Ryan Barlow | January 3, 2019 | no comments |


by Ryan Barlow


Throughout my years as a CrossFit and Olympic Lifting coach I have fielded the question, “do I really need lifting shoes, Coach?” dozens of times.

I usually respond with, “do you clean, jerk, and snatch regularly?”

The answer, at least in the CrossFit gym, is overwhelmingly, “yes, multiple times every week.”

To which I reply, “yes, you most certainly need olympic lifting shoes!”

Here are three reasons why:

Reason #1: You can lift more weight!

Honestly, I could probably stop right there. Do you need another reason? There are several reasons why this phenomenon occurs, but I’ll focus on just one for now: force transfer. The shoes you are wearing right now are probably made for running (please stop wearing them to the gym, unless the WOD is over 50% running) or possibly CrossFit (e.g. Nike Metcons, Reebok Nanos, NoBulls, etc…). While those CrossFit shoes are relatively stable and flat, they are still made to absorb and cushion impact so a certain degree. Olympic Lifters do just the opposite. They provide an extremely rigid base that does not allow your foot to slide side-to-side which greatly increases the percentage of force your body generates that gets transferred into the floor. Hence, more force down into the floor, more force up into the barbell, more power, and thus more weight lifted!

Reason #2: They will improve your positions!

Do you have limited ankle mobility? Do you have a hard time breaking parallel on your squat? Does your chest fall so much in a deep squat that you resemble a collapsed lawn chair? Not to worry, go get yourself a pair of lifting shoes. All olympic lifting shoes have a heel raise in them. The benefits of this are extreme! A heel raise means that for the same angle of ankle flexion, your knees can travel significantly further forward. When the knees move forward, so do the hips (unless you have elastic femurs), leading to a more vertical torso. A vertical torso decreases the force needed to maintain a strong front rack and overhead position. It also means that you no longer need to reach as far back to maintain stability in our overhead squat, an issue that causes shoulder pain and greatly reduces the chances of an athlete catching their snatch in a quality position. The image below illustrates what I have just stated. Which position looks more comfortable to you?

Reason #3: You will look like a pro!

This isn’t something to be taken lightly. There is a good reason why you wear a suit and tie when you go to an important business meeting or interview and you iron your button-down shirt before a hot date or a night out. And likewise there is a reason why you wear olympic lifting shoes when you are performing olympic lifts. Look good, feel good, perform better! It’s not just a saying, psychologists have proven it is a fact. Wearing lifting shoes does several things for an athlete. As soon as you slip them on you are mentally preparing yourself for what is ahead, some serious lifting. Your positions have improved due to the heel lift, your power output has increased due to the rigid structure, your style points have gone through the roof. You are ready to train like a professional. So go out and get yourself a pair. You deserve it!

And don’t forget to bring those awesome shoes to my upcoming Olympic Lifting Series: OLY ONE

Check out some of the most popular weightlifting shoe styles below.

Reebok Legacy Lifter

Nike Romaleo

Adidas Adipower

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