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What shoes do I need for powerlifting?

What shoes do you need to start powerlifting? Choosing what shoes to get can be confusing when you're a beginner and the running style trainers most people wear to the gym won't cut it. We break down the four most popular choices for experienced lifters and why:


Shoes like these have been around longer than the sport of powerlifting and would have originally been designed for basketball or skateboarding. These classic shoes have a small flat, firm sole ideal for the three powerlifting movements. They provide a firm base for squatting, decent grip for leg drive during bench, and keep you nice and low to the ground for deadlifting. A good all-rounder but will probably only get you so far. Common examples are Vans and Converse - 7/10


Have risen in popularity recently due to the prominence of CrossFit, these hybrid-style cross trainer/weightlifting shoes still have a hard, flat sole, but often come with insertable heel lifts to help you reach full depth in the squat. They tend to have more grip and stability across the foot than a classic option but are often more expensive too. Common examples are the Nike Metcon and Reebok Nano - 8/10


These shoes are highly specialised for weightlifting and should only be worn on the platform. The elevated heel will help lifters to hit full depth in the squat (that's hip crease below the knee) and the added velcro strap across the top gives solid foot stability to keep you rooted down. Perfect for squatting and useful for bench press too due to the grip. Not however, very effective for deadlifting due to the raised heel. Olympic shoes are of course great for Olympic lifting and other overhead events such as log press in strongman. Definitely worth buying for intermediate lifters and above. Examples include Adidas Powerlift and Nike Romaleos - 9/10


Deadlift slippers are for exactly that; deadlifting. They will get you as low to the ground as bare feet but give added protection and grip that you won't get from socks. It is also mandatory to wear to shoes to deadlift in competition, so these are a must if you want to compete. Outside of that... they're not much good for anything, so these are really for advanced lifters looking to start competing. Common examples are A7 and Strength Shop slippers - 5/10


Ditch the running trainers

Beginners - wear your old Vans

Intermediate - Vans plus Olympic shoes

Advanced - Metcons plus Olympic plus slippers

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