5 Best Weightlifting Shoes in 2023

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
5 Best Weightlifting Shoes in 2023
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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, and certain types of exercise.

Since we don't want you to get trounced by the countless factors to consider, we get to the bottom of them all for you! We have tested over 10 lifting shoes to help you find the best option.

Best weightlifting shoes overall

Nike Romaleos 4

What makes it the best?

The Romaleos 4 was arguably the firmest that we’ve tried, so underfoot wobbliness easily became a thing of the past. This shoe has not one but two straps that kept our feet securely mounted on the footbed even as they splayed with the weight that we were lifting. Finally, this shoe’s elevation is as lifting-friendly as advertised. Given all these amazing benefits, we are left with no other choice but to consider the Nike Romaleos 4 as the best shoe for weightlifting.

After bringing it to the lab, we were able to confirm the underfoot firmness that we experienced. Compared to the average (75.0), this shoe has a really high HA durometer score of 97.0. That’s a staggering 29% more hardness! And this platform surely kept us quite stable even as our cleans and jerks become a little more aggressive.

We also enjoyed the two-strap design so much, especially that these straps face the opposite directions. Wearing this shoe just felt like our feet were being bear hugged, making them stay firmly still. 

The Nike Romaleos 4 was advertised to have a drop of 19.05 mm. We were glad when the caliper showed that the marketing spiel is more or less accurate. The actual drop is 20.5 mm, which was a big help in maintaining a good upright posture during lifts.

We are just not happy with the fact that the upper material is not the most durable. We subjected the toebox to 12 seconds of drilling during our Dremel test, resulting in an unfortunate hole.


  • Phenomenal stability
  • Sturdy platform and sole
  • Better lockdown with two straps
  • Comfortable for a lifting shoe
  • True to size
  • Efficient traction
  • Appealing looks


  • Upper lacks durability
  • Not for narrow ankles
  • Not breathable
Full review of Nike Romaleos 4

Best weightlifting shoes for advanced athletes

What makes it the best?

Professional lifters should not hesitate when it comes to the Reebok Legacy Lifter II because this shoe is simply the best for them. We were so impressed with its performance that we now consider this shoe the epitome of stability. Its structure helped with lockdown and its midsole got rid of any wobbliness. It also has a tall heel-to-toe drop that’s most suitable for seasoned athletes. Durability was also big in this one, and it truly looked and felt sturdy.

The heel counter was so firm on the get go, and it put up quite a resistance during our manual squeezes in the lab. It’s a perfect 5 as far as stiffness goes. The midsole is also a noteworthy stability feature. Our HA durometer measured its softness to be 95.6, far higher (therefore harder) than the 75.0 average. There’s just no space for any wobbles here.

Our caliper revealed that the drop of the Legacy Lifter II is 20.9 mm. Based on experience and data, a drop as high as this suits seasoned athletes the best. 

The upper was so resistant to abrasion that even our high-pressure Dremel test didn’t come through. Twelve seconds of drilling only left what our naked eyes could interpret as an accidental scuff. There’s not a lot of shoes as sturdy as this one!

Those who want breathability should look somewhere else, though. We viewed the upper perforations through our microscope, and sadly they were too microscopic even for the microscope! No wonder the smoke during our smoke test just couldn’t get through the upper.


  • Unmatched stability
  • Sturdy incompressible platform
  • Elevated heel is perfect for squats
  • Incredibly supportive upper
  • Fantastic durability
  • Reliable grip
  • Aesthetically designed


  • Not breathable
  • Limited Velcro attachment
Full review of Reebok Legacy Lifter II

Best value weightlifting shoes

What makes it the best?

The Adidas Powerlift 5 offered so much for its price, and it was still cheaper than the £150 average for weightlifting shoes at £130 a pair! It felt so light, quite supportive at the heel, and offered one of the thickest outsoles ever.

Compared to the average (18.7 oz or 531g), the Adidas Powerlift 5 is 3.7 oz or 105g lighter. This is a huge deal, especially for novice lifters who are just getting used to wearing specialized shoes like this one.

The heel counter is truly dependable. We felt its secure clutch the moment we put it on. After giving it a good squeeze in the lab, we had no other choice but to give it a perfect 5 for its amazing stiffness.

Using a caliper, we learned that the outsole is actually 5.0 mm thick, making it one of the thickest weightlifting outsoles we’ve ever seen (average is only 3.9 mm). Given that the outsole is generally as durable as others, its thickness is a guarantee for it to last longer simply because there is a lot more material to ‘burn.’ 

It’s just too regrettable that the toebox isn’t as spacious. At its widest part, the caliper measured it to be only 95.2 mm when the average is 98.9 mm, or a difference of 3.7 mm! That’s huge!


  • Stable base for moderate lifting
  • Good for accessory exercises
  • Solid bite on gym floors
  • Secure foothold
  • Supportive Velcro strap
  • Reasonably priced
  • Contains sustainable materials


  • Lacks breathability
  • Upper is not very durable
  • Tongue shifts
Full review of Adidas Powerlift 5

Best weightlifting shoes for beginners

Nike Savaleos

What makes it the best?

We are happy that the Savaleos from Nike is more than just a lifter. Aside from the usual outstanding containment that we reasonably expect from lifting shoes, this Nike trainer also brings in an unusual but very much welcome lightness and breathability, making it the best trainer for beginers in our arsenal.

Upon wearing this lifter, we were already impressed by how stiff the heel counter and base felt. There was no chance that our feet would ever fall off the footbed. When we did our manual assessments in the lab, we got confirmation. Our twists, squeezes, and bends were no match for both the heel counter and the base, and the shoe got a 5 out of 5 for both counter stiffness and torsional rigidity. 

Weighing only 14.82 ounces or 420 grams, this trainer is indeed a lot lighter than the average which weighs 18.73 ounces or 531 grams. Because of the shoe’s lightness, we were able to easily perform exercises like box jumps and jumping ropes.

The upper also delivered a pleasant surprise. We felt a bit airy while wearing the Savaleos, and given that it is still a lifting shoe, this airiness was indeed a big deal. After going through our breathability test, this shoe got a 3 out of 5, making it better at expelling heat and letting in air than the average shoe, which got only a 2.

It’s just sad that the durability of the upper might not be able to keep up with us. Twelve seconds of Dremel drilling in the lab already resulted in considerable damage.


  • Superb stability for moderate lifting
  • Good for non-lifting exercises
  • Very lightweight for a lifter
  • Secure lockdown
  • Flexible forefoot
  • Excellent grip
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Reasonably priced


  • Not for heavy weightlifting
  • Not for wide feet
  • Upper lacks durability
Full review of Nike Savaleos

Best weightlifting shoes for deadlifts

Adidas The Total

What makes it the best?

In our lifting sessions, there is no doubt that Adidas The Total is a sturdy shoe that ensures safe and more efficient lifts. Yet among all the weightlifting shoes we've tried, we discovered its zero-raised heel and high level of ground feedback give the best support for deadlifts. We felt stable and coordinated to do the “king of lifts” with the proper form because of the vast platform and grippy outsole.

Our deadlifts feel effortless and smooth thanks to the low, firm, and leveled stack that makes us more sensitive to the surface. We gain more control to nail the technique and activate the right muscle groups to perform deadlifts efficiently. With a strap that holds our foot firmly, we remain planted to the ground for better balance.

Enhancing stability is the vast platform that allows our natural toe splay and the no-fail traction that keeps us centered. This is crucial in lifting with the correct form, avoiding slips that may cause back injuries. We're more confident to aim for longer training sessions and heavier weights.

Given the shoe’s wide platform, those of us with narrow feet did not achieve the snug fit and firm lockdown needed for safer lifting.


  • Great for strength training
  • Good traction
  • Quite stable ride
  • A lot of ground feel
  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Functionally spacious toebox
  • Accommodates wide feet
  • Fairly priced
  • Streamlined look


  • Has to be broken in
  • Not versatile enough for non-strength exercises
Full review of Adidas The Total

Comparison of the 5 best weightlifting shoes

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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 specialised 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 stabilises the rearfoot area.

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:





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


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

- has no flex or cushioning for any other activity


+ gives cushioning and flexibility needed for agile exercises

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


+ 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


+ 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


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


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


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.

How we test weightlifting shoes

Personally, we do not take the process of choosing our lifting shoes lightly. Backing our statement are the things we painstakingly do to end up with only the best while simultaneously taking out the tendency of biased reviews out of the equation:

  • We acquire the lifting shoes using our own hard-earned money.
  • We use the lifting shoes not only for strength and lifting exercises but also for other sets of workouts. Plus, we do multiple reps of each workout to obtain more significant observations and conclusions. We also warm up in them. Finally, we use them in our home, in the gym, and outdoors.
  • We execute various lab tests that further check the durability, breathability, and even stability of the lifting shoes. Cutting the shoe into pieces is also one of the things we do in the lab for a fuller perspective.
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.