Are you sick and tired of reading footwear reviews from authors who have no experience whatsoever in weightlifting?
The fitness industry, as you know, is full of “marketing rich” misinformation, which is only increasing over the years.
As a result, I often see women selecting their weightlifting shoes based on appearance and popularity.
This is the wrong way of choosing shoes, especially for female athletes that perform compound movements such as the deadlift and the squat, using heavy loads.
Not only do they hinder their progress but they also increase the danger of injury.
Long story short, I decided to write this article because I found no good resource that outlined the best weightlifting shoes for women.
More specifically, there is not one piece of content that goes as far as to explain what makes weightlifting shoes good and for which exercises they are best utilized.
So, let’s get started.
Best weightlifting shoes for women
After working with female athletes for the best part of the last 6 years, here are my favorite picks.
1. Vivo Barefoot Primus Lite
Vivo barefoots are quite popular among female athletes, and rightfully so.
These shoes don’t only look great (which, let’s face it, plays an important role nowadays) but they are also your best flat-sole option when it comes to squatting and deadlifting.
Their bottom is totally flat with a very thin and grippy bottom. In fact, they feel a lot like deadlift slippers, in which powerlifting competitors often train in.
But don’t even think about jogging in them. Even though Vivobarefoots are advertised as “running shoes”, the thin sole makes running uncomfortable and, oftentimes, painful.
So, next time you want to lift barefoot but you feel self-conscious or the gym does not allow it, you will have a solution.
2. Nike Metcon 5
Nike weightlifting shoes have been praised repeatedly and the Metcon 5 seems to have the perfect balance between comfort and durability.
What makes this shoe a great option for our list are the removable Hyperlift inserts that come with it. The additional heel clip elevates the heel by 6mm and turns the pair into a great weightlifting shoe.
Add the heel and you can squat heavy while maintaining perfect balance. Remove the heel and you have a great deadlift shoe. In other words, these are the best shoes for squats and deadlifts.
I have tested this particular pair with clients of mine during squatting sessions and found that, by adding the heel insertion:
- More emphasis was given to the quad muscles
- The athlete improved her balance
- It was easier to go in full depth without curling the lower back at the lower part of the movement
Furthermore, the Nike Metcon 5 comes in different color combinations, which makes this pair not only functional but also great for all sorts of fitness outfits.
3. Adidas Powerlift 4
The popular “Powerlift” shoe line has put Adidas weightlifting shoes on the map, and each edition seems to improve upon the previous one.
Adidas Powerlifts have become very popular due to several reasons:
- At just $100, they are considered high-quality, budget weightlifting shoes
- The outer construction is made from canvas, which reduces the shoe’s weight
- It comes with a 6mm heel height, made from high-density EVA foam
The heel height of the Adidas Powerlift 4 is somewhat balanced between a flat-sole shoe (like the Vivo Barefoot) and a professional weightlifting shoe (1.9cm/0.75” heel). As such it is a great option for beginner and intermediate athletes that are looking for a hybrid option.
One thing that you need to consider before investing in this pair is the outsole. The grip is great for rubber floors but can become somewhat slippery when walking on wood. And as we all know, shock-absorbing wooden floors are often used for deadlifting.
So, it might be wise to take the necessary precautions, especially if you tend to sweat a lot.
Overall, I’d recommend this shoe to females that lift up to 75%-80% of their 1RM due to the stability of the shoe’s heel and the possible risks that come with its outsole.
If you consistently test your 1 rep max, this shoe may not be the best choice performance-wise.
4. Nike Romaleo 2
Nike Romaleos are considered to be the best weightlifting shoes for women that practice Olympic weightlifting. With a heel height of 1.9 cm/0.75”, these shoes are perfect for (front) squats, power cleans, power snatches, etc.
They have an eccentric and durable built which raises the middle finger to fancy designs and focuses primarily on improving the athlete’s performance.
Moreover, the front part of the shoe is slightly wider than its competitors’ but the athlete can adjust the fit by tightening the lower strap, thus increasing stability.
That being said, the Romaleos 2 are not your best option when it comes to deadlifting, Crossfit workouts or aerobic exercise. The heel elevation narrows down its target audience solely to fans of Olympic lifting movements and squatting.
The pair comes at $130-$170 USD depending on your source, and they can be quite tricky to find, especially since the release of the Romaleo 3.
Overall, the Romaleos is built to offer better balance to athletes with slightly wider feet and in search of high-end weightlifting shoes.
5. Asics 727
Have you ever seen the North Korean weightlifting team in the Olympic games? They all wear 727s.
Asics weightlifting shoes have been one of the best (and most expensive) high-heeled lifting shoes for the past 30 years, and rightfully so.
What seems like a crossbreed between a bowling shoe and a casual sneaker, the Asics 727 are hand-made, released in limited amounts, and come with a price tag of $280-$350 USD. And that is if you are lucky enough to have average feet size – custom made shoes go up to $600.
While generally, this pair tends to be more popular with men, it is also a great choice for female Olympic weightlifters that want to get the best shoe quality in the market.
Apart from their attention-grabbing looks, they are also known for their “old-school vibe”. No straps and unnecessary elements. Just simple, laced shoes with a wooden heel nailed into a grippy rubber sole.
The reason for their timeless looks is their production method. Asics has been manufacturing this particular model in the exact same way since the late seventies. In other words, a pair bought in 1980 will feel and perform the exact same way as one bought a few days ago.
I’ll be honest – this shoe is damn near impossible to get. But it certainly belongs in this list. If you manage to get your hands on a pair, send us a video of yourself lifting in them! I’ll make sure to add the video to this article!
6. Reebok Legacy lifters
The one and only dedicated weightlifting shoe from Reebok is a revolutionary shift from Reebok’s primary focus on Crossfit-oriented shoes.
The Legacy lifters are a brand new category for Reebok, improving upon existing weightlifting shoes for women while maintaining the essentials of a great oly shoe.
At first glance, they look like a smoother version of the Romaleo 2, with a more elegant design. They feature a TPU heel, which has several benefits over wood or leather, such as its incompressible nature and its lightweight.
Adding to that, the two straps ensure that your feet are “hugged” perfectly, offering stability to all your lifts.
What I love most about the Legacy lifters is the gap in the velcro in the strap on the top, which makes it easy to tuck the laces in, so the velcro doesn’t destroy them. So simple, yet so necessary.
Additionally, Reebok has added an outside TPU counter which effectively locks your heel and prevents slipping on wooden surfaces.
On the inside of the shoe is the minimal insole, which can easily be removed. They are not padded, but that doesn’t seem to affect performance to the slightest.
Overall, I’d say that this shoe is best for advanced athletes who have experience lifting with a slightly elevated heel. This is because the Legacy has a 3/4″ heel height, which is higher than most in this list.
7. Inov 8 Fastlift 335
Inov 8 weightlifting shoes are very popular among women. What makes this shoe different from the rest is the position of the strap, which is located in the middle of the lace-line (mid-foot hold).
Not only does this offer a good sense of stability but it also leaves enough room to move around safely.
Additionally, this pair comes with a few more characteristics that make it one of the best squat shoes for women:
- At only 335 grams, they are one of the lightest weightlifting shoes in the market
- The front part of the shoe is very flexible, which allows athletes the train more effectively in both bodybuilding workouts (including calf raises, etc) and Olympic lifting.
- The 16.5mm heel ensures stability for all Olympic lifts, such as (front) squats and snatches
- With a rubber outsole, this shoe is great for all types of flooring, including wood
All in all, this is a great option for intermediate lifters that are looking to progress from bodybuilding-style workouts into Olympic lifting.
8. Leistung 16 ii
The Leistung 16 ii is a minimalistic shoe with a tasteful design. One could mistake it for a casual workout shoe if it was not for the 25mm heel and their smart “locking” system.
The reason why it is considered to be one of the best weightlifting shoes for women are the many great benefits an athlete gets when using them:
- Excellent stability for all Olympic lifts
- Better ankle mobility and form when squatting due to the elevated heel
- Great design that is not too “bulky”
- Made with woven-upper for increased flexibility and breathability
Their price is also relatively low compared to the rest of the advanced lifting shoes on this list and you may often find them at a discount.
9. Do-win weightlifting shoes
Do-Wins are relatively unpopular and vaguely remind of Asics shoes. But there is much to be said about this great pair, so let’s delve into it.
First and foremost, the Do-Win weightlifting shoe has a 0.75” heel (1.9 cm), made from hard thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU). Its heel is comparable with Legacys and Romaleos, offering similar quality at a lower price and a better design.
The upper part of the Do-Win is built with leather and a nylon mesh that allows the foot to breathe. In my opinion, the leather is a great addition to this built. It may lessen the shoe’s flexibility but it won’t allow it to stretch out and become loose over time.
Finally, let’s not forget about the double metatarsal straps, which ensure that the shoes remain tight during heavy squatting, both on the front and upper part of the foot.
In combination with the elevated heel, this ensures perfect form for all squat variations, as well as Olympic lifts.
10. Chuck Taylor All-Star 2
Finally, this list wouldn’t be complete without the most popular, budget-friendly and effective shoes, for female lifters.
All-Stars! The best shoes for squats and deadlifts, ever since the time of Arnold.
Converse weightlifting shoes are definitely one of the best all-around options. They are great for all types of compound exercises but, when it comes to Olympic weightlifting, they should not be considered.
The flat sole and fabric top of the Chuck Taylor All Star ii may become problematic when lifting very heavy loads, or when trying to hit your 1 RM. It also limits your ankle mobility and depth, especially for inexperienced fitness enthusiasts.
On the contrary, the absence of an elevated heel ensures a higher activation in the hamstrings and calves when squatting, and offers the best possible setup for Sumo deadlifts.
I believe that this pair should be more than enough if you are simply looking for a good pair of shoes that you can go to the gym with. It is great for beginners and athletes who are more bodybuilding-oriented.
Where to buy weightlifting shoes for women
Some of the best weightlifting shoes for women can be found online, whether that is at a brick-n-mortar shop or at online merchants. Of course, there pros and cons for each option.
Buying shoes from your local store
Going to the store and trying out the shoe is a great way to find the shoe fit. Very often, weightlifting shoes may feel better when you buy them half a size smaller, to perfectly hug the foot. Additionally, you will also get to try on different pairs and see which works best for you.
That being said, a trip to your local store may set you back financially, since the same pair of shoes can easily cost you way more compared to an online purchase.
It is best to buy weightlifting shoes from your local store if you are looking to make a custom order or if you need the shoes right away.
Order your weightlifting shoes online
If you want convenience at a great price then you may want to order your pair online. Nowadays, most weightlifting shoes can easily be worn and tested on the spot, only to be ordered later online.
On top of that, due to high competition, you will often find that buying online is much cheaper. Promo codes, discount season, even clearance sales happen all the time, especially for somewhat outdated pairs.
I always buy my pairs online and, to this day, I am happy with my choice. However, don’t take my word for it. This is one of those times where you might be better off testing your potential purchase, before investing a significant amount of money.
What to look for in weightlifting shoes
Numerous studies have shown that lifting with proper footwear does not only increase performance but also offers a better balance for the trainee.
One interesting study also showed that weightlifting shoes during squats lead to greater muscle excitation in the knee extensors.
So what should you look for when choosing your weightlifting shoes? It is best to ask yourself the following questions:
What heel size do I want?
The heel size will affect your performance and the primary working muscles during exercise. Squatting with a high heel will put a higher emphasis on your quads and improve your stability, making “ass to grass” squats much easier to perform.
On the other side, low or no heel may be a better option for people who like to deadlift. Usually, heel size goes anywhere from 0 to 3/4″, the latest being more oriented towards experienced athletes or professional Olympic lifters.
If you are new to the sport, I suggest you start with a flat heel (Vivo barefoot, All-stars) and progressively work your way up (Adidas Powerlifts).
What type of heel do I want?
This is possibly the most difficult question to answer, especially for beginners. Weightlifting shoes with wooden heel will feel significantly different from shoes with a TDU heel.
What is my budget?
Of course, one can’t overlook the pricetags. Some of the shoes we mentioned above cost $75, while others are in the $600 area. You will need to decide the price range of the shoes you want to buy before you start researching your best options.
Average workout shoes vs weightlifting shoes
So should you invest in high-quality weightlifting shoes or is it better to stick to your average workout shoes? The answer, of course, is very individual. It depends on what are you going to be doing.
If you’re taking up Olympic weightlifting, then it’s a part of your wardrobe and, thus, absolutely imperative.
If you’re just lifting recreational, then its probably not that big of a deal at all. Apart from these two, everyone else exists on a sliding scale somewhere in the middle.
As such, it really comes down to assessing what it is you think you’re going to be doing, what tools you think are going to benefit you the most, and then spend your funds accordingly.
Personally, I believe squat shoes are very very valuable to improve mechanics, approve leverages, and probably reduce injuries, which I think is enormously valuable.
At the end of the day, it’s your money, and the decision should be based on your priorities as an athlete.
In this article, we took a look at the best weightlifting shoes for women that enjoy lifting heavy. It would be futile to choose one best pair, above all others, since most of these shoes are built for very particular purposes.
The Vivo Barefoot can’t be compared to Reebok Legacy and both of them are totally different than Chuck Tailors.
Overall, the best thing you can do is to consider your goals.
Will you be squatting and deadlifting as part of your workout routine, or are these your primary lifts for an upcoming powerlifting meetup?
Do you lift recreationally or do you plan to compete in the future Olympics?
Is design or performance more important to you?
This list was made after interviewing 18 female clients, all of which pointed out their best weightlifting shoes for women. That being said, this list is based upon their views and further research is recommended.
We hope you enjoyed this article and let us know about your favorite pair(s) in the comment section below.