Which Type of Weightlifting Shoes Are Right For You?
If you want to continuously improve your performance and minimize your risk for injuries you need the right gear. This is true whether you are powerlifting, performing squats or deadlifts.
While some pieces of gear are relatively easy to choose, it can be a little more difficult when it comes to weightlifting shoes. Not only do you see people lifting in everything from Converse to dedicated weightlifting shoes, some even prefer the minimalist approach and perform their sets barefoot.
Before you decide to follow someone else’s lead and copy their choice of weight-lifting shoes, there are a few things you should consider ensuring that it’s the best pair for you.
Difference between Weightlifting and Athletic Shoes
There are a few aspects that sets weight lifting shoes about from other types of athletic footwear, but the main one is the heel composition and height. The heel is typically composed of wood, plastic or stacked leather, instead of rubber normally found in traditional athletic shoes.
Weight-lifting shoes can also come with heel heights that vary from .3” up to one inch. The different heel heights help determine what type of weight lifting the shoes are best suited for.
Some weightlifting shoes also come with one or two upper straps that help provide addition support during lifts and squats.
Why You Should Consider Weightlifting Shoes
Olympic weightlifters are not the only ones that benefit from wearing weightlifting shoes. Anyone that is lifting can see an improvement in their performance.
The shoes’ elevated heel provides increased ankle and shin mobility. You can “sit back” farther during squats and the improved mobility allows you to drop the weight to your lowest position. The slight elevation also helps to keep your feet firmly planted and your posture correct. When you have proper form you can effectively reduce your chance for certain injuries.
Weightlifting shoes also provide you with plenty of stability during your power based movements. Rubber heels often can’t provide the stability you need to safely power through squats and lifts. Traditional athletic footwear is also lacking in the support you get from a pair of dedicated weight lifting shoes.
Choosing the Right Weight Lifting Shoes for Your Workouts
With several types of weight-lifting shoes to choose from, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. The most important thing to remember is that regardless of the type you choose, the best weightlifting shoes will be comfortable to wear. If your shoes are uncomfortable, your performance will suffer and it can increase your risk for injuries.
Chances are your workout calls for squats whether you are in CrossFit, a powerlifter or trying to increase strength and muscle mass. Wearing weightlifting shoes with an elevated firm heel will give you the hard base you need, along with support.
Studies have found that when weightlifting shoes are worn knees are less likely to “cave-in”, and stress is reduced in the lumbar region. This is crucial in preventing injuries and having correct form throughout the movement. If you’re just starting out, weightlifting shoes can help you safely master your lifting technique.
When you are looking for the best weightlifting shoes for squats most experienced trainers recommend starting off with a heel height between .3” and .75”. The best heel height will ultimately depend on what gives you the most comfort and support.
There are three aspects to consider when you are looking for a pair of powerlifting shoes,
- Squat style
- Personal preferences
If you tend to squat farther down weightlifting shoes with lower heels will probably be the best choice for you, since they’ll allow for more hip movement. Higher heels are ideal if your squats aren’t as low, and will help you maintain an upright posture.
Anthropometrics refers to the length of your lower torso. Lifters with shorter statues often prefer lower heels, while taller athletes find that higher heels give them the support they need.
Many powerlifters start off with an average .75” heel and make the necessary changes as they start to develop their own preferences. You might also want to consider choosing weight-lifting shoes with two straps so you have the support and stability you need to power through your workout.
When you are trying to find the best weight lifting shoes for deadlifts, it generally comes down to personal preference. The most popular are often shoes with lower heels, since you really don’t need a wide range of motion when you are performing deadlifts.
Higher heels can also cause you to lean forward, and this can result in a loss of power. Lower heels will provide you with added stability, especially in the ankles, along with a hard, supportive surface. Most experienced weightlifters recommend choosing a pair of shoes that come with a .6” heel or lower.
Do You Need Weightlifting Shoes for CrossFit?
Squats, Olympic and powerlifting can be a part of your CrossFit workout, especially if you are following many of the strength training WODs. Even though CrossFit incorporates several types of exercises in their workout plans, you can still benefit from wearing a pair of weight-lifting shoes.
Since CrossFit does require you to move rapidly from one exercise to the next, the best lifting shoes will be versatile. This means that you will probably want to avoid pairs that come with higher heels since this can limit your movements in other activities. Heels measuring less than .75” inches are usually the best choice for CrossFit.
Support and security are other important considerations when you are looking for weightlifting shoes. Most weightlifting shoes come with one or two upper straps that provide extra support for your ankles. Not only is the added support beneficial during lifts and squats, but also through your other CrossFit movements.
There is no denying that weightlifting shoes can improve performance and prevent injuries if you have the right type. Your style of lifting, experience and even leg length will play a role in your decision, but it is also important to remember that the shoes should meet your preferences.
This means that pair your lifting partner wears, might not be the best choice for you.
Choose your weightlifting shoes based on what feels comfortable to you, and they will help you succeed at your workout goals. Don’t be afraid to ask an experienced trainer for advice or a healthcare professional.