Let’s face it:
In order for a lifting athlete to perform their best, they need the right equipment.
For weightlifting and powerlifting, it all starts with the shoe.
- 1 What makes for a good lifting shoe?
- 2 Raised Heel or Flat Heel for Squats?
- 3 Equipment Rules by Federation
- 4 Raised Heel Lifting Shoes
- 5 Flat Heel Lifting Shoes
- 6 Are Chuck Taylors Good Shoes for Lifting?
What makes for a good lifting shoe?
The best lifting shoes for powerlifting and olympic weighlifting will do three things:
- Have a non-compressible heel
- Support the arch of the foot
- Include a strap to tighten the shoe across your foot
Any shoe worn for squatting should have a hard sole for the athlete to press against, maximizing the amount of force they are able to drive through the floor.
Imagine squatting while standing on pillows! That’s why a hard sole matters.
Raised Heel or Flat Heel for Squats?
Most lifters prefer a raised heel for squatting, as this helps require a bit less ankle mobility for the athlete to achieve the full range of motion throughout the squat. Squatters with wide stances tend to prefer flat heeled shoes.
Powerlifting University goes into more depth on this subject:
“If you squat wide and don’t have much forward lean then flat soled shoes are great shoes for squats.
If you have long legs and use a narrow squat stance, then Olympic shoes might just be what the doctor ordered to improve your squat.
If you have strong quads and you want to squat even more instantly? Then investing in a pair of Olympic shoes might do the trick.”
Finally, it’s very important that a shoe can be strapped as tightly as possible on your foot. This ensures maximum transfer of power through your foot. Shoe straps help immensely with this!
Another common preference is for squatters with a wide stance to use flat soled shoes to allow them to “sit back” into their squat more easily. As Squats & Science points out, this ultimately comes down to the individual lifter’s preference and which muscles they want to recruit through the squat.
Here are the best raised heel and flat heel shoes for weightlifting and powerlifting:
Equipment Rules by Federation
It’s always important to abide by the equipment rules established by the federation you plan to compete in.
Here is a collection of official federation equipment rules.
Raised Heel Lifting Shoes
Nike – Romaelos III Powerlifting Shoe ($105 – $369)
These are pretty much the gold standard when it comes to Olympic weightlifting, though you’ll see plenty of powerlifters rocking these as well. These shoes are built to last, perform well, and will help you achieve better balance and stability through your toughest lifts.
Adidas – Adipower Weightlifting Trainer Shoe ($130 – $200)
Adipowers are another favorite amongst olympic weightlifters and powerlifters. I have personally used these 2-3x a week for over 4 years without issue.
Inov-8 – Fastlift 325 Cross-Trainer Shoe ($44 – $133)
Best for olympic weightlifting and Cross Fit, the Inov-8 Fastlift trainers are the lightest weightlifting shoes on the market and provide incredible flexibility, making them ideal for cross-functional movements frequently needed for olympic lifts and Cross Fit.
Flat Heel Lifting Shoes
While raised heel lifting shoes are generally the most popular (especially among beginners), flat heels may be a better choice for squatters with a wide stance.
Below are two variations of Asics wrestling shoes that provide a thin, firm sole, grip enhancing bottoms, and sturdy design.
ASICS – JB Elite Shoe V2 Wrestling Shoe ($80-$105)
A quality, well-made shoe. Features a breathable mesh upper portion of the shoe for a comfortable, flexible fit.
ASICS – Men’s Matflex 5 Wrestling Shoe ($40 – $83)
A solid choice with a price that’s kind to the wallet.
Are Chuck Taylors Good Shoes for Lifting?
If you’re a beginner, then they’re a reasonable option if you’re not willing to purchase a pair of purpose built shoes.While you’re starting out, learning the movements, and growing accustomed to CNS adaptability, Chucks work just fine.
However, if you’d like to be competitive then Chuck Taylors are not a good choice for weightlifting – olympic or power.
Even though they have a thin sole, it is compressible and therefore will not provide an efficient transfer of power between your feet and the floor. Some power will be lost and you will not be able to lift as much weight as a result.
While they’re a cheap viable solution for starting out, I would not recommend them for lifters trying to maximize performance.