Weightlifting is more than just a physical activity - it's a discipline that requires precision, technique, and the right equipment. And when it comes to equipment, finding the perfect pair of weightlifting shoes can make all the difference in your performance. Whether you're a seasoned lifter or just starting out, choosing the right shoes can provide the support, stability, and comfort you need to maximize your lifts. In this article, we'll explore the benefits of weightlifting shoes and dive into a comprehensive list of the top weightlifting shoes on the market. From the best overall to shoes for specific activities, we've got you covered. So let's strap in and find the perfect shoes to take your weightlifting game to new heights.
The Advantages of Weightlifting Shoes
Weightlifting shoes have been the subject of various studies, albeit not extensively. Most of the research conducted has focused on the impact of an elevated heel on performance and mechanics.
Improving Posture in the Back Squat
One significant study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research explored the effects of weightlifting shoes on barbell back squats. The research revealed that weightlifting shoes alter an athlete's foot angle and forward lean while not significantly affecting thigh angle. These findings suggest that weightlifting shoes can be beneficial in reducing forward torso lean, which, in turn, can decrease shear stress on the lower back. Additionally, weightlifting shoes were found to enhance knee extensor activation.
Image via Shutterstock / Andy Gin
Another study from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research conducted in 2017 aimed to investigate how weightlifting shoes impact trunk and leg mechanics in the back squat. The research challenged the notion that weightlifting shoes promote a more upright torso, which is believed to protect the back from injury.
Enhanced Depth in Squats
Weightlifting shoes feature a heel-to-toe drop that leads to a more forward tibia position during squats. This allows the knees to move forward and compensate for limited ankle dorsiflexion. This forward knee position enables greater hip sinking and ultimately enables individuals wearing weightlifting shoes to achieve a deeper squat. Comparing a powerlifting squat to a weightlifting squat showcases the difference in shin angles.
Key Takeaways from Research
When considering the insights from research on weightlifting shoes, it is clear that these shoes aim to improve posture and provide a stable base for lifting. Better posture can potentially lead to stronger lifts and a reduced risk of back injury. However, more research is needed in this area. If you struggle with maintaining an upright position during squats or find it challenging to reach a deep squat, weightlifting shoes might be the solution for you.
For more information, check out our comprehensive Guide to Lifting Shoes.
The Top Choice for Weightlifting Shoes: Nike Savaleos
Nike Savaleos Weightlifting Shoes
Ideal for: Individuals seeking a high-quality weightlifting shoe at an affordable price.
- Excellent value at $120
- Wide toe box improves stability during lifts
- Great option for beginners and casual lifters
- Might be too responsive for extremely heavy lifting
- Moderate heel height (approximately 15.5mm or 0.6") may not provide optimal support for squats
- Limited velcro surface area on straps
If you're looking for the perfect balance of functionality, style, and price, your search ends here. The Nike Savaleos are unmatched in terms of value for most individuals. While they may not offer the same level of performance as shoes designed specifically for Olympic weightlifting, their $120 price point and array of features make them the top choice in their price range.
The Savaleos can be considered the little sibling of the Nike Romaleos, which we'll discuss further as our top pick for Olympic weightlifting shoes. The Nike Savaleos encompass all the essential features of a weightlifting shoe, including a wide toe box and heel cup, a rigid midsole with an elevated heel, and a velcro strap for securing the feet in place.
To clarify, the Savaleos excel as the best value weightlifting shoes. Most individuals don't require the same quality or weight as the Romaleos, and those who don't compete or prioritize weightlifting shouldn't feel pressured to spend $200 on shoes solely dedicated to Olympic lifting.
With a heel height just over half an inch, the Savaleos serve as an excellent introduction to elevated lifting shoes. They can also function as hybrid shoes that transition seamlessly from the lifting platform to other barbell workouts. If you need increased confidence and depth in your squats, we recommend exploring weightlifting shoes with a heel height of 18-20 millimeters, approximately three-quarters of an inch.
While the Savaleos may possess a more responsive midsole compared to pricier weightlifting shoes, their wide base provides ample stability for both powerlifting and Olympic lifting among casual athletes.
The Best Minimalist Lifting Shoes: NOBULL Trainers
Ideal for: Individuals seeking versatile and minimalist shoes in both function and appearance.
- Durable upper material ensures longevity
- Suitable for both strength training and cardio exercises
- Wide range of designs and colors available
- Relatively expensive at around $130
- Minimal heel-to-toe drop doesn't provide optimal support for heavy barbell exercises
- Requires a longer break-in period compared to other training shoes
NOBULL is a brand that tends to elicit strong opinions—one either loves or hates their trainers. We have extensively covered this in our NOBULL Trainers review where our writer Amanda and editor Kate shared their contrasting opinions on these polarizing training shoes.
For those in search of minimalist functional shoes with an appealing aesthetic, the NOBULL Trainers might just win you over. These shoes do not feature a raised heel like weightlifting shoes do (the heel-to-toe drop is only 4 millimeters), nor do they possess additional straps or the wide heel cup and toe box characteristic of weightlifting shoes.
Instead, NOBULL Trainers offer a streamlined design that prioritizes durability. The slim midsole and outsole provide a stable base, while the toe box provides sufficient space for toe splay and balance.
It's important to note that NOBULL does manufacture dedicated weightlifting shoes. However, we do not recommend them as they are generally regarded as overrated, and we haven't encountered anyone who genuinely prefers them.
For more information, check out our comprehensive NOBULL Training Shoes Review.
The Best CrossFit Weightlifting Shoes: Nike Metcon 8
Nike Metcon 8
Ideal for: Individuals seeking versatile shoes for a wide range of activities.
- Multi-purpose shoe suitable for various exercises
- Toe box shape accommodates wide feet
- Stability and aesthetics combined
- Lacing system may not be the most durable
- Not optimal for individuals requiring mobility assistance in squats
- Slightly expensive for a cross-training shoe at $160
We might be stretching the definition of "weightlifting shoes" here, as the Nike Metcon 8s are technically cross-training shoes designed specifically for CrossFit WODs.
However, many individuals looking for weightlifting shoes actually seek shoes with a wide, flat outsole that provides stability for heavy squats, flexibility for box jumps and barbell cycling, and overall versatility. The Nike Metcon 8 embodies these qualities.
While we haven't personally tested the Metcon 8s yet, early reviews indicate that they are similar to the Metcon 7s but with updated colors.
The Metcons are beloved for their ability to withstand grueling workouts without compromising their structure or aesthetics. They were built to prioritize stability and durability, with their break-in period quickly proving worthwhile as they seamlessly transition from strength training to conditioning workouts.
For more information, check out our comprehensive Nike Metcon 8 review.
The Best for Powerlifting: Chuck Taylor All Stars
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars
Ideal for: Powerlifters seeking an affordable shoe with a flat and stable base.
- Flat heel perfect for deadlifts
- Available in both low-top and high-top versions
- Minimal midfoot cushioning prevents flexing under heavy lifts
- Minimal heel-to-toe drop doesn't assist with back squats
- Narrow midfoot structure
- Canvas construction lacks durability
Ah, the classics. Converse All Stars are not just popular as everyday shoes, but they also shine when it comes to powerlifting, especially during deadlifts.
Powerlifters often enjoy training barefoot, and All Stars provide a barefoot-like feel due to their minimal drop. However, they still offer the stability of a rigid outsole. This combination creates an ideal lifting experience. The high-top version of the shoe also provides ankle support.
Additionally, All Stars excel in providing a grounded feeling during lifts, thanks to their thin and flat midsole. The canvas upper construction is breathable and offers some flexibility to accommodate toe splay and balance.
It's worth mentioning that while Chucks are affordable, priced at , they may not be the best option for squats for everyone, especially those who require an elevated heel for optimal depth. Some powerlifters may prefer using Converse for deadlifts and bench presses while opting for different shoes for squats.
For more information, check out our comprehensive Best Deadlift Shoes.
The Best Weightlifting Shoes for Beginners: Adidas Powerlift 4
Adidas Powerlift 4
Ideal for: Beginner weightlifters looking for an entry-level weightlifting shoe at an affordable price.
- Reasonably priced at approximately $100
- EVA midfoot and flexible forefoot offer versatility for beginners
- 0.6-inch (15.5mm) heel wedge eases acclimatization compared to the standard 0.75-inch (19mm) heel
- Narrow heel base lacks stability compared to other options
- Limited color choices available
- EVA foam midsole compresses more than TPU, wood, or leather midsoles
The Powerlift shoes are straightforward weightlifting shoes with a moderately elevated heel, maneuverable canvas upper construction, and an EVA foam midsole at an affordable price point.
While EVA midsoles are generally not recommended for weightlifting shoes due to their greater compressibility compared to rigid TPU, wood, or leather midsoles, the EVA heel in the Powerlifts is a suitable option for beginner lifters. Combined with the 15-millimeter (0.59-inch) heel height, these shoes are perfectly designed to ease individuals into weightlifting shoes.
Transitioning from flat cross-training or running shoes to weightlifting shoes with a 0.75-inch (19mm) hard plastic heel can feel like a significant change. The Adidas Powerlift shoes bridge the gap and allow for a smoother adjustment.
As lifters progress and handle heavier weights, they may choose to upgrade to shoes like the Nike Savaleos or, for more serious individuals, the Nike Romaleos. In the case of very heavyweights, the responsiveness and compressibility of the EVA foam heel may compromise stability. However, for beginners, these shoes are unlikely to reach that point. Moreover, a slight platform feedback can be beneficial for beginners.
The Best Budget Weightlifting Shoes: Reebok Lifter PR 2
Reebok Lifter PR 2
Ideal for: Individuals seeking a solid and stable shoe for weightlifting, powerlifting, and some CrossFit workouts at an affordable price.
- Phenomenal price point at $100
- Moderate heel height makes it suitable as a hybrid shoe
- Rubber outsole offers excellent traction
- EVA midsole proves too responsive for heavy lifts
- Heel cup may not be the most durable and could deform over time
- Heel height of 15.5mm (approximately 0.6") may not provide optimal ankle flexion support
These lifting shoes closely resemble the Adidas Powerlift shoes mentioned earlier, sharing similar attributes in terms of price and performance.
Our writer and product tester Amanda Capritto has used the original Lifter PRs and currently wears the Lifter PRs 2. Her favorite aspect of these shoes is the ability to wear them throughout an entire CrossFit class without needing to change footwear.
The moderate heel height of the Lifter PRs 2 makes them ideal for warm-ups and deep squats, even for individuals with tight hips. They offer ample support and stability for strength sessions while remaining responsive enough for most metcon workouts (excluding running exercises).
What sets these shoes apart is their versatility—they can be used for almost any type of exercise. This makes them a cost-effective choice, as users may not need an additional set of shoes for different workouts.
Of course, it would be ideal to have dedicated shoes for each activity, but that may not be feasible for everyone. Based on Amanda's experience, the Lifter PRs are the best budget-friendly option for those who prioritize lifting but occasionally engage in other activities.
The Best for Olympic Lifting: Nike Romaleos 4
Nike Romaleos 4
Ideal for: Athletes committed to maximizing their Olympic lifting performance.
- Harkens back to the greatness of the Romaleos 2, some of the best weightlifting shoes ever made
- Wide, flared heel provides ample support
- Spacious toe box allows toes to grip and stabilize
- Expensive at a price point of $200
- Highly breathable upper material may sacrifice durability
- Laces and straps are somewhat flimsy
The Nike Romaleos 4 left us absolutely impressed. While they might not surpass the sheer excellence of the Nike Romaleos 2—an enigma that baffles weightlifters worldwide as to why Nike won't reintroduce them—the Romaleos 4 come close.
Combining functionality and style in a remarkable manner, these shoes not only look fantastic but also feel phenomenal on the platform.
With a slightly heavier build, the Romaleos 4 instill a sense of stability, allowing users to anchor their heels firmly into the ground. The wide base and flared heel enhance stability even further. The 20-millimeter (0.75-inch) heel provides optimal support for squatting to full depth and attaining an upright posture while receiving the barbell.
Unfortunately, these fourth-generation Romaleos carry a hefty price tag of $200. For novice weightlifters or even experienced but casual lifters, this expenditure may not be justifiable. However, for athletes frequently performing on the platform or with aspirations of competing at any level, the Nike Romaleos 4 are a worthwhile investment.
For more information, check out our comprehensive Nike Romaleos 4 review.
Most Versatile Weightlifting Shoes: Adidas Adipower 3
Adidas Adipower IIIGood for: Functional fitness enthusiasts looking for a versatile lifting shoe with an elevated heel.
- The Adidas Adipower III features a 22mm heel height, which provides exceptional support for squats and receiving the bar during Olympic lifts.
- Despite the elevated heel, these shoes offer enough flexibility to be worn during CrossFit workouts.
- The durable textile woven upper ensures longevity.
- The forefoot flexibility of the Adidas Adipower III may detract from stability.
- Priced at $200, these shoes may be considered expensive.
- While they perform well in many areas, they might not excel in any one particular aspect.
Adidas Adipowers have been highly regarded among functional fitness enthusiasts for a long time. This is due to Adidas' ability to create a shoe that combines the essential features of a good weightlifting shoe (an elevated heel, hook-and-loop strap, and a rigid base) with those of a cross-training shoe (durability and flexibility).
The Adipowers have the highest heel height seen among weightlifting shoes, measuring 22 millimeters. This height provides excellent support for squatting and receiving the bar, regardless of the weight being lifted. Despite the elevated heel, these shoes can also be worn during certain conditioning workouts. They are particularly well-suited for barbell snatches and high-volume overhead squats.
RELATED: Barbell Exercises
The Adipowers offer a significant amount of forefoot flexibility, which can be either advantageous or disadvantageous depending on one's specific needs. This flexibility allows for better toe gripping and ground stability, making them a positive attribute for functional fitness athletes.
Priced at $200, the Adipowers may be considered expensive. However, due to their unique versatility and ability to perform well in various workouts, they are a worthwhile investment.
In conclusion, if you are in search of weightlifting shoes that offer exceptional depth while still being flexible enough for functional fitness workouts, the Adipowers are an excellent choice.
For more information on these shoes, check out my comprehensive Adidas Adipower 3 review.
What are Weightlifting Shoes Used For?
Weightlifting shoes are primarily designed to aid weightlifters during the Olympic lifts, namely the snatch and the clean-and-jerk. However, the term "weightlifting shoes" now encompasses a wider range of training shoes, both with and without a raised heel.
Technically, Olympic weightlifting shoes feature a raised heel and typically use a double-closure system of laces and straps. The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) recommends weightlifters wear shoes with an elevated heel measuring 18-20 millimeters, or about three-quarters of an inch high.
However, when looking at the various lifting shoes available, you'll find heel heights ranging from zero-drop to an inch. Lifting shoes with different heel heights serve different purposes and can be worn for assistance during various types of workouts.
Take the Nike Metcons, for example, which we consider the best weightlifting shoes for CrossFit. While they aren't technically weightlifting shoes, many people wear them for weightlifting. They perform exceptionally well for lightweight, high-volume workouts and workouts that include conditioning exercises alongside resistance exercises. They offer versatility and perform multiple tasks adequately.
On the other hand, consider the Nike Romaleos 4, our recommended shoes for Olympic weightlifting. We wouldn't suggest wearing them during CrossFit workouts or running. Unlike the Nike Metcons, the Romaleos excel at assisting with weightlifting.
So, the answer to the question of what weightlifting shoes do depends on the type of weightlifting shoes you choose.
How to Choose the Best Weightlifting Shoes
Choosing weightlifting shoes is not a decision to be taken lightly. A well-informed choice can greatly impact your lifting performance. To select the best weightlifting shoes for you, it's essential to consider your weaknesses and areas of difficulty during lifts.
For example, if you struggle with ankle dorsiflexion, which affects your ability to squat to full depth and receive the barbell correctly in a clean or snatch, you would benefit from weightlifting shoes with a higher heel.
Here is a comprehensive list of factors to consider when purchasing new weightlifting shoes.
The heel-to-toe drop is perhaps the most critical factor to consider when searching for weightlifting shoes. The heel height determines the shoes' impact on your range of motion. A higher heel makes it easier to perform deep squats, while a lower heel offers less assistance in that specific aspect of lifting.
Nike Romaleos 4, Reebok Legacy Lifters 2, and NOBULL Lifters have higher heel-to-toe drops. On the lower end of the spectrum, you have Chuck Taylors, Nike Metcons, Reebok Nanos, NOBULL trainers, and other cross-training shoes. The Reebok Lifter PR IIs, Adidas Adipowers, Nike Savaleos, and Adidas Powerlift fall somewhere in the middle.
Weightlifting shoes feature a combination of three types of closure systems. Most shoes have laces and midfoot velcro straps, with some also incorporating a BOA closure mechanism. BOA is a third-party shoe technology supplier that offers a dial closure system, providing a snug fit compared to just laces and velcro.
None of our top picks include a BOA system, as it is not necessary for the average fitness enthusiast. Inov-8 used to offer a BOA version of the Inov-8 Fastlift weightlifting shoe, but it may have been discontinued as it is only available on Amazon in limited quantities and sizes.
The optimal shape and size of the toe box largely depend on personal preference and foot shape. Generally, a wider toe box is more suitable for weightlifting, allowing your toes to spread out and improve grip, stability, and balance.
While heel-to-toe drop is crucial, the midsole also plays a significant role in weightlifting shoes. In weightlifting shoes, the midsole primarily refers to the wedge or platform that aids in lifts.
We recommend weightlifting shoes with a thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) midsole and platform. TPU is durable, stable, and does not compress significantly under heavy loads. It retains its shape for an extended period. Other common materials used for shoe heels include ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), stacked leather, and wood. We advise against EVA for weightlifting shoes, as it compresses and lacks durability.
A wide, flared heel provides the most stable base. The Nike Romaleos 4 and Reebok Legacy Lifter II feature such stable heels. A narrower, elevated heel offers less stability but adds versatility. Examples include the Adipowers, Powerlifts, and Lifter PRs—shoes with a more hybrid design.
While weightlifting shoe uppers may not require the same level of durability as CrossFit or running shoe uppers, it is still advisable to choose materials that offer both durability and breathability. Perforated leather or thick mesh uppers provide these qualities.
Weightlifting shoes can be a significant investment. To avoid frequent replacements, it is crucial to select shoes that can withstand rigorous workouts. A more durable shoe is also more likely to provide adequate foot protection during lifting sessions.
Factors to Consider When Choosing Weightlifting Shoes
- Get professionally measured at a shoe store to ensure the best fit and style for your needs.
- Weightlifting shoes can be expensive, especially when purchasing well-known brands designed specifically for weightlifting. While they may cost over $100, they offer long-lasting value.
- The type of weightlifting you engage in determines the ideal style of shoes for you. Raised-heel shoes may be best for CrossFitters aiming to perfect barbell snatches or squat below parallel. However, they may limit other forms of lifting.
- If you are not a serious weightlifter and simply want better shoes for strength training sessions, flat-soled shoes may be a better choice. Many flat-soled shoes can also be used for other activities.
Weightlifting Shoes FAQs
Weightlifting shoes can enhance mobility, provide better support and traction during specific exercises, and overall improve lifting performance.
Some weightlifting shoes feature a raised heel to aid ankle mobility in certain positions, such as squats, overhead squats, and snatches. The elevated heel also helps maintain an upright torso during deep squats.
Flat shoes offer better stability and grip on the floor during exercises like deadlifts. They allow for better contact with the ground. This is why it is advised against using shoes with excessive cushioning, such as running shoes, for lifting.
Weightlifting shoes can range in price from as low as for traditional low-top Converse to over $100, depending on the brand.
Best Weightlifting Shoes for Strongman
The sport of strongman requires versatile weightlifting shoes that can perform well in various scenarios. Additionally, durability is crucial. Here are a few top picks for weightlifting shoes based on feedback from strongman athletes.
Top Pick: Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
The Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes are our top pick for the best weightlifting shoes for strongman. Despite being underrated by many lifters, these shoes consistently deliver excellent performance.
These shoes are a great choice for strongman athletes due to their versatile toe box, sturdy construction, and affordable price. The Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes provide a stable midfoot and heel, ideal for heavy squats and cleans.
Once broken in, the toe box offers maneuverability for different training settings. The shoe's toe box is neutral in size, slightly wider than other weightlifting shoes available.
In addition to performance, the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes are reasonably priced and have excellent upper durability. They cost $105 USD (often on sale for ), making them a solid choice for heavy use without breaking the bank.
Best Weightlifting Shoes for Narrow Feet
When selecting the best weightlifting shoes for narrow feet, two criteria are crucial: Do the shoes work well for narrow feet, and do they provide the necessary security?
Top Pick: Nike Romaleos 4
The Nike Romaleos 4 is our top pick as the best weightlifting shoe for narrow feet. This model is well-suited for narrow feet due to its neutral fit with a slight narrow bias. The upper volume of the shoe is also low, ensuring a snug fit in the midfoot and toe box.
If you often struggle with sliding or feeling inadequate tightness in weightlifting shoes, the Nike Romaleos 4 should address these issues.
The Romaleos 4's TPU heel provides a solid base for lifting, and its dual strap system offers midfoot security. Whether you're squating, weightlifting, or engaging in recreational lifting, the Nike Romaleos 4 performs admirably.
How Should Weightlifting Shoes Fit?
When sizing weightlifting shoes, it is recommended to leave around 0.5 inches of space at the end of the toe box. This guideline generally ensures sufficient room without feeling cramped, while still allowing for a snug fit to prevent sliding.
Before purchasing new weightlifting shoes, it's crucial to ensure they align with your foot anatomy. Different shoes may have varying upper volumes and widths, making some more suitable for your individual needs.
It is advisable to read reviews on the product page and seek feedback from others to make an informed decision. Additionally, you can consult comprehensive long-form reviews or reach out to experts for further guidance on weightlifting shoe selection.
How to Clean Weightlifting Shoes
To clean weightlifting shoes effectively, spot cleaning is recommended. This method, commonly used for training shoes, can help prolong the lifespan of your shoes.
Given the higher cost of weightlifting shoes compared to regular training shoes, it's essential to take good care of them and keep them relatively clean.
- Step 1: Gather a washcloth, mild soap without harsh dyes or fragrances, and lukewarm water.
- Step 2: Dampen the washcloth with a little soap and gently wipe down areas with dirt buildup.
- Step 3: After cleaning, remove the shoe's insoles and allow them to dry in a well-ventilated area.
Following these steps every few months can help extend the lifespan of your weightlifting shoes and maintain their appearance. For those using gym bags, it's also advisable to air out the bag after training or remove the shoes entirely.
When to Use Weightlifting Shoes
Weightlifting shoes serve various purposes in the gym and during training. Their use depends on individual training styles and anatomical needs.
In general, weightlifting shoes are used for:
- The Sport of Weightlifting (snatch and clean & jerk)
- Strength Sports like Powerlifting, CrossFit, and Strongman (for squatting with an elevated heel)
- Accessory Exercises Requiring an Elevated Heel
Weightlifting shoes mimic the effect of a heel wedge. The choice to use weightlifting shoes depends on many factors, including individual needs and goals.
Weightlifting shoes are a crucial tool for anyone serious about their weightlifting journey. From the impressive overall performance of the Nike Savaleos to the minimalist design of the NOBULL Trainers, there is a shoe on this list for every lifter's specific needs. Whether you're a beginner looking for stability or a powerlifter seeking maximum support, these top weightlifting shoes have got you covered. So, lace up, strap in, and let these shoes take your lifting game to new heights.