After much urging, I bought some Wei-Rui weight lifting shoes. But I found my deadlift in them became much worse, not better. A friend told me that the high heel in them ruins the deadlift. He told me I was better off deadlifting (and squatting, for that matter) bare foot than in shoes with a heel.

(He said the heel is good for olympic lifts where you snatch. I'm just doing general Starting Strength squat, deadlift, press, and bench).

Is he right? Should I get rid of the Wei-Rui and just lift barefoot? Or get a different pair? How should I find shoes that work for my (beginner's) program?


4 Answers 4


The weightlifting shoes have a solid sole, so they're much better than any regular sports shoe you'd wear with a cushioned sole, but yes, the raised heel will be a problem (just like putting a board or plate under your heel for a lift). You're better off lifting in Vivo Barefoots or Vibram FiveFingers (in the case of the former you'll want to take the insole out). Barefoot lifting also works, although that's only viable in a home gym (and maybe a CrossFit gym).


Any time you change something fundamental to your form, you will have to go through a relearning process. When you are used to not having your heels lifted, a proper weightlifting shoe can throw you off. Particularly if it is a major change like over an inch lift.

The Wei-Rui shoes have a 1.25" heel according to MaxBarbell, which is rather significant when you compare it to the 0.6" of the Addida's PowerLifts or 0.75" Nike Romaleos 2 shoes. It might be the size of the heel that is causing the bulk of the problems. Make sure you check your squat depth again with the shoes. I found I had to go a little deeper with my Addida PowerLift Trainers. The affect on my deadlifts was negligible with the 0.6" heel.

Many Power Lifters opt for deadlift slippers, which have a flat, hard non-compressible sole. This gives you the stability you want in a good lifting shoe, but without any lift.


As someone with 20 years of weightlifting and power lifting experience I can tell you that a solid-heeled weightlifting shoe is definitely something that should be in your gym bag. With that said, I DON'T recommend deadlifting in them since the heel lift will likely place your shoulders in front of the bar. Most folks prefer a flat sole shoe to do dl's. Now your squats, overheard presses, even bench press should benefit from a pair of oly shoes. If you aren't totally satisfied with the wei-ruis then checkout http://wlshoes.com for a lot of reviews and comments on other brands/models.


The worst thing a heel can do when weightlifting is compress. Actual weightlifting shoes will have a rock-solid heel, so no concerns there. This issue of compressability is why many people will prefer lifting barefoot to lifting in "cross-trainers" or running shoes.

A raised heel can be beneficial for the squat. As your friend said, weightlifting shoes are very popular with the Olympic lifts, but this has nothing to do with the snatch, per se. Both of the Olympic lifts ("Snatch" and "Clean & Jerk") use a squat motion: an overhead squat for the Snatch, and a front squat for the Clean and Jerk. In either case, the weight being lifted is well below the deadlift that these lifters are capable of. Essentially, they can afford to have a "worse" deadlift in exchange for better performance on the squat.

For a beginner, the best weightlifting shoes you can buy are a pair of Converse (I even lift in the Target knock-off). They have a flat sole, and the heel is reasonably un-compressable. Since you already have the Wei-Ruis, go ahead and wear them for squats if you like, but a pair of Converse will work just fine and work for all of your lifts as well.

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