The Best Shoes for Squats and Deadlifts
What are the best shoes for squats and deadlifts in 2021?
Squats and deadlifts are two of the most important exercises in your workout routine.
Both exercises involve large muscle groups and will help you reach almost any fitness goal – from building muscle mass to increase your strength, and from losing fat to getting fit.
While you can do squats and deadlifts in regular sneakers or running shoes, you’ll notice a world of difference if you wear shoes that are actually designed for strength training!
Running shoes are very shock-absorbent, which is ideal when you are pounding the pavement but also means they will compress and distort under heavy loads.
That’s the last thing you want if you have a hefty weight on your shoulders or in your hands.
Many serious strength trainers wear specially designed shoes for squats and deadlifts.
These shoes provide a stable base for lifting heavy weights.
Squat shoes usually have an elevated heel, while deadlifts shoes tend to be flat.
Because of this, a lot of lifters wear different shoes for different workouts and may even change shoes during a training session.
That’s fine if you are a powerlifter or weightlifter looking to optimize your performance in these key lifts but may not be convenient or necessary for general gym-goers.
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Wearing the same shoes for squats and deadlifts
The good news is that, yes, you CAN wear the same shoes for squats and deadlifts.
However, because squat and deadlift shoes are different, they will affect your performance, albeit only very slightly.
Squatting in flat shoes may mean you can’t squat as deep, especially if you have poor ankle mobility.
In contrast, deadlifting in shoes with an elevated heel will push you forward onto your toes, increasing the distance the weight has to travel.
However, unless you are a competitive lifter, these are small issues that won’t stop you from enjoying the benefits of these great exercises.
Because of this, we’ve rated each pair of shoes on the market in this review for squats AND deadlifts.
Choose the shoe that favors your most important lift.
And remember, any specialist strength training shoe is better than wearing soft, unstable running shoes for squats and deadlifts.
Here are my top picks for 2021 –
#1. Reebok Lifter PR Cross-trainer Shoe
- BREATHABLE AND DURABLE MATERIAL: These weightlifting sneakers feature...
- EFFICIENT FOOT SUPPORT: These athletic trainers feature the Powerbax...
- STAY COOL AND DRY: This footwear features anti-friction lining that...
Reebok Lifter PR Cross-trainers are a weightlifting-style shoe that is ideal for serious strength training workouts.
Designed for all gym-based activities, these shoes look as good as they perform.
- 0.6” raised heel
- Velcro metatarsal strap for extra support
- Lightweight, flexible, breathable manmade upper
- Available in six attractive designs
Reebok Lifter PR Cross-trainers are ideal for squats with their elevated heel but can also be worn for deadlifts.
They are not flexible or cushioned enough for cardio, but, for all-round strength training, these shoes are hard to beat
- Light, flexible, and very comfortable
- Suitable for all levels
- Very attractive designs
- An excellent all-rounder
- Comfortable, solid sole
Rating: Squats 5/5, Deadlifts 3/5
While not quite a classic weightlifting shoe, Reebok Lifter PR Cross-trainers are an excellent choice for anyone who takes their strength training workouts seriously.
Better for squats than deadlifts, you can still use these shoes for both lifts.
#2. Adidas Powerlift 4 Weightlifting Shoe
- Lightweight synthetic leather upper
- Air mesh collar, tongue and lining
- Open forefoot structure
Adidas has been making fantastic athletic shoes for over 100 years.
The Powerlift 4 is a light, flexible squat shoe that can also be worn for deadlifts, Olympic weightlifting, and general strength training.
- 0.75” raised heel
- Wedged outsole
- Velcro metatarsal strap for increased support
- Flexible upper and sole
- Available in 12 colors
While the Adidas Powerlift 4 has a raised heel height for squats, it’s not so high that you won’t be able to deadlift in them.
Light, supportive, and flexible, these powerlifting shoes are comfortable straight out the box, and they are ideal for fitness enthusiasts of all levels
- Light and comfortable
- Affordable price
- Contemporary design
- A good all-rounder
- Quite a narrow fit
Rating: Squats 5/5, Deadlifts 3/5
Adidas Powerlift 4 Weightlifting Shoes are good all-rounders that are marginally better for squats than they are deadlifts.
Light, comfortable, but still very supportive, these are great shoes for anyone who enjoys squatting, deadlifting, and strength training in general.
#3. Nike Romaleos 3 Weightlifting Shoes
- Flywire cables and nylon midfoot strap offer dynamic lockdown
- Synthetic leather reinforces mesh on upper for support and...
- Two interchangeable insoles provide soft or firm support
Nike has a reputation for producing excellent athletic shoes, and their Romaleos 3 weightlifting shoes continue the trend.
Nike Romaleos 3s is the latest incarnation of their popular squat shoe, which can also be worn for deadlifts.
- Velcro metatarsal strap for increased support
- Raised heel for increased balance during squats
- Rubber, non-marking sole
- Breathable upper
- Available in seven colorways
Nike Romaleos are classic strength training shoes.
They are well-made and engineered specifically for weightlifting and gym workouts.
The elevated heels make deep squatting easier and more comfortable.
Still, they aren’t so high you won’t be able to pull good deadlifts too.
These shoes are built to last.
That’s good news because they are quite expensive.
- Very supportive
- Flexible and lightweight
- A very well-made shoe
- One of the most expensive squats and deadlift shoes on review
Rating: Squats 5/5, Deadlifts 2/5
Many top weightlifters and powerlifters wear Nike Romaleos 3s for training and competition.
They are amongst the most well-regarded strength training shoes around and one of the best squat shoes on this list.
However, this popularity is reflected in the price.
You do get what you pay for, though, and if you are looking for a top-quality shoe you can wear for squats and deadlifts, Romaleos 3s is an excellent choice.
#4. Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe
- Low-profile trail runner featuring lace-up vamp and pull tab at...
- Breathable mesh and thermoplastic polyurethane upper
- Sticky Vibram outsole for traction
As a rule, running shoes are not usually suitable for squats and deadlifts.
However, Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoes have no cushioning or heel lifts, which means they are an excellent choice for deadlifts and squats.
- Lightweight, breathable mesh upper
- Flat sole with no heel raise
- Hardwearing, grippy Vibram outsole
- Very flexible and comfortable
When you wear Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoes, you feel very grounded and stable.
These minimalist shoes feel a lot like working out in bare feet.
However, you still have the protection and traction of regular athletic shoes.
They are also washable so you can keep them looking (and smelling!) good for years to come.
- Low-profile design
- Very light
- Snug but comfortable fit
- Require no breaking in
- Very hardwearing
- No arch support
- Designed to be worn without socks
Rating: Squats 2/5, Deadlifts 5/5
Merrell Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoes are so light and form-fitting that it feels like you are working out barefoot.
While this does mean you can’t really wear socks with these shoes, you will enjoy the stability that being so close to the ground provides.
They are one of the best deadlifting shoes on this list.
10See the 5 Best Deadlift Shoes On The Market Today In 2021 for other good deadlift shoe options, such as Sabo deadlift shoes.
#5. Inov-8 F-Lite 290 Cross-Training Shoe
- ➤ EXTRA COMFORT - Midsole technology minimises shock impact and...
- ➤ FLEXIBLE DESIGN - The outsole technology in the sole of the shoe...
- ➤ ADDED SUPPORT - The external heel cage paired with the power heel...
These Inov-8 cross trainers are more than up to the rigors of hard, heavy workouts, and they are also flexible enough for cardio, circuit training, and CrossFit.
In short, if you want a shoe for squats, deadlifts, and just about any other fitness activity, these are the ones for you.
- “Power heel” technology for stability during strength training
- Memory foam lining for comfort and support
- External heel cage to hold rear foot secure during squats and deadlifts
- Breathable, lightweight mesh upper
- 360-degree rand for protection and durability
- Non-marking rubber outsole
Inov-8 F-Lite 290 Cross Training Shoes are ideal for squats, deadlifts, Olympic lifting, kettlebell workouts, running, jumping, and pretty much any other exercise you can think of.
They blend firmness and stability with lightness and flexibility to create one of the best all-around shoes available.
- More than just a weightlifting shoe
- Ideal for squatting and deadlifting
- Stable enough for heavy lifting, but flexible enough for running and jumping
- Suitable for men and women
- No metatarsal strap
- Only available in two colors
Rating: Squats 3/5, Deadlifts 3/5
If you want a training shoe you can wear for squats, deadlifts, and pretty much every other exercise in your workout, Inov-8 F-Lite 290 shoes are a great choice.
They are not pure weightlifting shoes, but they aren’t running shoes either.
Inov-8 F-Lite 290 Cross Training Shoes are an excellent compromise for exercisers who want an athletic shoe that can do it all.
#6. Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star High-Top Sneaker – Bonus!
- Lace-up, high-top sneaker
- Cushioned insole
- Medial eyelets for airflow
Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star High-Top Sneakers, usually just called “Chucks,” are not explicitly made for squats and deadlifts, but that doesn’t stop them from being some of the most popular shoes worn by powerlifters, ever!
Flat soles combined with ankle support means these shoes are perfect for deadlifts and can be worn for squats too.
- High tops for excellent ankle support
- Flat rubber soles for increased stability
- Breathable upper
- Hardwearing natural upper and manmade, non-marking sole
Chucks are classic athletic shoes.
They aren’t as engineered as some squat and deadlift shoes, but they are still more than capable of performing well, even when you lift very heavy weights.
They also look great in and out of the gym.
- Widely available
- 25+ different colors available
- Flexible and lightweight
- Unisex design
- Not much arch support
- Not specifically made for squats or deadlifts
- May wear out faster than specialist squat and deadlift shoes
Rating: Squats 2/5, Deadlifts 4/5
Chuck Taylors are pretty basic, but they are still a good choice for squats and deadlifts.
They have a slightly thicker sole than some specialist deadlifting shoes and aren’t as supportive as squat or weightlifting shoes.
Still, for the price, those are very small compromises to have to make.
Best Shoes for Squats and Deadlifts – Wrapping Up
Your choice of footwear can have a massive impact on your squat and deadlift performance.
Lifting heavy weights in soft, squishy running shoes is not a good idea; they will distort and collapse beneath you.
Any of the shoes reviewed above will provide you with the platform you need for great squats and deadlifts.
Just choose the right shoes best suited to your workout goals.
After you select a pair of the best shoes for squats and deadlifts, your next step is an excellent beginner workout routine for both:
- One Great Squat Workout Routine, and
- A Deadlift Workout Routine for beginners in powerlifting and fitness
And work up to putting the fantastic benefits of squats, bench press, and deadlifts together in the 3×5 Workout Plan: The Only Strength Training Program You Will Ever Need.
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Articles on Deadlifts:
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Learn how to deadlift
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Deadlift workouts + programs
- Beginner Powerbuilding Program: Big & Strong Workout + Free PDF
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- Phraks Greyskull LP Variant vs. Starting Strength vs. GSLP
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- Deadlift Vs Squat: Which is Better for Strength and Fitness?
Squat and deadlift equipment + gear
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- The Best Shoes for Squats AND Deadlifts on the Market Today
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