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In this review feature, we take a look at the best lifting shoes for working out at the gym and training. We include both “Olympic Style” weightlifting shoes (with elevated heels) and regular strength training shoes. Most athletes use running shoes or minimalist shoes during their weight training sessions. While the minimalist shoe is a step in the right direction, you can do much better than both these two common types. The best weightlifting shoes will help you lift more weight, improve your lifting posture, and maximize your range of motion. While you’re not going to see a radical increase in your lifting numbers, you see a slight bump that when averaged over the long term, will help you build muscle faster.

Best Lifting Shoes of 2019

Adidas Performance Adipower Weightlifting Trainer ShoeSynthetic/RubberAdjustable strapping
Pendlay Do-Win Men's Weightlifting ShoeLeatherSingle sole design for flexibility
Nike Romaleos Weightlifting ShoeSyntheticTwo insoles included for competition and training
Reebok Men's Crossfit Lite TR Training ShoeTextileHigh-top style for suport
Inov-8 Men's Fastlift 335 Weight-Lifting ShoeSyntheticSpecialized grip rubber heel
Adidas Performance Men's Powerlift Trainer ShoeMesh/SyntheticLongevity and wide shape

Here are the best lifting shoes of this year. We have a mix of pure Olympic style weight lifting shoes and cross trainers in this line up.

Adidas Performance Adipower Weightlifting Trainer Shoe
Adidas Adipower Weightling Shoes

If you’re on the hunt for the best lifting shoes, the Adipower shoes by Adidas are arguably in the game right now. Those who rock the clean white & black or red & black design with raised heels, lace up vamp, and hook and loop strap will find looks of envy from other gym goers. You can also tell these shoes are legit—they mean business. Perforated toe box, breathable upper, and vent flow outsole openings help keep feet cool and comfortable. The strong structure chassis give you a stable platform to allow you to achieve peak performance every rep. If you can’t get that barbell up and overhead with this pair of shoes, there is no hope for you.

Pendlay Do-Win Men’s Weightlifting Shoe Pendlay Do-Win Men's Weightlifting Shoe

Pendlay manufacturers high quality leather crossfit weightlifting shoes that are among the best the market has to offer. The heel on this shoe is 3/4 inch in height, which will take a little while to get used to. However, 3/4 is the preferred height in official Olympic lifting. This shoe is composed of real leather and durable nylon mesh for breathability. The best feature is perhaps the singular sole design, the whole sole of the shoes is one piece, making the sole incredibly durable.

This shoe is great for average to wide feet. Pendlay lifting shoes are known for their wider style. These shoes fit 1/2 down from your regular shoe size, so if you normally wear a size 11 then you’ll want to select a 10.5 in this shoe. Pendlay is committed to get you the right size and if for some reason they are too large or small, you can send them back and they will ship a new pair at no cost.

>>Pendlay Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes for Women

Nike Romaleos Weightlifting Shoe

Nike Romaleos Weightlifting Shoes

Reebok Men’s Crossfit Lite TR Training Shoe
Reebok Men's Crossfit Lite TR Training Shoe

Reebok’s Crossfit Lite TR is a high top pair of training shoes without an elevated heel. The high top design with the traditional lace up enclosure guarantees a locked in fit. They look somewhat like Chuck Taylors with a Reebok design spin. Besides the plain black on black, they’ve got 10 other styles to choose from. These are great for all types of weight lifting and are more comfortable then the rigid soles of an Olympic style lifting shoe. Another nice thing about this pair is that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it. They are reasonably priced around $75. A fair price for a minimalistic, high top shoe with a flat rubber sole ideal for lifting.

This pair of shoes is a slightly wider fit. If you’ve got a narrow or average size foot, you’ll want to select 1/2 size down from what you normally wear.

>>Reebok Women’s Crossfit Lite TR Training Shoe

Inov-8 Men’s Fastlift 335 Weight-Lifting Shoe
Inov-8 Men's Fastlift 335 Weight-Lifting Shoes

Inov-8 is a relatively new player to the training shoe game, but that doesn’t mean they don’t put out some high quality shoes. Breathable mesh lining, synthetic overlays, and real leather round out this pair of training shoes nicely. The Fastlift 335s have a premium look and feel and the heel design is akin to something like the Nike Shox. The hoop and loop instep strap is made to last years, and the tongue and collar are generously padded. They provide a solid platform for lifting heavy, and the raised heel design will aid in keeping your balance when doing squats and cleans. The only thing some people don’t like about these shoes is the bright orange laces, though those can be swapped out for some stock black laces if they aren’t to your liking.

>>Inov-8 Women’s Fastlift 335 Weight-Lifting Shoe

Adidas Performance Men’s Powerlift Trainer Shoe
Adidas Powerlift Trainer Shoe

This weightlifting shoe is mildly elevated, providing a good balance for stability and flexibility. They are lightweight, crafted with breathable mesh material and rubber sole. The weight distribution plate along the base of the shoe will increase performance in exercises such as squats. With 9 different color styles, Adidas has made sure you get the exact look you desire. They have a velcro strap across the top to get an extra snug fit on the foot. The die-cut midsole is a very high quality wedge design, enabling the user to have optimal stability throughout all lifts.

This shoe is great for both narrow to average feet. The upper strap compensates if your feet are extremely narrow.

Notable Mentions

Here are a few other options if you are looking for a pair of the best lifting shoes.

Adidas Performance Drehkraft Training Shoe

Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2.0 Training Shoe

Adidas Performance Women’s Powerlift Trainer Shoes

General Thoughts on Lifting Shoes: Which Type of Athlete will Benefit Most from Weight Training Shoes?

If you buy a pair, will they increase your performance? Will you be able to lift more? Does every lifter need to own a pair? We venture to answer these questions in this section. Keep in mind that these special shoes are no replacement for good form. Your focus first and foremost should be on perfect form throughout the entire repetition, even on those last couple reps of the set.

Just like any athlete such as a baseball player’s glove and bat, weight trainers gear is very important to them. Like cleats, stable shoes make the best lifting shoes. They are an important part of a serious weightlifter’s arsenal. However, do beginner lifters, CrossFitters, strength athletes, and everyone in between need special weightlifting shoes? Let’s see who it makes sense for to invest in a pair.

Olympic weightlifting shoes are designed for athletes who compete in the sport of Olympic weightlifting. Typically such shoes are raised from about half an inch to a full inch. The heel is constructed with a rigid material, sometimes solid wood. They lace in the front like traditional shoes but most feature a strap that allows the user to tighten and narrow the fit with more precision. These shoes are textured along the bottom preventing slipping and sliding on the platform when under a heavy load. Their primary purpose: enable the lifter to apply maximum force to the ground.

Female Olympic Weight Lifter

Female Olympic Weight Lifter

Who will benefit from lifting shoes? Olympic weightlifters obviously will most benefit from these shoes. However, Crossfitters (during their specific heavy weight training) and Powerlifters will also find them very useful for their lifts. Anyone who executes the Olympic lifts at the gym will see performance gains from the shoes. Deadlifts and squats have been shown to benefit from lifting shoes as well. Serious weight trainers and gym enthusiasts will reap rewards from the heightened heel and extra support too. In recent years, these shoes have gained wide appeal in all areas related to strength training.

Male CrossFit Weight Lifter

Male CrossFit Weight Lifter

Weightlifting Shoes vs. Running Shoes: The Benefits of Weight Training Shoes

Example of Barefoot Type Shoe

Example of Barefoot Type Shoe

Running shoes are designed to absorb the impact each time your feet strike the ground. True to their name, they are to be worn before putting countless miles in on the track, cross-country course, or treadmill. The majority of athletes train in running shoes, but one growing category in athletic shoes is the minimalist shoes and barefoot shoes. The fact that these shoes have no padding makes them more appropriate for weight training than running shoes or basketball shoes for instance. However, weightlifting shoes have a few additional benefits.

Weightlifting shoes, rather than absorbing impact force like a running shoe, transfer that force into the ground. This is particularly helpful for exercises like squats or cleans. These special shoes are commonly seen in Olympic weightlifting but are also starting to grow popular around the gym going crowd. True enough—for lifting heavy weight—you want a shoe that aids you in using all the force your body produces. With the best powerlifting shoes, you can be sure that your contact point with the ground (your shoes) are transmitting as much force as possible back up from your feet, through your body, and ultimately into moving that barbell. Most lifting shoes incorporate a raised heel design. This serves to increase the range of motion at your ankles which in turn maintains a consistent torso angle.

Additionally, weightlifting shoes are more stable than your average barefoot or minimalist shoe. The extra stability is not just underfoot, but also around the foot. This means you have a solid base to push off from or push through depending on the exercise. This not only helps with performance, it prevents injury as well. Of course, the less you get injured, the more you can train, the more muscle you put on.

Incline Heels for Deeper Squats

Incline Heels for Deeper Squats

Pros of Lifting Shoes:

  • Very Stable Surface
  • Boost in Ankle Mobility
  • Very Durable Shoes
  • Lift More Weight in Some Exercises
  • Raised Heel (~1/2 inch to an inch)
  • Less Posterior Hip Displacement
  • Increased Ankle Flexion, Minimize Inversion
  • Consistent Lifting Posture
  • Increase Knee Extensor Activation
  • Looks Legit and Fancy (obviously most important benefit)

Cons of Lifting Shoes:

  • Expensive
  • Takes Time to get Used to
  • Compromising on Movement for Stability
  • Running is difficult
  • After lifting with them will feel weird to lift without them
  • Shouldn’t be worn for walking long distances

What to Look for When Buying Lifting Shoes

The most important thing when shopping for a pair of weight lifting shoes is that they fit well. You want your foot to feel supported within those shoe in all directions. The interesting thing about weightlifting shoes is that they vary in width a lot. Adidas weight lifting shoes are known to be narrower than average, while others such as DoWin are much wider. Length and width wise, you want to get as close of a match as possible to your feet. The last thing you want is your feet sliding around inside the shoes when you have 500 pounds on your back.

Best Lifting Shoes

Some new hybrid weightlifting shoes compromise a little on the solid base, allowing extra movement. These are great for CrossFit type stuff.

  • Stable, snug, and supportive
  • Appropriate width and length
  • About .5 to 1 inch of elevated heel
  • Rigid base material

If you’re looking to weight lift in style, Nike makes some of the best looking weightlifting shoes on the market. You’ll pay for the style points though, the Nike Romaleos have a steep price tag. Fortunately, they are also built to last, and definitely are in the running for the best lifting shoes. They are ready to withstand a beating that only a power lifter can put their shoes through. They are lightweight, with contoured TPU heel cups and just the right amount of flex. The really cool thing about this pair of shoes is that each comes with two insoles types: stiff and soft. You’ll want to use the stiffer insoles for competitions and power lifts and the softer insoles for light training and normal weight lifting.

This pair of weight lifting shoes is arguably the most secure. These are much  more stable than any minimal or crossfit shoe. They feature two large hook and loop closure straps which keeps your feet locked in nicely. The synthetic upper with integrated lacing further secures the feet in place. The sole is made of a very hard plastic material that will not compress even during extra heavy lifts. They feel pretty heavy for shoes, especially if you never have had a pair of legit weightlifting shoes on. They are expensive, but if you lift heavy on a regular basis, the Nike Romaleos are a worthwhile investment.

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