Wearing the right shoes to lift weights can help you make faster progress and avoid injury, according to a sports science expert.
Weightlifting shoes offer more stability and a stronger position than cushioned running shoes.
They can also help beginners learn proper form and maintain good range of motion in exercises.
Weightlifting gains start from the ground up, and the wrong shoes might be slowing your progress.
Running shoes can hinder your weightlifting since the thick foam creates a barrier between your foot and the floor, according to Jake Boly, a certified strength and conditioning specialist with a master's degree in sports science.
"I encourage people to get out of their running shoes because lifting starts with the foot," he told Insider. "Why would you want to use a tool that isn't helping you achieve the best of your ability?"
In contrast, weightlifting shoes can help improve form and performance. Here's how to tell if they're right for you.
What makes weightlifting shoes unique
Weightlifting shoes have three main features that differ from other training shoes, Boly said:
An elevated heel designed to help put your body in a better starting position for movements like squats, cleans, and leg presses.
A firm outsole to stabilize the foot and ankle.
Midfoot support via straps or lacing for more stability.
Shoes also come in different varieties for specific movements. Deadlifting shoes, for instance, are flat instead of elevated, reducing the range of motion needed for the exercise.
Benefits of lifting shoes include better performance, faster progress, and lower risk
Weightlifting shoes work by allowing you to start in a stronger, more stable position, which helps you move more weight with good form throughout the full range of the movement. The end result is that you gett more out of each exercise, according to Boly.
"Range of motion is important for getting more bang for your buck in terms of strength and muscle," he said.
By improving your connection to the floor during a lift, weightlifting shoes can help you make small adjustments to perfect your technique and improve more quickly, Boly said. They also prevent potential injury from unstable joints.
Shoes aren't a replacement for mobility work for stiff ankles or other weak points, though.
"The big misconception is the shoes magically improve range," Boly said. "If you want to improve something, you need to pratice moving through the range of motion you want to work with."
Lifting shoes can help beginners understand proper form
Weightlifting shoes can be a major advantage by helping beginners learn what basic movements like the hip hinge and the squat are supposed to feel like, according to Boly.
Understanding the mechanics of your body in motion, known as proprioception, is crucial for avoiding common newbie mistakes like caving in with the knees or ankles, not squatting low enough, or losing balance.
"Weightlifting shoes create an intuitive way for a beginner to conceptualize the movements, and they'll learn faster," he said.
How to pick a weightlifting shoe
Weightlifting shoes come in a huge range of styles. Boly offers thorough reviews on his site, but said most people shouldn't overthink it.
"Go for the most cost-efficient option, you don't the fanciest ones," he said.
If you aren't ready to buy lifting shoes, try a low-cost alternative:
Converse are favorite of powerlifters thanks to a great connection to the floor, some stability, and affordability. "They're tried and true that you can wear for activities and wear them every day," Boly said. The downside, though, is the narrow shape, which isn't ideal for folks with wider feet.
Bare feet can offer more feedback on your movement patterns, Boly said, but don't forget good gym etiquette. "Some gyms are ok with socks, especially in a designated area like a lifting platform, but don't deadlift and then take a walk to the water fountain without shoes," he said.
Read the original article on Insider