7 Best Weightlifting Shoes 2017: Olympic Lifting, Powerlifting, & Crossfit

Best Weightlifting Shoe Reviews

Squats, powerlifting, general weightlifting, it all requires a focus, strength, and a motivation that many do not possess. So, as a weight lifter, the goal is to increase what you are able to clear, correct? Have you heard people talking about weight lifting shoes, but have not really researched them much until now? You may be surprised that weightlifting shoes actually increase just how much you can lift.

Top Weightlifting Shoes Comparison Chart

There are a number of factors that we will cover in a moment that will explain exactly why that is, but it is important to lay out a few notes about this information and review first. After the next section will be a numbered review. Each item is reviewed based on a number of factors, with value ranking the highest. The easiest way to get started is to read the “pros and cons” part of each item and narrow down your selection that way. Also, keep in mind that shoes are difficult to review. Different feet feel better in different shoes, so don’t get frustrated if the ones you thought would be perfect end up no feeling right.

Lifting Shoe Buying Guide (What to Look For)

Weightlifting shoes are unique among most sports as they actually increase your ability by a tangible amount. The first thing you need to consider before diving in and making a purchase is just what type of shoe you will need. Do you plan to do cross fit and then lift? If so, a traditional weightlifting shoe may not be the perfect choice. There are reasons for this and you need to strongly consider your planned work out before making your final choice.

First, weightlifting shoes offer a unique design that puts your feet closer to the ground but lifts the heel to give you more strength in your lifting. The raised heel allows you to get into a deeper squat by allowing more ankle motion range. Once you lift with a specialized weightlifting shoe you are going to feel “off” without them. This raised heel also forces you to put your torso in a more upright position. Not only does it increase your power, but it increases safety as well.

Weightlifting shoes are often looked at as minimalist shoes, or those barefoot style shoes, as they offer very little in padding. This is key as it puts you into a position to make a more secure connection with the ground. This allows you to create more force through the ground and lets you pull the bar higher than if you were wearing traditional running shoes. Heel height generally ranges between a half inch to an inch.

Another piece to consider is the grip you get on the floor. Just like other sports, sweat becomes an issue as you are lifting. The floors aren’t made to keep you from slipping on their own, so finding a shoe that offers a solid grip on the sole is going to be important to your safety and form. Not all shoes will mention a particular type of grip, but we will try to point it out when we can find information from the manufacturer as well as other users. Without that, there is little point to life – slipping can be extremely detrimental to your safety.

CrossFit and Weightlifting

For those that aren’t specializing in a specific exercise, like weightlifting exclusively, it can seem pointless to show up to the gym with two types of shoes; one for lifting and one for more movement based exercises. This is where the difficulty of this review and your choice will hit the ceiling. There are some hybrid shoes that are starting to hit the market that are meant to allow you to do both, but you won’t get the same results as you would with specialized shoes.

Overall, your best bet is to decide what you are going to do for the day and either bring two types of shoes, or focus on one exercise one day and another the next. You won’t want to do CrossFit in weightlifting shoes and you won’t want to lift in CrossFit shoes. Your muscles are learning how to act in a specific way and wearing the right gear allows them to create muscle memory that will make you safer and more effective at your chosen exercise.

Different Shoes for Different Feet

The big thing with weightlifting shoes is how they fit your foot. A shoe that doesn’t feel right is going to take away from your focus and ruin your chances at lifting properly. So, what is the plan if you have flat feet or wide feet?

Wide Feet

DoWin shoes generally cater to wide feet, while Adidas generally cater to narrow feet. Flat feet should work with just about any shoe as they offer little in the way of cushion and you aren’t buying the shoes for arch support or much movement. The shoes also often offer laces that will go to the toe, or near it, which will help tighten the shoe around your foot more effectively.

Ankle Support

The key is to find the shoe that supports you most. Are you looking for a little more lift in your ankle because you struggle with ankle motion, or do you need something that offers a tighter fit for your type of foot? Ultimately, getting a shoe that gives you the best fit with the right ankle lift is going to be key.

Fortunately, as stated before, most shoes offer a very tight fit. This gives you the ability to put more pressure against the floor, enabling a better lift which is also safer. Again, as great as hybrid shoes may sound, and we may even like them, they are going to work for those that are going for a more armature, or beginner level, of CrossFit and weightlifting. My advice? Start with weightlifting shoes when you are doing your lifting and never look back. Develop good habits early and you will grow much faster in your skill.

Deciding Factors

Many of the shoes on this list are going to be close calls to one another. How are you going to choose what works best for you? As silly as it sounds, the look of the shoe is likely going to be the final selling factor. If your tape and gear is all grey, pink shoes with zebra stripes aren’t going to work.

Don’t worry too much about the look though, make that the deciding factor if you simply can’t figure out which shoe you want out of a couple of different ones. You’ll find the shoe you like in time, but understand that appearance is important to you – not to other people. The more confident you are in your gear, and how it looks, the better you will life. Consider it the “Rocky” factor. The guy chased a chicken around and felt like an idiot, but it built his confidence. Once he got in the ring, he wore what looked good in his opinion. Sure, it is just a character in the movie, but the same could be said for any athlete.

Finally, go with a brand you trust. It may be a brand you haven’t heard of, but if we suggest it, we suggest it because we trust the shoe manufacturer is going to provide the best quality possible. The shoe is an integral part of you lifting safely, and if we see something that gives us concerns about letting you do that with peace of mind it will be taken off the list immediately. With all of that out of the way, let us look at the shoes we suggest. We try to order these shoes with the best on top, but it isn’t a universal chart – what you need may be different. Don’t just pick shoe number one and be done, review the options and go from there.

Best Weight Lifting Shoe Reviews

 

  1. Adidas Performance Men’s Powerlift.3 Cross-trainer Shoe

The Adidas Performance Men’s Powerlift.3 Cross-trainers make it to the number one spot on our list due to a number of factors. First, these are fit as you would want for straight lifting shoes. They are snug, fit all but the most narrow feet and are sized correctly. In fact, though they say they are for men, a conversion to women’s sized shoes will work as well for these.

 

On top of that benefit, these shoes also have a .6-inch heel which will do wonders for helping you with your form and comfort while also increasing the gains you make in dead lifts. The rubber sole and removable insole also make them more versatile than many other shoes on the list since they could technically be used in CrossFit work. Though they won’t be perfect, if you are planning to do a little CrossFit before lifting, you won’t need to have two pairs of shoes with you.

 

These are also insanely affordable according to our research. They are entry level squatting shoes, but they don’t feel that way – and you save a pretty penny by buying them. They do look like lower cost shoes, though the styles vary and you can pick something that works for you, the material makes them look lower end than they actually feel. That shouldn’t be a big concern, but worth noting.

 

And the look is really the biggest issue we have with this shoe. It just looks, cheap. There are also issues with individuals with narrower feet, as these won’t fit as snug as some other choices will. Still, with all of that said, this is easily the best pair for a first purchase you can find. It won’t be perfect for everyone, but for those looking to upgrade their gear without breaking the bank, you can’t go wrong with the Powerlift.3.

 

Pros

  • Great price for solid shoes.
  • .6-inch heel improves form and comfort.
  • Multiple styles to pick from.
  • Sized correctly, so pick the normal size you wear.
  • Snug fit.
  • Removable insole.
  • Solid grip with the rubber soles.

Cons

  • They look somewhat cheap.
  • Not good for narrow feet.
  • Shoelaces are traditional and do not go all the way toward the toe.

 

  1. Pendlay Do-Win Crossfit Weightlifting Shoes- Mens

We have two different Do-Wins to discuss for the 2nd spot on the list. First, the 2013 version, which is a complete redesign of the previous year. The reason the two are so close is because the changes will be great for some and not for others. This shoe fits a narrow foot much better than the top shoe on our list and the three-quarter inch heel is perfect for a solid lift as discussed in the buying guide.

 

The shoes are made from leather and mesh and use a single sole design throughout the entire shoe. This gives you more flexibility in the sole while keeping it strong. The shoes are also warrantied for 90 days, so you are able to wear them out and make sure they work well without fear of being stuck with a pricy pair of shoes. These are made specifically for Olympic lifting, so keep that in mind.

 

Some do say that they use it for other work outs, but it is not advised by the company. The heel is also a rubber heel that is hollow, which will take a bit of an adjustment. With dual straps and laces that nearly reach your toes, these are a solid fit on almost any foot. While they are better for narrow feet than our number one pick, they are also fine for wide feet.

 

Some users preferred that version due to the wooden heel that was wrapped in rubber. The sole was a bit different, but not enough to take away from the quality of the shoe. As the shoe isn’t on the market anymore, we won’t do an official review for it, but it is worth mentioning here.

 

Our only real concerns are the heel being hollow and the fact that you need to get a half size smaller shoe to make sure they fit correctly. If you use a 2E or 4E, this can start to cause confusion as to which pair is going to fit correctly. Regardless, these are fantastic shoes for Olympic lifting, just make sure you find a place that allows you to exchange if you aren’t happy with the fit.

 

Pros

  • Olympic lifting shoes that work fantastic by one of the top brands in the industry.
  • Great for narrow or wide feet.
  • Leather and mesh construction.
  • Single sole for stronger and more flexible shoes.
  • Double strap gives a better and more snug fit.
  • ¾ inch heel is the perfect size.

Cons

  • Hollow rubber heel is a concern.
  • Sizing can be difficult to figure out if you have specific needs.
  • Due to the size of the heel and the construction, it will take a bit to adjust to if you have been using a different shoe.

 

  1. Pendlay Do-Win Crossfit Weightlifting Shoes – Women’s

There isn’t a big difference in the women’s version of this shoe and it should be considered a tie for the number two spot. One advantage this has over the men’s version is the fact that the shoe should fit to the size that you wear for a running shoe.

This is still an Olympic lifting shoe and should be used as such. The ¾ inch heel is going to do wonders for your lifting. The build and quality are just as good as the men’s version of this shoe. For the full review of this shoe, read our number 2 pick as they are essentially the same shoe, with a slightly different visual design.

 

Pros

  • Olympic lifting shoes that work fantastic by one of the top brands in the industry.
  • Great for narrow or wide feet.
  • Leather and mesh construction.
  • Single sole for stronger and more flexible shoes.
  • Double strap gives a better and more snug fit.

Cons

  • Hollow rubber heel is a concern.
  • Due to the size of the heel and the construction, it will take a bit to adjust to if you have been using a different shoe.

 

  1. Reebok Men’s CrossFit Lifter Plus 2.0 Running Shoe

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure why Reebok named these CrossFit/Running shoes. These are obviously Olympic lifting shoes. While they do perform decently in workouts that require more movement, these are not the ideal running or workout shoe outside of lifting. When it comes to lifting, though, you are going to find a solid product here. These are close to being our top pick, but they are edged out due to a few factors. First, though, the positives about the shoes.

 

The double hook straps will ensure that the shoes fit nice and snug. They also use something called heat-activated u-form technology, which apparently makes the shoe wrap to your foot without any break-in time while you are working out. That isn’t all that important to the lifting aspect of the shoe, but gives them an edge when it comes to CrossFit or even a bit of a run. They also have a solid ¾ inch heel which is the standard that you want to look for these days and it increases your form and lifting in a big way.

 

There are a few drawbacks that put it in our number four spot though. First, they are trying to do everything at once, but only succeed exceptionally well in one area. When it comes to lifting, you’ll be happy. For other sports, there are much better options out there. The design is also not our favorite as they are priced as if they were a high-end leather shoe, but they are synthetic with leather only at the toes. There are multiple designs to choose from and they are fantastic for this list, but we want to be clear that these shoes are not great at everything they say they are.

 

Pros

  • Great Olympic lifting shoes.
  • Multiple designs to choose from.
  • Fits to size for men and women.
  • ¾ inch heel is solid and sturdy.
  • Double latch makes a snug fit.

Cons

  • Advertises itself as a running/CrossFit shoe, but doesn’t handle those workouts particularly well.
  • Priced a bit high for a synthetic shoe.
  • Wider feet may need to up the size they order, so fitting will be challenging for some.

 

  1. Inov-8 Men’s FastLift 370 BOA Cross-Training Shoe

Inov-8 makes this list with their FastLift 370 boa for a very good reason. The boa closure system is the most accurate way to get a snug fit without having to make constant adjustments. Velcro is a fantastic invention that has revolutionized many industries but it isn’t perfect when you are trying to get sizing perfect. With the boa system, if the shoe is a bit too lose, you simply turn the knob and you get a slightly tighter or looser fit. This is ideal for high end lifting and the price shoes it.

 

The shoe has a .65-inch heel which is just where you want it to be. The platform, soles and insoles are stable and flat which gives a fantastic ability to transfer power. The sole is synthetic which may be perfect for some that are tired of traditional soles, but you will need to try that to figure out if you like the feel or not.

 

The heel is stiff and made specifically for Olympic power lifting. Other shoes do the same, but this is likely the most specialized on the list. With that said, there are a few concerns about how well the shoe holds up over time. While we haven’t seen it, a few reports have come from other users that the rubber around the heel starts to wear out. This seems to be an isolated issue and should not be considered the norm. Still, these are the first on the list with any real complaints about durability.

 

Pros

  • The boa system gives a perfect fit.
  • Heel is a great height and feels solid.
  • Sole and insole are both flat and offer more power during lifting.

Cons

  • Durability around the heel is a bit questionable.
  • Some may not like the synthetic sole.
  • More expensive than most other shoes on this list.

 

  1. Adidas Performance Women’s Powerlift.2

The Adidas Powerlift.2 is similar to the first pick on our list and offers much of the same. It uses a textile synthetic leather for the upper with plenty of air mesh lining to allow your feet to breath. It has a high-density midsole wedge for lightweight stability and is made specifically for a woman’s foot. The flat profile outsole also adds to the total package for this shoe. Order your normal shoe size as they typically run the correct size.

 

The heel is about an inch high which may be too high for some, so make sure you are aware of what you are getting into. This is a solid product and can be purchased at an entry level price. The main reason that it comes in at the number six spot is because of the durability issues and lack of removable insole.

 

We have found reports that the shoe quickly started to come apart after only a few uses. In addition, the removable insole should have been a no brainer for this type of shoe. This is 100% a lifting shoe and should not be used for anything else. That keeps it from hitting a higher spot as it is not meant to be a CrossFit shoe at all, so an insole that is attached to the shoe seems like a strange choice. The laces also don’t go as far as we would like, but they are serviceable to say the least.

 

Pros

  • Perfect entry level women’s weightlifting shoe.
  • One inch heel.
  • Synthetic breathable materials.

Cons

  • Insole is glued to the shoe.
  • Durability is a concern throughout the shoe.

 

  1. Converse Unisex Chuck Taylor All Star High Top

The final shoe on our list is not really a weightlifting shoe, but does the trick if you aren’t going for Olympic lifting. As stated in our buying guide, you want something with minimal cushion and flat to the ground. The only thing Chuck Taylors don’t offer is a raised heel. That hasn’t stopped lifters from using these shoes as their go to shoe.

 

With that said, the advantage of Chuck Taylors is you can wear them to work or out for the day, then head to the gym and start lifting. They aren’t ideal weightlifting shoes, but they work well enough that they deserve a spot on this list.

 

Converse has been in the business for long enough that the quality is well known. As a shoe, there aren’t any real cons, but there are some things to think about if you plan to use them as lifting shoes. Still, if you are looking for an all-purpose solution to lifting and not having to carry around an extra pair of shoes, you can’t go wrong with a pair of Chuck Taylors.

 

Pros

  • Almost no cushioning gives you a nice close connection to the floor.
  • All-purpose shoe for daily activities or lifting.
  • About as stylish as it gets for lifting shoes.

Cons

  • Not specifically made for lifting.
  • No heel to help lifting.
  • Not ideal for Olympic or more advanced lifters.

 

Conclusion & Recommendations 


Shoes are always difficult to review. Feet are like fingerprints and there isn’t one shoe that will be perfect for each person. You may need to try multiple shoes to find the pair that is right for you. Our pick at number seven may have been a surprise as Converse isn’t generally looked at as a lifting shoe, but it will do the trick for newcomers. Six and one are interesting as they are very similar shoes, but you can see how just the slightest difference can impact our opinion of the shoe, and the quality of the product.

Our number five pick, the Inov-8, would be much higher on the list if it offered more than just the boa strap to make it stand out. Otherwise it is in competition with each shoe on the list, it just doesn’t hit all the marks we were looking for when it comes to value. Still, if you don’t mind spending the money, it is likely one of the best shoes on the list.

Our second and third picks, the Pendlay’s are essentially three choices. You can go with the previous year’s version as we discussed in the review for the number two spot, or you can go with the specialized women’s version at number three. Number two is a great shoe, but the hollow heel makes us wish they would have stuck with the previous versions wooden heel. Still, you won’t find much better for your money.

The Powerlift.3 topped our list because of the value you get for the shoe. It is an entry level shoe that looks cheap on the surface, but acts like a shoe in the same price range of the Inov-8. As an entry level shoe, it may not be the one you stick with as you advance in your lifting, but it is a great choice for those just now getting into the sport.

While we feel we were fair on this list, don’t confuse our rankings with what your personal rankings may be. Find the shoe that feels best for you. Use the “pros and cons” to narrow down the few that really interest you and compare those in detail. Our advice stands, though, always buy from a reputable retailer that offers a generous return policy – or at least an exchange policy. While we may have placed a shoe at the number one spot, you may think it should have been much lower. So make sure you don’t get stuck with a shoe that may not meet your particular needs, or the shape of your foot.

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