The Best Weightlifting Shoes for Squats, CrossFit, Flat Feet, and More

Lift heavy and stay stable with this list of the best weightlifting shoes on the market.

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Weightlifting shoes have a few advantages over normal training shoes — greater stability, a more beneficial position for mobility and a better “feel” for the surface you’re lifting on (improved proprioception if you’re feeling fancy). If you’re mainly lifting using machines, weightlifting shoes don’t add much benefit because the machines themselves take care of the stability. But if used judiciously, weightlifting shoes are a fabulous tool that can aid with mobility and form while performing free weight movements like squats, presses, cleans, and snatches.

Over the past few years, there has been an explosion of new gyms as weightlifting, powerlifting, CrossFit and more have grown in popularity. With that growth of gyms has come a dazzling array of new lifting shoes all with different heel elevations, strap systems, designs and of course, price points. We’re here to help you navigate through and find the best weightlifting shoe that will fit your requirements. 

Best Weightlifting Shoes

Best Weightlifting Shoe Overall

What makes the best weightlifting shoe, in our opinion, is a combination of comfort, stability, affordability, and quality materials. We looked for shoes that had good breathability to keep your feet comfortable when doing an entire workout session in a hot garage gym like ours. Stability is also huge, and the main reason many people buy a pair of weightlifting shoes in the first place. The Reebok Legacy Lifter II checks all those boxes, and they look great in our opinion — to boot.

Reebok Legacy Lifter II

Reebok has been in the shoe business for years, and their weightlifting shoes have come quite a long way from when they first ventured into the space. The Reebok Legacy Lifter II has a ton of features that improve comfort, performance, and even hygiene. The shoes feature a textile upper for better breathability and comfort as well as an antimicrobial sock liner. 

The 0.86-inch heel height is taller than many other weightlifting shoes on the market which may help to improve stability and put you in a better position when squatting or doing the olympic lifts. The lockdown straps across the middle of the foot provide a nice secure feel that you can tighten or loosen to your preference. The patterned rubber sole and plastic heel are quite grippy and work to help provide the connected feeling to the platform that lifters are looking for. Speaking of, Reebok included a layer of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) that runs the entire length of the shoe for added stability and confidence.

Reebok Legacy Lifter II
Reebok Legacy Lifter II
Reebok Legacy Lifter II

An updated version of Reebok's signature weightlifting shoe, featuring solid construction and a raised heel built to traditional weightlifting specifications. This update model also features anti-microbial lining and additional design elements for airflow. 

Who Should Buy Reebok Legacy Lifter II

  • Weightlifters who want a high-quality shoe that can last them a long time and take heavy, everyday use.
  • Anyone looking for a higher heel to help them get into the deepest squat possible will appreciate the 0.86-inch heel height — taller than most other shoes on the market. 
  • Athletes that are looking for the most support possible — the lockdown strap, TPU full-length stability plate, and overall quality of construction make these among the most supportive shoes available. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy Reebok Legacy Lifter II

  • People who are looking for a weightlifting shoe with minimal heel height. These are quite tall and may make you feel pitches forward if not used to using weightlifting shoes.
  • Anyone who is on a tight budget — there are definitely shoes that are cheaper, though they may not be up to the same quality.
  • Athletes with exceptionally small or large feet — these are only available from size 7.0 to 14.0 US.

While these shoes are among the most expensive on the list, there are good reasons we selected these for our best overall pick. They are made from high-quality materials like a 100% ETC antimicrobial lining around the collar to help reduce heat and abrasions. They’re designed not only to optimize performance but comfort too with a textile upper portion to promote consistent airflow to the feet.

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Squats

Squats are one of the universal lifts that seem to be included in every sport and training program. Just as technique is important for getting the most out of your squats, having the proper footwear is a key to gains as well. When looking for weightlifting shoes for squats, the name of the game is stability — and stability again. The last thing you want when there’s a heavy weight on your back is to feel off-balance or have your feet and ankles wobbling.

Shoes that compress are great for running and jumping because they help to absorb some of the impacts of landing, but that’s not ideal for squats. For weightlifting shoes that are basically made for squatting, you can’t be a classic — that’s why we chose the Do-Win Classic Lifter as our best choice for weightlifting shoes for squats.

Do-Win Classic Lifter

As the re-introduction of the classic Do-Win Lifters, everything about these shoes screams old-school weightlifting from the layered leather heel which is very durable to the suede and mesh upper portion of the shoe. The Do-Win Classic Lifters feature a heel height with an approximate 0.75-inch heel-to-toe drop with a larger drop with higher foot sizes and a slightly smaller drop with smaller sizes. The dual lockdown straps (tarsal straps as Do-Win calls them) provide added support over the typical one-strap design. 

Having the heel made out of stacked leather helps to improve the toughness of these shoes and sounds similar to wooden heels hitting the platform — and who doesn’t love the noise of a nice wooden-heeled weightlifting shoe. These Do-Wins are available in three colorways — black and white, red and white, and blue and white. All three colorways feature suede and mesh uppers along with a rounded toe shape. The one complaint that these shoes get is that they run somewhat small even though Do-Win suggests sizing down a half size from your tennis shoe size. A lot of things have changed in the fitness industry over the past few decades, but this classic is unlikely to go out of style anytime soon. 

Do-Win Classic Lifter
Do-Win Classic Lifter
Do-Win Classic Lifter

The Do-Win Classic Lifter is true to its name. Sporting a stacked leather heel and a suede upper, it's an ideal shoe for serious weightlifters who also want a wider shoe for tripod foot positioning. 

Who Should Buy The Do-Win Classic Lifter

  • Someone who is looking for a durable and stable shoe to support even their hardest of squat sessions — the genuine leather and suede combo does not quit. 
  • Anybody who’s a fan of retro-inspired looks — this revival of a classic has been used on weightlifting platforms for decades.
  • Athletes who want a squat shoe that can stand the test of time and is made from genuine leather, suede, and nylon.

Who Shouldn’t Buy The Do-Win Classic Lifter

  • Anyone who is looking for more modern materials like poly-plastics since these are made from leather and suede.
  • Lifters that prefer to have an exact heel height. The heel height on these is approximate due to them being made from stacked leather. 
  • Athletes who prefer to have a little bit of ankle support with their weightlifting shoes — these are low-top and the collar goes around the bottom of the ankle.

These weightlifting shoes are available in a wide variety of sizes from men’s 4.5 US to men’s 14 US and three colorways — black and white, red and white, and blue and white. These shoes are ultra-stable and won’t let you down when you’re chasing that next squat PR.

Best Weightlifting Shoes for the Money

So, you’re looking for a solid pair of weightlifting shoes and don’t want to break the bank. If you’ve spent any time looking around at gear you likely noticed that weightlifting shoes vary in price quite a bit from under $100, like our pick, to hundreds of dollars for some of the vintage shoes on the market. For those who like to incorporate weightlifting occasionally into their workouts or are testing the waters to see if weightlifting is right for you, you may want a more cost-effective option for shoes. That’s where the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes come in.

Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes

Do-Win has been in the weightlifting shoe game for decades and has consistently made quality shoes at an affordable price. The Do-Win weightlifting shoes are no exception, and their precision tailoring allows for a custom-feeling fit that infuses years of customer feedback and innovation. These shoes feature a 0.75-inch hard plastic heel that won’t compress under heavy weights and feels extremely solid. The leather upper adds to the durability and nylon mesh helps to improve breathability so even during long sessions your feet stay comfortable. 

Another notable aspect of these shoes is the wider than usual platform, which helps make these comfortable for those with wider feet. These shoes also feature two metatarsal straps to help ensure the best and most secure fit on your feet. One downside is that these only come in one color option —black with white accents, so if you like flashy colors you may want to look at another option on the list.

Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe
Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe
Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe

A wider built weightlifting shoe that offers double mid-foot straps and a solid .75" plastic heel, the Do-Win weightlifting shoe has a classic look and an incredibly sturdy feel. It's specifically designed to cater to athletes with wide feet. The single-sole construction adds to the feeling of support. It's recommended purchases order 1/2 size under their normal running shoe size.

Who Should Buy Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes

  • Anyone looking to get a good weightlifting shoe that is on a budget will enjoy the price point on these shoes.
  • Lifters who want a wider base to accommodate wider feet and create a broader base of support for their lifts. 
  • Athletes who prefer to have hard plastic as their heel support rather than wood or leather.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes

  • Those who are looking for a more lightweight shoe — a common complaint is that these shoes feel heavy on the feet.
  • Anyone looking for more color choices from their weightlifting shoes since these only come in black with a white accent. 
  • Lifters who prefer the look or feel of a wooden heel — the heels on these shoes are made from hard plastic.

Do-Win made a great product with these weightlifting shoes. They’re durable, very supportive, and comfortable all at an affordable price lower than almost any other weightlifting shoe on the market. We’ve personally had a pair for nearly three years and they’ve stood up to everything we could throw at them. 

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Men

Men and women have different biomechanics in the squat (1) and produce forces differently in the olympic lifts (2). Because of these differences, the shoes that are optimal to use can differ from men to women as well. Generally speaking, men can also somewhat lack flexibility compared to women too. Choosing the right pair of weightlifting shoes can be a total game-changer for your lifting because they can potentially help to put you in better positions and reduce wear and tear on the body. Our pick for best weightlifting shoes for men fit more like a regular shoe than most other options and still provide the support you’re looking for from a good pair of weightlifting shoes.

Adidas Powerlift 4

The Adidas Powerlift 4 shoes are like if your favorite pair of sneakers just so happened to be weightlifting shoes too. They’re designed for comfort and are quite stylish in our opinion, but can stand up to tough weightlifting workouts. The lightweight design of these helps to promote that connected to the platform feeling you want when you’re trying to stick a split-jerk or pull under a heavy snatch

With the redesign of these shoes from the previous generation, Adidas did make these narrower, so those with wide feet may want to explore other options. Other changes made during the redesign include more lightweight and breathable materials to help with the extra sweating that guys tend to do along with a flexible toe box. If you’ve ever had your front foot hit the ground early in a split-jerk, you’ll know that a flexible toe box is very nice to have. The placement of the lockdown strap is also something to note, as the sole strap is located toward the top of the foot rather than the forefoot. The location can help allow for better flexibility in the forefoot area of the shoes, such as in the receiving position of a split-jerk. 

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. 

Who Should Adidas Powerlift 4

  • Athletes with narrower feet will appreciate that these shoes were designed with a narrower platform to fit narrow feet better.
  • Lifters who prefer a comfortable and stylish shoe will appreciate that these were designed to fit like an everyday sneaker.
  • Anyone looking for a lightweight weightlifting shoe — these are made with a lightweight canvas upper and optimized for breathability.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Adidas Powerlift 4

  • Athletes looking for a weightlifting shoe with a tall heel. The effective heel height on these is 15mm (0.59 inches), which is lower than most other weightlifting shoes on the market.
  • Anyone who prefers to have two lockdown straps for extra security and tightness — these only have one strap.
  • Lifters with wide feet should look elsewhere as these were specifically designed for a narrower fit. 

These weightlifting shoes were designed with comfort and form in mind. The open forefoot design coupled with the cuts in the midsole wedge allows for flexibility in the shoe, unlike many other weightlifting shoes on the market that have a whole-foot bottom plate. The Adidas Powerlift 4 is also lightweight and breathable helping to prevent unnecessary fatigue. Adidas recommends sizing up a half a size from your normal shoe size when ordering, but an entire size may be necessary for those without narrow feet to accommodate for the shoes being designed to be more narrow than others.

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Women

Women’s weightlifting has grown exponentially in the past few years thanks in great part to some CrossFit competitors turned Olympians like Alyssa RitcheyTia-Clair Toomey, and Morghan King. That said, men and women have different needs when it comes to the type of footwear they don because of biomechanical (1) and force production (2) differences. Having a shoe with a higher ankle and slightly higher heel may be helpful for women when competing in weightlifting. That’s why we chose the Reebok Legacy Lifter II as our pick for best weightlifting shoe for women.

Reebok Legacy Lifter II – Women’s

The Reebok Legacy Lifter II was designed for the female weightlifter and it shows. The higher collar support and beefed-up Achilles pad offer more ankle support than other shoes. The shoe is molded in an anatomical shape that naturally contours the foot for maximum support and power output to prevent wasting energy. It features a thicker lockdown strap over the midfoot for added support and an antimicrobial sock liner to prevent bacteria and smell. 

The heel is slightly higher than the industry standard of 0.75 inches and sits at 0.86 inches instead. This is done to help compensate for the larger hip to quadriceps angle that women naturally have (3). The shoes also have a textile upper section for increased comfort and breathability — nicely reducing weight compared to leather and helping to prevent uncomfortably sweaty feet. Lining the shoes on the inside is a full foam lining for added comfort when moving the feet aggressively and quickly as is needed in weightlifting. 

Reebok Legacy Lifter II for Women
Reebok Legacy Lifter II for Women
Reebok Legacy Lifter II for Women

Reebok's signature weightlifting shoe is engineered with updates for stability and performance on the platform. This version of the shoe features an ETC anti-microbial lining, achilles padding, and a high-grip rubber outsole great for explosive movements.

Who Should Buy Reebok Legacy Lifter II – Women’s

  • Athletes who want a higher heel than most other weightlifting shoes will appreciate the 0.86 inch heel height on these shoes which help to keep you more upright during your lifts.
  • Anyone who is looking for maximum stability from their shoes — Reebok made these with a wider lockdown strap and higher ankle support than many other shoes. 
  • Customers who want to have a connected feeling to the platform at all times will appreciate the full-length stability plate and rubber outsole to provide extra grip and stability.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Reebok Legacy Lifter II – Women’s

  • Anyone on a tight budget may want to consider other options as these shoes are one of the more expensive options.
  • Athletes who prefer a lower heel height and find that taller heels make them feel unbalanced or off-center — the heel height on these is taller than most other shoes.
  • Lifters who prefer a more flexible shoe may want to look elsewhere as these are built to be fairly rigid with the full-length stability plate and hard plastic heel.

Weightlifting in America has had much success in the past two Summer Olympic games thanks to the female athletes, and if you’re interested in weightlifting these are a great choice of shoe. They’re supportive, comfortable, and designed for the needs of women. 

Best Weightlifting Shoes for CrossFit

Weightlifting is an important aspect of CrossFit and you can’t be successful in CrossFit without at least being pretty good at weightlifting. That said, there are some major differences between the way weightlifting is done in CrossFit and the way its done when competing in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting. With those differences such as higher reps, different exercises in between, and loads of conditioning, come different needs from the type of footwear you will use throughout your workouts. Traditional weightlifting shoes can be too rigid, heavy, and specialized to be used in a CrossFit workout. That’s where the Reebok Lifter PR II comes in.

Reebok Lifter PR II

These shoes are a good middle ground for most people in CrossFit because they’re not solely for weightlifting. Yes, they have a raised heel, but it’s only 15mm (0.59 inches) which is lower than most specialized weightlifting shoes. Yes, they have a stability plate, but it’s only in the heel instead of running the full length of the shoe, allowing for increased shoe flexibility. They also have a lockdown strap, but it’s positioned more toward the ankle to allow for extra movement in the forefoot such as during running, rowing, or biking.

The collar of the shoe is low-cut around the ankle to allow for a greater range of motion of the ankle like during burpees or lunges. The upper portion of the shoe is made from textile for breathability and the midsole is made from EVA lightweight foam for cushioning — it also helps make the shoes lighter. It seems like Reebok was trying to cut a path through the middle ground to make a shoe that’s good for CrossFit and doubles as a weightlifting shoe, and they succeeded.

Reebok Lifter PR II
Reebok Lifter PR II
Reebok Lifter PR II

The Reebok Lifter PR II feature a durable upper, an elevated heel, and a slick color scheme. They're reliable on the platform, lightweight enough for CrossFitters and easy on the wallet. 

Who Should Buy Reebok Lifter PR II

  • Athletes that want a shoe that they can use for their entire workout without having to change shoes midway through — these compromises were necessary to be able to support many different types of activities. 
  • Anyone who is looking for a solid weightlifting shoe, but doesn’t want to break the bank. These are reasonably priced for the versatility you get from them.
  • Lifters who want a shoe that’s comfortable and provides some cushion for their feet — this has an EVA foam insert for cushioning.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Reebok Lifter PR II

  • Athletes who want a shoe that is specifically made for weightlifting — these are made to be versatile and “true” weightlifting shoes generally have a higher heel and more stability to support in them.
  • Anyone who is looking for the maximum support they can get out of a weightlifting shoe. There are options with two lockdown straps and a full-length stability plate.
  • Advanced weightlifters that are handling very heavy weights and looking for a connected feeling to the platform with an outsole that provides more traction.

When it comes to the needs of CrossFit athletes, the list is quite long, but with a few adjustments to the previous version of these shoes, Reebok made a shoe that can tackle any CrossFit workout you throw at it. These are lightweight, versatile, and still offer a good amount of stability when performing the olympic lifts.

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Flat Feet

Folks with flat feet can develop a host of problems due to their falling arches such as tendonitis, foot pain and fatigue, shin splints, and inflammation (4). Those with flat feet and interested in weightlifting may feel like there’s no solution for them, but we beg to differ. People with flat feet simply need a bit more support and contoured design than those without.

Reebok Legacy Lifter II

The Reebok Legacy Lifter II is designed with an anatomical shape that naturally contours the foot for maximum support, which also helps to produce maximum power output because the energy transfer is more efficient. The collar is higher around the ankle for added support and the Achilles pad is ETC lined to help reduce friction and abrasions, especially when wearing low-cut socks.

The lockdown strap is wider than previous versions, allowing for added stability and pulling the shoe closer to your foot, thus creating a more contoured feeling. The lifted heel is also higher than most other shoes at 22mm or 0.86 inches tall — this helps with getting positions right when lifting and can help compensate for lack of flexibility which is often seen in flat feet as well (4). The LL2 also includes a full foam lining with an extra Achilles pad to help absorb shock and provide a more comfortable wearing experience.

Reebok Legacy Lifter II
Reebok Legacy Lifter II
Reebok Legacy Lifter II

An updated version of Reebok's signature weightlifting shoe, featuring solid construction and a raised heel built to traditional weightlifting specifications. This update model also features anti-microbial lining and additional design elements for airflow. 

Who Should Buy Reebok Legacy Lifter II

  • Athletes that have flat feet and want a shoe that’s designed with some extra foot support to compensate for that. 
  • Anyone who prefers a taller heel to help overcome flexibility issues and get into better positions for the squat.
  • Customers who want a true, dedicated weightlifting shoe — some weightlifting shoes are hybrids that can work for weightlifting, but also work for other exercise types.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Reebok Legacy Lifter II

  • Athletes on a tight budget — these are on the more expensive side of things for weightlifting shoes and there are cheaper options on this list. 
  • Anyone who wants a more versatile shoe that they can wear as they transition from a weightlifting exercise to a more movement-based workout.
  • Beginners just getting started in weightlifting might want to opt for a shoe with a lower heel so they aren’t relying on the shoes for flexibility or positioning as flexibility is important for weightlifting.

For folks with flat feet, the Reebok LL2 is an ideal choice not only because of the anatomically contoured design and full foam lining but because of the wider lockdown strap which allows for a more secure fit. The grippy rubber outsole of these shoes also gives the connected feeling that experienced weightlifters look for in a weightlifting shoe.

Best Weightlifting Shoes for Wide Feet

If you’ve got wide feet, you know the struggle of trying to squeeze your foot into shoes that they were clearly not made to fit into. You also know the Cinderella-like feeling of bliss when you slip your foot into a shoe that fits just right. Shoes with a wider profile can actually be beneficial for athletes with all widths of feet, not just those with wide feet as it allows for a greater ground-contact area and wider base of support for yourself when lifting.

Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes

The Do-Win Weightlifting shoes feature a 0.75 inch heel made from hard plastic, which is the standard height for weightlifting shoes. A leather upper portion of the shoe is offset by a breathable nylon mesh and single sole construction which helps add to the shoe’s durability and flexibility. The inclusion of dual metatarsal straps allows the wearer to adjust the tightness and flexibility of the shoes.

By strapping down the forefoot strap tighter, you allow for less flex in the shoe, which might be preferred during a snatch when you don’t want to be up on your toes. Alternatively, during a split-jerk, a lifter may want to loosen the front strap to allow for more flexibility in the receiving position of the jerk when the athlete’s rear leg’s pressure is mainly on the ball of the foot. These shoes were inspired by years of customer feedback and direct experience since Do-Win has been making weightlifting shoes for a long time, and it shows.

Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe
Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe
Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe

A wider built weightlifting shoe that offers double mid-foot straps and a solid .75" plastic heel, the Do-Win weightlifting shoe has a classic look and an incredibly sturdy feel. It's specifically designed to cater to athletes with wide feet. The single-sole construction adds to the feeling of support. It's recommended purchases order 1/2 size under their normal running shoe size.

Who Should Buy Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes

  • Athletes who want a shoe they can customize the support of and tailor it to each exercise they’re performing using the dual metatarsal strap system on these shoes. 
  • Anyone who has wide feet will enjoy the wider profile of these shoes that they won’t have to cram their foot into each time they workout. 
  • Customers who are on a tight budget — these are among the most cost-effective shoes on the market and come in a wide range of sizes.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes

  • Anyone looking for a heel that is taller than the average for enhanced flexibility assistance or lower than average because they feel tilted forward on a tall heel. 
  • Athletes looking for a lightweight shoe that won’t cause extra fatigue — these are pretty heavy shoes thanks to the leather and hard plastic.
  • Weightlifters who prefer a wooden or layered leather heel because of the longevity and signature “pop” the shoes make when repositioning the feet aggressively during the snatch or clean.

Do-Win did the world of people with wide feet a favor when they made these shoes. We’ve had a pair for years now and they’re still just as comfy and supportive as the day we opened them up. The wide profile and dual metatarsal straps ensure you’ll get the exact amount of pressure and stability you need for each lift.

Best Heel Lift Inserts

So you really like your current workout shoes, but still want some of the benefits of having weightlifting shoes, like a raised heel for deeper, more upright squats. You might also be testing the waters of trying out weightlifting, so you don’t want to invest in a pair of weightlifting shoes until you find out if it’s for you. Maybe cash is a little tight right now and you can’t quite justify dropping the money on a new pair of weightlifting shoes. There’s a solution that’s not perfect, but it’ll do the trick in a pinch — heel inserts.

VersaLifts V2 Heel Lift Inserts

VersaLifts made the second version of their heel lift inserts, and we’re not talking about the ones your friend who’s 5’5 but swears that he’s 5’8” wears. These are made for weightlifting, and they’re meant to be inserted into your shoe to help raise the heel-to-toe drop by half an inch to give you a better bottom position of your squat and a more upright position when weightlifting.

They’re made from high-durometer polymer and are meant to withstand heavy loads so they won’t compress. VersaLifts V2 inserts are available in three sizes that correspond to shoe sizes. You don’t have to worry about them shifting around in your shoes either — they have no-slip cleat tech to ensure that they stay in place as you move around and they’re even labeled left and right on the bottom.

VersaLifts V2 Heel Lift Inserts
VersaLifts V2 Heel Lift Inserts
VersaLifts V2 Heel Lift Inserts

If you’re looking for the raised heel benefits of weightlifting shoes, but don’t want to or can’t buy a pair right now, then the VersaLifts V2 Heel Lift Inserts have you covered. They’ll raise your heel-to-toe drop by half an inch, which could make a world of difference in exercise effectiveness and overall position for weightlifting.

Who Should Buy VersaLifts V2 Heel Lift Inserts

  • Athletes who want to be able to achieve more advantageous positions in weightlifting without having to buy weightlifting shoes — these will raise your heel height. 
  • Anyone who can’t afford a pair of weightlifting shoes, but still wants to try to train the snatch and clean & jerk. 
  • CrossFit athletes who want the comfort of regular trainers, but still want the advantages of a raised heel.

Who Shouldn’t Buy VersaLifts V2 Heel Lift Inserts

  • Serious lifters who want to compete in weightlifting will want to invest in a solid pair of weightlifting shoes — like those on this list — sooner or later to get the most out of their training. 
  • Anyone with ankle instability. These heel lift inserts are great, but lifting heavy weights on a shoe that’s not stable or compresses like regular trainers can cause ankle problems over time.

Whether you’re just trying out weightlifting or can’t quite splurge for that shiny new set of shoes yet, the VersaLifts V2 Heel Lift Inserts are a solid choice to hold you over in the meantime. They’re not a long-term solution for anyone who wants to do weightlifting seriously, but they can be a happy middle ground for some.

Best Non-Weightlifting Weightlifting Shoes

Some shoes are good for weightlifting even though they weren’t intended for that at all. Converse All-Stars, better known as Chucks, were originally basketball shoes, but have become the unofficial shoe of powerlifters all over the world. Something similar to that has happened with another pair of shoes and weightlifting. The Nike Metcon 7 is a great shoe for weightlifting when you just can’t get your hands on a pair of specifically designed weightlifting shoes.

Nike Metcon 7

The similarities between the Nike Metcon 7 and other weightlifting shoes are striking. The Metcons feature a rubber outsole for extra traction and a lightweight mesh design to help keep your foot speed where it needs to be. Another feature is the wide, flat heel that has an inner plate for enhanced stability in squats, snatches, and cleans. They do compress a bit, which can be detrimental to those who are lifting quite heavy weights, especially when squatting.

The compression of the foam of the shoe causes instability which can lead to overuse of the ankle tendons from stabilizing too much and too hard, so if you’re lifting serious weight, we’d recommend getting a pair of dedicated weightlifting shoes. If you’re just doing weightlifting as part of your regular CrossFit workouts or sports strength & conditioning program, then these shoes are likely just fine and double up as cross-trainers for the rest of your workout as well. 

Nike Metcon 7
Nike Metcon 7
Nike Metcon 7

This light design is ideal for speed work. The soles maintain a nice level of stability, thanks to their firmer outer layer, which balances out the softer foam inner core. There’s also a rubber wrap along the arch that can provide great rope climb grip.

Who Should Buy Nike Metcon 7

  • Athletes who are performing the olympic lifts as part of their sports strength and conditioning program or CrossFit WODs — these will get you by without the need to pack an extra pair of shoes. 
  • Anyone who wants the added comfort of extra cushioning that comes with trainers — let’s face it, sometimes weightlifting shoes can be uncomfortable due to the lack of cushioning.
  • Beginners who aren’t moving a ton of weight and want a versatile shoe they can use no matter the workout.

Who Shouldn’t Buy Nike Metcon 7

  • Serious weightlifters who are training to compete — these aren’t specialized weightlifting shoes and if you’re going to compete, there’s no replacing “real” weightlifting shoes. 
  • Anyone on a tight budget. If you’re looking for weightlifting shoes, there are pairs designed for weightlifting that are more affordable than these top-tier trainers.
  • Anyone with a predisposition to lower limb and ankle injuries — the lack of a formal stability plate in these shoes can exacerbate those problems over time.

Anybody who wants a pair of solid, all-around, and versatile trainers could do worse than the Nike Metcon 7’s. They’re made to withstand tough workouts with quality construction and they’re lightweight to avoid unnecessary fatigue. They’re not purpose-built weightlifting shoes, so competitive weightlifters should look at other options on this list, but they’ll work perfectly fine for anyone else doing weightlifting exercises as part of their normal workout routine.

What to Consider Before Buying Weightlifting Shoes

When making any purchase, especially a larger one like a new pair of shoes, it’s a good idea to consider the options and take inventory of what you’d like to get out of your new piece of equipment. Just like other types of shoes, there are a lot of options on the market and a lot of factors to think about when choosing your next or first pair of weightlifting shoes. We’ll explain some of the most important considerations here.

Your Training and Sport

Some athletes are focused on one sport, while others may like to traverse different sports that share some common characteristics. You may like to compete in weightlifting, but also do an occasional powerlifting meet or two just to keep things interesting and spice up your training. If you like variety, then you’ll likely want to consider a more well-rounded and versatile shoe that can accommodate different needs in different sports. They likely won’t be ideal for one particular sport, but they’ll be good for a variety. 

Alternatively, if you’re solely focused on one sport, you’ll have an easier time narrowing down the shoe specifically designed for your chosen sport. Just know that if you choose a sport-specific shoe, it likely won’t perform as well as other more versatile shoes if you choose to switch things up in the future.

Your Budget

Budget can be tricky because there is a wide range of prices that weightlifting shoes come in. Some of the shoes are functionally very similar, but either are designed to look nicer or are constructed from superior materials and constitute a higher price tag. Whether you’ve got some extra money to spare to splurge or you’re on a tight budget, choosing the right shoe should come down to the features that you need to achieve your goals and your biomechanical needs such as flat or wide feet, male or female, etc.

How We Chose the Best Weightlifting Shoes

Weightlifting shoes are surprisingly complicated pieces of equipment and have many different parts. So much goes into making good weightlifting shoes that we had to narrow our criteria down to a few important variables. Heel height and elevation will be the first thing you notice when slipping on a pair of weightlifting shoes — thus, we made it a top priority. The way a shoe laces and straps up will also influence how it feels, and who it’s best for. The type of heel used to make the shoes has a large impact on the performance of the shoe (whether it’s stacked leather, TPU, wood, or EVA). Design and durability are related to each other, and also weighted heavily in decision making for best shoes. Read on for more in depth information on each consideration.

Heel Height and Elevation

The height of a weightlifting shoe’s heel can make quite a difference in your training, especially if you compete. The elevation of the heel on these types of shoes supports better mobility and allows a lifter to remain more upright when squatting — achieving better positioning for lifting. Having your feet planted and stable is necessary, especially when lifting heavy weights, and an elevated heel can help with that. 

How to choose the perfect weightlifting shoe via heel height and squat style

Weightlifting shoe heel-to-toe elevations can range anywhere from as low as 0.3 inches to a full inch, and every lifer will have a preference of what height feels best to them. What’s important to consider when looking at heel height is your sport, anthropometrics, and feeling. All the charts in the world can tell you that you need a heel that’s 0.75 inches tall or greater, but if it doesn’t feel right for you, it isn’t. 

Lacing and Strapping

The way in which a shoe laces up or straps down can make a big difference for lifers who prioritize foot stability or flexibility. Among the list of shoes, we reviewed you’ll find many different options for a single strap, double strap, and other lacing options. Each of these options comes with its own advantages and disadvantages as well as different levels of security for areas of the foot.

For the most secure and versatile feeling, double straps with heavy-duty lacing or even BOA laces. Single straps also provide a good level of stability and security but are less versatile since you can only tighten down the section of the foot that the strap is over. If you have a double strap system, you can tighten the front or back straps differently depending on the exercise. For example, when performing split jerks, you want a bit more flexibility in your rear foot so you can be up on the ball of your foot, but you want maximum stability in the lead foot, so you can adjust the straps accordingly.

Type of Heel

Regular running shoes or sneakers —with a few exceptions — have compressible rubber or foam-based heels, which are less than ideal for supporting and stabilizing any remotely heavy weights. Weightlifting shoes, on the other hand, have a few different heel options and they are usually very solid with little to no give. Some of the most common heel options are EVA, TPU, stacked leather, and wood. Each of these options has a different appearance, level of stability, performance, noise, and feel on the platform. 

When it comes to deciding which heel is the right one for you, it’s often up to the discretion of the lifter and what they prefer. Some reasons you may want to choose each type of commonly used heel material follow.

  • EVA Heel: Lightweight, somewhat compressible or maneuverable, very durable
  • TPU Heel: Lightweight, resistant to compression and abrasion, long-lasting, durable
  • Stacked Leather Heel: Throwback look, platform feedback, and sound, somewhat compressible
  • Wood Heel: Stable, old-school appearance, little to no compression, platform feedback, and sound is unmistakable

The type of heel material and height of the heel are what helped us when we were dividing each shoe into their “best” category. 

Durability

Durability is less of an issue nowadays, and improvements in manufacturing technologies and materials have improved leaps and bounds. It’s still worth paying attention to what friends and fellow lifters say about a certain shoe you may have your sights set on. One major thing to consider is how often you’ll be using the weightlifting shoes and how much wear and tear you anticipate you may put them through on a weekly and monthly basis.

Materials

Something to be aware of are the tradeoffs that come with certain types of materials. Leather, for example, looks great, but does not breathe as well as other fabrics such as textile or mesh. Conversely, using a ton of breathable material will make shoes nice and lightweight with great airflow, but may impact their durability and possibility stability.

weightlifting shoe construction and key components

When it comes to heels and outsoles, weightlifting shoes tend to be built for stability and traction to help you stick to the platform. Weightlifting shoes are meant to make you feel connected to the platform so don’t expect much forgiveness or squishy feeling from them.

Design

Design is something that is highly subjective and we try our best not to put too much emphasis on it, but sometimes there are shoes we can all agree just look good — and we’ll point that out. Whether you’re someone who cares about the look of your shoes or simply views them as tools meant to perform a job, the design of weightlifting shoes has come a long way and there are a lot of different looks and options to choose from now. 

Benefits of Weightlifting Shoes

Weightlifting shoes have been studied on multiple occasions, although not incredibly in-depth. The topics that have been researched have mostly been focused on the idea of how an elevated heel can alter performance and mechanics.

A notable study comes from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In this research, the authors assessed kinematic changes weightlifting shoes have on the barbell back squat (5).

From the study, researchers suggested that weightlifting shoes changed an athlete’s foot angle and forward lean, but didn’t change thigh angle to a high degree. They suggested that weightlifting shoes were seen to be beneficial when reducing forward torso lean, which can at times cause additional shear stress on the lower back. Also, researchers suggested that weightlifting shoes could be useful tools to increase knee extensor activation.

Another study from 2017 published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research sought to explore the same idea of how weightlifting shoes impact trunk and leg mechanics in the back squat (6). For this study, researchers noted that this topic was lacking research and sought to challenge the idea that weightlifting shoes led to a more upright torso in the squat, which has been suggested to protect the back from injury.

In their study, authors took 14 recreational weightlifters who ranged from the ages of 18-50 and had them squat in three different conditions: Barefoot, with an elevated platform, and with weightlifting shoes. They performed a 3-D motion analysis and tracked the EMG activity of the knee extensors and the paraspinal muscles of L-3 and T-12.

Unlike the 2012 study, their research suggested that neither of the heel elevated conditions led to a significant difference in biomechanics, especially with respect to forward torso lean. They suggested that weightlifting shoes are unlikely to lead to a significant amount of back protection in the squat.

Research Takeaways

When you consider both studies and how they assessed their participants, it makes sense that they found varied results. Everyone will have slightly different mechanics based on their lifting experience, training history, and anthropometrics. If you feel that using a weightlifting shoe translates to better performance in the gym, then the tool is working for you. Just be sure to assess your health and speak to a licensed medical professional if you have any concerns about injury. 

Our advice

Assess your body’s needs, your sport’s demands, and the different construction characteristics of each shoe to find the perfect fit for you. Weightlifting shoes are, at the end of the day, another piece of equipment that you use when lifting. Just as your wrist wraps and belt do their job, weightlifting shoes do theirs and everyone will have their own preference. We just hope we could help guide you to which product is best for you and your needs.

Check out our in-depth Guide to Lifting Shoes

Final Word

While these weightlifting shoes each have their strengths and weaknesses, one key thing to remember when buying any pair of shoes is your overall comfort. We can talk about the toe width, the heel height, and all the other features that are available, but if your feet hurt when you wear them, then they aren’t the right shoe for you — and you probably won’t be wearing them much. It’s worth thinking about your sport, body, and budget before buying a pair of quality lifting shoes. Chat to your friends if they have lifting shoes, and try to buy from a retailer that has a good return policy so you don’t have to worry about sending them back for a different size or model. Once you have that perfect pair, it’s time to let the PRs roll.

FAQs

Why should I buy weightlifting shoes?

Weightlifting shoes come with a few key benefits that traditional training shoes can’t offer due to structural differences. For example, weightlifting shoes have:

  • Elevated heels to provide assistance when sitting back and under weight.
  • Additional straps and security systems to lock down the foot.
  • Firm EVA/Wood/TPU heels for stability and durability.
  • Flat outsoles for full toe splay and contact with the ground/platform feedback.

What are the best weightlifting shoes for wide feet?

The weightlifting shoe that often works best for wide footed athletes is the Do-Win weightlifting shoe. The shoe is constructed to be wider and can accommodate for full toe splay really well, even with wide feet.

Can beginners wear weightlifting shoes?

Yes. The important thing to remember with weightlifting shoes for beginners is the “why” behind them. They should be used as tools to promote perfect form and to teach proper movement mechanics with the assistance of their elevated heels and stable outsoles.

What are the benefits of weightlifting shoes?

There are multiple benefits that come along with weightlifting for serious lifters and strength sport athletes. Some of these benefits include:

  • Elevated and stable heel.
  • Additional mid-foot security.
  • Firm and flat outsole material provides platform feedback.
  • Beefier construction.

References

  1. Garhammer, J. (1991). A comparison of maximal power outputs between elite male and female weightlifters in competition. Journal of Applied Biomechanics, 7(1), 3-11.
  2. Zeller, B. L., McCrory, J. L., Kibler, W. B., & Uhl, T. L. (2003). Differences in kinematics and electromyographic activity between men and women during the single-legged squat. The American journal of sports medicine, 31(3), 449–456. https://doi.org/10.1177/03635465030310032101
  3. Hahn T, Foldspang A. The Q angle and sport. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 1997 Feb;7(1):43-8. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.1997.tb00116.x. PMID: 9089904.
  4. Van Boerum DH, Sangeorzan BJ. Biomechanics and pathophysiology of flat foot. Foot Ankle Clin. 2003 Sep;8(3):419-30. doi: 10.1016/s1083-7515(03)00084-6. PMID: 14560896.
  5. Sato K, e. (2018). Kinematic changes using weightlifting shoes on barbell back squat. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 10 October 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22201687
  6. Lee SP, e. (2018). Heel-Raised Foot Posture Do Not Affect Trunk And Lower Extremity Biomechanics During A Barbell Back Squat In Recreational Weightlifters. – PubMed – NCBI . Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Retrieved 10 October 2018, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28644193