10 Best Weightlifting Shoes Reviewed & Tested for Performance
The dependability of any durable construction is literally based upon the foundations on which it stands. Buildings, trees, and even mountains have supporting undersides that save them from crumbling into themselves from the crushing weight pushing downward from above. The human form handling heavy loads, through exercise and workout, is no different in this regard, our lower body serving as our foundation, our base on which we stand, and press upward against that otherwise crushing weight.
Our feet, in particular from the ankles down, are among the first responders to any kinetic loads placing any demands on our skeletal frame. The ever-present force of gravity – and then taking into account movement and the resulting inertia – can present a great deal of stress to the heel, to the arches and balls of the feet, as well on the toes and various array of tendons and ligaments involved.
This is why it’s vital and extremely important (and never to be underestimated) that your weightlifting shoes are up for the task of delivering a safe set, free of the threat of muscular or skeletal injury.
For any job at hand, there are tools. For any occupation there is attire. Golfers wear golf shoes. Divers wear diving fins. Climbers wear climbing shoes. And runners wear running shoes. So, it’s fair to deduce that if you’re a weightlifter, then you should wear (all together now)… weightlifting shoes! That’s right.
This list of the top ten best weightlifting shoes will give you a comprehensive idea on which styles, makes, and brand of a shoe may work best for your needs. Whether it’s the casual lifter or the powerlifter at Olympic levels, by the end of this list, the importance of why a running sneaker doesn’t work at the squat rack will be that much clearer to you.
10 Best Weightlifting Shoes
1. Adidas Performance Powerlift 3
Flexibility with luxury! They aren’t tight like rock-climbing shoes and some running brands. With tiny vents allowing air flow while you move about, your feet can breathe in these babies.
With its single instep strap reinforcing rearfoot integrity, its flat-profile outsole, the Performance shoe is engineered precisely for weightlifting. Its high-density, die-cut midsole wedge is perfect for lightweight stability.
Cost and Value
You really get your bang for the buck with this product. Inexpensive, when compared to newer weightlifting shoe models, but they are sturdy and consistent for rigorous daily workout agendas. These rank average for this list in terms of cost.
- Perfectly priced for a beginner shoe.
- Durable, holding firm during heavy lifts.
- Provide added support for the knees.
- Very appealing design.
- Synthetic leather.
- Not good for everyday use.
- May not be a good fit for wide feet.
2. Adidas Performance Adipower
Totally suited to high demand reps, Olympic-level lifting, it is extremely stable and exceedingly durable footwear. Its high heel keeps your rear foot planted during low squats and thick deadlifts.
Described as “like lifting on a bed of marshmallows,” this is footwear so well engineered and crafted, it curves more effectively to your foot’s contours than many other training shoes.
Cost and Value
Always a concern, the price of anything above a certain mark may cause some hesitation. Adipower, however, is worth its weight in the wallet. Most agree. It is a bargain. These rank high for this list in terms of cost.
- Heel height makes it great for squatting.
- Durable and high quality material.
- Excellent for powerlifting.
- Good ventilation.
- Sleek appearance.
- Toe box may be too tight on wider feet.
- Laces not easily tightened.
3. New Balance MX20BS4 Cross Minimus
Lightweight, there is an ease of wear and fit to them during the heaviest and intense training sessions, even in execution of an exercise with demanding loads pushing against them.
With extensive mileage, these modest shoes hold up. As designed, they handle punishment their demanding users heap upon them, transcending across workout disciplines that reach beyond the challenges of weightlifting.
Cost and Value
In contrast to other shoes of this type, with its comparable weightlifting bennies, offering of a tough shoe that supports ideal workout demands, this is probably the better financial choice. These rank high for this list in terms of cost.
- Incredibly lightweight.
- Durable Vibram.
- True to stated sizes.
- Practical style.
- Excellent ventilation.
- Not as good a crossfit shoe.
- Little or no traction on some surfaces out of box.
4. Reebok CrossFit Nano 5.0
Whereas others may tear and rip with continual use, this shoe, with its Kevlar reinforced upper, is going to last. Except for shoelaces, you’ll get no holes in this footwear.
With its anatomical design, the Nano is a spacious shoe remarked as being an excellent fit for flat feet. With added ankle support, it provides a flexible yet stable base.
Cost and Value
For its quality and comfort, this is almost a giveaway. An affordable shoe that is not going to tear over time, light and breathable too, it is definitely a bargain. These rank low for this list in terms of cost.
- Designed to match the contour of the foot.
- Perfect for executing squats.
- Spacious toe box.
- Contoured heel as opposed to flat.
- Upper won’t wear out. It’s Kevlar!
- May be uncomfortable fit for narrow feet.
- Better for people with flat feet than those with high arches
5. Asics Gel-Fortius TR
Made for crossfit, unsurpassed by most shoes of its type, its fine engineering to manage the stress of weightlifting, this one shoe may be all the footgear you would need.
Talk about the second most important feature or aspect of the product. You can be specific. This should be 30 words and should be about the most important thing about the product the reader should know about.
Cost and Value
With its GEL cushioning, its reinforced RhynoSkin toe cap and an AirMesh upper, you’ve reaped a bargain of smooth and efficient stability as well as a sturdy and ventilated stride. These rank low for this list in terms of cost.
- Thin and light sole.
- Good interaction in shaping with the foot.
- Comfortable for the heavy weightlifter.
- Saves the need to buy two pairs of shoes.
- Strongly grips the floor.
- Not a shoe for walking long distances.
- Not an “almost barefoot” shoe.
6. Nike Metcon 2
True crossfit footwear features are boasted often by many, proven rarely by few. With this design for focused training involving heavyweight sets, stretching, mad dashes and scrambling footwork, Nike delivers.
Its carefully-crafted sole tech, Fly-ware tech secures the arches while affording soft and enduring support for the entire foot. Those with wider feet, higher arches, and higher insteps speak well of this shoe.
Cost and Value
With elegance and fit, an enjoyable color selection, a rock-solid sneaker for all of your workout needs – second to none in versatility – it’s a first-rate bargain on so many levels. These rank average for this list in terms of cost.
- Its versatility.
- It’s relatively inexpensive.
- A wide selection of styles and colors.
- Aerated and breathable.
- May not have the same traction as a pavement or track running shoe.
- A bit small in the toe box.
7. Inov-8 Fastlift 335
Its Powertruss system, FastLift outsole with Sticky rubber offers security and firmness. A superior gripping shoe, awesome for power lifting, there is much greater balance and control on the catch.
Flexibility and Comfort
Flexibility not being the most central feature to a weightlifting shoe, the comfort factor and added support it gives allows its wearer to sport these easily for other workout requirements.
Cost and Value
Worth the weight you can now confidently chuck, with the Inov-8 supporting you during your impressive squats and massive deadlifts, and through your WOD, this is not a dollar wasted. These rank high for this list in terms of cost.
- Its Power-Truss heel tech that affords you stability in your stance.
- An adjustable hook-and-loop instep strap that works well for wide feet.
- A padded tongue and collar for added comfort at the top of the foot.
- May not be the optimal choice for those with narrow feet.
- Not the belle of the ball. It’s effective, but not a pretty shoe.
8. Pendlay Do-Win
Not as durable or reinforced as its many competitors in the field, for what you pay, it is excellent footgear, and will do the job if your workouts are light.
Predominantly an Olympic weightlifting shoe, its ¾ inch heel provides added ease to your deepest squats. Its sole, incredibly strong yet flexible, offers loftier support if you have high arches.
Cost and Value
A good price for a powerful shoe that provides satisfactory support during the hard work. If you’re working the rack several times a week, not every day, you’ve spent wisely. These rank average for this list in terms of cost.
- Warrantied for 90 days.
- Durable leather.
- Comfortable for a time.
- Regulation height heels.
- Good price for purpose intended.
- Vegans and Vegetarians won’t like these. They’re pure leather.
- Limited function.To be used only for Olympic Weightlifting.
9. Adidas Performance Powerlift 2
With its women's-specific fit, its synthetic leather upper for lightweight support and durability, it’s a delicate-looking sneaker specifically engineered for heavy load-bearing and, with its air mesh lining, maximum breathability.
Heavier than most sneakers, and with a supportive heel, it offers noticeable flexibility in the sole and toe box, providing stability, without the regimented feel to it like a boot.
Cost and Value
There is no better weightlifting shoe for women. If you’re serious about your lifts, and you want a shoe that can support your goals, then this price is worth it. These rank low for this list in terms of cost.
- Engineered for the contour of a woman’s foot.
- A powerlifting shoe that can handle any load.
- A reinforced, thick sole.
- Made with synthetic leather. Good for vegans and vegetarians.
- A bit stiff, they may limit range of foot motion.
- Better for wider feet than narrow.
10. Nike Romaleos
Almost synonymous to the brand name, and expecting nothing less from its manufacturer, its synthetic leather and Ultra-lightweight EVA foam outsole with its waffle treads make for an enduring shoe.
Heel support is a welcome feature. Squats and deadlifts demand having a strong base of support. The comfortable fit below that load bearing Achilles tendon will keep that set pleasant.
Cost and Value
Not for the faint of wallet, this footwear is expensive. But as with most of Nike’s products, with quality, form and function, you are getting exactly what you pay for. These rank high for this list in terms of cost.
- Extremely lightweight.
- Stays snug and tight when strapped.
- Provides comfort while in play.
- Offered in a wide array of sizes.
- There are eleven (11) colors and styles.
- Only designed for Olympic powerlifting.
And here we have it. The complete list of the top ten best weightlifting shoes. Not only now do you have a clearer and better understanding as to what shoes may work best, taking into account comfort, quality, and comparable cost factors – perhaps prohibitively expensive in at least one case – but you should now have in your arsenal a comprehensive grasp as to why choosing the best shoe for the job is as important a difference as a ballet dancer choosing Doc Martins to dance the Sugarplum fairy.
How to Choose the Best Shoes for Weightlifting
It would be a counterproductive move. And certainly those of us not in the know may still enjoy the show of watching her or him plop and clunk about on that stage in some footwear that aren’t at all applicable to that discipline, the real deal is that there’d be some damage done, to the dancer, to that stage floor, and to the integrity of that piece.
Choose the correct footgear for the job. If you’re a casual Olympic level lifter, then the Nike Romaleos may be the shoe for you. For comfort and quality, you won’t go wrong. But if you’re on a budget, then you would probably prefer the Pendlay Do-Win. It’s also engineered specifically for Olympic level powerlifting, but if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, the genuine leather feature would be a definite turn off.
Pick your shoe as carefully as you would hopefully pick your battles, after careful observation, research, peer review, and study. Assess what your needs are, what your involvement will be, and how much time you’re going to actually spend in the gym. There is no point in buying a shoe like the Adidas Performance Powerlift.3 if you’re in there every day, whereas the Adidas Performance Adipower may be just what the trainer ordered.
Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Weightlifting Shoes
Weightlifting involves very complex exercises which, at advanced levels, usually involve carrying, pulling, pushing, and lifting excessive amounts of weight. Additionally, some weight lifting practices require complex motions while remaining in control of a loaded barbell. As you can probably guess, this is not a scenario where you want shoes with poor stability, but rather the complete opposite.
Though multiple factors have an impact on the stability of a shoe, it ultimately comes down to the outsole height. The higher you are off the ground, the less stability you’ll have. When dealing with big weights, it’s important to remain as close to the ground as possible. However, a totally flat outsole might not be convenient for some weightlifting exercises. The higher you are off the ground, the more likely you are to lose lateral balance.
Regardless of the exercise you’re performing, if it involves no support, you want as much stability as you can get. Unstable shoes are extremely hazardous in the lifting room and get more dangerous as you hit heavier. Losing control of the barbell not only creates the possibility of being hit directly by the loaded bar, it also exposes you to injuries. If your knees or ankles start tilting inwards or outwards because of an unstable shoe, you’re guaranteed to have a bad time when lifting heavy.
But it doesn’t stop there. Stability is not just a matter of safety, but also a matter of optimal performance. Poor balance can actually reduce your capacity to lift more weight. The lack of stability can affect your form, range of motion and endurance.
On the opposite case, a solid and steady shoe allows you to perform at your best. This is due to your positioning and impulse when performing an exercise. While deadlifting, for example, shoes should act as a firm platform to push your feet against the ground, helping you lift the barbell. Stability is of utter importance during dynamic exercises as well, such as the clean and jerk, the barbell snatch, and barbell lunges.
The main elements that contribute to the stability of a weightlifting shoe are the sole grip, the ankle support, and the shoe height.
When it comes to performance shoes, weightlifting performer shoes are very alike to running ones. While there’s the traditional multi-purpose running sneaker, more specific activities like trail running require additional features. This is the cause of weightlifting. While it might all look like the same at first hand, there’s a wide variety of differences amongst lifting performances.
This doesn’t mean that it’s forbidden to train with other shoes. You might eventually get away with weight training in sneakers on some cases. Although the shoe variations aren’t too different physically, there are certain key aspects that matter. Keep in mind that this is by no means necessary to train, but it’s something to consider if you’re after the most optimal performance.
For instance, steady and heavy compound movements such as the deadlift are best performed with flat soles. The midsole shouldn’t be too thick or too high, and the outsole should provide an adequate grip to the training surface.
The better grasp you have of the surface, the better you’ll perform. In fact, old school lifters often preferred going barefoot on deadlifts. This is because they believed every inch between you and the ground affects your form. This distance can also cut off some pounds you could be potentially lifting.
Squats, on the other hand, are best performed with a raised heel. Now, there’s a lot of controversies whether this is actually good or not. It all comes down to each person’s preference (and anatomy in some cases); what’s comfortable for you might be utterly annoying for others. Some heavy hitters will tell you their $200 raised-heel squatting shoes is the key to breaking personal records. On the other hand, you’ll also see gym veterans (and even Olympic lifters) rocking a good ole’ pair of Chuck Taylors.
So, what’s behind each shoe?
Raised heel shoes are what’s commonly known as weightlifting shoe. The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) defines it as “a shoe to protect lifters feet from falling weights while also providing a stable firm surface”. This is why you might have seen some shoes with a type of protective cap around the toe box.
As for the raised heel, it helps some users to drop the hip as much as possible while maintaining an upright back. Because of this, there’s a considerable decrease in shear stress to the lumbar spine, also activating more the quadriceps. They’re a really good way to hit those ass-to-grass squats. The heel is usually 3cm tall and should be no higher than that. Additionally, the raised heel helps prevent bad form as well as the valgus knee collapse.
Lastly, Chuck Taylors are the old-school favorites. If you want an unbendable rubber outsole that acts as a solid platform, Converse is where you go. They deliver a good squatting performance for beginners, and you don’t have to break the bank. Though, they suck for running–no debate in that. These won’t support your depth or your spine, but you can place two small plates below your heels to simulate a raised heel.
Just like the outsole cases we just mentioned, there’s a moment when you could use heel height and moments when you must not. Regardless of the exercise, you’re performing and the type of shoe you’re wearing, you can’t have 7cm of heel. That’s just asking for an accident.
Heel height is a key point in stability and form; get those two things wrong and your performance will suck. Not to mention you’re waiting for an injury.
A heel raise, if any, should be no higher than 3cm. This is, of course, depending on the exercise you’ll perform. During deadlifts and similar practices, a raised heel is the last thing you want in your shoe. Once again, we’re not telling you to get the most expensive pair of Olympic shoes available; just don’t wear to wrong ones.
A raised heel during a deadlift, such as the one in running shoes, decrease your vertical balance. By having your heels higher than your toes, you’re likely to lean forward when pulling the weight off the ground. If by any chance you start inclining forward when the bar is on the way up, we can guarantee you a painful result.
But heel height is not always a negative thing. Like we previously explained, it can be beneficial for your posture and performance in exercises such as the squat. Additionally, in Olympic lifting shoes, heel height often comes from raised heels.
Raised heels are not just a bulk of rubber that goes on the back of your outsole. In fact, what people often don’t know is that raised heels are usually made of wood or plastic. Though, it’s equipped with a rubber outsole to prevent slipping.
Heel height can be a very useful tool for users with ankle mobility and flexibility issues. This heel platform also relieves the some of the muscles on the lower body (peroneal, soleus, and lateral gastrocnemius). These muscles often get the stiffest during heavy squatting. Lastly, the raised heel also helps preserve a neutral arch on the foot.
Durability and Performance
Weightlifting shoes need to be able to endure heavy exercising. This involves both static and dynamic weight training. As soon as the elements of a weightlifting shoe start deteriorating, performance becomes heavily affected. As you can imagine, durability and performance are parameters that go hand in hand.
The durability of all kinds of shoe is mostly related to the material they’re built with as well as the manufacturing quality. Weightlifting shoes are pretty much the same. Believe or not, deterioration in your weightlifting shoes can determine how much you can lift. It also determines your performance, and potentially your risk of injuries.
Each element degrades individually. Although, it’s important that the shoe degrades as a whole. This means that every element should be in a similar state as the rest of them. If one element degrades much faster than the rest of the shoe, it will lose it quality and the potential use the rest of the elements have. For instance, if the upper build rips apart while the outsole rubber is in good shape. The shoe is unusable now, and a healthy outsole goes to the trash.
Generally, the piece that degrades the fastest in a weightlifting shoe is the sole. This is no surprise, as it’s the part of the shoe that handles the most tension. The heavier you lift, the more your sole will suffer. This doesn’t mean you should go light to avoid killing your shoes; they’re made for weightlifting after all. However, if you’re using the wrong shoe for a heavy deadlift, you can considerably reduce its lifetime by squashing the sole.
One of the most important concepts of durability is proper usage and care. The case we just mentioned, for example, is a common result of what happens when people do weight training on running sneakers. These sneakers are designed to provide comfort and protection to the foot during aerobic activities such as running. Put them under hundreds of pounds, however, and they’re not so good.
It’s also important to know when your shoe has reached its time. Weightlifting shoes are definitely not the kind of footwear you want to push over its durability. We’re no longer talking about of comfort or efficiency, but rather safety. Worn-out shoes can put you in many of the unfortunate situations we’ve mentioned here, such as losing balance under a loaded barbell.
You must be wondering, “Didn’t you just tell us we need rigid, solid platforms for lifting?” We did. And we reaffirm that claim when it comes to certain exercises. However, weightlifting is much more extensive than you would normally think. At a simple glance, it all looks like the same; barbells, dumbbells, lifting, pulling and pushing. However, there are more differences than you can probably notice.
For instance, a lunge is considerably easier to perform in a flexible shoe rather than a stiff one. And yes, a lunge is a weight lifting exercise just as much as any other. Like we mentioned in the outsole specialty section, weightlifting shoes vary according to the practice. Yet again, this doesn’t mean you need one pair of each kind of shoe.
Ask yourself: is my training dynamic, or is it steady and heavy? In other words, what kind of mobility do you expect during your training?
If you’re going to be moving around in dynamic motions with a barbell on your shoulders, you’ll want a flexible shoe. Total stiffness will do you no good during mixed training that requires a lot of mobility.
That being said, there are heavy training shoes that are flexible. You don’t have to limit yourself to the benefits and appliances of just one type of shoe. There are special shoes for specific activities, but those are meant for people who dedicate precisely to those specific practices. Keep in mind we always target our advice towards the most optimal performance. This is why we may recommend such a large variety of shoe styles.
We’re not saying there’s no other possible approach to deadlifting than deadlifting shoes. If you want a shoe that is flexible when moving around, but stable when lifting, that’s just fine. As long as they don’t bend around when you’re lifting heavy, they do the trick. Of course, specific shoes for each activity would deliver better results, but at the cost of convenience and expenses.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Do weightlifting shoes really help or make a difference?
A: If you’re wearing a pair of weight lifters that are suitable for your exercise, you’ll find yourself lifting more weight, more comfortably and more efficiently.
Q: What do weightlifting shoes do to assist in lifting?
A: Their effects go from lumbar spine stability to enhanced range of motion, and considerably better balance. This all adds up to a better performance in general, not to mention reduced heel/foot pain.
Q: Can I wear these shoes outside of weightlifting?
A: Weightlifter shoes can get to be very specific. The more lifting-oriented they are, the more efficiently they perform in the weight room. Though, this also means they have little use outside the weights room.
Q: How should weightlifting shoes fit?
A: They should always keep a tight, yet comfortable wear. A lifting shoe is not something you want loose sliding back and forth during strength training.
Q: What kind of exercises can I perform with them?
A: Well, it all comes down to the type of shoe you choose. But, unless they’re for a specific exercise, they should endure about any exercise you can come up with in a gym. Except running, that is.
Q: Where can I buy proper weightlifting shoes?
A: Retail stores have the advantage of trying the shoes before purchasing. However, Amazon offers a much greater variety, and their return policies make online shopping much more comfortable.
Q: How long do these shoes typically last?
A: Unless you use them for something you’re not supposed to, these shoes should comfortably endure over a year.
Q: Do or can raised heels lead to damage in your knees?
A: No. We can guarantee you any sort of knee uncomfortability is unrelated to a 3cm max. raised heel. If there’s one present, you might want to check for previous injuries or conditions.
Q: What kind of weightlifting shoes should I buy or look for?
A: Depending on the exercises you’ll perform, buy a shoe that fits your routine. You can rely on our recommended criteria, and consult the store’s shoe expert for further advice.
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