4 Weight-Lifting Shoes to Uplevel Your Strength-Training Workouts

If you commonly find yourself hitting the weights right after a run, you may want to make a stop in the locker room along the way. Lifting in your running shoes may be hindering your muscle-building gains, so if you're not familiar with weight-lifting shoes, it may be time to hit up a few stores.

If you're lifting in your running shoes, it might be time to hit the shops.
Credit: Hirurg/E+/GettyImages

Doing your strength-training workouts in the right shoes can improve your mobility, form and strength — and keep you injury-free. Consider the many benefits of weightlifting shoes and grab a pair that will meet your needs.

Read more: How to Get Started With Weightlifting

Why You Shouldn't Lift in Your Running Shoes

Typical running sneakers are cushioned and provide a lift in the heel, which can help with the high repetitive load running puts on your joints, says Cameron Yuen, physical therapist at Bespoke Treatments in New York City. But when it comes to weight-lifting, that extra cushion can work against you.

"Imagine trying to squat your one-rep max on a BOSU ball, and it becomes obvious why you don't want any instability," Yuen says. "Relative to running, lifting weights involves much less repetitive loading, requires much higher force production and involves a planted foot throughout."

3 Reasons to Invest in Weight-Lifting Shoes

Unlike running shoes, most training shoes have minimal cushioning with no heel elevation, which can help you press your entire foot into the ground. As a result, you're likely to experience an improvement in your proprioception (sense of positioning in space), Yuen says, which can help improve your mobility, form and strength.

1. Better Mobility

An underrated aspect of strength training, your proprioception basically sends signals or impulses to your joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons, which leads to reflexes or motions. Therefore, improving your proprioception can benefit your mobility and balance, helping you stay injury-free, according to a June 2011 article published in the Strength and Conditioning Journal.

2. Improved Form and Less Injury Risk

After comparing barbell back squat form between participants wearing running sneakers and lifting shoes, participants wearing training shoes experienced less forward trunk lean and less stress in the lower back, according to a January 2012 study published in The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research.

Similar research published in April 2016 in the Journal of Sports Sciences, which also compared form in participants wearing weight-lifting versus athletic sneakers, found that those wearing lifting shoes experienced more mobility in the ankles and knees while squatting. Weight-lifting shoes also enabled participants to keep a flatter back and maintain an upright posture.

And training with proper form can lesses your risk of injury, especially if you're exercising with heavy loads, according to the Mayo Clinic.

3. More Strength

Strength training with the wrong shoes can not only hinder your form but may set you back in your strength gain. The instability of heavily cushioned shoes can lessen the amount of force you're able to produce, Yuen says. If you wan't to maximize strength gains, you'll want to train in a shoe that's flat and firm, enabling you to press into the ground with no instability.

Read more: The Ultimate Guide to Sets and Reps for Strength Training

4 of the Best Weight-Lifting Shoes to Try

Whether you're looking for a pair of weight-lifting shoes that's more versatile or ones that are strength-specific, one of these is sure to meet your needs.

1. NOBULL Trainers

These weight-lifting shoes are also great cross-training shoes.
Credit: No Bull Project

Relatively new to the shoe scene, NOBULL offers both trainers and lifting-specific shoes, depending on your goals. While both shoes offer a flat, stabilizing effect on the foot, their trainers are a little more versatile.

"Whether you're lifting weights, climbing a rope or going on a short run, the shoes are built to withstand and support a variety of activities," says Michael Schaeffer, Co-Founder of NOBULL. "They are stable, comfortable, lightweight and designed with durability in mind."

Buy it: NOBULLProject.com; Price: $129

2. Nike Romaleos 3 XD

If you plan on doing a lot of Olympic lifts, these shoes from Nike are your best bets.
Credit: Nike

If you're looking for strictly weight-lifting shoes, you may want to consider Nike's Romaleos 3 XD. While this shoe won't offer as much versatility where cross-training is concerned, a slightly elevated heel will help enhance the stability of your foot, especially if you're performing Olympic lifts that require explosive power, according to the American Council on Exercise.

Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $200

3. Reebok Nano 9

These shoes were originally designed for CrossFitters.
Credit: Reebok

Initially built for the CrossFit community, Reebok's Nano 9 is flat in design but offers a Flexweave fabric, which gives your foot a little more flexibility. The Nano is a versatile shoe that offers stability with a bit of comfortable cushioning in the forefoot for sprint intervals.

Buy it: Reebok.com; Price: $130

4. Chuck Taylor All Star High Top

Believe it or not, Chucks are great for weight-lifting.
Credit: Converse

You may be surprised to see these on the list, but Chucks have a cult-like following when it comes to strength training. And they get Yuen's seal of approval, too. "Chuck Taylors are standard powerlifting shoes due to their flat and relatively cushion-free sole."

While they're not as high-tech as some of the other options out there — after all, they're not actually designed for exercise — Converse shoes are extremely flat and can provide good grounding while you lift.

Buy it: Converse.com; Price: $55

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