The 7 Best Deadlift Shoes

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Whether you’re gutting your way through Diane or loading the bar for your final lift of the meet, the deadlift is the “money lift” for athletes everywhere.

Most lifters (including yours truly!) have a bigger deadlift than any other lift. In many cases, its the lift you can squeeze the most out of.

It’s also the lift where you could be leaving money on the table.

We’re not going to talk about bracing, breathing, or any other type of form work now. Today’s discussion is all about shoes.

The best deadlift shoes, to be precise.

If you’ve done the technique work to get your deadlift numbers up, but still think you can go higher, give a pair of our top 7 best deadlift shoes a try. The shoes can’t do the work for you, but they can definitely help you to push harder (literally!)

🏆 Best Overall

SABO Deadlift Pro

89

Constructed for one thing…deadlifting
Best ankle support of any shoes on the list
Thin exterior reduces lockout range of motion
Buy on Amazon

Best Minimalist

VIBRAM 5 Fingers

85

Closest to barefoot deadlifting
Can dig each individual toe into the ground
Surprisingly durable
Buy on Amazon

Best Heeled

Nike Romaleos 4

82

Ideal for power and Oly lifting
Midsole/outsole for optimal stability
Additional strap for a more secure fit
Buy on Amazon

Best Powerlifting

Adidas The Total

87

Excellent option for all powerlifting movements
Extremely stable hard rubber outsole
Quasi-slipper feeling of comfort
Buy on Amazon

Best Affordable

ASICS Matflex 7

87

Superior grip/minimal heel combination
EVA sockliner insert makes socks optional
Extremely affordable
Buy on Amazon

SABO Deadlift Pro

⭐️ Verdict: Best Overall

The SABO shoes are ideal for deadlifting, mainly because they focus on and excel in four main areas:

  • Increased ankle support via durable outsole construction and arch support
  • A thin, stable outsole, reducing the overall pulling distance
  • A lock-jaw grip feeling to the floor
  • Wide toe box for a comfortable, non-compressed feel

What’s not to like?

Pros

Constructed for one thing and one thing only…deadlifting

Best ankle support of any shoes on the list

Thin exterior reduces lockout range of motion

Con

Extremely one-dimensional shoe

Overall

89

Rigidity

95

Toe Box

85

Price

80

Customer Reviews

94

Buy on Amazon

How we test & score products

Raise your hand if you’re really serious about deadlifting, only care about deadlifting, and want a shoe that is designed solely (zing!) to help you get the best deadlift possible?

Hand still raised? If so, SABO is for you.

SABO themselves say it best: “These shoes are designed for one certain lift — the Deadlift.”

I am not the biggest fan of the toe box; my toes really dangle in these bad boys. However, the combination of ankle support and thin outsole is unique to SABO Deadlift Pro shoes. 

If you’re a non-heeled squat shoe enthusiast, you could absolutely wear these throughout the duration of a powerlifting competition. However, for anything other than powerlifting, you’d be better off with a more multi-functional shoe.

If after reading this entire review, your hand is still raised? Buy these (the best deadlift shoes).

VIBRAM 5 Fingers

⭐️ Verdict: Best Minimalist Deadlift Shoes

Usually associated with barefoot running enthusiasts, Vibram’s 5 Fingers offering provide the most barefoot lifting experience of any deadlifting shoe.

The complete lack of a toe box (allowing for full range of motion) combines with tens of thousands of satisfied lifters to form the perfect, minimalist deadlifting shoe.

Pros

Closest to barefoot deadlifting

Can dig each individual toe into the ground

Surprisingly durable

Cons

You’ll be “that guy” in Vibram 5 Finger shoes

Overall

85

Rigidity

70

Toe Box

100

Price

80

Customer Reviews

90

Buy on Amazon

How we test & score products

Remember when they first came out and seemingly every one of…”those guys” were suddenly running in these or wearing them to the gym?

I was never one of “those guys”, but I did sport some of Vibram’s other models when I won the Chick-fil-A Race Series back in 2012.

I’ve never felt more “in touch” with the ground as I have in those Vibram soles and for those who want the barefoot feel while deadlifting, the 5 Fingers are the best option.

The incredible grip the Vibram Five Fingers provide is largely attributed to being able to dig your individual toes into the floor. This is a feeling preferred by barefoot deadlift enthusiasts everywhere.

Because the Vibram Five Fingers were originally designed as minimalist, trail-running shoes, they are incredibly durable and will be able to withstand any beating you can dish out.

Nike Romaleos 4

⭐️ Verdict: Best Heeled Deadlift Shoes

Athletes interested in a single show for other powerlifts (squats) and Olympic lifts (snatches, clean and jerks) prefer a heeled shoe.

Dual straps and a durable midsole and outsole are welcome, albeit somewhat expensive additions to the shoes.

Pros

Ideal for deadlifting, squatting and Olympic weightlifting

Additional strap for a more secure fit

Midsole and outsole combine for optimal stability

Cons

Not inexpensive

Overall

82

Rigidity

85

Toe Box

90

Price

65

Customer Reviews

88

Buy on Amazon

How we test & score products

The Romaleos 3 were my first weightlifting and squat shoes and over the years, I have been through a few pairs of their (constantly) updated iterations. I’m not a heeled-shoe deadlifter, but have come to appreciate the Romaleos 4s for the task on the occasions when I have opted for a bit higher heel drop.

One of the things I like the most about the Romaleos 4 is the additional strap. Instead of one larger strap across the top of the foot (found in the Romaleos 3 and the Romaleos 3 XD), the 4’s go back to the dual-strap construction of the Romaleos 2. These provide stability throughout the foot and add a bit more user discretion (you may prefer one section to be tighter than the other).

The wide, flat outsole and supportive midsole contribute to an incredibly stable and sturdy feeling from setup to lock-out. Even with the large (20 millimeters) heel, I still feel closely connected to the ground when squatting in these. 

I personally like for my toes to feel more compressed within my shoes (personal preference, I know!) The wider front, toe box area of the Romaleos 4 almost requires I purchase a smaller size in order to get this feeling.

Another, more general issue is the downside to having two straps instead of one. As beneficial as the dual-strap design is, if one of these straps (which are, admittedly, a bit flimsier than the big strap on the Romaleos 3, Romaleao XD) busts, you’re in a bit of trouble.

Adidas The Total

⭐️ Verdict: Best for Powerlifting

The stability of the outsole and almost non-existent heel drop are prototypical of deadlifting shoes everywhere.

Not truly exceling at anything, Adidas’ The Total are nevertheless solid in all areas.

Pros

Excellent option for all powerlifting movements

Extremely stable hard rubber outsole

Quasi-slipper feeling of comfort

Cons

Velcro strap is kinda useless

Overall

87

Rigidity

85

Toe Box

90

Price

85

Customer Reviews

86

Buy on Amazon Read our FULL Review

Most of us probably associate Adidas with its football, soccer, and apparel offerings for other major sports. However, their The Total shoe shows that the brand is also ideal for those involved in power sports.

The Total may as well be named “Deadlift Max” as Adidas itself refers to the shoe as featuring a zero-raise heel and low-to-the ground stance that’s optimized for deadlifting.” However, even as a heeled-shoe squatter, I really like how these feel to squat in making them truly ideal for achieving your powerlifting total (ha!) in.

The Total’s rubber outsole and wide toe box (although I don’t find the toe box to be as wide as others do) create a stable and supportive foundation while also ensuring a slip-free experience. The feet don’t move around at all in these while, at the same time, the shoe provides the comfort of a heavy duty slipper.

The added top strap is a nice touch, although it is not overly “sturdy” and I personally would prefer more basic lacing to secure this portion of the shoe.

ASICS Matflex 7

⭐️ Verdict: Best Affordable

Very stable, yet accommodating. Minimal heel drop and generally unmatched affordability.

Probably best as a “first” deadlift shoe or for those who are okay with a less rigid shoe and who prefer a tighter toe box.

Pros

Superior grip/minimal heel combination

EVA sockliner insert makes socks optional

Extremely affordable

Cons

Average rigidity (they are built for wrestling)

Overall

87

Rigidity

80

Toe Box

80

Price

95

Customer Reviews

92

Buy on Amazon

How we test & score products

If you’ve been around the mats…ever, you’ve probably noticed the distinctive look of wrestling shoes.

High-tops, yuge amount of ankle support, limited heel…just what a lot of people look for in their deadlifting shoes!

Of all of the possible wrestling shoes to add to this list, we went with Matflex 7 from the beloved ASICS sports footwear brand. Besides being a well-known and trusted shoe developer and manufacturer, ASICS has honed its Matflex line over time, meticulously taking customer input into consideration to generate the most complete version of the 7 iterations of the shoe.

The mesh material not only provides superior stability during the heaviest deadlifting sessions, but also provides a large degree of breathability and ventilation. This may not seem important during a single lift, but over the course of an hours-long training sessions, you’ll come to greatly appreciate the lack of moisture buildup!

The E.V.A. sockliner provides the “cozy” feeling of wearing a sock without having to, ya know, actually slip a cumbersome piece of cloth on your foot. For the barefoot deadlifting enthusiasts, this is about as close as you can get to shoes-free lifting, with a very modest price to boot!

Remember these are designed for wrestling. As such, they are not overly rigid and the toe box is a bit more compressed than other shoes on this list.

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star

⭐️ Verdict: Contender!

Extremely iconic and popular with lifters for decades. It’s hard and flat rubber sole is the only thing that matters for Chuck Taylor-lifting enthusiasts.

The high tops’ ankle support is pretty minimal and possibly too trendy for the strongest lifters!

Pros

Hard, almost completely flat rubber sole is ideal for powerlifting

Social proof; beloved by powerlifters everywhere

Generally a pretty affordable option

Cons

Toe box not overly wide or conducive to lifting

Overall

88

Rigidity

90

Toe Box

80

Price

90

Customer Reviews

92

Buy on Amazon

How we test & score products

Nobody would argue that Chucks are appropriate shoes for any kind of active sport. However, they still hold up incredibly well as deadlift shoes.

Chuck Taylors are extremely popular in the deadlifting community due to their extremely flat, extremely hard, and extremely rigid sole.

You wouldn’t want to run a mile in these things, but when you’re deadlifting in them, your feet feel as though they need to ask permission to leave the floor.

The Chuck Taylor’s high top provides more ankle support than minimalist shoe options, but is more of an aesthetic accessory than anything else. Additionally, if you decide you want to wear these “stylish” shoes out, they’re going to break down much more quickly than a dedicated deadlift shoe.

However, Chuck Taylors are priced well and possess some of the greatest social proof in the entire deadlift shoe community.

Tolos Archetype 1.0

⭐️ Verdict: Contender!

The sweet spot between lifting in shoes and lifting barefoot, the ideal “deadlifting in socks”-feeling shoes.

Absolutely beloved by ~95 percent of customers that are functional, both in feel and style for non-gym wear.

Pros

The closest to “lifting in socks” feeling

Constructed extremely durable materials

Can easily double as “everyday” shoe

Cons

Lack of insole can take getting use to

Overall

88

Rigidity

85

Toe Box

90

Price

80

Customer Reviews

98

Buy on Tolos

How we test & score products

For those of you who don’t have the heart (or do have the brain!) to look like “those guys in the Vibram Five Fingers shoes”, but still want the barefoot feel, the Tolos Archetype 1.0 is a good alternative.

The “traditional” construction of the front of the shoe doesn’t allow the individual toe flexibility that the Vibram Five Fingers do. If being able to dig each toe into the ground as you set up for each lift is important to you, the Tolos may not be for you.

However, wearing a Tolos Archetype 1.0 feels more like wearing a sock than wearing a shoe (the Vibram Five Fingers feels more like your barefoot). At the same time, they feel like a sock you can actually lace up (feeling more secure on your foot) while feeling like shoes you would actually feel comfortable wearing somewhere other than places named “the forest” or “Bonnaroo”.

If you’re interested in deadlifting in a shoe with insoles, the Tolos Archetype 1.0 probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re in the market for “pure” deadlifting shoes, you’re probably not interested in any type of bulky insole anyways.


What to Look For in Deadlift Shoes

There is a lot that could go into determining which deadlift shoes are “the best”. Of course, much of this is going to be subjective.

We trust our experiences with different deadlift shoes and other shoes suitable for deadlifting as well as the experiences of countless others. Here are the four criteria we took into consideration when coming to these conclusions.

Rigidity

A more rigid sole helps your feet feel more “grounded” and attached to the floor. Shoes with pliable rubber in their soles are more flexible and are usually more versatile in the activities they can accommodate.

@globallogicalb

For purely deadlifting purposes, the more rigid the deadlift shoe sole, the better. So long as your feet are comfortable enough and the soles do not overly compress the sides of your feet.

Toe Box

Deadlift shoes are renowned for having wide toe boxes, allowing much of the very front part of the foot to roam free. This design is in line with most deadlifters preferring a non-compressed feeling around their toes.

Although the wide toe box seems to be almost universally appreciated by lifters everywhere, it obviously is a personal preference. I personally LOVE a compressed feeling in the front of my shoes. I feel a much stronger sense of stability and support when my toes are snug against each other; if you feel the same, you might want to look into shoes that we rated lower in the “toe box” area.

Price

There is a surprisingly large range in the price of the best deadlift shoes (and for shoes suitable for deadlifting, in general); it is possible to spend a relatively small amount on deadlift shoes…or quite a bit.

Depending on what your priorities and preferences are, it is definitely possible to pick dedicated deadlifting shoes up for less than $100 although heeled shoes, oftentimes primarily engineered for Olympic weightlifting, generally run a bit higher.

Customer Reviews

We love testing shoes (we’d be kinda embarrassed to let you take a look at how many we have in our closest(s)) and think we have a bit of experience in judging what’s good…what isn’t.

That being said, we know that getting insight from other users only helps to support our analyses. A few thousand additional upvoters can’t be wrong, right?

Shopping tips for Deadlift Shoes

Narrowing down to the 7 best deadlift shoes wasn’t easy. Narrowing down to the best deadlift shoes for you might be even harder.

Do you go with what this guy has to say?

How about this guy?

Naturally, your deadlift priorities are probably different from the guy on the platform next to you. Our best deadlift shoes list reflects these different preferences and priorities so you can make the best decision for you.

So what exactly goes into one of the best deadlift shoes? Besides the rigidity and toe box we discussed above, let’s look at some other items to take note of as you’re narrowing down your choices:

Material

Many of the shoes on our list are comprised of the same materials you would find in an everyday sneaker. Leather will comprise much of the shoe. However, any (non-minimalist) shoe you actually want to deadlift in will almost universally have a hard, rubber sole.

The rigid rubber material of the outsole is a key contributor to providing stability and support when deadlifting. For those who prefer the most extreme barefoot-replicating deadlift shoes, there is no material on the outsole because…there is no outsole.

Sole Heel Height

The majority of deadlifters will prefer as little heel as possible on their shoes, many opting to deadlift barefoot. Most of our picks on the best deadlift shoes list take this preference into consideration and many of the shoes have little, if any, heel drop.

There is a subset of the deadlifting population that prefers an elevated heel and it is not uncommon to see some beast walk up to the deadlift platform in Olympic weightlifting shoes.

You might need to try lifting with multiple heel heights in order to find out what works best for you.

Ankle Support

Shoes like the Sabo Deadlift Pro shoes and the Romaleos 4s provide a large degree of ankle support and stability with their built-in high tops. Ankle support is particularly important when deadlifting since a slight wobble can throw off your lift or even injure your ankle.

Barefoot and minimalist-lifting enthusiasts demonstrate that this support is by no means required. Personal preference, along with ankle flexibility and stability will dictate how much ankle support you like in your deadlift shoes.

How we Chose the “Best” Products

We try to get our hands on (or, in this case, our feet in) as many products as possible. Besides our personal experiences from hours on the platform (or at least over the barbell) we conduct hours of research in developing our conclusions.

While we aren’t able to test every product, we take what countless of others have said into consideration when reviewing and recommending products. Click here to find out a lot more about how we test and review products.

Frequently Asked Questions

Deadlift shoes can be a somewhat sizable investment and, in many cases, are not very multi-functional. As such, you really want to make sure you’re selecting the “right” shoes for you.

Knowing this, let’s go over a few more questions you might have on topic.

There are a number of successful deadlifters who swear by their heeled lifting shoes. For many, the greater emphasis on quad muscle recruitment when deadlifting at a slightly forward angle is reason enough to opt for weightlifting shoes.

In a purely technical sense, the increased range of motion that Olympic weightlifting shoes create make them less–than-ideal deadlifting shoes. Try lifting in a low or none-heeled shoe as well as in a squat or weightlifting shoe and see how you feel!

Many of the low or none-heeled shoes have little, if any, ankle support. Even the high-topped Chuck Taylors provide minimal ankle support

Barefoot lifters or those who lift in just socks will tell you ankle support is absolutely not necessary!

For safety reasons and to ensure that the ankles remain in line throughout the duration of the lift, “pure” deadlift shoes have specifically-engineered ankle support. This universal addition does not mean that extreme ankle support is necessary, but it does imply that it can be beneficial.

The choice to deadlift without shoes is purely personal. Some people love it and it has grown in popularity in recent years.

Deadlifting barefoot is the surest way to cut down on range of motion. When you deadlift without shoes, you are guaranteed to pull the bar the shortest distance to lockout.

When deadlifting barefoot, there is no ankle support and any stability that a shoe would provide is non-existent. For those with exceptional ankle mobility and strength, this might not be a problem. For those who require this support, deadlifting barefoot is definitely “harder”.

Deadlift Shoe Shopping; Your New Favorite Hobby

As we have seen, the best deadlift shoe for you will be the one that best accommodates your needs and goals.

Want a shoe with a flat sole that you can deadlift in and wear while drinking out of a mason jar? Chuck Taylors are the shoes for you.

Want to clean, snatch, squat, and deadlift in the same shoes? Romaleos 4s might be where its at.

Vibram Five Fingers and Tolos Archetype 1.0s will be the best for barefoot enthusiasts.

And SABO Deadlift Pro shoes are the best overall deadlifting shoes.

🏆 Best Overall

SABO Deadlift Pro

88

Constructed for one thing…deadlifting
Best ankle support of any shoes on the list
Thin exterior reduces lockout range of motion
Buy on Amazon

Best Minimalist

VIBRAM 5 Fingers

88

Closest to barefoot deadlifting
Can dig each individual toe into the ground
Surprisingly durable
Buy on Amazon

Best Heeled

Nike Romaleos 4

88

Ideal for power and Oly lifting
Midsole/outsole for optimal stability
Additional strap for a more secure fit
Buy on Amazon

Best Powerlifting

Adidas The Total

86

Excellent option for all powerlifting movements
Extremely stable hard rubber outsole
Quasi-slipper feeling of comfort
Buy on Amazon

Best Affordable

ASICS Matflex 7

86

Superior grip/minimal heel combination
EVA sockliner insert makes socks optional
Extremely affordable
Buy on Amazon
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AUTHOR

Tom, CrossFit Level 1 Trainer, ISSA-CPT, PN1-NC, DPA, CAPM has been CrossFitting for over 10 years. He has participated in a number of team and individual CrossFit competitions across Europe and the United States. He was the 2012 Chick-fil-A Race Series champion (North Georgia Circuit) and has put together a few gnarly garage and basement gyms in his time!

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