top squat shoes

If you’ve ever watched a professional lifter, you can’t help but notice their shoes. Serious weightlifters, especially those who squat, don’t wear conventional gym footwear, they wear special shoes for squats and other types of exercise.

Why do weightlifters, CrossFit enthusiasts and powerlifters wear these particular shoes? Keep reading to find out why they wear them and what best shoes to squat in are.

Many people who are starting out weightlifting may wonder if they need footwear designed for their workout. The short answer to that question is yes and no!

If you take your workouts and lifting seriously, you might need a good pair of weightlifting shoes.  A good set of quality weightlifting shoes will provide you with several advantages over ordinary gym footwear. One of the best reasons to purchase a pair of lifting shoes is that they will allow you to lift more weight safely than their regular counterparts.

Remember, when it comes to lifting shoes, the brand, style, and color aren’t going to matter. What matters is that you have a quality pair for squatting that improves your ability to lift!

5 Best Shoes To Squat In

 Rating  Review
Adidas Powerlift 3.1
4.9 out of 5 stars
Adidas Powerlift 3.1Click For Converse Adidas Powerlift PriceA classic in the weightlifting world.
Inov-8 Fastlift 335
4.7 out of 5 stars
Inov-8 Fastlift 335Click For Inov-8 Fastlift PriceA well-respected shoe and manufacturer. Great value for money.
Adidas Adipower
4.6 out of 5 stars
Adidas AdipowerClick For Adidas Adipower PriceA shoe for the more hardcore lifter.
Reebok Lifter PR
4.6 out of 5 stars
Reebok Lifter PRClick For Reebok Lifter PR PriceA versatile shoe that can be used for heavy lifting and CrossFit style training
Pendlay Do-Win
4.2 out of 5 stars
Pendlay Do-WinClick For Pendlay Do-Win PriceA lesser-known manufacture but still performs well.

#1 – Adidas Powerlift 3.1 Shoe – Best For SquatsAdidas Womens Powerlift Shoe

With an Olympic weightlifting shoe, looks shouldn’t matter. But the Adidas Powerlift 3 looks great and better than most regular gym shoes with its classic 3-stripe design.  They are also available in a range of colors making them great shoes for women and men.

The Powerlift 3’s synthetic leather to provides lifters with a lightweight shoe that is also extremely durable without compromising support (which is key). The lightweight breathable mesh also allows your feet to stay cool while lifting.

To put power into your squats, you need shoes that provide a good, solid foundation and the Powerlift 3 trainer does just that. A power strap over the laces of the these provides you with anchored support.

The high-density midsole wedge is engineered for weightlifting. Its wedge shape provides lightweight stability and a wide stable base, so if you have wide feet they will fit fine. The heel height of the Powerlift 3 sneaker is designed specifically for weightlifting.  And being a perfect shoe for weightlifting, it can take a little getting used to if you haven’t experienced proper weightlifting shoes before.  But once you are used to them, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without them.

Click For Adidas PowerLift Price

#2 – Inov-8 Fastlift 335 Weight-Lifting Shoe – Best Lightweightinov8 fastlift squat shoe mens

Inov-8 is a British company known for its high-quality designs that work with your body’s natural movements. The Inov-8 Fastlift 335 is one of their designs made to give you the best possible grip for maximum weight lifted.

Manufactured from Sticky rubber (a style of rock climbing rubber), the FastLift outsole provides you with the greatest grip for your squats. The FastLift 335 lifting shoes use their Meta-Flex system to provide athletes with flexibility and comfort in the toe section of the shoe without hurting performance. The flexible toe section allows the shoe to be comfortable for walking or jump roping, but with no shock absorber in the raised heel, they are not recommended for running.

With a precision fit and an adjustable hook-and-loop strap, the FastLift 335 provides a snug fit with very limited internal movement. Comfort is essential with weightlifting shoes, so the FastLift 335 uses a plush tongue and collar, as well as a 3mm footbed and a breathable mesh lining. When lifting any weight, you need stability, structure, and support in the middle of your foot and the heel, which the FastLift 335 provides. Using a solid Power-Truss heel, you will have a stable base once you plant your feet to lift.

Click For Inov-8 Fastlift 335 Price

#3 – Adidas Performance Adipower – Best For Gripadidas adipower squatting shoe

Sporting the traditional 3-stripe design and an athletic appearance, there is no mistake that the Adipower Weightlifting trainer belongs to the Adidas Performance line. While these shoes are engineered specifically for powerlifting, they are one of the more comfortable pairs.

These are more shaped for narrower feet. The upper material of the these are made from PU-Coated leather to provide maximum comfort and support, while the inside offers a soft textile lining. The outsole features VentFlow openings for maximum ventilation. Once you get used to wearing the shoes, you won’t even notice you have them on when walking around the gym.

The Adipower Weightlifting Trainer is designed for Olympic weightlifting not deadlifting. If you try to increase your deadlift in these, you will understand as the footwear tilts you a little too far forward. But as an Oly shoe for squats and deadlifts, they are perfect. The heel of the shoe is very stable and provides an excellent slope from the heel to the toe and is an ideal heel height for Olympic lifting. For structured strength, the shoe’s chassis is a lightweight injected polymer. The heel overlay provides lightweight stability, while the rubber sole provides excellent grip. To anchor the rear part of your foot, the Adipower Weightlifting Trainer offers an adjustable hook-and-loop instep strap that secures over the laces themselves.

Click For Adidas Adipower Price

#4 – Reebok Men’s Crossfit Lifter 2.0 – Best For Flexibilityreebok crossfit lifter shoe mens

If you are looking for a versatile lifting shoe that provides both balance and power for your squats and lunges, look no further than the Reebok Men’s Crossfit Lifter 2.0. The Crossfit Lifter 2.0 is an excellent choice for those who are looking for a comfortable, yet stable shoes for Crossfit workouts or those that are looking for good lifting footwear.

One thing that you might notice with these leg-day shoes is when you first put them on, is the heel is a little bigger than others. The Crossfit Lifter offers a flexible platform that allows for better toe spring in a variety of Crossfit movements and other fitness sports.

The Crossfit Lifter 2.0 is synthetic footwear with a lightweight 3D Fuse Frame construction. The unique construction of this is designed to feature a sturdy base for lifting, but also provides flexible support for Crossfit workouts. The Crossfit Lifter laces up like other training shoes but features a plastic hook and loop strap that goes over the laces to lock in your foot. Locking your foot into place provides better stability and immediately improves your lifting performance. The shoe also features a heel clip that securely grips your rear foot, and the Flex grooved outsoles are great at providing traction on different surfaces.

Click For Reebok Lifter PR Price

#5 – Pendlay Do-Win Crossfit Squatting Shoes – Best Cross Trainerpendlay crossfit shoe for squats

The Pendlay Do-Win Crossfit Weightlifting Shoe is actually a recently redesigned Pendlay Do-Win. Pendlay took the original model and made some drastic improvements to the sole of them. The new and improved sole is a single sole design that increases the strength and flexibility of the sole itself.

Even with the improvements to the soles, Pendlay doesn’t recommend you use these for only working out. They strongly recommend that the Do-Win Crossfit Oly Shoes can also be used for Olympic Weightlifting and other exercises of your health and fitness regime. These tend to run smaller than training shoes by ½ size. The Do-Win is ideal for people who have wide or flat feet, plus the toe box is wider than other lifting footwear.

With the Do-Win Crossfit Weightlifting Shoes, your feet won’t move whether you are doing squats, deadlift or power lifting with a strong rubber grip sole. The upper part of the shoe is made from leather to increase comfort and breathability. Unlike other styles of training shoes, the Do-Win features two hook and loop straps over the laces to secure your foot in place while lifting. The heel height comes in at a ¾ inch, which is the ideal height for Olympic Lifting.

Click For Pendlay Do-Win Price

Why You Need The Right Footwear

Weightlifting shoes are not designed like other training shoes, which contain cushioning to absorb impacts as you run, jog, or walk. If you have ever tried to squat in cushioned running shoes, you will experience this. Weightlifting footwear is not cushioned, so they are not compressing and absorbing a lot less of the force your body is producing when it is moving, especially when performing heavy lifts. The more power that you can generate, the more you can lift.

With lifting shoes, you will notice they have a hard, flat sole rather than a soft, flexible sole. Usually, the treads are made of hard plastic or even wood, but some are made from sticky rubber. These types of trainers use stiff bottoms to allow you to generate as much force off the ground as you can. For this reason, a weightlifter will workout barefoot for better contact with the floor. Lifting footwear also has many other features that help you lift more weight.


Powerlifting shoes have elevated heels, and the ideal heel height in Olympic lifting is a ¾ of an inch. An elevated heel doesn’t create more force, but it will help you with squatting. With an elevated heel, your lift is going to be deeper because your ankle has a better range of motion. Also, raised heels will improve your lifting position, as you will sit more upright than before. An improved stance, better posture, and an upright position increase your chances of getting the bar going up as you can use more of your muscles to push it upwards.

Lifting shoes increase the flexibility in your hip and ankle. The more flexible you are in the ankle and hip, the lower you can go in the deep position. As you reach the bottom of the squat, the knees move forward over the toes. The further the knee can translate forwards, the more upright the torso is while remaining balanced which allows for a better technique and lower position. A low squatting position allows you to create more force to lift with. This raises the concern of your feet sliding around inside your footwear. With lifting shoes, you want them to be snug to keep your feet in place.

Laces alone are not going to provide a snug enough fit to keep your foot in one position inside the sneaker. To prevent your foot from slipping inside your shoe, lifting footwear use metatarsal straps that go over the laces to provide maximum support. The hook and loop straps anchor your foot in place allowing you to generate maximum force and lift safely.

The Foot

The feet are the key to every functional movement that we do. They are the groundwork of our structure and are key to stability when moving heavy weights. To squat with a good technique, we need to pay attention to our feet.

The foot features over 25 bones and 4 joints. When squatting, stability in the foot is required. An arched foot is the most stable shape that we can put the foot in. So our footwear must support this arched stance in our barbell training. Without foot stability, the foundation and entire structure will begin to collapse.

Why Not Running Shoes?

If you are looking to run a marathon, you should probably sport a set of running shoes. BUT running shoes are far from the best choice when it comes to weightlifting. Many experts have stated that the soft cushioning and compressing sole makes squatting in running shoes similar to standing on a beanbag or marshmallow. These types of footwear are designed to dissipate and absorb the forces that are created when the feet make contact with the ground. This is to reduce the chance of injury from the impact of the shoes.

foot straps

When we squat, we DO NOT want air or gel-based soles. These types of shoes not only decrease the ability to keep a stable connection with the floor but the compressible sole does not support the neutral arched foot stance either. Running shoes are ideal for running but if you’re attempting to lift more than ever before, you should not be wearing Nike Airs or Asics Gel shoes.

Flat Lifting Shoes

You may have seen some athletes and powerlifters wearing a set of Converse Chuck Taylors for squats. These flat sole sneakers can be cheap squat shoes offering support for those on a budget. This is due to the Chucks having a non-compressible rubber sole. Chuck Taylors are awful for running but they’re pretty good for squats. Squatting in Vans is another one that you may see in the gym. Vans are kind of a middle ground, better than heavily cushioned running shoes but not as good as Converse.

lifting shoes

The Chuck Taylor from Converse is a zero drop lifting shoe (0 mm), meaning that have no heal (compared to the 20 mm drop on raised heel powerlifting shoes). This is the difference measured between the forefoot and heel height. Sometimes called squat boots, the Converse do not offer any support for those who might suffer from limited ankle mobility so an athlete with stiff ankles could have issues using them

These flat weightlifting shoes also work well for many of other lifts such as the low-bar back squat.

Cross Trainers

Nike release the very first cross training sneakers in 1987 with the Air Trainer. These were shoes designed for any workout supported by Bo Jackson. Cross training shoes are very common especially with the recent popularity in CrossFit. These sorts of shoes are cross trainers designed for the weight room too. They often feature a smaller heel drop along with good support.

reebok lifters

The Reebok Nano or Nike Metcon are some of the most popular that you might see. They are a great alternative to a running shoe as they have a harder sole that doesn’t compress. The heel is lower than a true powerlifting shoe but it is still helpful. Stiff ankled athletes might still want to opt for a full-blown weightlifting shoe.

These are great for CrossFitters, especially as they need something versatile the can deal with sprinting, jumping, burpees and weightlifting. But, if you are looking to just perform Olympic lifts or barbell squats, a proper weight lifting shoe is the better option.

Barefoot Squats

Recently, the popularity of weight training barefoot has increased. Those who love to lift in bare feet say that by getting rid of their sneakers, they have better stability and balance. When your feet are in direct contact with the floor, you will sense your foot position and movement better. By wearing shoes all of the time, it is believed that you lose that awareness in your feet. So when it comes to squatting barefoot vs shoes, you reclaim that control of the stability of the foot.bare feet

Lifting barefoot requires a slight change in the squat technique. With barefoot squats, people usually lean forward more in order to maintain balance. This sort of training may not be ideal for lifters who want to stay more upright during their lift. So for anyone performing an overhead squat or front squat, this is not ideal.

Those with any lower back pain issues will probably want to stick with wearing shoes. As the chest leans forward with barefoot squats, the lower back has to deal with more force placed upon it. This can lead to pain quite easily so extra care should be taken. There is also the BIG safety risk of injury if a heavy weight is dropped on your feet, stubbing toes, getting your feet dirt and the hazard of stepping on fungus or bacteria leading to infection. So with this not being very safe for lifting, the advantages seem to be only slightly better than wearing a cheap pair of Chuck Taylors instead.

Minimalist Weightlifting Shoes (Slippers)

With the rise of barefoot weightlifting, some manufacturers have released footwear that is barefoot-like. Footwear such as the Vibram five-fingered shoes offer the feeling of a barefoot workout while offering some protection and hygiene for the feet.

Quite often, lifters have difficulty stabilizing their feet when using these squat slippers. A minimalist shoe or barefoot lifting can lead to a breakdown of technique if the athlete is not able to maintain that arched foot.

Before Buying Squatting Shoes

Now that you understand why you need a quality pair of shoes for lifting, there are few things that you want to think about before you purchase a pair. With gym shoes, you need to remember that like running shoes, lifting footwear is all designed for a single purpose, which is to help you lift. So, how do you know which ones to buy then?

deadlift with Adidas Adipower

When it comes to purchasing a pair of weightlifting shoes, there are a few things that you want to look at. The first thing is the heel height. The ideal height for Olympic lifting is a ¾ inch, but some footwear will offer a ½ inch and up to 1-inch heels. Look at the base of the lifting shoe; you want one with a solid base for Olympic powerlifting and squats. If you plan to use them for activities such as Crossfit and weightlifting, the newer hybrid shoes are a better choice. These hybrid types have a flexible toe box that allows for the extra movement, such as jumping rope.

Support and strapping should also be considered when purchasing a pair. It is important for your foot to be supported all over, not just the toe or heel. Width varies in weightlifting shoes by brand, so pay close attention. Adidas is geared towards narrow feet while DoWin is preferred by people who have wider feet. Also, look carefully at the laces to see if they go all the way down to the toe. Shoes with these laces can be tightened or loosened to accommodate different widths.

Conclusion – Picking The Right Ones

If you are serious about Olympic powerlifting, you need to invest in a quality pair of weightlifting shoes. Weightlifting footwear will provide you with the support and stability you need when lifting. Good shoes to squat in are designed to fit your foot snugly to provide you with maximum stability while lifting. All weightlifting shoes are designed with the same purpose, so how do you know what ones are best. With weightlifting shoes you simply need to find the right fit for you; one that is comfortable and supportive.

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