Best Deadlifting Shoes

Deadlift Shoes Guide Best Shoes for Deadlifting, January 2022

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Deadlifts are one of the big 3 lifts, the other two being squats and bench press. In terms of muscle and CNS (central nervous system) activation, it's at the top, so getting the most out of your deadlift is crucial to building the foundation of a stronger self.

That foundation starts with form, but it's bolstered by the correct footwear to help you maximize your lift - which is why you need the right deadlifting shoes.

Deadlifting shoes is kind of a misleading term, as you'll see and I'll explain that it's subjective, minus a few key features a good deadlifting shoe should have.

Nonetheless, I'll be showing you the best deadlifting shoes and what makes them so useful for one of the most important compound lifts you will ever perform in or out of the gym.

Don't have time to read? Here's my top pick!



Chuck Taylor Converse

The king of the best deadlifting shoes is actually a classic shoe - the Chuck Taylor Converse.

With the optimal flat sole, lightweight, and affordability, they prove to be an excellent choice for deadlifts, light or heavy.

chuck taylor converse

What is a Deadlifting Shoe

It's hard to explain what a deadlifting shoe is, because it isn't as easy to categorize as an Olympic weightlifting shoe/weightlifting shoe. 

Essentially, any shoe that provides adequate ankle support, has a flat and thin sole, and has a grippy sole can be called a deadlift shoe.

Some people use skateboarding shoes, some people even choose slippers, and some go with socks/barefoot.

A deadlifting shoe should incorporate those basic necessities, and I've listed the good and the bad to look for when choosing a deadlifting shoe.

Olympic weightlifting shoes for deadlifts

Red Adidas shoe

One of my Adidas Adipower weightlifting shoes. Slightly scuffed but they've held up well for 4 years worth of squatting

I mentioned that it's easier to categorize an Olympic weightlifting shoe because it has a distinct style and purpose, whereas deadlifting shoes are more subjective.

In case you aren’t sure what Olympic lifting shoes are, the image of the Adidas Adipower shoe should give you an idea.

They are a heeled shoe that artificially increase your range of motion at the ankles to help users stay upright at the bottom of a deep squat.

Keeping upright is important for Olympic weightlifters since they usually catch the bar in an extremely deep squat position.

As far as using Olympic lifting shoes for deadlifts goes, I don’t like them and most people probably would do better with a completely flat shoe.

However, there are a select few that may find they benefit from a bit of extra quad activation at the start of the lift due to slightly greater knee bend forced upon you by wearing the raised heel.

All you can do to be certain, is to try deadlifting in Olympic shoes for yourself and see how you feel.

You should be squatting regularly anyway. Since I recommend that most people use an Olympic weightlifting shoe for squats, you should already own a pair that you can try.

In fact, I suggest sorting out your squat shoes before you think about deadlift shoes. I have a guide on the best lifting shoes for squats and Olympic lifting.

I feel footwear is likely to play a much bigger part in your squat than deadlift, hence why the definition of a deadlifting shoe is much more open ended, and why my list is more varied.

Best Deadlift Shoes

Ok, if you didn't skip straight here and read the guide above, you should now be fairly certain on what to look for in a good pair of deadlift shoes.

In this section, I wanted to go through my picks for the best deadlift shoes in a bit more detail. To help you make a better informed decision, I have given a description and some reasons for and, in some cases, against each shoe.

1. Chuck Taylor Converse

From the hardwood courts of the 50s basketball to the platforms of your gym, the Chuck Taylor Converse is a timeless shoe.

Not only is it timeless and iconic, it's also one of the best deadlifting shoe you can find.

A lot of people find it odd that this is such a well regarded deadlifting shoe, but there's plenty of reason for it.

  • Very Budget-Friendly
  • Usable for Most Workouts
  • Breathable Canvas
  • Flat-Sole; Easy to Dig Heels In

The most obvious reason why they're so beloved by lifters is that the sole is flat, flat, flat. This is crucial for a good deadlifting shoe and it makes it incredibly easy to dig your heel into the ground when pulling weight.

Second, and very close reason, is that they're budget-friendly. I've gone through 3 pairs in my life and they've all held up very well as a gym-only shoe.

Converse canvas material is also breathable which is nice if you want to avoid stinky feet, but unfortunately the canvas is also a little weaker for side support, but there are both high-top and low-top styles available.

Overall, it's one of the easiest shoes to lace-up and deadlift in and they're cheap so it's a winning combination in my books.

2. VANS Sk8 Hi

The VANS Sk8-Hi, or VANS Skate, or VANS High Top, or just VANS, doesn't matter what you call it, it's a damn good shoe.

I don't just mean as a casual sneaker, it's one of the best deadlifting shoe out there.

Very much in the vein of the Converse, it's a simple, flat-soled sneaker that provides the right amount of support to perform the lift.

  • Budget-Friendly
  • Flat-Sole with Plenty of Grip
  • Comfortable Drill Lining and Padded Collar
  • Good Looking Shoe

Although, great for skateboarding, they work wonderfully for deadlifts as well, but unfortunately, they aren't much of an all-around shoe in the same way Converse are good for lifting but not cardio.

Nonetheless, the padding on the collar (high top) is excellent for ankle support, although it isn't amazing for side foot support on sumo deadlifts. 

Very comfortable interior lining makes them feel nice and snug and the waffle pattern sole is very grippy. 

Vans are budget friendly, and come in 3 styles (low, mid, and high top), plus plenty of different colorways as a reliable choice for a deadlifting shoe.

3. Metal Deadlift Shoes

Metal Deadlift Shoes look a little strange, but they can help with your deadlifting, so don't judge a book by it's cover.

The upper is strong leather so you don’t need to worry about driving your foot into the sides of them, they will certainly hold up to it.

These are pretty comparable to the SABO shoes to be honest. I think they may mold around the foot better due to the leather upper which is made from two separate pieces.

  • High quality Metal powerlifting shoes without heels
  • Velcro and lace fastening
  • High quality firm shoes
  • Leather 67%
    Rubber 30%
    Polyamide 3%

The Metal shoes also feature the strap across the forefoot for an extra tight fit and minimal foot movement during lifting.

Two drawbacks of these shoes are the price, about double the cost of SABOs ,and the appearance, which look like a cobblers shoe.

In my opinion, they look pretty ugly, but style isn't the name of the game here as they're designed for the function of giving you the proper support for a deadlift and they do just that.

4. SABO Deadlift Shoes

More dedicated deadlifting shoes! The SABO Deadlift Shoes are designed for optimized deadlifting and it's easy to see why.

Many people use wrestling shoes for deadlifts and you can see some similarities in design and wear here.

The soles are super thin at around 2.5mm, which is very close to deadlift slippers. These shoes are certainly going to be a better option than slippers for sumo pullers, due to the increased traction of the soles.

  • Specialized shoes for deadlifting
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Flat outsole
  • Classic two straps construction

The sole is fairly solid and flat, although they can curl up a little at the toes over time. The canvas uppers on the shoe are flexible to allow good ankle mobility in the high-top versions.

However, they can come away from the soles on the side of the shoe over time. These shoes really aren’t built to take the kind of wear and tear that weightlifting can cause to them.

Generally, they are pretty comfortable. The flexible canvas versions can be pulled very tight with the laces so your foot will be snug in the shoe.

As I already touched upon, the support of the canvas isn’t great though so your foot will still move from side to side, despite being tight inside the shoe itself.

5. NOBULL Trainer

And now for something completely different! 

NOBULL is a great brand, as are the NOBULL Trainers, but I will say that they aren't my first choice for a deadlifting shoe.

Admirable they may be, they still do have some faults when it comes to providing you the utmost quality on a deadlift.

  • Sleek Design
  • Well-Designed Sole Grip Pattern
  • Versatile Trainer
  • High-Top Style Available for Ankle Support

Providing excellent grip is the circular-pattern sole, which gets big check marks from me, but you'll also notice that it's a trainer, so it has more cushioning on the sole than is desired out of a shoe.

Mind you, this isn't a huge deal break, you can deadlift in any running shoe, it's not going to mess up your life, but it's nice to have the flat sole so you can feel anchored during the lift.

Where the NOBULL Trainer gets high marks is that it works very well as an all-purpose workout shoe, so if you want to get a one-size-fits-all kind of shoe for the gym, it excels.

NOBULL also offers this shoe in a high-top version which helps alleviate the need for ankle support. 

Also, it's a very sexy looking shoe and isn't going to break the bank for a high-quality trainer.

6. Reebok TR Lite

Reebok TR Lite deadlifting shoes are very similar to look at to the high top Converse, but stand out in their own right.

They actually took some inspiration from the Chuck Taylors since so many people were already using them for weightlifting.

However, they have some serious design improvements over the converse shoes.

Don’t be put off by the “CrossFit” branding on them, these shoes were designed by very high level powerlifters (although usable for CrossFit as well).

  • Cheap and Easy to find
  • Slightly Flat Soles for more support
  • Small, but helpful amount of cushioning
  • high top ankle provides good lateral support

Where the converse shoes fall short, the Reebok Lite TRs shine. They take some of the cons of the Chucks and improve them ever so slightly, but still noticeable.

The uppers of the shoes are much more sturdy, especially in the leather versions. They have a reinforced side wall that they call the “stability zone”. You can drive your feet out against the shoe without worrying about it breaking.

The grip on the bottom of the shoes is very different to the Chuck Taylors. The Chucks aren’t too bad for grip, but again, the Reebok TRs take it to the next level. With a mini suction cup design, these bad-boys stick to the floor like glue. They feel very solid when pulling weight and forcing your feet into the ground.

Price-wise, I think these are pretty well priced. Especially when you consider that these can be used for pretty much all of your lifts if you wanted to.

At a recent strongman event I attended, there were a whole bunch of competitors wearing the high-top version of the reebok Lite TRs.

That shows you how versatile and rugged they can be, Strongmen go through so many different events and their shoes take almost as much of a beating as their bodies do, which gives them an edge over some of the other flat sole shoes.

7. GORUCK Ballistic Trainer

Almost a hybrid of the Reebok and NOBULL shoes, the GORUCK Ballistic Trainer is a mid-top trainer that provides some impressive versatility.

Although not specifically designed for deadlifting, they check off plenty of boxes.

Mid-top ankle support? Check. Strong side material to prevent sliding? Check. Grippy sole? Check.

  • Strong Ankle Support
  • Triple Rubber Compound Sole for Grip
  • Versatile for Various Activities
  • Triple Arch Support Zones

GORUCKs shoe falters in the area of a flat sole, even though it has 8mm heel-to-toe drop, which isn't bad at all.

I can easily look past this because, like I said with the NOBULL, it's not the end of the world if the sole isn't perfectly flat. 

A gummy, triple compound sole makes up for that, and the material is very breathable which is a huge plus. 

Where I believe the shoe shines best is that it's usable for all kinds of activity. Casual wear, running, CrossFit, weightlifting, etc. which makes it worth the investment if you want your shoe to do it all for you - including deadlifting.

8. Deadlift slippers - (cheapest option)

Finally, if you're looking for the most budget friendly and lo-fi deadlifting shoes, you can use Deadlifting Slippers.

In many shapes and sizes, I chose the FITKICKS Men's Walking slippers, but they're all generally the same idea.

At around 1.5mm, which feels like you are pretty much barefoot. You will be very close to the ground in these.

Obviously, they provide no ankle support and there isn’t anything to push your foot out against on the sides.

  • Legal For All Powerlifting
  • Get low to the floor
  • Terry Cloth upper with rubber sole
  • IPF/USAPL Legal

For sumo deadlifters, I say to forget about these. It just feels too unstable and there isn’t enough grip so it's a recipe for a bad time.

If you are a conventional puller and want to be very close to the ground, these are certainly an option. Keep in mind that you clearly have to change out of them once you are done deadlifting, they aren’t really useful for anything else.

They also look a little silly in my personal opinion, not very stylish at all. But then again, who really cares?

If you can’t justify spending much money on dedicated deadlift shoes, these aren't a bad option by any means.

Qualities to Look for in Deadlift Shoes

Here are the key elements to look for in a deadlift shoes:

Flat and Solid Soles

A completely flat sole means that you will have more surface area in contact with the ground, which allows you to feel more stable and in control during the lift. It should lead to greater force output against the resistance.

Thin soles

Ideally, you want to be as close to the ground as possible for a deadlift. The closer you are to the ground, the higher the bar will start on your shins.

You won’t have to lift the bar as far, which should make things a lot easier. It's the reason many people like to lift barefoot or in just socks.

However, some gyms might not like this and if you ever plan to compete in powerlifting, you will be forced to wear something on your feet.

Traction and Grip

Your soles must offer you enough traction on the platform. Having your feet slip when you are half-way through a heavy lift is something that you certainly don’t want to experience.

This one is especially true for cheaters. I mean sumo deadlifters (Only kidding! Can you tell I pull conventional?)

Seriously though, sumo pullers will be pushing out with their feet so need to make sure there is sufficient grip to prevent a very painful attempt at doing the splits.

Snug-Fitting and Supportive

Finally, your shoes should feel nice and compact around your foot with very little movement inside them.

Ankle support is also quite important, you don’t want your foot to be shifting from side to side inside of the shoe as you lift. High top shoes are quite a popular option for that very reason.

A word of advice for wearing high tops. You need to make sure you still have enough mobility and range of motion at your ankles. If your shoe starts to limit ankle dorsiflexion (the ability to point your toes towards the ceiling), it could alter your leverages and technique.

Signs of a Bad Deadlift Shoe

Spongey, Air or Gel Soles

This pretty much disqualifies all running shoes. These types of soles are great for absorbing the impact from pounding the pavements on a run but they will not make for a good deadlifting trainer.

As I stated earlier, you need maximum stability throughout your foot. The spongey soles of running shoes compress very easily, they are supposed to. Under a heavy load, more compression can cause uneven foot to ground contact and possibly lead to injury.

Too Thick of a Sole

Your shoes could tick the box of a flat, sturdy sole but if they too thick then you probably want to look elsewhere.

Again, a thicker sole will mean you need to pull the bar further. You will essentially be doing a deficit deadlift all the time.

Converse Chuck Taylors are a popular deadlifting shoe and they have a 4mm thick sole. This is about the maximum thickness I would go for.

Poor lateral support

When you are performing the lift, especially in sumo again, there will be a lot of pressure on the outside of your shoes. The pressure should be there if you're using your glutes properly to prevent your knees from caving in.

If your shoes aren’t strong enough or supportive enough to hold up to the constant pressure on their sidewall, they won’t be lasting long at all.

Final Thoughts

Budget conscious or not, my go-to for a deadlifting shoe is the classic Chuck Taylor Converse, and to a slightly lesser extent, VANS Sk8 Hi shoe, because of the excellent flat sole and decent grip, plus the price can't be beaten.

If you're looking for a shoe that is specifically good for deadlifts than opt for The SABOS, Reebok TR Lite, or Metal Deadlift Shoes. They are purpose-built for deadlifts so it stands to reason they would be top choices in that regard.

The only drawback is that you can’t use them for too much else and the slight increase in performance may not be worth the higher price to you. That’s something you will have to decide for yourself.

Hopefully, you find this guide useful. Here are a couple of other equipment guides that could help with your training: Best Lifting Belt, Lifting Straps Guide, Grip Strength Equipment.

Until next time, happy bar-bending!

Denver Matheson

I spend a lot of time at the gym and even more time in the kitchen giving my body what it needs to repair itself and grow stronger. The third most important place for any athlete is their research zone. That's exactly why this site exists, to help me share all of the information I've learned throughout the years just like people did for me in the first place!

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