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You Need Olympic Weightlifting Shoes

Notice elbows directly under bar with vertical trunk

Article written by Jay Stadtfeld for
Chuck Taylor’s, wrestling shoes, Olympic lifting shoes, Vibrams… there are a plethora of shoes to choose from for your feet. Your training could very well depend upon which you choose, as certain kinds are better for different lifts. Yes, even your footwear could make or break your training session.
Recently, Brandon made a post on Facebook that said something to the effect of, if you don’t own Olympic lifting shoes, put a 5 pound plate under your heels. While I agree with that, and it’s a fine idea until you do purchase shoes, it’s not the end all be all of your issues. As I’m sure he didn’t intend it to be, either.
You see, the issue with Chuck’s, wrestling shoes, Vibrams, or even those New Balance Minimus shoes that I have is that they don’t support your foot throughout the duration of the lift. Olympic lifting shoes allow you to do a few things that regular shoes will not, such as:
   Spreading the floor
     Olympic lifting shoes possess straps, which allow you to push out against the side of the shoe with your foot, increasing hip activation. More hip activation will equate to a stronger pull or squat.
      More stability
    More stability means that you’ll have a very consistent platform from which to push. Not at all inconsistent, unlike that from compressible soled shoes.
   Olympic shoes have a wooden sole (they have rubber on the bottom so you won’t slide), which means your foot is going to consistently be on a stable surface, unlike Chuck’s which have compressible soles. Inevitably people try to come up with the argument, “Well Vibrams don’t compress…” While this may be true, they don’t have a…
   Olympic shoes typically have at minimum .5” to a 1” heel, which allows you to utilize every aspect of your musculature for the lift you’re going for. The Soviets realized that a heel would allow the lifter to squat into a deeper position due to the increased range of motion for the ankle joint, and so the design of the modern lifting shoe was created.
Notice the ankles rolling in without shoes
  Besides allowing lifter to squat into a deeper position, the raised heel also allows the lifter’s chest to stay upright, even in the bottom of a deep squat with the bar held overhead or racked across the deltoids (Snatch and Clean & jerk)
A side note about the heel: This doesn’t permit you to slack on mobility of the ankle and hip structures, just because the shoe masks the issue. You should be able to squat with no artificial support. If you can’t, get to work.
Because of the weightlifting shoe not having any “give” to it, you can always rely on a very stable platform to push from, whereas other shoes will have some give. Vibrams may not, but they also don’t have the support or heel that weightlifting shoes have. Aside from the “I’m cool, I wear Vibrams in the gym,” factor, they’re basically a pretty worthless shoe to use unless outside. If you are a wearer of these shoes, and have never tried weightlifting shoes, you need not look much further than the three illustrated points above to see why you should try them.
Notice near vertical chest while arms are locked overhead
As a caveat to my point (what good is an article without some objectivity?) I don’t have any problem with people who deadlift without weightlifting shoes, as I’m one of them. However, some people may benefit from this simple change. The easiest way to do so is by trying it. I’m a long limbed lifter (no jokes, please), and find that a flat soled shoe is the better way for me to pull, as when I’m wearing weightlifting shoes I’m actually shot a bit further in front of the bar than I’d like to be. Though, when it comes to squatting, I’m ALWAYS in my Olympic weightlifting shoes. Always.
If you’re serious about training, and I’m sure you are, VS Athletics makes a pretty cheap pair of shoes that are of decent quality. I’ve had mine going on three years now and bought them around $70. I strongly suggest you get rid of the plates under your heels, get out of your crap shoes, and slip into something a bit more stable. Come to the Force and leave the Dark Side behind for good.
Charniga, Andrew. “Why Weightlifting Shoes?” Why Weightlifting Shoes? Eleiko, 2006. Web. 29 July 2012. <>.
Kilgore, Lon. “Weightlifting Shoes 101.” Weightlifting Shoes 101. ExRx, n.d. Web. 29 July 2012. <>.

29 thoughts on “You Need Olympic Weightlifting Shoes

  1. Ordered my first pair, Ristos, Friday.. Hopefully they’ll be in at the end of the week.

  2. I understand all of this, I think. What I don’t understand is why would you want to make the lift easier? I’m not being a smartass here, just wondering. I am willing to try the shoes, do not get me wrong, but besides using them as an aid to lift weight I would not normally be able to lift on my own, what is the benefit?

  3. You wear shoes for the same reason you DON’T wear skinny jeans while squatting: The goal is to move the most weight, not make the lift as difficult as possible. the weight will be difficult enough without adding shoe issues. Plus, shoes are allowed in all competitions: I wouldn’t tell a football player to NOT wear cleats because it makes playing on turf easier. Wear appropriate shoes for your sport.

  4. I have a pair of Ristos. Killer shoes. Impeccable quality. Get new laces though, theirs suck.

  5. I don’t think they really allow you to lift more weight, rather, they help promote proper form. (Chest high, ass low, good arch, pressing out on the floor, etc). You’ll know the difference immediately when you put a good pair on. All the sudden your feet feel like they are locked into the floor. Try for some reviews before you purchase. There are a lot of different “models” and they each have their own pros and cons, depending on your goals. Like everything – do your homework.

  6. I was looking in To the Pendlay Do-Wins. I’m open to better suggestions.

  7. Great article, thanks! Background: I’ve been back into lifting since February, and after making some progress with squat (265), DL (330), BP (190) & OHP (130) I’m going to get some Oly training at the end of this month.

    I’ve been pain/injury free until the last few weeks, where I’ve developed hip (flexor) pain at the bottom of my squat. I’ve stetched/mobilized as much as I can, & tried to read as much as I can to figure it out for myself, but I figure this straight up:

    I’m currently lifting in vibrams (I know, but still new to this), do wl shoes (with a heel) generally help in this regard?
    Thanks again!

  8. Yes, not only will Lifting shoes improve everything, it will make you a better person.

  9. OK, great. Imma gonna hold off on becoming a better person, though, and just focus on fixing my squat. One thing at a time. (Lifting shoes > better squat > ??? > better person)

  10. I have flat feet which tend to make my ankle joints collapse inward. We all know this is bad mechanics especially when squatting. Will a good pair of weightlifting shoes help to keep my feet inline with my ankles and support my “arch? ” Or is this more of a fix by just practicing better foot position?

  11. I started wearing proper lifting shoes about eight months ago. I do not feel they really help me lift more than I did before. What they do is give you stable support for lifting. Instead of thinking of them as a lifting aid, like knee wraps, think of them as the difference between lifting on plywood vs. a boxing ring. We all want a solid surface to lift on. Carry that up through the shoes you wear. Just my thoughts on the matter.

  12. Started using my new adidas weightlifting shoes last week.
    Much improvement on the stability and ability to spread the floor.

    But my squats feel a little weird for the moment, I tend to fall a bit forward. Got to get used to the new feet angle since my last shoes had flat soles.

    But I feel it’s going to be a great imporvment for my lifts.

  13. I ordered shoes from VS Jan 30 with 6-10 day shipping and they still haven’t come in the mail, over three weeks later. I’ve contacted them and was told they’re coming. They have three days, and then I’m going to raise HELL.

    I just needed a place to vent, lol. I spent over a hundred dollars with shipping, and as a student that is a HUGE investment. I want them now!

    On that note, if you’re buying in Canada, it’s cheaper to order shoes from Rogue (for anyone thats looking) because of the insane cost of shipping by VS from the states. The Rogue shoes my friend bought showed up in three days.

  14. Brandon that was an EXCELLENT reply to that question… great analogy!

  15. Great article, and I’ve notice some huge jumps since I switched to Oly shoes a few months back (I think the fish oil also has helped).

    All that said, you do a huge disservice with the first picture. The reason he can squat so much is the power in his moustache – the shoes are merely accessories to his facial follicles.

  16. Fab articles. Romaleos 2 ordered! 🙂

  17. Wedge sneakers in fashion style are newly release at many online store, UPERE offers you the most discount price.

  18. I’m really amazed with people who can lift heavy weights such as these. What I only worry about them is how much pain can they feel on their joints? Or is there any? I guess these people are also taking joint supplements to keep their joints healthy and strong, right?

  19. What are your thoughts on Metal squat shoes? I do not do not currently do Olympic lifts just powerlifting.

  20. im abdenour boukhenissa and djamel dahoumi from algeria .thanks the bigs and all.

  21. Design: kokum law and its going to shrug touch into a lunge. The tip must not exceed the knee, the right angle. Muscle contractions are getting into an upright position – exhale and change working limb.

  22. Do your calf muscles ache? will your sinew feel swollen or tight? If therefore, you’ll be littered with a typical lower body condition best-known as Achilles redness.
    Foot And Ankle Clinic Winston Salem Nc

  23. I have been using weightlifting shoes for awhile now and notice there effectiveness. However, I tried squatting with my minimus shoes last week and immediately noticed a stronger squat and more stability, which is backwards I know. My WL shoes also put me into too much anterior pelvic tilt with the heel (only .60″in), which I already have some degree of APT in general, so WL shoes didnt help. Plus, WL shoes take away ankle mobility due to the elevated heel and ankle strap. For myself, WL shoes did not help. My body seems to enjoy a flat soled, solid low profile shoe that keeps me in a better anatomical position, and not the use of “artificial heels”.

  24. i feel the same way steve. i have always high bar squatted in chucks with no problems but decided to get a pair of nike romaleo 2’s so i can take my squatting to the next level. what i found was my squats actually got weaker with the oly shoes compared to my chucks.

    the nike shoes made me lose power and speed in my squats. the heel also made me lean forward and just made squatting a disaster. the only thing i liked was the stability while standing up with heavy weight on my back. going back to my chucks and never using weight lifting shoes again.

  25. Hey guys what lifts should oly shoes be used for? And not for? Obviously Olympic lifts but are there any that should be exempted. Sorry if it’s a dumb question I just wanna make sure I’m using em right. Appreciate the responses .

  26. Hey Valerie, I’m no expert & new to lifting but as far as I know weightlifting does not lead to joint pain. Muscles, tendons & ligiments support and move your joints, and these ALL get strong when you lift weights. So the stronger you are = more weight you are lifting = stronger muscles/tendons etc that support/move your joints. Your knees will not explode under a heavy weighted squat (unless you have really bad technique). Also bone density increases, a big health bonus (specially for us ladies, I’ve started lifting at the young age of 44).

  27. These shoes look very comfortable and look like they have an amazing grip on the bottom of the shoes. They look like they are built for the elite wrestler looking for the best wrestling shoes out there..
    Wrestling Shoes

  28. Those shoes aren’t $70 no more

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