There comes a time in your strength training where the little things can start to make a big difference. Things like using the right footwear can make all the difference between a solid performance and a struggle in the gym. While it might be convenient to slip on your trusty running shoes for a lifting session, at a certain point they do start to hinder your progress.
Using a flat sole shoe with a firm base provides a rock-solid foundation for lifting that can enhance stability, power, and even reduce the risk of injury. If you’re looking to take your lifting game to the next level, here are a few reasons you might want to consider upgrading your gym shoes:
- Stability: Flat sole shoes, such as weightlifting shoes, Nike Metcon’s, Reebook Nano’s or even Converse Chuck Taylors, provide a stable base for lifting. The flat and firm sole allows for better contact with the ground, reducing the risk of wobbling or imbalance during heavy lifts.
- Improved Force Transfer: The cushioning and arch support in running shoes restricts force transfer from the feet to the ground. This means you are unable to generate as much power when pushing through the floor, especially in exercises like squats and deadlifts.
- Closer to the Ground: Lifting in flat sole shoes keeps you closer to the ground, for movements such as the deadlift, where the bar starts at a fixed height, this will put you in a stronger position to start the lift. Too much thickness under foot can have a similar effect as performing a deficit deadlift.
- Specific Design for Lifting: Weightlifting shoes (mainly for Olympic lifts & squats) are designed with features like a raised heel and non-compressible soles to optimise lifting performance. This allows for both greater force transfer as well assistance with mobility and positioning .
- Injury Prevention: Using flat sole shoes can help reduce the risk of injuries, especially to the knees and lower back, by promoting better lifting mechanics and reducing the chances of improper weight distribution.
If your gym training is mixed in nature and involves plyometrics, lateral movements, lifting and a little conditioning work. Similar to our group training program, then a shoe like the Nike Metcon, or Reebok Nano will be the most suitable. They provide a stable surface with structure and support for a variety of movements
However if you are strictly lifting weights and not moving about in multiple directions too often like the majority of our 1:1 and semi private training sessions, a flat sole shoe like a Converse Chuck Taylor or Vans are a great option. With a solid base, they wont have as much structure around the heel allowing for greater mobility around the ankle & provide great grip to the floor.
If you are planning on doing any Olympic lifts (Cleans, snatches jerks) I would highly recommend investing in a pair of weightlifting shoes with a raised heel to assist with force development, mobility and positioning.
Lastly it is important to note that none of these shoes are ideal for running, so if you plan on using 1 pair of shoes for the gym and running, stick with your usual running shoes. Any of the benefits of wearing these flatter shoes will likely be negated by the problems they may cause if you try to run in them. However, by investing in a pair of gym shoes separate to your running shoes you are likely to increase the life of your running shoes.