Best Shoes to Squat in Reviewed & Rated

Squats are a staple exercise among weight lifters. Not only do they help strengthen leg muscles, but they’re also effective at burning fat, improving circulation, and increasing overall body strength. If you’re serious about building muscle and improving your health, then squats should be an essential part of your workout. But like any other exercise, squats require the right equipment, and we’re not talking about a rack and weights: we’re talking about shoes. Proper weightlifting shoes are often seen as non-essential by many athletes, but in order to improve your safety, stability, and efficiency when you’re doing squats, you need to have a pair of shoes designed specifically to help you move weight and stay secure and supported while you do it.

Featured Recommendations

Adidas Adipower
  • Adidas Adipower
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Engineered chassis
  • Price: See Here
Adidas Powerlift 3
  • Adidas Powerlift 3
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Anti-slip rubber outsole
  • Price: See Here
Nordic Powerlifting Shoes
  • Nordic Powerlifting Shoes
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Olympic-level stability
  • Price: See Here

Many weightlifters wear regular tennis or running shoes, or even go barefoot, when it comes time to squat. While we don’t doubt you can push out reps with regular shoes (or no shoes at all), we also believe the right pair of shoes can prove to be a huge asset when you’re squatting and will improve every element of your set, from form and posture to foot perspiration. Because we believe the right pair of shoes is crucial for properly performing squats, we’ve compiled our list of the best shoes to squat in. Whether you’re a long-time squatter or a beginner, we think our list will help you find the right pair of shoes to help you reach your goals the next time you step in front of the squat rack.

10 Best Shoes to Squat In

 

 

 

1. Adidas Adipower

At the top of our list is the Adidas Adipower weightlifting shoe. These shoes are designed for comfort and support and have been engineered to keep you stable and safe while you’re squatting. If you’re looking for a reliable and comfortable foundation to help you squat the most you can, then the Adipower is the perfect choice.
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Stability
The Adipower is designed to keep you stable while you lift. A lack of stability means less effectiveness when you squat, but the heel overlay and anti-slip rubber outsole will ensure you get the most of out of your workout.

Built for Comfort
The Adipower is constructed with a PU-coated leather upper that keeps your foot comfortable while providing support. These shoes also have vent flow openings to help keep your feet dry while you lift.

Cost and Value
These price for these shoes is on the high end of our list, but if you’re serious about squatting and getting maximum reps, then the Adidas Adipowers are a worthwhile investment.
Pros
  • Comfortable coated-leather upper for additional support
  • Hook-and-loop inset foot strap
  • Weightlifting-engineered chassis
  • Anti-slip rubber sole
Cons
  • May be too narrow for some feet

2. Adidas Powerlift 3

The Powerlift 3 is another great squatting shoe from the folks at Adidas. The construction allows for maximum comfort and breathability, meaning you won’t have to worry about how your feet feel while you’re moving weight. They’re made to help you maintain maximum grip and will provide the stability you need when you’re out on the gym floor.
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Lightweight
The synthetic uppers on these shoes help provide support and durability without adding weight or bulk. You’re lifting enough weight when you squat—you don’t need to carry extra weight around the gym on your feet as well!

Breathability
With all the weight your feet are holding when you squat, you want them to stay comfortable and dry. The air mesh collar, tongue, and lining coupled with the open forefoot structure provide great airflow for your feet.

Cost and Value
Although certain color and size combinations will cost you a pretty penny, this shoe lands in the middle of our price range. If you’re flexible with the color, these are a great bargain!
Pros
  • Anti-slip rubber outsole
  • Mesh and open construction
  • Flexible toe for extra comfort
  • Removable insole
Cons
  • May not be good for narrow feet
  • Sizes may run small

3. Reebok Crossfit Nano 3.0

The Crossfit Nano 3.0 from Reebok has been redesigned to help you take on the worst the gym can throw at you. From the soles to the uppers, every element of this shoe is meant to provide you with comfort, stability, and durability to ensure your goals are met and your feet are taken care of when you’re squatting.
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Dual-Density Platform
The platform on the Nano 3.0 is built to provide you with the combination of cushion and stability you need to maintain maximum effectiveness when you squat.

Protection
The Nano 3.0 also comes with an improved outsole, featuring Metasplit grooves for added flexibility and protection. The breathable air mesh sides ensure your foot stays vented while you work out.

Cost and Value
Although a similar-looking tennis shoe may not cost you as much as the Nano 3.0, the features of this shoe that are specifically designed to help you lift heavy weight make them worth the price.
Pros
  • Multi-directional outsole splay zone
  • Seamless polyurethane cast
  • 4mm heel-to-toe drop
  • Breathable anti-friction lining
Cons
  • May not provide sufficient arch support
  • Issues with sizing

4. Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA

4. Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA
The folks at Inov-8 have a created a shoe that will help you transfer maximum power when you’re in the gym. The robust design and structural stability it offers will give you a huge advantage over your squatting competitors. A unique BOA closure system provides you with a custom, adjustable fit, and its smooth design ensures you’ll be able to squat without the added stress of pressure points.
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Comfort
These shoes were designed with hard-hitting athletes in mind. The Fastlift 370 is roomy enough for feet of all sizes, and the lightly-padded interior helps provide maximum comfort when you’re lifting.

Grip
The Fastlift 370 comes stocked with a rubber outsole designed to give you serious grip. The sticky material and 0mm lug depth give you maximum stability when you’re squatting.

Cost and Value
These shoes fall right in the middle of our price range. If you’re a beginner just getting into squatting or an intermediate looking to upgrade from your regular gym shoes, then the Fastlift 370s are a great option for you.
Pros
  • Wide toe box
  • Adjustable BOA dial
  • Lightweight construction
  • Breathable fabric lining
  • Good for athletes with wider feet
Cons
  • Stiff construction may take a while to break in

5. Inov-8 Fastlift 325

5. Inov-8 Fastlift 325
In at #5 is another great weightlifting shoe from Inov-8, the Fastlift 325. This shoe was designed for high performance and it delivers on its promises. This lightweight, flexible shoe is perfect for squatting but can also be used for other exercises in the gym, meaning you’ll be able to complete your workout without having to change your wardrobe.
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Lightweight
Inov-8 claims that the Fastlift 325 is the “lightest weightlifting shoes on the market.” You’ll still get the support you need, and having less weight in your shoe means you’ll have more endurance on the gym floor.

Flexible
These shoes were designed to be flexible so you can be flexible in the gym. They provide more comfortable movement when you’re training and, unlike some other shoes in our list, will let you move from Olympic weightlifting to other exercises with ease.

Cost and Value
The Fastlift 325 runs at around the same price as the 370, right in the middle of our range. Given its stability, secure fit and grip, and its light weight, the 325 gives you a lot of bang for your buck.
Pros
  • Lightweight construction
  • Meta-flex technology
  • Suitable for various workouts
  • Designed to provide good lateral stability
  • Sticky rubber outsole
Cons
  • Minimal shock absorption

6. Reebok Crossfit Lifter

6. Reebok Crossfit Lifter
At #6 is another entry from Reebok, the Crossfit Lifter. As the name implies, this shoe is great for lifting but is versatile enough to wear for a wide range of workouts. This shoe delivers power and allows you to stay agile on the gym floor, making it an asset at the squat rack that is great for multi-purpose use as well.
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Flexibility
This pair of shoes is designed to be flexible, not only in its construction, but also in its uses. While you won’t want to run in them, the Crossfit Lifters are suitable for a variety of workouts.

Secure Fit
The last thing you want when you’re squatting is to have loose shoes. The Reebok Crossfit Lifter ensures you maintain a tight fit with its dual lace-up and hook-and-loop closure system.

Cost and Value
These shoes cost a little more than others in our list, but if you’re serious about improving your squats, then we recommend trying them out. Greater support and stability mean greater confidence!
Pros
  • Suitable for a variety of exercises
  • Good arch support
  • POWERBAX midsole
  • Short break-in period
Cons
  • Sizes run big

7. ASICS Lift Trainer

7. ASICS Lift Trainer
The ASICS Lift Trainer is a great entry-level shoe for heavy lifters. It performs as well as more expensive options, but the low cost makes it accessible for those on a tight budget. The construction provides great stability and efficiency while squatting, and they maintain weightlifting standards while sporting a running-shoe appearance. If you’re looking for a good place to start, we think you’ll find it here!
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Support
These shoes provide great cushion, but they don’t do so at the expense of providing a tight fit and great support. And the raised, rigid heel will keep you sure-footed while you lift.

Comfort
The Lift Trainer from ASICS comes with a padded collar and tongue, GEL rearfoot and forefoot cushioning, and a synthetic and mesh upper to keep your foot comfortable and dry while you work out.

Cost and Value
This shoe is one of the most affordable on our list, but don’t let the low price make you doubt the quality. The Lift Trainer gives you great results without breaking the bank.
Pros
  • Combination lace and hook-and-loop closure
  • Breathable upper
  • Padded collar and tongue
  • Non-marking, solid rubber outsole
  • Rigid heel
Cons
  • Not suitable for wide feet
  • May wear out quickly if used frequently

8. Nordic Powerlifting Shoes

8. Nordic Powerlifting Shoes
Nordic’s powerlifting shoe is built to give you Olympic-level performance in the gym. Every square inch is designed to provide maximum efficiency when you’re lifting. The raised heel ensures your posture will stay on point during your squats, and the sturdy construction means they’ll last through even the toughest workouts. And considering their price, you can’t afford NOT to try them!
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Stability
These shoes are designed to give you maximum support and stability on the gym floor. The smooth, anti-slip sole and snug fit will keep you stable and keep your feet from moving while you squat.

Durability
No matter how intense your workout is, Nordic guarantees their shoes can handle it. These shoes are built to last, and Nordic is so confident in their durability that they’ll send them to you with a 1-year warranty!

Cost and Value
Nordic powerlifting shoes tie with the ASICS Lift Trainer as the most affordable shoes on our list. They provide Olympic-level performance at an entry-level price: what more could you ask for?
Pros
  • 1-Year manufacturer’s warranty
  • Designed specifically for heavy weightlifting
  • Raised 1/4" heel
  • Lace and Velco strap combination closure
  • Premium cotton mesh forefoot
Cons
  • Not suitable for all exercises

9. Pendlay 14P

9. Pendlay 14P
If you want a shoe that says “squatter,” then you can’t go wrong with the Pendlay 14P. The 14P is designed to help you squat to your fullest potential. The design helps improve your form by keeping you stable when you squat, meaning you can go lower and take on more weight than you could if you were wearing tennis or running shoes.
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Durable
Pendlay has designed a weightlifting shoe that is sturdy and durable. The 14P’s synthetic leather uppers and heavy duty black mesh ensure this shoe will last through the toughest workouts.

Stable
The 14P has also been redesigned to be more stable and provide greater flexibility. You’ll notice an increase in your confidence when you squat thanks to its improved single sole design.

Cost and Value
The Pendlay 14P is one of the more expensive shoes on the list, but it has proven its worth on the gym floor. Serious squatters will be pleased with the results they get from this pair of shoes.
Pros
  • Double Metatarsal straps
  • Improved sole
  • Spacious toe box
  • 90-day warranty
Cons
  • Hard insole

10. Nike Romaleos 3

10. Nike Romaleos 3
Last on our list of the best shoes to squat in is our first shoe from Nike, the Romaleos 3. Nike has created a weightlifting shoe that provides great support and grip, which means you’ll be able to exert greater strength when you’re squatting. Nike’s design helps you reach your full potential when you’re squatting and gives us a great shoe to end our list with.
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Grip
These shoes are lauded for their ability to grip the gym floor. The rubber grip outsoles allow you to maintain good contact and help keep you confident when you’re out there squatting.

Light and Stable
The Romaleos 3 packs a punch without weighing you down. Its lightweight design keeps you from having to lift unnecessary weight while you’re out on the gym floor—you’re already lifting enough!

Cost and Value
These shoes are the most expensive on our list. We know many weightlifters may not want to invest this much into their shoes, but we believe these are a great option for squatting in if you can afford them.
Pros
  • Interchangeable insole
  • Double enclosure
  • Lightweight construction
  • Sticky rubber outsole
Cons
  • Sizes run small

There you have it: 10 great options to help you stay safe, stable, and successful when you’re squatting. Our list combines the best in design, construction, and durability to give you a great starting place for finding the right pair of shoes to squat in. And the wide range of pricing options means you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a pair of shoes that will help you reach your full potential in the gym. We realize buying a pair of shoes primarily designed for one type of exercise might seem over-the-top, but would you run a marathon in Chuck Taylors or wrestle in flip flops? Probably not, because you know those shoes aren’t designed to be used for those purposes. You can squat in tennis shoes just like you can ride the Tour de France in Birkenstocks, but if you’re serious about improving your form and increasing your reps at the squat rack, then you should be serious about the shoes you’re wearing when you squat. The right pair of shoes will go a long way in helping you achieve your goals, and we hope our list of top shoes to squat in will help you find them.

Criteria for Selecting the Best Shoes to Squat In

 

Raised Heel

The raised heel on a pair of squatting or weightlifting shoes is the main feature that sets them apart from standard athletic shoes. The heel on a pair of weightlifting shoes is generally around 1-in/2.5-cm high, although it may differ from one shoe to another. The heel is often made of wood or plastic with a rubber grip on the bottom to prevent you from slipping (more on grip below). Having a raised heel allows you to squat lower and maintain correct form and keeps your foot stable when you squat, and stability is crucial for your safety and efficiency. The heel on a weightlifting shoe helps keep your foot in a neutral arch and keeps the muscles in your lower legs from becoming stiff. So, while you may be able to do squats in running shoes, you’re running a risk not wearing proper footwear.

Strapping and Support

In addition to the support provided by the raised heel, a good weightlifting shoe will provide support and security with its strapping system and its insole. A loose shoe can be disastrous under a heavy load, and if your foot isn’t secure in your shoe, you could seriously injure your ankles if it gives while you’re squatting. The best weightlifting shoes combine laces and hook-and-loop to give you a closure that will keep you secure, so look for shoes that provide both. Some shoes, like the Inov-8 Fastlift 370 BOA, come with a dial for adjusting the closure, so you may want to look for that as well. In addition, look for a shoe that has an insole that will provide good support. Having a super-soft insole is not great for squatting—you want a firm foundation to stand on with all that weight on your shoulders—but look for something that has good arch support and that will be comfortable during your workout. You may need to add an insole for extra support if your shoe is lacking in that area. You can even find websites that will build a custom insole for you from pictures of your foot. You may not need to go to that length to get a comfortable fit, but don’t underestimate the importance of good support and closure when you purchase your shoes.

Rubber Outsole

Finally, you’ll want to look for a shoe that gives you proper grip. The last thing you want to do when you’re squatting is lose your footing. Slipping and falling with weights on your shoulders could be catastrophic for you and those around you. So, make sure your shoe is equipped with the right sole to help keep that from happening. In addition to not falling, having a firm grip on the floor allows you to move more weight; you can plant your feet and use your connection to the floor to be more effective when you’re lifting, and that’s something every weightlifter wants. Unlike most other shoes, weightlifting shoes come with soles that have minimal tread—the more contact you can maintain with the floor, the better. You’ll also want to make sure the sole is made from a material that will grip and not slide, and in most cases, it will be rubber. Not all rubber is created equal, so make sure you test out the shoe if you can to make sure it has good grip. Many companies even use what they call a “sticky” rubber on the bottom of their shoes to provide maximum grip. Bottom line: don’t neglect the bottom of your shoe when you’re looking to improve your squatting performance. It makes a bigger a difference than we often think!

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q. Why can’t I just squat in my tennis shoes?

A. Well, technically, you can, but you won’t be as effective at squatting in tennis shoes as you will be in a weightlifting shoe. Remember, weightlifting shoes are designed for a specific purpose: to give you the support and stability you need to move a lot of weight! Your tennis shoes weren’t designed to do that. They weren’t constructed with a hard, raised heel to help keep you stable or a flat sole to help you grip the floor when you squat. Obviously, you can squat weight in any kind of shoe, or even barefoot, but we’re not aiming just to be able to do it: we want to be able to do it to our full capacity and stay safe in the process. Your tennis shoes weren’t designed to handle the additional weight you’re holding when you squat, they weren’t designed to keep your heel high and your body stable, they weren’t designed to help you maintain solid contact with the floor, and they weren’t designed to protect your feet from falling weights. So, maybe the best question isn’t “Can I?” but “Should I?” You can squat with your tennis shoes, but in order to make the most of your efforts and stay safe while you squat, you probably shouldn’t rely on standard shoes for this particular exercise.

Q. Can’t I just squat barefoot?

A. Again, yes, you can, but we don’t recommend it. Many folks claim that squatting barefoot is more natural and gives you a greater awareness of your foot positioning. The belief is that wearing a shoe decreases your foot’s sensitivity and puts you at a disadvantage when you’re squatting. While going barefoot may grant you a greater sensitivity to what’s going on under your feet, we don’t advise it for two main reasons: 1) You lose all the benefits of having a raised heel. Sure, you can try finding something to rest your heels on when you squat, but there’s no guarantee you’ll always have something like that around, and if you’re squatting with your heels on the same plane as the rest of your foot, you can’t avail yourself of all the benefits the raised heel offers (see above). And without the raised heel, your technique will change slightly because you’ll have to compensate for the different heel height. Simply put, you’re at a disadvantage if you’re barefoot. 2) Weightlifting shoes are also designed to protect your feet, and if you’re barefoot, you lose that protection. One of the biggest dangers you face when you squat is falling weights, and if any size weight were to come loose and land on your bare foot, you’d be guaranteed a few broken bones. Weightlifting shoes like the ones in our list are built to protect all sides of your feet, so for your safety’s sake, we highly recommend not squatting barefoot and wearing protective weightlifting shoes instead.

Q. What material(s) should I look for in a squatting shoe?

A. There may not be a “best” material for a squatting shoe, but we recommend synthetic materials as they’re generally more lightweight and breathable. Even though squatting doesn’t require you to move around too much, having a lightweight shoe will help keep you from being fatigued in the gym. Some elements, like a wooden heel, will add weight that can’t really be avoided, but a synthetic material like a nylon shell will weigh less and be more comfortable than a material like leather would be. Breathability is important for your comfort as well. Most weightlifting shoes will have an open toe design with ample mesh to allow your feet to breathe. This isn’t the most important part of a weightlifting shoe, but if you can find a pair that vent well, then you won’t have to worry about your feet getting hot and sweaty while you’re lifting.

Q. Can I use my squatting/weightlifting shoes for other exercises in the gym?

A. It depends on what the shoe was designed for. Standard weightlifting shoes with hard, raised heels are meant for one thing: weightlifting. So, don’t go trying to run on a treadmill in your squatting shoes. They’re designed for a specific use and should not be used outside of that. Other weightlifting shoes are designed to be multi-purpose, however. A good example of these are cross trainers. They come with features like a raised heel and a grippy outsole, but they’re not so stiff and rugged that they can’t be used throughout the gym. Cross trainers are designed to be flexible and lightweight, so they can be used in more settings. They may sacrifice some of their effectiveness as squatting shoes in the process, but in general they are suitable for weightlifting and for other exercises as well. We don’t recommend using either kind of shoe for running, however. Running in a shoe with a wooden heel would be awful and counterproductive, and the cross trainers aren’t really meant for running either. You’ll wear your shoes out faster and you’ll be using them in ways they weren’t intended to be used, which at best will mean a loss of efficiency and at worst could lead to injury.