As we enter into a weekend filled with max effort Olympic lifts, it seems on most excellent opportunity to wrap up our discussion of Olympic weightlifting shoes.
Part 1 of our weightlifting shoe write-up focused solely on knowing when the time was right to pony up for a pair of shoes. So, now that you know whether or not you should consider getting a pair weightlifting shoes, it’s time to figure out which brand and model of shoes are right for you.
Thanks to the rising popularity of CrossFit, there are more options than ever in choosing what kind of lifting shoe to buy. To figure out what you should buy, you should first figure out what your lifting priorities are. Are we talking Olympic Weightlifting, or CrossFit Weightlifting? The first means you’ll primarily be wearing your lifting shoes for structured Olympic weightlifting, or squatting in a strength program (as opposed to something like higher-rep, lighter-weight squats for time). The second, CrossFit Weightlifting, means you’ll largely be wearing them during more conditioning-focused workouts, for which you’ll want a shoe that will allow you to do overhead squats followed by box jumps followed by hand stand push-ups followed by double unders (i.e., basically, just about every exercise short of running, which is impractical in every type of lifting shoe).
Now that you have that in mind, here are your options (as of December 2013):
Do-Win (“Doe-Inn”) is a classic Oly shoe manufacturer, and they make a solid shoe geared for classic weightlifting rather than CrossFit workouts. A word to the wise, however: Do-Win’s shoes run large, so if you opt for them, buy a size smaller than you normally would. Unfortunately, the old school versions of the shoes have become extremely difficult to track down here in the U.S.
Rogue Do-Win & Pendlay Do-Win ($120/$130 respectively)
These are Do-Win shoes made specifically for the product lines of Rogue Fitness and Olympic weightlifting coach Glenn Pendlay (of CalStrength). They are still meant for lifting, rather than CrossFitting, and as with the traditional Do-Wins, the Pendlay and Rogue versions both run a little large. However, there’s one additional issue with these two versions to be aware of: the rubber sole has a bad tendency to separate from the wooden wedge (both front and back).
– “Adistar” ($200)
The Adidas Adistar is by far and away the most popular lifting shoe currently offered. Although the higher heel was designed specifically for O-lifting, the flexible nature of the Adistar’s make them a popular choice for CrossFitting as well. The Adistar seems narrow, but the design them to conform to each lifter’s foot shape with relative ease.
– “Power Lifter” and “Power Lifter 2.0” ($90-100)
These are Adidas entry level lifting shoe, and the 2.0 version was upgraded with CrossFitters in mind. Don’t be fooled by the low price – these are quality shoes that will take a good amount of abuse. The sizing is also much more accommodating for larger feet.
– “Romaleo” ($190-200)
After outfitting the powerhouse that is the Chinese National Weightlifting team, Nike Romaleo’s have cemented themselves as one of the go-to Oly shoes on the market. Super sturdy, hefty, and solid, these lifting shoes are sold at a price that nearly rivals the Adidas Adi-Stars. Essentially, the choice between the two comes down to feel, as both are tested and proven, similarly priced, and equally popular.
– “CrossFit Lifter” ($150);
Based on the name alone, I bet you can figure out what this shoe is meant for. This is a good all-around shoe bridging the gap between CrossFit and Olympic weightlifting. The Reebok shoes come with the added benefit of allowing you to actually mold the shoe to better fit your foot. This feature makes for a slightly higher list price than some of the entry level lifting shoes.
Risto ($130…or $220)
Relatively new to the game, Risto hand-makes these sturdy shoes which are specifically geared towards weightlifting, with one big plus: personal color design! Of course, the personalized color option comes at a price (the above mentioned $220), but otherwise they come in around the $130 mark.
VS Athletics (~$80)
These guys have been around for a while, serving as a solid low-cost option for those looking for a sturdy lifting shoe. These are highly functional shoes, but without the trouble of multiple features or color choices (there’s only one option: white & black).
– “Fastlift” ($190)
Although Inov8 had their big breakout with minimalist running shoes, they’re now trying their hand at weightlifting shoes. I have no experience with the Inov8’s. They are geared towards CrossFitting rather than pure weightlifting, but at just under $200 (without the Reebok’s molding option), would seem to be on the expensive end of the spectrum.
The above should illustrate the veritable cornucopia of choices available to you, with a few definite standouts depending on what you want your shoes to help you accomplish. If you’re still not sure, feel free to take a look around the gym the next time we’re lifting, and ask your fellow members why they bought the shoes they did, and what they like or dislike about them. That’s what community is for!