Best Weightlifting Shoes – Buyer’s Guide and Reviews

If you’ve been lifting for a while then you’ve probably felt the strain some of the heavier lifts can put on your ankles and knees.

Weightlifting shoes can put your body into alignment allowing you to exert the maximum force while protecting your knees and ankles.

Let’s take a look at 10 of the best options out there when it comes to these joint saving and strength enhancing footwear.

Best Weightlifting Shoes 2018

NameAvailable SizesTraining Style 
Reebok Lifter PR
(Editor's Choice)
US Men's 7-15Cross-Training Check Price
Inov-8 Fastlift 325
(Editor's Choice)
US Men's 8-14Cross-Training Check Price
Adidas Adipower (Editor's Choice) US Men's 3.5-16Weightlifting Only Check Price
Nike Romaleos (Editor's Choice)US Men's 7.5-15Weightlifting Only Check Price
Inov-8 Fastlift 335US Men's 8-14Cross-Training Check Price
Nike Metcon 2US Men's 6-15 and some Kid's SizesCross-Training Check Price
ASICS Lift Master LiteUS Men's 7-14Cross-Training Check Price
Adidas Power Perfect IIUS Men's 4-14Weightlifting Only Check Price
Nordic Lifting Powerlifting Shoes For Heavy Weightlifting - Men's Squat Shoe
(Best Cheap Weightlifting Shoes)
US Men's 7-12Weightlifting Only Check Price
Adidas Powerlift 3US Men's 4.5-16Cross-Training Check Price

1- Reebok Lifter PR

 

Believe it or not, Reebok has been making athletic gear since 1895. They’ve learned a thing or two in that time, but can they compete with modern giants like Nike when it comes to the realm of weightlifting shoes? The answer is yes.

The Lifter PR is a great shoe at a very fair price point. You may be able to get a pair of top of the line shoes that will outshine these, but without spending hundreds of dollars you’re not going to find shoes much better than these. The shoes are constructed out of a synthetic mesh upper with a leather toe box. This gives them a sturdy build quality while still being able to breath when on your feet, which is great for long workouts. They also have heat activated U-form insoles that contour to your feet when you put them on, and a velcro strap that lays over the laces to keep the shoes tight.

PROS

  • Heat forming insoles that contour to your feet for maximum comfort.
  • Velcro strap over the laces keeps shoes tight during explosive lifts.
  • Mix of synthetic mesh upper with leather in key areas gives a comfortable but durable shoe.

CONS

  • Rubber soles absorb a lot of force which can lead to slower cleans and snatches,harder shoes are better suited for these lifts.
  • The shoe doesn’t grip very well with heavy explosive lifts.

2- Inov-8 Fastlift 325

 

Inov-8 has two slots on this list, and both are shoes that are designed to make great cross trainers. This one specifically is designed with diverse training styles in mind, with a high-density sole for incredible stability under the bar, but a specially designed forefoot that is still incredibly flexible. This flexibility allows you to go from lifting to running without changing shoes.

These shoes have an entirely synthetic mesh upper which means they breath great and can help keep you nice and cool, but the mesh has a tendency to wear out well before anything else does. These shoes come at a mid-range price point and offer a good shoe that won’t last particularly long.

The strong point of these shoes is that they are great for people who are focused on functional training. If you often have workouts that incorporate elements of conditioning and weightlifting side by side, these are the shoes you should be checking out. They breathe well but don’t last long, depending on your needs there may be something better on this list.

PROS

  • Flexible Forefoot makes this a great choice for people with workouts that often have running and lifting.
  • High-stability heel gives good grip while under the bar.
  • Strong velcro strap keeps shoes tight.

CONS

  • Not many colors available.
  • Very breathable but the mesh has a tendency to tear before anything else gives out.

3- Adidas Adipower

 

Adidas is arguably one of the biggest names in the world of sports equipment. Few can rival the brand they have built for themselves as being the true athlete’s choice. Their premier offering in the world of weightlifting footwear is the Adidas Adipower, and this is one of the best weightlifting shoes. This shoe can only be rivaled by other ultra-premium options like the Nike Romaleos (which we will talk about next). Of course, with such fine quality comes a sizeable price tag. While not quite as expensive as some of Nike’s offerings these shoes still run well into the hundreds.

The entire upper is made of very resilient but light leather yet is somehow still pretty breathable. These shoes will last you for years of daily use without giving out. The heel in these is also one of the best I’ve ever used in any weightlifting shoe if you’re looking something to use for Olympic lifts. When it comes to heavy high bar squats, snatches, cleans, or any kind of pull, the support offered by the injected polymer chassis under the heels of these shoes is unbeatable.

If you often find yourself failing to catch a clean or feeling unstable under heavy squats, these are the shoes for you. They aren’t meant to be used in cross training, but in weightlifting, they shine.

PROS

  • Very hard supportive heel is ideal for heavy weightlifting.
  • Very High Quality Build will last you for years.
  • Breathable leather makes for an incredibly cool and comfortable shoe.

CONS

  • One of the pricier options on the list.
  • Only available in a few colors.
  • Not very flexible, not good for running in or conditioning.

4- Nike Romaleos

 

The Romaleos are probably the most iconic shoe in weightlifting and are used by a majority of the lifters in the actual Olympics. In fact, these shoes stirred up quite a contreversy when, after losing their sponsorship with Nike, the Chinese lifting team continued to wear them in competition, but covered up the Nike logos with athletic tape. These are the best weightlifting shoes on the market.

These shoes have certainly earned their reputation as one of the best because they really are leagues ahead of anything else. Normally leather is superior to synthetic materials in weightlifting shoes, but the Nike broke this mold when making the Romaleos. They used some of the most advanced synthetic materials available, leading to the most form fitting and breathing shoes on the market. The advanced synthetic is also pretty durable, even when compared to high-quality leather shoes.

The glove-like fit of these shoes combined with the superior grip of the soles and the incredibly supportive heel structure lead to a shoe that is unparalleled when it comes to weightlifting. Like the Adipowers, these shoes have a very hard rubber on the bottom, which means they aren’t very good for CrossFit or conditioning.

PROS

  • Absolute best weightlifting specific shoe out there.
  • Tons of awesome colors and styles.
  • Breathable and tough high tech synthetic shell makes this the best fitting shoe out there.

CONS

  • Most expensive shoe on the market.
  • Not flexible enough to run or do conditioning in.

5- Inov-8 Fastlift 335

 

This is the second entry for Inov-8 on this list and, like the Romaleo and Adipower, this is yet another weightlifting specific shoe. If you prefer synthetic materials over leather then you are in luck, because these shoes come with a very nice synthetic upper for their price point that won’t wear out too fast and will let you get your money’s worth. Not only are these shoes inexpensive but they fit most people really well.

The 335s feature a rubber sole mounted under an injected polymer heel. The heel is pretty small on these so they are best when used by someone with plenty of mobility. If you have trouble getting deep enough in your squats or getting under the bar fast enough in snatch or clean, then these shoes are going to be less than ideal for you. If you prefer to feel close to the ground and very stable on the other hand, the relatively thin heel on this shoe may actually be to your liking.

PROS

  • Great Value for the price, good synthetic upper will last a while.
  • Thinner heel may be good for those who are flexible and like feeling low and stable.
  • Very lightweight lifting shoe.

CONS

  • Some of the toebox is nylon, which will probably rip after a while.
  • Thin heel might be bad if you are still trying to develop your flexibility.

6- Nike Metcon 2

 

Next on the list is another extremely high-end product from the athletic apparel turned fashion boutique, Nike. These, however, unlike the Romaleos, are not only for heavy lifting. As the name suggests these shoes are great for any CrossFit style workout that incorporates elements of both lifting and conditioning. In fact, these are probably the best cross-training shoe out there. For those of you not in the know, the name of these shoes, “metcon”, is short for “metabolic conditioning” which is the type of exercise performed in CrossFit.

These shoes literally have over 30 styles to choose from and practically all of them look great. The shoe itself is also loaded with features. It does not have a velcro strap across the laces like many lifting shoes do, but it does have a proprietary “flywire” system to keep the shoe firmly around your midfoot. It also comes with a dual density midsole for comfort and a zero-drag heel for when you’re doing handstand pushups. For those looking for a cross training shoe and willing to pay top dollar to get the best thing out there, this is it.

PROS

  • Great cross training shoe purpose built with CrossFit athletes in mind
  • Tons of great styles to choose from.
  • Countless features like flywire mid-foot technology and zero-drag heel.

CONS

  • Very expensive product, as most Nike branded goods are.

7- ASICS Lift Master Lite

 

Next on our list is the ASICS Lift Master Lites. ASICS has built a name for themselves as a company that makes decent yet affordable running shoes and tennis shoes. This is one of the few models they make that can be used effectively for weight training. They occupy a lower to mid price point depending on what kinds you get and the availability at the time.

For the price, they are a pretty good deal and offer some decent performance. The heel is pretty thin and the rest of the shoe is surprisingly flexible, meaning these shoes are actually still pretty ideal for running in. While certainly not as good as an actual running shoe would be this footwear makes an excellent compromise as a cross-training shoe. You can very easily switch between lifting and conditioning in these shoes and they are probably the best cross trainer out there at this price.

PROS

  • Very fair price for the value you’re getting, great budget option.
  • Perfect footwear for cross-training that incorporates lots of lifting and running.

CONS

  • Very thin heel is less than ideal for those with poor mobility.

8- Adidas Power Perfect II

 

The second Adidas entry on our list is the less expensive of the two, but is still an excellent lifting shoe. The uppers of the shoe are constructed out of a special “air mesh” fabric that allows the shoe to breathe, that is then wrapped in an outer layer of leather, much like the Adipowers. The leather on the Power Perfect II has small holes throughout to further allow air to pass through the air mesh and cool your feet.

These shoes are super comfortable for their price and will keep you surprisingly cool throughout your workouts. While these shoes are definitely more flexible than the Adipowers they are still weightlifting specific shoes. They have the highest heel of any of the shoes on this list, which is great for people who have poor flexibility in their ankles or hips. The drawback to the massive heel on these things is that it is not constructed out of a hard truss or injected polymers, it is a relatively soft rubber giving the shoes a rather unstable feeling.

If you’re new to weightlifting these are actually a great first pair of lifting shoes. They have a high heel but are not made out of the hardest or most supportive materials.

PROS

  • Great first shoe, thick heel wedge is good for new lifters.
  • Very stylish and comfortable shoes.
  • Leather upper is built to last.

CONS

  • Not very good for running, massive heel is cumbersome to walk in.
  • Soft rubber heel can feel unstable under super heavy loads.

9- Nordic Lifting Powerlifting Shoes For Heavy Weightlifting – Men’s Squat Shoe

 

These shoes are simple and they get the job done. they look cool, work great, and are reasonably comfortable. What’s even better though, is that these are the most affordable shoes on this list. Nordic Lifting is, as you may have guessed, a company that entirely specializes in lifting related apparel and equipment. They know what they’re doing when it comes to making gear for gym rats because they themselves share the same obsession as their customers.

These shoes are made out of a cotton mesh that is extremely breathable, but not quite as durable as some of the leather uppers we have seen on some of the Adidas and other premium shoes. Once again these shoes feature a pretty dramatic 1 4/10 inch heel making it great for lifters but less than ideal for those aiming to use the shoes for running or cross-training. Really, if you’re doing anything but lifting in these shoes it’s going to fell pretty wrong.

PROS

  • Very cool looking design with several colors to choose from.
  • Great shoe for lifters with what most would consider an ideal wedge size.
  • Very affordable pricing, probably the best deal on lifting shoes out there.

CONS

  • Can not be used as cross-trainers.
  • Cotton mesh has a tendency to wear out within a year.

10- Adidas Powerlift 3

 

As you may have already noticed, Adidas is a powerhouse in the world of sports footwear, and lifting is no exception. While both of the previous Adidas shoes on this lift have been exclusive to lifting, the final entry on this list, the Powerlift 3, are cross trainers. You can just about any exercise in these shoes whether it be cleans, snatches, squats, or running.

Unlike the other two shoes Adidas has on this list, these are made out of an entirely synthetic shell rather than leather, lending them more flexibility than their Adidas brethren. This is what gives them the flexibility necessary to be used for a wide variety of different training styles. Also unlike the other Adidas lifting shoes out there, this one actually has a pretty thin heel wedge, further allowing for a normal range of movement when running or doing other exercises. These shoes also come in a whole variety of wild colors.

PROS

  • Thin heel and an entirely synthetic upper makes these Adidas’ top cross training shoes.
  • Super lightweight, great for lifting and running.
  • Tons of cool styles.

CONS

  • Pretty expensive, definitely not worth it as a first pair.
  • Synthetic shell won’t last as long as the Adidas with leather uppers.

Weightlifting Shoes Buyer’s Guide

Who Needs Lifting Shoes?

If you’ve been lifting for more than a few months you’ve likely started to notice that heavy squats can take a pretty heavy toll on your knees and ankles over time. For most people, this can be caused by a form issue such as having your knees travel too far out or caving inwards when you come up. These issues can be corrected in most people by using lifting shoes that have a thick heel wedge.

Why Do I Need Shoes for Lifting?

As mentioned a good pair of lifting shoes can align your joints into better positions. This will not only reduce the amount of wear on your joints but will also allow your body to have better leverage, meaning you’ll be able to support more weight. These kind of shoes are also ideal for people who do Olympic lifts. These lifts require you to be in positions that require a lot of flexibility and having an elevated heel can help find a more stable base when in these positions.

Do I want Harder or Softer Shoes?

the type of training you perform will determine what kind of shoes you want. If your workouts consist of only weight lifting then a shoe like the Adidas Adipower or Nike Romaleos will suit you perfectly. They have a thick and hard heel ideal for lifting, but not much else. If you plan on having workouts that incorporate both strength training and conditioning elements then a cross trainer is the best option. These shoes have a thinner heel and are more flexible, meaning you can perform a wider variety of movements with them without feeling awkward.

How High of a Heel do I need on my lifting shoes?

This depends on how flexible you are. When you squat with no weight on your back does your calf touch the back of your thigh? If so you probably don’t need shoes with very thick heels. If you are doing snatches and are having trouble staying stable when catching the bar then you may benefit from a really thick heel. The thicker heel will allow you to rely less on your actual flexibility and will provide a more stable base.

Can I Wear These Shoes to Run?

Some of these shoes, those labeled as “cross-trainers”, can be used for running. This does not mean they should be used if you plan on only running in them. If you have conditioning days in your workout that are entirely running I would recommend considering getting a pair of actual running shoes. While the cross-trainers CAN be used for running they are far from ideal and aren’t good for runs longer than a few miles.

How Long Should a Pair of Lifting Shoes Last?

If you get one of the higher end leather Adidas shoes or advanced synthetic Nike shoes they will last many years. Since you are only using them in the gym and while lifting, you aren’t taking too many steps in them, and you’re probably only wearing them for a few hours a week. This means they really aren’t exposed to too much of the elements, they’re always in a gym bag or your car. Some of the synthetic mesh uppers, on the other hand, have a tendency of tearing well before anything else on the shoe gives out.

What Exercises Should I Wear my Shoes for?

Any lower body or Olympic movement. When you are doing heavy front or back squats the shoes will take some of the stress off your ankles and give your legs better leverage. This means you’ll be able to safely move more weight while decreasing the risk of injury. With cleans, jerks, or snatches the shoes will allow you to get deeper when catching the bar and provide you a more stable base with which to lift the bar once you catch it.

Will These Shoes Make me Stronger?

The first time you use your new lifting shoes you may find that your lifts are a little lower. Your body isn’t used to the new position it’s been put into and has to learn to adjust to having a raised heel while squatting. This will only take a few workouts, and in the meantime, you’ll notice you feel like you’re glued to the ground. You feel incredibly stable under the bar. After a few uses, your body will be used to the new form and you will likely add fifteen or twenty pounds to your squat immediately.

Will These Shoes Save my Joints?

It depends on why your knees hurt. There’s a chance at any age that your knees are actually injured. Many high school track athletes end up suffering from knee injuries even in their early twenties. If your knee issues are caused by form issues then the shoes may be able to help. The most common issue most people face with heavy weights are having their ankles in awkward positions, having their knees cave inwards when they are coming up in the squat, and having their knees travel too far forward past their toes. All of these issues can be resolved by using thick heeled lifting shoes.

What Other Equipment can Help my Joints?

If you’re having troubles with your knees when lifting it may be worth looking into getting a pair of knee sleeves in addition to a pair of lifting shoes with a thick heel. These sleeves will help make sure your joints stay warm in between sets and can provide a little additional support. This support can help reduce lateral movement which is one of the biggest culprits of knee pain. It’s also obviously important to warm up properly before lifting. you should spend at least ten or fifteen minutes warming up before hitting the weights.

How Much Weight can these Shoes Support?

If you’re worried about breaking the soles of these shoes, don’t be. Keep in mind these are the same shoes used by tons of Olympic lifters and many powerlifters. These shoes have been used by 300 pounds men lifting 800 pounds deadlifts. Odds are whatever you’re lifting isn’t capable of damaging these shoes.

What Kind of Programs are best for These Shoes?

Any program that has Olympic lifts or has a heavy emphasis on strength training will let you get the most out of your new lifting shoes. Most programs of these natures will have you doing full body workouts. In the case of Olympic lifting, you’ll want to do a low volume of cleans, snatches, and squats, every day. For powerlifting, you’ll want to do a high volume of heavy lower and upper body lifts every other day. Either of these methods will allow you to take full use of your new shoes while gaining good amounts of strength and muscle.

Do These Shoes use Real Leather?

Most of the shoes on this list use some kind of synthetic leather that is almost indistinguishable from the real thing. It is surprisingly resilient and can hold up to some pretty brutal punishment. A couple of the higher end Adidas shoes, however, use real leather. For some people, this isn’t a problem and they’ll appreciate the craftsmanship. Others may have an aversion to animal products, so they’ll want to stay away from the Adidas offerings.

Do I Need Insoles With These Shoes?

No, practically every shoe on this list comes with a special insole already included with the shoe. A normal insole would most likely not hold up well to the kind of wear it would receive in a lifting shoe. Normal insoles are designed to be worn over and over again under normal loads, not be used for brief periods of intense load. The insole already in the shoe when you buy it is probably your best bet.

Will These Shoes Protect my Feet From Plates?

Unfortunately, even the thick leather shoes on our rundown won’t offer enough protection to save your toes from a dropped plate.

What is the Velcro Strap on the lifting shoes for?

In order for these shoes to provide as stable of a base as possible, they have to be extra tight, especially high up on your foot when you are in a deep squat or snatch. Laces can come undone or simply be too loose, which if you’re under a bar with hundreds of pounds of iron-loaded onto it, could be bad. The velcro ensures maximum tightness and security when you’re under the bar.

Are These Shoes Still Comfortable?

Absolutely, these shoes are actually some of the most comfortable I have ever worn. I often wish some of my everyday shoes, and especially some of my dress shoes were this comfortable. Somehow despite being tight and secure on your foot, the insides are very breathable, cool, and surprisingly soft. They will not be a downgrade in comfort from whatever you are wearing to the gym now, I assure you.

Are These Shoes Needed for Any Kind of Competition?

While not mandatory in any Olympic lifting or powerlifting competitions that I am aware of, these shoes are certainly helpful if you want to be highly competitive. When you go to a meet, especially a CrossFit or Olympic lifting one, you’ll notice almost every athlete will have a pair of lifting specific shoes. These shoes really do make a difference and you will feel noticeably more stable under the bar as soon as you put them on.

Can These Shoes Help me With Sports?

Not directly, of course, but they can help you gain strength faster. By instantly adding ten to twenty pounds to your squat and clean these shoes unlock new levels of strength that you can use in the weight room. This, in turn, will lead to greater strength and muscle gains in the future. Increased strength is, of course, very useful in sports. These shoes will also help to prevent a potential injury.

Are These Lifting Shoes Really Worth the Investment?

If you plan to continue lifting and gaining strength or have an interest in learning to clean or snatch then most definitely look into getting a pair of lifting shoes. these shoes will aid you in your strength gaining journey, and will also help mitigate a lot of the wear and tear heavy lifting can place on your ankles and knees.

Image Credits via Flickr Creative Common: Oliverbxl

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