Best Shoes For Olympic Weightlifting (2021 Edition)

March 1, 2021

So, you’re after a new pair of Olympic Weightlifting shoes and you want the best. You’re in the right place as I have been competing in the sport of Weightlifting for the past 20 years on the International stage.

I’ve worn every Weightlifting shoe imaginable from the old Adidas Adistars that everyone loves to the hard-to-find Asics TOW 727.

The benefits of wearing Weightlifting shoes go beyond just elevating your heels. They are much sturdier than running shoes so you can feel more "connected" with the platform and lift much heavier loads.

Before I list the best shoes for Olympic Weightlifting, there is one rule you must remember when buying Weightlifting shoes.

A good quality pair will last you a lifetime. Don’t try and save $100 for a cheaper pair of Weightlifting shoes as you’ll be replacing them with better quality ones anyway.

Trust me, I’ve been through my fair share.

Image

Shoe

Verdict

Price

Velaasa Strake

Best Overall Shoe For Olympic Weightlifting

Nike Romaleo 4

Runner Up Olympic Weightlifting Shoe

Inov8 Fastlift 370 BOA

Best Weightlifting Shoe For Wide Feet & Bad Knees 

They beat all of the other top brands and models with their quality build and their retro wooden heel. Wooden heels are hard to find in modern Weightlifting with many companies opting for high-density plastic.

While the new plastic heels are durable, the old-style wooden heel will never go out of fashion. Further, wood has been known to absorb some of the impact and shock when Weightlifting making them slightly friendlier on the joints.

These fit so snug and comfortably to my feet I don’t even need to use the foot strap. I feel solid in these shoes and have even handled 200 kg on my shoulders while wearing them so you know they are sturdy.

The soles are extra grippy with a thin rubber layer with a diamond engraved pattern to ensure there is no slipping on the platform.

Specifications

Feature

Value

Heel Height

0.86"

Weight Each Shoe

450 g (15.9 oz)

Heel Material

Wood

Shoe Material

Synthetic Leather

Foot Straps

One

Color

Black or White

Sizing

Order ½ Size Up

Price

$220 ($188 using code PRETORIUS15)

Get the Velaasa Strake Weightlifting Shoes at a 15% discount with my code PRETORIUS15

Who Are These Best For?

  • Weightlifters looking for that retro wood feeling.
  • Older lifters who want to minimize impacts through a wood heel.
  • Taller or less mobile lifters who need a higher heel.
  • Weightlifters looking to buy their last pair of shoes as these will last.

Who Might Not Buy These Shoes

  • Those with wider feet.
  • Lifters wanting a plastic, “modern” heel that can be more durable.

Best Shoes For Olympic Weightlifting

Velaasa strake

Runner Up Olympic Weightlifting Shoe

Nike Romaleo 4

Nike has been making quality Weightlifting shoes for many years now since the release of the original Nike Romaleo.

These are no different as they’ve built on their previous three models. If you’re used to the previous models, the foot straps on the Romaleo 4 will feel quite different with the second strap sitting a little higher up the foot.

It’s an interesting change that I don’t think needed to be made from the Romaleo 2 but it’s definitely an improvement from the one-foot strap in the Romaleo 3s.

The bottom of the shoe looks exactly like a Romaleo 2 design with some modern, “sharper” edges for a new sleek look. Because the sole of the shoe is slightly longer and wider than the shoe in some parts, the increased stability can be felt.

When choosing your size, the shoes run true to size and fit the same as the previous Romaleo models. However, they are a little thinner at the toe box than the Romaleo 2 which is considered the previous best shoe for wide feet.

If you have really wide feet, you may need to go a size up or choose a different model.

Feature

Value

Heel Height

0.75”

Weight Each Shoe

569 g (20.1 oz)

Heel Material

TPU Plastic

Shoe Material

Fabric

Foot Straps

Two

Color

Black, White, Gray

Sizing

True To Size (same as other Nike Romaleos)

Price

$200

Who Are These Best For?

  • Weightlifters who are after one of the most stable shoes on the market.
  • Those who want a TPU plastic heel that are some of the most durable material.
  • Lifters who are after a standard heel height.
  • Weightlifters looking to buy their last pair of shoes as these will last.

Who Might Not Buy These Shoes

  • Those with really wide feet.
  • Lifters wanting a retro wooden heel.
  • Weightlifters who want a lighter shoe.

Runner Up Shoes For Olympic Weightlifting

Nike romaleo 4

Best For Wide Feet And Bad Knees

Inov8 Fastlift 370 BOA

These Weightlifting shoes serve a dual purpose in my books. They have a wide construction and wide toe box to accommodate those with wide feet.

Further, they have one of the lowest heel heights at 0.65” which is highly beneficial for those suffering from bad knees.

The lower heel height means less knee flexion resulting in slightly less stress on the quads and less forward travel of the knee.

I have been using and competing in the previous Inov8 Fastlift 370 BOA for two and a half years and my shoes have taken a beating from all the training, traveling in my hand luggage, and competing. My shoes are still in great working condition including the two BOAs.

Feature

Value

Heel Height

0.65”

Weight Each Shoe

400g / 14.1oz

Heel Material

TPU Plastic

Shoe Material

Synthetic and Mesh

Foot Straps

Two

Color

Camo, Black

Sizing

True To Size

Price

$190

Who Are These Best For?

  • Weightlifters with wide feet who can’t fit a normal Weightlifting shoe.
  • Those who want to not feel like they are wearing blocks on their feet.
  • Lifters who want a lower heel to relieve bad knees.
  • Those who already have good mobility.

Who Might Not Buy These Shoes

  • Weightlifters who want the feeling of a heavier, solid shoe.
  • Those who have mobility problems and need a higher heel.

Best Weightlifting Shoe For Wide Feet & Bad Knees

inov8 fastlift 400 boa

What To Look For In An Olympic Weightlifting Shoe

If you’re looking at buying your first pair of Olympic Weightlifting shoes or you’ve worn through your first pair wondering if it’s normal for them not to last (pro tip: it’s not normal and Weightlifting shoes should last you decades), then here is a little guide to help you when deciding on your next pair of lifters.

Heel Height

In my opinion, this is one of the most important features you should look for when buying a Weightlifting shoe. Some prefer higher and some prefer lower heels when lifting. It often comes down to personal preference or the way your body is built.

I personally prefer a standard or lower heel as I am shorter and don’t have ankle mobility restrictions. I know some Weightlifters that have even added an extra ½ inch to their heel with an additional piece nailed to the bottom of the sole.

If you’re not sure, stick with the standard heel size of 0.75”. If you have a history of knee problems or can sit in a perfect squat barefoot, then you can opt for a lower heel height.

If you struggle to sit in a barefoot squat, or are a very tall lifter, then opt for a higher heel height.

Heel Construction

While not as important as heel height, the material of the heel can play a small role in your decision. Wooden heels provide that retro, old-style feel with better “feedback” from the platform.

Wood also absorbs some of the impact and shock when performing Weightlifting movements so it may be a better option for older lifters.

However, wood may not last as long as the newer materials that are being used.

TPU plastic is the other main material used in most modern Weightlifting shoes and tends to last longer than wood. However, the stiffness of the plastic means it doesn’t absorb as much of the impact when lifting.

If you are healthy, you won’t notice the difference between materials. If you are a little banged up from a lifetime of sport, then a wood heel may be the way to go.

Toe Box Width

This is the second most important feature to look for in an Olympic Weightlifting shoe in my opinion. My husband James, co-founder of RAWR Strength, has some of the widest feet I’ve seen.

He has size 10 Nike Romaleo 2’s (the GOAT shoe for wide feet) and can’t even fit his foot inside the same size Adidas Adipowers.

Some shoes just aren’t made for wider feet. Adidas are notoriously known to not fit wide feet so if you have wider feet, you can rule those out most likely. Nike is usually a great brand for wide feet but their newer models are getting slimmer.

Foot Straps

Another consideration is the foot straps. These aren't going to make or break your Weightlifting shoe decision but they are something to consider. For me personally, I don't even use my foot straps so I don't mind how many there are or where they are placed.

Most Weightlifting shoes have either one or two straps. If you’re after extra security in your shoe, go with a shoe that has two straps.

Honestly, when you tie your laces tight enough, you often won’t feel the difference if you performed a session with or without your foot straps on.

Price

Now, I’ve added price as something to look for when it comes to buying Weightlifting shoes. Not because of budget constraints, but because price tends to be synonymous with quality in Weightlifting shoes.

If you’re after the best quality Weightlifting shoe, be prepared to pay around $200. The second tier Weightlifting shoes generally cost around $100. Half the price sounds great but I guarantee you will be replacing them sooner rather than later.

Especially shoes that have rubber soles and heels. Please stop buying those for Weightlifting. By spending an extra $100, your shoes will last you decades. No matter if you're a beginner or not, it is worth the investment to have them for a lifetime.

About the Author

Mona is a Bronze Medalist at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. She has been competing Internationally for 20 years in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting and has also been African Champion, Commonwealth Champion, and the youngest South African Weightlifter to compete on the International stage.

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