Lifting Shoes

This article will cover what shoes you should wear for lifting weights. I’ll start off by saying that it depends on the type of lifting you’re doing.


Cushioned Sneakers: Yes or No?

You never want to wear a shoe with a cushioned sole when lifting weights. So most sneakers are out. Nike Shox and also Nike Free are a great example of the shoes you don’t want to be wearing. While they may be comfortable shoes to wear when you’re walking your dog or something, they have too much cushioning for when you’re lifting weights. When a shoe has some ‘give’ to it like these cushioned sneakers, it doesn’t give you good stability throughout the entire movement. That can be quite dangerous, when you’re lifting heavy weights. Conclusion: Don’t wear cushioned sneakers when you’re in the gym lifting weights.


Olympic Weightlifting Shoes

For high bar squats done to full depth (a.k.a. Olympic style squats), front squats and the Olympic lifts, your best bet are Olympic weightlifting shoes. They have a very solid sole with a raised heel. This gives you a great base of support and the raised heel allows you to hit depth more easily, especially if your ankle flexibility isn’t amazing. If you’re serious about lifting weights, you should probably own a pair of Oly shoes. The price of the specific Olympic weightlifting shoes will depend on personal preference, how serious you are about lifting, and what you can (or want to) afford.

Note: Some people attempt to achieve the heel lift by putting weight plates or a board under their heels while they squat. This may work to reduce the demands on ankle flexiblity in order to squat to full depth, however stepping on weight plates with a heavy weight on your back may be tricky and even somewhat dangerous. The foot position also won’t be as stable as it is in a pair of weightlifting shoes. It might also negatively affect the weight distribution throughout your feet. I would strongly suggest buying some weightlifting shoes instead.


Nike Romaleos 2 (Price: $189)

If you’re a serious lifter with fairly wide feet, these are a great option. The price tag of $189 doesn’t make them feasible for everyone, but if you can drop that on a pair of Oly lifting shoes, the Nike Romaleos 2 are definitely a fantastic option. The heel lift is standard at 3/4″. These are actually the shoes Jonnie Candito wears and recommends.

You can pick up a pair at Rogue:





Adidas Adipower (Price: $199)

If your feet are a little more narrow and you have the cash to spend on some Oly shoes, these are for you. Another awesome pair of Olympic weightlifting shoes. The heel lift is 3/4″ on these as well.

Again, you can get a pair at Rogue Fitness:



Rogue Weightlifting Shoes (Price: $119)

These come with either a 1/2″ or 3/4″ heel lift and are a cheaper alternative to the Nike Romaleos 2 and Adidas Adipower shoes. I personally own a pair of Rogue Oly shoes and they have lasted me for a couple years now, so I can definitely recommend them. I use them for squats mostly, because I’m not an Oly lifter myself.

You can get a pair of these at Rogue too. Obviously… they’re Rogue shoes.





Adidas PowerLift Trainer (Price: $80-90)

I wouldn’t recommend these. They look nice and have a raised heel, but the sole does have some ‘give’. You can probably get a better pair of Oly shoes under $100, while they may not look as great. The heel is lower on them at 0.6″ than on most other Oly shoes and it compresses significantly once total load passes 400lbs. So if you weigh 200lbs, the sole will noticably compress once you’re lifting 200lbs+. The upside is that they’re pretty lightweight.



The ones linked below are the Adidas PowerLift 2.0, which still have the EVA sole with a 0.6″ heel that compresses under heavy loads.



Adidas Power Perfect 2 (Price: $150)

These look a lot like the Adidas PowerLift Trainer shoes, but the difference is that the sole is 0.75″ (more common with weightlifting shoes) instead of 0.6″ and it’s also more sturdy. The guys at WL Shoes tested them with a total load of 600lbs and didn’t notice any ‘give’, so they’re a fairly safe bet for most Oly lifters and also powerlifters. The heel might compress at loads some more advanced powerlifters are moving… that can’t be ruled out until it’s tested. They’re still a lightweight shoe and they only come in one color configuration (which could be viewed as a downside).


Personally, I wouldn’t buy them. I’d rather spend the extra $40-50 at that point and get the Nike Romaleo 2 or Adidas Adipower and have a great pair of Oly shoes. They are still very nice weightlifting shoes though.


VS Athletics Weightlifting Shoes (Price: $94.99)

The following shoes from VS Athletics have excellent reviews. At roughly $95, they’re a nice alternative to the shoes above.



Warrior Wei-Rui (Price: $69)

At around $70, this is a great option for a lot of people. These shoes are solid with a 3/4″ heel. Supposedly they’re fairly heavy, but that doesn’t really kill them off as an option with the price factored in.




Suitable Shoes for the Other Lifts

When you’re not doing high bar back squat, front squat or the Oly movements, most people prefer a flat-soled shoe with as little cushioning as possible. Some people deadlift in Oly shoes. Figure out what you want to deadlift with.

It must also be said that a lot of powerlifters prefer a flat-soled shoe for squatting. They tend to use wide stance low bar squat technique in competition and a flat shoe is usually more beneficial for this.

Below are some decent options for flat-soled shoes.


Converse All Star Chuck Taylors (Price: $25-90)

I wear these for everything except squats as mentioned. They come as low and hi tops. I prefer the low tops for ankle freedom, but either option is fine. They’re cheap and effective. If you low bar squat and don’t Oly lift or front squat, you can probably wear them for everything you do in the gym.




You can find more Converse Chuck Taylor All Star shoes here.


Crossfit Shoes

I really don’t know enough about Crossfit to give you solid advice on this. I would wear Oly shoes for the squatting and Olympic weightlifting Crossfitters do, but when that isn’t an option maybe a Crossfit-specific pair of shoes would benefit you. I do see a lot of Crossfitters simply wearing Chuck Taylors as well though. Below are some Crossfitter shoes.


Reebok Crossfit Nano 2.0 (Price: $110-120)

These have awesome reviews on Amazon.



Reebok Crossfit Nano 3.0 (Price: $120)

Another great shoe from Reebok. Just not as many reviews about them as the 2.0 yet obviously.



Reebok Crossfit Lifter (Price: $149)

These have a 3/4″ heel lift like Oly shoes.



Barefoot Lifting

This is a personal choice you have to make for yourself based on your training and your feet. Elliott Hulse covers it pretty well in the following video.

I prefer wearing shoes.



Whatever is comfortable to you. I like sneaker socks for the most part. If you have a problem with tearing open your shins when you deadlift, consider wearing some high socks to prevent that. I prefer this method over wearing pants because of the sweat factor and because socks are tighter on the leg than pants (unless you’re wearing leggings), but it’s simply a personal choice. I’ll link some badass deadlift socks below.









As always, this is all just my opinion on the matter. Make your own educated decisions.