Weightlifting shoes have several advantages over regular training shoes – greater stability, a position more suitable for moving, and a better “feel” if you are lifting a surface (better proprioception if you feel fancy). When training around machines, weightlifting shoes offer less benefit because the machine itself takes care of stability. However, when used wisely, weightlifting shoes are a great tool that can help with mobility and form when performing free weight exercises like squats, presses, cleans, and snatches.
In recent years, the popularity of disciplines such as weightlifting and CrossFit has led to an explosion of new gym openings. With this gym growth came a dizzying array of new weightlifting shoes with all different heel heights, strap systems, designs, and of course, prices. We are here to help you navigate and find the best weightlifting shoes for your needs.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: training shoes can (and will) make or break your workout. Shoes are a training tool that should not be taken lightly, and choosing the wrong ones can lead to long-term pain and injury. Additionally, the right training shoes can help you reach your personal best.
Finding the Best Shoes For Squats is especially important for improving squats, deadlifts, snatches, and clean jerks. For this reason, since I am a shoe enthusiast, my team and I have put together this guide to the best weightlifting shoes.
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Some brands in the industry refer to heel height as “offset,” “heel-toe drop,” or “drop level.” A good rule of thumb for heel height is 0.5 to 1.2 inches. Why? Raising the heel allows you to squat more deeply. Moreover, your back will be straightened. Please give it a try. As mentioned earlier, a straight back puts less strain on your lower back.
Normal shoelaces usually do not hold the foot in place. We are talking about fine movement. It can hurt your ankles. So, look for shoes with support straps. These are usually Velcro straps that make it easier to get the right fit. Some brands offer two or more straps to ensure lateral and vertical stability. The more straps, the more support, and less risk.
The midsole is not the most notable feature. It is important in running shoes because it provides the most cushioning. In squat shoes, it is usually thin and placed only under the heel. The material is usually TPU or EVA (a type of plastic). However, TPU is often used because it is stiffer.
The outsole should provide maximum grip. Even the slightest slip can cause a major loss of balance and serious injury. The material is, of course, rubber. It has the best grip, but it wears easily. But this, once again, is not a problem if your shoes are devoted solely to squatting.
Squatting shoes can be quite expensive compared to other options. And, frankly, they should be. Special materials and designs are needed to achieve the perfect workout. Don’t even think about picking a bad pair just to save a few bucks. It will not be effective. And it won’t last long.
Just think of it as an investment. After all, the longer they last, the less often you will have to replace them. The main way to choose products that will last is to follow brands that have an unblemished reputation. Yes, no one is perfect, and we know that sometimes well-known brands make terrible products. But at least this is an exception.
This is by far the most important feature. It’s what makes a shoe suitable for running and squatting; choose a material with the highest possible stiffness, such as TPU. This is especially important if you are doing Olympic weightlifting or other squatting. This is to prevent pressure on the shoes and loss of strength.
The only drawback is that these materials are relatively heavy. But if you reserve these shoes for squats only, I don’t think this will be a big problem. After all, we don’t move around much.
It is important to know that some types of materials have disadvantages. For example, the leather may look good, but it is not as breathable as other materials such as textiles or mesh. Conversely, using a large amount of breathable material will make the shoe feel better and lighter with better air circulation, but it may affect durability and stability.
As far as the heel and outsole go, weightlifting shoes tend to be built to stay on the platform for stability and traction. Weightlifting shoes are meant to feel connected to the platform, so do not expect them to be forgiving or soft.
Design is very subjective and we try not to give it too much importance. Whether you are someone who cares about the look of your shoes or just sees them as a tool to accomplish a task, weightlifting shoe design has come a long way and now there are many different looks and options.
Benefits of Squat Shoes
Weightlifting shoes are specially designed for weightlifters. One of the main advantages is that they activate more muscles and mobilize more fibers. They make it easier to “break through the floor” and provide greater power during lifting. During exercise, especially leg exercises, the heel needs to be pushed out, which is very difficult in running shoes because the sole does not allow it. Lifting the shoe can help you feel stronger in heavy squats, deadlifts, and other free compound movements.
In fact, studies have shown the biomechanical and kinematic effects of various shoes on squat performance. Yet another study observed significant differences in maximum ankle flexion and upright posture with weightlifting shoes. This study concluded that weightlifting shoes may allow for safer and more efficient squatting.
Improved Lifting PowerImproved Lifting Power
Weightlifting shoes improve performance. Unlike Chuck Taylors, they are designed for the very specific movements of weightlifting. They provide the support and security lifters need.
Muscle hypertrophy is the enlargement of muscle organs and tissues due to an increase in cell size. Basically, it means that the muscles appear larger. Weightlifting shoes allow you to safely lift heavier loads, thus promoting hypertrophy.
It may seem strange that the heel of a shoe is raised, but it serves an important purpose: a heel that is 0.5 to 1 inch or more allows for more effective use of all muscles.
Heels allow the ankle joint to fit into a deeper squat position because of the greater range of motion of the ankle joint. Deeper squats lead to stronger, safer forms and increased gains.
Increased Ankle Mobility
A higher heel provides more ankle mobility than a chuck. This greater ankle mobility allows for a deeper squat. Increased ankle mobility not only allows you to lift more weight but also helps prevent injury.
Just as certain patterns occur in the body when attempting to throw a soccer ball or swing a bat, movement patterns also occur when performing various techniques in a weightlifting regimen.
Weightlifting places a great deal of force on the body, which is supported entirely by the feet. Without proper firm cushioning or padding for the feet, they will not be able to withstand the forces, and not only will you not get the full benefit of the exercise, but you may also get injured.
If you have the money to invest in a good pair of weightlifting shoes, it is worth it. This will make a dramatic difference in your overall technique and lifting ability. Especially if you are currently lifting in worn-out ratty running shoes.
Can squat shoes be substituted for small weights that can be walked on?
Technically, it is possible. But are they better than shoes? Absolutely not. First of all, it is not reproducible. Even with the same weight plate, the heel position may vary. This makes it impossible to keep track of your performance.
It is also not the safest option. Under heavy weights, your feet can easily slip off the edge of the weights and cause serious injury to varying degrees.
How should I care for my squat shoes?
Placing a newspaper inside the shoes after exercise will help remove excess moisture and prevent bad odors.
After about a year of use, the shoes will probably need to be washed. Squat shoes can be washed by running them slowly in the washing machine. However, check the manufacturer’s instructions beforehand to avoid irreparable damage.
However, if you want your shoes to last as long as possible, don’t use them outside of the home. Not even to and from the gym. Otherwise, the shoes will be subjected to unexpected loads.
When is it time to replace your current squat shoes?
The most obvious sign is a loose top strap. Whether the Velcro is worn out or the metal buckle is loose, squatting with a defective strap can cause instability and injury.
Other signs include torn seams and loose adhesive, and it is up to the individual to decide whether to repair or replace the strap.
These best squat shoes have their own pros and cons, but one important thing to remember when buying any pair of shoes is overall comfort. We can talk about toe width, heel height, and all the other features, but if your feet hurt when you wear them, these shoes are not for you and you probably won’t wear them much. It is worth thinking about your sport, your body, and your budget before buying a pair of quality weight training shoes.