4 Best Weightlifting Shoes (For A Perfect Squat)

Steve Hoyles September 2, 2021

Since the popularization of weightlifting in the 2000s, weightlifting shoes have been brought into focus for people who train. As with a lot of fitness training equipment though, you’re now spoiled for choice.

With literally hundreds of weightlifting shoe options on the market, how do you pick the right weightlifting shoes for you? Do you even need weightlifting shoes? What’s the difference between weightlifting shoes and cross-training shoes?

I’m going to answer all of these questions and more in this article. You’ll learn what features make great lifting shoes and what to consider before making your purchase.

Over the years I’ve bought plenty of lifting shoes. I’m also part of a weightlifting club, where equipment and our experience of different weightlifting shoes is a frequent topic of conversation!

I’ll share this collective experience with you in the article…

 

  
 
Our Rating
Why we love it
Who It's Best For
Ratings
Price (from)

Adidas Powerlift 4

Our Rating : Adidas Powerlift 4
Why we love it : 1
Who It's Best For : Durable and flexible. Excellent quality and a great price. Mid-range heel height.
Ratings : Best Overall Value
Price (from): 5.0*
$100

Nike Romaleos 4

Our Rating : Nike Romaleos 4
Why we love it : 2
Who It's Best For : Great quality, stiff shoe designed for elite lifting. High-heel to help less flexible lifters.
Ratings : Best For Competition
Price (from): 4.9*
$200

Reebok Lifter PR 2

Our Rating : Reebok Lifter PR 2
Why we love it : 3
Who It's Best For : Light and flexible, but strong. Ideal as a first lifting shoe or one for those who like a more movement
Ratings : Best For Recreational Lifters
Price (from): 4.8*
$100

Reebok Legacy Lifter 2

Our Rating : Reebok Legacy Lifter 2
Why we love it : 4
Who It's Best For : Feature-heavy lifting shoe. Light and flexible, with added support where needed. Ideal choice for women.
Ratings : Best For Women
Price (from): 4.7*
$200

If you don’t have time to read the whole list, here’s a snapshot…

#1 Adidas Powerlift 4 – Best value

#2 Nike Romaleos 4 – Best for competition

#3 Reebok Lifter PR 2 – Best recreational 

#4 Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 – Best for women


What To Look For In A Weightlifting Shoe

The key points are the heel height and the ‘upper’ (the top part of the shoe). The rest of the features are largely the same.

Weightlifting shoes typically vary with the heel height. They usually have a low heel (less than 15mm), mid-range (15mm) and a high heel (20+ mm).

Generally, the lower the heel the less ‘help’ you get from a mobility point of view. The more flexible lifters will often prefer a low heel, the less flexible lifters prefer a high heel. Some taller lifters prefer a higher heel, shorter lifters prefer a low heel. Ultimately it’s down to personal taste though.

Uppers usually come in leather or synthetic leather. These are stiff, but support the feet well. The downside is they take longer to ‘break in’ and they offer less foot flexibility in the jerk.

Softer uppers are more flexible, easier to use from the start and are more breathable. They don’t offer as much support as leather or synthetic leather. However, this is usually countered by having thick support straps across the foot.

Look at your body type, lifting style and make a decision that way.


The 4 Best Weightlifting Shoes Based On My Research (All Are Great Options)

There’s some serious quality out there so I’ve whittled it down to a best 4. You could pick any of these shoes and they’d be a worthwhile investment, but I’ve justified the order with the comments below each one.

Our #1 Pick – Adidas Powerlift 4 – Amazing value and quality

Best Weightlifting Shoes
Features
Our rating
Features
  • Durable, flexible upper allows strength and flexibility
  • Great value – cheaper than lots of rivals
  • Narrow design helps to keep the foot secure
  • Single strap for additional foot security
Our Rating
Our #1 Best Weightlifting Shoes
5 out of 5

I can almost hear the cries of “what? Nike Romaleos aren’t the winner?” Let me explain why the Adidas Powerlift 4’s get the nod for me…

ADIDAS POWERLIFT 4 - MEN'S

The quality of the Adidas Powerlift 4 is fantastic. It’s as good as the Romaleos certainly. They’re also (and this is the kicker for me), $100 cheaper. That’s a serious difference. If the price is twice as high, I’d expect the Nike’s to be twice as good and they’re just not. 

The Powerlift 4’s are built to last. They contain everything you need and none of what you don’t. The heel is 15mm, which is a mid-range heel that suits most lifters. There’s a strong yet flexible canvas upper (a change from leather in previous designs), which allows you freedom to move during split jerks. It’s also breathable, but doesn’t compromise on durability.

The narrow foot and strap designs keep your feet securely in place during dynamic movements. Some lifting shoes contain the double strap, but I’ve never found them to be a huge benefit – in fact in some cases they’re a hindrance. The single strap here works perfectly.

Don’t think the price is a sign of poor quality – these are great. They’re just minimalist and the stiff canvas upper rather than leather helps to keep the costs down. They’re really well received too…

ADIDAS POWERLIFT 4 Reviews

Pros

  • Durable, flexible upper allows strength and flexibility
  • Great value – cheaper than lots of rivals
  • Narrow design helps to keep the foot secure
  • Single strap for additional foot security
  • Minimalist in design 

Cons

  • Narrow foot design won’t suit lifters with wide feet
  • Mid-range heel depth won’t be suitable for tallest or least flexible lifters

Verdict

If you don’t want to blow the bank but still want a great pair of lifting shoes, the Adidas Powerlift 4s are perfect for you. A great shoe and amazing value.

#2 Pick – Nike Romaleos 4 – Great quality, premium lifting shoe

Best Weightlifting Shoes
Features
Our rating
Features
  • Excellent materials – rubber sole and synthetic leather upper
  • Excellent power transfer through wide sole and solid mid sole
  • Double strapped for extra foot security
  • High sole to help less flexible lifters
Our Rating
Our #2 Best Weightlifting Shoes
4.9 out of 5

To a certain section of the readership, I’ve just committed treason by putting the Nike Romaleos 4 in second place. The reality is that I think they’re a fantastic shoe and are rightly loved by lifters all over the world. They’re just edged into second because of the price tag.

Weight lifting with NIKE'S ROMALEOS 4

There’s debate in the weightlifting community whether or not the Romaleos 4’s are an upgrade on previous models. A few of the lifters in my club love them, one or two aren’t so sure. I’ve used them and think they’re great, but there’s better value (quality and value are different things) on the market. 

The big features on the Romaleos are the wide heel, with a super-solid mid sole. This helps with fantastic power transfer, helping you with the big numbers. The double-strap for foot security is a selling point, but some lifters believe it hinders shoe flexibility on the jerk, especially those with smaller feet (less than a size 9).

The 20mm heel is a great asset for those tall lifters, or those with reduced flexibility. It also shares similar side-to-side support with the Adidas Powerlifts. The Romaleos are fantastic lifting shoes and if you’ve got the money, go for it. 

The Romaleos remain one of the most popular lifting shoes of them all…

NIKE ROMALEOS 4 Reviews

Pros

  • Excellent materials – rubber sole and synthetic leather upper
  • Excellent power transfer through wide sole and solid mid sole
  • Double strapped for extra foot security
  • High sole to help less flexible lifters

Cons

  • Expensive – top end of the range
  • High heel depth won’t be suitable for shorter or the most flexible lifters
  • Double strap can limit flexibility for smaller-footed lifters

Verdict

If you don’t want to blow the bank but still want a great pair of lifting shoes, the Nike Romaleos 4s are perfect for you. A great shoe and amazing value.

#3 Pick – Reebok Lifter PR 2 – Versatile lifting shoe at a great price

Best Weightlifting Shoes
Features
Our rating
Features
  • Light but strong – perfect for those who aren’t after a stiff lifting shoe
  • Excellent value
  • Thick strap for foot security
  • Flexible upper to help with movements
Our Rating
Our #3 Best Weightlifting Shoes
4.8 out of 5

Reebok have really built on their association with CrossFit by expanding into the weightlifting shoe market. They already make (in my opinion) the best CrossFit shoe on the market, so it’s not a huge leap into the unknown going into the weightlifting shoe world.

REEBOK LIFTER PR II - MEN'S

The Reebok Lifter PR 2 is a triumph. It takes a lot of the elements of the CrossFit shoes and puts them into a lifting shoe. In particular, the textile upper helps with flexibility and the EVA foam midsole keeps the weight down. It means the shoes feel more flexible and forgiving than many lifting shoes. 

They’re a mid-range heel height (15mm), and the thick strap helps to secure the foot in place. The thick strap is particularly useful because the rest of the shoe feels less rigid than some of the others on the market.

Whilst it might not have the rigidity of the Romaleos, they’re a great lifting shoe and worth every penny. If they were a tiny bit stiffer (more in line with traditional lifting shoes), they’d rival the Adidas Powerlift 4’s for top spot. Despite this, they’re still an excellent shoe for the money.

The solid review scores agree with me…

REEBOK LIFTER PR II Reviews

Pros

  • Light but strong – perfect for those who aren’t after a stiff lifting shoe
  • Excellent value
  • Thick strap for foot security
  • Flexible upper to help with movements

Cons

  • Lack of stiffness can be an issue for some
  • Mid-range heel depth won’t be suitable for tallest or least flexible lifters
  • May be a bit light weight for the big guys

Verdict

For lifters who don’t like the rigidity of a stiff lifting shoe, the Reebok Lifter PR 2 could be the perfect solution. They’re light, strong and cheap. Perfect for a recreational lifter who isn’t bothered about top level competition.

#4 Pick – Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 – Best lifting shoe for women

Best Weightlifting Shoes
Features
Our rating
Features
  • Super stable – heel clip, high side supports and a thick strap make for a top-level shoe
  • Very breathable, so perfect for long sessions
  • Stable base, flexible supper
  • Highest heel around (22mm)
Our Rating
Our #4 Best Weightlifting Shoes
4.7 out of 5

As well as their fantastic Lifter PR 2, Reebok also makes a premium lifting shoe – the Reebok Legacy Lifter 2. It’s not cheap at $200, but it’s a really solid shoe for those looking for the next level in terms of outright competition quality. It’s also my top pick as a lifting shoe for women.

REEBOK LEGACY LIFTER II - WOMEN'S

The Legacy Lifter 2 is a unique combination of features. First of all it’s made from a textile upper, which isn’t often found at the top end of the market. In this case it makes sense though – it’s more breathable, plus the perceived lack of stability is countered by high plastic side supports around the heel. The girls at my lifting club love the combination of support of the shoe in the clean, squats, snatches etc but the flexibility it offers in the jerk.

Stability is further aided by a heel clip, which limits side-to-side and front-to-back movement. This is a unique feature that you don’t find in many other shoes and it’s one that a lot of the women I know really like, because it really helps those with smaller feet. Finally, the flat sole is a perfect platform from which to launch your big lifts.

The heel is the highest amongst the shoes reviewed here so it’s a huge help from a flexibility and mobility point of view. When you combine this with the market-leading stability features, the legacy lifter is a shoe to smash your PRs in!

REEBOK LEGACY LIFTER II Reviews

Pros

  • Super stable – heel clip, high side supports and a thick strap make for a top-level shoe
  • Very breathable, so perfect for long sessions
  • Stable base, flexible supper
  • Highest heel around (22mm)

Cons

  • Lack of stiffness can be an issue for some
  • May be a bit light weight for the big guys

Verdict

The Legacy Lifter 2 is a great weightlifting shoe and is perfect for anyone looking to push themselves towards weightlifting competition. It contains unique features that make it a fantastic shoe and I think the stability features make them particularly good for women.


Why get weightlifting shoes? What are the benefits?

You wear hiking boots for hiking, running shoes for running… So why wear sneakers for weightlifting? It makes no sense! 

Weightlifting shoes are designed specifically to make lifting weights easier, safer and more effective. You can literally lift more weight by wearing the correct footwear. There’s a lot of features that make weightlifting shoes the perfect footwear for lifting…

  • Wedged heel – weightlifting shoes have a raised heel. This allows you to achieve a deeper squat and keep your torso more upright throughout the lift
  • Flat sole – maximizes ground contact, providing a stable base of support for a lift
  • Stiff heel – there’s no compression in the heel, so no power leakage. Means maximum ground reaction force and weight lifted
  • Straps on the upper keep the foot secure and in place

Collectively these features make a weightlifting shoe a far more effective platform for lifting than a soft-soled sneaker. Whilst the soft midsole makes running more comfortable, it squashes under load, losing you power through the lift. 

To understand the difference between weightlifting shoes and CrossFit shoes, take a look at our article on the best CrossFit shoes here.


Will weightlifting shoes improve my squat?

Yes, absolutely. 

By providing a flat, solid base of support under your feet (and therefore your whole body), a lifting shoe provides you with the perfect base of support for your lifting. The shoes don’t compress under load like normal sneakers or running shoes, so you don’t lose any force from the shoes.

Will weightlifting shoes improve my squat?

Weightlifting shoes will improve you biomechanically, improving your squat because of your better technique. You’ll be able to squat deeper, which increases the time under tension, building more muscle. More muscle = more strength =  more weight lifted.

Weightlifting shoes will make your squat safer too. You’ll be able to keep your torso upright, which makes you a more efficient lifter and reduces the load on your lower back.


Weightlifting Shoes – The Bottom Line

If you’re serious about weightlifting, you’ll be making a wise move by picking up some weightlifting shoes. They’re perfectly designed for all of the weightlifting movements, squatting patterns and variations of them.

They’re not going to be the answer to all of your problems – you still need to train hard and work on your mobility, but they’ll certainly help you a lot. If you struggle with achieving full squat depth, hip, knee and ankle mobility, weightlifting shoes will help.

Buy one of the pairs recommended here and you’ll make real progress with your lifting!

#1 Adidas Powerlift 4 – Best value

#2 Nike Romaleos 4 – Best for competition

#3 Reebok Lifter PR 2 – Best recreational 

#4 Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 – Best for women

Steve Hoyles

Steve is a Personal Trainer, Weightlifting Coach, and Gym Owner. He has written about fitness for over a decade. He lives with his girlfriend Rachel and their two sons.

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