If you’re a regular gym-goer, you’ve probably seen people using lifting shoes for moves like heavy squats and wondered to yourself ‘are lifting shoes worth it and are they really worth the investment?’
In this article, we’ll take a look at what lifting shoes are good for, how they work, and whether or not you should consider get yourself a pair.
Are Weightlifting Shoes Good for Deadlifts?
The question of should you deadlift in weightlifting shoes s a common one. The answer is no you actually don’t need weightlifting shoes for deadlifts.
You may see people at the gym deadifting in weightlifting shoes that have raised heels, but that doesnt mean it’s the right thing to do.
Many weightlifting shoes have a raised heel, and this isnt optimal for the deadlift movement. If your weightlifting shoe has a high heel, it can be hard to get into the proper position for starting the lift. You want your feet to be as flat and planted to the ground as possible all the way through the deadlift move.
You need a flat, stiff soled shoe for deadlifts, no compressing foam, no air bubbles, just flat and simple.
Some people deadlift in socks or barefoot and this is OK, but barefoot or socks isn’t always the best idea, socks could be slippery and barefoot your foot isn’t protected. Many years ago I knocked my foot on a piece of gym furniture between sets when I was deadlifting in socks, if I had some shoes on it wouldn’t have bled or hurt anywhere near as much, so be extra careful or just wear a pair of Chucks.
I’ve always recommended Chucks for deadlifts because they’re light, cheap and they last very long. I’ve been using them myself for years.
TLDR: You dont need weightlifting shoes for deadlifts, you need a shoe with a flat sole.
Are Weightlifting Shoes Good for Squats?
Weightlifting shoes make squats a lot more comfortable and improve your feeling of stability. In my personal experience I can say, I squatted in a range of cross-trainers and Chucks for about 10 years, It’s not until 2020 I bought a pair of weightlifting shoes out of curiosity and I actually wish I had done so sooner. (Video here)
My main takeaway from using weightlifting shoes was how sturdy they felt. Yes, they were a bit heavy and clunky but that sturdiness made my feet and whole body feel a lot more stable in the squat. My squat movements felt smoother and I was also able to squat more weight comfortably because of the way these shoes made me feel.
The raised heel on weightlifting shoes shifts the emphasis from your hips to your legs, mainly your quad muscles. But dont worry, your hips are still getting worked, the weightlifting shoes just make the movement more optimal.
Some people put small plates under their heels when they squat and this is a generally accepted way of raising your heels if you don’t have weightlifting shoes, so try this method out before you invest in a pair of shoes and see if it works for you.
There are many different styles of weightlighting shoes, some with hard, heavy and low soles giving you a different feeling, some with a higher top can also give you more ankle stabilty and some with a slightly more raised heel.
I would recommend trying a pair out for yourself to see if you like the feeling..
TLDR: Weightlifting shoes in my experience do make squats feel sturdier and I am actually able to squat more weight as a result of this. Try putting a couple of small plates under your heels next time you squat and see if you like the difference.
What Shoes Are Bad for Weightlifting?
There are a certain shoes you should avoid when lifting weights, and these are soft bouncy shoes with a lot of compression and foam. Shoes that aren’t as stable, like running shoes, basketball shoes, and tennis shoes have a lot of compression and can give you an unstable feeling when lifting weights. These types of shoes can also have air bubbles in them, which can be bad for stability also.
An example of a bad shoe for weightlifting would be the Nike Air Max 97 running shoe, its got air bubbles and lots of compression foam making it not good for high reps or heavy sets.
Now, dont worry if you already own this type of shoe because you can still use them to workout with lighter weights, but I wouldnt recommend using them for heavier squats. The stability just isnt there.
TLDR: Weightlifting shoes should have a flat sole with minimal compression and no air bubbles. Running shoes, basketball shoes, and tennis shoes have a lot of compression and give you an unstable feeling when lifting weights. These types of shoes are not best for weightlifting.
Are Weightlifting Shoes Good for Crossfit?
I have seen a lot of people wearing weightlifting shoes when performing Crossfit routines, but these are the wrong type. In my opinion you dont need weightlifting shoes for crossfit.
What I mean by that is that the majority of movements in crossfit require a lot of flexibility and mobility which you dont get from weightlifting shoes. The reason you would want to use weightlifting shoes is that they are better for squats, but that doesnt really matter because the majority of crossfit movements do not involve squatting.
The majority of crossfit movements are more dynamic, involving jumps, running and olympic lifts. For these types of exercises you need a flexible shoe that can bend with you which weightlifting shoes cant do.
A good all rounder and common choice for Crossfitters is the Metcon, which I have reviewed here.
TLDR: Weightlifting shoes are not good for Crossfit because they dont provide the flexibility and mobility needed for a lot of Crossfit movements. Consider a shoe with compression and padding instead.