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 for their abilities to support an athlete’s performance.
Over the last two years, we’ve been on a mission dedicated to reviewing and ranking the industry’s top lifting shoes. We looked at both older and newer models from some of the biggest companies that have built strong reputations in the market. For the newer lifter, and even the weathered athlete, finding the perfect pair of shoes can be a daunting task.
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.
We’re not saying you absolutely need lifters to perform well, but they’re something that can help push your lifting to the next level. Generally, there are five main shoe characteristics that make every pair of lifters different than a regular pair of sneakers. Additionally, things like a lifting shoe’s heel height and type, and lacing/strapping system offered can be major players in assisting you with your decision.
Below is a list of some of our top picks from the categories we grouped shoes in.
Best Lifting Shoes Picks
Best Lifting Shoes for Squats: Adidas Powerlift 3
Best Lifting Shoes for Women: Nike Romaleos 3
Best Lifting Shoes for Men: Adidas AdiPower
Best Lifting Shoes for CrossFit®-Style Training: Adidas Powerlift 3
Best Lifting Shoes for Weightlifting: Adidas Leistung 16 II
See even more picks — like the best shoes for wide and flat feet — further below in this article!
Luckily for you, we’re lifting shoe fiends (call us lifting shoe sneakerheads), and took the time to analyze every single aspect that comes with some of the market’s top shoes. At the bottom of this article, we’ve also included in-depth info on the logic behind weightlifting shoes, along with popular points of construction and materials.
Why Lifting Shoes?
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.
Lacing and Strapping System
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.
Type of Heel
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.
[Still confused? Check out our in-depth descriptive Guide to Lifting Shoes.]
When it comes to deciding which heel is best for an athlete, it’s often up to a lifter’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.
Lifting Shoes and the Research
Believe it or not, weightlifting shoes have been studied on a couple 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. Before diving into our favorite weightlifting shoe picks below, it’s a probably a good idea to look at the current research on lifting shoes.
The first study we’ll look at comes from the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. In this research, authors assessed kinematic changes weightlifting shoes have on the barbell back squat (1). An elevated heel is often thought to promote mobility, but what did their research find when compared to a running shoe?
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 sheer 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 out to explore the same idea of how weightlifting shoes impact trunk and leg mechanics in the back squat (2). For this study, researchers noted that this topic was lacking research and they wanted to challenge the idea that weightlifting shoes led to a more upright torso in the squat, which has been suggest 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 in respects 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 off their lifting experience, training history, and anthropometrics, so believing a weightlifting shoe will make a significant impact on lifting by itself is a reach.
Our advice: Assess your body’s needs, your sport’s demands, and the different construction characteristics of each shoe to find the perfect fit.
Best Lifting Shoes for Squats
The Adidas Powerlift 3s are our top pick for the best lifting shoes for squats. These shoes offered multiple characteristics that earn them the number one spot.
The first reason we chose this shoe is their EVA heel is a little lower, sitting at .65″. This makes them a good shoe for athletes transitioning to using lifting shoes for squats. Additionally, the lower heel will be useful for low-bar and high-bar squats, so they’re pretty versatile in the terms of squat functionality for multiple athletes. Lastly, we liked the minimalist design they offered, and thought the outside leather material made for a durable cost efficient squat shoe.
Why We Like the Adidas Powerlift 3
- Great in-between for multiple strength sport for those focused only on squats.
- Fair price of $75.00-$90.00, so it’s great for beginners and budget shoppers.
- Learn more about and shop the Adidas Powerlift 3 HERE.
The second shoe on our squat list is the Reebok Legacy Lifters. We felt the wide profile, heavier weight, TPU based, and double strap of this shoe made it a suitable option for anyone squatting. The heel is a little higher at .75″, so they may not be the best shoe for low-bar squats, but their weight gave them an “anchored” to the floor feeling. The double straps provided full foot security, which is a big plus when moving heavy weight.
The Nike Romaleos 3 are our final squat pick. We feel the latest Nike lifting shoe is a good choice for someone frequently high-bar squatting. The shoe comes with two soles, so you can select a softer, or firmer base. They’re also made with Nike’s signature Flywire and move well with the foot and ankle. The strong TPU heel offers no compression at maximal loads.
Best Lifting Shoes for Women
Our favorite lifting shoe for women is the Nike Romaleos 3. This shoe has multiple features that we feel match most asks for women athletes in a weightlifting shoe.
The Romaleos 3s .79″ heel height make it a good option for a variety of athlete’s mobility asks, and the heel itself is a solid TPU. There’s also a mid-foot strap that keeps the foot secure. This shoe’s construction runs slightly slimmer than other models, so we thought it would be a good match for female athletes with skinner feet. Lastly, this shoe is extremely light weight and comes in around 13 oz or 15 oz depending on the insole you choose to use.
Why We Love the Nike Romaloes 3
- Slimmer construction, so it hugs the foot well and will match skinner feet.
- Breathable and flexible material that doesn’t too long to break in.
- Learn more about and shop the Nike Romaleos 3 HERE.
Athlete’s Thoughts: Jordan Weichers (63kg) weightlifter told us about her experience the Nike Romaloes 3s saying, “They feel lighter on my foot compared to the 2s. The toe box is more flexible. The 2s would bend weird in the toe box sometimes.”
Our second pick for female athletes is the NOBULL Lifters. We liked this shoe for female lifters for a few reasons. First, we liked the Superfabric construction and how breathable the shoe is. This could be beneficial for lighter women who would normally take a little longer to break in a stiffer shoe. Additionally, we liked the stacked leather heel and how it was resistant to compression and lightweight, so an athlete won’t feel like they anchors on their feet.
The Adidas Powerlift 3 is the last pick on our list for female athletes. Female athletes may have good mobility to begin with, so a .65″ heel is often high enough to find benefit. In addition, the lower heel makes this shoe a more versatile option compared to some of the higher heeled shoes on the market. The EVA heel is also lightweight and durable with little compression, so it won’t feel heavy on a female athlete’s foot.
Best Lifting Shoes for Men
Our favorite lifting shoes for male athletes is the Adidas AdiPower. The AdiPowers topped the list for a few reasons.
The Adidas AdiPowers offer a lightweight durable TPU heel, so there’s minimal upkeep. Their upper tongue strap provides the ankle with additional support, and the leather/mesh construction make them breathable, yet rigid. It’s a good balance of stiffer, yet soft shoe, so athletes won’t need a ton of time breaking them in. We also liked that this shoe has stood the test of time and will be a solid durable option.
Why We Love the Adidas AdiPowers
- Have stood the test of time for multiple years in multiple strength sports.
- Solid construction and TPU heel to support performance and durability.
- Learn more about and shop the Adidas AdiPower HERE.
Athlete’s Thoughts: Phil Sabatini (94kg) weightlifter shared his AdiPower experience saying, “Since I started weightlifting, I’ve always worn Adidas. I’ve tried Romaleo 1 and 2, but did not like the bulkiness and weight of the shoe. Plus, It was difficult to feel my connection with the ground and seemed different in my positions throughout the lifts.”
Our second pick for men is the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe. We feel this shoe matches the needs of many male athletes for a couple reasons. First, it has a wider toe box, so full toe splay is easy to achiever no matter your foot size. Second, the double straps across the mid-foot provides ample support and stability. Lastly, the shoe comes in around $95.00, which is a great option for those shopping on a budget.
The final pick for male athletes is the Reebok Legacy Lifters. Similar to the Do-Win model, the Legacy Lifters have a slightly wider boot, so multiple foot sizes will find it comfortable. In addition, the construction of the Legacy Lifters is slightly heavier, making their breakdown rate much slower than other models on the market. Lastly, the TPU heel provides lightweight and hard surface to sit back on.
Best Lifting Shoes for CrossFit®-Style Training
Our favorite lifting shoe for functional fitness and CrossFit®-style training was the Adidas Powerlift 3.1s.
Why We Like the Adidas Powerlift 3.1
- High density EVA heel makes for slightly softer repeated heel impacts.
- Simple single-strap and durable design for versatile workouts.
This pick may seem a little unconventional, but hear out our reasoning. First, the EVA heel is a little softer than TPU, so cardio movements are a little more forgiving in this shoe. Second, the lower .6″ heel make it a good option for multiple activities. Lastly, it’s a decently light shoe and easy on the wallet, so you don’t have to stress as much with functional workouts that beat up shoes (rope climbs).
Our second pick for CrossFit style workouts are the Nike Romaleos 3. The latest Nike weightlifting shoe makes this list for one sole reason and that’s how light it is. This shoe is one of the lightest on the market at a weight of either 13 or 15 oz. per shoe respectively (based on insole used) and helps with the feeling of being a weightlifting shoe during various workouts (aka feeling heavy and clunky). In addition, the heel is capped at .79″, so it’s a standard heel height that will match multiple athletes’ needs.
Our last pick for CrossFit® athletes is the NOBULL Lifters. This shoe was initially designed with functional fitness athletes in mind, so we thought their shoe’s characteristics fit the mold pretty well. There were two characteristics of this shoe that really sold us on earning their number three spot. First, the stacked leather heel made the shoe lightweight and comfortable in multiple movements. Second, the NOBULL Superfabric is a good option for someone needing a breathable flexible fitting lifter.
Best Lifting Shoes for Weightlifting
The Adidas Leistung 16 IIs earned our number one pick for weightlifting. Their higher one inch heel, and BOA lacing system complimented the asks of a weightlifting shoe very well.
As mentioned above, these shoes offer a higher 1″ heel, and it’s made with a lightweight TPU. The higher heel can beneficial when assisting an athlete’s ability to sit under weight with ease. Another defining feature of this shoe is that it provides the BOA lacing system. BOA laces allow a lifter to tighten the shoe fully at once with a crank knob on the tongue. These shoes also have a slimmer profile, so if you’re a weightlifter in need of a skinnier fit, then these shoes are a viable option.
Why We Like the Adidas Leistung 16 II
- One inch heel provides solid base to sit back on for multiple mobility needs.
- BOA lacing and reinforced cross-weave construction supports durability.
- Learn more about and shop the Adidas Leistung 16 II HERE.
Athlete’s Thoughts: Mart Seim (+105kg) weightlifter shared about Leistung 16 II saying, “This is the best model so far out of the two. I like how the ankle is more supported in this version. I think this model allows me to be a little fast under the bar.”
Our second pick for best weightlifting specific shoe is the Nike Romaleos 2. Yes, it’s an older model, but these shoes have stood the test of time when matching a weightlifter’s needs. They’re slightly heavier, come with two soles, and have a solid .75″ TPU heel. In addition, they offer two straps near the bottom and top of the tongue, so security is never an issue. Possibly our favorite feature of this is their durability and how long they’ve been to last.
The final shoe on our weightlifting list is the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes. Do-Win shoes were originally constructed and guided by Greg Pendlay (a popular weightlifting coach). These shoes offer a wide profile, so toe splay and gripping the floor is never an issue. Also, the double straps provide the foot with full security. The best selling point of this shoe is the price point at $90.00, which makes it a fairly priced weightlifting shoe.
Still Looking for the Best Lifting Shoes for Your Needs?
We get it: The picks above might not be perfect for your needs. So we’ve put together even more analysis and even more picks for a variety of concerns, like flat and wide feet. Read below to go into further detail on some of the top weightlifting and lifting shoe brands on the market!
Best Lifting Shoes for Flat Feet
Our top pick for lifters with flat feet is the Reebok Legacy Lifters. This shoe has multiple features a strength athlete wants, plus a wide profile.
The Reebok Legacy Lifters have a wider base, which make them comfortable, even for those with flat feet. Their toe box is pretty sizable too, so a lifter can fully splay their foot in catching positions without feeling the sides of the shoe press into the outer toes. We also liked the double straps these shoes offer, and how they held a flat foot securely at the top and bottom of the tongue.
Why We Love the Reebok Legacy Lifters
- Wider boot to support a variety of foot sizes and toe splay.
- Reinforced leather construction and double straps to ensure no foot hang.
- Learn more about and shop the Reebok Legacy Lifters HERE.
The Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe makes our number two spot for flat feet. These shoes are designed for the wider footed athlete, which is usually synonymous with a flat footed athlete (but not always the case). We liked the full foot wide profile this shoe offered and that the toe box has ample room for full toe splay. In addition, this shoe has double straps, so the flat footed lifter won’t feel like they’re losing any security.
The last pick on our flat foot list is the Adidas Powerlift 3s. These shoes aren’t inherently made wider, but they have a slightly wider profile. Their toe box provides plenty of room for full toe splay, and it’s flexible, so it enables a flat footed lifter to feel comfortable in catches and squats. We thought the single upper foot strap did a fair job at providing the foot with a good amount of security.
Best Lifting Shoes for Wide Feet
Our top pick for athlete with wide feet is the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe. This shoe’s made wide on purpose and offers multiple benefits for the wide footed athlete.
With its wide construction, the Do-Win shoe has multiple characteristics a wider footed strength athlete wants. The shoe offers a standard .75″ TPU heel, so it works with multiple athletes and is durable. There are double straps at the bottom and top of the tongue, which helped secure the full foot. In addition, the toe box is made a little wider so the toes can fully splay with ease.
Why We Like the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
- Designed with a wider toe box to ensure full splay is easily achievable.
- Double straps and solid leather construction to provide stability.
- Learn more about and shop the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes HERE.
The Reebok Legacy Lifters make our number two flat feet spot. This shoe is similar to the Do-Win in design, and has a wider profile, which also fits flat feet well. They provide an athlete with a .75″ TPU heel, but at a slightly heavier weight (20.6 ounces). We like how the shoe’s base is TPU, so there’s no rocking side-to-side for the wide footed athlete. Also, the heel is pretty wide and provides a good stable base to sit back on.
Our final pick for wide feet pick is the Adidas Powerlift 3.1. This model is slightly different in its fit compared to the other Adidas weightlifting shoes that made this list. As opposed to featuring the arch support that the Adipowers and Leistung IIs have, this model fits a bit flatter and and felt wider than the other models. If you have wider feet, then this model will most likely be a good fit for you.
Best Lifting Shoes for the Money
The Adidas Powerlift 3 tops our list as the best cost efficient shoe for your wallet.
The Adidas Powerlift 3 starts at $90.00 and comes in multiple color schemes. This makes it a good option for athletes looking for a standard lifting shoe that’s easy on the wallet and has some uniqueness to it. This shoe may not last as long as some of the TPU heeled shoes, but we haven’t seen many complaints on early degradation. Also, the outer leather/mesh construction makes this shoe pretty resilient to abrasions.
Why We Like the Adidas Powerlift 3
- Fair price of $75.00-$90.00 depending on the color scheme.
- Solid construction for the money and great for beginners/budget shoppers.
- Learn more about and shop the Adidas Powerlift 3 HERE.
Our next pick for the money is the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoe. This shoe starts at $90.00 and has multiple characteristics that make it a viable option for athletes. They have a TPU heel, double straps, and flexible design. For the athlete needing a well-made standard weightlifting shoe, then the Do-Win is a pretty good choice. The only con is the lack of color schemes, but that’s not a big deal for multiple athletes.
The Adidas AdiPowers are our final pick for the money. Yes, some of the newer color schemes are still pretty pricey, but you can find older models around $140.00. This shoe is one of the most popular among strength athletes and for good reason. They provide you with a durable TPU heel, strong single strap, and leather/mesh finish. Additionally, this shoe has proven that it’s durable, so your money can take you far with this model.
A great pair of lifting shoes isn’t necessarily the newest model, but the model that fits the lifter best. There are so many models and designs out there, so a lifter should find it relatively easy to find their perfect shoe.
Before investing in a new pair of shoes, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for. It’s always a good idea to base your decision off of individual needs and preferences. Often the best shoes are the pair that fits your strength sport and anthropometrics best.
1. 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
2. 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