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If you’re looking for a squat shoe with a high heel it’s because you fit into one of four categories:
(1) You’re a tall lifter (someone with long femurs);
(2) You prefer high bar vs low bar squats;
(3) Your squat stance is either shoulder-width or narrower;
(4) You lack adequate ankle mobility; or,
(5) You struggle getting deep in your squat range of motion
Any of these reasons would warrant a higher heel for your squat shoe.
So, what is the best squat shoe with a high heel? The Adidas Leistung 16 II was my top choice (click for today’s price on Amazon). When most squat shoes come with a heel of 0.5-0.75 inches, the Adidas Leistung 16 II has a 1-inch heel. It also has an extremely durable construction with a comfortable insole, providing the utmost performance.
In this article, I’ll review 5 of the best squat shoes with high heels. Let’s get started!
The 5 Best Squat Shoes With Highest Heel: Reviews
In each of the following reviews, I’ll discuss things like the heel height, the upper construction, and the overall performance. I’ll also highlight any negative aspects that might affect your performance.
The 5 best squat shoes with highest heels are:
- Adidas Men’s Leistung 16 II
- Nike Men’s Romaleos 3 xd
- Reebok Women’s Legacylifter
- Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes
- Adidas Men’s CrazyPower Cross-Trainer-Shoes
Adidas Men's Leistung 16 II – Best Overall
With its 1” heel, Adidas Leistung 16 II surely deserves to be on top. It’s worth mentioning that this comes as an upgrade to the model Leistung Rio, which was released back in 2016.
The first and most important feature of these shoes is their unique tightening system. At first, they tighten with sturdy laces, just like any ordinary pair. Then, instead of the velcro support straps, Adidas used the BOA tightening technology.
If you haven’t heard about it before, this comes as a small dial that pulls on two plastic wedges on the sides by the means of small wires. When you’re ready to tighten, all you have to do is turn the dial to the right. When you finish your training, you can easily release the wires by pulling the dial upward.
Although this can be more convenient than velcro, it’s not that efficient. Several lifters were disappointed when the dial kept losing tightens in the middle of their workout. This fact will be especially annoying in powerlifting competitions.
But aside from this, the upper construction is amazing. It’s made of woven synthetic fiberglass which balances well between performance and breathability.
- High heels
- Durable upper construction
- Superior comfort and breathability
- The BOA dial can suddenly lose tightness
Nike Men's Romaleos 3 xd – Runner Up
The Nike Romaleos 3 comes in second place with an effective heel height of about 0.8”. Although they feature the same TPU sole that Adidas used in the Leistung, Nike managed to maintain a lighter construction. With only 15 ounces, this is arguably the lightest shoes that you can find on the market.
Does this mean that they’re weaker? Absolutely not. Nike fabricated the sole with a honeycomb structure that provides enough support while dialing back on the required material thickness.
The upper construction is another awesome attribute. For the first time in lifting shoes, Nike used its patented Flywire material to reinforce the primary stress-bearing points. But since they’re not as thick as synthetic leather, they allow for some flexibility in which your toes can splay and claw the floor.
On the downside, Nike decided to replace the two support straps featured in Romaleos 2 with only one thicker strap. Although it doesn’t pop off under heavy loads, it still lacks that premium secure feel of the previous version.
- Lightweight TPU structure
- Firm sole
- Flexible upper construction
- Slightly expensive
- They have only one support strap
Reebok Women's Legacylifter – Highest Heel For Women
In addition to their unique color schemes, the Reebok Legacylifters present an exceptional amount of comfort without messing up the performance. This should be your go-to choice if you're looking for a women's powerlifting shoe with a high heel.
Just like the previous two, the Legacylifters are equipped with TPU soles with an effective heel height of 0.86”. Despite being a bit on the heavy side, they won’t weigh you down as long as you don’t use them outside of powerlifting.
The thing I like the most about the Legacylifters is the amount of stability they provide. For starters, they’re equipped with double support straps: one placed midfoot, while the other secures the balls of the feet. To make them even tighter, Reebok aligned them against each other.
Over the heel cup, you’ll find a rubber strip encircling the heel, a technology called “Exo-Frame”. This is ideal for people suffering from excessive pronation and/or supination.
For the upper construction, Reebok designed the toe box area with perforated leather. The heel area, on the other hand, is surrounded by a thick layer of breathable mesh. These two materials together provide a unique mix of breathability and support.
- Excellent breathability
- Astounding support
- Exceptional heel bracing
- Might feel too heavy outside powerlifting
Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes – Highest Heel for Wide Feet
Is the toe box the first part to tear up in your shoes? If yes, then you may have feet that are wider than average. In this case, there would be nothing better than 0.75-inch high Do-Win shoes, aka the Pendlays.
After taking a look at the outsoles of the Do-Wins, you should notice the generous space they provide over the balls of the feet. To prove my point, Rouge suggests getting a 1/2 size smaller than your current size in order to get the best fit.
The soles of the Do-Wins have an absolutely unique design. Over the others, they’re fabricated with a wave-like pattern. In addition to the cool looks, this also keeps the weight minimal without affecting the support.
In the middle, you’ll find 5 pillars of TPU extending to the outsole. This is such an ingenious perk to let you feel the ground even though you’re standing over high heels.
Just like the Legacylifters, the Pendlays are equipped with double support straps. Although they point toward the same direction, their support is still way better than a single strap.
- Highly affordable
- Attractive design
- Double support straps
- The velcro of the support straps aren’t that durable
Adidas Men's CrazyPower Cross-Trainer-Shoes – Most Versatile
If you want shoes that can perform outside powerlifting, search no further. Adidas built its CrazyPower shoes with enough versatility to fit different types of exercises. Surely, since you can’t go about your regular workout with excessively high heels, these shoes have an effective height of 0.6” only.
The upper construction is distinctively divided into two halves. The posterior part is made of perforated synthetic leather to keep your heel supported under heavy loads.
Anteriorly, Adidas decided to opt for an extremely breathable mesh that resembles neoprene sock shoes. While this doesn’t affect lifting, it enhances other activities by providing flexibility.
I don’t know why, but Adidas brought the support straps closer to the heels. This leaves the midfoot and forefoot a bit exposed to minimal wiggling. But on the positive side, the support straps are a bit thicker and longer than average, which braces the heels even further.
- Reasonably priced
- Versatile construction
- Exceptional breathability
- The support straps are placed away from the midfoot
What Are the Different Heel Heights for Squat Shoes?
Commercially, brands release shoes with heels ranging between 0.5” and 1”. These values are the most commonly used among professional and recreational lifters alike.
However, you may find some products straying a bit outside this range. If you want to literally get the highest heel on the market, you should try Nordic Lifting MEGIN Powerlifting Shoes. These beasts come with a whopping heel height of 1.4”
If this will be your first heeled shoes, I’d recommend picking something between 0.75” and 1”. Going lower than 0.75” wouldn’t really classify as a high heel. And going over 1” might present a sudden significant change to your workout, which can affect your stability and subject you to the risk of injuries.
Is a Higher Heel Better for Squatting?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. If you’ve been into powerlifting for a while, you must’ve noticed that lifters who squat in a $60 Chuck Taylors can perform as efficiently as those wearing a $200 Adidas Leistung. Therefore, choosing between the two depends on your needs.
In the following section, I’ll describe all the situations that require wearing a heeled pair of squat shoes. But for now, let’s discover what difference can the heels do for your squat mechanics.
Benefits of Squatting in Heels
If you’ve never tried heeled shoes before, I think you should pause reading for a while to try the following. While barefoot, stand up and proceed into your regular squatting position. It’s better to position your hands as if they’re holding a bar on your back. When you reach the deepest position, slowly lift your heels off the ground.
If done right, you should start noticing two things changing in your stance.
First, your squat depth. When your heels rise above the ground, they push your knees forward and upward. In turn, this pushes your hips forward and downward, which translates into an instant deeper squat.
Second, the inclination of your trunk. When your hips fall downward, they inevitably pull your trunk into an upright position. This improves your stability and takes stress off your spine.
When Do You Need to Consider a High Heel for Squatting?
Generally speaking, flat soles are valued for their optimal stability. However, in the following situations, you’ll find heels to be exceptionally helpful.
Anatomically, the femur (the upper leg bone) should be slightly longer than the tibia (the lower leg bone). For tall folks, however, the femur is usually much longer than the tibia.
If those people squat in flats, the long femur will push their hips and trunk backward. Consequently, the bar will also be positioned backward. If you’re unfamiliar, the bar should always be lying above your midfoot in order to maintain stability.
To compensate for the poor stability, you’ll find yourself leaning forward too much to place the bar back into the sweat spot. As you can tell, this will put tremendous stress on your back.
Wearing heeled shoes is undoubtedly the fastest and most effective solution to this problem. The raised heels will push the knees forward. This way, the femurs won’t have to push the hips and the trunk backward. In other words, the bar will be placed in a safe and comfortable position.
Check out my special review on the best weightlifting shoes for tall lifters.
Poor Ankle Mobility
No matter how restricted your ankles are, wearing heeled shoes will instantly widen your range of motion. Let’s illustrate this with imaginary numbers to make things clearer.
Let’s say that your deepest squat is achieved with your ankles at 60 degrees. While wearing flats, you’ll start your squat with your ankles at about 90 degrees. Thus, you’ll have around 30 degrees of ankle mobility.
If you wear heeled shoes, you’ll start your squats with a higher ankle plantar flexion. With an average of 110 degrees, you’ll have 50 degrees before you can reach the deepest position. That’s 20 degrees of instant, easy improvement!
As a side note, you should never ignore the actual cause behind restricted ankles. Most of the time, this happens due to some tissue limitations that could be resolved with some mobility drills.
Narrow Squat Stance
If you tend to squat in a narrow stance with your toes pointing forward, you’ll find it a lot easier to squat in heeled shoes.
Why? Well, this has to do with the previous point. In a narrow stance, your squatting depth will depend primarily on your ankle flexion. And as stated earlier, heels are the best instant solution for restricted ankles.
Check out my top recommendations for the best lifting shoes for narrow feet.
High Bar Squats
In high bar squats, the bar sits atop the traps just above the rear deltoid. In that position, your torso becomes nearly upright to safely support the weight. If you leaned forward or backward, you’ll be more likely to lose balance.
The upright torso places the hips somewhere just behind the heels. This, in turn, pushes the knees forward. Since this position demands higher ankle mobility, wearing heeled shoes will make it much easier.
Low bar squats, on the other hand, force your trunk to lean forward. This pulls the hips and knees backward, thereby demanding less ankle mobility. That’s why you may find your stance more stable with flats.
Shallow Hip Structure
As you might already know, your femurs attach to your hips via a ball-and-socket joint. In other words, the femur has a round head that sits inside a round depression on the hips. If that depression is shallow, your femur won’t have enough space to move before hitting the bony edges. As a result, you’ll end up complaining from poor hip mobility.
If your hips can’t supply enough range of motion, you’ll depend on your knee and ankle flexion to achieve the desired squat depth. This drives us back to the same fact we stated earlier: wearing heeled shoes will fit people who have shallow hips.
Main Features: What to Look for in a Squat Shoe With a High Heel?
Like I said earlier, I recommend staying within a range of 0.75” and 1” if you’re trying heeled shoes for the first time. But heel height isn’t the only factor you need to consider. Here are the other things you should look for when buying squat shoes.
In running shoes, we pick a midsole that provides enough cushioning to dampen the running forces. In squat shoes, however, we aim for the exact opposite. Squatting against a compressible surface waste a considerable part of your force.
For that reason, my favorite midsole material is thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Since this material is manufactured from hard plastic and soft rubber, brands could easily alter its composition to achieve hard, yet comfortable soles. On the downside, this complicated fabrication is usually pricier than the others.
My least favorite material is definitely the ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). Originally, this material is somewhat flexible, which is why it’s extremely famous between the manufacturers of running shoes. However, some brands have been able to slightly improve its hardness. The Adidas Powerlift 3.1 is probably the most famous example.
Needless to say, squatting in flats gives the best stability. That doesn’t mean that wearing heeled shoes isn’t safe, but you might find your feet slightly wiggling under heavy loads.
For that reason, it’s extremely important to buy shoes equipped with support straps. They’ll push the fit to the maximum possible tightness, thereby keeping the injuries at bay.
Lucky for you, almost all the squat shoes already have at least one support strap. Some shoes, such as the Reebok’s Legacylifter, take it a step further by adding an additional strap over the balls of the feet.
Although the support straps are meant to limit unwanted movements, their effect doesn’t typically reach the heels. Therefore, it’s better to pick shoes that have thick leather construction supporting the heel cup.
The Reebok’s Legacylifter shines again on this matter. These shoes have a rubber strap that encircles the heels over the middle zone.
Check out my comparison of the Reebok Legacy Lifter vs Adidas Adipower.
Based on my reviews, I can say that Adidas Men's Leistung 16 II are the best squat shoes with high heels. I love their state-of-the-art BOA dials and 1” heels.
For women lifters, I couldn’t find anything better than the Reebok Legacylifter. The 0.86” heels are supported by two straps, which is ideal if you want to keep injuries at bay. Want to explore other options? I’ve written another article featuring the best shoes for squats with all sorts of heel heights. Make sure to give it a look!