By Bryan Pritz
One of the most common questions we get is “what are the best shoes to weightlift in?”
While this is very specific to weightlifting, we can expand on that question based on problems we see in the gym with improper footwear. Just like anything else, there are specific shoes designed for specific style of workouts. If you’ve been with us for awhile, you know that technique is the most important aspect of heavy weightlifting and potential problems can arise from wearing the wrong type of shoe. Here’s a breakdown of a few different workout styles and the shoe you should be wearing for each:
Circuit training will have a general variety of movements. Call it circuit training, cross-training, etc. You’ll have a strength aspect, plyometrics and conditioning. Our “Daily Challenge” classes are a good example. For this style of workout, you don’t want a running shoe. Running shoes are for…..wait for it…..running. If you show up in running shoes, you are running the risk of limiting the benefit you’ll receive in both strength and technique and risk potential injury.
Running shoes are designed to absorb high impact from constant pounding of the pavement to protect your joints. While they excel in that aspect, they lack the support and stabilization for loading weight on your frame. You’ll want a flatter shoe with less cushion to support those weight bearing movements. Here are a few good examples for both males and females:
While we don’t do a lot of running inside the gym, we understand that many of you run a lot outside of the gym. If you are running any sort of distance at all, make sure you are running in actual running shoes. The above cross-training examples won’t provide the cushion necessary to last the heavy impact on your joints over a distance run. While I don’t have a ton of experience with traditional running shoes, I’ve heard extremely good things about the options below and the Amazon reviews are very good:
Olympic Weightlifting and Powerlifting
If you are serious about your strength and performance at all, you should buy a pair of weightlifting shoes. If you don’t care that much, the minimalist/cross-training shoes above will do. Weightlifting shoes are designed with a thick, hard heel to support a lot of weight and apply maximum force up through your heel from the ground. Imagine putting 300 pounds on your back and stepping on a pair of soft foam balls. That’s what it’s like to lift in running shoes. There’s a giant cushion under your heals leaking power and stability. The hard raised heal of weightlifting shoes will allow you to lift more weight and lift that weight safer.
You’ll often see people in the gym (myself included) put on weightlifting shoes like the ones below for a tier 1 strength portion of the day and then switch to a cross-training style shoe for the rest of the workout. You’ll get the best of both worlds that way.
Here are a few good options:
As you can see from the images alone, there’s an enormous difference in the set-up and features of each shoe. I’ve seen some very tangible benefits from each shoe in each situation and I highly recommend you take your footwear a bit more seriously if you want the best results.