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Beginner's guide to weightlifting shoes | What to look for

To succeed as a weightlifter, preparation is key. Our latest guide looks closely at how you can prepare in the right way by getting the best possible shoes for the job.

best weightlifting shoes

If you’re a weightlifter, or if it’s a new year resolution of yours to start lifting bars on a more regular basis, it’s important you have the right footwear in order to help you reach your full potential. You may think any old gym footwear will do the trick, but think again! There’s actually a wide range of specialist weightlifting trainers available which will see you doing giant sets sooner rather than later. No matter what level you’re at on your weightlifting journey, the right shoe is out there waiting for you.

Here at FOOTY.COM, we’ve combined user feedback, professional reviews and our own knowledge to put together the ultimate guide to weightlifting trainers for men and women available in the UK.

What are weightlifting shoes?

Believe it or not, specialist weightlifting shoes have been around for a long time, mostly to help Olympic lifters as they strive for gold. However, that doesn’t mean those trainers only benefit those at the top of the sport. Although you need to be in a position where you can lift safely and on a regular basis to consider these trainers, having the right pair of trainers will help any avid lifter, even one who just does it for fun down the local gym.

The shoes themselves tend to be heavier than normal trainers, have an elevated hard plastic heel, solid base, midfoot straps and a flat sole. The advantages of these features are increasing the ankle’s range of motion, maintaining better body posture, providing the lifter with a lot more stability and, most importantly, improving safety.

Do I need weightlifting shoes?

If you’re just starting your weightlifting journey then it’s important you get the basics – such as squatting - right first, as wearing weightlifting trainers too early would not be best practice.

However, if you’re a regular lifter who’s set yourself a goal in improving your performance, no matter what, you should certainly pick up a pair yourself. So if you’re doing back or front squats, clean and jerks, snatches, or overhead squats – no matter the weight – they’ll help you out.

Can weightlifting shoes be used for other activities?

Weightlifting shoes are only designed for weightlifting. So if you’re a bodybuilder who performs lots of deadlifts these are not for you. Additionally, if you have a workout that involves other activities (such as running) alongside weightlifting, be sure to pack a pair of running shoes or gym trainers in your kitbag to change into.

What to look for in weightlifting shoes

Because all weightlifting trainers and feet are different, it’s important you know what you’re looking for when purchasing a pair.

Firstly, you want to have a base that feels comfortable to land on. If you’re new to weightlifting trainers this may feel odd at first but be sure to stick with it. The most important thing is that you’re stable and secure when landing, similar to when you’re pounding the pavements in your running trainers.

The correct heel height is vital in allowing you to feel comfortable at the bottom of your squat. Experts say that you should look for the trainer with a heel that matches your body type – so higher heels for longer femurs (thighbone) and shorter heels for shorter femurs. Getting this right will help with your flexibility and mobility.

No two lifters tend to have exactly the same way of raising those weights. With that in mind it’s important you match your choice of shoe to your lifting style. If you raise your heel more than others than mobility is what you should be looking for above anything else.

Top 5 best weightlifting shoes for 2020

Reebok Legacy Lifter

Image from Reebok.

If you’re looking for that edge which could propel you to the top of the podium, then you may want to consider the Reebok Legacy Lifter. Designed with the guidance of American Olympic lifter CJ Cummings, the shoe is one of the most technical on the market. Available to both men and women, the trainer’s .75 inches heel allows for optimal squat positioning, while two adjustable upper straps give you the power to create your own locked-down fit. A rubber outsole provides all the grip you need to stand secure, while the Exoframe heel adds support and stability. As well as being stylish and technical, the collar’s full foam lining with an Achilles pad also makes it extremely comfortable.

Nike Romaleos 3

Image from Nike.

Another on the higher end of the market is the men’s Nike Romaleos 3 weightlifting shoe. Designed with lifting in mind, along with a variety of strength sports, these are incredibly lightweight compared to some rivals due to the inclusion of Nike’s signature Flywire material. Despite the flexibility that offers, the solid TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) .79 inches heel and large single mid-foot strap does mean that stability isn’t compromised though it may not be as apparent as on other products. Although comfort and safety should always be priorities the Nike Romaleos 3 is one of the most styling lifting trainers available and will be sure to turn heads in the gym, especially if you opt for the striking orange and black colourway.

adidas AdiPower Weightlifting 2

Image from adidas.

Next we move on to adidas now and their AdiPower Weightlifting 2 shoe for men and women. This has been designed with both comfort and stability in mind. A breathable woven upper offers a sock-like fit for comfort but that doesn’t reduce flexibility which is delivered via the forefoot, allowing for natural movement. The upper’s inner reinforcements, the mid-foot’s hook-and-loop strap and laces combo, and non-compressive TPU midsole all offer increased support even under the heaviest of loads. The heel measures in at .79 inches and, along with a grippy rubber outsole, should provide you with all the stability needed in order to perform to your very best.

Nike Metcon Flyknit 3

Image from Nike.

One of the most popular weightlifting trainers on the market is the Nike Metcon Flyknit 3. Another designed for both men and women, it’s available in various colourways including Mystic Red, Sequoia, Laser Fuchsia and more. Although this shoe is specially designed for CrossFit – hence the relatively short .23 inch heel – many of its features make it more than adequate for the casual weightlifter.

Greater stability has been added via upgrades to the heel and midfoot midfoot areas, while advanced sock-like Flyknit mesh also makes it extremely breathable even in the most intense session. A padded heel collar provides extra comfort, while a Flywire lace system and rubber outsole adds additional foot support. The Metcon Flyknit 3 is also extremely durable due to the introduction of TPU reinforcements on the toecap and sides.

adidas Power Perfect 2

Image from Amazon.

The adidas Power Perfect 2 is a slightly cheaper alternative when it comes to picking up a pair of specialist weightlifting trainers. With a style that looks like a callback to retro white Predators, they are slightly more flexible than the adidas AdiPowers we looked at earlier. Its air mesh upper has various ventilation holes, while the tongue has a synthetic strap running over it and two loops for the laces. This keeps the foot very secure while lifting the heaviest of weights.

Using their signature adiWEAR technology, adidas have also developed a highly-durable outsole which is made from extremely durable, non-marking rubber to deliver grip and avoid wear and tear. Similar to the other products which have just weightlifting in mind, the Power Perfect 2’s have a heel measuring in at .75 inches made from a robust TPU which is very hard to beat.

So there you have it. Hopefully you now have a lot more insight into weightlifting trainers and the products out there which could be the one for you.

Where can I buy weightlifting shoes?

Whilst manufacturer’s official online stores are good places to start, you’ll quickly find yourself restricted by the fact you can only view products one brand at a time. Given the huge range of retailers out there, it can feel like lifting weights in itself keeping on top of all these various outlets.

Here at FOOTY.COM, however, we compare prices from all the above retailers and more. Prices are updated regularly, so it’s well worth bookmarking any pages for cheap trainers you’re after to stay ahead of the game.

We hope we’ve helped you on your quest to find the perfect weightlifting shoes.

Daniel Tyler

A football enthusiast who's scored as many Premier League goals as Lionel Messi.