One of the more important decisions a lifter can make is what type of shoes they choose to lift in. Weightlifting shoes/lifting shoes, or lifters, are becoming increasingly more popular among all strength sports and fitness enthusiasts for their abilities to support performance.

Over the last two years, we’ve been on a mission dedicated to reviewing and ranking the industry’s top lifting shoes. Lifting shoes are designed to increase a lifter’s stability, support mobility, and enhance platform feedback. They’re composed of multiple features that benefit the above three categories, and these characteristics are what make every shoe slightly different and individual for an athlete.

Best All-Around: Nike Romaleos 3XD

Nike Romaleos 3 XD
Nike Romaleos 3 XD
Nike Romaleos 3 XD

The Nike Romaleos 3 XD have improved outer construction and increased material around the tongue to support durability. 

The Nike Romaleos 3XD lifting shoes are the best of all worlds when it comes to working out. This model is light weight, which makes it a dynamic shoe for cross-training, and also has a responsive TPU heel for weightlifting. On top of that, this model has increased durability features compared to the previous model the Nike Romaleos 3.

Heel Height: .79”

Pros 

  • Slimmer construction, so it form fits the foot very well and feels athletic.
  • Breathable and flexible material that doesn’t take too long to break in.
  • Extremely light weight with a strong .79” TPU heel.

Cons 

  • Not always the perfect fit for flat or wide feet.
  • Slightly expensive.

Best Squat Shoes: Adidas Powerlift 4

Adidas Powerlift 4
Adidas Powerlift 4
Adidas Powerlift 4

The brand new updated Adidas Powerlift 4 offers a lightweight canvas outer construction, an open forefoot design, and a strong single strap for stability. 

The Adidas Powerlift 4 is a fantastic shoe for the fitness enthusiast that wants a solid, cost efficient lifter specifically for squats. This model has a .6” heel, which makes it a great shoe for multiple squat styles (high-bar, low-bar, etc.) and has durable construction.

Heel Height: .6”

Pros

  • Great in-between lifting shoe for multiple levels of fitness enthusiast
  • Cost efficient between $50.00-90.00, so it’s great for beginners and budget shoppers.
  • Strong canvas outer construction, which is great for durability.

Cons

  • High-density EVA foam heel may not be incredibly responsive for dedicated weightlifters.

Best for Women: Inov-8 Women’s FastLift 325

Inov-8 Women's FastLift 325
Inov-8 Women's FastLift 325
Inov-8 Women's FastLift 325

The Inov-8 FastLift 325 women's weightlifting shoe offers a strong TPU heel, secure mid-foot, and light weight construction. 

The Inov-8 Women’s FastLift 325 lifting shoes are great for women for two particular reasons. First, they’re incredibly light with a weight of 325 oz, so foot turnover will not be slowed down in them. Second, they’re durable, form fitting, and come with a cost efficient price.

Heel Height: .65”

Pros

  • Fantastic model for cross-training and workouts that include lifting and dynamic movements.
  • Lightweight with a durable and responsive TPU heel.
  • Cost-efficient and form fitting for slimmer feet with meta-flex forefoot construction.

Cons

  • This shoe’s color schemes are a bit scarce at times.

Best Value: Adidas Powerlift 3.1

Adidas Powerlift 3.1
Adidas Powerlift 3.1
Adidas Powerlift 3.1

A lightweight versailte lifting shoe with .6" heel made of high density EVA foam.

The Adidas Powerlift 3.1 is one of the most cost efficient lifting shoes on the market. It’s predecessor mentioned above the Adidas Powerlift 4 is equally cost efficient, but the 3.1 is generally slightly less. The average price for this model ranges from $50.00 – $105.00.

Heel Height: .6”

Pros

  • Great in-between lifting shoe for multiple levels of fitness enthusiast.
  • Cost efficient between $50.00-90.00, so it’s great for beginners and budget shoppers.
  • Strong synthetic leather outer construction.

Cons

  •  Not the most responsive on the platform for dedicated weightlifters.

Best for Weightlifting: Reebok Legacy Lifter

Reebok Legacy Lifter
Reebok Legacy Lifter
Reebok Legacy Lifter

Reebok's signature weightlifting shoe that provides a strong TPU heel and double mid-foot straps for security.

The Reebok Legacy Lifter has all of the features you want in a great weightlifting shoe. The double-strap construction provides a ton of midfoot stability, while the TPU heel gives this shoe a strong base to lift on. Another perk to this model is the slightly wider toe box to accommodate for full toe splay.

Heel Height: .86”

Pros

  • Wider profile for toe splay with two midfoot leather straps for security.
  • Firm .86” TPU heel creates a stable base to lift on.
  • Thick leather outer construction for long-term durability.

Cons 

  • Slightly heavier lifter with a weight of 20.1 ounce.

How We Picked

We select the best weightlifting shoes on multiple pieces of criteria. For the list above, we broke shoes down into three different areas, then catered each of them for different athletes. These three areas of criteria include heel height/construction, security, and overall durability.

Heel Height and Construction

The elevated heel on lifting shoes supports mobility and provides a stable base for lifters to sit back on. A planted stable foot is a must for athletes, especially when moving heavy weight, so a stable elevated heel can help a lifter to increase their confidence. A heel’s elevation can range from as low as .3″ – 1″, and every lifter will have a heel height that works best for them. This is dependent on a lifter’s sport and anthropometrics.

Additionally, the extra heel height helps support a lifter moving weight through a variety of positions with optimal posture angles (easier to keep chest tall, knees track properly, etc). The table below can help give you an idea of which heel heights work best for different lifting stances and squat styles.

Regular sneakers have a compressible rubber-based heel, which is not ideal for catching, or moving weight. The lifting shoes we reviewed come in four different options: EVA, TPU, stacked leather, and wood. Each of these heels will have a different appearance, level of stability, performance, and feel on the platform.

When it comes to deciding which heel is best for an athlete, it’s often up to an athlete’s preferences and discretion. Below are a few reasons a lifter might choose one of the four heels listed above.

  • EVA Heel: Lightweight, somewhat compressible/maneuverable, and durable.
  • TPU Heel: Lightweight, long-lasting, and resistant to abrasion and compression.
  • Stacked Leather Heel: Old school appearance, lightweight, platform feedback.
  • Wood Heel: Platform feedback, stable base, and old school appearance.

Every shoe listed below in their respective categories was selected for a specific reason. The characteristics listed above, along with other factors like a shoe’s weight, are what helped us to divide each shoe into their “best” category.

Security

The way a shoe laces, or straps can be a big deal for lifters who prioritize foot security. Of the shoes we reviewed, you’ll find single strap, double strap, and BOA lacing models. Each come with different levels of security for different areas of the foot.

For maximal security, we found double straps and BOA lacing to top the list, but single straps also provide plenty of security.

Overall Construction

The overall construction is great for predicting long-term durability of lifting shoes. Typically, lifting shoes will only be worn in the gym, so they’ll naturally last longer than regular tennis shoes and cross-training shoes.

Some construction traits we consider include,

  • Outer construction: What the material is made out of and how heavy is the stitching?
  • Heel material: Is the heel going to last with repetitive impact and under heavy weight?
  • Boot composition: Is the material around the boot thick and made to last, or will it lose stability?

While every shoe is created differently, there are common construction traits worth noting on every model. Most shoes will be designed to last, however, it’s still worth considering before investing.

FAQS

1. Are Lifting Shoes a Must?

BarBend: Not at all! In fact, we recommend building a foundation of strength and nailing down movement mechanics before investing in a pair of lifting shoes. Weightlifting shoes are great for supporting performance, but they’re certainly not a must-have for the novice and intermediate populations.

2. Is a Higher Heel Better?

BarBend: Nope. Heel height comes down to your movement mechanics, personal preferences, and limb lengths. Often times, it’s the culmination of all three that dictate what an athlete likes to wear. Our advice, start with a lower heel and go up from there to find your ideal fit.

3. What Is the Main Purpose of Lifting Shoes?

BarBend: Weightlifting shoes have elevated heels made out of hard materials that are designed to withstand weight and pressure. This is why weightlifting shoes are great for squat, clean, and snatches because you sit back into the heels without fear of losing stability. Additionally, the outsoles are made to be hard and firm, and the mid-foot has straps to provide additional security.

Wrapping Up

The culmination of these three testing criteria help us select the best weightlifting shoes for multiple populations. Whether you’re a beginner or elite weightlifter, there are multiple options that will fit the bill for your needs very well, it’s just a matter of finding the perfect fit!