Best Shoes to Squat in Reviewed & Rated
Squats are a staple exercise among weightlifters. 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.
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.
- Adidas Powerlift 3
- Nordic Powerlifting
- Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0
- Reebok Crossfit Lifter Plus 2.0
- ASICS Lift Trainer
- Inov-8 Fastlift 400 BOA
- Reebok Crossfit Lifter 3
- Nike Romaleos 3
- Adidas Adipower Weightlift
- Adidas Drehkraft
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Shoes to Squat In
1. Adidas Powerlift 3
- Anti-slip rubber outsole
- Mesh and open construction
- Flexible toe for extra comfort
- Removable insole
- Sizes run wide
- Sizes run small
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.Read more
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!
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!
2. Nordic Powerlifting
- 1-Year warranty
- For heavy weightlifting
- Raised 1/4" heel
- Lace and Velco strap closure
- Premium cotton mesh forefoot
- Not suitable for all exercises
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!Read more
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.
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?
3. Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0
Wide Toe Box; TPU Heel Wrap
Forefoot Cushioning Midsole
- Less arch support
- Issues with sizing
The CrossFit Nano 8.0 has a flexible; yet, stable design. Made with the needs of rope climbing in mind; as well as, overall CrossFit demands, the outsole is equipped with RopePro technology. In addition, these shoes have a forefoot cushioning midsole, a Flexweave upper, TPU heel wrap, and wide toe box. And for those minimalists out there, these shoes have a 4-millimeter drop.Read more
Wide Toe Box
These shoes have a wide toe box and, thereby, your toes are given ample room to splay during CrossFit training. Furthermore, the added room can help with those suffering from certain medical conditions, such as bunions and etc.
The traction on this outsole is ideal for those who climb rope during their workouts. Combined with the Flexweave upper, these two elements work in unison, in order to give you the correct amount of both flexibility and grip.
Cost and Value
Midrange is the cost associated with this pair of best Rebook shoes. Moreover, the cost is great when viewing the overall quality of these shoes, as they are built well and made of high-quality material. In other words, this means a great investment for the purchase price.
4. Reebok Crossfit Lifter Plus 2.0
- Rubber sole for traction
- Reinforced leather toe
- Dual hook & loop closure
- U-form technology
- Anti-friction lining
- Sizes run slightly small
This is an Olympic quality lifter that won’t be comfortable for other exercise but is great for squatting and other lifting. With a very stable heel and excellent upper security, your feet will stay planted where you put them through your weight routine.Read more
Reinforced leather toe
You put your feet through a lot while performing squats. You’re asking your heels and forefoot to bear the pressure of not only your own weight but the weights you’re lifting as well. To ensure your toes are protected and that you don’t bust through the front of your shoe, the toe in the Lifter Plus is reinforced with leather.
The lining in this shoe is made of an anti-friction material so that your feet avoid friction burns and blisters while you work hard. Your feet will flatten in the shoe during the squat but these shoes can take the movement without irritating your skin.
Cost and Value
These shoes are priced within the lower range relative to other shoes in the list. Considering the protection they provide, their performance, and the amount of pain and injury they will prevent, they are a real value. They are not for other types of exercise in the gym because of their extreme heel stability which just means they’ll last that much longer in the weight room.
5. ASICS Lift Trainer
- Combination lace and hook-and-loop closure
- Breathable upper
- Padded collar and tongue
- Non-marking, solid rubber outsole
- Rigid heel
- Not suitable for wide feet
- May wear out quickly
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!Read more
These shoes provide a 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.
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.
6. Inov-8 Fastlift 400 BOA
- Wide toe box
- Adjustable BOA dial
- Lightweight construction
- Breathable fabric lining
- Good for wider feet
- Stiff construction
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.Read more
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.
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.
7. Reebok Crossfit Lifter 3
- Suitable for a variety of exercises
- Good arch support
- POWERBAX midsole
- Short break-in period
- Sizes run big
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.Read more
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.
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!
8. Nike Romaleos 3
- Interchangeable insole
- Double enclosure
- Lightweight construction
- Sticky rubber outsole
- Sizes run small
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.Read more
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.
9. Adidas Adipower Weightlift
- Comfortable coated-leather upper
- Hook-and-loop foot strap
- Weightlifting-engineered chassis
- Anti-slip rubber sole
- Sizes run narrow
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 a perfect choice.Read more
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.
10. Adidas Drehkraft
- Rubber sole
- Perforations for breathability
- Secure lacing system
- Padded tongue and collar
- TPU on sides
- Heel stability
- Thick midsole
- Sizes run narrow
These are a very cool looking lifting shoe that will serve well for your squatting and other lifting exercises. Adidas has obviously used its athletic wear know-how to build an excellent shoe for the purpose, with extra durability top and bottom, a thick midsole and secure fit.Read more
The heel is very stable in the Drehkraft, for Olympic-style lifting. Your feet will stay put while the pressure from your lift will be distributed away from the heel for maximum comfort. A padded collar and tongue make the shoe comfortable on the top of the foot as well.
The sides of this shoe feature TPU for additional durability. Despite the TPU on the sides, the shoe is very breathable thanks to the heavy perforation in the upper. Your feet will be dry and cool during your workout.
Cost and Value
This shoe is priced in the mid-range but will be a real value to those who take their lifting seriously. It will last well and perform even better. With a very stable heel and a thick midsole, you don’t have to worry about heel collapse in the Drehkraft.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The raised heel on a pair of squatting or weightlifting shoes is the main feature that makes them appropriate for lifting heavy weights. Important aspects of the heel in a squatting shoe include:
- The heel is generally around 1-in/2.5-cm high, although it may differ from one shoe to another. 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 is often made of wood or plastic with a rubber grip on the bottom to prevent you from slipping while bearing a lot of weight.
- 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.
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. The more secure and the better the fit, the more stable and protective the shoe will be.
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 also 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. In that case, look for shoes with removable insoles to ensure your custom insert or orthotic will fit.
The midsole is designed to provide cushioning and shock absorption to the shoe, nestling the foot in comfort. Whereas running shoes tend to have thick midsoles, flats and thinner shoes not designed for high-impact activities often have thinner midsoles. The reason for this is simple: you need more shock absorption and vibration dampening during high-intensity movements or activities to maintain comfort and prevent foot injury than you otherwise would with a regular shoe, flat or sandal
Midsoles are often made from EVA (ethyl vinyl acetate), a synthetic plastic also used to make insertable orthotics. A firmer type of EVA for the midsole will make the shoe heavier, but more durable; whereas a softer type of EVA, like those found in running shoes, improve shock absorption, but wear much quickly. Podiatrists tend to prefer firmer midsoles for those suffering with orthopedic conditions, such as plantar fasciitis.
Bottom line is: when you are doing intense activities like squatting, you will want a product that scores higher on the midsole criterion, as it will provide you with more cushion and a soft counterbalance to the weight on your back.
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 losing 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 but great grip —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. 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. Along with a stable heel, an outsole with great grip helps to ensure your safety and performance.
To assess each of the products on our list for durability, we not only read through thousands of customer reviews on our recommended products, but we also looked for some of the hallmarks of quality construction. From brand name reputation to their initial smell out of the box, there are a few ways of identifying a well-built, made-to-last product.
A zipper that doesn’t zip or snaps? Poor threading technique? A smelly, chemical residue on the shoe when you open the box? All these details were looked for an evaluated when assigning a score for durability.
Certain materials last longer than others, even if that comes at the expense of a higher score in the “comfort” criterion. Materials that are synthetic, thicker and firmer tend to score higher on durability.
A product is a promise made, but a brand is a promise kept. A brand name is often a signal of quality and consistency in construction and durability from product to product. Although there are always exceptions to this rule, quite often brands that perform continue to perform. Brand names on our list tend to score higher in the durability score.
The final word on durability is that a higher score on this metric means the product will last longer than its competitors, given similar shoe purpose, type, age and usage. Again, it never hurts to read some customer reviews before hitting the “buy” button.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you're an advanced lifter, likely you've been through numerous programs and training schemes to help increase that one rep max. One great regimen to try out is a 5-3-1 program, where you perform reps of 5, then 3, then 1, hitting specific percentage loads.
Start off with 5 reps at 70%, 3 at 80%, and 1 (or AMRAP) at 90%, Test out your max rep again after 4 weeks, are recalculate your percentages for the next cycle.
Depending on your mobility, it can sometimes help to have a solid, slight heel in your footwear for executing a max rep in squats. The elevation allows for greater depth, while also transferring efficient power to the lift, instead of to the ground.
If you have sufficient mobility, try a zero drop shoe for increased mobility and training the glutes and quads to fire to their full potential.
Other Factors to Consider
To evaluate style, we considered everything from the design, color, shape, weight, lines and overall construction of the shoe in question. While no one wants to wear an uncomfortable shoe, they also don’t want a comfortable shoe to be ugly on the eyes. We’ve selected all of those on our top 10 to be not only stylish, but also comfortable, true-to-size, supportive and durable.
Finding a perfectly-fitting pair of shoes can be like finding the holy grail; there are so many brands, styles, models and makes of shoes that it seems like it’s next to impossible, especially when you are shopping online! Fear not, as we’ve ranked each product on our list for their fit and trueness-to-size to help guide you in finding the perfect match for you.
To come up with a score for fit of a shoe, we considered several factors, like the ones mentioned above, in addition to real customer reviews, to help boil down everything into one simple score. For example, Nike tends to make shoes that are true-to-size, meaning that you can buy a pair of 11s one year, and another pair of 11s next year in a different model, and they will usually still fit (unless your feet grown or shrank). A brand like Nike will most likely have a high score when it comes to fit, but the other variables in play, such as make, model and purpose, will also affect the overall score.
Consider that a running shoe, with its thicker midsole and synthetic sole, might fit differently than a flat shoe, with its thinner midsole and hypothetical leather sole. Each of these shoes, even if they are both from Nike, may have similar scores for trueness-to-size, but a size 11 in one might not be the same as an 11 in the other. What’s a reader to do in this case? You must also consider the purpose and type of shoe it is. Knowing what kind of shoe you are buying, and for what purpose, will help you make a better decision. A running shoe might run smaller than a flat because it has thicker materials, so read customer reviews as well to arrive at the best decision for fit, in addition to just our overall score.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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. 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. Squatting or weightlifting shoes do all of those things.
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. 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 barefoot, 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.
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 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 vents well, then you won’t have to worry about your feet getting hot and sweaty while you’re lifting.
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. Doing so could risk significant injury.
Our best advice would be to consult with the manufacturer directly. Often, reputable brands will have care guides to each of their products available online for anyone to download. Depending on the material and construction of the shoe, there will be different directions for cleaning and maintaining, so it is always best to consult with the manufacturer before taking action.
- Are You Wearing the Right Shoes for Squatting?, May 06, 2016 ,
- Weightlifting Shoes: Why You Need a Pair, What to Look for, and When to Wear Them, ,
- Olympic Shoes or Chucks for Squats?, Aug 08, 2014 ,
- 18 Impressive Reasons You Should Start Doing Squats, Dec 18, 2015 ,
- How to Select the Right Athletic Shoes, ,