10 Best Weightlifting Shoes in 2021

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
10 Best Weightlifting Shoes in 2021

Also known as lifting shoes or squat shoes, weightlifting trainers come with a wide non-compressible platform, raised heel, and a strap to keep you stable under the heaviest loads.

Whether you are a competitive weightlifter or someone who does strength training, this footwear will keep you sure-footed. While they may all look similar at first glance, there are differences that make some of them better for beginners, advanced athletes, certain types of exercise.

We have tested over a dozen of lifting shoes to help you find the best option.

Our approach to choosing the best lifting shoes

Every weightlifting shoe is assigned a CoreScore, which is a number from 1 to 100, which indicates the following:

  • actual wearers’ opinions about the model
  • the stance of expert reviewers who test and assess every shoe from top to bottom

Our ratings are updated on a regular basis, taking into account the freshest releases and reviews.

Best overall

Hands down, the Adidas Adipower 2 eats up the competition among weightlifting shoes! It’s secure, stable, and plenty durable, if it has to come down to a pair of trainers, this is the shoe we’re picking. 

The Adipower just packs all the support our feet could ever ask for. 

It has a wide base that keeps our weight grounded during lifts. And even more, it’s a certified solid outsole that really keeps our feet well-supported. 

During squats, we have nothing but praises for the shoe’s elevated heel design! It keeps mobility alive, allowing us to reach even deeper squats. 

Up front, this weightlifting trainer also has some flex, allowing for better ground feedback. 

And it only gets better! The upper is not only foot-conforming (to add support), it also has a spacious room in the forefoot, giving our toes ample space to splay. 

If you’re thinking this shoe is only reserved for weightlifting, you might want to change your mind. The Adidas Adipower 2 is not only a serious performer in lifts, it’s also got what it takes to do some of your agile workouts! 

By far, it’s the most responsive training shoes on our roster!

See our full review and facts

Choosing between the Romaleos 4 and the Adipower 2 has been the real challenge, and not the lifting tests we’ve put them through. The Nike Romaleos, like the Adipower, is just a darn solid weightlifting shoe! 

Right off the bat, there’s nothing like it in the stability arena! It’s got a broad heel that keeps us anchored to the ground during squats and lifts. Even more, it’s one hell of a sturdy sole too. 

The rigidity is very balanced, it keeps our feet steady and supported. But it’s not in a way that punishes the feet. It has enough give for a comfortable sensation. So much so, we’d put it on any day for our gym sessions! 

And oh my gosh, what a grip! This shoe just latches into all types of gym floors, boosting stability even more. 

If you want surefooted strides, especially during lateral movements, you won’t go wrong with this shoe. 

And what’s great about it is it breathes. As in, NO sweaty feet at all! 

It’s a stunner too! Seriously, it’s hard not to like the Nike Romaleos 4. If there’s one thing that has kept it from becoming our top pick, it’s the heel slips we’ve experienced in it. 

That aside, it’s a weightlifting trainer that’s going to wow you!

See our full review and facts

Best for squats

When it comes to weightlifting essentials, the Reebok Legacy Lifter II has all the goods laid out on the table. It’s plenty stable and sure has improved squats and lifts!

The shoe is a superstar when it comes to heel support! It’s very solid and it keeps the feet steady, there’s ZERO rolling over sensation. 

And what’s really taken us by surprise is its comfort. To be honest, we weren’t expecting much from it in this aspect (because duh, it’s a lifting shoe) but boy did it amaze us! 

Yes, it’s rigid, but it also has a great blend of softness, providing some cushion to the feet. 

Its grip? FANTASTIC! Whatever surface we’re on, this shoe just bites. No feeling of unsteady strides at all! 

And even better, it’s a champ in sturdiness! We love to really hammer our shoes, and this one is not an exception. And some workouts later, here we are, bowing down to the king. No cap, it’s still as fresh as the day we first put it on! 

For this, kudos to you, Reebok! 

Sealing the deal is the Legacy Lifter II’s incredibly good looks. It’s such a babe, elevating your gym style with it is such an easy feat. We’re telling you, it’s a natural head-turner. 

The catch? It just runs into a few issues with heel slips. But ultimately, it’s an excellent shoe that’s going to make your lifts a breeze!

See our full review and facts

Best value

It’s got us performing our best squats to date and it sure has proved its prowess in stabilizing us during lifts. Seriously, it can’t get better than the Adidas Power Perfect 3! 

Whether it’s weightlifting or powerlifting, this shoe is a rockstar! It’s got solid support from the bottom up. 

The heel is very solid and sturdy, it keeps us locked in position during lifts. And the upper is only there to take stability up a notch. It’s form-fitting, and it hugs the foot snugly, there’s really no room for unsteady footing or wobbling. 

Add in the medial straps on the upper, the lockdown is just a 10/10! 

And we just have to give a hats off to this trainer’s elevated heel design. It boosts ankle mobility, encouraging us to reach even deeper squats in an upright position! 

The grip is a standout, of course. It just sticks into the gym floor, making every step surefooted and steady! 

To top it all off, this weightlifting shoe is priced moderately. And if you’re looking for a bang for the buck trainer, you won’t go wrong with the Adidas Power Perfect 3!

And hey, it’s got the looks too!

See our full review and facts

Best for beginners

Having tried out past iterations of the Adidas Powerlift, easily, the fourth version reigns supreme! It’s a beast in weightlifting, and it’s just as great for seasoned athletes as it is for beginners. 

If you’re still new to the scene, this shoe has got you covered! And even better, it’s not going to break the bank. 

It might skimp on price, but it sure packs a lot when it comes to performance! 

And because it’s an affordable trainer, we really haven’t set our expectations high, but it sure is a box full of surprises. 

This shoe gives us the best lifting form and weight load, thanks to its very solid and practically incompressible heel. It’s an ace in this department!

Although it’s got more than enough stiffness to stabilize the feet, it still has some give for comfort. Now that’s something you don’t always get from weightlifting trainers.  

And if you think, support stops there, well, it just gets better and better! In this shoe, we have ZERO issues with slippage. Its upper is an A+, it wraps around the feet so well, there’s NOT a single wobble. 

The Adidas Powerlift 4 is also a tank! As in, it can take a beating, and will come out unscathed. It’s that solid.

See our full review and facts

If you’re looking for a weightlifting shoe that’s going to give you value for money, we just can’t recommend the Reebok Lifter PR II enough. 

It’s moderately priced at $100, but it’s anything but moderate when it comes to its functions! 

What makes it a standout is that unlike other lifting shoes, it doesn’t tax the feet. It has a balanced cushion, meaning it’s neither too tough nor too soft. 

How does this translate on the playtest? Well, it gives the feet enough cushion for long-time wear, and it’s PLENTY stable, preventing slips. And we highly appreciate this especially during squats and lifts! 

It has improved our form, and it’s given us laser-cut focus on our lifts. 

Thanks to its elevated heel design, ankle mobility has been nothing but FLAWLESS! Not only does it keep us in an upright position, it also helps us reach further down our squats. 

And boy does this shoe keep our feet planted on the ground! It’s grippy and it has a wide base. Simply, the best of both worlds! 

If there’s one caveat that we just can’t write off, it’s the shoe’s lack of durability. It could’ve been easily our top pick, but this setback is the reason why it’s only second best.

See our full review and facts

Why get a weightlifting shoe

Many gym-goers lift weights using whatever footwear is at their disposal, be it their regular running shoes or even casual sneakers.

These pairs could suffice for very light weights but if you are lifting moderate to heavy loads on a regular basis, there are several solid reasons for considering specialized footwear.

The benefits of using weightlifting shoes

Secure foothold

  • Extra-sturdy upper materials keep the foot firmly in place.
  • Wide Velcro straps or BOA dials are added to adjust the fit and hold it at all times. 
  • A firm heel counter at the back stabilizes the rearfoot area.
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Raised heel

  • Helps the wearer squat deeper in an upright position without stressing the ankle.
  • Ranges from 15 mm (0.6 inch) to 22 mm (1 inch)

Wide stiff platform

  • The wider base provides a surefooted experience during lifts.
  • The sole unit is made of dense, non-compressible materials.
  • The platform is reinforced by a slip-resistant rubber outsole.

If these benefits are not convincing enough, see why this type of footwear is recommended by the International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) or watch a weightlifting session of the Olympic Games. 

Lifting shoes vs. cross-training shoes

But what if you are not aiming for the professional tournaments? You just want to incorporate some lifting into your regular gym session.

In this case, a pair of cross-trainers or CrossFit shoes may indeed be a better option. But let’s consider the pros and cons of each type:

Lifter

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Cross-trainer

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Raised heel (15 - 22 mm)

+ gives an advantage for the following cases:

  • all squats variations (especially if you can’t plant the heel when you squat)
  • snatches
  • cleans
  • jerks
  • push press
  • military press

- will not let you do anything else at the gym; masks problems with ankle flexibility

Flat sole (0 - 6 mm)

+ offers the following benefits:

  • can be used for all gym exercises
  • help to improve ankle mobility
  • okay for light to moderate weight training
  • recommended for deadlifts

- will not help you plant the heel in the squat; can feel unstable for Olympic weightlifting

Non-compressible

+ no wobbling occurs; no power is lost as you go up from the squat

- has no flex or cushioning for any other activity

Compressible

+ gives cushioning and flexibility needed for agile exercises

- the squish will absorb part of the energy you exert when squatting and lifting

Rigid

+ tight casing made of leather and extra straps clasps the foot for stability

- little to no flex makes it uncomfortable to even walk in the shoe; little breathability

Flexible

+ synthetic upper readily flexes in the forefoot to accommodate burpees, planks, jumps, etc.; offers more breathability

- flexibility leads to lack of stability when lifting

Bottom line: If squats, cleans and jerks are the primary focus of your gym routine and you want maximum stability from your shoes, choose lifters. On the other hand, if you want to be more versatile, do all-around workouts, and don’t want to change footwear in the midst of a training session, go for the flat-soled CrossFit shoes.

Middle ground: A solid alternative was introduced by Nike in their flagship Metcon line. Starting from the 5th iteration and up, you get a pair of removable Hyperlift inserts along with the shoes. These firm wedges can be placed underneath the insole in the heel area to increase the heel height by 8 mm for men and by 6 mm in the women’s version. Adding firmness and heel elevation, these inserts make the Metcon come a step closer to an actual lifting shoe. 

If you are also curious about how running shoes, Chuck Taylors, and being barefoot affects your weightlifting performance, see our science-backed study on lifting shoes.

Choosing the right weightlifting shoe for you

The primary parameter to consider in lifting shoes is the heel height.

Weightlifting shoes are available in several heel heights, ranging from 15 mm (0.6 inches) to 22 mm (1 inch).

The tendency for beginners is to select the lower height, while the more professional athletes choose the highest heel height.

Lower range

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Adidas Powerlift

15 mm (0.6 inch)

Inov-8 Fastlift

16.5 mm (0.65 inch)

Best for:

  • beginner and seasoned athletes
  • powerlifting-based training

Middle range

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Adidas Power Perfect

19 mm (0.7 inch)

Adidas Adipower

20 mm (0.8 inch)

Nike Romaleos

20 mm (0.8 inch)

Best for:

  • intermediate to advanced athletes
  • a mix of powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting

Upper range

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Reebok Legacy Lifters

22 mm (0.9 inch)

Best for:

  • advanced athletes
  • Olympic weightlifting

Weightlifting shoes help you achieve the best results in what they are intended for - weightlifting.

This footwear is not meant as all-around gym footwear. That’s why it is still crucial to work on the mobility, flexibility, and strength of your feet and ankles outside of your lifting sessions. Keep your training routine versatile to succeed in sports and stay healthy.

Author
Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo

Nick combines 10+ years of experience in the health and fitness industry and a background in the sciences in his role as the Fitness Research Director. During his competitive powerlifting years his PRs have him sitting in the top 2% of bench presses (395 lbs), top 3% of squats (485 lbs) and top 6% of deadlifts (515 lbs) for his weight and age. His work has been featured on Bodybuilding.com, LiveStrong, Healthline, WebMD, WashingtonPost, and many more. Along the way, collaborating with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.