If weightlifting is a regular part of your workout routine, we highly recommend trying a pair of weightlifting shoes (no, they’re not just for Olympians). Contrary to common belief, you shouldn’t be wearing your running or hiking shoes during a weightlifting session. If you want to get the most out of your workout and prevent injury, it’s time to commit to a pair of the best weightlifting shoes.
But what are weightlifting shoes anyway? Weightlifting shoes are typically slim sneakers with extra structure and support. While most athletic shoes aim for lightweight comfort, the best lifting shoes are meant to keep you anchored and in control while weightlifting. Most weightlifting shoes use a slightly elevated heel to improve posture, as well as a stiff construction, non-slip sole and a snug fit for stability.
The Benefits of Weightlifting Shoes
Performance: Weightlifting shoes are designed to keep your body in the correct position during standing movements such as squats, deadlifts and overhead presses. This activates the proper muscles during a specific exercise, improving you’re overall form and balance for a more effective workout.
Safety: Although weightlifting doesn’t have the obvious dangers of action sports, for example, there are still some considerable risks involved. Incorrect posture and mistakes in the gym can cause injuries ranging from chronic back pain to broken bones. The corrective powers of the best lifting shoes can minimize these risks.
Comfort: Because weightlifting shoes are purpose-built, you’ll notice an upgrade in comfort as well. The secure fit means fewer blisters and sliding, plus most shoes have extra breathability to keep your feet cool and dry.
Types of Weightlifting Shoes
There are really only two main categories of weightlifting shoes: powerlifting (or Olympic lifting) shoes and cross-trainers.
Powerlifting shoes are for the classic lifter, allowing you to nail heavy, iconic movements such as squats, snatches and deadlifts. These feature a raised heel for better posture and usually straps to ensure a secure fit.
Cross-trainers, on the other hand, let you do a little more. They’re in-between a powerlifting shoe and a regular trainer. This means you can lift and do more dynamic exercises such as burpees, lunges and HIIT workouts without switching shoes. Although they’re not quite as good as powerlifting shoes for classic lifting movements, they’re still an upgrade over regular trainers and sneakers.
The Best Weightlifting Shoes
If you’re ready to upgrade your gym visits with a dedicated shoe, read on. We’ve rounded up the best weightlifting shoes for every kind of gym-goer – no matter your routine or budget.
1. Nike Metcon 8 Training Shoes
Nike weightlifting shoes lead the way. These Metcon 8s are our number one pick because they seamlessly transition from serious weightlifting kicks to trainers – and they ace both categories. Our previous pick for this spot was the Metcon 6, but Nike has since upgraded the shoe and added more breathability to keep your feet cool.
The shoe’s ability to transition between movements is largely due to Nike React foam which provides a comfortable and cushioned base for squats and deadlifts. Then when you’re ready for sprints, HIIT training or anything else, the Metcon’s sticky rubber tread with and traction make it a fantastic cross-trainer. They also have the necessary low, flat heel for creating a stable base for most weighted exercises including squat, deadlift and press. The shoes also score top marks in terms of style, especially in this green and orange scheme.
2. Reebok Legacy Lifter II Men’s Training Shoes
When it comes to serious powerlifting, these Reebok Legacy Lifter II trainers are about to become your best friend and your go-to pair of powerlifting shoes. These powerlifting shoes feature a reinforced TPU heel clip for added support, a removeable strap for a locked-in feel only when you need it and a better grip than previous Reebok lifting shoes. The upper portion of the shoe remains breathable, and super stylish so you’ll be all set to set a new PR in 2022.
3. Under Armour Men’s Project Rock 4 Training Shoes
BEST MID SHOE
Some lifters opt for a mid or high-top shoe. This provides some extra support and responsiveness when bending the ankle during movements such as squats. Our favorite mid-height lifting-slash-training shoe comes from one of the most famous ripped dudes of all time: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. These Project Rock 4 shoes are part of Johnson’s collaboration with Under Armour, and they’re a highly capable gym companion. The Johnson-approved lifting shoes boast an incredibly lightweight design for sprinting and HIIT training, but a heel counter allows you to safely hit the squat rack in the same gym session. Plus, they’re made of a soft knit that contributes to the lightweight feel while wicking sweat.
4. Adidas Men’s Powerlift 5
We all want to look good in the gym, which is why these Adidas are another one of our favorite lifting shoes on the market. They have a stylish, minimal look with bold colors and Adidas’ signature three stripes on the toe. But they also deliver performance-wise with a flexible toe, a supportive foam heel wedge and a premium nylon material. As an added bonus, 50% of the upper portion of this shoe is made from recycled material.
5. Reebok Crossfit Nano Sneaker
BEST BASIC CROSS-TRAINER
If you like to warm-up with a jog at the gym or do crossfit workouts in addition to lifting, go for a cross-training shoe (instead of classic weightlifting shoes). We suggest these Nano sneakers from Reebok because they strike a practical balance between versatile athletic kicks and lifting shoes, allowing an easy transition between activities. They feature Reebok’s nanoweave fabric that keeps your feet cool and dry, plus enough stability for Olympic lifts.
6. Puma Tazon Cross-Trainer Shoe
Some lifters prefer a lace-up design over classic weightlifting shoes with straps. It offers a more “normal shoe” feel, which also means lace-up shoes are typically good cross-trainers. We like these Puma’s because they have a sturdy, durable construction for weightlifting, but can still be used as cross-trainers if need be. They come very highly-rated on Amazon with 4.4/5 stars and over 1,600 reviews, so you can buy assured that customers are satisfied.
7. Nordic Lifting Powerlifting Shoes
BEST OLD SCHOOL
Modern tech is great, but sometimes the old guys do it best. These powerlifting shoes from Nordic Lifting are an example of old school lifting shoes that easily compete with the young guns. They feature a 1.4-inch heel that encourages correct posture during heavy lifts like squats and deadlifts, plus extra strong stitching that won’t bust under stress — even after months of use. They come very highly-rated with 4.6/5 stars and over 450 reviews, largely thanks to the sturdy toe box and overall width that offers a snug fit for most feet.
8. Reebok Men’s Lifter PR II
Lifting on a budget? Check out these shoes from Reebok. Most colors come in at just under $80, which provides some considerable savings compared to other classic weightlifting shoes (cross-trainers excluded) that typically hover around $100. But although the kicks are on the affordable side, quality isn’t sacrificed. A thermo TPU midfoot wrap provides a secure fit, while an anti-friction lining reduces heat and moisture buildup. This means less sweat, stink and blisters.
9. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Top
BEST EVERYDAY SHOE
No, we didn’t put Converse Chuck Taylors on here by mistake. The iconic sneaker is actually a favorite of weightlifters who don’t want to invest in real weightlifting shoes thanks to a slim, flat design. Plus, you don’t have to carry around an extra pair of shoes when you go to the gym. At under $50, they’re also very affordable, but we only recommend them if you don’t lift too often, or if you’re a beginner.
10. Otomix Stingray Weightlifting Shoes
BEST WRESTLING SHOES
High-top wrestling shoes provide more ankle support (ideal if you’re prone to ankle sprains or breaks). These Otomixs double as wrestling and MMA shoes as well as lifting kicks. They feature a flat sole for feeling the floor while you lift and a supportive ankle that laces all the way up for a secure fit. Reviewers are big fans, saying the added ankle support is great for serious movements such as squats and deadlifts.
11. INOV-8 Men’s Fastlift 360
One of the most important aspects of weightlifting shoes is a snug, customizable fit. This will keep your feet from sliding around inside the shoe while performing heavy lifts. Adjustability is also key for finding the right fit and even altering the size if your feet swell while working out. These Fastlift shoes from INOV-8 offer the best fit adjustability. They feature BOA dial lockdown straps that let you make micro-adjustments to size. They lean towards powerlifting, but a flexible forefront toe area means you can easily use them for cross-training if need be.
12. NOBULL Men’s Lifter Shoes
If you want the best-of-the-best, go with NOBULL’s lifter shoes. This boutique brand makes great athletic gear, and their leather lifting shoes aren’t just super trendy, they’re effective at their job. They’re a nod to the traditional weightlifting sport, and are made by skilled craftsmen being watched by a Master Craftsman. They’ve stripped down the technology associated with modern lifting shoes and returned to basics in the best way possible. The leather is hand-selected and treated with oils to be as strong as possible, and the stacked heel is bonded, waxed and finished for strength. There’s a molded sock liner included and an ideal 18.5mm heel to toe drop.