When you’re trying to improve your deadlift, the right footwear is essential.
Traditional gym trainers have lots of heel cushioning, which can unbalance you, stop you from driving your heels into the floor, and generally impair your form.
A flat pair of shoes will eliminate these problems and allow you to make much better progress with your deadlift.
So, I’ve put together a list of the 6 best deadlift shoes on the market in my opinion.
Adidas Men’s Powerlift 4 Deadlift Shoes
The Adidas Powerlift 4 shoes are the latest model in the Powerlift 4 range, designed for people new to deadlifting and Olympic weightlifting. They’re an entry level price offering available in 6 colours. They have a lightweight upper, air mesh for breathability and the lace closure strap which provides additional stability and support for the upper foot. An excellent lifting shoe for people not looking to spend big money.
- Lightweight synthetic leather upper – provides flexibility
- Lace closure strap for additional support
- Wide range of colours
Under Armour Men’s Tribase Thrive Fitness Shoes
Under Armour’s Tribase Thrive Fitness shoes are one of the new breed of cross training shoes. They’re designed with a multi-function use in mind, with a stiffer sole and upper than running shoes to allow for better lifting technique, but enough flexibility to run and change direction. They don’t have the lace closure strap of traditional lifting shoes, but they do have the flat sole that improves floor contact throughout a lift. They’re made from a lightweight mesh upper with an EVA sole and cushioned midsole.
- Lightweight construction to allow dynamic movement
- Flat sole to improve ground contact when lifting weights
- Full rubber outsole for lateral foot support
Adidas Men’s Crazy Power Indoor Shoes
The Adidas Crazy Power are more towards a traditional lifting shoe. They contain all of the features of a class weightlifting shoe – the flat sole, the stiff midsole and the secure upper. In this case it has a textile construction, allowing for breathability and flexibility. This has the added benefit of keeping the price down for the more budget-conscious lifter. As they are adidas the build quality is excellent. The shoe is available in three different colours.
- Flat sole for improved lifting
- Textile upper for comfort
- Thick strap for upper foot stability
Converse Unisex-Adult Chuck Taylor
The Converse Chuck Taylors have become classics in the deadlifting world, because they combine a number of key features that are perfect for deadlifting at a lower price point than a lot of other shoes designed specifically for lifting. They have a perfectly flat sole, are nice and wide, provide excellent ankle support and are very comfortable for long term wear. They’re available in 20 colours and can be worn out of the gym too!
- Flat sole – perfect for deadlifting
- Comfortable with a canvas upper
- Excellent ankle support
Adidas Men’s Havoc Multisport Indoor Shoes
The Adidas Havoc’s are another shoe that have crossed the sports line. They were designed originally for wrestling, but they have a lot of features than make them great for deadliftng. They have a completely flat sole, with excellent, grippy rubber. They’re also incredibly light weight and provide a level of ankle stability. The mesh upper makes the shoes breathable and the lace with elasticated closure makes them comfortable for long term wear.
- Very light weight
- Grippy rubber sole
- Elastic and lace closure for comfort and support
Lonsdale Mens Contender Boxing Boots
Lonsdale boxing boots are another way to buy many of the features needed in deadlifting shoes when you can’t afford shoes designed specifically for the job. Where they are originally designed for boxing, the excellent grip combined with flat soles and ankle support means they are fantastic through the floor, whilst the soft mesh upper and ankle lace up means they are flexible, breathable and supportive across the entire foot.
- Very soft mesh upper, allowing free movement
- Flat sole for great floor contact
- Low price point
Why wear flat shoes when deadlifting?
Just as you wear football boots to place football, or ice skates for ice skating, weightlifting requires specific footwear as well if you want to do it properly. Flat shoes allow you to maintain a constant, even ground pressure that helps you to put as much ‘power through the floor’ as possible, helping you with the pulling motion of the deadlift or the first pull of the Olympic Lifts.
Keep your heel flat to the floor
A flat sole with a slightly raised heel allows you to keep your heels flat, which helps with the lift. If you have particularly tight calf muscles, you’d be better off with a lifting shoe with a raised heel – this is especially important if you are doing Olympic weightlifting as well as standard deadlifting.
Keep your shins parallel to the bar
Perfect technique will see the bar travel in a straight path and your shins should be parallel to the bar in the first pull. A good solid shoe with a flat sole allows you to maintain the shin alignment with the bar, by keeping the shin 90 degrees from the floor.
Increase range of motion
The raised heel on a lifting shoe compensates for ankle flexibility issues, but it also allows people with flexible ankles to get into better lifting positions. The raised heel allows you to maintain an upright torso even when you are in a deep squat position, which ensures better technique and is far safer on your lower back. Good shoes are imperative for good lifting.
Helps keep your weight back
As mentioned in the last paragraph, the combination of flat soles and the right heel height means that you can sit further back at the start of the lift, keeping your weight back and allowing you to lift in a much more efficient way. Efficiency is very important in lifting because it reduces injury risk and poor technique.
What to look for in a pair of deadlift shoes
A pair of deadlifting shoes has to fit a number of roles, so you are looking for a series of features than will help you decide which shoe is for you. Here’s my guide of what you look for in your deadlifting shoes…
This is determined by your flexibility and what you want the shoes to be. If you are using the shoes for weightlifting as well as deadlifting, you’ll certainly need a thicker heel. Also if you lack mobility (can you sit into a deep squat with your thighs at least parallel to the floor?) you’ll need a thicker heel. These are pure lifting shoes, which are great for lifting but not suitable for running etc. If you are looking for shoes simply for deadlifting, you don’t need a raised heel.
The heel in a pair of lifting shoes has to be solid, with no ‘give’ in it like a cushioned running shoe. A stiff heel means you don’t lose any power or pressure through the floor as you lift, so it’ll help you lift more weight. If you’re getting cross training shoes, make sure the heel material is either solid or dense foam. If you are going for non-traditional lifting shoes, make sure the heel is thin so you don’t lose power through padding.
Lifting shoes usually have a layer of comforting foam in the shoe because the heel is so stiff. If you aren’t weightlifting but will spend hours in them every week deadlifting, a pair of Chuck Taylors may be ideal because they are softer under foot. Also, you need to consider the upper material – softer mesh tends to be the most comfortable and also allows your feet to breathe more.
A good grip on the floor is important, so try to stick to flat soled lifting shoes or shoes with a rubber gum sole. These will help you stay stable on the lifting platform, which will improve your lifting as well.
The reality is that specialist shoes are going to cost a little more than standard trainers, but that’s because they are built specifically with a job in mind. In this review I’ve shown how you can buy cheaper shoes that share a lot of the features you need, so you can save some money. If you have no budget issues, I’d suggest you go for the pure lifting shoes that allow you to weightlift and deadlift. If you are more budget sensitive, look at the other options and make a decision based on how you’ll use them.
My best deadlift shoes – Conclusion
There’s a lot of choice on the market and they all have their pros and cons. Decide which features are important to you and use that to inform your choices. Follow the advice in this article though and you won’t for far wrong!