows the shoe to be so comfortable might be the very thing that could make it a bad choice. Though, you should know that we have not personally tested this shoe our impression is that it might affect the pressure you are able to exert into the floor with the type of padding or material used for the u-form technology.
What to Look for While Shopping
Lifting shoes are usually created in a way that makes them quite durable, and they’re usually higher than most shoes on the market. Some shoes are made for a variety of tasks while others are made specifically for the sake of lifting. Regardless of what you plan on doing, here are some tips to find a quality lifting shoe:
The soles: The soles of the shoes should be hard and rigid. If they’re not hard, it will be difficult to maintain your balance and achieve stability. The softer the sole, the more you’ll sink into it, and while this may sound enjoyable for walking or regular wear, this is the worst thing that you can have in a weight lifting shoe. This issue is very prominent with traditional sneakers as they have a cushion to absorb force, thus reducing the amount of force you are exerting, making it harder for you to lift the weights. Without any cushion there is nothing for your feet to push into, allowing more of your force to be used the way you intended it to be used- lifting the weights. Not only does this reduce the amount of energy you have to exert when training, but it also increases the number of reps you can do, the weight you can lift, and the duration of your training session. It can also have a big impact on your results when every ounce of energy you are using is going directly to your desired goal.
The heel: Most lifting shoes offer a heel that’s between ½ and inch and 1 inch, anything within that range is ideal for lifting. The steeper the incline, the more pressure will be put on your core, legs, and arms when lifting as the steeper incline will force you into the perfect position. This being said, if you are just beginning with weight lifting, it may be wise to opt for a lower incline. However, with that option, you run the risk of “outgrowing” your shoes as eventually, you may want to opt for a steeper incline. If you decide to start at a steeper incline, it is advisable that you lower the weight that you are lifting, the more you become accustomed to how your performance has changed with the addition of lifting shoes.
Strapping: The most imperative aspect of your lifting shoe is arguably the stability they offer your ankles while lifting. Ankles are, comparatively, delicate when compared to other muscles and joints in your body. When they’re bent even slightly incorrectly, it can put you out of work, training, and off of your feet for weeks- or even months – so it is important that you consider a shoe that has hearty strapping and ample support.
The drop: The “depth” of the shoe means the support of the back ankle all the way to the heel. This is great for weight lifting, as you will unlikely be doing any sort of running or jumping while lifting weights over your head (or so I hope.) The higher the ankle support, the better, but if the ankle support is too high, it may bother you as a personal preference. The best drop for weightlifting shoes is 6mm or above. There are some zero drop lifting shoes out there, however.
Stiff ankle support: For lifting shoes, you want the support for your ankles to be stiff to keep your ankles within a movement range that doesn’t potentially cause harm. As a general rule of thumb, when you’re looking at shoes for lifting, thicker soles are better.
Durability: It’s important that the outer portion of the shoe should be more difficult to bend than your average shoe, and additional toe and heel rigidness or protection is always a bonus when lifting. If you are a beginner or frequently lift large weights these toe guards are suggested all-around to, well, guard your toes against any accidental drops.
Comfort: Comfortability should be right up there with their performance, as it plays into the success of the shoe. It is equally important to have them measured correctly to ensure that they won’t be too tight or restricting on your feet. The perfect pair of lifting shoes should be snug, but not so tight that you can’t perform in them.
More than just lifting? If you are using lifting as your primary training method, you should consider a shoe that’s more rigid than flexible. On the other hand, if you are supplementing another type of training with lifting, you can probably opt for a more versatile shoe depending on your needs. IE: if you are primarily a lifter who wants to supplement with CrossFit you can probably opt for a slightly more flexible shoe for additional versatility.
Deadlifts, press, or big lifts? You may want to consider a multi-functional shoe as well, such as a shoe that’s designed for both lifting and CrossFit as all of those activities have an additional value of movement that lifters do not always use.
Preference and priority: if you fit into one of the two above categories, we’re not going to ask you to choose between lifting and CrossFit, but we are going to break some news to you: you will have to decide which is more of a priority. Two questions to ask yourself are “will my lifting shoes impede my CrossFit training?” and “With my CrossFit shoes impede my lifting training?” if the answer is “yes” it may be worth considering buying one pair of each shoe in order to maximize your results. If buying one pair of each is not an option as far a budget goes, then it might be wise to ask yourself if you want to prioritize one over the other. If your answer is “no,” then maybe it is worth considering a hybrid shoe.
Material: The last thing we would like to bring to your attention as far as things to consider is the material. Though wood isn’t used for the soles anymore you should check to see how hard that material is. Also, the shoes uppers and bottoms are commonly made from two types of material, and depending on which one is used there are several features that will change. Leather and fabric are the most common materials. Leather is expensive but will last a very long time and will perfectly mold to your foot for added comfort. Leather is also a very firm material, which will help protect the shoe should it get bumped or scuffed. Fabric is a cheaper option and can often be quick drying or odor resistant so you don’t have to worry about bringing the shoes into your home after an intense workout. Each type presents several drawbacks and benefits, however whichever one you choose will rely mostly on personal taste and budget.
The Final Verdict
While every pair of weightlifting shoes on this list deserved to be on the list of best weight lifting shoes, the winner on this list is the Nike Men’s Romaleos. They offer a fantastic combination of stability, value, performance, and flexibility- all while being affordable for even the most budget-conscious lifters. For those on a budget but desire something reliable and long-lasting, the Nike Men’s Romaleos is a great investment for you.