Squatting is arguably the best exercise to improve your overall fitness and strength. It targets your legs but also your abs, lower back, and cardiovascular fitness. If you aren’t already including squats in your workout plan, adding them will result in tremendous benefits.
This can be anything from bodyweight, machine, standing supported (smith machine), to free-weight squats. While squats are incredibly important, proper form and flexibility are a must to prevent damage to your joints and get the maximum benefits.
The best way to ensure you’re starting with the correct base is choosing shoes that are right for you. You will have to be honest with yourself in terms of why you need squat-specific shoes and which style is best for you.
This is analogous to sports as specialized shoes for football, baseball, basketball, etc. have all been created to improve the athlete’s performance. After all, you don’t see MLB players running around in flip flops.
To help you choose the best shoes for your use, a top 10 list has complied.
Overall, the best pick is the sleek yet classy adidas Men’s Adipower Weightlift Shoes, assuming money is not a concern. These are featured first in the list.
Best Squat Shoes
1. Adidas Men’s Adipower Weightlifting Shoes
These shoes are some of the best weightlifting shoes money can buy and are perfect for squatting. The heel height is 20 mm. This product is amazing, and the stability and durability of the shoes are unmatched.
If you have wide feet, the toe box can feel tight. This goes away after the break-in period.
Sizing is regular compared to normal Adidas shoes. If you are unsure of your Adidas size, go to a local mall and find the best size for you or exchange the shoe for a different size through large online retailers.
- Made of durable leather that will last for years.
- The leather is also coated in PU for comfort and support.
- The rubber sole allows for quieter steps and less slipping compared to traditional wood.
- Velcro Strap enables adjustable rear foot integrity for your specific feet.
- Vent Flow openings keep your feet cool.
- These shoes were designed specifically for Weightlifting.
- As the shoes are designed for Weightlifting, you will not see the best results with other non-squatting leg exercises like deadlifts. Deadlift specific shoes or ones with a lower heel would be a good option here.
- They are made with durable leather and rubber, and a break-in period is required.
They are superior in both design and durability. They include a long-lasting, PU-coated leather with a high-quality velcro strap. Their breathability is excellent compared to other squat shoes and was designed for squats from the drawing board.
This well-established company has created a number of different great shoe styles, a testament to the time and effort Adidas puts into their shoe design.
If you are interested in deadlifting, then you should go for a suitable pair of deadlifting shoes that will support your feet during heavy weight lifting.
2. Nordic Lifting Powerlifting Shoes
These shoes work great for squats. The heel lift is 16.5 millimeters. This product is excellent in terms of stability but lacks long term durability. Customer service is excellent for the company. Additionally, the shoe box is wide and great for all shoe sizes.
The initial discomfort will go away after the break-in period, a common trend across all-leather shoes. They can run a little small compared to normal athletic shoes. As with the Adipower shoes, most large online retailers offer free trade-in if you order the wrong size.
- Made of durable leather and long-lasting.
- The rubber sole allows for quieter steps and less slipping compared to traditional wood.
- These shoes were designed specifically for Powerlifting.
- One-year warranty included.
- Velcro strap included for a better fit.
- The velcro strap is made of cheap material.
- Not great for walking around due to high heel. Additionally, deadlifts will be severely hindered by the high heel.
Great shoe for weightlifters and squatters alike. The quality and durability of these shoes, velcro strap excluded, will lead to great squatting shoes.
These are the best squatting shoes for squatters on a budget. You may have to replace them after a couple of years, but you will receive great squatting results in the meantime.
3. Inov-8 Men’s Fastlift 335 Weight-Lifting Shoe
These shoes work great for squats but tend to lose stability after 400 pounds. The heel lift is 35 millimeters. The stability of the shoes and style is a nice touch. Additionally, the shoe box is regular.
As they are synthetic, no break-in period is required. Sizing is a little small and can run a little small compared to normal athletic shoes. If you have small feet, it will be the correct fit. Most large online retailers offer free trade-in if you order the wrong size, so this shouldn’t be a problem.
- Made of synthetic material, so no break-in period.
- The sticky rubber sole allows for quieter steps and less slipping compared to traditional wood and other rubber soles.
- These shoes were designed with Weightlifting and Powerlifting in mind.
- Velcro strap included for a better fit.
- Meta-Flex system.
- Removable molded footbed.
- The toe box is short and narrow.
- The velcro strap is made of cheap material and quickly breaks.
- Great for walking around due to shorter heel.
These are good shoes for squatting, and they will not let you down. However, unless you love the Inov-8 brand, better shoes can be purchased for a similar price.
The shorter than average heel is a plus for those interested in more workout flexibility, but a cross-training squat shoe is a better buy.
4. Adidas Men’s Power Perfect III. Cross Trainer
These are one of the few squatting shoes designed with cross-training CrossFit-style workouts in mind. As a result, the heel height is 19 mm. As with most Adidas weightlifting shoes, these are long-lasting and durable in spite of the synthetic material.
This shoe size is true to Adidas sizes, which typically means you should order a half size down unless you have a wide foot. As they are synthetic, no break-in period is required.
- Made of synthetic material, so no break in period.
- Synthetic rubber sole doesn’t slip.
- Easy to walk around in, so great for cross training.
- Velcro strap included for a better fit.
- You won’t get possible results for squatting compared to truly squat-specific shoes.
- Velcro strap ring is made of plastic and not as durable as metal competitors.
- Few color options.
While ‘designed’ for cross-training, these shoes make little change from the Adipower model, also designed by Adidas.
The 1mm difference is not noticeable for most squatters, and anyone who is serious enough to notice the difference will likely put the extra money into buying a superior Adidas shoe.
The only advantage of these over Adipower is the price, which can be accomplished by purchasing the even cheaper Nordic shoes. A cheaper, truly cross-training, the friendly squatting shoe can be found below.
5. Reebok Men’s Lifter Pr Cross-trainer
These shoes are also designed with cross-training in mind, but not designed for running. The heel height is 15.2 mm. Also, these shoes include a heat-activated foot wrap to mold to your foot more and more during each workout.
Shoe size is a little large, and you have to purchase a full size smaller than their usual size. The synthetic material and leather toe combo will lead to a very short break-in period, although it is still longer than a completely synthetic shoe.
- Made of synthetic material and leather, so a shorter break-in period is required.
- The rubber sole is lined with an anti-friction polymer guaranteed not to slip.
- Toe is made of leather for increased durability compared to all synthetic shoes.
- Velcro strap included for a better fit.
- Large size means it can be tough to find the perfect size for you.
- The toe box is rather large even for those with wide feet.
Best squatting shoes for cross-trainers. The heat-activated foot wrap is highly adored as the shoe will change to fit you. It is no coincidence that Reebok owns CrossFit and designed these shoes.
The lower heel height is an excellent compromise between flexibility and functionality for other parts of your workout. This ‘squatting’ shoe is perfect for CrossFitters and cross-trainers.
6. Nike Romaleos 3 Mens Weighlifting Shoes
These shoes are also designed specifically for Weightlifting. The heel height is 20mm. These shoes will vary wildly in price, so look for the best deal.
Shoe size is true to regular Nike shoes. If you know your Nike size, you’re good to go. The synthetic material means no break-in period, but most buyers still report a break-in period with the Romaleos.
- Synthetic material won’t require a break-in period.
- The rubber sole won’t slip.
- Comes with two interchangeable insoles (soft or firm support).
- Honeycomb TPU plate for lightweight stability.
- Velcro strap allows for a better fit.
- Not great for walking around.
- The velcro strap is made of low-quality material.
- The Romaleos II are higher quality than the newer model, although the Romeleos II’s have been discontinued.
These are decent shoes and made by a well-known company. The biggest downside to these is their lack of durability compared to the previous model.
If you like the style and design, look for the Romaleos II on a resell website, as they are challenging to find a new pair. These are far from a cross-training shoe, but featured below are a few great options.
7. Otomix Men’s Stingray Escape
These shoes are also designed with a wide variety of sports in mind. This simple fact means that while these shoes are a jack-of-all-trades, they are a master of none. Ultra-light and ankle cover will provide great stability when moving around.
The heel height is not listed and is likely similar to traditional athletic shoes.
While these shoes do not include a velcro strap, the increased height should lead to no problems in ankle stability. Shoe size is true to normal athletic shoes, but those with wide feet will have to go up in size. The synthetic material leads to absolutely no break-in period.
- Made of suede, so some consider these more stylish.
- Great traction when moving around.
- Easy to walk around in these.
- Handmade for superior quality.
- Tons of color options.
- Ankle height reduces calf mobility which is not a feature of great squatting shoes.
- No heel height contributes even more to a lack of calf mobility.
These shoes are unique from other shoes on the list. The high ankle design is excellent for combat shoes and general lifting alike.
While not the best model available, the reasonable price and versatility will make these excellent for all-around athletes who also need good shoes for squatting.
8. ASICS Men’s Conviction X Cross-Trainer Shoe
These shoes are also designed specifically for cross-training competition. They comply with all regulations set by most cross-training competition designers. The heel height is 10mm, and you won’t get a huge increase in calf mobility.
Additionally, the low number of customer reviews on a variety of websites should lead you to believe better shoes are available.
Size is true to ASICS shoe sizes and would be easy to try on at a local retailer to find your ideal size. Synthetic material leads to no break-in period. The cushion on the inside of the shoe leads to a less stable base under heavy loads.
- Made of synthetic, tear resistant material.
- Very durable compared to other synthetic shoes.
- Perforations in the shoe keep your feet cool while exercising.
- Low heel height no ideal for squatting.
- No velcro strap for added security.
A decent shoe for cross training, but not the best cross-training squat shoe. The lack of a velcro strap decreases stability under heavy loads, and the low heel height will not significantly increase your ankle mobility.
While likely great for general cross-training, those interested in improving their squat via equipment should look elsewhere. Better shoes can be bought within the same budget.
9. Converse Men’s Chuck Taylor All Star
This is the last shoe on our list. A classic lifter’s shoe that has been around for decades. These shoes were not designed with a specific sport in common, but instead streetwear and fashion. Prior to the development of modern lifting shoes, these were the best option.
The heel height is negligible, and your toes and heels will be about the same height. The high ankle design adds security and stability but will decrease ankle mobility and may even hinder your squats.
Shoe size fits as expected and has been standardized for years. The canvas material means that there won’t be a break-in period, but you also won’t see much benefit from using these shoes.
You might be like to see more discussion about top high shoes for extra ankle support and protection of your feet.
- Rubber sole won’t slip.
- A classic look.
- Platform design as opposed to a raised heel.
- Not many color options.
- The ankle-high design could hinder your squat.
- Not specially designed for squats or lifters in general.
While these shoes have been around for a while, they still work and are OK for lifting. If you already have a pair and don’t want to buy another pair of shoes, then they will suffice. The downside is you won’t see much if any, the benefit to your squats by using these shoes.
10. Pendlay Men’s 13PGRAY
A unique model contained two separate velcro straps; these shoes are also designed with squatters in mind. The heel height is 20 mm, like most other squatting-specific shoes.
The toe box is large, which is excellent for those with bigger feet or those that enjoy a little extra space. The sizing varies, as it can be a great fit and or too small.
Synthetic leather and nylon mesh material means that a short break-in period is required while adding the benefit of lower cost and increased durability.
- Durable synthetic leather.
- Two straps for an even more secure fit above your arch.
- Excellent breathability in spite of the largeness of the shoe.
- Inconsistent results on sizing, although the company advises to order them a half size down.
- 90-day warranty.
- The manufacturer warns against using the shoe for anything other than squatting and Weightlifting.
- A little on the clunky side.
- Very limited color options.
While a good shoe for Weightlifters and squatters, it is not ideal for most lifters. The lack of flexibility in their use leads to exercise specific shoes. Their low price is a selling point, but the Nordic shoes are undoubtedly better for most users looking for cheap squatting shoes.
What to Look at Before Buying Squat Shoes
Squat shoes are an essential part of both competitive strength athletes and everyday gym-goers. There is a reason that the market for these types of shoes has grown tremendously. In short, there are a few key features you should take note of before purchasing any squat shoe.
Most leather and synthetic shoes in today’s competitive market will be comfortable, so long as you buy the right shoe.
Aside from those with naturally wide or narrow feet, the toe box size is another element of personal preference but can be guided by paying attention to your feet the next time you squat.
If your shoes tend to wiggle back and forth, you may want a larger toe box so that it is just your feet moving and not your whole shoe. If it is your whole shoe, you are more likely to risk injury.
Looking into individual product reviews is the best way to decide whether shoes will run large or small. Most squatters enjoy a snug fit that keeps their feet locked in during their squat, but if you’re a foot-wiggler, you might want a bigger toe box.
If you are looking for training shoes with better fit and support, then you might check this.
Always get a shoe with a rubber base. No other material will provide the same grip during your squat. Lifters discovered this years ago when they wore dress shoes to get an elevated heel.
Lots of them ended up slipping and injuring themselves due to the reduced grip that wood-soled shoes offer. Don’t take the risk.
Shoe straps have no documented downsides, outside of user preference. They allow for a more snug and personal fit, as everyone’s feet are a little different. You can make these as tight or loose as possible.
If you can’t feel your feet at the end of the workout, loosen it. On the other hand, if your feet don’t feel stable ‘in the hole’, then a quick tighten will probably result in you making another rep or two.
As with every athletic shoe, the ability to cool down your feet is of utmost importance. Nobody wants the whole gym to smell your feet as soon as you finish exercising, so pick a shoe with built-in holes that will keep your feet cool and stink-free.
Another controlling factor that most people overlook is your socks. Buying a few cheap, high-quality athletic socks will make a world of difference in terms of your breathability.
If you don’t believe this, wear a pair of thick wool socks the next time you squat.
I guarantee you will go purchase good quality socks that same day.
Heels can be made of a variety of polymers and natural products such as wood or leather. Regardless of the material, you want a good, stable base that reduces the amount of instability during your squats.
If you are too concerned, either consciously or unconsciously, with stabilizing the weight, you will spend less effort on the actual lift. You are selling yourself short.
Even if you are just trying to get a ‘good leg burn’, you won’t see the same type of progress if something as simple as instability is holding you back.
The shoe’s boot height largely controls ankle support. Boot height is how high up on your ankle the top of the shoe reaches. As this will vary from foot to foot, a little experimentation is necessary.
As with heel height, there are benefits up to a certain point. A low-cut shoe will not provide the same ankle stability as a higher cut shoe. Once you start cutting off the shoe at or above the ankle, potential downsides come into play.
The biggest one is ankle mobility. Ankle mobility will affect how deep your squats can go and, therefore, affect each rep’s quality.
One rep short here and there is of little concern to your overall progress, but a systematic limitation will significantly affect your long-term development.
If the shoe starts to inhibit your ankle flexibility, it is too high. An easy test for this is to stretch your calves while wearing the shoe. If you can’t feel even the slightest stretch, the shoes are too high.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What does the difference in heel size mean?
A. The 20mm or 0.75-inch heel is the industry standard. This has been deemed the best height for competitive strength athletes through years of experience and rigorous testing.
Likewise, this height is probably the best for you unless you have a strong personal preference for a taller or shorter heel. Be aware; all heel sizes come with strengths and weaknesses.
The purpose of the heel is increased ankle mobility and hip position. Your hips will be converted into a more open position. This is especially important for office workers and people who spend most of their day sitting, as poor hip mobility can result in injury during a heavy squat.
The downside to the 20mm heel? You can’t run, jump, or move near as quickly as a flatter soled shoe. It’s likely that you already have a pair of athletic shoes that can fulfill this purpose, and a quick shoe change mid-workout will be all you need to get the best of both worlds.
Q. Why buy a leather shoe over a synthetic shoe or vice versa?
A. Leather shoes are notorious for their break-in period. While often frustrating for squatters who make the switch to squat specific shoes, this period of frustration dissipates quickly. After a few weeks of regular use, there will be no difference between the two, other than durability.
Q. Why exactly do I need a pair of squatting shoes? What if I don’t care about how much weight I can lift?
A. Olympic Weightlifters designed squatting shoes, here on referred to as Weightlifters or Weightlifting. Almost all squatting shoes include a heel to improve calf flexibility and position your hips in a more open position to generate maximum power and improve your lifting ability.
Additional safety is another key point behind squat specific shoes. Beyond this, the stability of squatting shoes is unparalleled by traditional running shoes because they just don’t slip.
Simply put, everyone squats more weight after making the switch. This translates to better workouts and faster muscle growth and fat loss.
The safety factor is the second biggest reason people make the switch. As the squat increases past your bodyweight, your stability drastically goes down. Anything you can do to ensure your long-term safety is of the utmost importance when it comes to exercise.
Something as simple as a twisted ankle can take you out of the gym for weeks, while a herniated disk might prevent progress for years. Always take the extra ‘step’ and keep yourself safe in the gym.
There is no reason not to buy a pair of squat shoes today! The benefits are countless, and your squat’s improved progress will be priceless and help you overall when it comes to weightlifting.
All in all, you will be safer, more efficient, and stronger in the long run. Make your own choice on which pair is truly best for you, but keep in mind that the above-mentioned best shoes have been thoroughly examined and include some of the highest customer reviews.
This article is meant to give you the information necessary to make a well-informed decision.
As most squat shoes are hard to find in stores, purchase yours from a well-established online retailer, which is a wonderful part of this day and age. This will enable easy size changes and included warranties. Keep squatting, and watch your numbers climb!
- CrossFit Shoes For Women: Shop the Best Collection
- Which Are the Best Jazzercise Shoes for a Workout on Our Tests?
- 18 Impressive Reasons You Should Start Doing Squats, by naturallivingideas
- Are You Wearing The Right Shoes For Squatting? by squatuniversity