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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

What Shoes to Wear for Lifting Weights

It seems now-a-days everyone is wearing running shoes everywhere, even when they aren't running.  I see them at the mall, out to eat, on walks and even in the squat rack.  With high tech cushioning, shock absorption and cool air vents these shoes are comfy!  Really, I get it! Believe it or not, I actually own a pair.  Running shoes may be your go to sneaks for toting around town but I encourage you to proceed with caution when sporting them while lifting weights.

Generally speaking, running shoes are made for running.  They are designed with cushioning and support to absorb force generated each time your foot comes into contact with the ground.  This is great for running because it (hopefully) means less wear and tear on your body after tens of thousands of steps and hundreds of miles.

When you wear those same running shoes to lift in, it can be a different story.  With cushioning can come loss of stability and when you're trying to generate force by pushing against a surface a hard, flat platform is ideal so you can "feel the floor" with your feet.  In other words,  think of lifting in running shoes like trying to squat on a mattress…. probably not your best choice.

So what should you wear?  Ideally a flat soled shoe with a firm/hard surface will be your best pick. The good news is that they are plenty of options at a variety of price points.  I also realize many of you enjoy using the same shoe to perform a variety of exercises and they're are shoes for that too!  Check out a few of my picks below...

*Please note, these are my top picks of shoes that I have tried first hand and I'm speaking from personal experience and I'm assuming that most gyms require footwear so barefoot lifting although a viable option for many isn't applicable.

Chuck Taylors ($50):  These bad boys (or girls, if you wish) are worn by novice and veteran lifters alike.  They're relatively inexpensive, provide a flat, hard surface and will hold up forever.  If you don't own any lifting shoe already these would make a great first pair for anyone. If money is an issue, I also own the Target converse and they work just as well!

Inov-8's ($60-130) haven't been around quite as long as the chucks but man, they seem to be just as popular- and not just with crossfitters!  If you're looking for a shoe to run, climb, jump AND lift in this is one of the top brands I've seen.  They offer a variety of shoes that mimic the barefoot feel, lifting shoes and running shoes.  They are considerably more expensive than chucks, The Clymb always has great deals.  While this wouldn't be my first pick for lifting shoes, I realize that not everyone can own multiple pairs of shoes for each different activity and many people enjoy utilizing plyometrics, lifting and running into one workout.  If that sounds like you, check this shoe out.

Lastly but not least, I also love my Adidas Powerlift 2.0 ($90) for squatting.  It's not secret that I have poor hip and ankle mobility and it's taken lots of work over the last three months to hit depth with more confidence.  Using a shoe with a lift in the heel for squats is a topic that's been debated over and over as some see it as putting a bandaid on poor mobility.  I do love my squat shoes but before you jump into a pair of these make sure you try a flat sole pair like Converse first.

These are my personal favorites from the shoes I've tried for lifting but the many additional options are out there and sometimes you just have to try it out to know what works.

Your turn:  What shoes do you wear for lifting?


  1. I go barefoot (since I lift at home). I hate wearing shoes when I workout. I feel more stable without them haha!

  2. I love this. I NEVER lift in my running shoes. I currently lift in vibrams on my own and in Nike's when I teach (bc we have to be branded in Nike when we teach) but I have Chucks, I am going to have to try and wear them and see how they feel!

  3. Never my running shoes. I wear Reebok Crossfit most of the time and love them! Sometimes I workout barefoot depending what I'm doing.

  4. Since I don't go to the gym, I usually am either in socks or barefoot but I do own a pair of Nike Free that I use from time to time when I am doing higher impact stuff! Also, I nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blogger Award- no worries if you don't have time to play along but if you wanna check it out here is the link: