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I'm getting into strength training, following the Starting Strength program, and they advise strongly to buy some weightlifting shoes. (Currently, I'm using some tough hiking sneakers, and don't feel any problems.) What's a good shoe for a beginner?

My needs:

  • I want to stay on a budget (ideally < $50, but, if impossible, I might pay more)
  • Good protection, stability, and traction
  • I'm not (yet?) lifting very heavy weights (still under body weight)
  • I do a warm up of treadmill, eliptical, and jumping jacks - I need to be able to do that in the same shoes
  • Would be great if the shoes could be used for jogging too, but, if that's not possible, I'll forgo it

UPDATE: Am I better off waiting a month or two and buying a $100+ shoe, or buying a cheaper one now and sticking with it?

Also: Can I do my warm up in a standard weight lifting (not cross fit) shoe? It's only 5-10 minutes.

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"Weightlifting shoes" are not Chucks - if you read more on the SS forums and even deeper into RipToes request for you to get lifting shoes you will quickly see that you need REAL oly shoes, not shoes designed for something else that you can wear to lift weights. There is a big difference. You should check out wlshoes.com for a database of all the shoes on the market but it sounds like the Wei Rui warrior will be your best bet if you are trying to stay around $50.

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  • That's a great site. But, seeing that they seem to give only super positive reviews, I can't really trust the site. It looks more like a paid promotion than anything approaching a real review. – S. Robert James May 30 '12 at 22:43
  • Could you provide links or expand further upon your point about why shoes not specifically designed for weight lifting are bad. – Moses May 30 '12 at 23:04
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You may not be lifting heavy weights just yet, but by the time you exhaust the gains from Starting Strength, you will be. The biggest thing you have to realize about dedicated lifting shoes is that what makes a good lifting shoe is terrible for the other things you want to do. They have opposing goals.

Lifting Shoe Requirements:

  • Stiff, solid heel with no compression
  • Only needs enough traction for a lifting platform (wood)

The challenge you have is the budget you've set. The options you have available to you are:

The bare feet are probable the best option, but gyms have insurance regulations that won't let you do that in their establishments. Karate shoes are small, flexible soles, with a minimum of cushion. New karate shoes are going to be outside your budget (over $100 a pair).

If you are willing to expand your budget to what a pair of real sporting shoes would cost, you might look at the recent edition of CrossFit shoes. They seem to have a good balance between the flexibility needed for your other activities while providing a solid base for lifting.

Long term, you will just have to have separate shoes.

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  • Why would gyms disallow bare feet? BTW, I also see a lot of people lifting is slippers (really thin ones) - is this an ok alternative to barefoot lifting? – VPeric May 30 '12 at 14:35
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    @VPeric Health codes and a strange belief that shoes are cleaner than feet cause people and institutions to ban bare feet. – Dave Liepmann May 30 '12 at 14:46
  • As long as it has a non-slip sole. Many slippers don't provide any grip on smooth surfaces. If the lifting floor is rubber, you should be OK. – Berin Loritsch May 30 '12 at 16:53

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