If you are just starting out lifting weights to improve your strength or you’re starting to train in competitive lifting, you need to consider buying a reliable pair of weightlifting shoes if you haven’t done so already. These are more than typical gym shoes; they’re a specific piece of equipment that can make every lifting session better and safer.
Maybe you’re worried about wasting money on something that isn’t necessary or you just haven’t heard about the advantages of wearing powerlifting shoes during strength training. To help you make up your mind and prove that these shoes are more than just a fad, some of the benefits of them along with other useful information has been researched and analyzed here. Now, you can plainly see all of the reasons to invest in weightlifting shoes for yourself.
What Do Weightlifting Shoes Do?
Simply put, weightlifting shoes are specifically designed to properly support your whole body while you lift weights. They are harder than sneakers with flat soles with an elevated heel (in some cases) to help you maintain proper body alignment and generate more power through better stability. You can find a wide range of good weight training shoes made by some of your favorite fitness brands. They come in different styles and are being made with more customizable options including an assortment of colors as well as male and female distinctions.
The Benefits of Weight Lifting Shoes
For most people serious about weightlifting, these shoes aren’t just an advantage; they’re a necessity worth every penny spent on them. From improved strength to safety and support, a proper pair of weightlifting shoes provides a number of benefits proving their worth.
Support and Stability
The main reasons most serious lifters love their weightlifting shoes is that they provide strong support and stability as they lift heavy loads. The flat, hard soles of the average weightlifting shoes create a solid base that you can safely press into without worrying about sinking down. With a normal sneaker, the cushioned sole lacks support since your feet will press down into the cushions and you’ll lose your form. Thanks to soles made of plastic, wood, or similar materials, you’ll feel more secure while lifting and squatting.
More so, powerlifting shoes have strong straps and laces (or a combination of both) to lock your feet into place. This helps you maintain stability as well. By having your feet firmly in place you can feel more secure with heavy loads on your shoulders or over your head.
Similarly, weight lifting shoes have wider toe boxes that allow your toes to spread out as your feet press into the floor. This gives you a more solid foundation that can help you generate more power while also helping you maintain stability while lifting.
Better Range of Motion and Proper Alignment
The elevated heel combined with the hard sole allows for improved mobility while also helping you maintain proper form while lifting or squatting. With better support and form, you will notice improved flexibility and mobility in your ankles, knees, and hips. Improved hip flexion can help you push and generate more power without straining your back and shoulders which can sometimes compensate when you’re out of proper alignment.
Decreased Risk of Injury
With more stability and support you will benefit from a decreased risk of injury since you’ll be less likely to fall out of proper form. This will mean that your body will be in proper alignment and you won’t have to worry about wrenching your back or straining/pulling other muscles. More so, with stronger ankle support you won’t likely roll your ankles under heavy loads.
With all of the additional support and stability weightlifting shoes provide, you’ll be able to perform better in your lifting sessions. You won’t have to worry about getting hurt or straining yourself as much since you know you have a solid foundation under your feet. You’ll be more comfortable pushing yourself to complete more reps or to even add more weight as you improve since you’ll be able to generate more power with a stable base. This will improve your overall muscle mass and get you in better shape, too.
Factors to Consider when Buying Powerlifting Shoes
Now that you understand why weightlifting shoes are worth the investment, you can begin to shop for your own pair. Like anything you buy, products are never made equally. In order to ensure that the powerlifting shoes you’re getting are high quality and will perform as they should, you have to make sure that you take important factors into consideration while comparing your options.
A proper weight lifting shoe has flat soles without a curved arch or any type of gel cushion. This is what you need to prevent your shoes from compressing under heavy weights. It is what gives you that solid, stable base while lifting. Be sure that the powerlifting shoes you decide on have that flat, solid sole.
This particular feature isn’t exactly necessary but many lifters think it’s worth having. Heel elevation is simply a solid elevation in the sole (without a cushion or a curved arch). Think of this like a wedged high heeled shoe. You can find different heights typically ranging from a completely flat sole to a one-inch elevation.
With an elevated heel, you can maintain proper form during your squats instead of leaning forward or sinking back on your heels. This feature will also help you maintain or improve mobility in your ankles and shins.
When comparing shoes, consider your body type as well as what you’ll find comfortable. If you can’t get to the store to try on your options before making a purchase go with your own measurements and make a decision based on those. For example, people with long legs tend to like higher elevations because it helps them deepen their squats.
Weightlifting shoes can have laces or straps or some combination of the two to properly lock your feet into place. If you’re looking for strong support, look for a powerlifting shoe that has at least one strap that goes across your foot.
A metatarsal strap, as it’s known, can be pulled tightly across your feet so you won’t slide around in the shoes while you’re lifting weights. Most shoes have one strap but others can have multiple straps for stronger support. As you compare shoes, look at the material of the straps as some are Velcro straps while others may have loops or locks. Similarly, some might seem more flimsy than others which is something you want to avoid as poor quality straps can fray and fail over time.
Typically, weightlifting shoes have standard lacing systems like other gym shoes and you can usually change them to your preferred type of laces (if you have one). For example, if you prefer cloth laces to cord laces you can change them easily. Overall, a lacing system should be functional and secure your foot in place. Other than that, the type you choose can be based purely on your personal preferences.
That being said, your weight lifting shoes might not have laces at all. As noted earlier, straps are usually standard for powerlifting shoes and can be used along without a lacing system. Similarly, there are some options that use a lacing system known as the BOA lacing system. This is the same one used on snowboarding boots where a dial is used to tighten and loosen the shoes. The BOA system isn’t as common but it is available for those looking for it.
Size and Comfort
Of course, you want a weightlifting shoe to fit you properly and feel comfortable on your feet. If you’re not trying on the shoe before buying it, the best way to gauge how they fit and feel is to read user reviews. People will state whether the shoe needed to be bought a size up or down or whether not it pinched their toes or was simply too uncomfortable to get through a training session while wearing them.
In general, weight lifting shoes are made to fit snugly and feel quite rigid so they will naturally lack some comfort. However, they shouldn’t pinch your toes or rub your heels uncomfortably. They can usually be bought in the same size as your normal shoes unless specifically stated otherwise, but read reviews to see what others have to say about that before making a final decision.
Even if you plan to buy your shoes online, try to get to a brick and mortar store and try on some options so you can get a better idea of how each fit and feel. As you try on shoes, make sure your feet aren’t sliding inside of the shoe and that there are no constrictions that will prevent your mobility or cause pain. Your ankles should also feel fully supported. Once you see how a few feel on your feet, you can return home and make a purchase online to get a better deal.
Durability and Material
Since weightlifting shoes are an expense, you want to make sure that the ones you buy will last you as long as possible and withstand frequent use without falling apart. Check and compare the materials used for each shoe and pick the most durable option that fits your needs and preferences.
As you look at each shoe, check the material of the soles, straps, and uppers. You want a solid base made of wood or strong plastic that won’t compress under heavy loads. Product descriptions, as well as user reviews, can help you ascertain durability. The straps should be attached securely to the shoe so it won’t come apart from constantly tugging it when you put the shoe on.
In general, a quality powerlifting shoe will last you around two years with frequent use. The known fitness brands are known for making quality products so if you tend to stick to those brands, you can be confident that the shoe is well made and will last you a significant amount of time.
Finally, you have to keep your budget in mind. Most people don’t have the disposable income to disregard the prices of their fitness equipment and that includes weightlifting shoes. Consider how much you want to spend and start your search by looking at options that fall within that price range. This will prevent you from falling in love with a pair of shoes that you can’t afford.
Remember, you get what you pay for and sometimes that low price might be evidence of a low-quality product. Try to stick to reputable brands and always check user reviews to make sure that you aren’t sacrificing quality for a low price.
Hopefully, the information here has shown you how beneficial a proper pair of weightlifting shoes can be for your weight training sessions. From improved safety to improved performance, using these shoes is definitely worth the investment. If you’re interested in buying a pair, keep the different factors in mind and make sure you buy a quality pair that will last and function properly.