Weightlifting shoes have been around for decades - mostly for men, that is.
Manufacturers have only been producing women’s weightlifting shoes in earnest since around the turn of the century, but each year brings new models and continual improvement that gives the right feel to its wearer. Throughout the years of working with them, all my female clients confirmed it - every time they purchase a new model, they instantly feel the difference in performance.
The major difference between men and women’s shoes is width, women also typically weigh less which affects the design of the mid-sole.
But when it comes to this type of shoes the focus is on the heel and the support they provide which is both incredibly important for injury-free weightlifting and obviously unique.
After years of first-hand observations and comparisons, we present our selections for the best weightlifting shoes for women.
Our Top Weightlifting Shoes for Women (2021 Updated)
1 - Reebok Legacy Lifter (Editor's Choice)
The Women’s Legacy Lifter from Reebok, which is among the best shoes for weightlifting, was designed with Olympic-style powerlifting in mind and fulfills its destiny beautifully.
This is the reason this is also one of the top choices of the best trainers in the industry.
A pair of these shoes features a tough TPU heel, a 3/4 inch heel drop, dual mid-foot straps to hold your feet firmly in place when the stresses during training are greatest and Flexcage protection that lets you wear then in the box, should you feel so inclined.
The genuine rubber sole grips the surface firmly, but not so much that you risk ankle injury.
- Recommended for squats during training
- Lower heel height promotes optimal squat positioning
- Comfortable, stable, and fits great
- Heavier than some other women’s weightlifting shoes.
The anatomical shape contours to the shape of women's feet and the antimicrobial liner keeps them from becoming odor factories.
If your forte is squats, you'll appreciate the way these shoes for weight lifting seem to propel you into the proper upright position.
2 - Adidas Powerlift 3
It’s perhaps no surprise that Adidas are at the top of our list for best weight lifting shoes, since they have been at this weightlifting and training shoe business longer than just about anyone.
Adidas also tends to top many a list of best men’s lifting or training shoes as well, as Adidas knows the sport and its specific needs in terms of footwear during training.
The Adidas Adipower seems to be a popular choice for training shoes, but we chose the Powerlift 3 instead.
As for the Women’s Adidas Powerlift 3: this is designed to be durable, comfortable, and an extremely stable women's shoe that doesn’t give an inch even as you ramp up the weight during training, and your trainer won't be having some issues assisting you in the gym when you wear this.
The Adidas Powerlift 3 looks like it means business and it lives up to appearances with solid performance.
- Promotes stability during rigorous training
- Anti-slip rubber for maximum grip
- Extra-wide design for a comfortable fit without compromising range of motion
- Not as breathable as some.
The company’s Adiwear outsole is comfortable, the fit is a bit narrower than some other women’s weight lifting shoes, and the metatarsal strap ensures rock-solid stability from floor to hold and back again.
The marginally lower heel also makes it more easily adaptable to CrossFit or weight training.
3 - Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2.0
The challenge for CrossFit shoes is to provide women with the mobility they need for training and running while at the same time accounting for the heel drop necessary to perform weightlifting exercises like squats.
Getting the balance right isn’t easy and not all training shoes or running shoes accomplish it.
The Women’s CrossFit Lifter 2.0 however, does an impressive job.
The 3/4 inch drop in the heel is apparent in the way it enables power lifts and heavy weight lifting but somehow melds into the background during running, walking lunges and everything else.
The wide metatarsal strap is designed to keep your feet and solidly in place on your shoe without being overly restrictive, and a pair of these shoes looks, quite frankly, beautiful.
- Promotes high power and agility
- Hook and loop straps ensure maximum grip
- Fits comfortable and doesn't limit range of motion
- Can be a bit stiff.
If CrossFit is your thing, then the Reebok Women's CrossFit Lifter 2.0 is one of the best training footwear choices on the market.
4 - Inov-8 Fastlift 335
Inov-8 prides itself on basing their footwear designs solidly in the science of physiology.
Their shoes are designed to conform to human beings and not the other way around as they got their idea from some of the best trainers around.
Although they made their name on the track, once they delved into the women’s weight lifting shoes arena, they didn't waste any time establishing their bona-fides and their Women's Fastlift 335 is a perfect example.
The upper on the 335 shoes is fashioned from ripstop nylon with welded seams.
This makes the shoe both very light and very, very tough. There's plenty of lateral stability provided by the metatarsal strap, and the Power-Truss heel allows you to really dig in on those extreme lifting activities.
- Made from lightweight synthetic materials for better movement during training and lifting heavy weights
- Fits perfectly with its hook-and-loop strap
- FastLift promotes maximum and reliable grip
- Basically a one sport shoe.
The 1 1/4 inch drop means it's not going to adapt well to some CrossFit workouts, but it will power your lifting like nobody's business. There's also a slightly wider toe box to accommodate spreading for your feet that occurs when lifting weights are involved.
If flat up lifting is your thing, there’s a pair of 335s women’s weight lifting shoes with your name on it.
5 - NOBULL Trainers
In spite of the corny name and aesthetic shortcomings, Nobull takes the manufacture of women’s weightlifting and running shoes very seriously.
While their lack of a heel drop limits their usefulness in the weight room the Nobull Women's Trainer is otherwise a solid all-around athletic shoe that will serve you well on the track and training, on the treadmill, when climbing rope, and even in your standard aerobic class.
Wear them on the tennis court, basketball court, squash court or while hiking in the park or running on the track.
- Recommended for Cross Training
- Durable, stable, and breathable, thanks to SuperFabric
- The look takes some getting used to.
They're built for all-around comfort and performance during cross training, and they deliver better than any standard running shoe ever could.
If your thing is not being confined to a single type of athletic endeavor like running or weightlifting, you'll find the Nobull Women's Trainers to be worthy companions.
6 - Pendlay 15PFUSSIL
Whereas a shoe like the Nobull women’s weightlifting shoes embraces a minimalist design ethos the 15PFUSSIL Pendlay weightlifting and running shoe heads in the opposite direction and embraces a kind of overwrought, overcooked maximalism (if there is such a word) that will appeal to some and turn some off, when it comes to Olympic lifts.
Aesthetics aside, these are outstanding all-around women’s weight training and running shoes that have the heel drop you'll need for certain activities that involve squatting but not such an extreme drop that it's useless for deadlifts.
- Leather and nylon upper.
- Dual straps ensure your foot is held solidly in place during running.
- Outstanding breathability.
- The look won’t appeal to everyone.
From a comfort standpoint, these Do-Win weightlifting shoes exhibit a high degree of breathability, and the opposing metatarsal straps prevent lateral drift while the weight is being tossed to and fro.
They’re a great pair of shoes for Olympic lifting that will cover you for all manner of lifting, whether you're on a flat surface or not, and maybe best of all, they won’t require you to take out a second mortgage to buy them.
7 - Converse All Star
Veteran lifters of both sexes have seen their fair share of Converse All Star in the weight room, and that's because they have historically provided a great deal of value.
Even though they were reimagined from a material standpoint a few years back and are now a bit more expensive than their 20th-century counterparts, the All Star is still a viable budget weightlifting shoe that will serve you well.
- Improved materials throughout in this new iteration.
- Genuine rubber sole provides needed grip.
- Decent and ankle support, light and breathable.
- OrthoLite cushioning on the insole.
- Be careful where you buy them from.
The biggest difference in the new All Stars is that the canvas upper, while it appears the same as the old models, is now fashioned from more robust canvas that takes a while to break in but ultimately provides much better ankle support.
What to Look for in Women’s Weightlifting Shoes
Though there isn't much difference between women's and men's weightlifting shoes, some criteria to look out for include:
- The shoe should reflect your workout type - Before you decide on a pair of weightlifting shoes, you'll need to determine what type of lifting you'll be doing. With Olympic lifts which needs you to be stable, force radiates in all directions so you'll want a metatarsal strap or straps with firm Velcro closure. You'll also want 3/4 of an inch to 1 1/4 inch of heel drop. For straight up deadlifts you want flat lifting shoes like the Converse All Star (1).
- Drop height - The drop height is the drop in elevation between the heel of the shoe and the toe on the insole. An elevated heel provides additional stability when the lifter is squatting down so that the wearer won't feel uncomfortable. This is key to optimizing your physical exertion and projecting upward force (2).
- Stability - Beyond the stability provided by the drop heel in women’s weightlifting shoes you need to ensure lateral stability to avoid turning your ankle. The metatarsal straps help prevent lateral instability as does a nice rubber sole that takes a firm grasp of the floor.
- Fit - Humans weren’t designed to lift twice their body weight over their heads. To ensure you can focus your energy where it belongs you can’t afford to be distracted and to feel uncomfortable on your ill-fitting women’s weightlifting shoes. Look for a fit that is snug without pinching and wide enough to accommodate the spreading that occurs in the foot when it’s under extreme pressure.
- Value - Everyone has a slightly different idea of what represents value, but in a general sense, a good value is a shoe that provides robust stability, comfort, and performance without costing an arm and a leg.
What are the Benefits?
You can still find the occasional old-school lifter who saunters up to the weight in bare feet from time to time. Most, however, are more than willing to forego old-school values in favor of the new-school benefits provided by women's powerlifting shoes. Those benefits include:
- Proper positioning - One of the primary causes of weightlifting injuries was and is poor alignment of the torso. Women’s lifting shoes can help prevent debilitating back injuries by forcing the body into proper alignment from the time you address the bar to the time you drop the weight and step off.
- Ankle support - Many women (as well as men) require extra ankle support to prevent them from turning an ankle as they they perform various powerlifting exercises. Some lifts involve numerous adjustments of your footing, and if you plant one foot at a slightly awkward angle, the ankle can turn, producing a very serious injury which prevents you from being stable for quite a while. High cut women’s weightlifting shoes can help prevent this type of calamity (3).
- Establishing good habits - Whether you are an accountant, a doctor or a weightlifter, it's essential to build good habits that will enable you to optimize your results. When you make the effort to get and wear the right shoes when you lift you're helping to ensure your efforts aren't wasted and that you're not needlessly exposing yourself and your feet to injury.
Improved performance - Both the raised heel and the metatarsal straps on women’s weightlifting shoes are more than mere decorations. They help drive a higher level of performance which enables you to reach your health and goals at the gym (4).
Do weightlifting shoes for women make a difference?
Yes, weightlifting shoes for women make a difference, especially for the deep squat moves that are often required.These specialist shoes have a higher heel sole section which makes it easier for you to get into a very low squat position without causing too much strain on your ankles.
Are Chucks still a good choice for women’s weightlifting?
No, Chucks are not a good choice for women’s weightlifting because they don’t have a raised heel section. While they are light and comfortable, with reasonably good cushioning, they won’t help you get into those very low to the ground squatting positions required for many power moves.
What’s the difference between male and female weightlifting shoes?
The main difference between male and female weightlifting shoes is that the ones made for women are generally slightly narrower fitting. This is mainly down to the fact that the average woman’s foot will be narrower. Unless you have a wider than average foot, it’s best to stick with a shoe for your gender.
Other Review and Buyer's Guide:
Our #1 Lifting Shoe For Women
The act of lifting enormous amounts of weight at the gym for no other purpose than building muscle is unnatural.
As such you need to make sure you do what's necessary to protect yourself from injury while maximizing the physical returns from your efforts, which includes procuring the best weightlifting shoes.
Based on our research, we would recommend the Reebok Women's Legacy Lifter. It seems to be the most effective women's weightlifting shoe on the market and will help you achieve your goals, while cradling your feet in comfort and safety.
From first-rate materials, to the way it grips the floor and its remarkable versatility, it's put together in a package that has it in prime position as our choice for best women’s weightlifting shoes.
Reebok Legacy Lifter
Our #1 Weightlifting Shoe for Women
- Recommended for squats during training
- Lower heel height promotes optimal squat positioning
- Comfortable, stable, and fits great