Do I need Weightlifting Shoes?
I hear this question often, mostly with new athletes in the gym but occasionally from someone who has held out as long as possible from making a $200 purchase. I have recently been in the weightlifting shoe buying game, and I must say it isn’t easy. When I first was buying weightlifting shoes in 2001 there were two options. Adidas and Asics. Now there are a multitude of shoe companies making great and diverse shoes.
What are weightlifting shoes even for, you may ask? Well, they aren’t just for lifting. What weightlifting shoes do is sell you a deeper squat while staying flat footed. The key here is while staying flat-footed. What these shoes can do is allow you to squat deeper while still keeping an upright posture. A good check for this is pistols. Can you do a full pistol squat while keeping your foot flat? If you cannot weightlifting shoes may help you.
They can also benefit your lifting. What these shoes do is allow you to catch, squat, jerk, or snatch while keeping good posture regardless of mobility. Do you actually need lifting shoes? Probably not, but it may give you a significant advantage when lifting.
What are the best shoes and what to look for
When you are looking at weightlifting shoes look for three things: Heel height, Heel slip, and Comfort (shoe width). If you have great ankle mobility and can easily squat to full depth while keeping an upright torso I would suggest going for a smaller heel height. If you can barely bend your knees without going on your toes you’ll need a significant heel height (in fact if this is you stretch everyday before you even think to buy lifters). Heel slip is normally felt when doing split jerks, lunges or sled pushes. Heel slip is when your heel slips out of the shoe. This can happen for different reasons and it can most certainly just be the shoes. Comfort is exactly what it sounds like. If the shoes don’t feel comfortable you probably aren’t going to wear them.
Some of my noticings the past few weeks trying out shoes:
These are all in generals based on the manufacturing as most shoes in the brand are relatively similar.
Nike- Great go-tos for narrower feet and sub optimal squat
Adidas- Great for wider feet with good squat
Asics- Awesome shoe, fully custom, stupid expensive ($300 on average)
Inov8- Good for the WODs, not for the lifts. Low heel height and stability
Reebok- Wide feet and sub optimal squat, the true in between of Adidas and Nike
Be aware that you can take any of these shoes to a cobbler who can give you more heel height if you want it