5 Best Lifting Shoes for Beginners (2021)

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the top 5 lifting shoes for beginners

If you’re new to the gym or just getting started with powerlifting, one of the best investments you can make is a pair of good lifting shoes. Lifting shoes protect your feet, allow you to get into the proper position for squats, and keep you stable during heavy lifts.

So what is the best lifting shoe for beginners? The best lifting shoe for beginners is the Adidas Adipower II. As one of the lightest and most flexible lifting shoes on the market, it’s a good choice for people who aren’t used to wearing a lifting shoe. The affordable price and 0.75” heel height also make it a good entry-level shoe for new lifters.


In this article, I’ll talk about…

  • Why lifting shoes are necessary
  • Provide recommendations for the best lifting shoes for beginners
  • Discuss four key points to keep in mind when buying your first pair of lifting shoes

Why Are Lifting Shoes Necessary?

You may be tempted to start training in any old sneaker you find in your closet. You could probably get away with it for at least a few weeks, but as you become more serious with your training, you should consider buying a pair of lifting shoes.

Lifting shoes are necessary because:

  • They keep your foot locked in place
  • They help to increase your range of motion
  • They keep you balanced and stable

1. They Keep Your Foot Locked in Place

When you have a heavy barbell on your back, the last thing you want is your feet to slip out from under you.

Most lifting shoes are equipped with a heel cup and rubber outsoles that keep your feet securely in place.

They not only provide traction to keep your feet from slipping on the floor, they also prevent your feet from slipping inside the shoe.

2. They Help to Increase Your Range of Motion

Ankle mobility is often a limiting factor in how much weight people can lift. Poor ankle mobility can also cause technique issues such as your knees caving in when you squat.

The raised heel on weightlifting shoes helps to increase dorsiflexion at the ankle, which allows you to get deeper into a squat without sacrificing your form.

Interested in powerlifting but not sure where to start? Check out the article How to Start Powerlifting (A Beginner’s Guide).

3. They Keep You Balanced and Stable

In addition to increasing your range of motion, lifting shoes can keep you more stable by preventing you from coming up on your toes and helping you keep your chest upright when you squat. This helps prevent injuries to the lower back, knees, and ankles.

If you’re wondering why you shouldn’t wear running shoes for squats and deadlifts, check out the articles: 

Top 5 Lifting Shoes for Beginners

The top 5 lifting shoes for beginners are:

1. Adidas Adipower II – Best Overall Lifting Shoe for Beginners

The Adidas Adipower II’s are lighter and more flexible than other weightlifting shoes on the market. This makes it a good option for new lifters who are wearing lifting shoes for the first time.

the Adidas Adipower II’s are lighter and more flexible than other weightlifting shoes on the market

With a heel height of 0.75”, the Adipower II’s fall right in the middle range of what you’ll find in most weightlifting shoes.

For new lifters, this is a good heel height to start with because it’s neither too high nor too low. As you work on your technique, you can use this as a good gauge to determine if you need a shoe with a lower or higher heel.

Adidas Adipower II has good heel height because it’s neither too high nor too low

This shoe is a good entry-level shoe for someone who’s still learning how to squat properly, but it doesn’t provide enough support to stabilize your feet during very heavy lifts. Once you get stronger and begin lifting heavier weights, you should consider upgrading to a sturdier shoe.

Pros

  • Lightweight, breathable material
  • Clean, minimalist design
  • Good ankle support

Cons

  • May need to upgrade to a sturdier shoe as you get more serious about lifting

2. Adidas Power Perfect III – Best for Lifters Transitioning from Another Sport

The Adidas Power Perfect III’s are a more refined lifting shoe that are built from a stiffer, more durable material.

the Adidas Power Perfect III’s are a more refined lifting shoe that are built from a stiffer, more durable material

If you have never followed a traditional powerlifting program before but you already have some experience with squatting and strength training, I would recommend this shoe.

Like the Adipower II’s, the Power Perfect III’s have a 0.75” heel height. If you’ve done any kind of strength training in the past, it’s likely that you already have some experience squatting, so you may not need a higher heel height.

a unique feature of the Power Perfect III’s is the “derby” construction along the mid-foot

A unique feature of the Power Perfect III’s is the “derby” construction along the mid-foot. According to Adidas, this derby construction provides extra lateral stability to keep the foot from shifting from side to side during heavy lifts.

There is no women’s version of these shoes, but women can still comfortably wear them. For women, I recommend going down 1.5 sizes.

Pros

  • The combination of synthetic leather and mesh makes the shoe breathable
  • Heel cup keeps the foot in place
  • Wide toe box

Cons

  • The material of the strap is thin
  • There is no women’s version

Check out my head-to-head comparison of the Adipower II vs Power Perfect III to see which Adidas shoe may be best for you. 

3. Reebok Legacy Lifter II – Best for New Lifters with Long Legs

The Reebok Legacy Lifter II’s were released in the summer of 2020 after the success of the original Legacy Lifter.

If you also do Olympic lifts, the extra heel height will help you get into an optimal position to catch cleans and snatches.

the Reebok Legacy Lifter II extra heel height will help you get into an optimal position to catch cleans and snatches

With thick rubber outsoles, you can easily grip the floor in these shoes, and you don’t have to worry about your feet slipping. The shoe also has an Exoframe heel that provides an extra layer of stability and helps keep the foot in place.

Because of the higher heel height and sturdier synthetic leather construction, these shoes are heavier than some other lifting shoes. It may take a few training sessions for you to get used to them.

the Legacy Lifters have a heel height of 0.86”, which is one of the highest that you’ll find in a weightlifting shoe

The Legacy Lifters have a heel height of 0.86”, which is one of the highest that you’ll find in a weightlifting shoe. The higher heel benefits lifters with long legs, who usually have more trouble staying upright in a squat.

For a list of other shoes that are good for tall lifters, check out the article 5 Best Weightlifting Shoes for Tall Lifters (Long Femurs).

Pros

  • High heel height
  • Sturdy construction
  • Durable

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • May take a while to break them in

4. Nike Metcon 6 – Most Versatile Option

If you’re looking for a shoe that you can wear for both lifting and running, CrossFit, or other dynamic workouts, the Nike Metcon 6 is for you.

the Nike Metcon 6 is for both lifting and running, CrossFit, or other dynamic workouts

These shoes have a small amount of cushioning, so they work well for workouts that involve running and jumping. They’re also flat and stable enough to support light to moderate lifting.

The Nike Metcon 6’s come with removable Hyperlift heel inserts. If you need the extra heel height for squats, you can use the inserts just for your squat sets and remove them for the rest of your workout.

the Nike Metcon 6’s come with removable Hyperlift heel inserts

With a haptic topcoat, these shoes are durable and can withstand both running and lifting. The topcoat makes them less susceptible to rips or tears, so you can wear them for other high-intensity workouts as well.

the Nike Metcon 6’ with a haptic topcoat which is durable and can withstand both running and lifting

Pros

  • Can be used for both lifting and cross-training
  • Come with a removable Hyperlift heel insert
  • Breathable material

Cons

  • Can be expensive

5. Converse Chuck Taylors – Best for New Powerlifters on a Budget

Over the years, Chuck Taylors have become a popular powerlifting shoe due to their flat sole and minimal cushioning.

The flat sole reduces the range of motion in deadlifts and allows you to efficiently push off the ground in both squats and deadlifts.

And, unlike lifting shoes that can only be worn for movements such as squats, clean and jerks, and snatches, Chuck Taylors can be worn for all three of the main powerlifting movements as well as most accessory exercises.

Chuck Taylors are easy to find online and in brick-and-mortar stores, and they can be worn outside of the gym as well. If you like to get the most bang for your buck out of your shoes, you can’t go wrong with Chuck Taylors.

The low-top and high-top models are both good for lifting, but many powerlifters prefer the high-top style for additional ankle stability.

Pros

  • Affordable and comfortable
  • Available in a wide variety of colors
  • Flat rubber sole is ideal for lifting
  • Can also be worn for casual wear

Cons

  • Not ideal for other kinds of activities such as running

Chucks have a flat sole compared to squat shoes.  Read my article comparing Squat Shoes vs Converse Shoes to find out all the differences you need to know.

Things Beginners Should Keep in Mind When Buying Lifting Shoes

While lifting shoes can help maximize your performance, there are a few things you should keep in mind before you buy your first pair.

1. A Lifting Shoe Is Not a Replacement for Good Technique and Mobility

If you’re a true beginner and have no prior experience with lifting, you’ll likely have limited ankle and hip mobility. You’ll also have to work hard on learning proper technique.

Lifting shoes can help with these issues, but they shouldn’t be used as a band-aid solution.

That’s not to say that you shouldn’t wear a lifting shoe at all as a new lifter. You should just be careful not to become too reliant on them if you have other weaknesses to address.

If you want to improve your ankle and hip mobility, check out the articles: 

2. You Don’t Need to Buy the Most Expensive Shoe Right Away

As a new lifter, you may try powerlifting or strength training for a few months and then decide it’s not for you. You don’t want to be stuck with a pair of $200 shoes that you’ll never wear again.

Also, as you become more proficient in the squat and you develop better ankle and hip mobility, you may realize that you prefer to lift in a flatter shoe.

So, before you rush to buy the most expensive lifting shoe you can find, take some time to figure out if you’ll stick with powerlifting for the long haul, develop consistency with your training, and learn what works best for your body.

How do you know if a flat or heeled shoe is best for you? Check out the article Heel or Flat Shoes for Squatting (6 Things to Consider).

3. Finding the Right Lifting Shoe for You Is Very Individual

Factors such as your height, the length of your femurs, and your hip anatomy will dictate the type of lifting shoe that is best for you.

Often, it also comes down to personal preference and what you’re comfortable in. As you start lifting more frequently, you’ll begin to understand what type of shoe is best for your individual needs.

It also depends on what kind of training you do. If you plan on doing a combination of strength training and conditioning, or if you’re starting a sport like CrossFit, you may want to look for a shoe that you can do both in.

Check out my article 5 Best Shoes for Running and Lifting for a list of shoes you can wear for both lifting and running.

4. Lifting Shoes Can Help You Lift More Weight, But It Won’t Have a Significant Impact on How Much You Can Lift

The stability offered from weightlifting shoes gives you better control over your movement patterns and allows you to activate your muscles more efficiently.

Knowing that your feet are secure and protected can also put your mind at ease and help you feel more confident, which can help improve your performance.

You won’t necessarily break any records just from switching to a lifting shoe, but they can help you add a few extra pounds to your lifts.

What to Look for in a Lifting Shoe: Buyer’s Guide

If you’re interested in buying a shoe specifically for lifting, there are a few things you should look for:

  • An elevated heel
  • Non-compressible soles
  • Support straps

1. An Elevated Heel

a raised heel helps increase range of motion at the ankle

I should preface this by saying that this is not an absolute requirement. Many powerlifters prefer to lift in flat shoes for various reasons.

But as a new lifter, you most likely don’t have the proper ankle or hip mobility to get deep into a squat without your chest falling forward, your knees caving in, or losing your balance.

As I mentioned earlier, a raised heel helps increase your range of motion at the ankle. In addition to helping you get deeper into a squat, it also allows you to stay more upright and helps to protect the low back.

2. Non-compressible Soles

The soles of most weightlifting shoes are made out of hard plastic or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). The outsoles are also usually made out of rubber to help prevent slipping.

These features provide a stable base for lifting and allow you to lift more weight by enhancing your ability to generate force from the floor.

3. Support Straps

most lifting shoes have one or two straps across the top of the foot that offer more stability

Most lifting shoes have one or two straps across the top of the foot that offer more stability. 

They secure the foot and prevent it from moving inside the shoe, which helps to prevent injuries or accidents from occuring.

Final Thoughts

The Adidas Adipower II is the best shoe for new lifters because they’re lightweight, flexible, and have a 0.75” heel height that is neither too high nor too low for beginners.

But if you’re looking for something that you can lift weights and do other activities in, the Nike Metcon 6 is a good choice. Because they provide a good balance of cushioning and stiffness, you can easily transition between lifting and more dynamic movements in them.

Keep in mind that lifting shoes shouldn’t be used to cover up poor mobility or technique issues. If you struggle with ankle mobility or you haven’t perfected your technique, you should still work on improving those issues instead of relying on your shoes to cover them up.


About The Author

Amanda Dvorak

Amanda Dvorak is a freelance writer and powerlifting enthusiast. Amanda played softball for 12 years and discovered her passion for fitness when she was in college. It wasn’t until she started CrossFit in 2015 that she became interested in powerlifting and realized how much she loves lifting heavy weights. In addition to powerlifting, Amanda also enjoys running and cycling.