7 Best Lifting Shoes in 2020: Squat Deeper, Train Harder

The Best Lifting Shoes
Image by Victor Freitas / Pexels

Most athletes use running shoes or minimalist shoes during their weight training sessions. While the minimalist shoe is a step in the right direction, you can do much better than both these two common types. The best lifting shoes will help you lift more weight, improve your lifting posture, and maximize your range of motion. While you’re not going to see a radical increase in your lifting numbers, you will experience a slight bump that will help you build more muscle over time.

Our favorite lifting shoe? It has to be the Adidas Adipower Weightlifting Cross Trainers, which offer a fantastic balance of performance and affordability. That said, there are many exceptional options on the market, from a variety of brands. Let’s break them down so you can break them in.

Our Top Picks: Best Weightlifting Shoes

In a hurry? Here are the best weightlifting shoes around:

1. Adidas Adipower Weightlifting Cross Trainers

The best lifting shoes overall

Adidas Adipower

Brand: Adidas / Material: Textile / Fit: Lace & Straps / Sex: Male & Female / Styles: 5 / Price: πŸ’°πŸ’°

If you’re on the hunt for the best lifting shoes, the Adipower Weightlifting Cross Trainers are arguably the best in the game. Those who rock the clean black and white design β€” complete with raised heels, lace-up vamp, and hook and loop straps β€” will experience yearnful looks of envy from other gym-goers.

As for features? These babies boast a perforated toe box, breathable uppers, and vent flow outsole openings that help keep feet cool and comfortable. Not only that, but the durable chassis offers a stable platform for peak performance every single rep.

If you can’t get that barbell up and overhead with this pair of shoes, there’s no hope for you.

  • Fits as expected
  • Snug and secure
  • Exceptionally durable synthetic textile craftsmanship

  • Mild grip
  • Too narrow for some lifters

2. Inov-8 FastLift 335 Cross Trainers

The best lifting shoes for eco-friendly shoppers

Inov 8 Shoes

Brand: Inov-8 / Material: Textile / Fit: Lace & Straps / Sex: Male & Female / Styles: 8 / Price: πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°

Prefer supporting eco-friendly companies? Inov-8 is as green as they come, with a recyclable and sustainable supply chain, and a lower carbon footprint than rival companies. They may be new to the game, but Inov-8 is already pushing the level of innovation. And they’re putting out high-quality shoes, to boot!

The Fastlift 335s have a premium look and feel, and the heel design is akin to something like the Nike Shox. The hoop and loop instep strap are made to last years, and the tongue and collar are generously padded. They provide a reliable platform for lifting heavy, and the raised heel design will help you keep your balance when doing squats and cleans. 

Breathable mesh linings, nylon uppers, and synthetic overlays round out this pair of training shoes nicely.

  • Sleek assortment of colors
  • Still sole ideal for power transfer
  • Adjustable hook-and-loop instep strap

  • Narrow toe box
  • Sizing runs small

3. Adidas Powerlift 3.1 Cross Trainers

The best cheap lifting shoes

Adidas Powerlifting

Brand: Adidas / Material: Leather / Fit: Lace & Straps / Sex: Male & Female / Styles: 12 / Price: πŸ’°πŸ’°

This weightlifting shoe is mildly elevated, providing an excellent balance of stability and flexibility.

In addition to a secure lace system, the Powerlift 3.1s boast a velcro strap across the top to provide an extra snug fit. Meanwhile, the air mesh collar, tongue, and lining deliver potent breathability further enhanced by the open forefoot structure. Overall, they are lightweight yet durable, crafted with synthetic leather and synthetic fibers.

Oh, and our favorite part? Adidas has made sure you get the exact look you desire thanks to 12 different color and style combinations. The best lifting shoe on a shoestring budget.

  • Great for squats
  • Extra affordable, starting around $20
  • Excellent entry-level beginner’s shoe

  • Very little give
  • Toe box runs small

4. Nordic Lifting MEGIN Powerlifting Shoes

The best powerlifting shoes

Nordic Lifting Shoes

Brand: Nordic Lifting / Material: Textile / Fit: Lace & Strap / Sex: Male / Styles: 2 / Price: πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°

If you’re seeking the best shoes for powerlifting, look no further than the Nordic Lifting MEGINs.

These bad boys are here to help you maximize your reps and gains with Olympic-quality stability. That’s thanks to the stiff, anti-slip soles that provide a sturdy, slip-proof platform for all your powerlifting sets. Meanwhile, the premium textile and reinforced stitching combine with the raised heel to provide perfect form, even under the heaviest weights. Talk about quality!

Although they only come in two styles, black and blue, they’re some of the most stylish and highest rated lifting shoes on the market.

  • Delightful design
  • Very stiff and sturdy
  • 1.4″ heel height is great for a variety of exercises

  • Men’s only
  • Soft inside fabric doesn’t feel snug

5. Reebok Crossfit Lite TR Training Shoes

The best CrossFit lifting shoes

Reebok Shoes

Brand: Reebok / Material: Textile / Fit: Lace / Sex: Male & Female / Styles: 21 / Price: πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°

Reebok’s Crossfit Lite TR is a high top pair of training shoes without an elevated heel. The high top design with the traditional lace-up enclosure guarantees a locked-in and cozy fit. They look somewhat like Chuck Taylors with a Reebok design spin. Besides the plain black on black, they’ve got several other styles to choose from.

These are great for all types of weightlifting and are more comfortable than the rigid soles of an Olympic-style lifting shoe. Another nice thing about this pair is that you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for it. They are reasonably priced around $75. A fair price for a minimalistic, high top shoe with a flat rubber sole ideal for lifting.

This pair of shoes is a slightly wider fit. If you’ve got a narrow or average size foot, you’ll want to select 1/2 size down from what you usually wear. The best weightlifting shoes for CrossFit overall.

  • Slip-resistant sole
  • Solid ankle support
  • Extremely comfortable

  • Sizing runs small
  • Lacing eyelets press into feet

6. Pendlay Weightlifting Shoes

The best shoes for weight training

Pendlay Shoes

Brand: Pendlay / Material: Leather / Fit: Lace & Straps / Sex: Male / Styles: 1 / Price: πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°

Pendlay manufacturers high-quality leather CrossFit shoes that are among the best on the market. The heel on this shoe is 3/4 inch in height, which will take a little while to get used to. However, 3/4 is the preferred height in official Olympic lifting, making this particular trainer top-of-the-line.

This shoe is composed of real leather and durable nylon mesh for breathability. The best feature is perhaps the singular sole design, which means the whole sole of the shoes is one piece. This translates to excellent support and overall durability.

This shoe is great for average to wide feet. Pendlay lifting shoes are known for their wider style. These shoes fit 1/2 down from your regular shoe size, so if you normally wear a size 11, you’ll want to select a 10.5 in this shoe. Pendlay is committed to getting you the right size, and if for some reason they are too large or small, you can send them back for a new pair β€” free of charge.

  • Sturdy arch
  • Durable one-piece sole
  • Unparalleled customer support

  • Only one style
  • Can be challenging to track down the right size

7. Nike Romaleos 3 Weightlifting Shoes

The best weightlifting shoes for wide feet

Nike Shoes

Brand: Nike / Material: Leather / Fit: Lace & Straps / Sex: Male / Styles: 3 / Price: πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°πŸ’°

If you’re looking to weight lift in style, Nike makes some of the best-looking weightlifting shoes on the market. You’ll pay for the style points though, as the Nike Romaleos have a steep price tag. Fortunately, they are also built to last, ready to withstand a beating that only a powerlifter can put their shoes through. They are lightweight, with contoured TPU heel cups and just the right amount of flex.

The cool thing about this pair of shoes is that each comes with two insoles types: stiff and soft. You’ll want to use the more rigid insoles for competitions and power lifts and the softer insoles for light training and regular weightlifting.

This pair of weight lifting shoes is arguably the most secure. These are much more stable than any minimal or CrossFit shoes. They feature two large hook and loop closure straps, which keeps your feet locked in nicely. The synthetic upper with integrated lacing further secures the feet in place. The sole is made of a sturdy plastic material that will not compress even during extra heavy lifts. They feel pretty heavy for shoes, especially if you have never had a pair of legit weightlifting shoes. They are expensive, but if you lift heavy regularly, the Nike Romaleos are a worthwhile investment.

  • Flexible forefoot offers range of motion
  • Robust leather and quality craftsmanship
  • Wide and stable heel w/ Flywire technology

  • On the heavier side
  • Romaleos are men’s only w/ dull colors

What to Look for in Lifting Shoes

What should you look for when buying a new pair of lifting shoes? In this section, we’ve outlined four essential specs to consider as you shop.

What to Look for in the Best Lifting Shoes
Image by Canva Photos

1. Brand

Do you have a favorite shoe brand? Maybe it’s Nike? Perhaps Adidas?

Different brands are known for different stylistic elements and sizing tendencies. For instance, Adidas weightlifting shoes are narrower than average, while those from Nike are much wider.

Consider the message you’d like to send at the gym, and see if you can snag a pair that speaks your language. C’mon… just do it!

2. Material

There are two primary materials used in weight lifting shoes: textile and leather.

Textile is a soft woven material that’s not only versatile, but extremely affordable. It boasts a fair bit of tug and pull and extra breathability, making for a comfy, albeit looser fit. It’s not quite as durable as its leather counterpart, but textile shoes tend to come in a wider variety of colors. A major plus.

Leather, on the other hand, is more rugged and durable. It costs more to manufacture, but it’s almost always worth the price tag, as leather shoes are comfortable and can hold up to just about anything.

3. Size & Support

Next up is size and support. Naturally, you want your foot to feel supported in every direction, from top to bottom. To that end, choosing the right size is essential (always double check sizing charts), and dual lace and straps keep your feet snug and secure. The last thing you want is your feet sliding around inside the shoes when you have 500 pounds on your back.

Also, different levels of cushion in your lifting shoes provides a different experience. An example? Some lifting shoes boast raised heels, which increases the range of motion around your ankles β€” critical for heavy reps. Moreover, most (but not all) lifting shoes are more rigid all the way around your foot, meaning jogs are typically off-limits.

Consider whether you want a standard athletic shoe, a cross trainer, or a dedicated lifting shoe, and stick to the assigned purpose.

4. Style

If you’re buying a new pair of lifting kicks, you’ve gotta go with something stylish. I mean, why drop a wad of cash on something that looks like it came from your grandmother’s basement?

Fortunately, there are plenty of fantastic colors and styles to choose from. Find the perfect match for your personality, and march to the beat of your own drum.

General Thoughts on Lifting Shoes

Why buy a pair of lifting shoes? Do they increase your performance? Will you be able to lift more? Does every lifter need to own a pair?

In this next section, we venture to answer these questions as clearly as possible. Just keep in mind that these particular shoes are no replacement for proper form. First and foremost, your focus should be on perfect form throughout the entire set, even on those last couple of reps.

Just like with any sport, weight training gear is essential. And when it comes to footwear, stable shoes make the best lifting shoes.

Best Lifting Shoes
Image by Victor Freitas / Pexels

Weightlifting shoes, rather than absorbing impact force like running shoes, transfer that force into the ground. This is particularly helpful for exercises like squats or cleans. These unique shoes are commonly seen in Olympic weightlifting but are also starting to grow popular around the gym-going crowd. True enough β€” for lifting heavy weight β€” you want a shoe that aids you in using all the force your body produces. With the best powerlifting shoes, you can be sure that your contact point with the ground (your shoes) transmits as much energy as possible back up from your feet, through your body, and ultimately into moving that barbell. Most lifting shoes incorporate a raised heel design. This serves to increase the range of motion at your ankles, which in turn maintains a consistent torso angle.

Additionally, weightlifting shoes are more stable than your average minimalist shoe. The extra stability is not just underfoot, but also around the foot. This means you have a solid base to push off from or push through depending on the exercise. This not only helps with performance, but it prevents injury as well. Of course, the less you get injured, the more you can train, the more muscle you put on.

  • Stable surface
  • Boost in ankle mobility
  • Extra durable
  • Lift more weight in some exercises
  • Raised heel (usually 1/2 inch to an inch)
  • Less posterior hip displacement
  • Increased ankle flexion w/ minimized inversion
  • Consistent lifting posture
  • Increase knee extensor activation
  • Look legit and fancy (obviously the most crucial benefit)

  • Expensive
  • Takes time to get used to
  • Compromising on movement for stability
  • Running is difficult
  • Shouldn’t be worn for extended periods

Our Process

For this guide on lifting shoes, our team spent 4 hours researching the most popular options from over 25 brands and manufacturers big and small. We then read about one hundred user reviews (both positive and negative) to discover what shoppers thought about each shoe. After comparing this data, we narrowed our list down to the top 7 lifting shoes on the market. You can count on this research to guide you to a mindful purchasing decision.

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