If you’re new to the world of lifting, you may be wondering what the best type of support for your feet are. You won’t be wearing flip flops to the gym, as it’s not only unsafe, but uncomfortable. Having uncomfortable footwear can put a damper on your motivation and desire to continue lifting, so continue on to read about tips and information on buying lifting shoes, as well as a review guide for lifting shoes.
Why Buy 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.
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.
What to Look for When Buying Lifting Shoes
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:
Shoe 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.
Their 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.
Tips on Choosing the Best Lifting Shoes for You
Lifting is such a heavy-duty practice that shoes are pivotal to the success of the workout. Whether you’re someone who does the bare minimum or someone that goes all the way every time, a good pair of lifting shoes is extremely imperative. Below, you’ll find the best tips on choosing the perfect pair of lifting shoes for your style of lifting.
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.
The Best Lifting Shoes
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.
1) Nike Men’s Romaleos
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. Some additional features of the Romaleos include the following:
- Hook and loop secure strapping
- ¾ inch
- Additional insoles
Breakdown of Features
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.
2) Reebok Men’s R CrossFit Lifter 2.0
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
Breakdown of Features
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.”
3) Adidas Performance Men’s Powerlift 2
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. Other features of this pair of shoes include the following:
- ½ inch heel
- Easy to move around in
- Good multi-functional shoe
Breakdown of Features
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.
4) Inov-8 Men’s Fastlift 325 Cross-Trainer
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
Breakdown of Features
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.
5) Pendlay Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
The Pendlay lifting shoes are a great option for someone who wants a mix of value and performance- without breaking the bank. Some of their features include the following:
- ¾ inch heel
- Strong and flexible sole
- Specifically, for Olympic weight lifting only
- Sturdy strapping
Breakdown of Features
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.
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.