A good pair of weightliftingcan make you feel powerful and confident, especially when you’re gearing up to lift a personal best. Some hardcore lifters look down on weightlifting shoes, saying they help too much and compromise your exercise technique when you don’t wear the shoes.
The right pair of weightlifting shoes for each individual, however, provides just the right amount of help. A hefty heel-to-toe drop (the difference in height between the heel and toe of the shoe) canon various lifts; a wide base provides stability for explosive movements; and compressive insoles keep your feet secure.
If you’re on the hunt for weightlifting shoes, you probably already know you have a lot of options. These five pairs are some of the best you can buy in 2020.
You can’t go wrong with Chuck Taylors — for everyday errands or hardcore weightlifting sessions. Chuck Taylors have been around for a long time and have sold millions of pairs of shoes, so it’s safe to say Converse is out there making good shoes.
Although most people wear them for street style, Chuck Taylor high-tops actually encompass everything a good lifting shoe should have. The wide toe box gives your feet room to splay and stabilize, and the extra ankle support takes some pressure off of the joint. The flat, minimally cushioned sole creates a balanced environment for your feet, and you can lace them up as tight or as loose as you like.
Chuck Taylor All-Stars do have some downfalls, though: They’re heavy compared to other weightlifting shoes, and they might feel cumbersome for activities other than straight lifting sets. So if you’re moving from exercise to exercise quickly (such as in a HIRT workout), these probably aren’t the right pick for you.
All-Stars are a unisex style, but they come in both men’s and women’s sizes.
These shoes from Nobull are technically classified as “trainers” on the site rather than “lifters,” but I’m keen on them for workouts that include both.
The Nobull Mid Trainers have many of the same qualities as the All-Stars described above — flat sole, minimal cushion, wide toe box, ankle support — but they’re far more versatile simply because they’re more durable. What makes these shoes special is the fact that you can hit a heavy set of squats and then jump right into a HIIT workout without sacrificing comfort or stability during either.
Professional trainers go back and forth about the best type of squat shoe. Minimalist trainers encourage people to squat with flat shoes or even barefoot, while other trainers encourage use of a significant heel-to-toe drop.
Theoretically, we should all be able to squat with flat feet — but we can’t. Good squat form includes feet flat on the ground, chest up high, and back straight. Squatting is a natural and primal position, but in case you hadn’t noticed, humans aren’t exactly primal anymore. Our anatomy has changed and our modern sedentary lifestyles aren’t conducive to perfect mobility.
While everyone should try to improve their mobility, my professional opinion is that squatting with help is better than avoiding squats completely. Squatting is arguably one of the most effective exercises in existence, and if you need a little help from your shoes, so be it.
That’s why I chose the Reebok Legacy Lifter as the best squat shoe. With a 19-millimeter (three quarters of an inch) heel-to-toe drop, this weightlifting shoe allows your hips to remain in the correct position during your squat descent, and it maximizes ankle mobility to prevent a forward lean in your torso.
Nike Romaleos are a common sight in gyms with barbell clubs. These weightlifting shoes feature a significant heel-to-toe drop, two broad straps to secure your feet in place and a wide base that provides ample room for splaying and grabbing during power cleans, power jerks and snatches.
Rubber tread on the bottom of the Romaleos ensures stability when you stick landings during explosive lifts. There’s little flex in the upper portion of these shoes — some athletes who wear these say it feels like your feet are stuck to the floor, which is a good thing for Olympic lifters.
For what it’s worth, my first choice for this category was the Adidas AdiPower Weightlifting Shoe, one of the best-known shoes in the Olympic lifting community. At the time of writing, I can’t find them in stock anywhere. The pickings for the Romaleos seem to be slim, too, so there may be production issues on the supply chain (like there is with all other fitness equipment currently). In any case, the Romaleos put the AdiPowers to the test for a dedicated weightlifter.
Nike Romaleos are a unisex shoe and sizing is in men’s.
Reebok Nanos were originally designed specifically for CrossFit (although that partnership has since fizzled out), so some hardcore bodybuilders might snuff at my suggestion here. However, the Reebok Nano is perfect for bodybuilders because of its impressive versatility.
Bodybuilders perform various styles of lifting and may even integrate other elements of sports into their training, such as Olympic lifts and CrossFit-style workouts. For example, “functional bodybuilding,” a term coined by former CrossFit Games athlete Marcus Filly, encompasses the slow and hypertrophy-focused lifts you’d see in a bodybuilding routine, as well as explosive and powerful lifts you’d find in a CrossFit program.
The Reebok Nano accounts for all of those factors and more with a flexible but durable Kevlar-infused top, a reinforced heel counter and a molded, compressive midsole. Your feet will feel snug, secure and ready for all types of weightlifting. You can get Nanos in men’s and women’s sizes in a variety of sizes.
How I chose these shoes
To put together this list, I first recounted my own history with various lifting shoes. I’ve been bouncing between powerlifting, Olympic lifting and CrossFit-style training for more than eight years so, so I’ve worn my fair share of trainers and lifters.
I also scrubbed the web for reviews of weightlifting shoes and training shoes, looking for key components like comfort, durability, stability and versatility. I looked to the well-known, longstanding brands for shoes that have several successful iterations (for example, the 10 versions of the Reebok Nano), but I also looked to newer brands doing something innovative.
I read hundreds of Amazon reviews and RunRepeat (a massive database of athletic shoe reviews) became my best friend for the duration of this project. We’ll periodically update this article as I try more weightlifting shoes and come across new reviews online.
Shoes for every workout
The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.