If you’ve gotten back into the weight training game this new year, or if you’re a seasoned veteran who doesn’t think about what type of shoe to wear when lifting, you probably just throw on a pair of whatever sneakers you find in your smelly closet—most likely a pair of old running shoes with a thick, spongy sole.
But to really perform well in the weight room when doing heavy compound lifts like deadlifts and squats, it pays to put on a pair of shoes specifically made for training. Old-school bodybuilders and powerlifters like to use Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars when they lift big iron, because those classics have flat, solid outer sole and a durable canvas upper, and very little “drop” between the heel and the forefoot—all the better for feeling secure and planted when lifting. And when it comes to squats, dedicated powerlifters and weightlifters will usually put on a pair of Olympic weightlifting shoes, which have a hard outer sole, extra Velcro straps for stability, and a solid rise in the heel that’s helpful for good form on deep squats.
For most guys, though, a new pair of dedicated training shoes can give you both the stability of a lifting-specific shoe and the lightweight flexibility of a cross-trainer for bursts of HIIT sessions. These upgrades from your stinky old lawn-mowers also offer more heel support (ideal for dialing in your squat form), snug uppers that support and breathe, and wide toe boxes that allow your feet to spread out, which helps to keep you stable during challenging lifts.
Do yourself (and your feet) a favor and take a look at this rundown of some of the latest and greatest training shoes of spring 2017. Consider some of these shoes and pop some on before your next lifting session—whether you’re a newbie trying to get jacked for the summer, or an old iron dog who wants to dial in his lifts, they’ll get you performing your best.