What Shoes Should I Wear for Weightlifting?
Written By: Josh Westwood
Weightlifting shoes – the solution, or merely a fashion statement? The chunky, cumbersome nature of a lifting shoe might not have you blending in with the “hipsters,” but can certainly provide a whole host of valuable benefits when it comes to lifting.
DO I NEED WEIGHTLIFTING SHOES?
It depends. If you’re regularly weightlifting – yes. If you’re regularly squatting – you could certainly benefit from using them. Whether it’s weightlifting, squatting or a combination of, investing in a pair is advised. Weightlifting shoes alter the dynamic of the lift, providing a more advantageous position for overhead movements, such as the snatch and overhead squat, but also front racked movements, such as the clean and front squat.
ARE WEIGHTLIFTING SHOES GOOD FOR SQUATS?
Absolutely! They’re stable, so great for producing force, and they have a heel lift. The heel lift in a weightlifting shoe provides additional ankle range, perfect for those with restricted ankles, and a requirement for the likes of the front squat. But, even if you’ve got impeccable ankle range, they’re still useful. The additional range of motion at the ankle allows the knees to track forward more, and therefore, a much more upright torso can be attained. This is beneficial in a number of ways – the more upright the torso, the closer the bar stays to your centre of mass, and also, the safer it becomes.
HOW SHOULD WEIGHTLIFTING SHOES FIT?
They should be a tight fit, but not so much that your toes are scrunched up! They should be comfortable; a snug fit at the heel, and allowing enough room to move the toes around a little. Typically, they are known to be quite a narrow fit, so bear in mind if you’ve got wider feet. Brands such as Inov-8 (Fastlift 335) have a scale - grade 1 representing their closest, most precise fit and grade 5 representing the widest fitting toe box. Most brands have an additional strap that works in tandem with the laces to lock down the midfoot and provide added support.
ARE WEIGHTLIFTING SHOES GOOD FOR DEADLIFTS?
Great question! In essence, yes. But, is it advised? No. Here’s why. The heel lift takes you slightly further away from the bar, therefore, making the movement harder. It can also change the dynamic of the movement, forcing your weight forward, taking the emphasis away from the hamstrings and more to the quads. When deadlifting, having your centre of mass over your base of support is the most efficient position (and safest) position to transfer force. When there is a heel lift, it can force the weight into the heel, or into the forefoot, resulting in a counteraction and reduction in vertical force.
WHAT ARE THE BEST WEIGHTLIFTING SHOES?
The best shoe is going to be the one that’s best suited to you. If you’ve got heavily restricted ankles, then you’re going to need a greater heel to toe ratio. The Reebok Legacy (heel height = 1.9cm), and Adidas Adipower (heel height = 2.01cm) height offers an ideal heel-to-toe ratio, perfect for deep squatting and obtaining optimal positioning. Much like with a running trainer, it pays to do some research, and find a shoe that is going to work best for your feet.
Sam Pepys is a vastly experienced Strength & Conditioning Coach and the founder of Adapt Evolve Improve. Follow him here or visit his website for more information about how he can help you to achieve your personal fitness goals.