You can probably lift in any old pair of sneakers, as long as they aren’t running shoes. However, opting for special weightlifting shoes can really enhance your performance. These pairs are typically divided into three categories. Those made for Olympic lifts (including the snatch, clean and jerk) feature thick, raised heels so you can squat deeper. Styles made for powerlifting also feature elevated heels, but they’re slightly lower than those of Olympic lifting shoes to increase leverage of the hamstrings in a low-bar back squat and bench press. Meanwhile, shoes for deadlifting are flat-soled to increase contact with the ground and improve balance. No matter which style you’re in the market for, we’ve rounded up some of the best options you can buy in every category. In addition to offering great traction, they’re designed to keep feet cool, comfortable and secure thanks to features like breathable mesh uppers and adjustable hook-and-loop straps.
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1. Reebok Legacy Lifter Sneakers
This Reebok shoe features a sizable 22 millimeter drop that allows for optimal positioning during a low-bar back squat and bench press.
Pros: The anatomically molded design and dual hook-and-loop straps create a custom fit and offer great lockdown while doing heavy lifts.
Cons: The added heel boost may make these heavier than their competitors.
2. Inov-8 Fastlift Shoes
Complete with flex grooves in the sole and hollow heel columns, these shoes ensure a lightweight, natural feel for optimal comfort.
Pros: Unlike the 22 millimeter drop of the Reebok pair, this style includes a 16.5 millimeter drop to enhance your form during low-bar back squats and bench presses. The lower heel height and lightweight design also make this a great style for beginners who are still trying to master the art of power lifts. Plus, the shoes use a lockdown dial so you can easily create your perfect fit.
Cons: These tend to run a little wide.
3. NoBull Training Shoes
NoBull’s sneakers feature a seamlessly constructed upper made from the brand’s SuperFabric, a durable, breathable and abrasion-resistant material.
Pros: Lateral and medial guards protect your foot from all sides while you deadlift. The lug pattern outsole is made to take you from the gym to the streets with the perfect mix of flexibility, traction and base support.
Cons: These may be stiffer than other pairs.
4. Pendlay Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
These Pendlay shoes have a durable synthetic leather upper with breathable, heavy-duty nylon mesh throughout and two metatarsal straps for optimal lockdown.
Pros: They also feature the brand’s signature Do-Win wide-toe box design for enhanced comfort. Their 3–4 inch heel height is ideal for deep squats but not too high that it puts pressure on the ball of the foot.
Cons: These may run large.
5. Adidas Powerlift 4 Cross Trainer
This Adidas style is equipped with a rugged canvas upper and a reinforced heel counter, which offers stability during intensive lifts.
Pros: A high-density die-cut midsole wedge also promotes greater stability while providing freedom of movement. Mid-foot straps deliver a solid locked-down fit.
Cons: These may fit narrow for some.
6. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Hi Tops
These iconic Converse high-tops have a breathable, robust canvas upper and flat, firm rubber outsoles that grip the floor.
Pros: They come in a wide range of colorways.
Cons: These may also run a bit large and narrow.