When first getting into weightlifting I wore ordinary running shoes to the gym.
It wasn’t too much of an issue when my workouts were more circuit based and dynamic, with a mish-mash of styles and exercises pulled together.
When I started to get more serious however, I found the right shoes made a noticeable difference to my training, though the numerous options pretty confusing.
The levels of stability, lift, structure, cushioning and fit are all factors that contribute to the ideal purpose and performance of a training shoe.
No wonder there are so many options to choose from - and the choice can be overwhelming!
I’ve been very active my whole life and have tried a lot of styles of training - playing a variety of sports, running, mountain-biking, doing classes and circuit training, weight training and powerlifting, even some gymnastics strength work.
Here are my top tips for getting the right footwear for the job!
For most of these I don’t particularly recommend one brand over another - more touch on the essential components - you’ll quite easily find a variation that fits your style and budget. And if you're not particularly fussed about what's on your feet - maybe find another post?
Let’s start with my favourite. For my go to weightlifting shoe I look for a flat sole and minimal cushioning.
The flat sole gives you a solid base and keeps you stable during your lift - the last thing you want is to be rocking around on your spongy running soles while picking up something heavy.
I try and find shoes with a little flex in them in case I want to jump on a treadmill for some sprints, or do some circuit type metabolic work between my lifts.Nike Metcons, Innov8s, Vivobarefoots or even a pair of converse are a great option.
I currently using an old pair of Innov8s that have been going strong for a few years, though if I get caught in my flat bottomed Airforce 1s or Lacrosse sneakers after work, it’s not an issue.
If your gym’s okay with it, another great option is to ditch the shoes all together and lift barefoot - I’ll do this over lifting in runners any day!
Squats and Olympic Lifting
If you find your squat benefits from a little heel lift (a lot of people will find it does), you may want to invest in a pair of lifters.
The strong, stable build of these shoes locks your feet in position and the lifted heel can help with the depth of your squat, meaning you get more out of each repetition.
Nike, adidas and specialty brands will always have a couple of these in production, though you may need to look online.
Again I use a pair of Innov8’s, they’ve got a cool wind-up dial for tightening them and are a ridiculously bright fluorescent pink.
Lifters definitely aren’t essential, though if you do a lot of squats or olly lifts (or just want to look like you know what you’re doing) they’re a nice thing to have.
It’s been a few years since I’ve been a regular runner, and I won’t pretend to be an expert here, but here’s my two cents.
Running is the time for shoes with some spring in them. Ergonomic sloping soles with lots of bounce encourage the running motion and provide cushioning for your feet. Go for foam soles and a running specific style that will propel you towards your running goals.
Aside from that, a runner’s shoes are a very personal choice. Whether you like heavier more stable shoes that lock you in and have great support (think asics/brooks) or a super light weight and on trend style (nike/adidas) as long as they’re made for running you’ll be fine - there’s plenty of advice out there for specifics
Classes are one where I’d vary my choice based on the content:
If it’s more of a weights class go with your flat soled, stable option, if it’s more cardio/aerobic go with running shoes. In a spin class, go with cycling cleats if you're serious, or regular runners if you're not fussed.
Cycling / Mountain biking
Though I never had them when I was doing a lot of mountain biking, I think a pair of cleats are a great idea if you're on a bike frequently.
Having the ability to pull upwards on the pedal through your feet is going to help your speed, hill-climbs and overall performance. You'll also use different muscles than those for pushing the pedals and get a more complete workout.
If you don't want the cleats but still want the benefits, try some straps for your pedals to tie down your regular shoes.
Another pair of shoes I’ve gotten years of adventures and athletic use out of is my hiking boots. If you’re into travel, camping or the outdoors, a great quality pair of (waterproof) hiking boots are a must!
A little different from our usual posts, I hope you found this helpful - I remember being a little unsure when I was getting in to weight training, and the right gear goes a long way to making you feel comfortable!
On that note, check out our training apparel - it’s made to get you through any of the workouts above with world class performance, comfort and on trend style ;)
I'd love to hear your thoughts - what's your favourite way to work out, and are your go-to training shoes?