Best Deadlift Shoes Reviewed and Rated
When it comes to deadlifting, having the right footwear can make a difference between breaking your personal records and just plain wasting time in the gym. The right kind of shoe will help you reach your full potential, perfect your form, and improve your execution, all the while providing you with support and keeping you safe from injury. If you’re serious about your deadlift, you’ll consider investing in a pair of solid shoes built specifically for weightlifting. They might just change your entire outlook on the sport.
One of the first decisions you will have to make when deliberating your options on deadlift footwear is whether you’re a flat heel shoe or an Oly shoe type of lifter. The flat heel shoe is by and large a favorite in the deadlifting community, offering a low to non-existent heel to toe drop which reduces your range of motion, the bar has less to travel from the floor to lockout. However, some lifters prefer the Oly shoe, short for Olympic lifting shoe, citing that it provides better leverage and improves their leg drive, regardless of the fact that it has a raised heel.
- SABO Deadlift
- Two Lateral Straps
- Reebok Crossfit Lite TR
- Full Rubber Outsole
- Converse Chuck Taylor
- Completely Flat Sole
Other things to take into account when choosing the right deadlift shoe are the characteristics of the shoe sole itself. Ideally, the sole thickness should be 5mm or less, the sole material should have enough grip and density to support the extra weight you’re lifting, with a good balance between rigidity and flexibility.
Support is of the essence in a sport like this, and features like the metatarsal strap and the ankle strap could offer you more control of your movements as well as stability, and reduce the risk of injury.
10 Best Deadlift Shoes
1. SABO Deadlift
The thickness of the sole on the SABO Deadlift ranges between 2 and 5mm, making it ideal for being as close to the ground as possible, thus exponentially increasing stability and reducing the distance the bar has to travel from the floor to lockout.
The SABO Deadlift is the only shoe that comes with both the metatarsal strap and the ankle strap, really taking the crown when it comes to stability and support. You will not find a more secure shoe anywhere else.
Cost and Value
As far as the price goes, the SABO Deadlift falls in the mid to high range of cost, compared to other deadlift shoes available on the market. It is a favorite among many a deadlifter, a true champion in its category, and absolutely worth the investment.
- Extremely flat thin sole
- Outstanding grip
- Maximum ankle support
- Stable platform
- Unreliable Velcro Straps
- Short Laces
2. Reebok Crossfit Lite TR
Unlike most other shoes on this list, and uncharacteristically so for a non-Oly shoe, the Reebok CrossFit Lite TR has visible flanges, which provide the lifter with a wider base to pull from, resulting in greater stability.
While in a design similar to Chuck Taylors, the upper part of the Reebok CrossFit Lite TR is actually made of stronger, thicker material that stabilizes the foot as a whole, and especially supports the ankle.
Cost and Value
When lined up with the other products in this category it might appear a bit costly, but this is understandable, given the brand name it bears, and after all, the Reebok CrossFit Lite TR certainly ticks off the majority of features required for a first-rate deadlift shoe.
- Reinforced ankle support
- Extra room in the toes
- Great for wider feet
- Completely flat sole
- Rubber sole = superior grip
- Doesn’t pinch
- Not for Narrow Feet
3. Converse Chuck Taylor
The sole of the Converse Chuck Taylor is completely flat, keeping you close to the ground, and it has no heel cup, allowing you to exert your energy into the ground through your heels and lift heavier weight. This helps you hone your technique and fine-tune your form over time.
The Converse Chuck Taylor is made out of light, durable canvas material, providing you with an almost barefoot-like feeling, except that you’re not actually barefoot, and you do, in fact, have some support. With proper lacing, the high top is good for ankle compression and stability.
Cost and Value
Arguably the lowest priced shoe on the list. This undoubtedly factors into its popularity among powerlifters, but it is without question that the Converse Chuck Taylor will better your performance in lifts. It is everything a lifter would need to be wrapped up in a fashionable exterior, topped with classic colors and timeless design.
- Budget friendly
- Provides great balance
- Great grounding
- Minimal compression
- Extremely durable
- An all-purpose shoe
- Very Thick Soles
- No arch support
4. Otomix Stingray Escape
Mechanically, the Otomix Stingray Escape is ideal for deadlifting. The thin sole of the shoe reduces the range of motion during a deadlift, improving performance, and its durable rubber sole provides enhanced traction. No force is lost either because there is no cushioning.
While admittedly without a strap of any kind, the Otomix Stingray Escape still provides more than enough support with its lacing system. They start low on the foot and extend far to the top, allowing the lifter to tie the shoe over the entire length as tight as they wish.
Cost and Value
Some would say that the Otomix Stingray Escape is reasonably priced, especially considering that it’s made out of high-quality leather and synthetic materials. However, compared to the rest of the models on our list, it is a bit costly. The fact is that it’s one of the best flat heel options for deadlift out there, and when you take into account that it can also be used for other forms of lifting and exercise, it may be worth setting aside the money for it.
- Flat, thin sole
- Good traction
- Lightweight and comfortable
- Versatile at the Gym
- Aesthetically pleasing
- No metatarsal strap
- Not breathable
5. Adidas Adipower
TPU stands for thermoplastic polyurethane (try saying that three times fast) - a lightweight, non-compressible material utilized for its sturdiness and resistance to abrasions. The heel of the Adidas Adipower Weightlift has been specially designed to not give under maximum loads, and to eliminate movements that rock you back on your heels.
Bearing in mind that ankle stability is one of the biggest concerns for deadlifters, the instep strap does a fine job of keeping the ankle tight. Aesthetically, this strap is ideal for lifters who enjoy a minimalist, but functional shoe, as it will at the same time lock down your foot and secure your foothold.
Cost and Value
A shoe with the name of a famous sport brand like Adidas is bound to be pricey. However, because of its extreme durability and the support it provides, it is still one of the most popular lifting shoes to date, not least because it pioneered the now famous TPU heel.
- Rubber Outsole = Better Grip
- Stable Heel
- Good Ventilation
- Great For Narrow Feet
- Difficult to break in
- The sizes run small
6. Adidas Powerlift 3
Thanks to its 15mm heel and the high-density die-cut insole, the Adidas Performance Powerlift 3 makes you feel like you’re melded to the ground. It’s not a flat heel, but it is close enough to the ground to provide you with enough stability for your deadlift.
Its lightweight material makes the Adidas Performance Powerlift 3 flexible even during its first use. The break-in period is relatively short, about one week, and the toe box is open, allowing the shoe to flex well.
Cost and Value
While perhaps not intended for serious lifters who require a high-performance shoe, the Adidas Performance Powerlift 3 is still a cost-effective, well-rounded option for recreational lifters, or those who are just transitioning from regular sneakers to lifting shoes.
- Great for poor ankle mobility
- Improving lifting form
- Adding stability
- Good design choices
- Cost efficient
- Heel material compresses
- Heel not durable
7. Vibram KSO Evo
The sole construction provides maximum ground feel, allowing the wearer to experience terrain with great flexibility and traction. It is made of non-marking XS Trek performance rubber for superior grip, one of the most important features a deadlift shoe should have, and thanks to its sole thickness - less than 5mm - it encourages good form and proper technique.
Stripped of all but the essentials, the Vibram KSO Evo has a breathable, quick-drying upper, made out of abrasion resistant polyamide, and a stretch mesh that wraps around your entire foot. It also sports a hook-and-loop closure to secure the fit.
Cost and Value
Plenty of deadlifters advise deadlifting barefoot, as it helps you be firmly planted to the floor and to shift your weight towards your heels. Unfortunately, gyms have rules against exercising without proper footwear. The Vibram KSO Evo is an inexpensive - albeit somewhat distinctive in appearance - an option that will provide you with that natural feeling without actually getting you sent home from the gym.
- Snug fit to Keep Stuff Out
- Barefoot-like feeling
- Lightweight and flexible
- Longer break-in period
- No ventilation = unpleasant smells
8. Nike Romaleos 3
The Nike Romaleos 3 is the first shoe by Nike to feature the brand’s now signature Flywire material, specifically created for being lightweight, flexible, and yet strong in nature. The benefits of the material are particularly evident through the mid-foot and toe box. This material also means that the Nike Romaleos 3 is easy to break in and feels comfortable right away, a very important aspect for lifters.
When you flip the shoe, you will notice a honeycomb-like structure at the base of it. Nike designed this to reduce the amount of material used, while at the same time keeping the heel strong and stable. Less material means that the shoe is lighter but just as strong as the other models.
Cost and Value
As far as the price goes, the Nike Romaleos 3 will not go easy on your wallet. Overall, it is a solid Oly lifting shoe that ticks off all the useful features for deadlift, but the fact remains that, if you’re not looking to spend too much money, there are better options out there.
- Good for back problems
- Interchangeable insoles
- Feet won’t feel slow
- TPU heel, non-compressible
- Durability issues
9. Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2
Before using the shoe, it’d be best to warm it up in the oven beforehand. That’s right, this is the shoe that you “bake” before wearing it for the first time. The reason is the U-form technology midfoot, which when heated molds to your foot for a customizable fit, reducing the break-in period to zero.
The outsole of the Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2 is three-piece, featuring flex grooved rubber for traction on multi-surface terrain. The heel is equipped with a TPU clip which grips your rear foot securely and eliminates excess weight.
Cost and Value
As with most branded shoes, the Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2 is firmly planted in the high range cost wise. It is a fine shoe, useful for both CrossFit and Olympic Weightlifting. However, there are models out there with better stability and performance, which might make you think twice before investing in this one.
- Dual straps
- Keeping feet dry and cool
- Full grain leather toe
- Excellent arch support
- Poor Stability
- Stiff upper
10. Inov-8 FastLift 315
Unlike in other models, the heel of the Inov-8 FastLift 315 isn’t made of solid material, but rather of 8 short, round tubes. This makes the shoe lighter but not any less secure, as the heel also functions as a heel cup, increasing lateral stability. Inov-8 creatively dubbed this an ‘external heel cage’.
In contrast to the heel, the forefoot of the Inov-8 FastLift 315 is flexible and comfortable, thanks to MetaFlex, a shallow groove in the sole from side to side which allows the forefoot to move independently of the rest of the shoe.
Cost and Value
The Inov-8 FastLift 315 falls in the mid-range of cost, and it has been consistently popular among athletes who do CrossFit and Oly lifting. However, due to the shoe’s lightness, there might be sturdier and more secure options for deadlifting in the same price range to be found.
- Cups the foot perfectly
- Maximum grip
- Breathable mesh lining
- Great for forefoot spread
- Rigid upper
- Mediocre Stability
It could be a flat-heeled shoe, an Oly shoe, or any of the hybrids. You might be the type of person who prefers a raised heel over the feeling of being close to the ground; you might give more importance to the metatarsal strap than the ankle strap; you might even prioritize the aesthetics of the shoe and wouldn’t mind looking stylish during your workouts as well.
What is important to keep in mind, however, is that you’re ultimately choosing a shoe for a serious form of exercise. Therefore you should carefully consider your preferences and available options, as well as your goals and how far you want to go in your performance. If you aim to be a professional lifter, your shoe requirements will certainly be different than that of a recreational lifter. We hope we have managed to alleviate at least a smidgen of the stress that comes with this important decision by providing you with this list, and wish you good luck in your future training!
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Deadlift Shoes
Before we dive into arguably the most important criteria for evaluating deadlift shoes, lets first provide a definition for a sole and analyze what it is exactly. We can describe the sole as the part of the shoe which touches the ground. It can be broken down into three layers:
The insole is located inside the shoe, and it represents the layer which separates your foot from the midsole. Usually, it provides some cushioning, but there are shoes which have no insole. Those that do can have a removable insole or one that is glued or sewn down and thus can’t be removed.
The layer of the shoe between the insole and the outsole, and the one which absorbs shock. For deadlifting purposes, the midsole isn’t of much importance, and it is mostly grouped together with the outsole.
The layer of the sole which is in direct contact with the ground. Outsoles come in all different shapes and sizes, of varying densities, materials and patterns, depending on their purpose and the type of traction they need to provide. We’ll cover the most important aspects of the outsole for deadlift shoes in this guide.
- Sole Thickness –
Now that we have established the main structural levels of the sole, we can discuss sole thickness in relation to deadlifting. Sole thickness refers to the distance between the insole if your shoe has one, and the bottom of the outsole. To make it simpler, it is the amount of space between the bottom of your foot (inside the shoe) and the surface of the ground.
For best deadlifting shoes, the sole thickness should be between 3-5mm. As we have mentioned at the beginning of this guide, a flat and thin sole will provide you with greater stability, and it will shorten the distance the bar has to travel from the ground to lockout, thus reducing your range of motion (essentially allowing you to lift heavier weight).
It is important to note that sole thickness can vary throughout the length of the shoe. There are shoes which are completely flat – with the exact same thickness in every part of the sole – but there are shoes where the heel is higher than the toe region. This will be explained in more detail in the heel to toe drop section.
- Sole Material –
The type of material the sole, especially the outsole, is made of is important for two main reasons: grip and density.
- Grip –
Grip is the ability to grab the floor with your feet during the lift. A good grip prevents your feet from sliding on the lifting surface, secures your form and decreases your risk of injury. It is particularly useful when you “spread the floor” during sumo deadlifts.
- Density –
With density it is essential to strike a balance – an ideal deadlift shoe is one where the sole material is dense enough to prevent the sole from compressing, but also not so dense that it’s rigid. You’d still want some flexibility in it to be able to walk around the gym without any problems. Sole material with just the right density increases your stability and prevents you from feeling “wobbly”.All of that being said, these are some of the most common types of materials used in creating deadlift-specific and general training shoes:
- Grip –
Most commonly found in your average running shoes. Can vary in density from cushion-like to minimally compressible.
- Thermoplastic Rubber (TR):
On the outside, it appears almost exactly the same as regular rubber, though it is actually a combination of plastic and rubber.
Can carry properties of both plastic and rubber, depending on its formula and application. Can also vary in density.
- Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA):
A type of a foam, usually utilized in the midsole layers, to provide cushioning in sneakers. However, it also comes in a high-density form, which can be effective in lifting shoes.
To cut the chemistry lesson short, what is crucial to keep in mind is this: the best sole material for a deadlift shoe would be one that appears like rubber (or is rubber itself). The reason is that rubber-like materials are quite dense and have superior grip.
Perhaps the type of material you would like to avoid is low-density EVA or any material that has a squishy, foam-like consistency. However bear in mind that high-density EVA is more than acceptable, as even famous sports brands like Adidas use it in their shoes.
- Flanges –
- Aside from it sounding like a word Phoebe from Friends would use, flanges also represent the parts of the sole which extend beyond where the foot naturally goes. In this way, they create a wider base to enhance stability.
- There are flanges which can be found in the front of the shoe, favoring the inside of the foot, but also flanges in the back of the shoe, which favor the outside of the foot.
- In the grand scheme of things, this feature is not something you should lose sleep over. Most deadlift-specific shoes don’t have flanges, as their designs are more minimalistic, so if you do come across a shoe which has them, and is a deadlift shoe that ticks off all the other required characteristics – jackpot. It is important to mention that, while not common for deadlift shoes, flanges are actually quite prevalent in Oly lifting shoes.
Heel To Toe Drop
Also referred to as just ‘drop’ or ‘offset’, the heel to toe drop is described as a value that shows how much higher your heel is compared to the rest of your foot, typically expressed in millimeters. You can calculate the heel to toe drop of your shoes on your own.
- First, you want to start by measuring the heel height
- Then, you want to measure the front foot height
- Next, you will subtract the measurement of the front foot height from the heel height
- The result will be the overall drop
Ideally, for deadlifting shoes the heel to toe drop would be 0mm. A 1-3mm drop is fine as well, and most lifters probably won’t tell the difference. Typical training shoes have a heel to toe drop of 4mm, which still makes an excellent deadlift shoe, as this value is very low compared to average sneakers.
Now, the question is: why is the heel to toe drop important, and why is it best to be as minimal as possible? Firstly, it makes your foot parallel to the ground. This puts your ankle in the most mechanically beneficial position for deadlifting, in terms of leverage.
Secondly, with a low heel to toe drop, you’re likely going to be close to the ground. This, of course, doesn’t have to be the case, as there are staggeringly high platform shoes out there which have the same height in the heel as they do in the toes. However, the majority of shoes with a low heel to toe drop are consequently low to the ground, which increases stability and improves performance.
This entire section on heel to toe drop can be ignored if you’re one of those rare lifters who prefer to deadlift in Oly shoes, or shoes with a heel to toe drop of 15-25mm. Olympic lifting shoes are mainly used for squat lifts, but some lifters have a specific body type and deadlift style which allow them to pull more when they deadlift in Oly shoes, and to have better form. You will need to try out both types of shoes – flat heeled and Oly – to determine which one is better suited for you.
In order to ensure stability during your deadlift and to avoid risky and unnecessary movements such as the wobbly ankle or over-extension of the ankle, it is important to consider what type of ankle support you’d like on your shoe.
The first option is a high top, or a high collared shoe, which provides sufficient ankle support. An alternative would be a shoe which sports an ankle strap, which we will look into in the section about straps.
Ankle support should be a priority for everyone, especially for lifters who have had an ankle-related injury or surgery in the past. It is also important to keep in mind that, the stronger your deadlift becomes, the more necessary it is to have some kind of ankle support. It will allow you to maximize your power output and to minimize instability and risk of injury.
- Metatarsal Strap –
The strap whose name is difficult to pronounce runs from the middle of the foot across the instep to provide lateral support. All metatarsal straps are attached on one side of the shoe, looped through a (usually metal) loop on the opposite side and then secured with velcro.When considering this type of strap, there are some key features you should pay attention to:
- Thickness: A thin strap is most likely there just for show, and, while it will provide minimal support, it won’t be nearly as strong enough as a thicker strap, and will wear out in time.
- Width: It is recommended to look for wider straps, as in 2-3cm (1 inch) in width. This is enough to distribute the tension of the strap over a wide area of the foot when it is tightened.
- Material: In order to tighten the strap as much as you want without risking it snapping, you will want a strap made out of material such as nylon, leather, or similar durable synthetic material.The metatarsal strap is not a requirement, though the majority of deadlifters will tell you they are necessary for anyone who takes their deadlift seriously. A strong, solid metatarsal strap will reduce foot wiggle, provide a tighter feel of the shoe to the floor, and enough stability that it could dramatically help you pull from the floor
- Ankle Strap –
An ankle strap is a single strap which starts from the inside of the ankle and reaches across the tongue and the laces to the outside of the ankle. All shoes which have an ankle strap are also high-top shoes, but not all high-top shoes have an ankle strap.Some ankle straps sport a loop mechanism like all metatarsal straps do, but the most common type of ankle strap is without the loop – the strap is sewn into one side and then pulled tight and velcroed to the opposite side. The absence of the loop mechanism shouldn’t worry you at all – while it does, in theory, provide more tightness, you can achieve optimal ankle support even without the loop, especially when combined with snugly tied laces.Ankle straps allow you to adjust the tightness – and level of support – yourself, depending on the type of lift you’re performing. For heavier lifts, you may want to strap it tight for maximum stability in the ankle, but for lighter lifts, you could keep it loose and comfortable.
- The purpose of the ankle strap is to eliminate any unnecessary motion of the ankle – either to the outside or the inside – during a deadlift, without restricting all movement, and thus protecting you from injuring your ankle.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Why can’t I use my regular trainers for deadlifting?
A: Non-specialized trainers provide too much elevation and cushioning, while at the same time lacking in the support area when it comes to deadlifting. This results in an exponentially increased risk of strain or injury. Deadlift-specific shoes will make sure your feet and ankles are supported in every step of your lifting.
Q: Can I deadlift barefoot?
A: If the goal is to be as close to the ground as possible, a logical conclusion would be to deadlift barefoot. However, lifting with no shoes on also means you’re left without ankle, metatarsal or arch support. For some people, this is just fine, but for most, it means added risk of injury. Furthermore, while barefoot your feet have no protection, nothing to absorb the impact in case a weight plate falls on them. Due to health and safety concerns, most gyms have banned exercising while barefoot.
Q: How rigid or flexible should my deadlift shoe be?
A: There should be a nice balance between the rigidity and flexibility of the shoe. The sole should be rigid enough to prevent compression, and yet flexible enough to allow comfortable movement around the gym. However, most shoes on the market fall into an acceptable range as far as these aspects go, and you shouldn’t stress about it at all.
Q: Is the weight of the shoe important for deadlift?
A: Not necessarily. However, sometimes a heavier shoe can subconsciously encourage the lifter to keep their foot firmly planted, while a lighter shoe may make it harder on the lifter who struggles to maintain a planted foot. The weight of the shoe that works for you would depend on the amount of weight you’re lifting, and your personal lifting style and preference.
Q: How much money should I invest in a pair of deadlift shoes?
A: What are your performance goals? If you’re a casual lifter or new to the sport, then you would benefit most from a cheaper pair which still has all the necessary features for a good deadlift shoe.
But if your goals are more ambitious, if you’re deadlifting several times a week, it might be better to cough up more money for a high-end shoe, which usually comes with more high-quality materials and superior durability that will last you up to a few years.