Weightlifting shoes may be the missing ingredient to energizing your lifts, especially if you’re lacking mobility in the lower body. Also referred to as lifting or squat shoes, they can help you achieve greater depth and further flexion while performing specific movements. Whether you’re working through a session at home or the local gym, the best men’s weightlifting shoes will keep your form in tip-top shape and stabilize your joints to prevent injury. As a result of their unique design, lifting shoes can support your entire body from the bottom up—so much so that studies have found their ability to improve squats by enabling more depth, whilst keeping you in an optimal upright position.
As opposed to running sneakers, where flexibility and cushioning (for shock absorption) are key to protecting your joints during repetitive, impactful movements, weightlifting shoes are styled wider. “This allows for more lateral movement to build and strengthen smaller and underutilized muscles that help you stabilize during a workout,” says Dr. Hooman Melamed, a board-certified orthopedic spine surgeon based in Beverly Hills, California. You can also expect more space in the toe box at the front of a weightlifting shoe to splay your toes during lifts for structural support.
“A shoe strap is also key for providing an extra layer of foot stability,” adds Dr. Hooman, just as outsole grip (or traction) is essential for maintaining non-slip contact with the ground as you lift. Like a reliable weightlifting bench, a proper pair of weightlifting shoes are essential if you’re looking to get the most out of your workouts. For that reason, we’ve scoured customer reviews and expert recommendations to bring you the best men’s weightlifting shoes that support the added load.
How We Chose The Best Weightlifting Shoes For Men
This roundup is a result of extensive research—we scrutinized customer reviews and expert recommendations to find the best weightlifting shoes available on the market now. Our selections are based on function, design, product specifications, price and positive consumer feedback of a broad variety of shoes from big brands to lesser known names. We also spoke to an industry professional for their advice on what features to look for in a weightlifting shoe. This article is regularly reviewed to keep you updated on availability, prices and ratings. This story was last revised in December 2022, but we recommend checking back often for updates and revisions.
What Is The Best Shoe For Weightlifting?
The best weightlifting shoe depends on a range of factors, including your personal range of motion and what kind of stability you’re looking for. If you require more depth to your squats with increased flexion at the knee, you’ll want a shoe that promotes a higher heel drop to allow for more motion—something around the 1-inch mark and above. The same goes for taller lifters who require more space for full flexion. Beyond this, you’ll want a shoe that feels secure and hugs your foot. Otherwise, you may slide around during lifts instead of staying planted on the floor.
We chose the Reebok Legacy Lifter II as the best overall men’s weightlifting shoe due to its solid reputation among lifters, as well as its thoughtful design and overall quality. But that doesn’t make it the best shoe for you. In order to get a feel for the different types of weightlifting shoes on the market, your best bet is to hit up your local shoe store where you can try different pairs in person.
Are Lifting Shoes Worth It?
If you lift often with the intention of progressively adding more weight over time, weightlifting shoes can provide you with the stable, elevated base you need to up the ante. A lifting shoe is also worth investing in if you’re struggling to reach depth with your squats as they allow for a greater range of motion. However, they’re not a fix for mobility issues—that’s something that requires work in itself. And if you’re a beginner who lifts sporadically, it may not be worth the cost when a regular pair of gym shoes will serve you just as well.
Should You Wear Weightlifting Shoes To Deadlift?
Weightlifting shoes are also called squat shoes for a reason—they’re intended for squats and similar explosive exercises. A raised heel redistributes your weight to enlist more of your quadricep muscles—ideal for squatting, but not for deadlifts which target your posterior muscles. An elevated heel will push your knees in a forward position, taking the emphasis off your glutes. For deadlifts, a flat shoe with good grip will ensure your soles don’t slide during the lift.