Do you lift weights in your running shoes? You could get better results with a proper pair of lifting shoes. In the days of yore, lifters wore Chucks or went barefoot because the closer you are to the ground when you deadlift or squat, the more force you can transfer to it for a bigger lift. Today’s teched-out lifting shoes have elevated heels, little to no cushion, and—key for CrossFitters—flexibility. We asked powerlifter CJ Murphy, owner of Total Performance Sports gym in Everett, MA, why these elements are mandatory.
It might look odd in the gym, but hard, raised heels like those in the Adidas adiPower are essential for power-lifting movements like squats and deadlifts. “They let your body sink into the most optimal position to deliver more force,” says Murphy. “Think of the old-school bodybuilders putting a plate under their heels while squatting to get the quads firing more.” It’s the same idea here.
You can deadlift more in bare feet—but since most gyms won’t let you, the next best thing is a shoe with little to no cushion on the bottom, like the Nike MetCon 1. “When lifting, we’re trying to deliver force through the ground in order to move the weight,” says Murphy. “A shoe with little cushioning allows maximum force to be delivered.”
If you’re into CrossFit, you need shoes that are as good for a 315-pound deadlift as for climbing a rope. “A good CrossFit shoe, with a stiff sole, will allow you to perform lifts like squats but be flexible enough for jumps and a wide variety of exercises,” says Murphy. “You need a sole stiff enough to let you lift well, yet flexible enough to move when needed,” like the Reebok Nano 5.0.