Posted on February 27th, 2018 by Jon
When I'm doing squats or any of the Olympic lifts one thing—or two things more like—I make sure to wear are my lifting shoes. Most of you will have seen someone wearing them in a gym, and possibly wondered why people wear them. Well, there are a few reasons people will opt for lifting shoes over your standard pair of trainers when performing big, compound lifts.
First of all, the soles of lifting shoes are totally different from a standard pair of trainers in that they are solid. There is no 'sponge' or 'cushion' that you normally find in trainers, which is for comfort and to absorb impact while walking or running. By having a solid sole the lifting shoes gives you a more solid base. The benefit of this is when you are driving through your heels, as you're supposed to do when squatting or deadlifting; there is no loss of power. When driving through the heels in trainers with a soft sole, you will find you sink a little into the trainer as the sole absorbs the force, meaning you won't have as much force to drive the weight upwards, as you will be moving downwards, even if it is only a couple millimetres. However, when you are in your 1 rep Max (1RM) territory, every little bit of energy you're expending matters, and you don’t want any of it wasted by being absorbed by your shoes.
Lifting shoes also have a more solid shell around the heel, as well as a firmer covering of the toe. While this will provide a bit more protection for the clumsy ones who may drop a weight on their toes (it hurts!) it also provides more control for your feet. Have you ever been squatting and, next thing you know, you see or feel your feel sliding in your trainers and your feet have slid over the sole of your trainer either at the front or the side? Assuming you get the right size, your feet won't move while wearing lifting shoes, reducing the risk of injury as well as keeping your feet in the position they are supposed to be, resulting in you utilising the correct muscles to their full potential.
The main lifts people use lifting shoes for are squats, overhead presses, cleans, snatches and deadlifts (some may prefer to deadlift bare foot). Giving yourself a solid base for all these lifts will improve your performance in the lifts, just remember to change back to your trainers for any plyometric work or high impact training to take care of your joints!