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From wearing out your minuscule to burdening your ankle joints, there are a lot of things that can go wrong in the weight room – and most of them boil down to the quality of your shoes.
So, if you don’t want to compromise your lifting routine, these 5 best Olympic lifting shoes are just what you need.
The Best Olympic Lifting Shoes, My POV
Honestly, every pair of shoes on this list has the ability to protect you and improve your performance one way or another.
But, the one that I would recommend the most is the Nordic Lifting Megin Powerlifting Shoes for Men.
The raised heel on the pair works in tantrum with the rest of the feats (see: the Velcro strap above the lace, the reinforced stitching, the high-quality materials), which is why it’s so sturdy in the first place.
It can also withstand an excessive amount of pressure, which is exactly what I need in a pair of Olympic lifting shoes because I often train to failure.
Other names on my list are:
- Adidas Men’s Adipower Weightlifting Shoes
- Reebok Men’s Lifter PR Cross-Trainer Shoe
- Otomix Men’s Stingray Escape Weightlifting Shoes
- Inov-8 Men’s Fastlift 335 Weightlifting Shoes
What Are Olympic Lifting Shoes?
As the name suggests, this type of workout shoes is best for practicing Olympic-style lifts such as squats (front, high-bar, and overhead), power cleans, jerks, and snatches.
They have a raised wooden or plastic composite sole (anywhere from 0.3” to 1”) and a rubber bottom to keep you from sliding.
This feature makes it easier for you to go really deep into the move while keeping your chest up and your hips further forward.
What to Look for When Shopping for the Best Olympic Lifting Shoes
Unlike running shoes, Olympic lifting shoes come with their own set of feats, which prioritize stability over a shock-absorbing design.
So, if this is your first time shopping for weightlifting kicks, here’s what you need to look out for.
The first thing that distinct Olympic lifting shoes from other types of workout shoes is the raised heel.
This feat reduces the amount of your ankles’ dorsiflexion, which occurs when your foot is raised upwards towards your shin.
Even though it may seem pointless, this small inclination allows you to squat deeper without losing your form.
Hard, Non-Compressible Soles
Weightlifting shoes also come with flat, stiff soles.
The feat provides you with a strong, stable base that allows your heels and midfoot to “plant” hard into the floor.
As a result, you get complete control over your hamstrings and glutes, and you can lift the weights more easily.
Besides making your feet stink, sweat also curbs the efficiency of your lifting workouts by reducing the traction inside the shoe.
To avoid such scenarios, weightlifting shoes usually come with a bunch of feats to increase breathability such as mesh panels and perforation holes.
Most weightlifting shoes also come with 1-2 ankle straps, which are strategically placed alongside the laces and make sure your foot stays put and doesn’t move around when you lift.
High-quality weightlifting shoes also come with a bunch of feats that increase traction.
In their turn, the resistance improves your stability and helps you keep your form during lifts.
Some of the most common traction feats include a non-slip insole/outsole, small studs, friction points that rub against the floor, and so on.
One of your primary goals when shopping for the best Olympic lifting shoes is to pick a pair that “hugs” your feet without feeling too tight.
This sounds tricky, I know.
But, you can do that if you opt for a pair that doesn’t have more than 1/8” of room between the end of the shoe and your longest toe.
Also, check to see if there are any pressure points or you feel the slightest discomfort when you try them on.
If it feels like your blood stopped moving in there, move onto the next pair.
How to Find the Right Heel Height
Heel height depends on a variety of factors, from your body’s structure to the fitness goals you’ve set for yourself.
So, to avoid getting stuck with a pair that doesn’t fit your needs, this quick guide will give you a rough idea on which heel height is best suited to your physique.
Lower Heel (< .75″)
This heel height is ideal for powerlifters with short legs and torso who are quite flexible and want increased ankle mobility.
Standard Heel ( .75″)
This heel height is recommended for guys with an average-sized torso who aren’t precisely flexible but can still move around pretty quickly.
Higher heel (> .75″)
This heel height fits like a glove to weightlifters with long legs and torso who are pretty stiff in their moves and have low ankle motility.
The 5 Best Olympic Lifting Shoes, Reviewed
Adidas Men’s Adipower Weightlifting Shoes
Having reached legendary status amongst many powerlifters, these Adidas sneakers are an actual powerhouse.
The pair features a PU-coated leather upper, which means the top of the shoe is both sturdy and comfy.
That feature keeps the feet pretty stable but also gives enough room to move around when it is needed to.
The midsole is also made of TPU (Thermoplastic PolyUrethane), a foam-like material that’s known for its strong hold and durability.
Heel height lies at 0.75″, which means it’s excellent for the average Joe.
The outsole is also embedded with several vent flow openings that prevent sweat from building up and ruining the workout.
It also has an adjustable instep strap, which increases ankle stability and keeps the area secure, no matter the workout intensity.
The only thing I don’t appreciate on this model is that it runs a little narrow, which could restrict your toes if you have wide feet.
Reebok Men’s Lifter PR Cross-Trainer Shoe
I may be biased, but I believe this pair is the living proof of why the brand has earned top-dog status in the sportswear industry.
Thanks to its unique heat-activated midfoot wrap, the inside of the shoe is designed to mold based on your foot’s shape, which means it adjusts to your needs as soon as you put it on.
That spares you from feeling the pressure and possibly, pain if the shoe doesn’t fit.
The upper is also made from 100% mesh and synthetic, which means it’s breathable and flexible at the same time.
The outsole is also designed to increase your mobility, mainly due to its elastic design.
The pair also increases your stability through its anti-slip, grooved outsole.
And speaking of soles, note that the one on the inside is made of rubber, which is why the shoe feels so comfy when you try it on.
The dual hook-and-loop fasteners also keep the top side of your foot steady, allowing you to apply more pressure on it than usual.
Nordic Lifting Megin Powerlifting Shoes
Often dubbed as the ultimate “squat shoe,” this Nordic model may be a great choice when hitting the gym for the leg day.
And if you’re wondering why, it’s because the model features one of the most well-designed raised heels available on the market.
The feature ensures you stay upright when you squat or leg-press and make the most out of each rep.
FYI, the heel is about 1” high.
The shoe also has an anti-slip sole and snug (but not tight) fit that increases balance during lifts.
The stitching and the materials used to make these sneakers are also impeccable, guaranteeing a long-lasting effect.
That’s actually why the brand offers a one-year warranty post-purchase.
I’m also a massive fan of the Velcro strap that’s located on top of the lace, which helps the feet to stay put, even under extreme pressure (for example, when lifting more than 300 pounds).
Compared to most Olympic lifting shoes, this pair is also quite affordable, which is always a plus.
Otomix Men’s Stingray Escape Weightlifting Shoes
I agree: This pair looks nothing like your regular weightlifting shoes!
But trust me when I say, it’s just as efficient as all the models on this list.
Inspired by the gear worn in martial arts, this shoe comes with an ultra-light flat sole that provides your feet with a firm grip on the ground.
And if you think that sounds contradicting, try and workout barefoot; you’ll see what I’m talking about.
Stability aside, the pair’s flexible design allows you to perform a full range of motions.
And yes, this may sound like you’re putting your ankles on the line.
But, if you take a quick look, you’ll see that the shoe goes all the way up to your ankles, keeping them from twisting and causing any potential injuries.
It also has a high-quality traction sole, which keeps you from sliding as you lift or even when you walk around.
It’s also designed to fit tightly around your foot without “strangling” it, which is the perfect combination.
Inov-8 Men’s Fastlift 335 Weightlifting Shoes
The first thing to notice on this pair of shoes is their incredible lightweight and flexibility.
The shoe doesn’t compress under heavyweights, which means it maintains its form and keeps you steady throughout each session.
The company’s Meta-Flex technology takes all the credit for that.
The lace/Velcro strap also provides a secure fit and forces your feet to stay put, no matter the load.
Combine these with its raised heel, and may be on the right path to notice a slightly increased performance during your squat sessions.
I also fancy the shoe’s sole as it’s super steady and resistant to traction.
Despite the tight fit, the shoe feels quite comfortable thanks to the padded tongue and collar.
The only downside I found to be on the sizing chart. You shall not be surprised if you order the size that usually fits you and then find out it is slightly small. It happens often. I’d advise to order a slightly bigger size.
Choosing the best pair of Olympic lifting shoes comes down to a lot of features to be considered, such as the heels, the level of compression on the soles (hard ones are better), the ventilation, ankle straps, traction, and fit.
If you manage to choose the right gym gear for your build and lifting level, you’ll experience better performance, comfy feel, and most importantly, avoid paying a visit to the doctor.
I highly recommend the Nordic Lifting Megin Powerlifting Shoes for Men for many reasons stated above.
Which of these pairs would you crown as the best Olympic lifting shoes?
Let me know which gym accessory you’re down within the comments below!