Athletic equipment and gym memberships cost enough money without adding unnecessary gear simply because it’s trendy. Do you really need weightlifting shoes to be a better body builder? Are they truly going to make a lot of difference to performance?
Why Wear Shoes?
If you were moving stones in the garden, shoes would be essential. You could easily drop one of those rocks on a foot and a shoe is your only barrier, perhaps limiting damage. They also support feet that are taking the strain of a heavy weight which should be carried in the legs. Your arches will be thankful. The same is true of weight lifters: their arches are under stress and it’s possible to drop a weight. Protect your feet with shoes and, while you make the choice of which ones to buy, select a visually appealing pair made for your particular sport.
Change for the Better
Weight lifting is a very different move from hiking or walking. There is no impact, so no need for a cushion. Cushioning beneath your sole and heel could, in fact, reduce your effectiveness under a weight by reducing resistance that gives you required power and lift. Shoes made for weight lifters are not supportive in the same sense and, because they lack cushion, consumers probably wouldn’t go hiking in their body building footwear.
Top 5 Weightlifting Shoes
Comparing notes, we see that several brands of weightlifting shoes come up on top-5 or top-10 lists multiple times. Customers and experts really love these shoes, but why? Let’s take a quick look as we check out shoes by VS Athletics, Inov-8, Adidas, Pendlay, and Reebok.
1. Inov-8 Fastlift 335
Many lists love this one, a cross-fit and weightlifting shoe from sports company Inov-8. This firm also make shoes for other sports, but start here for HIIT workouts and body building. The shoe offers good grip for dynamic movements but also for balance under a weight. Straps and laces can be adjusted on this shoe standard (3/4 inch) heel height.
2. Adidas AdiPower
These are weightlifting shoes exclusively whereas the Fastlift 335 is a piece of multi-purpose footwear. The AdiPower is very well made and breathable; more comfortable than a lot of shoes for this sort of activity as well. The build is wide and light, providing excellent balance.
3. VS Athletics
A ¾ inch heel is standard for experienced weight lifters, but a higher heel better suits the newbie with his need for better posture. VS Athletics shoes for weight lifters offer a one-inch option in a pair of shoes that breathes to limit sweating and odor. Though not as well made as some items, VS Athletics provides an affordable shoe for beginners.
4. Adidas Crossfit Lifter 2.0
These are dual-purpose trainers with a regular heel that supports a decent squat. Mesh material allows toes to breathe and the light material belies a tough build. Rubber soles on these shoes support stability whether you are lifting or running through a series of high-speed crossfit moves.
5. Pendlay Do-Win
Probably the best-made shoe on this list, it is also among the most expensive. Support your foot with an item made for lifting, not crossfit activities, with a build that lasts. Nylon mesh lets out hot air to prevent excessive sweating. The plastic heel reduces weight.
Why Weightlifting Shoes Are Different From Running Shoes
Should you spend money on a new pair of shoes just to lift weights when you won’t be jumping up and down with them anyway? Is it worth your while to buy separate shoes for every sport you participate in such as basketball, hiking, running, and lifting weights?
That’s all going to depend on how seriously you pursue these sports. A lot of people will say you don’t need new shoes for everything, but there are some basic benefits plus physiological ones we will discuss below, particularly with regard to weightlifting shoes.
Practical Reasons to Change your Shoes
People who exercise a lot wear their shoes out quickly. If they wore the same shoes for everything, they could easily be in the market for new ones four times yearly. This is due to wear in the soles which affect support, loss of tension across the top, holes, and cracks in the soles.
In effect, if you own a pair for running, some for walking, others for the gym, and so on, you wear each pair down more slowly and in the long term you don’t do as much shopping after that initial $400 splashed out on footwear at the start of the year. As long as you don’t follow trends closely, this is a good reason to buy shoes for each routine.
At the very least, you should own indoor and outdoor shoes; maybe even a pair of spare outdoor footwear in case you get rained on and are splashing through puddles one day on a run. Another set is ready for you, dry and not so smelly as the pair currently against a heating vent in the mud room.
Reasons to Buy Weightlifting Shoes
You don’t lift weights in the rain or mud: this is an indoor sport. There is no need to worry about worn-out cushioning or arch support: that’s for high impact sports like running or aerobics with lots of jumping. Why do weightlifters buy special shoes? In most sports, participants don’t want to feel direct impact against a hard surface because this hurts your joints and bones, but with weightlifting this is just what you need.
With a hard surface under your feet, you can lift more efficiently and add more weight to your lift as well. How does that work? Well, imagine you are pushing against a soft surface with a bit of give. There is less resistance to create the desired force because the surface absorbs some of that force before you push upwards.
If the surface is solid the force is not absorbed so the body is able to use it all. Body builders recommend weightlifting shoes particularly for moves involving squats but also multi or compound moves; when two or more exercises are combined. A good example is an overhead press with a squat which works lower and upper body muscles, plus — if your form is good — abdominal muscles.
Remember, even when the move is for your biceps, deltoids, pectorals, or trapezius muscles, you are essentially lifting from your legs and up through your buttock muscles. These are your largest muscles, supporting your core. Every move starts from here unless you are lying on your back.
Build of Weightlifting Shoes
An ignorant observer might think the heel on a weightlifting shoe is a cushion, like the kind seen on many running and aerobic shoes. Notice that there isn’t one at the front as well as you see in other shoes. The heel is not there to make short weightlifters appear taller either.
This is to raise the lifter’s posture so it is safer and more upright. Heel sizes vary and you might also see weightlifting shoes without heels. Preference is everything, but footwear for this sport is never “supportive” in the “cushion” way.
Styles and Makes
Companies making other fitness gear are also in the growing weight-lifting market: names like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, plus a few less familiar brands, Innov8 being one. There are sure to be more. They all make shoes for men and women different mostly on two fronts: size and style.
A lot of weightlifting women look buff but they are still feminine and love pink shoes with hearts. You wouldn’t laugh at a muscle man’s lack of style, but there’s no reason for him to be a slouch either with the numerous colors and trendy designs out there today.
You should be looking for a good fit; something that is wide enough to support your weight evenly. For narrow feet, make sure you aren’t sliding around in a giant’s shoes. This will undermine your stability and balance, leading to injury or simply loss of concentration and confidence. Your shoes should fit snugly and create an even surface.
They usually feature a Velcro band across the very top plus laces. The band adds additional support as you bend through the lift. Durability is important but you don’t need to pay more than $150 for a good shoe that will keep you on your toes for six months to a year.