Do I need weightlifting shoes? I’ve been asked this question many times and I bet many of you reading this still wonder whether you need to get a pair of the weightlifting shoes.
So, let’s start with why actually lifters wear them. Weightlifting shoes predominantly affect the ankle flexion of a lifter. They also impact the angle of the trunk during a barbell back squat. Weightlifting shoes are often used with lifters with limited range of motion in both, the ankle and the knee joint to aid movement efficiency while allowing for more upright trunk to allow sufficient weight distribution. They can be used to improve range of motion during the back squat even with the lifters who already are proficient in the movement. The kinematics of the barbell back squat were significantly affected in studies when weightlifting shoes were used in comparison to barefoot and running shoes.
If you take your training seriously and want to bring it to another level, then I would probably recommend getting a pair. Honestly, it can be a lifelong purchase. Those shoes last very long, and I believe that for regular gym goers they will last forever. I know many lifters who lift very often, and a lot (like a lot) and they have the same pair for 10 years.
Recommending you getting the weightlifting shoes doesn’t mean they will suddenly make you squat super heavy or with the perfect execution. In meantime, you definitely can train with heel elevation using a plate or an elevated squat platform and try to improve you range of motion by squatting rather than just doing mobility drills. Mobility drill are great, useful and very helpful. Don’t forget, however, that by only doing mobility drills, you will only improve the mobility drill itself and not the range of motion in the desired lift (significantly).
If you are having an issue with your squat, it’s worth analysing whether you have a limitation or in fact you don’t know how to squat properly just yet (trust me, more often this is the case rather than having a poor ankle mobility).
The intent of weightlifting shoes was also to increase power production during Olympic and Powerlifting movements. The weightlifting shoes provides support; hence, they can allow to train safely at greater intensities. You would see lifters at World’s level competing without these shoes but more than anything it’s quite rare. For instance, the raised heel allows to catch in a more upright position in Olympic weightlifting.
To sum it up, if you go gym but you are not that bothered about your squat or Oly lifts, you probably don’t need to get weightlifting shoes. If you’ve been training for a while and gym and lifting is a part of your life it can be a very beneficial buy.