Footwear makes a difference when you step into the gym. Depending on the workout that you have in mind, they all have a matching shoe that will make you feel safe and enable you to focus more on your form than on your shoes. So, what shoes should I wear when going to the gym?
We wrote this article to help you figure out the pair of shoes you’ll want to wear the next time you work out. Just like how you’ll wear running shoes while running, basketball shoes for shooting hoops, bike-specific cleats, bowling shoes, and so on, you’ll want to wear shoes that best suit your workouts.
What shoes should I wear to the gym?
To help you out, here’s a guide on what shoes you should wear when going to the gym, especially for weightlifting:
For deadlifting and squats: choose flat shoes with minimal cushioning
While cushioned shoes are okay for upper body workouts and if you are not doing squats, deadlifts, and the like, the additional cushion will separate your feet further from the ground. This is why most people who lift don’t like cushioned shoes.
The reason why cushion limits your performance as a lifter (or even when doing squats) is that you aren’t training your feet and legs to exert additional effort. Therefore, you aren’t getting the most out of your workouts when you wear shoes that have extra cushioning.
Running shoes are the opposite, however – for running and walking for long hours, you will need cushioning to help keep your feet less sore. However, that’s not the case if you go to the gym and expect your lifting sessions to become safe and effective – you will need shoes that are flat and less cushioning.
An example of shoes that have minimal cushioning would be the Converse Chuck Taylor shoes. These are budget-friendly and are classic so you’ll find them anywhere. With that in mind, Chucks aren’t good for running due to lack of cushioning, but they are the best to lift weights in.
Did you know that Chucks were originally used for basketball? That’s because of their good traction that will keep you safe on slippery ground, such as at the gym. Although we now use different basketball shoes today, Chucks are just good at helping you produce more strength due to a lack of cushioning.
Converse Chuck Taylor shoes are the best choice among most deadlifters when it comes to gym workouts. What these shoes have when it comes to design is flatness and almost zero cushioning – which is important for weightlifters. Most deadlifters even like to go barefoot whenever possible!
A pair of Chucks will be a tad cheaper than most athletic shoes that you’ve probably laid your eyes on. Sure, Converse shoes don’t look very aesthetic for the gym, but they do the job properly! Converse Chucks don’t have outsoles with cushioning – they only have it inside (the insole part) the shoe.
The rubberized outsole of these shoes will help you to stay firm to your form and keep your feet glued to the ground while you are attempting your lifts. Converse shoes are simply more secure than other types and brands of shoes out there, which is why gym trainers and lifters love them.
Lifting is a sport and a workout that requires you to keep both of your feet firmly on the ground. That’s why you wouldn’t want to wear shoes with an arch on them. Converse Chucks are the perfect budget-friendly choice for lifting shoes because of their flat design.
For Olympic weightlifters: choose a lifting shoe
Although Converse shoes are not bad when it comes to getting a low-profile and cost-effective gym shoe, especially when you’re just starting, it gets more complicated when you step to the Olympic level. That’s when you will need a professional lifting shoe.
For difficult back squats, a quality lifting shoe has a harder and more solid feel for the outsole, making it the perfect choice for professional weightlifting. These shoes also have an elevated heel that will aid your femur and your entire feet in performing improved squats.
If you’re going for positions when you’ll need to place the bar over your torso, extra heel height at the back will help you a lot when it comes to comfort and power transfer. That’s why Olympic competitors greatly depend on professional and custom-made lifting shoes.
Keep in mind, however, that deadlifting won’t be comfortable with an Olympic lifting shoe. That’s because the additional heel height at the back won’t make you feel closer to the ground. Therefore, the lifting shoe is mostly beneficial only to the difficult lifting workouts, such as for front and back squats.
For casual gym workouts: choose any comfortable shoe
Whether it’s a Nike Air or any rubber shoe that you know works well for the gym, if you’re not looking to lift weights then you’re free to choose any shoe that you like! So long as your shoes are comfy, have sufficient traction, and fit you the best, they will be fine.
Keep in mind, however, that if you need to do some lifting, you might want to change into Converse Chucks to get the best results out of your lifting due to the lack of cushion helping you build power. However, if you want gym shoes that are also for running, any cushioned rubber shoes will be fine.
To wrap it up, the right shoes to go to the gym should depend on the type of workouts you will do. Are you a professional Olympic weightlifter, someone who does deadlifts and squats, or just looking to get fit at the gym and maintain a healthy lifestyle? There is a shoe for you, which we covered above.
No shoe fits all – every shoe is different, just like every person. When in doubt, talk to your fitness partner or trainer to help you choose the best shoe based on your workout – especially for gyms that don’t allow their patrons to go barefoot.