Best Shoes for Weightlifting and Powerlifting Reviewed & Rated
The dependability of any durable construction is literally based on the foundations on which it stands. Buildings, trees, and even mountains have supporting undersides that save them from crumbling into themselves from the crushing weight pushing down from above. The human form handling heavy loads through weightlifting and workout is no different, in this regard; our lower body serving as our foundation, our base on which we stand, and press upward against that otherwise crushing weight. This is why it’s vital and extremely important (and never to be underestimated) that the best weightlifting shoes you buy are up for the task of delivering a safe set, free of the threat of muscular or skeletal injury.
In a Hurry? The best lifting shoes after 19 hrs of research
Dual Loop Closure
Minimal Foot Slip
- VS Athletics II
- Adidas Adipower
- Adidas Powerlift.3.1
- PUMA Fierce Core
- Nordic Powerlifting Megin
- Nike Romaleos
- Reebok CrossFit Nano 8.0
- Adidas Leistung 16
- Otomix Carbonite Ultimate
- Converse Chuck Taylor
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Powerlifting Shoes
1. VS Athletics II
Dual Loop Closure
Minimal Foot Slip
Runs Half Size Smaller
One of the up and coming sneaker for weightlifting is the VS Athletics II weightlifting shoe. It features a dual hook and loop closure atop lace up for an adjustable snug fit, and a rigid, stable sole for power transfer. The minimal differential between the heel and toe make it great for deadlifts or powerlifting in general. Uppers feature construction from a leather and fabric construction to help maintain durability and wearability when working up a sweat.Read more
With its dual Velcro hook and loop closure on top of lace-ups, you’ll find the perfect level of snug needed to help keep you firmly in place in the VS Athletics II shoes for weightlifting. This helps to give just a bit more stability to the foot making sure you won’t slip around in the weightlifting shoe during movements. A padded collar helps to prevent blistering or rubbing, so you can walk or run if you choose as well.
Minimal heel drop makes this ideal for deadlifting or squatting, keeping a 3.5cm that can make both moves possible without compromising form. A solid, more rigid sole helps give maximal power transfer so that you won’t waste any energy lost in softer soles. And with the leather and fabric uppers, you’ll stay snug during movements, but will be able to keep these powerlifting shoes in training months to hit the next goal.
2. Adidas Adipower
Ideal Heel Height For Squatting
Durable & High-Quality Material
Excellent For Powerlifting
Small Toe Box
Laces Not Easily Tightened
With its anti-slip rubber sole, its heel overlay for outstanding lightweight firmness, and with breathable openings in its outsole, this may very well be the most comfortable weightlifting shoes Adidas has brought to market. Its PU-coated (organic) leather, adjustable hook-and-loop instep strap for rearfoot integrity, and its bendable textile lining put this shoe well in the forefront of its contemporaries making it one of the best weightlifting shoes on the market.Read more
Totally suited to high-demand reps and Olympic-level lifting, it is extremely stable and exceedingly durable footwear. Its high heel keeps your rearfoot planted during low squats and thick deadlifts. Described as: “like lifting on a bed of marshmallows,” this is footwear so well engineered and crafted, it curves more effectively to your foot’s contours than many other training and powerlifting shoes.
Always a concern, the price of anything above a certain mark may cause some hesitation. These weightlifting shoes rank high for this list, in terms of cost. Adipower, however, is worth its weight in the wallet. Most agree it is a bargain.
3. Adidas Powerlift.3.1
- Synthetic Leather Upper
- Open Forefoot Structure; Flexible Toe
- High-Density, Die-cut Midsole Wedge
- ADIWEAR™ Outsole
- Variety of Colors
- A Wide Range for Cost
- Extra-Wide Fit
Need weightlifting shoes with a wider fit? If you do, then these weightlifting shoes are for you. Moreover, this pair of best weightlifting shoes is made with high-quality materials and designed to give you the most out of your workouts. Furthermore, these powerlifting shoes provide stability, security, and comfort. As such, these shoes are an ideal tool for any serious weightlifter.Read more
This outsole provides an anti-slip environment. This is important when considering lifting heavier weights. The last thing you want to do under immense weight is to slip. With this outsole, you will not have to worry about that. The synthetic leather upper is designed for the weightlifter. It is durable; yet, provides a lightweight experience. Furthermore, this design gives you a bit more ankle support; great for anyone who needs extra reinforcement.
The cost-range associated with this pair of best weightlifting shoes is a bit high on the upper end. With that being said, however, the lower end of the range is extremely low; that is, these shoes have a very, wide range in cost association. At the end of the day, these shoes are worth the investment; no matter which of the ends you may find yourself in.
4. PUMA Fierce Core
Not True To Size
Looking for something as fierce as your performance? PUMA Fierce Core has all the flexibility you need, combined with support and grip for ankle mobility and power moves you need. Designed for movement and stability, the Fierce Core weightlifting shoes will have cross training covered across weight bearing movements to more agility oriented maneuvering like running or quick adjustments. And, with such a budget-friendly price, it’s worth trying out in you next metcon!Read more
Although most heavyweight bearing movements utilize powerlifting shoes constructed of more rigidity, the Fierce Core allows you to safely lift heavy with a stable platform, as well as let you fine-tune adjustments. The high top design gives added ankle support without constricting laces and provides solid support where needed across the top of the foot and lateral sides. You’ll be able to hit snatches and cleans with no worries about stability.
With mesh top layer providing ample ventilation and flexibility, and an upper ankle design that allows mobility, squats aren’t hindered, and there’s plenty of capability for more agile functions such as running or burpees. A thick heel gives support and cushion without compromising power exchange.
5. Nordic Powerlifting Megin
- Improve Lifting Posture
- Anti-Slip Outsole
- 1-year Manufacturer Warranty
- Designed For Squats, Not Deadlifts
- Minimal Color Variety
Nordic does not disappoint with this design. These lifting shoes are built well and made for the serious athlete looking to improve squat performance. Additionally, the 1.4" raised heel, also, provides an environment conducive to heavier weightlifting while, simultaneously, giving you the chance for posture improvement. Furthermore, these weightlifting shoes are built to last with top-quality stitching; created to not fall apart under pressure.Read more
With a 1.4" raised heel, this pair of best weightlifting shoes is ideal for squats utilizing weight which leans on the heavier side. Furthermore, posture improvement is the driving force behind these particular powerlifting shoes. As such, your body will notice a difference. Anti-slip matters when you are handling the weight. Nothing could be more damaging than slipping. As such, an anti-slip outsole can be the difference between a safe environment and an unsafe one. This is why we recommend this pair of shoes designed for heavy weightlifting.
These heavy weightlifting shoes are priced low and come with an added 1-year manufacturer's warranty. Although minimal in your color choices, the quality of this pair of best weightlifting shoes makes this a purchase worthwhile of your time.
6. Nike Romaleos
True To Size
TPU Stability Plate
Synthetic Leather Upper
Treaded Rubber Outsole
Limited Long-Term Durability
It isn't a buying guide without Nike. Named after the winged Greek Goddess of victory, they are one of the most recognizable brands in the world. Featuring a honeycomb TPU plate, these weightlifting shoes are designed to balance stability with a lightweight form. A synthetic upper provides breathability, while the rubber outsole promotes traction. Sizes range from a US 5-15, including half sizes and additional width options.Read more
Stability and traction go hand in hand with weightlifting. Traction will keep your feet from slipping on the floor, and stability will keep your feet from slipping inside the shoe. In the Romaleos, this is handled using a TPU plate and a strong rubber outsole. The TPU plate is made with a honeycomb pattern, while the traction pattern on the outsole ensures strong footing. These are designed to work together to keep you stable and in proper form when lifting.
It's important that you have well-fitting shoes. Whether they're for fashion, work, or athletics, overall fit can make or break lifting shoe. This is why we like seeing powerlifting shoes that come in a wide range of sizes, including those on the smaller and larger ends of the spectrum that can be difficult to find. The Nike Romaleos are available in sizes ranging from 5-15, as well as coming in half sizes. They also run true to size, eliminating some of the guesswork when it comes to choosing the right size.
7. Reebok CrossFit Nano 8.0
Updated For Running
Updated from the Nano 6.0, Reebok made a few upgrades to existing technology such as the RopePro tech, to help make this weightlifting shoe more functional and lightweight. Designed with Kevlar-infused materials to make the uppers fray resistant and bring further lifespan to the powerlifting shoe, and a better outsole for traction control, it’s the next evolution in a CrossFit style shoe to take you to your limits and push beyond.Read more
Uppers in the Nano 8.0 have been updated to make them even more durable. Designed with a Kevlar infused mesh, this lifting shoe is not only lightweight, but can withstand abrasions, frays, and sweat so you can get the most from this pair. Combined with the RopePro technology, Kevlar gives it a sandpaper-like feel for added grip when on the ropes.
Similar foam cushioning lines the midsole of the Nano 8.0, and with its anatomical fit for proper foot splay, and heel stability, you’ll still have the support needed for proper technique and Olympic moves. The outsole now has Piston technology which gives it extra grip for running across uneven ground.
8. Adidas Leistung 16
Wide Range Of Sizes
Breathable Woven Upper
Designed as a cross-training shoe, the Leistung 16 from Adidas puts security and stability at the forefront. It sports a unique closure system that can self-adjust on the fly, along with a TPU midsole and chassis designed with weightlifting in mind. The rubber outsole is flat to increase overall surface area while sporting strong traction as well. The Leistung 16 is available in three colorways, and sizes range from a US 4-16, including half sizes and alternate width options.Read more
A secure fit is of the utmost importance with weightlifting shoes. The wrong kind of fit will cause discomfort and impact your performance. The Leistung weightlifting shoes feature a chassis designed specifically for weightlifting, as well as unique self-adjusting closure system that allows for the most secure fit possible.
Let's be real for a moment; there's nothing worse than sweaty feet. Well maybe stepping on a Lego, but that's neither here nor there. Any kind of shoe should have some measures in place to ensure proper breathability and temperature management, as this will keep your feet cool and reduce the chances of sweat and odor.
9. Otomix Carbonite Ultimate
Half Sizes Available
Padded Collar For Comfort
High Performance Bodybuilding System
While Otomix may not be as well-known as brands such as Nike and Adidas, they have garnered a lot of loyal fans. The brainchild of martial arts master Mitchell Bobrow, Otomix shoes focus heavily on comfort and stability and feature a high-top design that stands out. Sizes range from a US 7-14, including half sizes, and this shoe is available in three colorways.Read more
Comfort is important for any shoe. Whether it's for work, casual, or sport, the comfort level of a shoe can make or break a purchase. Otomix lifting shoes place a heavy focus on comfort in a number of ways. The high-top design provides additional support, while the collar has additional padding to keep your ankles in good form.
The Carbonite, like most other Otomix weightlifting shoes, features a proprietary High-Performance Bodybuilding system, or HPB for short. This HPB is not a single feature, but rather a collection of them designed to work together to prioritize comfort and support. The most prominent feature of the HPB system is a specialized strap that wraps around the weightlifting shoe and can be adjusted using the lacing system.
10. Converse Chuck Taylor
Not As Stiff
Despite its iconic nature, the Converse Chuck Taylor is a great option for weightlifting in general, due to its flexible canvas uppers and zero drop construction. Although not as stable as some other soles, these Chucks are great for workout after workout of deadlifts, squats, or general lifting. It brings the garage style training back to the gym, and is a great option if you’re just starting into a lifting routine!Read more
Although the Chuck Taylor has a rubber sole which may be slightly more flexible than some high-end weightlifting shoes, it still has a zero drop which can be ideal for lifting, especially deadlifts. For those starting into weightlifting or Olympic lifts, it provides a solid platform for learning basic technique, and won’t cost more than an average pair of sneakers. Lace-up closures will help make a perfect fit to keep you snug and secure.
Canvas uppers help keep these Chucks breathable and lightweight, as well as washable should you need to after working up a sweat. They were initially designed for court play sports, so they’ve plenty of grippy traction for walking lunges, HIIT movements, or Olympic lifts.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Weightlifting involves very complex exercises which, at advanced levels, usually involve carrying, pulling, pushing, and lifting excessive amounts of weight. Additionally, some weight lifting practices require complex motions while remaining in control of a loaded barbell. As you can probably guess, this is not a scenario where you want your weightlifting shoes with poor stability, but rather the complete opposite.
Though multiple factors have an impact on the stability of a shoe, it ultimately comes down to the outsole height. The higher you are off the ground, the less stability you’ll have. When dealing with big weights, it’s important to remain as close to the ground as possible. However, a totally flat outsole might not be convenient for some weightlifting exercises. The higher you are off the ground, the more likely you are to lose lateral balance.
Regardless, of the exercise you’re performing, if it involves no support, you want as much stability as you can get. Unstable powerlifting shoes are extremely hazardous in the lifting room and become more dangerous as you hit heavier. Losing control of the barbell not only creates the possibility of being hit directly by the loaded bar but it, also, exposes you to injuries. If your knees or ankles start tilting inwards or outwards because of an unstable weightlifting shoe, you’re guaranteed to have a bad time when lifting heavy.
But it doesn’t stop there. Stability is not just a matter of safety but, also, a matter of optimal performance. Poor balance can actually reduce your capacity to lift more weight. The lack of stability can affect your form, range of motion, and endurance.
In the opposite case, a solid and steady lifting shoe allows you to perform at your best. This is due to your positioning and impulse when performing an exercise. While deadlifting, for example, shoes should act as a firm platform to push your feet against the ground, helping you to lift the barbell. Stability is of utter importance during dynamic exercises as well, such as the clean and jerk, the barbell snatch, and barbell lunges.
The main elements that contribute to the stability of a weightlifting shoe are the sole grip, the ankle support, and the shoe height.
When it comes to performance shoes, weightlifting shoes are very alike to running ones. While there’s the traditional multi-purpose running sneaker, more specific activities like trail running require additional features. This is the cause of weightlifting. While it might all look like the same at first hand, there’s a wide variety of differences amongst lifting performances.
This doesn’t mean that it’s forbidden to train with other shoes. You might, eventually, get away with weight training in sneakers in some cases, such as Converse. Although the shoe variations aren’t too different physically, there are certain key aspects that do matter. Keep in mind this is by no means necessary to train, but it’s something to consider; especially, if you’re after the most optimal performance.
For instance, steady and heavy compound movements such as the deadlift are best performed with flat soles. The midsole shouldn’t be too thick or too high, and the outsole should provide an adequate grip to the training surface.
The better grasp you have on the surface, the better you’ll perform. Old school lifters often preferred going barefoot on deadlifts. This is because they believed every inch between you and the ground affects your form. This distance can, also, cut off some pounds you could be potentially lifting.
Squats, on the other hand, are best performed with a raised heel. Now, there’s a lot of controversies whether this is good or not. It all comes down to each person’s preference (and anatomy in some cases); what’s comfortable for you might be utterly annoying for others. Some heavy hitters will tell you their $200 raised-heel squatting shoes is the key to breaking personal records. On the other hand, you’ll also see gym veterans (and even Olympic lifters) rocking a good ole’ pair of Chuck Taylors.
So, what’s behind each shoe?
Raised heel shoes are what’s commonly known as a weightlifting shoe. The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) defines it as “a shoe to protect lifters feet from falling weights while, also, providing a stable, firm surface.” This is why you might have seen some shoes with a type of protective cap around the toe box.
As for the raised heel, it helps some users to drop the hip as much as possible while maintaining an upright back. Because of this, there’s a considerable decrease in shear stress to the lumbar spine, also activating more the quadriceps. They’re a really good way to hit those ass-to-grass squats. The heel is, usually, 3cm tall and should be no higher than that. Additionally, the raised heel helps prevent bad form; as well as, the valgus knee collapse.
Lastly, Chuck Taylors are the old-school favorites. If you want an unbendable rubber outsole that acts as a solid platform, Converse is where you go. They deliver a good squatting performance for beginners, and you don’t have to break the bank. Though, they suck for running; no debate on that. These won’t support your depth or your spine, but you can place two small plates below your heels to simulate a raised heel.
Just like the outsole cases we just mentioned, there’s a moment when you could use heel height and moments when you must not. Regardless of the exercise, you’re performing and the type of shoe you’re wearing, you can’t have 7cm of a heel. That’s just asking for an accident.
Heel height is a key point in the realm of stability and form; get those two things wrong and your performance will suck; not to mention, you’re waiting for an injury.
A heel raise, if any, should be no higher than 3cm. This is, of course, depending on the exercise you’ll perform. During deadlifts and similar practices, a raised heel is the last thing you want in your shoe. Once again, we’re not telling you to get the most expensive pair of Olympic shoes available; just don’t wear the wrong ones.
A raised heel during a deadlift, such as the one in running shoes, decreases your vertical balance. By having your heels higher than your toes, you’re likely to lean forward when pulling the weight off the ground. If by any chance you start inclining forward when the bar is on the way up, we can guarantee you a painful result.
But heel height is not always a negative thing. Like we previously explained, it can be beneficial for your posture and performance in exercises such as the squat. Additionally, in Olympic lifting shoes, heel height often comes from raised heels.
Raised heels are not just a bulk of rubber that goes on the back of your outsole. In fact, what people often don’t know is that raised heels are, usually, made of wood or plastic. They are, also, equipped with a rubber outsole to prevent slipping.
Heel height can be a very useful tool for users with ankle mobility and flexibility issues. This heel platform, also, relieves some of the pressure involving the muscles in the lower body (peroneal, soleus, and lateral gastrocnemius). These muscles often get the stiffest during heavy squatting. Lastly, the raised heel can help to preserve a neutral arch on the foot.
Weightlifting shoes need to be able to endure heavy exercising. This involves both static and dynamic weight training. As soon as the elements of a weightlifting shoe start deteriorating, performance becomes heavily affected. As you can imagine, durability and performance are parameters that go hand-in-hand.
The durability of all kinds of shoes is mostly related to the material they’re built with; as well as, the manufacturing quality. Weightlifting shoes are pretty much the same. Believe or not, deterioration in your weightlifting shoes can determine how much you can lift. It, also, determines your performance and potential risk of injury.
Each element degrades individually, but it’s equally important to understand the shoe degrades as a whole. This means every element should be in a similar state as the rest of them. If one element degrades much faster than the rest of the shoe, it will lose its quality and the potential usage the rest of the elements may still have. For instance, if the upper build rips apart while the outsole rubber is in good shape, the shoe is unusable now and a healthy outsole goes to the trash.
Generally, the piece that degrades the fastest in a weightlifting shoe is the sole. This is no surprise, as it’s the part of the shoe that handles the most tension. The heavier you lift, the more your sole will suffer. This doesn’t mean you should go light to avoid killing your powerlifting shoes; they’re made for weightlifting, after all. If, however, you’re using the wrong shoe for a heavy deadlift, you can considerably reduce its lifetime by squashing the sole.
One of the most important concepts of durability is proper usage and care. The case we just mentioned, for example, is a common result of what happens when people do weight training while wearing running sneakers. These sneakers are designed to provide comfort and protection to the foot during aerobic activities, such as running. Put them under hundreds of pounds, however, and they’re not so good, anymore.
It’s, also, important to know when your weightlifting shoe has reached its time. Weightlifting shoes are, definitely, not the kind of footwear you want to push over its durability. We’re no longer talking about comfort or efficiency but rather safety. Worn-out shoes can put you in many of the unfortunate situations we’ve mentioned here, such as losing balance under a loaded barbell.
You must be wondering, “Didn’t you just tell us we need rigid, solid platforms for lifting?” We did. And we reaffirm that claim when it comes to certain exercises. However, weightlifting is much more extensive than you might think. At a simple glance, it all looks like the same; barbells, dumbbells, lifting, pulling and pushing. There are, however, more differences than you can probably notice.
For instance, a lunge is considerably easier to perform in a flexible shoe rather than a stiff one. And yes, a lunge is a weightlifting exercise, just as much as any other. Like we mentioned in the outsole specialty section, weightlifting shoes vary according to the practice. Yet again, this doesn’t mean you need one pair of each kind of shoe.
Ask yourself: is my training dynamic, or is it steady and heavy? In other words, what kind of mobility do you expect during your training?
If you’re going to be moving around in dynamic motions with a barbell on your shoulders, you’ll want a flexible shoe. Total stiffness will do you no good during mixed training that requires a lot of mobility.
That being said, there are heavy training shoes which are flexible. You don’t have to limit yourself to the benefits and appliances of just one type of shoe. There are special shoes for specific activities, but those are meant for people who dedicate precisely to those specific practices. Keep in mind we always target our advice towards the most optimal performance; as well as, your personal health. This is why we may recommend such a large variety of shoe styles.
We’re not saying there’s no other possible approach to deadlifting than deadlifting shoes. If you want a shoe that is flexible when moving around but stable when lifting, that’s just fine. As long as they don’t bend around when you’re lifting heavy, they do the trick. Of course, specific shoes for each activity would deliver better results, but at the cost of convenience and expenses. On the other hand, knowing your safety is in a good place is always worth the extra penny.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
If you're newer to powerlifting, likely you got the bug to push hard during regular weight training, and now curiosity has you wondering how far you can go.
First and foremost, practice proper form for each of the major lifts. Once you start increasing load, if your form is off, you risk the chances of injury. Go slow, with proper form, and be persistent week in, and week out.
Secondly, if you're not sure how to start, hiring a coach can help! Many gyms have coaches that can show proper form, offer suggestions for training regimens, and encourage your efforts. Online websites specific for powerlifting will usually have free training guides you can use as well.
A critical component in powerlifting is nutrition. Most powerlifters will eat to perform at their maximum capability, which, is completely different than someone in a bodybuilding competition that has minimal body fat in order to showcase muscularity and definition.
If you're looking to compete, hire a nutritionist to help you perform optimally, or, try a reverse diet on your own, slowly increasing carbohydrates, proteins, and fats over a long term timeframe.
Protein is a key developmental aspect of nutrition, as this helps build sustainable muscle during heavy load training. Carbohydrates help you perform during heavy volume sessions, while fat helps maintain proper hormonal balances.
Other Factors to Consider
Stability is the name of the game when it comes to weightlifting. A stable footing will not only improve your performance, but it will also help to prevent injury and promote proper form when lifting. While the finer details of each shoe will vary, most accomplish this through a slight heel. This pushes your center of gravity slightly forward, which is ideal for squats and the like. We've also included a few options with a flat sole, which is best for deadlifting.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Do weightlifting shoes really help or make a difference?
If you’re wearing a pair of weightlifters that are suitable for your exercise, you’ll find yourself lifting more weight; more comfortably and more efficiently.
q: What do powerlifting shoes do to assist in lifting?
Their effects go from lumbar spine stability to an enhanced range of motion, and considerably better balance. This all adds up to a better performance, in general; not to mention, reduced heel/foot pain.
q: Can I wear these shoes outside of weightlifting?
Weightlifter shoes can get to be very specific. The more lifting-oriented they are, the more efficiently they perform in the weight room. This does mean, however, they have little usage outside of the weight room.
q: How should shoes for weightlifting fit?
They should always keep a tight fit; yet, still remain comfortable to wear. A lifting shoe is not something you want loose and sliding back-and-forth during strength training.
q: What kind of exercises can I perform with them?
Well, it all comes down to the type of shoe you choose. But, unless, they’re for a specific exercise, they should endure about any exercise you can come up with when working out in a gym; except running, that is.
q: Where can I buy proper lifting shoes?
Retail stores have the advantage of trying on the shoes before purchasing. Amazon, however, offers a much greater variety and their return policies make online shopping much more comfortable.
q: How long do these shoes typically last?
Unless you use them for something you’re not supposed to, these shoes should comfortably endure over a year.
q: Can raised heels lead to damage to your knees?
No. We can guarantee you any sort of knee comfortability factors (which are negative) is unrelated to a 3cm maximum raised heel. If there’s one present, you might want to check for previous injuries or conditions.
q: What kind of weightlifting shoes should I buy or look for?
Depending on the exercises you’ll perform, buy a shoe that fits your routine. You can rely on our recommended criteria, and consult the store’s shoe expert for further advice.
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