A crucial factor when lifting weights is a strong and stable foundation, which is why you must have the right shoes. Your feet are formed by 28 bones, 20 muscles, and 30 joints, all of which work together for balance and coordinated movement. In recent years, weightlifting shoes have become increasingly popular because of the explosion of functional training. Olympic weightlifting plays a significant role in CrossFit. Powerlifting has also continued to gain ground.
If you have ever been in a CrossFit Box/gym, most probably you've come across someone wearing Olympic or "oly" shoes. They have a weird and clumsy look. Weightlifting shoes have a pronounced heel elevation that increases the range of motion, especially for people who are not very flexible. If you have a hard time sitting all the way into a squat position, they could help you achieve greater depth. This makes the person have the correct squatting position utilized by weightlifters that allows the hips to descend much closer to the heels.
What Do Weightlifting Shoes Do?
Oly shoes allow weightlifters to have a proper stance and body posture to accept the load in either a snatch or a clean. This is because it enables weightlifters to get into a bottom position with the knees forward of the toes. Also, an elevated heel helps to have a more solid position before lifting the barbell from the ground. The right shoes can set a person that is new to Olympic weightlifting up for success by developing good habits and promoting a correct form from the beginning.
Weightlifting Shoes Have Twice as Much Drop as a Running Shoe
Since weightlifting shoes have minimal cushioning, there's almost no loss of power when moving heavyweight, they help ensure efficient power transfer. Oly shoes are excellent, and therefore they are really stable; this makes it easier on your joints and prevents injury when lifting weights. In conclusion, oly shoes help you lift more weight.
Running shoes have too much cushion. They are great for repeated impact in activities like running, but they are not good when you carry a couple of hundred pounds of metal over your head.
A regular running sneaker (such as those from Saucony) has a heel to toe drop of 10mm. This means your heel is 10mm higher than your toes. Some new style have even less drop, somewhere between 5 to 6mm. Weighlifting shoes typically have twice as much drop as a running shoe - that's a 20mm heel drop or over 3/4 inch.
A weightlifting shoe should have a snug fit, but it shouldn't restrict the circulation of blood to your feet. Snug should still be comfortable.
Velcro straps on a weightlifting shoe mean you can get the fit just right, and the shoe is more likely to maintain a firm hold throughout the lift.
Most weightlifting shoes have a mix of one strap and the laces, but once you become more knowledgeable about oly shoes, most probably you'll realize that the more straps there are, the better they feel.
A pair of weightlifting shoes from a leading brand is likely to last a few years without any problems. Pay attention to the overall construction and durability of the shoes when you are choosing your shoes.
Weightlifting shoes are perfect for all 6 Olympic lifting movements:
- Power Clean (all levels)
- Front Squat (all levels)
- Squat Clean (Intermediate to Advanced)
- Push Jerk (Intermediate to Advanced)
- Power Snatch (All levels)
- Squat Snatch (Intermediate to Advanced)
- Safety and Protection First.
and the ones that demand firmer feet and less mobility
Should you consider lifting weights barefoot?
It may sound weird, but many serious weightlifters strongly believe that going shoeless is the best option. It obviously doesn't mean that they go around the gym barefoot all the time. This is an injury waiting to happen, and would generally be prohibited in most gyms.
Many weightlifters choose to do certain lifts barefoot – especially squats and deadlifts. The reason is that they feel it provides them with better stability while strengthening the small muscles of the foot and improving mobility of the ankles.