Weightlifting shoes defined
Best weightlifting shoes - November 2018
Weightlifting is a form of physical activity that involves hoisting a barbell at a certain height while maintaining a proper form. The goal of this activity is to develop the musculature and improve a person’s overall fitness. For most people, weight training is done wearing whatever footwear is at their disposal, be it their regular running shoes or gym footgear and sometimes even their casual sneakers. For the most part, these pairs would suffice for beginners or those who are still on the fence about the activity. However, if you are lifting weights on a regular basis, these trainers are designed to help you reach your best performance.
Weightlifting shoes are quite easy to spot because of their pronounced heel. This elevation at the back of the foot may seem like a weird addition to a gym trainer but it aims to reduce the tension on the Achilles tendon during squats. Because of the height, the ankle has to dorsiflex less which in turn allows the knee to achieve greater flexion avoiding injuries related to improper form while lifting heavy weights.
Weightlifting shoes vs other shoes
As mentioned above, weightlifting novices are more inclined to wear shoes that they already own. It can be their everyday sneakers, running shoes, regular workout shoes, or their CrossFit shoes. For some, using these trainers isn’t a problem, but when they start to increase their load, they often notice that something is off.
Most shoes are created to be flexible at the forefoot. This construction helps during the heel-to-toe transition when they run or do plyometrics — any movement that needs flexibility at the front of the foot. The more you can bend your feet naturally, the more comfortable you feel, the longer you can go. However, flexibility is not always a good thing, especially when it comes to weight training. When you are lifting 150 pounds over your head, you don’t want to feel like you are tipping forward or losing your balance. You want to feel firmly planted to the ground to be able to maintain your form and the weight at the proper height. A sudden shift in movement could have dire consequences.
Shoes for weightlifting are often made quite rigid. Classic weightlifting shoes are equipped with a leather upper which delivers unrelenting foothold and a wooden heel that doesn’t easily compress as foam cushioning does. These trainers are also meant to be heavier than regular shoes, which is something not every athlete is fond of. These days, weight training enthusiasts want something that feels lighter on the feet, offers a bit of flexibility in the forefoot, has a sturdy heel, and is appealing to look at.
But do you really need a pair of dedicated weightlifting shoes? According to a study conducted by RunRepeat in collaboration with experts, wearing the proper weightlifting footwear does have a palpable effect on a person’s performance. The author of the study, Nicholas Rizzo, concludes that running shoes are the worst types of trainers to wear while training because it is very flexible and the midsole compresses under the heavy weight which means that it does not deliver the needed support. Weightlifting practitioners are better off using their gym shoes, going barefoot or using minimalist training shoes if they do not wish to spend money on weightlifting shoes.
Bear in mind though that certain lifts are done easier or better when wearing weightlifting shoes; then there are some moves performed well when the foot is relatively perpendicular to the ground. Weightlifting shoes are suited for all variations of squats, snatches, cleans, jerks, push presses, to name a few. But then for deadlifts and sumo stances, a flat sole unit or minimalist type of footwear is preferred. Still, it all boils down to preference. Some feel more comfortable lifting weights in their Chucks, others prefer CrossFit shoes, others go for Vibrams, and then there are those who don’t mind bringing a pair of weightlifting shoes to the gym aside from their regular gym shoes.
Weightlifting vs CrossFit
CrossFit is a fitness regimen that involves a wide range of physically demanding activities done in a short period called Workout of the Day or WODs. A WOD can be comprised of various exercises including rope climbing, running, weightlifting, squatting, box jumping, to name a few. But there are days when the focus is just on lifting heavy.
For some people, wearing a pair of CrossFit shoes is enough to meet the demands of all WODS, but there are other athletes that tend to change to Olympic weightlifting shoes for the weight training segment.
CrossFit shoes have a low-profile sole construction which is made of a dense platform that has some flexibility at the forefoot for plyometrics, squats, and runs. This type of cushioning unit also absorbs impact and helps to keep the foot steady because it is low to the ground and it doesn’t compress as much as regular foam.
Though CrossFit shoes may seem like an ideal shoe for weightlifting, the lack of an elevated heel can make some movements more tricky. The high heel helps users squat lower which is needed to keep the center of gravity low and maintain balance in some weightlifting moves like the snatch. Also, when a heavy weight is in front of you, such as in front squats, the elevated heel functions like a counterbalance that helps to maintain a neutral center of gravity so the heavy load won’t tip you over.
Weightlifting shoes vs squat shoes
Searching on the internet, you might have come across the term ‘squat shoes’ which may have resulted in some confusion. What on earth are squat shoes? Are they different from weightlifting shoes? Not really. Squat shoes is another term used by lifters to refer to weightlifting shoes. The word “squat” emphasizes the benefits of wearing a pair when it comes to squatting or doing lifts that involve bending at the knee and maintaining proper form. The heel gives people more ankle mobility so they can dip low without losing balance.
Things to consider in your future weightlifting shoes
Most cross-training shoes have a minimal heel height to provide close-to-the-ground experience for weightlifting. It is a different story with weightlifting shoes. They have an unusually elevated heel to enhance the wearer’s ability to maintain proper lifting form throughout a squat. The high heel allows the wearer to have a full range of ankle mobility that promotes an improved knee flexion which results in a deeper squat.
There are several heel heights available for weightlifting shoes, ranging from 15 mm (0.6 inches) to 25 mm (1 inch). The standard heel height is 19 mm (0.75 inches).
The appropriate heel height varies from person to person. It is influenced by an array of factors such as one’s squat style as well as the leg and torso length measurements.
- Leg length. The size of the leg plays a considerable role in your weightlifting performance, so it is of utmost importance to determine the length of your femur and shin and use that measurement as the basis for the heel height of your shoe. Long-legged individuals have difficulty going deep with their squats while maintaining an upright torso, so they need a 19-mm heel or higher to make it easier. At the same time, people with short legs can go with a lower platform height.
- Torso length. The longer the person’s torso is, the harder it is to maintain a proper form during lifts. People with long bodies and legs are more likely to tilt forward during lifts. To prevent this from happening, they should wear a higher heeled shoe. Those with short torsos and legs have the best of luck as they can work with their choice of heel height.
- Stance. Our squat style also determines the lifting shoe that most benefits us. Those who have narrow stances use their quadriceps more, so they’ll end up putting more effort on their knee and ankles. They are better off with a higher heeled shoe for optimal support. People with wide stances tend not to flex the knee and ankle too much because they can easily find equilibrium in their position or form. Lower-heeled shoes are agreeable for this group.
- Style. The placement of the weightlifting bar on your back also influences what type of shoe you should wear. High-bar squats require an upright torso to prevent leaning forward. A raised heel platform is needed to maintain posture through the full range of squatting motion. With low-bar squats, a lower heel would do well because leaning forward is not part of the action.
Due to the tremendous force exerted during weightlifting, it is essential for your weightlifting shoe to be durable so that it won’t break down or compress in the middle of a workout.
Weightlifting shoes have a sturdier construction than most training footwear. The purpose of this design is to meet the high demands associated with this activity. The upper is made to be stiff and snug as it works overtime to lock the foot down and prevent it from wobbling inside the foot chamber. The tough material also protects the foot against bumps and accidents in the weight room like when plates and bars are dropped which could inflict injuries. The heel is reinforced with hard plastic, leather, or wood so as not to compress or get crushed by the weight of the body and the heavy load of the barbell. It is for this reason that weightlifting shoes are usually expensive.
- When shopping for a weightlifting shoe, you should look out for these key features that guarantee its durability: a stiff and incompressible heel (made of thermoplastic polyurethane or wood), a secure lacing system, and a well-constructed upper.
- Despite the durable build and hefty price tag of weightlifting shoes, it is still vital that you take care of them like you would do with any of your apparel by keeping them dry and ventilated. Since they are specially made for weightlifting, use them strictly for their intended purpose. They are not for everyday high-intensity workouts, so don’t force them to be something they’re not. Don’t wear them outside of the gym environment. These shoes are also too bulky and stiff for prolonged use and long walks.
When it comes to the fit of weightlifting shoes, a snug yet secure wrap is a plus. It is supposed to have an agreeable fit to lock down your foot and prevent it from shifting inside the foot chamber. Therefore, a well-fitting shoe should be tight, but not too tight to cause discomfort.
- Over time, leather uppers stretch, so it is advisable to get a weightlifting shoe that adheres to your standard measurements regarding both size and width.
- Wearing too loose shoes can put you at risk of accidental shoe removals or heel slippage during heavy squatting, potentially leading to accidents or injuries.
- On the flip side, too tight shoes can cause various painful toe conditions such as hammertoes or crossover toes, ingrown toenails, bunions, and corns.
Aside from the presence of a traditional lacing system, some weightlifting shoes also come with a strap or two that serve as additional security and support.
- The standard weightlifting shoes have one strap that goes across the midfoot—particularly the instep. It constricts the upper unit to keep your foot secure and free from potential wobbling or sliding inside the shoe.
- If another strap is present, then it means that more tension would be given to the ball of the foot, securing it further. This design is handy for professional weightlifters.
Nothing is constant when it comes to sizing. There are a few important things to consider when looking for a pair of weightlifting shoes.
- Brands have different sizing standards from one another, so you can’t expect to have the same size across a spectrum of various shoe series.
- The style of a shoe also affects the sizing. So if it is made to have a narrower or snugger fit, you may have to go up a size than you usually do.
- No pair of feet is identical. One of them is bound to be bigger than the other. You would have to base your shoe size on the bigger foot.
Highly rated weightlifting shoes for men and women
This pair of weightlifting shoes features a synthetic leather upper which delivers a supportive structure, but the vamp is made of mesh to ensure that the foot chamber is adequately ventilated. A single hook-and-loop strap heightens the locked-down feel at the midfoot. As for the sole unit, the underside is protected by the Adiwear outsole which is constructed to be flat to keep the foot planted and steady. Providing the rear lift is a die-cut wedge. It has a height of 19 mm which is a standard elevation in weightlifting shoes.
If you’re looking for weightlifting shoes that offer more foothold, then the Reebok Legacy Lifter may just be what you need. It utilizes synthetic leather throughout the upper, but it forms an overlapping structure at the midfoot for enhanced lateral support when the laces are cinched and the straps are tightened. It features the Exoframe innovation at the heel. This element is made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which is a type of plastic that is lightweight and durable. It aims to keep the rearfoot steady during power moves. TPU makes up the heel of this weightlifting shoe. This material doesn’t give in when extreme pressure is applied, thereby maintaining a stable base. It has a stack height of 22 mm which may allow wearers to squat deeper without straining the Achilles tendon. The underside is protected by a layer of hard-wearing rubber and has been constructed to be flat for surefootedness.
This trainer is made for weightlifting and cross-training in mind because not only is it sturdy, it is also flexible. The upper is crafted of synthetic material with a mesh panel at the vamp for aeration of the interior. It uses the MONO-SOCK technology that delivers a seamless wrap for a comfortable in-shoe experience. It has a single medial strap that helps to tighten the midfoot hold. It features a TPU heel with a 19-mm height which is the typical elevation for weightlifting shoes. The outsole is made of the AHARPLUS compound that has been manufactured to be more hard-wearing than regular rubber. Its flat disposition provides a stable base to keep the foot grounded.
Frequently asked questions about weightlifting shoes
Why should I buy a pair of weightlifting shoes?
Weightlifting shoes are an expensive investment, but they’re worth considering if you are getting serious about Olympic weightlifting. When performing cleans, jerks, and snatches, it is crucial that your feet are planted firmly on the ground. It is the reason why many athletes prefer to lift in flat shoes like Converse All Star, minimalist training shoes, or even in their socks! However, weightlifting shoes are still better than other footwear as they have sturdy wooden or TPU platforms to provide a more stable lifting platform. Their durable rubber outsole also ensures a secure grip on various types of surfaces.
In addition, not everybody can comfortably squat down with their heels remaining glued to the floor without straining the Achilles tendons while doing so. This exercise gets even more complicated by the amount of weight added during the training session. That’s why weightlifting shoes come with an elevated heel. This construction allows wearers to squat deeper and achieve a proper athletic form with ease.
Instead of wearing proper weightlifting shoes, some people place weight plates underneath their heels to simulate the elevated height. Though this may seem like a cost-effective workaround, it would be a disaster waiting to happen as these plates don’t provide the stability that one requires during weightlifting. One false move and the heels could easily slip off the plate in the midst of lifting the barbell, which can result in severe harm or injuries.
What kind of weightlifting shoes do I need for CrossFit?
If you want to dabble in both weight training and high-intensity workouts but do not want to purchase two separate shoes, you could try using hybrid weightlifting shoes. Some examples include the Inov-8 Fastlift 335 or the Nike Romaleos 3. These shoes feature the same raised and reinforced heel that weightlifting shoes have for sturdy support while having a pliable upper and forefoot for increased flexibility. These hybrid weightlifting shoes are also designed to be more lightweight compared to traditional weightlifting shoes.
Why are weightlifting shoes so expensive?
As they aim to provide a wealth of benefits for athletes, weightlifting shoes utilize the materials of higher quality. These include leather, wood, and thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). These shoes also have a more reinforced structure due to the use of durable chassis.
For some, the price is a huge factor that will influence their choice of weightlifting shoes. If this is the case for you, then avoid going for the cheapest pair as they typically do not last long and you might need to buy another one to replace them after a short while.
If you are just establishing your foray into weightlifting and you are not that committed yet, you would be better off with a mid-priced pair of weightlifting shoes so that it wouldn’t be a waste of money if your interest wanes.
How do I take care of my weightlifting shoes?
By restricting usage of weightlifting shoes within the gym, upkeep will not be as troublesome as it would be if you were to use it outside. However, the upper unit of a traditional weightlifting shoe is typically made of leather, which requires proper care. Since leather has a tendency to contract and expand due to the changes in temperature, you should use a shoe tree to prevent weightlifting shoes from losing their form. Shoe trees are devices that are placed inside the shoe’s foot chamber when not in use. They mimic the foot shape so that the upper retains its shape and doesn’t develop creases. Shoe trees also wick moisture from the inside to prevent it from damaging the shoe’s interiors and accumulating odor-causing bacteria.
If shoe trees are not at hand, stuffing weightlifting shoes with newspapers also work. It prevents the upper from collapsing, thus maintaining its shape. A newspaper is also effective in soaking up moisture and odor. Although this is a useful trick, make sure to not overstuff weightlifting shoes as this could result in the deformation of the upper.
Can weightlifting shoes be customized?
Yes and no. If you are creative enough, you can personalize your shoes for weightlifting with the right type of paint. But keep in mind, these do-it-yourself projects don’t always have the best results. Some brands offer customization of their footwear, like Nike and Reebok, but at the moment, that option has been removed. If you want a unique pair of weightlifting shoes, you may want to regularly check these brands if they have brought back the customization option. Or just go the DIY route, if you’re brave enough. If painting is not your forte, the quickest, safest, and possibly cheapest way to update any pair is by changing the laces. Buy a pair with a color that pops or get one with an intricate design or pattern to switch up the look.
Where to buy weightlifting shoes?
Various brands, which include Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Inov-8, and Asics, offer weightlifting shoes to the public. Prices range from $140 to $200. Here at RunRepeat, we strive to give you the best deal for the pair of your desire. Online retailers mark prices down at no specific date or time, so instead of you scouring the internet for the best offers, we do that for you. By clicking or searching for a pair of trainers here on RunRepeat, you will be automatically presented with a list of retailers and their price offering. The cost of weightlifting shoes can be slashed by as much as $50.
I’m new to weightlifting, should I get one with the highest heel?
Choosing how high the heels of your weightlifting shoes should be depends on several factors: the stance, the length of the legs, the length of the torso, and the placement of the bar across the back.
- In most cases, tall people or those with long legs and long torsos tend to tilt their bodies forward when they squat because there is more movement in the knees and the ankles. Wearing shoes for weightlifting with a heel higher than 19 mm reduces the motion in the lower extremities thereby countering the shift in body alignment, maintaining a centered and balanced position.
- Those with short legs and long torsos can benefit from shoes with a medium heel height, while those with short legs and bodies do well with lower heels since there are fewer movements in their lower joints.
- As for the stance and the bar positioning, lifters with a narrow stance and high bar placement tend to flex their ankle and knee more to achieve a deeper squat, so they need weightlifting shoes with higher heels. Persons with a wide stance and low bar positioning have less movement in their lower joints. Thus a higher heeled weightlifting shoe is not required.
9 best weightlifting shoes
- Adidas AdiPower Weightlifting Shoes
- Reebok Legacy Lifter
- Adidas Powerlift 3.1
- Inov-8 Fastlift 335
- Adidas Crazy Power RK
- Reebok Lifter PR
- Adidas Leistung 16 II
- Nike Romaleos 3
- Inov-8 Fastlift 400 BOA
A score from 1 to 100 that summarizes opinions from users and experts. The average CoreScore is 78. More...