The deadlift. One of several powerlifting exercises that allow one to show their prowess of lifting a barbell up to their hips before dropping it back on the ground. It looks fun. Looks dangerous and potentially severely damaging to certain parts of your anatomy.
You enjoy watching deadlifting on TV and you consider that it’s something you want to start doing yourself to get into shape. You make a list of the things you need to buy: those awesome looking shorts deadlifters wear, the belt to stop your back from having a serious problem and the… the shoes. Are those special shoes the person on TV is wearing?
Though traditionally deadlifters wore running shoes, over the past few decades more specialised shoes have been designed to support the feet of those practicing deadlifting.
In this article, we will step you through the world of deadlifting footwear. You will learn about how and why deadlifters need to consider the right shoes and then we will take you through our pick of the best deadlifting shoes on the market.
Okay, psyche yourself up, squat and then lift…oops, read!
Do I really need shoes?
You may see some deadlifters perform without shoes and wonder “Is footwear really that necessary?” The simple answer is “Yes” as you will find most gyms won’t allow you to train without shoes and when you enter competitions, there is a requirement for you to wear deadlift shoes.
But, what shoes do you need? When you are lifting the barbell, you are using the force generated from the pressure of your feet against the floor and transferring it into the barbell. If you are standing on a compressible surface, some of the force is lost which equates to a less effective lift.
So, you don’t want shoes that are squishy at the bottom as the amount of pressure being transferred from the ground to your feet is diminished. That means forget about running shoes, sneakers or shoes with an elevated lift in the heel. These types of shoes will influence the amount of force you are placing into your lift. In addition to giving you more power, some shoes help you improve your overall form when performing the deadlift as well as refining your squat.
Okay. So I need shoes for deadlifting, but what sort?
As you have seen, runners and sneakers are out. In fact, any shoe that has a cushioned sole needs to be put aside as they absorb the force and pressure necessary for an amazing, crowd-inspiring deadlift.
The ideal shoes are those that are flat and have no cushioning in the sole. Also, you want a slight lift in your heel of between ½ -¾ inches. The benefit of having a raised heel is that it aids your flex which gives you more power in your lift through increased muscle mass. Finally, you want to look after your ankle, so look for a shoe that has support strapping. It’s all about staying safe and comfortable while maximising the force of the lift.
The best shoes for deadlifting
Adidas is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to sports wear and their shoes are no exception. The HVC Wrestling Shoe offers ankle and foot support that ensure success in your deadlift. With and sole so thin you can literally feel the floor under your feet gives you the confidence that you are receiving all the force from the ground as you push up for the lift. They are thinner shoes as they are designed more for wrestling than deadlifting but that doesn’t mean you can’t grab a pair for sport. Just makes sure you get a pair that will fit comfortably.
The 0.6″ raised heel in these shoes provides you with extra power to successfully execute an amazing deadlift. The lightweight material means that the Matflex 5 won’t be heavy on your feet and the fabric is breathable which means comfortable feet, Laces can be neatly tucked away in the shoe with the gum-rubber sole giving you the traction that you need. The main issue with the Matflex 5 is around the sizing, Look at getting a shoe that is 1 to 2 sizes bigger than your normal shoe size as this will avoid issues of the shoe being too narrow and small for your foot.
Otomix has been manufacturing wrestling and MMA shoes since 1989, so you know that it’s a company dedicated to providing shoes with your feet in mind. The Stingray Escape are light and provide additional support for your ankle allowing for a natural roll but without you being concerned about twisting your ankle. If you want shoes that are comfortable and you will fall in love with, then get a pair of Stingrays. Similar to the Matflex 5, it pays to get a pair that is one size bigger than your shoe size.
Sabo shoes are one of the more popular pair of footwear in the world of the deadlift and it’s easy to see why with the thin sole and the anatomical design of shoe created specifically for deadlifting. Two sides to straps allow for superior support of your ankle, foot and heel. The sides of the shoes are reinforced to provide additional support when spreading the floor. If you are after one of the best shoes in the market for deadlifting, then Sabo is the one.
The INOV-8 is truly an innovative design in powerlifting shoes with the front specifically created to allow for toe spread to give you a better stance in your lift. With no cushioning in the bottom of the shoe means that you have the full power of the pressure of your feet against the floor to perform a deadlift with maximum power. The shoe fits perfectly around your foot and the patented grip ensures that you won’t slip. For those who are after a pair of deadlifting shoes that feel like you are performing in bare feet, grab some INOV-8s
After some shoes that have been designed by a world-class wrestler? The JB Elite III had input by Olympic champion and four-time world champion, Joseph Burroghs. That should instil confidence in you that these shoes will last the distance and give you the support and power that you are wanting. The serradial traction pods offer you grip so that you can lift while still maintaining freedom of movement in your feet and ankles. Once you have finished lacing up your shoes, you can tuck the lace tidily away in the pocket.
Yes, it looks just like a foot, but your bare feet won’t have the same gripping power as these shoes thanks to Vibram’s XS Trek technology. Also, you are given the flexibility need to perform at your best and the 2mm sole allows for maximum transfer of force from the floor into the barbell. The KSO EVO is truly a versatile shoe in that you can wear them not only for your deadlifting but when out running, hiking, walking or at the beach. Being durable means that they will last you (for how long depends on how much use you put them through).
For the female deadlifters out there, these shoes offer stability and grip that makes you feel as though you are stuck to the floor. Great stuff! Don’t want wet, sweaty feet when wearing shoes? Reebok have you covered with material that minimises the temperature and moisture inside the shoe. The ETC lining within the shoe reduces friction as well as offering protection from odour-causing bacteria. All that makes for an amazing pair of shoes.
We are all different and that sometimes extends to our feet. Adidas realise that and in the Mat Hog the cater for a variety of foot shapes through the ankle strap. Support and stability of your foot are enhanced through the additional synthetics on the back and sides of the shoe. Grip is provided by the outsole that runs seamlessly along the length of the shoe. Loved by coaches and experienced wrestlers, what more could you ask for?
Deadlifting is all about having the right stance and executing the lift smoothly. The More Lift 4 aids you in your performance through securing the middle and back of your foot while providing your heel with extra support. It’s a narrow shoe so if you have wide feet look at getting a size up to avoid any discomfit. The heel is raised slightly which offers more power into your lift. Though cheaper than equivalent shoes in this list (such as the INOV-8) doesn’t make the More Lift 4 inferior. A great powerlifting shoe at a great price.
The Snapdown 2 is a great mid-range shoe that will enhance your lift through the full-length outsole which gives you amazing grip with the ground. The shoes can take a hammering and still provide you with the comfort and support you are expecting from your footwear. The synthetic leather and mesh are breathable so your feet can have air circulating through the shoe, cooling them down.
Like the Sabo Deadlift shoe, a lot of deadlifters are fans of the Converse. This is due to the outsole being so firm which restricts the movement of your foot during the lift.. In addition, the ability to lace up the Converse above the ankle offers you support and stability. The lightness of the material and the overall fit of the shoe makes them a pleasure to wear. The fact that the design of these shoes hasn’t changed much since their inception in 1917 should speak volumes on how great they are.
The Metcon 4 is a versatile shoe that gives you a strong base, flexibilty and durability. The inner sole has firm heel support to aid you in your lift, while the overall design of the base of the shoe makes you feel anchored to the ground and grip is provided by the sticky rubber outsole. Metcon 4, making your deadlift easier!
Yes, they are slippers. But slippers with a purpose. To give you comfort and support in your deadlift. But, there is a catch….only wear them when in competition and ideal for conventional deadlifting. They provide great grip and with a sole that enables you to get closer to the floor to maximise the power in your lift. These slippers are loved by many deadlifters, so that has to be a good thing, right?
Created for the weightlifter gives you the confidence that the Powerlift 3.1 will offer you the aid you need in your deadlift. You can squat and lift with ease knowing that your ankles are well braced by the shoe and the wide design allows you to extend out your foot for better balance. People are amazed at how much their form has improved once they have slipped on a pair of Powerlifts. Time to up your game…
These shoes may look pretty normal, but don’t let looks deceive you. The strapping on the upper of the shoe reinforces your foot keep it firm and secure during a deadlift. Your ankle is also supported but still given flexibility when doing a deadlift. Many sceptics of the shoe have become believers once they have tried a pair and were astounded at how their performance seemed to have magically transformed. Is there something special in these shoes? Maybe…
Wanting gains in your deadlifting game? What about shoes that can handle the stress of powerlifting? It’s time to get some shoes from Nordic. The anti-slip sole offers you a firm hold through the lift with a raised heel to inject some additional juice into the deadlift. The stitching and strap are created to be able to withstand the pressures of the sport, so you will have footwear that will serve you well for a long-time. Not much more to say after that other than…get yourself a pair!
18. Nike Romaleos 3
The neon colour of the shoes will definitely cause you to be noticed on the platform. However, it’s not just the colour that’s amazing. The front of the shoe allows for a wide range of movement which is expanded by the 20mm offset. Your feet are held firm through the interchangeable TPU plate in the shoe (you can swap between soft and hard). Great shoes for deadlifting that are comfortable to wear and that will improve your form. Thanks, Nike!
19. Otomix Carbonite
Another great pair of shoes from the company that dedicates itself to producing the best footwear for wrestlers, martial artists and powerlifter. Incorporating Otomix’s High Performance Bodybuilding system the Carbonite has an angled inner sole that enhances your bodybuilding as well as granting you more power in your lift. Designed for heavy deadlifts and squats makes them a worthy contender in choosing your next pair of powerlifting shoes
Using data gathered from a range of athletes means that there is a bit of science behind the LegacyLifter. Reebok created a shoe that made the heel sit in the right position to maximise stability while ensuring you have the most ideal squat position. The Flexcage allows for freedom of movement of your foot while still providing the support needed. The mesh panelling lets cool air into the shoe while warm air can escape, making your foot nice and comfortable. Your ankle is given freedom of movement through the low-cut style of the shoe. Want to leave a legacy in your lift? Time to get some of these shoes from Reebok.
Good form and shoes
With any type of powerlifting, it’s important to have great form. Your back muscles grow stronger and stronger the more times you exercise and the more weight you deadlift. But that doesn’t mean you won’t run the risk of putting stress and strain on your back and when you do, that is “uh-oh” time. Powerlifters can reach an injury point where the weight they lift is twice as much of their body weight. So, perfect from is important.
When it comes to footwear, some deadlifters prefer to lift in bare feet yet competitions and gyms won’t allow that, therefore you will need to slip on some shoes. The shoes we have listed are all designed to help you, as a powerlifter, to get better support, stability and form in your lift. Whatever pair you decide on, is up to you.
Remember, it’s all about being as low to the ground as possible, allowing for freedom of movement in your foot and ankle and having the best deadlifting shoes that are comfortable. Check out what other customers thought about the shoes you are thinking of getting, even ask at your gym or your fellow powerlifters.
It’s all in your form and the power you transfer from the floor and into the bar you are about to lift. Good luck!