When it comes to working out at the gym, many of us have an exercise outfit that we like to wear. Usually, these clothes are form-fitting and breathable material, to allow the sweat and heat from our bodies to escape without restriction.
When it comes to our shoes, however, it’s an entirely different arena. For some of you, the type of shoe you wear is inconsequential. Many gym goers choose a nice, comfortable running shoe for a variety of exercises, whether it’s running on the treadmill or lifting weights.
For the casual weight lifter, running shoes can be just fine. However, if you’re someone who wants to get serious about lifting, then your shoes matter. There’s a big difference between running shoes and weightlifting shoes, and today I’ll go over the best weightlifting shoes available. In addition to analyzing the shoes themselves, I’ll tell you what to look for in a weightlifting shoe so as to maximize your comfort and your workout.
Are Weightlifting Shoes Necessary?
You may be thinking: why do I need another pair of shoes to lift weights? Aren’t all shoes relatively the same? Unfortunately, that is not the case. Running shoes are designed to support your feet while running, and weightlifting shoes are designed to support your feet while lifting weights. If you do a few sets of free weights, your shoe choice may not make a big impact.
However, if you are going to be lifting heavy weights on a barbell and doing squats, having the right shoe can not only maximize your gains but prevent injury. The best weightlifting shoes help channel as much force from your body into the weight, allowing you to lift more.
How Weightlifting Shoes Work
There is a key difference between running shoes and weightlifting shoes. The former has padding on the heel, which is intended to provide comfort to your feet when doing repetitive movements, such as running or jogging.
The problem with them when lifting, however, is that your feet sink into the pads as the weight is lifted, which removes a lot of the force your body is generating. Think of running shoes as tiny shock absorbers. The more padding the shoe has, the less efficient your ability to lift becomes.
When looking at the best weightlifting shoes, the first thing you will notice is the lack of padding. The reason for this is to generate more force from the ground into the weight, which will help you lift the bar higher, as well as lift more weight in general. The other noticeable difference when looking at weightlifting shoes is the fact that many of them are raised on the heel. This feature allows even more force to be generated, maximizing your lifting potential.
What to Consider When Choosing the Right Shoe
Not all weightlifting shoes are created equal, but the most important factor when selecting a shoe is how comfortable it feels to you. Since you will be the one using them, you want to pick a design that fits your foot well, not anyone else’s. Even if your friend swears by a particular brand and model, if it doesn’t feel right to you, then pick a different shoe. The best weightlifting shoe is the one that fits your needs.
As I mentioned above, weightlifting shoes have a raised heel to maximize the amount of force generated. While this feature may feel strange at first, when lifting you will notice its benefits right away. Thus, when choosing a shoe, you want to look at the height of the support heel and make sure that it feels comfortable when lifting.
For some people, there is a problem of ankle rolling when they are hoisting weights. Having the proper support will reduce the amount of roll, keeping you in one place and preventing disaster.
In addition to traditional laces, the best weightlifting shoes have one or more straps to create a tight fit on your foot when lifting. This added feature ensures that your foot doesn’t slip when carrying weight. The strap also helps create more force by keeping everything tight. That being said, you want to get a shoe that feels snug before you strap it, to maximize its effectiveness.
You want it to be tight, but not so much that it creates pressure. You also don’t want the shoe to be too loose, as it can lead to bunching in the tip. You should be able to wiggle your toes slightly, but overall the shoe should be very snug on your foot.
Because of the nature of lifting, the best weightlifting shoes are much heavier than traditional shoes. The reason for this is to prevent the material from breaking or coming apart under immense pressure.
While weightlifting shoes are not so heavy that it makes it difficult to move your feet, it is something to consider as far as your personal comfort level. At first, the added weight of the shoe will feel weird as we are all used to shoes that have a much lighter profile. Walk around with the shoes for a little bit and make sure that the weight is not too much to throw you off balance, but not too light to reduce the amount of force you can generate.
Best Five Weightlifting Shoes 2016
- For Women
- 80+ Customer Reviews
- 4.5/5 Customer Rating
- For Women
- 100+ Customer Reviews
- 4.6/5 Customer Rating
- For Men
- 700+ Customer Reviews
- 4.6/5 Customer Rating
- For Men & Women
- 500+ Customer Reviews
- 4.7/5 Customer Rating
- New Balance
- For Men
- 1100+ Customer Reviews
- 4.3/5 Customer Rating
Now that I’ve covered the considerations you have to make when selecting a shoe, let’s look at the best weightlifting shoes on the market today.
Adidas Performance Men’s Powerlift.2 Trainer
Although Adidas is usually associated with running shoes, the company does provide an excellent weightlifting shoe in the Performance series. The Powerlift.2 Trainer is a high-quality shoe with a very light profile. The Powerlift comes with one added instep strap to keep your foot towards the back of the shoe to maximize lifting power. The base is about one inch thick, and it is made of a sturdy, yet surprisingly lightweight material. The shoe itself is also synthetic mesh, allowing your feet to breathe.
- Lightweight design
- Synthetic material allows foot to breathe
- Depending on the size, it can run a bit narrow in the middle. I suggest trying a size higher than your normal shoe to allow adequate space.
Adidas Performance Women’s Powerlift.2 W Weightlifting Shoe
When it comes to comparing men’s and women’s shoes, there is usually not that big of a difference. Women’s lifting shoes are designed to work better on female feet, but to describe the different ways these shoes are manufactured would be much too complex. That being said, the Powerlift.2 W is almost identical to the men’s version, although this model is much more colorful and stylish. This shoe comes with a single instep strap and one inch base for added power.
- Lightweight material
- Chic and stylish appearance
- Air mesh design for added breathability
- Again, the size can be a bit off from your normal shoe size. Although Adidas claims it to be true shoe size, you may need to step up or down for comfort reasons
Innov-8 Women’s Fastlift 335
Another great women’s lifting shoe is the Innov-8 Fastlift 335. Like the Adidas Performance, this shoe has a single instep strap at the top to keep your foot towards the heel. The heel itself is made of a different, gel-like material. However, don’t let the looks fool you, the sole is as hard as ever, allowing for maximum force generation. The shoe is made of a synthetic leather mesh material so as to allow for breathing. The design is also very stylish and stands out from the crowd.
- Synthetic mesh design for breathability
- Like most weightlifting shoes, size matching is sometimes an issue. Try shoes of different sizes to find the right fit
Pendlay Do-Win Crossfit Weightlifting Shoes (Women’s)
For some reason, all shoe companies think that women adore the color purple, as every weightlifting shoe comes in that color by default. While this doesn’t affect the shoe’s comfort and performance, it is a perplexing trend in the world of shoemaking. Nonetheless, the Pendlay Do-Win women’s lifting shoe is a top-quality item, made of real leather and a nylon mesh for added breathability.
The heel is ¾ inches at the back, making it a tad shorter than other models. However, this height shouldn’t affect lifting too much, depending on the size of your feet. The biggest difference between the Pendlay and other brands like Adidas is the addition of another strap at the front. This strap adds tension to your foot to help prevent slipping as well as maximizing force.
- Two straps instead of one
- Durable, lightweight construction
- Stylish design
- Same as other shoes, in that it can run a bit tight in the middle. May need to size up for comfort
Adidas Performance Adipower Weightlifting Trainer
Coming back to Adidas, here is the Performance Adipower Weightlifting Trainer. When comparing this shoe to the Powerlift.2, there aren’t that many differences. The only major distinction I’ve seen is the heel, which is a tad shorter, and looks to be made of a composite gel-like material. The heel also sports vents between the slats, making this shoe a little lighter than other models. Otherwise, the Adipower is also made of a synthetic leather material and comes with a single strap at the top.
- Sleek design
- Vents in the heel make this a very lightweight shoe
- Same as the others; it can be narrow in the middle, especially when lifting
New Balance Men’s MX20v3 Minimus Cross-Training and Weightlifting Shoe
Finally, we come to the New Balance MX20v3 Minimus. The biggest difference between this shoe and the others on this list is that the Minimus is designed for cross training, not weightlifting. While this shoe is better than others when it comes to lifting weight, it doesn’t have the same features, such as a raised heel, reduced padding, and an instep strap. That being said, if you’re looking for a shoe that can help your performance in a variety of exercises, the Minimus is perfect for you. This shoe is mostly designed for workouts similar to Cross-Fit, where you are doing a range of exercises in a short period.
- Comfortable and Lightweight
- Mesh construction allows breathing
- Not designed exclusively for weightlifting
- Size can run a bit small compared to normal shoes
If you are looking to get serious about weightlifting, then choosing the best weightlifting shoes will help you in your endeavor. Comparing all of these shoes, I would say that the Adidas Powerlift.2 probably has the best material and style for the money, and should last quite a while. If you don’t want to invest in a pair of shoes that are only designed for one purpose, however then the New Balance Minimus may be right for you. No matter what the brand, however, make sure to test out the shoe before you buy, to ensure that it is the right size and comfort for your feet. Also, remember that, when squatting, your feet tend to expand, so allow some extra give to accommodate.