What shoes have you found to be most effective for exercises like squats and deadlifts etc.?
When doing any weight training that involves the legs/feet, you want a shoe that provides:
- Hard, incompressible sole. Avoid squishy sneakers, as they are a bit like doing push-ups on a mattress.
- Wide & stable. You don't want to be wobbly.
- Any type of squatting (including the clean, jerk, snatch): a raised heel is advantagous when squatting. Proper weightlifting shoes are your best bet, such as the ones available at Rogue Fitness, Pendlay Barbell or Eleiko.
- Just about everything else (including deadlifts): you want to be as low/close to the ground as possible. Barefoot or in socks is ideal when conditions allow. If not, Chucks and Vibram Five Fingers are good alternatives.
To some degree I think the shoe needs will vary based on individual anatomy and flexibility. For me (43yr old male with 2yrs of heavy lifting, 6 months olympic weightlifting) a taller and stiffer heel was needed to deal with my ankle flexibility issues. Without the higher heel I tended to end up with my weight to far forward onto my toes rather than heels while lifting.
I've been through 3 different pairs in the past year and so far have liked the Risto Olimpico the best. They seem to have the biggest heel to toe drop of the ones I've tried and are definitely one of the most comfortable. I'be also tried the Pendlays (had a good heel but were very uncomfortable for me) and the Adidas Powerlift Trainers (very comfortable but not a big enough heel for me). Others at my gym swear by the Nike Romaleos and the Adidas Adipower shoes but I have never tried those.
I feel like it really depends on the lift. Pretty much unanimously, a lifter performing oly lifts or front squats will benefit from an oly lifting shoe. Equally, a flat bottom shoe, such as chuck taylors or ballet slippers will help out during the deadlift. However, I feel like the back squat has a wider variance in what lifters prefer to lift in.