As you progress into heavy lifts with powerlifting exercises like squats and deadlifts, you’ll need to look at ways to enhance your performance outside of training. One of the accessories you need for that is a good pair of training shoes.
Table of Contents Show
- Things to Consider When Looking For Deadlifting Shoes
- What Are the 10 Best Deadlift Shoes in 2023?
- Best Deadlift Shoes Overall: SABO Deadlift Shoes
- Best Deadlift Shoes for the Money: FEIYUE All Black Fe Lo
- Best All-Purpose Deadlift Shoes: Converse Chuck Taylor
- Best Deadlift Shoes for Wide Feet: Adidas The Total Shoes
- Best Shoes for Sumo Deadlifts: LiftingLarge Black Ground Lock Deadlift Slippers
- Best Deadlift Shoes for Grippiness: ASICS JB Elite Wrestling Shoes
- Best Barefoot Deadlift Shoes: Vibram Five Fingers
- Best Deadlift Shoes for Ankle Support: Otomix Stingray
- Best Deadlift Shoes for Breathability: Merrell Vapor Glove 5
- Best Deadlift Sneakers Without Ankle Collar: Rebook CrossFit Nano 7.0
- Frequently Asked Questions
- The Bottom Line
Shoes for deadlifting are made to increase your stability during the exercise, provide plenty of ankle support, and reduce the range of motion. But what are the best deadlifting shoes today? That’s what we’ll get into in this post!
Things to Consider When Looking For Deadlifting Shoes
It’s essential to know the defining traits of a good deadlift shoe, not just the products. That’s why we compiled this list of features to keep in mind when looking for your new pair.
Sole thickness is a defining factor of a good pair of deadlift shoes. One of the primary benefits of these shoes is that they reduce the range of motion, which makes the exercise easier on the lumbar muscles and the posterior chain.
This is why deadlift shoes should always have thin soles.
A thin sole provides an experience much closer to barefoot deadlifting than most other shoes. If you’ve seen a bodybuilding or fitness magazine from the 70s and 80s where top athletes shared their exercise routines, you might have noticed they often performed their deadlifts with no shoes on.
Deadlifting with no shoes or socks can give your feet a firmer grip on the ground, increasing your stability and helping you maintain more balance throughout each rep.
Moreover, when your feet have direct contact with the floor, you’re much closer to it than if you wore a pair of shoes with an inch-thick sole or a 15 mm heel-to-toe drop. This significantly abridges the range of motion, enabling powerlifters to lift heavier and minimizing the risk of injury during exercise.
But since most gyms nowadays don’t allow their members to go completely barefoot (for obvious odor-related and other hygienic reasons), the next best thing you can do is find a pair of flat shoes with a thin sole that provides similar benefits.
While you could get by in the gym by taking off your shoes and keeping your socks on, but we don’t prefer this method since socks don’t provide the same stability and slip resistance as a deadlifting shoe.
Lastly, although wearing deadlift shoes with thin soles could imitate barefoot lifting, they shouldn’t be so thin that they’re practically non-existent. After all, they can also protect your feet from hard floor surfaces.
This is why we recommend you look for shoes with 3-5 mm thick soles. Though, a little more thickness wouldn’t hurt either.
Outsole Material and Construction
The sole comprises three layers from top to bottom: the insole, midsole, and outsole. For this point, we’re only concerned with the outsole, as it can add a lot of support and reduce the risk of injury during deadlifts.
The outsole is a vital part of any deadlifting shoe. It must be slip-resistant and hard. We’ll talk about these two points in more detail, discuss the most popular outsole materials, and see which is best for deadlifting.
As we mentioned above, one of the reasons why bodybuilders and powerlifters in the past used to go barefoot when deadlifting is because feet have a nice and firm grip on the ground with little to no risk of slipping.
The best shoes for deadlifting should have a slip-resistant outsole that fixes you in place. After all, the last thing you want is to slip back or forth during a heavy lift and risk severe injury to your back or limbs.
The material of the outsole is mostly what makes a deadlift shoe slip-resistant, though manufacturers can add holes and slits on the bottom to add a little boost.
A hard outsole stabilizes you more firmly on the ground before you start each rep, compared to a softer or more cushioned alternative. It can also protect your feet from hurting after deadlifts by creating a stable surface between your feet and the ground.
At the same time, the outsole shouldn’t be so hard and rigid to the point of being immovable. For most people, this could lead to calf pain or foot soreness over time.
Fortunately, most deadlift shoes contain outsoles that are made with the right balance of hardness and flexibility. However, keep the hardness of the outsole in mind if you come across shoes with wooden bottoms or other rigid materials.
A high-quality sole should be durable. One of the telling signs of its durability is its ability to absorb shock during high-pressure and high-load lifts like the deadlift.
With most shoes, the soles compress into a few millimeters of thickness when you subject them to hundreds of pounds of weights in an exercise like the deadlift or squat. Deadlift shoes try to mitigate this compression by increasing material density in the sole construction.
This isn’t to suggest that the entire sole should be made of a rigid material. A bit of absorption is fine, but it shouldn’t be noticeable to a point that it’s affecting your form.
Understanding Different Sole Materials
Now that you know what the sole should look and feel like in a deadlifting shoe, we’d like to glance over some of the most popular sole materials in weightlifting shoes to see how they perform according to our metrics.
It’s rare to see a rubber outsole in a deadlift shoe because it’s not hard enough to support that kind of movement under heavy loads. Instead, it’s more common in shoes made for other sports that require flexibility and agility, such as running.
Most shoes with a rubber outsole will also compress too much during a deadlift, even though some can be constructed to compress less. Still, we recommend you avoid rubber soles when looking for a pair of deadlift shoes if you’re serious about powerlifting.
Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA)
Ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) is a fairly high-compression material, but it’s often used in the midsole to add cushioning to the foot. It’s a good choice if you’re not lifting at the highest level and are looking for the most comfortable deadlift shoe.
EVA is also a highly breathable material compared to polyurethane, which makes it feel more shock-absorbent and springy.
Fun fact: EVA is actually a form of foam, not rubber or plastic. If you want a popular example for comparison, look no further than Crocs.
Polyurethane is one of the most widespread material types for outsoles in deadlifting shoes. It’s a dense and low-compression synthetic plastic that can withstand harsh conditions like heavy-load deadlifts.
Polyurethane can also carry some of the common properties of rubber, such as flexibility, while somewhat maintaining the rigidity of plastic materials.
Of course, there are materials that provide even less compression than polyurethane, but the latter manages to do so with decent cushioning to support the feet.
It can also be applied to the midsole (the inner layer of the sole) or shoe body to increase durability.
As such, polyurethane is an excellent choice for most people looking for a new pair of deadlift shoes.
“Heel-to-toe drop” is a technical term describing the sole’s flatness in specific measurements. It has that name because it refers to the drop distance (often in millimeters) between the heel to the toe box.
For example, if the heel of your shoe is 20 mm high and the toes rest at 5 mm, then your shoes have a heel drop of 15 mm.
When you’re deadlifting, you need your shoes to be as flat as possible so that they’re parallel to the floor, which makes them close to the feeling of deadlifting while barefoot. That’s why shoes with a high heel-to-toe drop, like squat shoes, aren’t recommended for this exercise.
When looking for your new pair, we recommend you look for shoes with a near-zero-degree toe drop. Something along the lines of 1-3 mm should do the trick, although 4-5 mm should be fine.
You need your deadlift shoes to fit tightly and comfortably around your foot so that they won’t move around in any direction or slipping inside the shoe.
In the meantime, the shoe shouldn’t be so tight that it restricts the movement of your feet or compresses the toe box to be narrower than your toe’s natural width.
You can find deadlift shoes with horizontal Velcro or metatarsal straps to help you dynamically secure your foot inside . Some shoes even use two straps for extra security.
Strictly speaking, these straps aren’t mandatory in a good shoe for deadlifting since most people can find a perfect fit easily.
(Optional) Ankle Support
Ankle support is optional in deadlift shoes as sometimes you’ll find shoes with an extra tall ankle collar, while others will have no ankle support at all.
In any case, your choice should depend on whether or not your ankles need extra stability. For people with common ankle injuries or who struggle with their ankles fumbling around during heavy lifts, an ankle collar can do wonders.
You might also find some deadlifting shoes with ankle straps, which look like the lateral Velcro straps we mentioned above. These aren’t necessary for most people, in our opinion, especially since they can get uncomfortable if you fasten them too tightly. So only go for that option if you struggle with ankle stability.
What Are the 10 Best Deadlift Shoes in 2023?
Best Deadlift Shoes Overall
Best Deadlift Shoes for the Money
Best All-Purpose Deadlift Shoe
Best Deadlift Shoes for Wide Feet
Best Shoes for Sumo Deadlifts
Best Barefoot Deadlift Shoes
Best Deadlift Shoes for Grippiness
Best Deadlift Shoes for Ankle Support
Best Deadlift Shoes for Breathability
Best Deadlift Sneakers Without Ankle Collar
We tried and tested the most candidate products on the market and developed a shortlist of just ten products. But how do they fare against each other? Find out in the following as we break down each pair of deadlift shoes in more detail.
Best Deadlift Shoes Overall: SABO Deadlift Shoes
- Zero heel-to-toe drop that makes it feel like you’re standing completely flat
- The sole is 5 mm thin, which is as thin as it gets for a deadlift shoe before without running into problems
- Metatarsal and ankle strap in one deadlift shoe, which is uncommon in this category even though it provides excellent support
- Dense sole that doesn’t compress much during heavy-load deadlifts
- There’s some loose fabric around the straps that can quickly get messy if you don’t trim it
- The Velcro straps get a bit loose over time
When it comes to deadlift shoes, it doesn’t get much better than SABO. These shoes may not be the most expensive, top-of-the-line option, but they’re packed with all the features that deadlifters are looking for.
First, the combination of a metatarsal and ankle straps in one shoe is a bit rare in deadlifting shoes, even though many people enjoy both. So when we saw that the SABO shoes have them, we were immediately excited to see how they work.
And we weren’t disappointed! The metatarsal strap is quite durable, especially compared to the older SABO shoes. And the top is breathable as well.
The ankle strap provides excellent ankle support. It also has a firm and high collar that works well to stabilize the joint.
The sole is only 5 mm thin, which is in our comfort zone of sole thickness. It’s quite dense and absorbent, too. Combine that with the zero heel drop, and you get the ideal parameters for a deadlifting shoe.
As a nice bonus, the shoes are available in a wide array of colors, so you can get a pair that’s functional and looks stylish.
The SABO deadlift shoes tick all the boxes of the ideal pair in our eyes, so it makes it to the top of our list.
Best Deadlift Shoes for the Money: FEIYUE All Black Fe Lo
- Affordable pair of shoes that works well for beginners to medium-level deadlifters
- Lightweight design and fabric that make the shoes feel breathable and agile
- Rubber soles increase traction and are much easier on the untrained foot
- Not very durable; you’ll probably need to replace them within 6-10 months
- No decimal sizes available, so no 6.5, 7.5, 8.5, and so on. You’ll need to round up to the nearest integer
- Not enough support for serious powerlifters
If you’re new to buying specialized gym equipment like deadlift shoes, you might be turned off by their high prices. However, you can still get a quality pair like the FEIYUE All Black Fe Lo for a decent price.
Although these shoes were built for martial artists, they work wonders for deadlifters. We tend to classify any pair as deadlift shoes if they pass our criteria, even if they’re marketed as wrestling shoes or casual sneakers.
The Fe Lo is a lightweight pair of deadlift shoes. Thanks to their thin frame, lack of cushioning, and removable insoles, you can use them almost like a pair of deadlift slippers.
The soles are made entirely of rubber, which instantly puts them off the shelf for any serious powerlifter. However, for the beginner or the average Joe, this means they’re not as restrictive and that you’ll get a grippy pair of deadlift shoes.
And thanks to their light frame, you could also use them for other activities like cardio.
Just keep in mind that you’re not getting the cream of the crop at this price, and you’ll quickly need a new pair. We haven’t used them enough to tell you how much, but we estimate that they’d last six months, or even ten if you’re conservative with your usage.
Best All-Purpose Deadlift Shoes: Converse Chuck Taylor
- Completely flat sole with 0 mm heel-to-toe drop
- Sturdy high collar that supports the ankle joint
- Minimal sole compression when deadlifting heavy weights
- Affordable price compared to most standard weightlifting shoes
- The soles are relatively thick compared to other deadlifting shoes, which means the range of motion isn’t as short as we’d like
- The rubber sole makes it a less-than-ideal choice for more advanced powerlifters
- Not made for heavy-load lifting, so the pair may not survive as long as specialized training shoes
Converse probably never imagined that the Chuck Taylors would become a classic deadlifting shoe when they made their design, and that’s exactly how it turned out.
If you didn’t know about their popularity and walked into a high-end gym, you’d be surprised by how many people wear those to their deadlifts. That’s because they work really well, thanks to their completely flat sole, high collar for additional ankle support, and relatively affordable price.
The sole isn’t very thin, which can be a problem for some. However, that means it doesn’t compress much, even when you’re going heavy on a deadlift. Moreover, the rubber soles mean that they won’t withstand heavier weights from more experienced powerlifters.
All these factors make the Converse Chuck Taylor a comfortable deadlift shoe that’s often available just around the corner.
Add the fact that they’re a casual and durable pair of sneakers that you can wear outside the gym, and you get the feeling that you bought two pairs for the price of one.
Best Deadlift Shoes for Wide Feet: Adidas The Total Shoes
- Entirely flat sole with 0 mm heel-to-toe drop, perfect for deadlifting
- Metatarsal strap across the shoes makes it easy to secure the foot inside without fumbling around
- Wide toe box provides ample space for people with wide feet
- The rubber soles aren’t the best for advanced powerlifters
- Not the most agile pair of shoes
- No ankle support
The Total is a pair of specialized weightlifting shoes from Adidas that works well for deadlifting, thanks to the zero-degree toe drop and thin sole that brings you closer to the ground and reduces the range of motion.
The rubber outsole is designed to stick to the most slippery floor surfaces you’d find in a gym, so you shouldn’t have issues slipping on gym floors, even if they’re made of glossy wood or ceramic.
The metatarsal strap across the shoe also makes it easy to secure your foot inside, so you won’t be distracted by your foot fumbling left to right during your lifts.
But for us, the wide toe box takes the cake. We’ve seen our fair share of people who struggle to get into most shoes because of their wide toes. So if that’s you, check out the Adidas The Total shoes.
Best Shoes for Sumo Deadlifts: LiftingLarge Black Ground Lock Deadlift Slippers
- Double metatarsal system for extra tightness and foot security
- Rubber outsole grips well onto gym floors
- Widely approved by many competitions, including IPF, IPL, and USPA
- The rubber may not be the most suitable material for serious powerlifters
- Snug fit may not be for everybody, so go up one size on the chart if you don’t like it
The first deadlift slipper in our list is the LiftingLarge Black Ground Lock, a competition-approved and almost barefoot-like deadlifting shoe with a double metatarsal strap design.
That last point is why we recommend this pair to the connoisseurs of sumo deadlifts. If you typically struggle with balance or slipping during the sumo stance, then you’ll enjoy the two firm metatarsal straps on top that add more lateral support. In fact, they were specifically designed for sumo lifters!
But even if you’re only into traditional deadlifts, the double strap system can secure your foot more tightly into this pair, which is especially noticeable if you have large feet.
The rubber outsole also adds a much-needed touch of slip resistance that can never hurt when you’re widely spread out during exercise.
Lastly, the soles are just under 5 mm thin, which, as we mentioned before, is about as thin as you can get with a deadlift shoe before running into problems. But if you need to go even thinner for whatever reason, you can remove the insole to reach a 3 mm thickness.
Best Deadlift Shoes for Grippiness: ASICS JB Elite Wrestling Shoes
- Split sole design made with rubber, which enhances traction and massively prevents slipping
- Flat sole with a 5 mm thin design that’s perfect for a deadlift shoe
- Available in a stunning selection of colors. You could wear this pair outside the gym and look great
- Limited size selection; only available in men’s 11-13 sizes
- The sole material, rubber, may not suit more advanced lifters
Although the Japanese ASICS JB Elite are categorized as wrestling shoes, they can easily pass as shoes for deadlifting, thanks to their design and capabilities (not to mention these banging colors).
The JB Elite shoes focus on traction and slip-resistance to help wrestlers avoid slipping over during matches. As you might imagine, this carries over well to deadlifting, as the rubber split sole design will easily fix you in position on the floor.
Apart from its incredible slip-resistance, the sole is also very thin at about 5 mm, which is in the perfect range for a deadlift shoe. Moreover, it’s entirely flat with a near-zero heel-to-toe drop.
As for the shoe, it’s interlaced with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which adds a ton of comfort and fit on your foot while maintaining the durability that ASICS shoes are known for.
The biggest drawback, in our opinion, is the lack of sizes. The JB Elite is only available in men’s 11, 11.5, 12, and 13.
Best Barefoot Deadlift Shoes: Vibram Five Fingers
- Super thin and flat sole
- Highly slip-resistant and durable
- Metatarsal strap for additional foot support
- Easy to maintain and are machine-washable
- No ankle support
- The 3.5 mm soles may be too thin for some
- No arch support
If you want to go all out in the gym and deadlift in your bare feet, but can’t do so because of gym regulations, then you can try the next best thing: the Vibram Five Fingers!
These deadlift slippers almost look like a bike glove for the foot, but not quite a sock. You might have even missed the sole at first glance, but it’s there! It’s flat and only 3.5 mm thick, which is super thin, even for a deadlift shoe.
Apart from that, the slits on the outsole and the Vibram material make it a durable and slip-resistant pair—perhaps as grippy as feet!
And while there’s no ankle support, you get an excellent metatarsal strap for extra foot support.
Best Deadlift Shoes for Ankle Support: Otomix Stingray
- Flat soles with no heel-to-toe drop
- Very thin soles, likely under 5 mm
- Tall ankle collar that nearly reaches the shin, makes for excellent ankle support
- No ankle strap
- No metatarsal strap
- No arch support
Do you struggle with ankle injuries? Then you should consider the Otomix Stingray, which has an ankle collar nearly as big as the shoe body.
Although the Stingray isn’t a deadlift shoe, it ticks all the boxes, such as having a flat sole and a 0mm heel-to-toe drop.
The soles are very thin as well. And while Otomix doesn’t mention the exact thickness, we estimate that it’s under 5 mm.
But the extra tall ankle collar is what really steals the show. Although there’s no ankle strap, you can tie the lace just under your shins for that much-needed support.
Best Deadlift Shoes for Breathability: Merrell Vapor Glove 5
- Super thin, super light deadlift sneakers
- The sole is entirely flat
- EVA cushion on the insoles, grippy Vibram on the outsoles
- No ankle support
- Not rigid enough for advanced lifters
Running shoes are terrible for deadlifting. However, running shoes that simulate barefoot running, such as the Merrell Vapor Glove 5, are entirely different!
For starters, they’re lightweight, thin, and flat, so you might as well call them deadlift shoes.
The mesh and thermoplastic polyurethane upper on the shoes makes them breathable, which is a much-needed break in the deadlift shoe scene.
The insoles are made of pillow-like ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), while the outsoles are the super grippy Vibram.
So if you’re looking for casual-looking shoes that simulate barefoot deadlifting, the Vapor Glove 5 is a strong contender.
Best Deadlift Sneakers Without Ankle Collar: Rebook CrossFit Nano 7.0
- Stylish and athletic shoes
- Very comfortable on the feet and heels
- Great arch support
- Not flat, the heel-to-toe drop is around 10-15 mm
- No ankle support
- Insoles compress a bit much, though they can be replaced with a harder pair
Last on our list is the Rebook CrossFit Nano 7.0, which, despite the name, isn’t restricted to CrossFit training.
The Nano 7.0 is a casual-looking pair of sneakers with high sporting potential. Although they’re not flat like the rest of our deadlift shoes, they provide decent arch support and are highly breathable.
The plastic heel cup inside is also very comfortable on the heels, so that’s an extra benefit if you have problems in that area.
These shoes are also quite versatile. A flexible pair like this works well for multiple uses in and out of the gym.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are Flat Shoes Better for Deadlift?
Flat shoes provide ankle support and improve foot stability, which is why they’re used in lower-body powerlifting exercises like the deadlift. They also trim the range of motion of deadlifts, making them slightly easier to accomplish and advantageous in competitions.
This is also why you might see some people deadlifting in a pair of Converse shoes in the gym. After all, every little bit helps achieve greater lifting goals.
Is It Better to Deadlift Barefoot?
Barefoot deadlifting can certainly give you an edge since your bare feet can hold better onto the floor. This improves your balance, engages the posterior chain muscles slightly more, and shortens the range of motion.
But for people with ankle problems, using deadlift shoes is a safer option since those provide more ankle support. Not to mention that most gyms nowadays don’t allow people to go barefoot to avoid spreading the odor and other safety hazards, so that won’t be an option for most of us here.
Can I Deadlift in Squat Shoes?
No, you shouldn’t deadlift in squat shoes since those traditionally come with a raised heel. During squats, this elevated heel position makes it easier to flex your ankles and get into a deep squat position. However, when deadlifting, this will reduce your stability and increase the range of motion, making the exercise riskier and more challenging.
The Bottom Line
That wraps it for our roundup of the best deadlift shoes! To recap quickly, we found the SABO deadlift shoes to be the most well-rounded pick, and we couldn’t ignore the metatarsal and ankle straps for that extra bit of support.
Here are a few more candidate picks: the FEIYUE Fe Lo shoes are an excellent pair considering their low price. Meanwhile, you have deadlift slippers like the Vibram Five Fingers and the Liftin