What Shoes Should I Wear to Train in?

Many people ask this question and many people that don’t ask this question usually wear the worst possible shoes to lift in, hampering their progress and even causing potential injuries.

Good Shoes to Wear When Lifting

Thin, flat shoe that allows you to grip the floor

For most people and general lifting purposes, wearing a thin shoe with a solid, flat bottom that allows you to grip the floor with your feet is good. This ability to grip the floor is essential in order to develop appropriate stability, balance and drive through the rest of your body. A classic shoe like a Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor is a great example of this.

A lifting shoe

For those who are serious about squatting and/or doing Olympic lifts with big weights, a lifting shoe is great. These shoes have a very solid bottom and have an elevated heel that helps to align the body better for optimal squatting movement. The super solid sole provides tons of stability through the floor, allowing optimal force driving abilities.  Adidas Powerlifts, Adidas Adipowers and Nike Romaleos are some great options here. These are pretty pricey and unless you are a serious and possibly competitive lifter, are typically not necessary.

Deadlift shoes are also a great option for (obviously) deadlifts and pretty much everything else (calf raises come to mind), as they are super thin and you can pretty much feel the floor with them on. On top of this, they also have two straps to help provide side to side stability, helping you to lock in to the floor. Sabo Deadlift shoes are a great option.  

Worst Shoes to Wear When Lifting

Shoes with an uneven and/or squishy bottom

Running shoes and basketball shoes are some of the worst shoes to lift in, as their uneven bottoms throw your balance off and make it impossible to get any kind of grip into the floor. Without the ability to grip the floor, you cannot drive force up through your chain into your hips, torso, etc. Its equivalent to trying to grip something with a big, fluffy winter glove on your hand. The uneven design of the bottoms tends to throw you off of your heels, leading to all kinds of potential issues all of the way up the chain. Furthermore, the squishiness of the sole of many running shoes causes you to lose a lot of your force distribution, since when you push into the shoe, the squishiness takes some of your force that you are creating, rather than it transferring directly into the floor. If you are serious about your training, DO NOT wear these types of shoes to lift in.

Examples of Good Shoes for Training

Adidas Adipower weightlifting shoes

Adidas Adipowers

Great for squatting and olympic lifts

Sabo deadlift shoes

Sabo Deadlift Shoes

Great for most exercises

Chuck Taylor shoes

Sabo Deadlift Shoes

Wanna keep it simple? Can’t go wrong with some Chucks

Lifting Heavy in Good Training Footwear

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Squatting this kind of weight would not go well with offset, squishy running shoes. Nick has on Adidas Adipowers here (might have to zoom in). Grounding yourself into the floor is essential.

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And here Nick is wearing the Sabos mentioned above. Trying to pull 700 in running shoes would be a disaster in the making. Picking up significant weight with your feet wobbling all over is not recommended and will zap you of force output