The In’s and Out’s of Oly Shoes – Part 2

Friday, December 13
December 12, 2013
Saturday, December 14
December 13, 2013

The In’s & Out’s of Oly Shoes – Part 2

Knowing when to get Oly Shoes, and what to get when the time is right


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!


  1. Julia says:

    I have the Rogue weightlifting shoes and would NOT recommend them based on my personal experience, although I think others have used them just fine. I’m pretty tough on my shoes (and gear in general), but even by my standards these haven’t held up well. The sole on one of my shoes — on the side that goes back when I split jerk — started peeling back just a few months after I got them. Gorilla Glue hasn’t done much for them. They’ll do fine for my purposes, but for how much they cost, and how much longer I expect to use them, I haven’t been too impressed.

    Would be interested to hear what others have to say about their shoes!

  2. Kevin says:

    I have the Romaleos and would highly recommend them. After my shoes were stolen last year I gave the Adistars a try, but didn’t like them as much and exchanged them for another pair of Romaleos. If that doesn’t convince you, consider that Lu Xiaojun, Illya Ilyin, and I all wear this shoe.

    I’m leaving this comment in part to prove to Chris that I am awake before 7 am

    • Chris Sheppard says:

      by a whopping 5 minutes. oh how very impressive.

      btw Kevin, is it a knock against the Romaleos that they might cause the wearer to audibly yelp when lifting moderately heavy weights?

  3. Reg says:

    I currently have the VS Athletics shoe, and I admit that I bought them primarily for their low cost.

    However, I have had my shoes since 2007, and they have served me well.

    I am looking to get a new pair of Olympic weightlifting shoes because my VS are starting to show signs of wear (e.g., separation in the toe box seams, chipping in the heel, slick areas on the sole). I’m not sure if I will get another pair of VS or if I will purchase another brand.

  4. Ben says:

    My one and only lifting shoe experience has been with the Adidas Powerlifter. I have had them for 2 years and have held up extremely well (I don’t plan on buying new shoes in the near future). They have served me well and given that they are light, flexible, and don’t have a bigger heal wedge they work well in metcons (box jumps, DUs, T2B, etc are all doable with the shoe, but obviously not preferable). Perhaps I could be missing out on some incredible lifting experience given that I haven’t tried another shoe, but I really like the powerlifter and think they serve as a good “first” Oly shoe since they are moderately priced and don’t prevent you from experiementing with metcons.

  5. Kara McIver says:

    Next can you teach us about supplements/recovery drinks/pre-&post-workout nutrition?

    thaaaaanks. 🙂