Assessing the Best Deadlifting Shoes:
Four Popular Options
The right footwear will make a massive difference in the effectiveness of your workouts. But here’s a secret—your regular gym shoes just won’t cut it for most of your weightlifting sessions. Instead, it’s best to invest in shoes designed to take the load, literally.
Here’s a summary of why you need to invest in shoes for deadlifting, and four popular options to choose from.
What Should You Look for in Shoes for Deadlifts?
When it comes to choosing the right shoes for deadlifts, remember that flat soles are your friend.
You want an even, non-compressible surface for your feet to push up from so that you maximize your force potential and get the full momentum of every movement. The goal is to reduce your foot’s range of motion by keeping it as close to the ground as possible while still providing plenty of stability for better balance.
Squishy soles, like those found in your running shoes, are counterproductive for deadlifting. That’s because they will absorb a higher proportion of the force you exert from your leg drive, which leads to less efficiency of movement.
In other words, you’ll work harder to achieve less impressive results. That’s hardly a formula for smashing personal bests.
While some athletic brands manufacture shoes specifically for deadlifting, many lifters rely on multi-purpose shoes instead. Street shoes, multi-purpose gym shoes, and even indoor soccer shoes all offer the right features for deadlifting.
There’s usually no need to commit to anything overly specific for deadlifting, so long as the shoes offer a snug fit, a supportive sole, and a flat surface to push off from.
Below are four types of shoes to consider that are well-suited for deadlifting at the gym.
1. Chuck Taylors
Chuck Taylors offer a low-cost yet durable option for deadlifting shoes. But don’t let their low price point distract you; many world records for both squats and deadlifts have been set in Chucks. Lifters love how customizable these shoes are. You can choose from half a dozen colors or even design your own pair, complete with custom colors and stitching.
Just keep in mind that these shoes might not withstand the rigors of your workouts as well as more athletic-minded brands. The most common customer complaint is that they start to fall apart fast, so be prepared to invest in new pairs somewhat often.
Listed Price: $55
2: SABO Deadlift Shoes
Targeted towards people who want serious support, the SABO Deadlift shoes have a double strap design and reinforced sides to keep your shoes tight through every lift. This means that they are similar in design to standard wrestling shoes but branded for deadlifting.
SABO shoes are close to twice the price of most of its competition, and they remain popular both for casual workouts and at the competition level. However, it’s not clear whether you’re really getting twice the value with these shoes compared to traditional low-cut sneakers.
Likewise, be sure you know your shoe size in Russian when ordering so you don’t run into fit problems when you receive them.
Listed Price: $129.99
3: Adidas HVC Wrestling Shoes
For those looking for a tight fit without the SABO price tag, Adidas HVCs fit the bill. These wrestling shoes are well-built and come from a reputable brand, which makes them a popular choice for serious weightlifters. You also have a range of colors to choose from.
The HVCs are a stellar mid-range option for deadlifting with another selling point—they are light and flexible enough for other gym activities as well. This means that you can wear them through your deadlift reps, and then seamlessly start your cardio and HIIT training without changing footwear.
Fit-wise, these shoes tend to run small and narrow, so size up or consider going with a different brand if you have extra wide feet.
Listed Price: $65
4: Samba Classic Indoor Soccer Shoes
Another Adidas offering, the Samba Classics may be designed for soccer games, but they hold up well during deadlifts too. As they are built to withstand hours of tricky footwork, you can rest assured that they will last you years to come.
These shoes offer a snug fit with a flat, non-compressible sole. Pair that with the reasonable price tag, and you may understand why they are my preferred shoes for deadlifts. Some disagree, saying that these shoes have an uncomfortably high arch.
If that’s a problem for you, simply take out the included inserts and replace them with your own.
Listed Price: $70
Why Wear Flat Shoes for Deadlifts?
You’re likely wondering whether you can use your regular weightlifting shoes for deadlifts. The truth is, most people find that their weightlifting shoe’s heel angle isn’t ideal for maximizing their strength output and that they get better results from a flatter sole.
In other words, the slight heel that’s common in weightlifting shoes can cause problems by throwing off your natural range of motion and making you work harder for the same results. For example, wearing a shoe with a two-inch heel would mean you need to lift the bar an additional two inches every single rep.
Likewise, this ankle angle shifts your whole body’s balance and makes it less efficient. Most lifters should expect a 5-10% decrease in weight off the bar when using shoes with a lifted heel. Multiply that by a few dozen reps, and you’ll start to see the problem.
For this reason, it’s better to seek out shoes with flat, firm soles and plenty of ankle support for completing your deadlifts. That’s the go-to style for any lifter who wants to maximize their pulling potential.
Some people go a step further and exercise barefoot or in deadlift slippers that keep their feet even closer to the ground. However, this sacrifices ankle support and is usually best when limited to competitions, rather than regular training sessions.
But regardless of the shoes you choose, make sure you get the right size. It’s critical that you find a pair that offers a snug fit so that your feet aren’t moving around within them and inadvertently increasing your risk of injury.