Shoe selection is an important consideration for strength training. There are a lot of specialist shoes for various training on the market, including dedicated running and weight lifting shoes – so what’s the best shoe for you?
Heels and mid-sole
An exaggerated heel raise should be avoided; should you require your heel to be raised as part of an exercise, that can be built in using wooden blocks (as with sissy squats), otherwise it’s unnecessary and will encourage poor ankle flexibility. Unfortunately this is one area where specialist weight-lifting shoes can fall down as they often have raised heels in order to make the ankle flexibility demands of close to medium width stance squats easier. On this site we favour working on addressing limited ankle flexibility through self-treatment and wider stance squats with a high degree of external rotation employed at the hips. Neither of which create a need for an exaggerated heel raise.
With regards to the mid-sole material, you don’t want that to be too thick and you certainly don’t want it to be heavily cushioned like running shoes. Thick cushioning can be unstable – you want your feet to be feel solid and close to the ground for most confidence, hence a thin mid-sole is best.
Traction is key
When it comes to the sole, traction is very important, as it will limit slippage whilst heavily externally rotating. Given the importance of external rotation in our exercises, the right shoe can make all the difference in the effectiveness of your technique here.
The shoes I have found that tick all the boxes here are actually a very cheap pair of sneakers made by a company called Gola. They are indoor soccer shoes with fairly thin soles, and a heavily toothed sole which grips into carpeted floor like a clamp (if, like me, you squat on a piece of carpet) and provides good traction on rubber gym flooring. These shoes almost resemble track spikes but without the spikes.
Be aware, though, that different training may require different footwear. When running, for example, I wear a “barefoot running” shoe by a company called Vivobarefoot. These are perfect for running but the grip of the sole is lacking when it comes to squats.