If you've ever done any weightlifting, then you're aware of the tremendous stress and strain it puts on your lower body as your feet and legs struggle to maintain a balanced and stable position.
Any instability projects right up through your pelvis, into your lower back, and into your upper body.
Weightlifting shoes are the result of years of study, trial and error and are the best way to ensure your lift always has a stable foundation under it.
Below we recommend our pick of the best weightlifting shoes for men to help you maintain that stability and keep you safe while lifting.
Our Top Weightlifting Shoes for Men (2021 Updated)
1 - Adidas Men's Adipower (Editor's Choice)
The Adidas Men’s Adipower has been widely considered the best weightlifting shoe for some time, and until someone comes along with a better product, that's not going to change.
They're beautifully balanced, provide unparalleled stability, last for years and will serve you well regardless of which type of lifting you're engaged in.
The moderate heel lift of 20 mm is an ideal middle ground that accommodates lifters of all different heights while the genuine leather upper holds your feet firmly without pinching.
- TPU midsole provides strong, stable positioning
- Genuine leather upper cradles your feet firmly
- The shoe is well vented to prevent overheating
- The Velcro strap provides intense lateral stability
- They’re expensive
They're going to cost more than some others, but you'll realize quickly that it's money well spent because they really are the best lifting shoes out there.
2 - Adidas Men's Powerlift 3.1
Adidas got in on the ground floor of the business and have been producing the majority of professional grade weightlifting shoes for years.
They take the sport and the design of appropriate footwear for the sport seriously, and it shows in products like the Adipower, the Men's Powerlift 3.1.
This is a shoe that's every bit as handsome as it is effective.
- Lower heel ensures you won’t be falling forward on deadlifts
- The insole strap locks in lateral stability
- High-quality powerlifter shoes at a moderate price
- EVA might not cut it for elite lifters
The heel is a bit lower than the Adipower in order to accommodate the unique logistical needs of the powerlifter, and the high-density EVA heel ensures all parts of the foot stay where you plant them for the duration.
They're also about half the price of the Adipower, which makes them an affordable alternative.
3 - Nike Romaleos 3 Mens
Nike was relatively late to the weightlifting game, but they've wasted little time making up for their lack of experience.
The Romaleos 3 is one of the best lifting shoes and comes very close to the Adipower in terms of providing the necessary stability.
It also surpasses its better-known competitor in the areas of breathability and, yes, aesthetics.
- Very comfortable for most types of lifting
- Well vented to prevent overheating
- Can be used for straight up lifting or CrossFit
- The narrow profile can be a bit constricting
While Romaleos aren't designed to be the best CrossFit lifting shoes per se, the more subtle heel lift and broader base, along with their ability to hold you firm even when the lateral stresses are intense means that they're finding a lot of adherents in the box.
They're also significantly less expensive than some of the other shoes out there, making them the ideal choice for those where cost is more of an issue.
4 - Inov-8 Men's Fastlift 325
Some might see the design of the Inov-8 Men’s Fastlift 325 as a gimmick and we might be tempted to agree if they weren't such a great weightlifting shoes.
They will serve you well for most types of lifting, with the only caveat is that you may lose some performance edge on deadlifts.
Inov-8 is marketing the 325 as a CrossFit/weightlifting hybrid of sorts, and there's no doubt devotees of the box will find a lot to like here.
- Plenty of ankle support for CrossFitters
- Impressive stability during non-brute force lifts
- The insole strap holds the foot firmly yet comfortably
- Really good at lots of things, not great at any.
As with most products that try to be all things to all people, however, it winds up falling just a tad short of being the best at anything. Still, given the price point, comfort and versatility it's hard not to recommend it for what it is.
5 - Adidas Men's Leistung 16
Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat: the Adidas Men’s Leistung 16 is ugly, and even though beauty is in the eye of the beholder, most behold it as that. There, we said it. Now we can concentrate on what it does right.
The Leistung 16 provides maybe the firmest hold of almost any weightlifting shoe and manages to do so without ever pinching or crimping your foot, it's comfortable as well as functional.
Stability is impressive and the 25mm heel elevation is right in line with the best lifting shoes. There's no horizontal slide during your lift, and it is well ventilated.
- The Boa, micro-adjustable closure system is a revelation
- Provides an ironclad grip of the platform
- Woven upper is lightweight, cool and comfortable
- Ugly but still one of the best weightlifting shoes for men
- A face only a mother could love
In addition, the Boa Closure System gives you the kind of consistent hold laces can only dream about. If only it all came in a prettier package, but if you’re after function over fashion this could be the shoe for you.
History of Weightlifting Shoes
When the sport of weightlifting took hold during the 20th-century, foot support and stability became the areas of primary concern.
Ankles were being dislocated, bones were being broken, and people were finding it hard to maintain balance as they transferred the weight upward from the floor.
Some lifters sought refuge in standard loafers while others decided that the flat, unadorned aspects of Converse Chuck Taylors were the answer.
But neither addressed all the concerns of the weightlifter simultaneously.
Enter weightlifting shoes.
Where Chuck Taylors failed to provide the elevated heel that generates optimal balance and loafers provided little or no lateral stability or grip, the top lifting shoes provide all these things and more.
As time has passed and manufacturers have learned more about the physiology of lifting weights, these specialty athletic shoes have continued to improve.
To the point that wearing anything else these days is both silly and dangerous, basically negligient.
4 Types of Lifting Shoes
Not all the best lifting shoes are right for all types of weightlifting.
What’s important for deadlift is different than what’s important for the best Olympic lifting shoes. In general, these can be grouped into four main categories. Which are:
- Olympic - When someone says “Olympic lifting” they are generally referring to the clean and jerk and the snatch. Therefore, the best Olympic weightlifting shoes are those with a slightly raised heel, a firm grip and lots of lateral support to facilitate those kinds of lifts.
- Squats and deadlifts - Squats and deadlifts involve extreme weight and are brute force exercises that call for a flatter heel that is also wider. The best shoes for squats usually have extra width to accommodate the foot as it spreads out under the intense forces generated by such weights.
- Powerlifting - The best powerlifting shoes are typically flatter than those use for Olympic weightlifting but not as flat as those for deadlifting. Mens powerlifting shoes tend to have a more compressible sole, and some eschew the insole strap.
- CrossFit - The standard CrossFit regime is so varied that it has proven difficult for designers to come up with definitive CrossFit weightlifting shoes. As such, many CrossFitters look to other disciplines for their footwear, and many choose top weightlifting footwear instead. Olympic-style and powerlifting models are popular choices.
If you want to really master the arts of powerlifting and Olympic weightlifting, you’re gonna need some specialized footwear. Trust us: The last thing you want while hoisting a 200-lb barbell over your head is feeling unstable or off-balance. - Men's Journal
What Features Should I Consider?
- Ability to handle extreme loads - This is the primary function of top lifting shoes: to stand up to the unnatural weights associated with the sport. Hence, they're fabricated using advanced materials that retain their integrity no matter the burden. This gives them a more rigid feel, but this rigidity is an absolute necessity.
- Stability - One of the biggest risks of slinging around extreme weights is the chance of turning an ankle or injuring the back, causing severe long-term damage. The best weightlifting shoes enhance the stability of your stance, help promote proper body alignment and keeps your feet squarely under you as you move through the lift.
- Height of the heel - A raised heel enables robust force projection up through the center of the body. This is particularly important for overhead lifts. In most cases 3/4 of an inch is standard, but the particular physiology of the lifter may call for slightly more or less than that.
- Comfort - The general rule is that you shouldn’t be aware of your shoes while lifting. Top lifting shoes then, for all intents and purposes, are a physical extension of your body. If it is pinching or otherwise feel uncomfortable during any part of the lifting process, something is wrong, and you should try a different footwear.
- Toe box - The elevated heel of the best weightlifting shoes means that enormous amounts of force are going to be brought to bear on your toes. The toe box of your footwear then, needs to be able to absorb this force without crushing your toes in the process.
- Durability - Top weightlifting shoes are expensive. Therefore, it's crucial that you get your money's worth and that means yours should stand the test of time. All of those mentioned above use high-quality materials, but that can't be said for every product on the market.
- Looks - There's nothing wrong with wanting to look good while you lift. If aesthetics are important to you, make sure you select a good-looking shoe that also delivers in terms of performance. There are plenty of them out there.
It’s simple really.
The companies don’t make or sell nearly as many men’s weightlifting or powerlifting shoes as they do running footwear.
Therefore, they have a harder time recovering development and production costs and so have to charge more per foot.
That said, as time has passed some manufacturers have limited the number of models they introduce as well as the number of upgrades that cost them money.
As a result, the prices of most good lifting shoes have seen a bit of a downward trend.
Not so much that the best weightlifting shoes are cheap, but prices are generally moving in the more wallet-friendly direction.
Whether you’re talking standard or high top weightlifting shoes, proper care of even the best lifting footwear can be summed up in one short statement:
Never wear your lifting shoes outside the gym.
Beyond that, store them in a cool, dry place and make sure you air them out properly after every use.
Do Weightlifting Shoes Make a Difference?
Yes, weightlifting shoes make a difference as they are specifically designed to help with the squatting motion. With a raised heel section, they have quite a drop from heel to toe. This is designed to help you get into a deeper squat position through a wider range of motion that is less restricted in the ankles.
Are Chucks Still Good for Lifting?
No, Chucks are not good for lifting heavy weights at the gym, because they will not provide the increased range of motion. Without the raised heel section, you will struggle to get into a very low squatting position without causing excessive strain on your ankles. It’s really better to invest in designated shoes.
Our #1 Recommended Best Weightlifting Shoe
The best shoes for weightlifting are those that meet all the above criteria, and none do so in a more complete and satisfying way than the Adidas Men's Adipower weightlifting shoes.
While all of the shoes we profiled above are well made, weightlifting kit the Adipower remains the most comfortable footwear out there when under pressure.
They virtually eliminate horizontal drift as you shift the weight upward, the TPU midsole provides unmatched stability, and the Velcro closure prevents too much weight from pushing forward and crushing your toes.
They also use the highest quality materials (including genuine leather in the uppers) and the attention to detail in every aspect of the design reflects the company's many years of experience in, and dedication to, the field of footwear.
They've been #1 for a while now and for good reason — because they're the best shoes for weightlifting.