The deadlift is a much more technical lift than it appears to most lifters. There is little room for error as even being slightly out of position or unbalanced can lead to disastrous injuries. There is already a lot to think about when getting ready for a big deadlift. You have to find the right song for the moment, position your feet, make sure your grip is secure, all while maintaining proper posture and back positioning. With all these thoughts and variables running through your head the last thing you want to think about is if you have the correct shoes for a safe and successful pull. Finding the best deadlifting shoes sets you up for stable and constant pulls that allow you to reach new heights and achieve your lifting goals.
This guide on the best deadlifting shoes will look at some important factors to consider when choosing a pair of deadlift shoes as well as some of the best options we have found on the market today. We will look at all the different types of shoes that lifters prefer deadlifting in to optimize their performance. We will then discuss and reiterate the importance of a flat-soled shoe and the dangers deadlifting in traditional running and athletic shoes. Finally, we will then consider the features and advantage of top deadlift shoes based on experience, customer feedback, shoe specifications. There is something on this list for everyone from absolute beginners to professional powerlifters training to compete in national competitions.
Before we dive in, it’s helpful to note that most Olympic lifting and powerlifting shoes are unisex and can be used by both men and women of all ages and sizes. Just make sure to get the correct size!
Best Deadlifting Shoe Comparison Chart
Why can’t you just deadlift in your usual pair of gym sneakers?
It is easy and common for athletic individuals to practically live in their sneakers and use them for all kinds of activities. They are great for running and high-impact exercise and tend to be comfortable and breathable. Also, many high end running and athletic shoes today are very costly, so it’s understandable that a lifter would be excited to shell out even more for specific deadlifting shoes or weightlifting shoes. The problem is that the cushioned construction of a sneaker is ill-suited to lifting, especially squatting and deadlifting. Many times the lightweight, flexible foam soles of these shoes don’t offer the stability that you need for a secure lift and good balance. They also absorb the force of pushing against the floor which limits the lift and can make you very unstable if you are lifting any significant amount of weight. This not only limits your performance but also leaves you susceptible to life-altering knee and ankle injuries that can easily be avoided if you wear proper footwear.
Why are Flat-Soled Lifting Shoes so Beneficial?
There is no give to the sole of a good deadlifting shoe or slipper. It is flat, firm and low to the ground with no sign of a heel or air cushion. This is the best way to ensure a good posture and position on the floor. Your heels and feet will be in the best position for a strong, safe lift with minimal risk of injury. The lower proximity to the ground will also shorten the distance that the weight must be pulled and increase the efficiency of the lift.
The simple shape, snug fit, and lightweight improve stability and balance. This directly translates to improved consistency and performance. An added bonus here is the amount of traction on the non-slip sole. If the shoe doesn’t have a non-slip sole, it can be dangerous and is not useful for lifting on slippery wooden deadlift platforms.
Some will question if regular Olympic weightlifting shoes are good for deadlifting. They sound like they should be a great option because of the style, but they often have heels to them. These heels are used to add depth for Olympic weightlifters and improve their Power Cleans and Overhead Squats. However, many would argue that deadlifting is easier and more productive the flatter your feet are to the floor. The thinner the sole the better. While powerlifting and Olympic lifting shoes are much better than running or tennis shoes, a shoe with a fully flat sole is the most optimal for deadlifting.
You may have seen someone in the gym deadlift without shoes or read about this technique on internet forums. They claim that the best deadlifting shoes would be NONE at all! That’s right; not wearing shoes is best for deadlifting as you are as close to the ground and stable as possible. This has led some people to ditch the shoes altogether and opt to go barefoot. Their logic is correct and there is something primal about going barefoot when lifting heavy weight. However, for the average lifter, the best deadlifting shoes they can afford, would offer a much safer and more gym-friendly experience, as they offer protection from dropped plates or bars and are with every gym’s rules throughout the country.
Finding the best style of flat-soled deadlifting shoes.
The best deadlifting shoes are typically flat-soled shoes. However, there are lots of different types of shoes mentioned in weightlifting blogs and seen in professional powerlifting competitions. You will have trouble searching for a deadlifting shoe directly, as there are only one or two brands that advertise their shoes as made for deadlifts specifically. However, there are plenty of other types of shoes that are used in the sport with great success. The first place that lifters tend to turn is either to a wrestling shoe or a good-old pair of Chuck Taylors. Alternatively, there is the option of buying a sturdy pair of slippers, such as ballet slippers, or barefoot-style running shoes.
Clearly, there is mixed opinion on the best style of shoe for deadlifting. These views ultimately come down to personal experience and preferences based on the performance of the shoe and individual needs. Some may start with wrestling shoes or Chuck Taylors and find that they progress to more specialized flat-soled powerlifting or Olympic shoe as their lifts get heavier and they take the sport more seriously. Others may find that they prefer a sporty feel and opt for a barefoot-style sports shoe over a slipper. The thing is, you won’t really know which is the ultimate approach for you until you try a pair and put them to work.
Best Deadlifting Shoes Reviews
The list below provides a wide selection of the best deadlifting shoes from these different styles. These comparisons will hopefully steer you in the right direction and highlight some of the key advantages and features on board. Remember, the best deadlifting shoes can take different forms for different lifters. Read carefully, then consider the options that work for you!
The Adidas Performance Powerlift family of shoes (1,2, & 3) is one of the most popular specialized powerlifting shoes on the market today. This shoe features a sturdy mesh and synthetic body and a hard rubber non-stick sole to ensure traction and stability. While the heel is slightly raised compared to the toe for deeper squat, the completely flat bottom allows your feet to remain planted and lessens the distance that must be pulled during deadlifts. These shoes also have a strap for added protection and the ability to tighten the shoes to your exact preference. The Adidas performance powerlifting series is a very attractive shoe for many beginners to intermediate lifters as it looks great and is priced lower than other premium weightlifting shoe brands.
Reebok recently released this shoe with “crossfitters” who value both stability for lifting and lightweight construction for agility and speed in mind. They also contacted elite level powerlifters, like Mark Bell, to study and design this shoe for the needs and wants of powerlifters as well. This in-depth level of research is evident in the meticulously detailed construction and technical features in this shoe. The strap is placed in the center of the shoe rather than the top to provide you with support where you need it most, in the middle of the foot and around your arches. The heel of this shoe is only slightly raised making this shoe idea for both Olympic movement and heavy deadlifts. The sole construction is relatively hard and solid to prevent instability and shifting of the weight on even the heaviest squats and deadlifts. Overall the Reebok Crossfit shoe is ideal for anyone interested in lifting and performing functional athletic movements and it is priced very reasonably.
We mentioned above that there were only a few brands that were deliberately designing shoes for deadlifting, while the other brands highlighted simply had models that were suitable. It, therefore, makes sense to mention these Sabo Deadlift shoes next. These shoes have been mentioned online by a lot of online fitness bloggers because of their branding and design.
So what it is about these shoes that makes them so well-built for deadlifting? First of all they tick the main three boxes of a good lifting shoe. The offer stability from a flat, thin sole and a lightweight. This 2-5mm shoe is flat to the ground with no cushioning, much like many of the other flat-soled shoes here. However, these shoes also have a tarsal strap specifically designed for deadlifts. This strap can make all the difference when trying to get enough downward force into a lift and increasing stability. This means that your performance could improve that little bit more in these shoes compared to a Chuck Taylor or a barefoot-style running shoe. Users also like the build quality and the way that the sides are reinforced to stop their feet from rolling and getting bruised or injured.
The tried and true, good old fashioned Chuck Taylors. This brand is mentioned so often by powerlifters that it would be out of place to mention them any later. These shoes may not seem like an obvious choice at first, especially where there are so many flat-soled shoes out there designed specifically for lifting. Some of the best lifters swear these are the best deadlifting shoes for them! They may be for you too!
The truth is that these shoes actually share a lot of the same characteristics as the better professional deadlifting shoe. Users know that they are comfortable because they wear them all the time and they are not as expensive as the more specialized and technical lifting shoes.
For some, they are simply the best deadlifting shoes because they are so accessible and offer a no-nonsense approach to lifting. There are no special features designed for sports and nothing that makes them excessively expensive. They are just well-built, flat shoes with a strong grip and a stable base. Some people criticize these shoes for their lack of support and cushioning, but this is an advantage for deadlifting. The canvas uppers are light and adaptable, more so than some training shoes. Just be aware that if you have a hi-top model, you may want to leave the top unlaced for greater freedom of movement.
Similar to the Adidas Performance Powerlifting shoe, this weightlifting shoe includes a strap and durable upper with a hard, flat sole. The main difference is that this shoe resembles more of a traditional Olympic shoe with a raised heel. This makes the shoes great for hitting proper squat depth, but some people find that it throws off their balance during deadlifts. This shoe tends to also be on the more expensive side and is usually worn by serious Olympic lifters and some powerlifters who don’t mind a raised sole during deadlifts. I feel like this is a great overall lifting shoe, but there are better options with a flatter sole if you are trying to find the best shoe to wear for deadlifting specifically. For all other lifts, this shoe is perfect.
The Nike Romaleos have become a standard for powerlifters looking to buy a high-end pair of lifting shoes. This was the first shoe made for hardcore lifters made by a large brand, but it has been challenged over the years as brands like Reebok and Adidas has introduced high-quality lifting shoes at more affordable prices. This shoe features all the staple of a high-quality weightlifting shoe including a raised heel, very hard and sturdy sole, and two straps for added support and structure. This shoe works well for all lifts, but as previously mentioned the raised heel can cause some lifters problems during deadlifts and this shoe is much more expensive than many other options on this list making to hard to recommend to beginners.
Another classic style lifting shoe, but from a less mainstream brand. This shoe is extremely lightweight compared to many of the competitors and it offers some of the highest levels of stability of any shoe on this list due to its hard heel cage and “Power-Truss” technology. Like many other lifting shoes, the Inov-8 includes a strap for additional support and protection and a raised heel. The raised heels on these shoes are of average height and thus not the optional scenario for deadlifts, however, these are much better than running shoes and are perfect for virtually every other lift. A decent option if you want to try a non-mainstream shoe brand and have other lifts you are focusing on besides just deadlifts.
If these Sabo shoes are the only ones that are specifically designed for deadlifting, some people may feel the need to look at boots built for a different discipline. Wrestling boots are known to work pretty well. This means they are a good idea for anyone that is lifting as part of their training or has come from an amateur wrestling background. Anyone that wants to try wrestling shoes as a way into the sport should consider Asics wrestling shoes. This company is well known for their well-built, supportive shoes, and this range is no different.
The Asics JB Elite V2.0 wrestling shoe was designed around the specifications of 3x world champion, Jordan Burroughs. The specification talks about wrestling-specific traction pods, but don’t let this put you off. They may be there with wrestling in mind, but that brilliant grip proves to be ideal when lifting too. Wearers also like the fact that these shoes are lightweight at 6.8 oz and offer a good, supportive fit. They also come in a great range of colors. This will make no difference to the performance, but there is nothing wrong with looking good in the gym.
The importance of this barefoot feeling in deadlifting means that some of the best deadlifting shoes are actually alternative running shoes. We spoke out against sneakers before because of the thick, padded soles and the impact they have on performance. The great thing about these barefoot-style running shoes is that they provide the best of a sports shoe without this sole. Instead, the sole is flat and thin, just like a lifting boot. The purpose of this zero-drop experience may be different, but it all leads to the same great benefits of stability, balance, and posture.
This is just the start with these Merrell shoes. In addition to the sole, there is a strong, lightweight upper that is durable enough to last through many sessions. That upper is also breathable, so there are no concerns about feet getting too hot and sweaty. This can be an issue in some of the more constrictive models in this list. The support continues with the heel sling and there is a slip-resistant sole that is ideal for lifting. Essentially, this type of shoe provides the best of both worlds for lifters that don’t want to switch to something too unfamiliar.
Last, but not least, we come to slightly more familiar ground with another product that has been highlighted by keen lifters. The name of this boot gives away its most striking feature. Instead of providing a roomy toe box for freedom of movement and comfort, this product has five fingers like a glove. This allows the foot to move in a more natural way when squatting and lifting. The splayed toes provide a more comfortable position and greater stability. This in turn leads to a better lift.
Unlike some of the stranger boots that have been mentioned so far, like the yoga slippers, there are some extra features here that make these shoes seem a little more like sports shoes. The Vibram TC1 performance rubber sole is the sort of sole that you would find on a training shoe and it offers a great grip. At the same time, the shoes are very low to the ground and offer a strong base for more confident lifts. Add in the durable construction and hook and loop closure and it is easy to see why lifters like this model so much and rank it at the top of their “best deadlifting shoes” list.
As these barefoot-style running shoes are such a popular idea at the moment – for both runners and lifters – it makes sense to look at another brand that is using these features. New Balance are much like Asics in terms of their reputation for strong, supportive shoes with a good fit. These trail running shoes look a little thicker and heavier than the previous model, so may not be as well-suited to the sport. However, there are still plenty of wearers praising them for their performance.
The sole is still pretty thin and close to the ground so there is no concern about there being too much padding or too much of a heel. At the same time, it contains a no-sew TPU wrap that is said to be “skeletally engineered” for stability and support. This is a bonus for deadlifters that need a secure piece of footwear where they won’t roll their foot. Other important features are the light, breathable material on the uppers, the good fit and the traction on the sole. Like the model above, this is a great transition shoe for people that are getting into lifting and are used to wearing sports shoes. They are a compromise when wrestling boots and slippers seem too extreme in a communal gym.
Don’t Make These Deadlift Mistakes!
Which Shoes Are Best For You?
It is difficult to rank the shoes we have listed here in terms of the best deadlifting shoes and worst shoes because there are so many different types. Instead, we have simply tried to highlight the diversity of models out there when it may seem as though true deadlifting shoes don’t exist. The truth is that there are boots specifically designed for lifting, wrestling and martial arts that share some of the best features of a lifting boot. At the same time, there are lots of slippers and barefoot-style options that are well-suited to the discipline.
The best deadlifting shoes for you depends on your needs and preferences. Athletic boots with all the features are appealing to newcomers that want to start out right. Slippers and minimalist boots are appealing to old-timers that want to improve their performance. Then there are are barefoot-style running shoes for a more familiar approach, not forgetting the popular Chuck Taylors either. Take your time to find a style that suits you. As long as the shoe has a flat sole, light weight, stable construction and good grip, you should be absolutely fine.