Flat Vs. Heeled Lifting Shoes for Squatting: Choosing What’s Best For You

Fun fact: we possess roughly dual dozen pairs of lifting shoes. In fact, we competence contend I’m a bit of an consultant on a theme – and we get a lot of questions about how we select that span to wear when we lift.

If we follow me on Instagram, we already know that we welfare a Reebok Lite TRs for all 3 lifts, though that’s usually since they fit my physique well. Everyone is different, and if you’re perplexing to find a right span for you, here are some questions to ask yourself.

[Check out a lifting shoe round-up to perspective a best lifting boots on a market.]

Are You Strong Enough to Need Squat Shoes?

This is a bit of a pretence question. A lot of people tell me they don’t cruise they’re clever adequate to clear shopping a span of boots that competence cost a integrate hundred bucks. It’s customarily not about a money, though about avoiding “imposter syndrome” – a thought that we don’t unequivocally fit in until you’ve done it.

I don’t unequivocally determine with that logic. If we would advantage from them, we cruise it creates clarity to deposit in a span of lifting boots earlier rather than later, since some-more effective training means faster progress. Here’s a catch: when you’re usually starting out, we substantially won’t know what kind of boots we need. Until we figure that out, you’re glorious adhering with whatever jaunty boots we occur to have available.

Should You Use Heels or Flats?

On a flip side, I unequivocally don’t determine with a people who confirm they’re gonna start lifting, and immediately run out and buy a span of hunker boots with an towering heel. Many people make that welfare roughly reflexively: they see other people wearing heeled shoes, and figure that they need some, too. That’s a terrible call. In fact, in my opinion, distant too many powerlifters wear heeled shoes.

A post common by Ben Pollack (@phdeadlift) on Feb 4, 2018 during 8:27am PST

Proponents of a use explain that a towering heels make it easier to strike depth. They’re referring to a reduced ankle coherence compulsory to pull a knees brazen though entrance adult on a toes when squatting. And that is a advantage of wearing heels. But there are drawbacks, too. For example, an towering heel tends to make change some-more difficult. Heels can pull your weight brazen on your feet, towards your toes – accurately a problem they’re ostensible to prevent. You’re radically trade a coherence requirement for a change requirement. And, in my experience, it’s many easier to rise sufficient coherence for squatting than balance.

So, instead of meditative about ankle flexibility, take a demeanour a leverages and squatting style. This video does a illusory pursuit of explaining since elevating a heel doesn’t mostly make it easier to strike abyss – usually different.

Essentially, a lifted heel will tend to change a importance on a hunker from your hips to your legs. That doesn’t meant it will take a hips out of play – usually that, relations to squatting though heels, you’ll tend to use them a bit less. Is that a good thing? Well, it depends: what are your goals? If we wish to lift a many weight, we should put a importance on your strongest muscles (which substantially means wearing heels if we have stronger legs, and ditching them if we have stronger hips). If your idea is robust development, or bringing adult diseased points, you’d substantially wish to put a importance on your weakest flesh groups.

It’s value observant that underneath complicated weight, your physique is substantially going to default to regulating your strongest muscles regardless of possibly you’re wearing heels or flats. Because of that, we cite to use a boots that fit my clever points, not my diseased ones. we afterwards use assistance movements to move adult a diseased points. This usually fits my genius improved – one proceed is not improved than a other.

Finally, note that on some exercises – quite front squats, a Olympic lifts, and beyond press – substantially everybody is improved off with heeled shoes. That’s since when a weight is reason in a front of your body, a heel acts as a automatic counterbalance, assisting to keep your core of sobriety some-more neutral. However, unless we devise to contest in those lifts, it’s not particularly required to wear hunker boots while behaving them. And on some exercises, like deadlifts, we always should wear prosaic shoes, unless we are intentionally behaving a transformation that calls for lifted heels. On bench, I’ve found that for many people (except those unequivocally lacking in dorsiflexion), heels seem to make roughly no conspicuous difference.

Do You Have Good Feet?

To heel or not to heel is a hardest question, though even after you’ve answered it, there are some some-more sum we should cruise before we bombard out any of your hard-earned income on a new span of kicks.

First: do we have clever arches? Flattened arches will mostly lead to knee caving on complicated squats and deadlifts, that can both means damage and diminution a volume of weight you’ll be means to handle. While we should always try to residence prosaic feet with strengthening exercises, that routine can take a while, and in my experience, if you’ve got constructional issues like that, they’re always going to exist during some level. For that reason, we advise selecting boots with possibly good arch support or with removable shoe inserts, so that we can use your possess third-party orthotics. Note that we competence not need this arch support on each lift, and we should unequivocally usually use it when we do. we use orthotics when we squat, though mislay them before benching and deadlifting.

Next, how far-reaching are your feet? Those with slight feet will have some-more shoe options than lifters with wider feet, though it’s critical that we select a shoe that’s far-reaching adequate for we to pull your feet out opposite a sidewall comfortably. Chances are, if your boots are too narrow, you’re going to onslaught to do that, and, as a result, onslaught to scrupulously partisan your posterior sequence on devalue movements. we increasing my sumo deadlift sincerely significantly usually by switching to wider-sized shoes.

My Recommendations

I know we were watchful for this part, so we wish it’s not too unsatisfactory when we tell we that my all-time favorite shoe, a Reebok CrossFit Lite TR, is no longer constructed and usually accessible during unequivocally high prices from third-party resellers. we have listened some rumors that Reebok is building a new chronicle of that shoe, so keep your fingers crossed!

A post common by Ben Pollack (@phdeadlift) on May 15, 2016 during 11:55am PDT

That said, we do have some knowledge with other shoes, and here are my thoughts on them:


  • Chuck Taylors: substantially a best “default” choice if we wish prosaic boots and don’t wish to spend a lot of money. These don’t reason adult well, and they don’t have good traction, though they’re unequivocally adequate for many people.
  • Wrestling shoes: obviously, there’s a outrageous accumulation of wrestling shoes, though in general, they’re going to be about as thin-soled as Chucks with improved traction, though also a narrower footbed. For people with far-reaching feet, this competence be a problem. The
  • Sabo deadlift shoes are radically wrestling boots with an combined metatarsal strap, that is beneficial, generally for those with prosaic arches.
  • Metal hunker shoes: unequivocally expensive, though also unequivocally well-made, powerlifting-specific shoes. we have a span that has lasted over a decade and is still wholly functional, nonetheless a strange laces tattered through. These boots have unimaginable traction, and a leather top is designed to extent transformation of your shin (which can be a certain or disastrous depending on your ideal positioning and what you’re regulating them for). They’re a tad on a slight side, though not too bad; and they do have a metatarsal strap, that is a good bonus.


  • Nike Romaleos: we have ragged all 3 versions of a Romaleos, and as distant as powerlifting goes, a strange chronicle is my favorite. The originals are substantially matching to a chronicle 2, though they’re heavier – that might be a obstacle for Olympic weightlifting, though provides a good clarity of fortitude for complicated behind squats. The 2s offer glorious arch support, a sincerely far-reaching footbed, dual metatarsal straps, and are my recommendation if we wish heeled shoes.
  • Adidas Adipower: Very identical to a Romaleos, both in pattern and cost point. Some people contend a Adipower runs somewhat narrower than a Romaleos, though this one radically comes down to personal preference.
  • Adidas Powerlift: Adidas also creates a cheaper chronicle of their weightlifting shoe with a somewhat smaller effective heel height. we indeed really, unequivocally like this shoe, generally for people who wish a heel though don’t feel wholly gentle in a Romaleos or Adipowers. The heel on these boots does have a bit of give, though in my experience, even underneath unequivocally complicated weights, that does not emanate any poignant fortitude issues.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully this essay has helped strew some light on both your hunker and your shoe choice. If you’ve already been by a decision-making process, and have some tips that can make it easier for others to do a same, share them in a comments below!


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