How to pick the right weightlifting shoes

August 30, 2014

Over my 6 years of competing in Olympic weightlifting, CrossFit and just general lifting heavy weight, I have come across and worn a lot of different weightlifting shoes. Picking the right weightlifting shoe is always tough, and oftentimes a very personal decision. Not only is the fit of the shoe important, but the weight, security and flexibility all play important roles. Also, as more companies improve their weightlifting-shoe range or new companies jump on board, it makes the decision even more difficult. However, through my personal experience, I know which shoes you will use the most and which shoes you will love the most.

Weightlifting shoes for just starting out:

The Adidas Power Lift 2.0 (left) or the Rogue WL Do-Win (right) priced at $89.50 and $119.00 respectively.

Why I like them: Lower-price, quality shoe.

While the Rogue’s have gone up in price recently, the slightly lower price but still quality material makes these shoes excellent introductory level shoes. However, like their big brothers, these shoes should not be used on WODs with jumping or running.

Pro’s: Good value and adequate for any type of lifter focusing on strength.
Con’s: Better pure-weightlifting shoes are out there, these should not be used on WODs, and I have seen the Rogue’s rubber sole split multiple times, including my own pair.

Personal Experience: My first weightlifting shoe was the original Rogue Do-Wins. Solid shoe but note the problem above and I desired a more versatile pair of kicks.

The most versatile weightlifting shoes:

The Reebok CrossFit Lifter (left) and CrossFit Lifter Plus (right) priced at $129.99 and $149.99, respectively.

Why I like them: They are light-weight and versatile.

Thanks to the flexible construction, these shoes do not feel like bricks on your feet. They’re just as suitable for double-unders as squat cleans. Even though the build is not as stable as wood or solid-hardened plastic, it is certainly adequate for daily training and will be your go-to shoe for most met-cons that involve a barbell or pistol.

Pro’s: Light-weight and suitable for both weightlifting and WODing.
Con’s: Less stable than true lifting shoes and kind of ugly, in my opinion.

Personal experience: My go-to shoe for barbell heavy workouts and daily training are the original Reebok Lifter’s.

Weightlifting shoe you will hit the most PRs in:

Tie Between the Nike Romaleo 2, Adidas Adipower and the 2013 Pendlay WL Shoe priced at $189.00, $199.00 and $159.99, respectively.

Why: Heavy-duty, high-quality materials, more stable than brick and mortar.

My personal preference is the 2013 Pendlay WL shoe, however this is solely due to fit (slightly wider) and availability. If you are willing to spend top dollar on a weightlifting shoe specifically for lifting heavy weights, these are the three choices for you. Your best bet would be to try each one on as comfort and fit are imperative when going for a max snatch, backsquat, etc.

Pro’s: Best quality shoes and stable for most aggressive and heavy lifters.
Con’s: Hard on the knees if you have bad knees, should be used exclusively for heavy lifting (no met-cons) and the AdiPower has only one velcro strap, most people prefer 2 on WL shoes.

Personal experience: If I am trying to PR or win a weightlifting competition, I will pull out my Pendlays. Period.

Best of the Rest:

Inov-8 FastLift for $149.95.

Why: Though I have not tried these shoes out personally (unlike all the above), I have heard plenty of good reviews from athletes.

Pro’s: Light weight, can be used on WODs, and better looking than the other CrossFit weightlifting shoes, in my opinion.
Con’s: Not as stable as the heavier shoes.

Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2.0 for $149.99.

Why: Anything Reebok produces should be good. Have only tried them on at the 2014 Games but have not heard any reviews from friends or athletes.

Pro’s: Reebok CrossFit products have mostly been well received, an update to old Reebok weightlifting shoe, no ugly zig-tech sole and price is not what one would expect from a Reebok weightlifting shoe… a very good thing
Con’s: None yet.

Reebok CrossFit Lifter PLUS 2.0– for $174.99.

Why: Once again, anything from Reebok should be good and only tried these on at the 2014 Games.

Pro’s: Hybrid between Nike Romaleos and the Lifter 2.0, heavy-duty and U-form so will mold to your feet.
Con’s: Pricey for a first generation product with little exposure.

If you have tried any of the shoes above that I have not been able to, comment below on your experience with them for everyone to read!



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