On a standard gym-goer’s checklist shaker bottles, lifting belts and iPods get plenty of love. What’s often overlooked is what’s on their feet which is ironic since lifting shoes should be one of the first things checked off the list!


Lifting shoes are a bodybuilder’s dream come true. They are specifically designed with a lifter in mind. When I first heard about lifting shoes I thought “These aren’t necessary, how much of a difference can they actually make.” It wasn’t until I started doing research into them that I started to see the benefits to wearing them. A huge benefit is the ability to activate more muscle and recruit more fibers. These shoes allow you to push through the floor much easier, which will allow you to produce more force during a lift. When you work out, especially during leg exercises you have to be driving through the heels. It is very hard to drive force through the heel in running shoes. The sole does not support that. Lifting shoes can help you to feel sturdier during heavy squats, deadlifts and any other free compound lift.

These shoes were not designed to be worn during cardio or for machine work. You will see no benefit using them while doing any machine exercises, even leg presses.

Hard sole, flat thin shoe, wrestling shoes or barefoot, which are ideal for lifting weights?


The current trend in footwear seems to be the use of squat shoes. A good trend for any lifter because you can hit new PRs in them. Squat shoes have been around for years and now have made a comeback. Reebok and Crossfit can take credit for this new trend.

If your budget allows, pick up a pair of good lifting shoes. If you budget is tight I recommend picking up a pair of converse to lift in. After trying it for a couple of weeks, you will thank me.

My Top 3 Lifting Shoes

Nike Romaleos

These shoes are probably the best when it comes to support and comfort. They have got a hard sole which is ideal for anyone who trains with mostly free weights. They are also the most fashionable, coming in a variety of colors and designs. These can cost you a pretty penny, so shop around for them.

Adidas adiPower

Similar to the Nike Romaleos these shoes also have a hard sole and come in a variety of colors. However these are lower to the ground then the Nike’s. The heel is shorter but both will provide you with comfort and will allow you to generate the force you need.

Converse All-Stars

Cheap, simple and effective. These shoes get the job done and come in a variety of colors. These shoes are very light and versatile; they can be used during the whole workout as opposed to the other two options that should only be worn during big compound movements. These shoes will run you around $50 and are well worth the investment. If you’re tight on money give these a try.

My Bottom 3 Lifting Shoes

Nike Free Runs

This shoe is designed to allow for a more comfortable run. This shoe has plenty of cushion for the impact of running. Problem is that this shoe will cause uneven pressure when you try to push through your heels. The flexible bottom will allow your foot to wiggle, which will cause you to lose stability.

Air Jordans

As awesome as these sneakers are, they were designed for basketball. Similar to the free runs these shoes won’t allow you to generate as much force as you could with a squat shoe.

Barefoot Shoes

Lots of people use these for lifting. These shoes will actually allow you to generate the amount of force you need, problem is these shoes have no protection for your feet. If you happen to drop a weight plate, there is no padding to absorb some of the impact. You can cause severe damage to your foot if a mishap occurs.


Hundreds of companies are cashing in on the lifting shoe trend. Do these shoes truly make a difference? Are they worth the money? These shoes have become more of a fashion statement then a useful tool. In my gym I overhear guys talking about the shoes they are wearing. I have even seen people change shoes in the middle of a workout. Is all this truly necessary?

Believe it or not, what we put on our feet can improve our performance. There are shoes for almost every sport, heck even golf has their own shoes. Most shoes are sports specific; the company designs the shoe around the type of athlete they are marketing too.

A Heaving History

The newest craze to hit the gym floor isn’t that new at all, weight lifting shoes have been around since the 80’s. The first company to create them was Otomix. These shoes were popular when bodybuilders wore those big bright pajama type pants. As styles and trends changed so did the face of lifting shoes. Wrestling shoes and converse were the big names for lifting for a bit. Shortly after this Vibram designed a shoe that mimicked being barefoot called the Five Finger. Very similar to a water shoe but was designed for mostly runners. These “barefoot” designed shoes are very different from your typical lifting shoe. The game totally changed with Reebok and Crossfit. Reebok capitalized on the deal signing a contract with Crossfit. They designed a hard sole shoe specifically for lifting. The hard sole allows the athlete to have a better base of support. Adadias and Nike created their own version of a lifting shoe.