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When To Wear Lifting Shoes (Lifters) and Why You Should and Shouldn’t

Lifting shoes are a tool to help you push maximal load.

When to wear lifting shoes? If you want the maximum performance output – that is to lift the heaviest weight – lifting shoes are an obvious tool to help you achieve your goal.

Footwear is widely used to enhance your performance in many sports. Whether it’s running, track and field, tennis, rugby, football; shoes are part of what makes us faster, better, and stronger.

The same is true for weightlifting, and this is where lifting shoes, or lifters, come in.

woman in weightlifting shoes loads up barbell during competition

When to wear lifting shoes?

Lifting shoes enhance your body’s stability and positions. They are a great way to support your performance when you want to push hard.

Their purpose is to allow you to lift the most weight possible, and they achieve that by lightening the load on your ankles, improving your posture, and giving your feet a more stable position.

They prevent your ankle from rolling, allow you to spread and transfer force on a wider surface, and aid in achieving consistent movement patterns. Because many people also suffer from poor mechanics and limited mobility, lifting shoes can also help you increase your squat depth and the degree of upright posture.

Lifters are especially beneficial for exercises that involve squatting with heavy weights, such as front and back squats, cleans, and snatches.

If your goals include chasing the highest level of performance when it comes to lifting, then lifters are essential. However, if you’re simply lifting weights for personal gains, tweaking the intensity, weights, and rep ranges of your workouts can provide a very similar stimulus and wearing flat sole shoes is a good alternative.

Additionally, an in-depth look into 25 peer-reviewed studies analysing lifting footwear found that there’s no “one size fits all” solution and experimentation is required to choose your shoes for weightlifting.

Read more: How Strong Should You Be to Safely and Effectively Train Weightlifting Exercises?

squat clean

Why you shouldn’t wear lifting shoes all the time

To make sure that joints such as your ankles, knees, and hips stay strong, balanced, and healthy, you’ll want to make sure you don’t always lift with aid.

Lifters can mask movement imbalances or deficiencies, which ultimately you’ll have to address not only to improve your performance but to stay healthy.

Moreover, barefoot lifting can provide benefits such as greater muscle activation in the feet and ankles, and can improve your coordination.

As with many aspects of fitness, you shouldn’t fully commit to one or the other, but include a well-rounded balance in your training. Our advice is for you to not do all your lifting with lifting shoes or never wear shoes at all, but rather to include both in your training, as both have unique benefits.

Read more: The 6 Best Drills to Improve Olympic Weightlifting Technique Without Weights

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