According to this article, the principles for a good weight lifting shoe has the following properties:

  • Not slippery
  • Incompressible soles
  • Excellent support
  • Snug fit

Among the cheapest alternatives were the venerable Chuck Taylor's for their hard soles, full ankle mobility, and strong canvas. I understand running shoes with the air cells and comfort heals are just not cut out for the job.

But it got me thinking. Chucks are good for weight lifting, but I also want to run and they aren't so great for that. There's a relatively new fad with running circles called "barefoot running", and Nike, Converse, and other shoe manufacturers have some shoes that look like they might fit the bill for both. I also have a pair of karate shoes on hand.

These would have grip, the soles on all these shoes are flexible, thin, and don't compress. I would have full ankle mobility and a good fit. So, would something like that work for both arenas? Basically I don't want to stop my workout and change shoes when I'm done weight lifting and switch to my cardio work.

5 Answers 5


"Barefoot running" shoes offer little protection, and are only recommended for advanced runners with good technique -- for the average runner they are no good choices. Since running is very high impact, you need to protect your knees and joints, thus the recommended shoes are running shoes with air cells or other padding that can reduce the impact on your legs.

Weight lifting requires the exact opposite: shoes should have flat soles and no compression or air cells which can absorb part of the force you make during the exercise. This would sacrifice both stability and efficiency, and could get in the way of developing good form and technique.

I'd suggest to buy separate shoes for weight lifting and running shoes for your cardio work. On the long run your body will appreciate it.

  • 1
    Barefoot-style running is not for advanced runners. With a little practice and a careful breaking-in period, anyone can run in minimalist shoes. It's just a matter of switching from a heel-striking gait to a forefoot-striking one. See Science Daily or this Harvard lab. Commented Aug 21, 2011 at 16:50
  • For dead-lifting I'd recommend just using socks or deadlifting slippers, or very thin sole deck shoes. My squat got much better after I ditched my regular shoes for a pair with totally flat sole and no compression.
    – Alastair
    Commented Apr 20, 2016 at 12:40

You'll give up support, but otherwise Vibram Five Fingers fit the bill. If you use them for running, start with very short distances, like 100m. There are some muscles in your legs and feet that most likely will be very sore after the first few uses. The downside of vibrams is mostly found in the lack of protection when dropping a weight on your foot.

By the way, weight lifting for maximum weight can be improved with the right shoes; if you are deadlifting 400lbs, non-compression might help. But, if your goal is just fitness, you will be completely fine in just about any shoe.

  • +1 I love Vibrams for lifting! Deadlifts and squats in particular, but they can even help the bench press (a little)...
    – G__
    Commented May 8, 2011 at 5:31
  • Deadlifting 400 is a matter of time. I'm working my way up though. Commented May 9, 2011 at 13:33
  • 2
    dropping weight on any kind of shoes that aren't boots is going to hurt, so I wouldn't count that against the vibrams (this is coming from someone who lifts in socks). Commented May 9, 2011 at 14:05
  • I really don't agree that squishy running shoes are good for "fitness" weight lifting. That heel-up-on-a-sponge position encourages people to stay off their heels and load up their toes which puts them in a bad spot. It's a bad habit with bad results even in the beginning.
    – Eric
    Commented Jul 4, 2015 at 16:32

If your just starting out, just go barefoot/socks for weightlifting, unless you are advanced I don't see any need to spend significant money on weightlifting shoes. Learn your trade first.

  • That's why I'm trying to find something that will work for both... Not looking to buy weightlifting shoes per se. Commented May 9, 2011 at 12:28
  • 1
    then I suggest to buy running shoes and lift in socks
    – Moz
    Commented May 9, 2011 at 13:29
  • Let's see if the gym allows this. I think they have some silly health regulations or something like that. Commented May 9, 2011 at 19:08
  • @BerinLoritsch - I have gotten my squat to 350lb and my deadlift to 405lb using Stronglifts and barefeet/socks - works wonders. I just go to the gym in my running shoes, remove them for squats and deadlifts, then put them back on for the rest of the workout. I have only ever had one gym out of eight say something to me - to which I explained the need for flat feet - and they subsequently allowed it. Just remain in the squat rack area nd don't walk around the gym and you should be fine. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 7:48
  • @Cheeky, thanks for the input. My squat is pretty near 500 lbs now and my deadlift around 550. I asked this question 5 years ago. I've also since gotten some proper shoes. Both the Rebock Crossfit Lite TR and a pair of Adidas weightlifting shoes. They do make a difference, Not a fan of barefoot since my gym in in my garage now. Lots of little pebbles and stuff in there--even when I sweep. Commented Apr 22, 2016 at 19:23

I've tried wushu shoes, 5-Fingers, barefoot, and weightlifting shoes. Barefoot was the overall best for workouts. Weightlifting shoes, while expensive, will definitely help you add to your max lift, although I don't know if they help you become stronger.


I got a pair of Adipowers after reading a similar article and I like them!

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