Are Lifting Shoes Worth It? Short answer: YES! Without getting into too many details, let me just say that lifting shoes are a great investment. When I have new trainees try them on for the first time they almost immediately can tell a difference. But what is it that makes this so? Why do they work so good?
Regular running shoes have a thick elastic rubber surface that is there to disperse energy as you run so you wont wear your feet out. Well, that fine for running but not for lifting. Especially for squats, presses and the olympic lifts. For these lifts you want a shoe that has a firm, solid base of support that doesn’t disperse energy but instead directs it right into the ground. This is exactly what lifting shoes do. When energy is directed into the ground, it helps the lifter to maintain a solid base of support and to generate more force; almost as if your feet are “stuck to the ground.”
Increased Ankle Mobility
You’ll notice that lifting shoes have a raised heel. That raised heel serves a bigger purpose than most people think. The heel allows for increased ankle mobility when squatting, allowing the lifter to drop into a lower squat. The biggest limiting factor for most new trainees in the iron game who never have the pleasure of working under a qualified strength coach is poor ankle mobility. Lifting shoes help to prevent ankle mobility from being a problem when squatting. The elevated heel also helps the lifter to sit up straight in the bottom of the squat as well. Therefore, lifting shoes provide the most benefit to the high bar back squat and front squat. Check out this article if you want to learn more about ankle mobility.
Before ending this article, I have to address one more issue. Lifting shoes are a great investment, however, you should only buy them if you are already a good squatter. I’ve been to many gyms and seen plenty of lifters with all kinds of fancy lifting shoes and only a handful of them were actually good squatters. The good squatters did exceptionally well with the shoes. The bad squatters were almost as bad as they were before, simply because they have not taken the time to actually learn how to do the lifts properly. So before you go blowing $200 on a sexy new pair shoes, actually take some time to learn the lifts, or hire a good coach to teach you the lifts. Then when you are ready to purchase your first pair of shoes, you’ll be able to use them to their fullest potential.