As you may or may not know, lifting heavy weights causes a lot of strain. It can cause this strain on the body, which is why it’s smart to take preventative measures. Things like a hex bar and a weightlifting belt help a lot. So, too does shoes, too. But like your body, shoes can and will also take a beating from lifting weights. And the deadlift is one of the most common culprits of this. To prevent your shoes from coming apart too quickly, you have to find the right type. Not all shoes are created equal, and some will do you better than others as you prepare to deadlift. Today, we’ll be looking over deadlift shoes. We’ll go over the ins and outs of them in our buying guide, detail some of the most popular pairs in our reviews, and also answer any other common questions. Here we go!
Top Deadlift Shoes Comparison Chart
|Product||Material||Price||Where to Buy?|
|Sabo Deadlift Shoes||Fabric & Synthetic Leather||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Adidas Men’s Powerlift 3.1 Cross Trainer||Synthetic||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars||Textile||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Reebok Men’s Lifter PR Cross Trainer||Mesh & Synthetic upper||$$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Asics Men’s Matflex 5 Wrestling Shoe||Textile & Synthetic||$$||Check Price on Amazon|
|Lifting Large Powerlifting Deadlift/Martial Arts Slippers||Terry Cloth||$||Check Price on Amazon|
Deadlift Shoes Buying Guide
Where Technique Meets Brute Force
A lot of people that are new to the world of weightlifting might have a conception of it that it’s all about power. Brute force rules the day. However, this is very rarely the case, if ever. All lifts require a certain amount of technique and form. Without this form, you can get little niggling injuries or you can get a full blown, catastrophic injury that keeps you on the shelf for an extended period of time. So, it’s not just about herking and jerking your way to huge weights. It’s about doing them properly. Without the right pair of shoes, you are not going to be able to accomplish this. It just won’t happen. You have to have proper grip and support if you’re ever going to be able to pull it off. And you just can’t do that by wearing any old pair of shoes. That’s what this guide is all about, breaking down why you need a shoe to take your game to the next level and to give you an edge over the competition.
Getting Into The Ground
One of the things that you will find most helpful is that a deadlift comes from the floor, if you will. You want to be as close as possible to the ground to give you as little room between the bar and the floor. So, what most find to be helpful is to wear shoes that don’t have much heel in them. In the shoe world, this is known as a ‘drop.’ A drop indicates that a shoe has a raised heel, meaning that the back part is up higher than the front. There are advantages to be had in many sports where this takes place, so there is a reason they have been included on shoes. However, this is not the best for most people when it comes to deadlifts or weightlifting in general. You want something that is an extension of you to the ground, and you can’t get that when your heels are raised up higher than your toes.
What About Going Barefoot Then?
A whole lot of people are curious about this. If you want to be so close to the floor, then why not be as close as you possibly can by going barefoot. Well, there are a number of reasons for this. First and foremost, it is a health and safety issue. You can’t be lifting weights like that in public with your shoes off. No one wants to see, smell, or have to deal with any of your bacterial issues. Even if you are healthy, that’s just a bad idea. On top of that, you’re only increasing the likelihood of getting yourself injured when you don’t wear shoes. Even if you are super careful and do your form properly, there’s still a chance some yahoo is going to drop a weight on your or step on your toe. The biggest reason, though, is because shoes are going to give you support where you don’t currently have it. Without shoes, you aren’t going to be getting arch support, or support to the ankles, either. Without that, you put more strain on those areas and make it much easier to get hurt there. There is a good reason why gyms have banned people from working out while barefooted, and you would be wise to follow suit. Even if you workout alone at your home, you need to take care of your feet.
How About Running Shoes?
Ah, good old running shoes. Or tennis shoes. The answer to all possible shoe problems, right? Wrong, unfortunately. While running and tennis shoes are awesome, and you should definitely check some out for a number of different activities and for leisure, they are not going to be the utmost supportive shoes for lifting weights. A lot of people just don’t realize the strain that weights puts on your shoes. They destroy them, plain and simple. A lot of times you are able to see this destruction taking place. You’ll know that you have a problem and that you need to fix it as soon as you can. But there are other times, too, when you can’t see clearly the issue ahead of you. You don’t know that they have degraded. Let’s think about it like this. If you are doing calf raises, you are on your toes. What kind of shoe would be most comfortable for you like this? A shoe that has a reinforced, fairly rigid toe or a shoe that is flimsy in the toe area? If you answered, the latter, then congrats. You have the foot strength of an ox and have no worries. But for the rest of us, you’ll realize you want a shoe that has something to it. And it’s not just about the toe area. It’s about overall protection. Running shoes are designed to go forward. That’s it. They aren’t meant for you to do Insanity in, and they also aren’t meant to absorb hundreds of pounds as you deadlift. It’d be awesome if one shoe could do everything, and there are some that are getting closer and closer to that goal, but there just isn’t one. If you want support all the way through, including in the sides (the lateral support), you will want to avoid running and tennis shoes.
Deadlifting or Cross Training
One of the chief questions you will have to answer for yourself is whether you are looking for a shoe that is just for the purposes of deadlifting or if you are going to be lifting other weights as well with the same shoes. If you are super serious about lifting weights, then you might go for the former option. By having a pair of shoes squarely for the deadlift, you will be ready to go for competitions. However, if you are like the vast majority of people, you will find it wholly unnecessary to have a pair of shoes for what is essentially just one move out of hundreds or thousands of combinations in the gym. The deadlift is a big part of working out and should be a part of your routine, but it shouldn’t be so large that it’s all you do. So, if you fall into that camp of people, you are more likely to want a cross training shoes. These types of shoes have a number of different purposes. Some are good for cardio, kickboxing, and weights. The combos are through the roof on them. But for our purposes today, we’ll keep it simple. Cross trainers will do an effective job at keeping your protected and supported while you do a number of weightlifting exercises, not just the deadlift. Remember, though, that for the most out of the deadlift that you’ll want a flatter heel, so be on the look out, like we will be, for a cross trainer that has that feature built into it. This is one of those decisions that will be based on how much you are willing to spend and also on how serious you are. Even those that are super serious about weights might not be willing to designate a pair to just the deadlift, so don’t feel pressured to do so.
Not Your Regular Shoe
One thing that can be said about a deadlift shoe is that there are a ton of different options for you to go with. This choice, unlike with so many sports and activities, has a lot of variables to it. This is a good thing because it frees you up to choose something that is within your budget and that fits your own personal style. Because you need a pair of shoes that are going to be flexible up top yet rigid beneath and flat, that opens you up to a whole world of possibilities. So, when we get to the reviews, you are going to see all types of different shoes. They won’t just be your normal closed-toe, athletic shoes. Some will be stylish, some will be new age looking. There will be all sorts, and that is the beauty of it. You’ll be able to find something you really enjoy, whether it be just for deadlifting or multiple other purposes, too.
This is the part that has to be included, despite how badly you don’t want to hear it. It is necessary and needs to be said and heard. Sizing is crucial to getting the most out of any shoe, no matter the type or purpose. If you don’t have the correct size and feel, you’re going to be uncomfortable at best. At worst, you won’t have the support or protection you need, and you could develop some serious injuries. If your shoes are too small and constricting, you run the risk of developing blisters and hot spots. While not the worst things ever, they can definitely keep you out of the gym, or at least, can make you want to stay out of it, anyway. Shoes that are too large can also be quite harmful, too. For starters, they can cause you to develop poor technique in the gym with your moves. They also make for terrible situations when you walk as well. While walking, your shoes will shuffle back and forth almost like one of those pirate boat rides at the amusement park. This can cause you to trip and fall, come out of your shoes, and all other sorts of horrible things. On top of that, shoes that are too big can cause you to end up walking entirely different. You won’t even notice it, but after time, your body will look to adjust to the ill fitting shoes and will then begin to place strain on your body. It will catch up to you sooner or later, so get the size right so you can avoid that.
The best way to make sure you’ve got the correct size is to go try shoes on. Yes, you can still do that in 2019. No one is going to kill you. You are allowed to make contact with other humans. That is still allowed. As much as the internet is our friend, it’s not the greatest at helping you get a good fit. Unless you have experience with that specific brand before, it’s hard to get a good read on how the shoes fit based on comments. Sure, they can be helpful, and we’ll help you out by mentioning if they run big or small, narrow or wide in our reviews when the times comes, but it’s not always the solution that you need. You still end up guessing too much of the time, causing you to scratch your head a ton when you get them and realize they aren’t the right size. Then you’ve got to try and send them back. Trying them on in person, after making sure you have the right size, is awesome. It’s a way to narrow down your likes and dislikes and to get a better judge on how brands and certain types of shoes run and feel on you.
When you do try them on, make sure you are wearing the same kind of socks you wear while lifting. Also, make sure that you are ‘warm’ when you go in. Try to go after you have exercised, as this will give you a much more accurate reading on how they fit when you are working out. A lot of people forget that their feet swell as they workout, and it can lead to them feeling like an angel before the workout and like a demon afterward because they feel so constricted and just stuck, basically. If you can’t exercise beforehand, going in the afternoon hours will be better than nothing. Your ankles and feet should be swollen enough then to ensure you get a decent fit.
Also, don’t forget about the width. It’s easy to forsake this part, but it’s one that people find the most annoying. If you don’t like how they fit in regards to width, don’t assume that they will improve when you ‘break them in.’ Breaking in shoes is a real thing and some take more time than others, but this process doesn’t take a shoe that hurts and just magically turn it into one that feels just dandy. If it hurts right off, it’ll probably always do so. Make sure you have the right width, though, as it can hound you for the life of the shoe. Some companies’ shoes just aren’t very wide. If you have a wide foot and are trying to go with a narrow brand, you may find yourself picking a longer shoe. Don’t sacrifice width for length or length for width. If you feel forced into doing that, then there’s a good chance you should look at another pair entirely that will give you the very best in fit.
When you are looking online, always be double sure to check the sizing listed. If you are a woman, you’d be upset to find out that you ordered a men’s size, or vice versa. You also might find that some listings are in foreign sizes. That, too, can throw you off tremendously and cause you to go through some very big headaches. To alleviate that, you’ve just got to be meticulous and look carefully through all of the information. We’ll do our best to help you here in our reviews, but once you are out there, you’re going to be on your own!
Things You Shouldn’t Forget
Here are a few quick things you shouldn’t forget when you go to find the perfect shoes for you to deadlift in.
– Find something breathable. You want a shoe that is rigid but flexible at the same time, but you don’t want a pair of shoes that have no way for you to drain that sweat. Shoes that have mesh or some holes cut into them in strategic spots are very useful for your cause since they will let that excess sweat out. It’s very annoying to have sweat build up, and it can cause blistering if not dealt with the right way.
– Look for shoes with good outsoles. Outsoles are the unsung heroes when it comes to shoe kind, if you will. Like our firefighters, they do hard work and go unnoticed a good chunk of the time. The outsole helps distribute your weight evenly and disperses pressure. A lot of shoes today are being made wider than before and with indentions in the sides. If you see this, it’s not just about style. It’s more support, and it’s done so in a way that also keeps them lighter than their predecessors were.
– Make sure your feet and heels are locked in. There’s nothing worse than having your feet or ankles sliding around. Sometimes, your feet will feel great but the heels won’t. Maybe you are locked in a little too much, or maybe the back of the shoes hurt. If you don’t like it, then make a change quickly. It’s the only way to get the most of your experience and for you to see the most results.
– Non-slip shoes come in handy, too. This goes without saying. Maybe you are a very sweaty person, and obviously you are going to be working really hard doing deadlifts. So if this is the case, you will want something that won’t let you slip. Even if you don’t sweat much, there will be situations where you are quite happy to have non-slip shoes that keep you in place and help you execute the move with proper form.
Let’s Review The Top 6 Deadlift Shoes of 2019!
Sabo Deadlift Shoes
There aren’t many deadlift only shoes made, but this is one of the few, and it takes its rightful place at #1 as such. Coming with four colors, they are fairly stylish with the exception of the obnoxious ‘deadlift’ that is written across them. Using synthetic leather and fabric, they are flexible on top. They fit to the foot anatomically, which means it bends to your specific foot, better suiting you instead of the average Joe. With two lateral straps running across the foot, it further supports lockdown and keeps both the ankle and midfoot secure. The bottoms are thin, making you feel like you are on the floor, yet they have excellent traction. They are also a high top, protecting the ankle a great deal, but doing so without that raised heel that you don’t want for deadlifting. These are good shoes for lifting, but if you want versatility this is not the one for you! Also, the straps use cheap-ish Velcro, so that can get annoying.
- Lots of protection
- Mix and matched style
- Great traction yet thin soles
- Velcro is cheap
- Not versatile and only for lifting
Adidas Men’s Powerlift 3.1 Cross Trainer
If you’re looking for a plethora of style and color options, then Adidas, as usual, has you covered with this cross training shoe. It must be said that depending on size and color that they can run high, but it just depends on what you want and need. Like the Sabos, this shoe is a good all-around shoe for the gym. It uses just one strap across the top of the foot to lock you in, so you won’t be quite as secure. It also doesn’t have a high top in the back, which could be great for someone who wants to move around a little bit more freely and doesn’t mind giving up the additional ankle support. The upper is made from synthetics to keep it light, and it utilizes mesh well in both the collar and the tongue to give you a break. The forefoot is open, which should help those with wider feet get some breathing space. It also has an insole that can be taken out in the case you need more comfort or support than they give you. Despite the look to them, these are going to be best lifting and lifting only. Some cross trainers are good for cardio and the like, but these are not really up to it.
- Huge choice of colors
- Much more freeing than high tops
- Very wide toe bed
- Can be quite pricey
- Not as versatile as they might appear
Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars
Yes, you read that right. The Chuck Taylors are huge in lifting weights, and especially the deadlift, for a very good reason. Not only are they very cheap and have various styles that you can tailor to fit to you, but they also have all the necessary things for the deadlift. And on top of that, they are good to wear out of the gym, too, unlike some the two before them. While the cushioning is going to be minimal for other exercises you might get into, these shoes offer a lot of ankle protection as they are high tops and are very flexible in the forefoot. When you throw in the fact that they are low to the ground and also have adequate traction, it means they make a good shoe for the deadlift, even if you wouldn’t think so at first glance. Some people will appreciate the lack of Velcro or a strap, though it could also be seen a detriment to you, too. Airflow might not be the very best but it will do a decent job at keeping your feet able to breathe.
- Affordable shoes for deadlift
- Can be worn out of the gym as well
- High top and super flexible
- Not a lot of cushioning for other exercises
- Might not be your style
Reebok Men’s Lifter PR Cross Trainer
Much like the Adidas before, this offering from Reebok brings you many of the same great features to your day at the job. Sporting a few different colors, though not nearly as many as Adidas, this pair of shoes also utilizes mesh and synthetic materials to make the shoes both flexible and lightweight up top. Fairly flat to the ground and coming with a low to mid top, they will not cause you any problems with grip nonetheless as you try to lock into the floor and pull off your deadlift. Using one strap across the midfoot that could admittedly look better, it gives you some lockdown in an area that many desperately will crave for it. The outsole comes with a flexed groove, making them give way and better cushion and support you during your lifts. The biggest difference between these and ones we have seen before is that the heel is raised a bit. It’s not much, but it means they might not suit you quite as well as others. This, however, does make them a better option for other exercises, like the squat, for example. With lining inside that prevents friction, you will be sure to not have to deal with those awfully painful blisters. They do run a little large, so keep that in mind if you would like to buy them.
- Decent style options
- Fairly versatile shoe
- Groove in the midsole flexes to aid you
- Runs a little large
- Raised heel might cause one or two issues
Asics Men’s Matflex 5 Wrestling Shoe
Another out of the box idea is to go with a wrestling shoe, which is what Asics offers with the Matflex 5. this shoe has a high top to it to prevent grapplers from rolling their ankles over in matches, so it will prevent you from doing that, too. However, the top of the foot is very flexible, a major bonus when you do a move like the deadlift. With a flat sole composed of rubber, you are going to get great grip and lift off as well, propelling you to do some of the best work you’ve ever done in the gym with them. There are no complicated straps to them, they just support you with what you see. It’s worth pointing out that they only come in two colors: black and white. Also, the size runs small, and they even indicate as much themselves, so you will have to order larger than you’d usually do. They also are narrow, too, so despite the low price, you might want to steer clear of them if you have that problem as it can throw the whole sizing out of whack.
- Great price
- Flexible yet has great grip
- Classic look
- A little plain for some
- Runs small and narrow
Lifting Large Powerlifting Deadlift/Martial Arts Slippers
This is by far the most minimal of choices here, as it’s just a mere pair of slippers, but with so many shoes leaning that way anyway, they are well worth pointing out. In truth, these are mostly used for martial arts, but they have become to make their way into other sports and activities of late because they are making people more ‘in tune’ with themselves and nature. These are legal for powerlifting competitions, so if you find yourself wanting to be as close to the ground as allowed, then these are the way to go. However, there are some obvious problems. No protection is given in the event that something is dropped. There is also no lateral support, either. But you get maximum flexibility out of them, and you get them at an awesome price. If you want something just for the deadlift, then this could be just what you want since the price isn’t very much at all. Much easier to justify that way for sure!
- Very cheap option
- Utmost flexibility
- Feels like you are the floor
- No support or traction
- No real protection to be had
Conclusion And Final Deadlift Shoes Recommendations
With the presence of the online market becoming so prevalent, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. When you combine that with hitting the gym for the first time (or the first time in a long time), or just wanting to get serious about it, it can be very easy to get confused really quick about what you need and what you don’t need when it relates to deadlifting shoes. Today, however, we have helped take a good deal of the anxiety out of the equation by introducing you to some pairs of shoes that plenty of people wear on a daily and weekly basis that help them get the job done. After our buying guide, you’ll be much better equipped with the knowledge you need to get you rolling in the gym. If you have any other questions, look below in our FAQ’s!
FAQ’s About Deadlift Shoes
* When Do I Need to Replace My Shoes?
This is a common question, yet it’s vitally important to each of us. In terms of weightlifting, it’s even more important because it can mean that our bodies take on extra load and have an increased chance of injury if we don’t take care of the problem. First, the easiest way is to look at them. Don’t look at them to see if colors are fading or if they are scuffed up. That’s just natural. Instead, look and see if there are tears to them. If that’s the case, you need to make a change right away. If something falls on them, you’re a goner. Also, look at the sides of the shoes toward the middle of the foot. If you see that the support has cracks or creases, this means the shoes are giving way laterally and you will lack support in that area. This is a dangerous proposition and it means your feet will begin to absorb more and more of the shock, which will in turn transfer to the knees, hips, back, etc. If you don’t see any of that, you can always perform the bend test. If you can bend a shoe, both before and after you buy it, to where it touches itself, then it is too flexible and you need to avoid it. Too much flexibility will mean a lack of rigidity which means there’s just nothing protective there. They might be great for running or laying around, but they won’t be so good for weights. Finally, just feeling a change could also warrant you to replace your shoes. If you have never been sore before, but you are getting more and more sore in your feet, this can also indicate that the support is waning and that it is indeed time for a change.
* Do My Shoes Need To Be Super Rigid?
Just because you are lifting weights doesn’t mean your shoes need to be so rigid that you can’t move freely. You don’t want something that causes compression or for your foot to have its circulation cut off, but you also don’t want something that bends too easily. Bending too easily means there isn’t that much protection for you. You still want to be able to move your toes fairly freely, though, so that is one aspect to take a look at. Don’t get yourself in the bind of a shoe that just won’t let you budge. I’ve seen plenty of people in a ton of different sports end up giving up an activity solely based on their shoes. Find comfort, it’ll help you enjoy it much better. Find a balance that offers stability without locking you down, and you’ll be good to go.
* Are Heavier Shoes Better Than Lighter Ones?
The logic is pretty clear here. In running, you want a pair of shoes that are as light as possible. So in weightlifting, it makes sense, to want a pair that are heavier, right? Well, kind of. With lifting, you don’t want anything flimsy, sure. The problem with flimsy is it won’t protect or support you. But the other issue with flimsy is that when you do lift, it’s a lot easier for them to move around. So let’s say you are in a very heavy shoe and try to lift off the floor, are you going to get very high? The answer is clearly no. The thought by many is that a heavier shoe supports your lift a lot better by locking you into it. A lot feel that a lighter shoe promotes the need to unplant your foot. But that is just one mode of thought. Others have other preferences, like being able to move around freely and easier, so they go with a lighter shoe. In the end, it’s all just down to what you like, want, and need, and possibly what you just don’t like and can’t stand.
* How Long Will It Take to Break In My Shoes?
This just depends on the shoe and you. Breaking in shoes can be tough and take a while sometimes, and at other times, it can be relatively easy and pain free. It can be a breeze when a shoe is very comfy right out of the box, but that’s just not the case. If you find yourself in need of breaking a pair in, take it slow. Put them on and wear them around the house. Sit down wearing them, walk around, just do your normal routine. This will help you get used to them. As you get more and more acquainted, start wearing them more and bring them to the gym when you are ready. Even if you are feeling good with yours, you might still want to be slow and work your way into it. Going into it all at once could lead to you being sore from wearing them. That’s a bummer, but it’s happened to me before, and if you think back it’s probably happened to you at some point, too. Taking it easy early could be the best recipe for long term success.
* Why Is The Deadlift So Popular?
The deadlift is known by many as the king of exercises. As such, since kings are famous and all (or infamous) this makes the deadlift very popular. Apart from the squat and the bicep curls, you’d be hard pressed to find a more easily named move out there in the gym. Even people that haven’t picked up anything more than doughnut and a can of cola would most likely be able to name it. The reason, though, it’s so popular in workout circles is because it works so many muscle groups. Instead of just working your back or just your legs, it works all sorts, including the glutes, lower and upper back, and hamstrings. This total workout means you don’t have to spend as much time at the gym to get a good burn, and it also means that by and large the move is safer than a lot of others because it spreads the pressure out more evenly among the body. While there are some precautions to take and there are ways to make the move easier (the Hex bar for starters) this is still very much a move that is easy to do and learn. It’s also one of the moves you see done so commonly in bodybuilding competitions, so that also has a lot to do with its popularity. The last reason I’ll mention is because it allows you to lift a lot of weight. While some people don’t care about the weights they lift, as long as they are healthy, many like to be able to lift heavy, heavy weights. Since you can’t lift 100 pounds doing the lateral shoulder extension, you’d probably love to be able to brag about lifting hundreds of pounds doing the deadlift.
* Are There Any Shoes Specifically Made for Deadlifts?
The answer to this is realistically a no. There are a couple of shoes that are made for them, but the vast majority of them that people wear were made with other purposes in mind originally. This does not minimize the usefulness of them, by any means, though, and it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go with them as your go-to option. It just means that you have to work a little bit harder at finding something. Thankfully, you’ve got us to steer you in the right direction.