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Right now, no one has to explain why you never skip leg day, but sometimes we need a reminder why we need to squat in the right shoes.
When it comes to the king of compound movements, every muscle group needs to work in sync for you to perform a squat both effectively and safely, whether you’re throwing a 45-pound plate on either side of the bar for three series. of 10 or lift a ton-like force like icon Chris Duffin. A good squat requires shoulder stabilization, core strength, proper spinal positioning, knee and ankle stability, and adequate foot support. Any structural failure along this chain, especially in the ankles and feet, can lead to not only a missed 1RM, but possible injury as well.
What to Look for in the Best Shoes for Squats
A good squat requires a strong and stable foot-to-floor connection, which means your toes should have enough room to spread out and your heel should be secure and comfortable enough to grip the floor rep after rep.
“We can’t chase things if we don’t have a really good connection to the ground,” says Duffin, who squatted a record 1,001 pounds for three reps, is the founder of the strength-training equipment company Kabuki Strength and is known in strength circles as the “Mad Scientist” for his pioneering influence in strength equipment. “If our toes are straightening, we are rolling, not actively controlling a squat, going into supination or pronation with the ankle complex to a higher degree, not going down with the big toe, and not having enough room for the toes to splay for better control, we can end up with back, knee and hip problems.
(Note that Duffin recorded his barefoot squat feat — a method some athletes love — but it’s not always comfortable for everyone, let alone hygienic.)
When shopping, remember that even the best cross-training shoes aren’t ideal for squatting.
John Wolf, Chief Fitness Officer at Supplement, a health food and fitness equipment brand Yes, recommends looking for styles with wide toes for greater stability and solid heels to give you that “tripod” of support along the big and little toes and rearfoot.
“When it comes to squatting, the width of the toe box is something to be concerned about, as well as the density of the heel material,” says Wolf. “Those are the main ones, especially when you’re working to get maximum loads. At the same time, you also want to consider the comfort factor of the shoe.
If you only use your squat shoes for, well, squatting, you’re in luck because you’ll probably be able to keep a quality pair for a few years. But, there are signs to watch out for that may mean it’s time for a new pair.
If your feet start to slip more often on the platform, it could indicate that the grip strength of the shoe is degrading. Also, if your feet start to roll around a little more, the outer edges can wear out. “Maybe your toes are starting to push out certain areas of the shoe,” Duffin says. “That can tell you that you might need to scale this shoe up a bit.”
Ahead, shop the 7 best squat shoes we’ve tried and customers love too.
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Premium squat shoes
Inov-8 FastLift 360 Squat Shoes
If you’re looking for the perfect blend of stability and protection for heavy squats, the FastLift is the shoe you have to try. The latest model comes with a newly designed supportive upper and base while keeping your feet secure with its snug and comfortable midfoot strap. Weighing just 13 ounces with a 16.5 millimeter drop, these are the shoes for competition or weekend workouts.
Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 Squat Shoes
Great for stability
As the weights get heavier and heavier, the stability gets better and better, thanks in part to Reebok’s decision to go with a 22-millimeter heel drop. The Legacy’s textile upper brings comfort, while its locking straps keep the entire foot nice and secure, rep after rep.
It only comes in two colors, which may be a turnoff for some, but the style still looks cool.
“Wish I had them sooner,” writes one reviewer. “The stability they provide has definitely reduced the pain I usually feel with heavy loads, and at the age of 59, that’s a big plus.”
Nike Romaleo 4 Squat Shoes
Ideal for comfort
The new edition of Nike’s iconic weightlifting shoes brings Olympic-level quality to everyday training sessions. the Romeos fits your feet like a secure glove for slip-free confidence, rep after rep, providing maximum stability to generate the maximum power you need for every squat and deadlift. Its wider heel is meant to create more stability when going 1RM, and while the 20-millimeter heel drop might seem like a concern for some lifters, those wearing the shoes seem to have no problem.
“At first I was a little worried about both the 20 millimeter heel increase and the stiff sole,” writes one buyer. “I thought my toes might hit the front of the toe box and feel like they were walking on bricks compared to Powerlifts and their softer EVA midfoot, flexible forefoot and at their 15 millimeter heel. Nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, they are a little harder to put on, but once laced and tied to my feet, they stayed planted. The straps are positioned to pull and hold the foot and heel towards the heel cup. No forward motion or heel lift. The toe box was actually roomier than the Powerlifts. It didn’t take long to get used to. to walk in. Once under weight is when they shine. They just feel rooted to the platform. Laterally they yield very little. I think the way the midsole widens also has a lot to do with it. do with that.The sole is actually wider than the shoe .
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Squat Shoes
Better for the environment
Good for your feet and good for the planet, these minimalist shoes from Vivobarefoot are made with durable materials and are suitable not only for squats but also for running and walking. Although they are more expensive, their performance technology is well worth the splurge. In fact, the Primus Lite III has become this writer’s favorite pair of training shoes. So much so, I neglected Reeboks and Nikes in my collection. Being able to feel the ground more has changed my workouts and made my feet stronger. I even use them as much as possible. My only complaint is the price. Otherwise, I would have several pairs.
Adidas Powerlift 4 Squat Shoes
Ideal for versatility
Comfortable and safe, the Powerlift 4s are always a solid choice for your squats and deads. The shoe’s flexible toe box and 15-millimeter drop allow for a solid and comfortable squat, while its midfoot hook-and-loop strap keeps you secure on every lift.
“These shoes have resulted in significant improvements in my range of motion on back squats,” says one buyer. “They’ve also been great for deadlifts, shoulder presses, cleans, etc. I’m happy with my decision to buy them.”
Bearfoot Ursu Squat Shoes
Ideal for a minimalist feel
Hence its name, Ursu from Bearfoot can deliver the closest feeling you’ll ever have to lifting barefoot. Created in collaboration with Duffin, the Ursus have been designed with a wide toe box and zero drop, allowing this minimalist shoe to help you grip the ground with maximum force – almost making it look like you’re not wearing weight. everything. And the ratings speak for themselves. “I never realized how unstable normal shoes were until I tried them on,” writes one shopper. “This brand was recommended to me by Chris Duffin, and as soon as I put my Ursus on, I felt like I had little platforms on my feet to keep me balanced. These also have a ton plenty of room inside so they don’t stick my feet/toes in. Would recommend to anyone who lifts.
Do-Win Classic Squat Shoes
One of the original weightlifting shoes, these Classics are solidly constructed with a leather heel and suede and mesh upper, hook-and-loop straps that keep them snug during any lift. and a drop of 19 millimeters. The shoe’s rounded toe box drew mixed opinions, but overall it works well enough for maximum lifts, according to buyers. “I’ve had my pair for a few months now,” it says. “I really like them. They are strong and durable. The wooden sole makes weightlifting even more fun with the sound it produces. However, the toe box is quite small, so if you have wider feet the fit might not be perfect.
Meet the author
Jeff Tomko is a journalist and fitness enthusiast. He is currently the editor of Muscle & Fitness magazine whose work has also appeared in Men’s Health, Esquire, Runner’s World, GQ and Metro, among other publications. When he’s not writing, he loves hitting the gym while wearing the best cross training shoes for men.
Meet the expert
Chris Duffin is a world-renowned strength athlete who squatted a record 1,001 pounds for three reps. He is also a fitness and health author and educator and founder of a strength training equipment company. Kabuki Strength. He is known in strength circles as “Mad Scientist” for his innovative influence in strength equipment.