Fringe Fam, we know just how important shoes are to some of you. What you workout in, quite frankly, matters to you (or maybe not so much). We’ve broken down the very best shoes to workout in for whatever you’re doing in your workouts.
That being said, if you’re satisfied with the shoes you’ve got and they don’t quite match what we say, don’t let us tell you otherwise. Keep rockin’ and rollin’ with the shoes (or lack of) you’re using now to keep crushing your workouts.
PK has been lifting seriously since 2005, and that means he’s worn A LOT of shoes. He’s worn different shoes while weightlifting, CrossFitting, powerlifting, Olympic lifting… you name it, he’s done it and probably worn a different shoe for it. It’s safe to say that he’s got a lot of experience with shoes and workouts.
There’s a few different domains we’re going to break this down into.
First, you’ve got lifters who are only doing weightlifting in the gym. They’re hitting the strength portion of strength and conditioning. Think powerlifters, olympic lifters, people who are dabbling with Starting Strength, or even 5x5. These are very barbell-focused individuals and aren’t doing a ton of conditioning.
If this is you, you’re going to want a shoe that provides a stable platform without a lot of cushioning.
Let’s talk about the powerlifting side of this. Powerlifters are going to be doing three lifts: bench, squat, and deadlift. For two of those lifts, your shoe doesn’t matter all that much: bench, and deadlift. A lot of powerlifters wear shoes that don’t have a lot of cushioning, but also doesn’t have a ton of performance features built into them. We’ve found that the favorite shoe among powerlifters is generally Chuck Taylor All-Stars.
If you’re looking for something but maybe not a Chuck Taylor, look for a shoe with little cushioning, and little-to-no lift for the heel. This is very important for deadlift, because you don’t want your heels elevated, and when you’re squatting, you don’t want a ton of cushioning underneath you causing instability.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who’s on the other end of weightlifting and is partaking in Olympic lifting, you actually want a different shoe. Ideally, you’re going to want a dedicated weightlifting shoe. What a dedicated weightlifting shoe does is give you a nice, broad, stable, non-cushioned platform at the front of the foot, and the back of the foot is elevated off the ground. This allows you to squat in a much more mechanically-stable way. If you’re doing a lot of clean and jerks and snatches, you’re going to want to look for a dedicated weightlifting shoe. Note that these shoes are terrible for running in because they’re stiff, uncushioned, and the heel elevation is likely to cause problems.
Let’s talk about CrossFitting, or some sort of strength and conditioning that has a fair split of the two. You’re going to want a shoe that gives you more support when you’re running. However, if you’re lifting in a dedicated running shoe, squatting especially, then the cushion in the running shoe is going to work against you.
We recommend that you look for a shoe that takes the strength and conditioning parts into account. We’ve got a Reebok Nano-Speed TR shoe, and it’s a hybrid shoe that started as a running shoe, but has a little bit of functionality that makes it good to lift in. A few other brands to look for here are Reebok Nano, Nobull, GoRuck, and other companies that make awesome trainers that are designed to split the work between conditioning and strength. It’s also a great type of shoe for general purpose lifting in the gym.
When evaluating your options for shoes to workout in, it’s important to think about this question: what type of training will you be doing in these shoes?
If you’re doing mostly strength training, we urge you to stay away from dedicated running shoes because of the cushion and heel elevation they often provide. We encourage you to look for a shoe with a flat, stable platform and less cushion. If you’re doing a lot of Oly lifting, look for a dedicated Oly shoe.
If you’re melding strength and conditioning in your workouts, we suggest that you look for a hybrid shoe that will allow you to do both strength and conditioning in them without causing too many problems when running or lifting.
If your strength training is extremely conditioning-focused, running shoes would be great for you.
We hope this helps bring a little clarity of the workout-shoe world, and we'd love to hear about your favorite shoes to workout in in the comments below.
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As always, lift heavy, lift happy :)