Weightlifting is a sport that isn’t for the faint-hearted. You’ll often be pushing your body to the physical limit, challenging yourself to lift as heavy a weight as possible. Because of these demands, one wrong move in weightlifting and you risk causing yourself serious injury. To avoid this from happening, you’ll need good equipment and correct technique, amongst many other things.
Use insufficient chalk and your hands could lose grip at a vital moment. Wear the wrong lifting belt and your core muscles could be liable to stretch and tear. Similarly, choose the wrong weightlifting shoes, and you could lose your balance or your ankles could give way through a lack of support.
However, with a large number of shoemakers on the market, picking the right pair of weightlifting shoes to suit your individual needs can be a challenging task. So, to make things easier for you, we’ve done some of the hard work.
Below you’ll find a selection of five of the best Olympic weightlifting shoes on the market. We’ve also put together a handy buyer’s guide to further remove any possible confusion when selecting the best pair of shoes for you.
In a hurry? Here’s our top pick.
OUR TOP PICK
Our pick for the overall best pair of weightlifting shoes is the Reebok Legacy Lifter. Poised and purposeful, these shoes not only look great, but are also excellent in their performance.
A lot of thought has gone into crafting them, as seen through the attention to detail; including an antimicrobial lining and a specially designed collar that works to reduce heat and abrasion.
The anatomical shape of this product and its two adjustable upper straps provide a customized locked-down fit. The grip rubber outsole also keeps you firmly grounded and secure through your movements.
As Olympic weightlifting shoes go, the host of features provided by the Legacy Lifter are second to none. The wider toe box is beneficial to athletes with slightly wider feet, while the textile upper improves airflow and enhances comfort.
Also, a unique 22 mm heel constructed from TPU, benefits a variety of strength athletes as it reduces issues with stability, even in heavy lifting exercises where the bar is bending.
- Versatility - this product has quality across the board, making it a versatile and ideal choice for almost all lifters.
- Design - purposeful and high quality design, including antimicrobial lining and uniquely designed collar.
- Features - wider toe box and textile upper just a couple of the shoe’s host of impressive features.
- Stability - heel constructed form TPU adds extra support and stability.
- Sole - some customers have reported separation on the sole after limited use.
- Price - high market value so perhaps not the best option for those working to a tight budget.
The Nike Romaleo shoes excel in providing high levels of stability for all your weight training, no matter how intense the workout.
Flywire technology adds further support to the locked-down fit. For those who do a variety of different weight exercises, these shoes come with interchangeable insoles which are ideal for providing either soft or firm support in line with the needs of your training regime.
Other notable strengths of the Romaleo weightlifting shoe include material made from synthetic leather, which reinforces mesh on upper for useful support and breathability.
Also, its solid rubber outsole provides durable traction, while the shoe’s 20 mm offset facilitates an expanded range of motion.
- Stability - flywire technology delivers a secure, locked-down fit.
- Movement - flexible forefoot and 20 mm offset allows an expanded range of movement.
- Material - synthetic leather reinforces mesh to enhance breathability.
- Versatility - two interchangeable insoles provide you with either soft or firm support which you can choose between depending on the regime and its needs.
- Durability - shoes aren’t as long-lasting as many other options on the weightlifting market.
The Powerlift 4s from Adidas are another example of the company’s relentless pursuit of producing high quality, innovative products. This pair of shoes is perfect for athletes and lifters who have training programs largely revolved around squatting.
These shoes are excellent in terms of stability and also have a grippy sole which will help you feel the platform and produce the drive needed to stand up with the barbell.
They’re equipped with a heel made from high density EVA foam, improving your ability to execute high performance across a number of different squat-based exercises.
The upper of the shoe is made from durable canvas, and with the midfoot strap, is well designed to help you generate more torque once you start to increase the weight on your bar.
- Power - good stability and a grippy sole provides a platform to help create the power you need to lift heavy weights.
- Material - durable canvas helps generate more torque as the weight increases.
- Quality - ideal pair of shoes for lifters looking to push up their squat numbers.
- Affordable - slightly less expensive than some of the other shoes on this list, so a good option for those on a small budget.
- Comfort - can feel a little stiff to wear, perhaps down to the narrow toe box, so not the most comfortable shoes available.
The second Reebok product on this list is their Lifter PR shoe. This pair of weightlifting shoes offer a comfortable and sturdy design, with the low-cut nature of the design providing optimal mobility at the ankles. Feet can be further secured in a customizable fit due to the shoe’s U-form and Thermo TPU midfoot wrap.
In addition to their comfort, these shoes also offer efficient support during workouts. Equipped with the Powerbax TPU plate and a dual rubber outsole, the shoes are both stable and responsive when locked in.
Another impressive feature that’s worth drawing attention to is the anti-friction lining on the footwear. This helps reduce moisture and heat build-up, keeping you cool and dry as you’re lifting.
- Material - combination of full-grain leather toe and an air mesh tongue on the upper of the shoe provide both breathability and support.
- Comfort - low-cut design and customizable fit ensures optimal comfort.
- Support - features such as the Powerbax TPU plate, dual rubber outsole and hook-and-loop closure keep the feet secure and stable.
- Quality - a number of customers have complained about the product’s quality, most notably the soles and heels of the shoe.
The final pair of shoes on the list are the Nordic Lifting Powerlifting shoes. These shoes are carefully designed with quality materials and premium stitching, while also being equipped with a sturdy velcro strap and raised heel which provides Olympic standard foot support and stability.
This product is well-suited for pretty much anybody, whether you’re a powerlifter or a professional athlete looking to maximize your gains. The shoes also offer long-lasting quality, even if you’re consistently lifting heavy weights, which is reinforced by a one year manufacturer’s warranty.
- Durability - shoes are built to last, even under the most intense lifting pressure.
- Support - sturdy velcro strap and raised heel provides good quality foot support.
- Quality - product is Olympic quality with carefully crafted design, premium materials and reinforced stitching.
- Warranty - one year manufacturer’s warranty if the shoes don’t live up to your expectations.
- Sizing - for athletes with wide feet, the narrow fit of the product won’t be ideal or comfortable.
Best Olympic Weightlifting Shoes Buying Guide
When it comes to finding the best Olympic weightlifting shoes, there are a few things that you need to consider to ensure you get the best pair of shoes for your individual needs.
Below, we’ll take a look at some of these important areas to focus on when scouring the market. Giving them an extra little thought will help steer you towards the perfect option, saving you both time and effort in the long run.
When choosing the right shoes for your weightlifting, remember that it’s you that will be wearing them, so focus on your needs first and foremost.
If you like variety in your training, you’ll likely be on the lookout for a more generalist shoe that doesn’t excel in one particular area, but is high performing across the board.
In contrast, if you’re a purist and have a specialist area of lifting, you’ll want to pick the best shoe specifically designed for your activity. In this case, it won’t matter too much if the shoe doesn’t translate well to other disciplines.
Heel height and elevation
The type and height of a shoe’s heel can have a significant influence on training for weightlifters.
Elevated heels on lifting shoes facilitate mobility of movement and provide a stable base for lifters to balance back on. This is imperative when moving heavy weight, as a planted and stable elevated heel not only offers support, but also improves the confidence of the lifter.
A heel’s elevation typically ranges from .3” to 1” and every lifter with a decent level of experience will have a heel height that works best for them. These preferences are usually dependent on the lifter’s discipline and anthropometrics.
When it comes to the different types of heel offered by lifting shoes, EVA, TPU, stacked leather and wood are some of the most popular. Each of these four all have varying levels of stability, performance and appearance. EVA heels are lightweight, durable and fairly compressible.
TPU heels are similarly lightweight, and also long-lasting and resistant to most abrasion and compression. Stacked leather heels are characterized by their old school appearance, and are lightweight with good platform feedback. Finally, wood heels - like stacked leather ones - offer old school aesthetics, and provide a stable base.
Securing mechanism and straps
Another characteristic of weightlifting shoes that requires consideration is the amount and quality of the straps and securing mechanisms. This is particularly the case for lifters who prioritize foot stability.
Most weightlifting shoes typically only have one strap, however some do come with multiple securing mechanisms. The most common location for these straps is across the upper part of the shoe’s tongue, offering extra stability and durability in line with the increased amount of ankle mobility needed with squatting.
For maximal security, you’ll likely want to find a weightlifting shoe that has either two straps or one thicker strap. It’s worth noting however, that single straps do still provide ample security, especially in newer shoes.
This isn’t quite as important as it was in the past, with manufacturing having improved so greatly in the past decade.
However, it’s still worth paying attention to previous reviews to see if the shoe in question can effectively hold up to the demands of training. You’ll ideally be looking for a shoe with a durable outsole and upper. Those constructed with rubber should last you for a decent period of time, while well-constructed uppers will last for a good few years.
We recommend that before making your choice, consider how often you’ll be using the shoes and how much wear and tear you anticipate putting them through on a daily basis. This will help determine whether they’re the right option for you.
A pair of shoes that feel good on your feet will only help you towards reaching peak performance. We recommend, when possible, always trying a pair of shoes on before you buy so you can get a real sense of the comfort they provide.
A comfortable pair of shoes shouldn’t restrict your movements or cause you any type of discomfort as you carry out your weight training exercises.
There are currently a vast amount of material options available for manufacturers to use. It’s important to remember that while a lot of materials may be nice to look at on the eye, they often come with drawbacks such as reduced breathability.
Leather-made shoes are a prime example of this. At the opposite end of the scale, extensive use of breathable fabrics may negatively impact the shoe’s durability. Ideally, you’ll want your weightlifting shoes to be somewhere in the middle of the two.
This final consideration is pretty self-explanatory, with your budget having a large influence on the weightlifting shoes you’ll end up selecting.
Whether you have money to spare or you’re working to a tight budget, make sure the shoe you choose has all the features you need in order to achieve your lifting goals. Don’t settle for anything less.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are Olympic weightlifting shoes and how do they differ from other shoes?
Olympic lifting shoes are built to be solid and rigid with a base from which to lift your weights from, serving purposes above and beyond that of other shoes.
A key distinguishing feature is that they are constructed of hard material from at least the balls of the feet in order to minimize unwanted movement and shifting of the feet. Straps on the top of the shoes offer further stability and security.
In addition to these valuable features, Olympic weightlifting shoes also alter your positioning as you lift. The elevated heel is specially raised in order to assist you in developing an effective pulling and catching position.
For those of you who have failed a clean in front of you as you pull under it, you’ll be aware of just how important it is to get into a deep bottom position with a vertically aligned torso on the catch. Olympic weightlifting shoes make it easier to achieve this.
Why should I buy weightlifting shoes?
If you’re serious about your lifting, weightlifting shoes provide a number of key benefits that traditional training shoes can’t offer.
That being said, they won’t be able to magically fix all issues. So, if for example you’re struggling with hip mobility, you’ll still need to work on improving this. Weightlifting shoes simply compliment a solid foundation of mobility, strength and position work.
So, yes, they’re incredibly useful, but you should be able to still lift competently without them.
Can beginners wear weightlifting shoes?
The simple answer to this question is yes. The elevated heels and stable outsoles of weightlifting shoes can play a key role in promoting correct form and teaching proper movement mechanics for beginners.
Is canvas the best material for weightlifting shoes?
This is largely dependent on the specific design of the shoe. While canvas offers qualities such as durability, flexibility and maneuverability, if the shoe is designed without air holes, you could be left with overheated feet which isn’t the most comfortable while weightlifting.