Shoes for Squats
Alright, the controversial question of what to wear for squats. For years, I have worn Converse high-tops for squatting, deadlifting, and all things leg related. But first let’s get something out of the way.
You’ll see a lot of people wearing their running shoes to the gym. If you’re on the treadmill those are perfect, but squatting is another story. Most athletic shoes are built to absorb the shocks and distribute pressure. When you are putting an extreme amount of weight onto the shoe you can guess what happens. The weight will get distributed poorly and you’ll have hard time balancing. It’s going to feel like you’re doing squats on a mattress.You need stability while you’re lifting that kind of weight; lifting with flat shoes, weightlifting shoes, or even barefoot will give that to you.
The difference between flat shoes and weightlifting shoes is the height of the heel. As you can assume a pair of Converse put your heel at a 0mm height. Weightlifting shoes can vary, but are usually about 2.5cm. The concept of having a raised heel can benefit your form quite a lot.
As you begin to squat down you may get a slight tension in your lower leg that restricts your movement. This is can be due to low ankle mobility and can cause your chest to drop down and hinder how low your hips go. By having a raised heel, you can have more motion in your knee. Depending on your squat style you can use this to your advantage.
By putting your knees more over your toes and sitting more up right you are putting the pressure on your quads. If you sit your butt back further you can put more pressure into you hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Ideally, for powerlifting you are going to want to use the second method to recruit your stronger rear muscles.
You don’t necessarily need a weight training shoe with a raised heel. If your mobility is good you should be fine with flat shoes. Alternatively, you can imitate the weightlifting shoe by simply standing on some small plates to elevate your heels. I’ve tried this and it allowed me to have a more upright form keeping my chest high and allowing my hips to sit back.
Deadlifts I found to be completely different. I’ve heard different things, but the principles do still apply. With the research and tips, I’ve heard I found that I prefer no shoes for deadlifting. It allows my feet to connect with the ground better. I angle my feet inwards to give me a slight torque in my legs for lifting. With shoes on, no matter how tight they are, my feet tend to slip around inside and lose the firm torquing power from twisting my feet inwards.
I’ve included some links to websites that I found useful and have good insight into these topics.