Why Running Shoes Are Bad for Lifting: (Expert views) - 2023/ featured image

Why Running Shoes Are Bad for Lifting: (Expert views) – 2023

Key Takeaways:

  • Shoe Choice Matters: Proper footwear is crucial for lifting safety and performance.
  • Downsides of Running Shoes in Lifting:
    • This leads to instability during exercises like squats.
    • Offer insufficient support for heavy weights.
    • Don’t provide optimal traction on gym floors.
    • Heel height can compromise lifting form.
  • Expert Consensus: Weightlifting shoes are preferred over running shoes due to their stability and efficiency benefits.
  • Lifting Footwear Alternatives:
    • Cross-trainers: Offer stability and are versatile.
    • Barefoot Lifting can improve posture, injury prevention, and muscle strength.

If you’re new to lifting, you might think that any kind of athletic shoe will do.

However, the shoes you wear can have a big impact on your performance and safety, especially when it comes to lifting.

In this post, we’ll discuss why running shoes are bad for lifting and what you should look for in a lifting shoe instead.

Let’s get started!

Why Running Shoes Are Bad for Lifting: Problems with Running Shoes?

Running shoes are designed for forward motion, with lots of cushioning in the heel to absorb impact. While this can be great for running, it’s not ideal for lifting.

Here are some of the reasons why:


Running shoes have a lot of cushioning and a soft, flexible sole, which can make you feel unstable when lifting.

This is especially true for exercises that require a solid base, such as squats or deadlifts.

The cushioning can also cause your feet to wobble during exercises like lunges, making it harder to maintain proper form.

Lack of Support

Running shoes are designed to be lightweight and flexible, which means they don’t provide a lot of support for your feet.

This can be problematic when you’re lifting heavy weights, as your feet need to be stable and supported to prevent injury.

Poor Traction

Running shoes are designed for traction on pavement, not on gym floors.

This can make it harder to maintain your footing during lifts, especially if you’re lifting on a slick surface.

Wrong Heel Height

Running shoes often have a higher heel drop than lifting shoes, which means the heel is much higher than the toe.

This can make it harder to maintain proper form during lifts, especially squats, and can put unnecessary strain on your knees and ankles.

What do experts say about wearing running shoes for lifting?

Experts generally advise against wearing running shoes for lifting.

According to a sports science expert, weightlifting shoes offer more stability and a stronger position than cushioned running shoes and can help beginners learn proper form and maintain a good range of motion in exercises.

Wearing running shoes while lifting can slow progress and increase the risk of injury.

This advice is echoed by some of the world’s top powerlifters and weightlifters.

For example, two-time World’s Strongest Man winner Brian Shaw often talks about the importance of wearing weightlifting shoes, claiming they “provide stability and balance while you’re doing your heavy lifts”.

Similarly, professional powerlifter and multiple record holder Blaine Sumner says that “weightlifting shoes are essential for any serious strength athlete” as they “provide stability and help keep your load balanced for maximum efficiency“.

In summary, experts recommend weightlifting shoes over running shoes when lifting weights.

This advice is supported by successful powerlifters and weightlifters who claim that the shoes provide stability and help keep the load balanced for maximum efficiency.

What to Look for in a Lifting Shoe?

Now that you know why running shoes aren’t ideal for lifting, you might be wondering what kind of shoe you should wear instead.

Here are some things to look for in a lifting shoe:

  • Stable Base: Look for a shoe with a stable base and a firm, non-compressible sole. This will help you maintain proper form during lifts and prevent wobbling.
  • Supportive Upper: A shoe with a supportive upper will help keep your feet secure during lifts and prevent them from moving around.
  • Good Traction: Look for a shoe with a sole that provides good traction on gym floors. This will help you maintain your footing during lifts and prevent slips and falls.
  • Low Heel Height: A lifting shoe should have a lower heel drop than a running shoe, which means the heel and toe should be closer to the same height. This will help you maintain proper form during lifts and reduce strain on your knees and ankles.

Weightlifting shoes can also be a major advantage by helping beginners learn what basic movements like the hip hinge and the squat are supposed to feel like, according to Boly.

9 Best lifting shoes in 2023

The 9 Best Weightlifting Shoes Of 2023, Reviewed By A Fitness Enthusiast:

  1. Nike Metcon 8 – $130

Best for those who also run

  1. Altra Solstice XT 2 – $120

Best for women

  1. Nike Romaleos 4 – $200

Best for Olympic lifts

  1. Reebok Nano X – $130

Best for CrossFit athletes

  1. Adidas Adipower Weightlifting 2 – $200

Best for powerlifting

  1. Asics Lift Master Lite – $130

Best for durability

  1. Inov-8 Fastlift 400 – $160

Best for wide feet

  1. Adidas Powerlift 4 – $100

Best for beginners

  1. NOBULL Lifter – $200

Best overall lifting shoes

What’s the difference between cross-trainer shoes and running shoes?

If you are not considering investing in lifting shoes because of budget or personal preferences, then I would recommend you try a more versatile option which is cross-training shoes.

Here are some key differences between cross-training and running shoes:

1. Sole: Running shoes typically have a softer, more cushioned sole to absorb impact from running, while cross-training shoes have a firmer, more stable sole to provide support during lateral movements.

2. Flexibility: Running shoes are designed to be very flexible to accommodate the natural movement of the foot during running, while cross-training shoes are more rigid to provide support during strength training exercises.

3. Heel Height: Running shoes often have a higher heel drop than cross-training shoes, which means the heel is much higher than the toe.

This can be problematic for lifting and can put unnecessary strain on your knees and ankles.

4. Upper: Running shoes often have a lightweight, breathable upper to keep your feet cool and comfortable during runs, while cross-training shoes may have a more supportive upper to keep your feet secure during lateral movements.

5. Traction: Running shoes are designed for traction on pavement, while cross-training shoes are designed for traction on a variety of surfaces, including gym floors.

In summary, running shoes and cross-training shoes are designed for different activities and have different features to accommodate those activities. If you’re serious about running or lifting, it’s important to invest in a shoe that’s specifically designed for that activity to help you perform your best and prevent injury.

Examples of best cross-training shoes

1. Puma Fuse ($90): Puma’s Fuse is the brand’s first strength-based shoe on the market and is priced wallet-friendly at $90. It is ideal for people who need a shoe for lifting and cardio.

2. R.A.D ONE ($130): The R.A.D ONE cross-training shoe is brand new on the cross-training shoe scene and offers strong performance at a price of $130.

3. Nike Metcon 8 ($130): The Nike Metcon 8 is the best overall choice for cross-training shoes, with a price tag of $130. It offers great support for hybrid workouts and multiple sports.

4. Adidas AdiPower Workout Shoes ($100): The Adidas AdiPower Workout Shoes offer excellent performance and durability at a price of $100. These shoes are perfect for those who need maximum stability during their workouts.

5. Reebok Fast Flexweave ($90): The Reebok Fast Flexweave cross-trainers offer great comfort and flexibility at a price of $90. They are designed to provide cushioning and protection during intense workouts.

What does science say about barefoot lifting?

The science of barefoot strength training is fairly new, but the research is promising.

According to a growing body of evidence, barefoot lifting can improve your posture, decrease your risk of developing lower extremity injuries, and increase overall muscle strength and athletic performance.

One major benefit of barefoot lifting is improved positional awareness.

Our feet are filled with nerve endings that can detect subtle changes in the ground beneath us, which allows us to adjust our posture to maintain balance and stability.

When we wear shoes, this sensory feedback is lost and our ability to accurately adjust our posture decreases.

Therefore, engaging in barefoot strength training can help you stay in tune with your body and learn how to better control your movements.

This can help reduce the risk of injury and improve your overall athletic performance.

Additionally, studies have also found that barefoot lifting can help improve muscle strength.

This is likely due to the fact that when we go barefoot, we are able to more effectively distribute force throughout our entire body instead of relying on the cushioning of our shoes.

This improved distribution of force can help increase overall muscle strength and power.

Finally, barefoot strength training can also help improve mobility.

Going barefoot allows us to move more freely and with a greater range of motion. This improved range of motion can help improve our performance in sports and activities of daily living.

Read more about barefoot training and why it’s been encouraged in recent years.

Learn the benefits of barefoot lifting in this video too.


In conclusion, running shoes are not ideal for weightlifting.

While some people swear by wearing them for both activities, it is important to remember that they are designed specifically for running and lack the support and stability needed to lift heavy weights safely.

Wearing running shoes while lifting weights can put you at risk of serious injury due to the lack of arch support, stability, and cushioning.

Investing in a good pair of shoes that are specifically designed for lifting is the safest option.

Additionally, barefoot strength training can also be beneficial and should be considered as an alternative to wearing shoes while lifting.

Last but not least, Warming up before training and Proper form is also key when lifting weights, and it should be practiced no matter what type of footwear you wear.

Following these tips will help you stay safe, and injury-free and maximize your results in the gym.


Are running shoes bad for deadlifts?

Running shoes are not ideal for deadlifts as they are designed with thick and cushioned soles that can hinder proper form and stability during the lift. Flat-soled shoes or barefoot are recommended for deadlifting.

Why should you not squat with running shoes?

Running shoes are not recommended for squats as they are designed for forward motion and lack the stability needed for the proper squat form.

Why do people lift in flat shoes?

People lift in flat shoes because they provide a stable base, which is important for exercises like squats and deadlifts that require good foot placement and balance.
Flat shoes help to distribute weight evenly across the foot and promote a solid connection to the ground.

What shoes to wear at the gym?

It’s best to wear shoes with flat, firm soles at the gym as they provide a stable base for lifting and other exercises.
Good options include cross-training shoes, weightlifting shoes, and minimalist shoes.
It’s important to choose shoes that are comfortable and fit well to avoid injury and promote proper form.

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