I was looking at a couple of weightlifting shoes. One pair had a 0.5 inch (~1.27 cm) raised heel and the other had a 1 inch (~3.54 cm) raised heel. They were both from the same company and both cost exactly the same. From what I can tell, this was the only thing different between them structure wise.

All things being equal, what difference would such a small variation of the heel have? Why would someone choose a lower raised heel over the higher one and vice versa? How would different heel height effect this squat, clean, and snatch if at all?

The current shoes I use have a 1 inch raised heels. I have to admit I did not consider height variation when purchasing them.

  • I've had this same question -- it would be great to see an educated answer to it. I know that I've seen people use multiple shoes before... high heel for squats and low heel for dead-lifting.
    – C. Lange
    Oct 1 '19 at 20:01

Higher heel elevation means that you can push your knees further forward before reaching the limit of your ankle flexibility. Knees further forward make for a more upright squat.

If you're practicing Olympic weightlifting, then you'll generally want your squats to be more upright, since you need to catch the clean with an upright torso. Olympic lifters also generally train the back squat in a high-bar style, which requires a knees-forward, upright position. So the higher-heeled shoes would be a good choice here.

If you're practicing powerlifting, then you're probably squatting in a low-bar style, in order to maximise the amount of weight you can lift within the rules of competition. This requires less forward travel of the knees, and so you may find higher heeled shoes more awkward, as they require you to consciously focus on not moving your knees as far forward as they can go. Pushing your knees too far forward in a low-bar squat means the quads take too much of the load, which can either result in a missed lift, or a need to shift your hips and knees backwards when you near the bottom of the squat. You can still control your knee position in higher-heeled shoes, but it requires more conscious effort. (I have two pairs of lifting shoes, one pair with approximately a 0.75 inch heel, and another with a 1.25 inch heel. Powerlifting-style squats in the latter are much more awkward.)

If you're just training for general strength, it probably doesn't matter, but I'd lean towards the higher heel if you're doing a lot of front squats, safety bar squats, or high-bar squats, and the lower heel if you're doing a lot of low-bar squats.

For deadlifts, extra heel height is pretty much exactly equivalent to pulling from a deficit, and so should be avoided if you're deadlifting for competition (i.e. are a powerlifter) but probably doesn't make that much difference if you're just training for general strength.

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