The Best Weightlifting Shoes of 2023

Everything featured on The Nessie is independently selected and rigorously tested. We may receive a small commission on purchases made from some of our links. Also, The Nessie is part of the Ness Card ecosystem. Since you’re here, you’d probably be into it.

A good lifting program is simple. The search for the right pair of weightlifting shoes is anything but. There are a lot of questions you need to answer, like what type of weightlifting you’re doing, what your personal biomechanics look like, what’s going to be most comfortable for you, and whether you need a shoe that’s also appropriate for the kinds of higher impact activities you might find in a HIIT, Orangetheory, or CrossFit class, such as burpees, jumping jacks, or box jumps. 

Over six weeks and more than 20 workouts, I tested four pairs of lifting shoes and spoke to multiple experts to find the very best ones out there. I tried the shoes in five different facilities, with workouts including all kinds of moves, including foundational exercises like barbell squats and deadlifts, accessory movements on the nautilus machines and with dumbbells, and aerobic exercise including treadmill running, elliptical, stairmaster, and jump rope. 

Over more than 15 hours of testing, my favorites were the Nike Metcon 4 for an elevated heel and the Notorious Lifters Gen 2 for a flat sole. Both earned high scores for superior comfort and aesthetics.  

Here’s how the best weightlifting shoes stack up:

  1. Nike Free Metcon 4 (Best Moderate Lift Shoe)
  2. Notorious Lifters Gen 2 (Best Flat-soled, Low-support Shoe)
  3. Reebok Nano X2
  4. Converse Chuck Taylor 2

The Best Weightlifting Shoes

Best For Cross Training

Nike Free Metcon 4

  • Size range: W 5-12, M 6-16.5, medium and wide widths
  • Suitable for: HIIT classes, CrossFit, plyometrics, dumbbell training, kettlebell training, barbell training
  • Moderate heel-toe drop
$120 at Nike
product image, white background
  • Ridiculously comfortable
  • Versatile
  • Attractive
  • Not ideal for anyone who prefers a flatter shoe
  • Hard to put on the first few times

If you’re looking for a shoe you can take everywhere, from the squat rack to the jump roping station, your HIIT class, and on your post-workout grocery store run, the Nike Metcon 4 is it. This shoe was at the very top of my list based on its comfort and versatility. My pair was also pretty cute.

While there’s a lot to love about this shoe, the comfort factor was the main thing really swayed me. The shoe is cushioned enough to feel supportive no matter what the activity is, but not soft and squishy to the point of distraction. I also loved the fact that the tongue is integrated with the rest of the shoe. Yes, this feature did make it hard to slip my foot into the shoe the first few times I wore it (it was definitely giving Cinderella step-sister vibes). However, once I’d worn it several times, this wasn’t an issue. I appreciated not having to worry about the tongue slippage that can be so annoying with other shoes. 

Meanwhile, this pair is as versatile as it’s comfortable. There wasn’t a thing I couldn’t do comfortably and and confidently in this shoe, and believe me, I tried a lot of things, including squats, deadlifts, box step-ups, walking lunges, static lunges, Bulgarian split squats, dumbbell Romanian deadlifts, and squat jumps. Just to name a few. I also took this shoe on vacation; it was perfect for walking around the airport and the resort as well as serving as the only non flip-flop or sandal that I packed. 

The Metcon 4’s stability didn’t take away from its comfort and versatility; if anything, it enhanced those features. If you prefer a barefoot style shoe, this wouldn’t be the shoe for you. If you’re like me, though, and you prefer a little support without feeling like your feet are in shoe jail, these might be ideal for you. 

While no one’s wearing weightlifting shoes on the red carpet, these were by far the most aesthetically pleasing pair I tried. (Yes, it’s a highly subjective metric.) I liked the available color choices and the smooth lines, which were enhanced by the fact that the tongue is part of the shoe. 

There’s a reason why this shoe comes up so frequently in conversations about which lifting shoe to buy. It’s just a fantastic all-around shoe that can meet your needs for a variety of activities. 

Best Flat-soled, Low-support Shoe

Notorious Lifters Gen 2

  • Size range: 35-47 (website suggests sizing up if you have wide feet)
  • Suitable for: Dumbbell training, kettlebell training, barbell training
  • No heel-toe drop
$44.99 at Notorious Lifters
product image, white background
  • Perfect amount of traction and lightness for a barefoot/weightlifting slipper shoe
  • Wide variety of cute prints
  • Limited versatility

The Notorious Lifters Gen 2 won me over in the flat-soled shoe department. They let my feet engage with the floor; plus, the fact that they’re obviously designed for weightlifting gave me a serious confidence boost at the gym. (I happened to be wearing this very shoe when I hit a new PR for my deadlift.)

Comfort is subjective, but if you’re looking for a shoe with plenty of traction, fits well with a pair thin socks, and lets your feet feel the floor, for under $50, this is the shoe you’ve been waiting for. It’s not as comfortable for dynamic movements, like jump rope, box jumps, walking lunges, and squat jumps. But if you’re using it for static exercises like squats and deadlifts, you shouldn’t have issues with the Notorious Lifters. (That is, unless you have strong preference for a supportive shoe or have foot or ankle issues that require one.)

While the question of aesthetics is a personal one, this shoe gets major style points. I got to test a fun, quirky samurai print, but I would have been happy with any of the women’s choices, including white, black, and red solid-color options and prints featuring waves, floral designs, and more. 

The Notorious Lifter Gen 2  isn’t known for being supportive; in fact, it’s the opposite. It’s lightweight and flexible so your foot muscles and small foot, ankle, hip, and core stabilizer muscles will activate. So while it didn’t win points for stability, if you’re looking for a flat-soled, minimalist shoe with next to no support, chances are, this isn’t a priority for you. 

Despite not being super supportive or stable, the Lifters’ strong fan support speaks for itself. Whenever the topic of minimalist lifting shoes comes up in Facebook and Reddit discussion groups, this shoe is always a top recommendation. 

Are Weightlifting Shoes Worth It?

which weightlifting shoes should i buy? are converse good for weightlifting? lifting sneakers. gym shoes.
Wendy McMillan

If you’re into strength training for the health and fitness benefits icon-trusted-source European Journal of Preventive Cardiology “Weightlifting is associated with longevity” View Source (think: building bone density, injury prevention, sports performance, longevity, mental health, and even cognitive benefits and cancer prevention), weightlifting-specific shoes are a solid choice. As with most athletic equipment, a weightlifting shoe isn’t the single way to become a great lifter. But the right shoe can help you lift with good form, which, over time, will help you stay injury-free and able to keep lifting week in and week out.

“Weightlifting shoes are for anyone looking to improve their weightlifting performance in the gym. You don’t have to be a powerlifter. Crossfitters or anyone who is doing weight exercises with dumbbells or barbells could benefit from the specific design elements of weightlifting shoes,” explains Karl Bratland, CPT, a Naperville, Indiana-based functional fitness trainer.

Do you have to wear weightlifting shoes? No. “I think they are important for people that are doing really heavy weightlifting like back squats and deadlifts,” says Maggie Priore, CPT, a personal trainer on Fyt. “Regular sneakers are fine for beginners and people that do more basic weight lifting. If you’re new to weightlifting I would work on getting into a good workout rhythm and then focus on the shoes.” 

What Do Weightlifting Shoes Do?

reebok lifting sneakers. bright neon coral.
Wendy McMillan

Weightlifting shoes differ based on the type of lifting they’re designed for—and there are a few different kinds. For example, powerlifting focuses on increasing your one-rep max for your squat, your deadlift, and your chest press, and uses flat and hard shoes. Olympic lifting focuses on two dynamic moves: the snatch and the clean and jerk, says TJ Mentus, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based certified personal trainer and weightlifting coach. This type of lifting favors a shoe with a heel drop (i.e. an elevated heel and solid support) and often a strap for added support and stability. The typical active person, however, won’t exclusively be doing powerlifting and Olympic lifting.

Most people who incorporate weights into their fitness routine are using dumbbells, resistance bands, or a TRX trainer at home, or attending classes like Orangetheory or F45. If this sounds like you, consider what you’ll be doing in your shoes and what’s comfortable for you. Bratland recommends considering the drop, the toe box width, and whether you prefer a shoe with a strap or laces. 

Different options make sense for different activities—and, at the end of the day, the only thing that really matters is personal preference. “A wide toe box will allow your toes to fully spread out, which is important when you power from the ground up. A strap can lock your foot into place securely, providing stability,” says Bratland. 

“If you enjoy heavy lifting, go for something with a wide toe box and sturdy heel. The shoe should be flat,” says Priore. “If you do more HIIT style workouts and cross training, you want a shoe that’s a little more flexible.”

What Is Heel-Toe Drop?

weightlifter wearing reeboks
Wendy McMillan

Heel-toe drop describes whether a shoe’s heel is elevated in relation to the toe box. The Nike Metcon’s heels, for example, are slightly elevated (giving them a moderate drop) whereas the Notorious Lifter’s heels are level with the rest of the shoe (making them a zero-drop, flat-soled shoe). We didn’t test any high-drop weightlifting shoes in this round, but the Adidas Leistung II is often cited as one of the best high-heeled options.

Is It Better to Lift Weights in Shoes with Flat Soles or Raised Heels?

“Zero-drop or minimal shoes provide a much better feel for the ground,” says Bratland. This is because flat shoes provide a stable base and allow you to push through the floor more effectively, especially when doing exercises like deadlifts. On the other hand, shoes with some lift may help provide some valuable benefits. The slightly elevated heel icon-trusted-source “Footwear and Elevated Heel Influence on Barbell Back Squat: A Review” View Source allows you to squat with less ankle dorsiflexion and more flexibility, helping you get deeper into the movement. It can also help you maintain a lifted chest and more upright posture as you descend, which helps keep you safe and stable under a heavy load. 

Ultimately, the choice between zero-drop and raised-heel shoes is up to the lifter. (You.) You may want zero-drop shoe if you have good ankle mobility and like your feet having full contact with the floor as you lift. You may prefer a slightly raised shoe if you’d like some added mobility in your ankles and feel you could get deeper into some movements. You may also want a flat shoe for some exercises (like deadlifts) and a lifted shoe for others (like squats). Again—lifter’s choice.

How We Found The Best Weightlifting Shoes

weightlifting sneakers test / review / comparison
Wendy McMillan

Meet Your Guinea Pig

Before becoming a freelance health and fitness journalist working with outlets like The Washington Post, Runner’s World, Outside, and SELF, I received my Masters degree in occupational therapy. For more than a decade I worked in a variety of healthcare settings (mostly hospitals), helping people with chronic and acute medical conditions (think strokes, joint replacements, and head injuries) function as fully as possible. 

In addition to my healthcare experience, I’m also an ACE-certified personal trainer, certified intuitive eating counselor, and fitness geek. Although my first love is endurance sports—I’ve completed six marathons and two Ironmans—I’ve also dabbled in CrossFit and am currently obsessed with lifting heavy weights in the gym. (Leg day is my favorite.) As a group fitness instructor for nearly 20 years, I’ve primarily taught indoor cycling along with the occasional barre class. 

Our Testing Process

I started by thoroughly researching weightlifting shoes, including which ones are available, how much they cost, and what kinds people use for different workouts. After sifting through and summarizing my extensive notes, I narrowed down my selections and submitted them to the Ness team. We then collaborated to determine which five products would make the final cut, which The Nessie ordered for testing. 

With the exception of the Chuck Taylor All-Stars, which were too uncomfortable to wear after about 15 minutes, I took each shoe through at least three workouts, ranging from 45-60 minutes each. Although every shoe wasn’t appropriate for every activity, I at least tried wearing each shoe during the following barbell exercises: deadlifts, back squats, front squats, overhead squats, and chest presses. 

In total, I spent two hours researching this product category and about 15 hours testing the four products we ultimately included. 

The Weightlifting Shoe Buying Guide

all the weightlifting sneakers we tested, reviewed, and compared. lifting shoes on the ground in front of barbell weights. squat rack.
Wendy McMillan

Weightlifting shoes are for anyone who lifts weights, including barbells, dumbbells, and nautilus machines, at home, at the gym, or in a class like Orangetheory, CrossFit, or Body Pump. And while there are shoes you can wear throughout an entire workout, including aerobic conditioning exercises like jumping jacks, running, or jumping rope, there are others that you’d wear only for specific lifts (the Notorious Lifters fall into this category). Which type makes sense for you really depends on your personal preferences (and potentially your closet space and shoe budget). 

Weightlifting shoes offer comfort, stability, and safety while putting your foot in an anatomical position that supports lifting weights with good posture and form. Depending on the individual’s posture and mobility, some are more comfortable in a shoe with a heel lift (particularly for moves like an overhead squat) while others will prefer something that’s more flat or even a barefoot style.

Depending on which activities (if any) you’re doing in conjunction with your resistance workout, you may need a shoe with some cushioning to make it as comfortable and safe as possible. 

Features That Matter Most In a Weightlifting Shoe

  • Comfort: How does it feel to wear the shoe for different activities? Is there anything about it that distracts you from your workout? 
  • Versatility: Bearing in mind that some consumers prefer different shoes for different activities, what scenarios would be appropriate for this shoe? Could it be the only shoe you wear to the gym or would you need an alternative shoe, depending on what you’re doing?  Would you wear this shoe après-gym? Could it be the only athletic shoe you bring when traveling?
  • Stability: Is it sturdy enough to offer adequate support, especially under heavier loads? Alternatively, for those who are looking for a barefoot-style shoe, is it flexible enough to let your foot and ankle provide the necessary stability? 
  • Aesthetics: This is subjective, but how does the shoe look? Does the manufacturer offer a variety of colors and/or prints?

Other Great Weightlifting Shoes

Reebok Nano X2

  • Size range: W 5.5-14.5, M 4- 13
  • Suitable for: HIIT classes, CrossFit, plyometrics, dumbbell training, kettlebell training, barbell training
  • Moderate heel-toe drop
$135 at Reebok
product image, white background
  • Good support
  • Many color options
  • Versatile
  • Very stiff
  • Scratchy tag inside the tongue

The Reebok Nano is among the most popular crosstrainers out there. This is obvious with just a cursory glance at the shoe discussions happening in any online weightlifting communities. Now, I can see why. They have good traction, the cushioning and support are adequate for nearly anything you might do in the gym, including resistance training and aerobic conditioning, and it offers a nice, moderate heel lift. 

For me, though, this pair fell short in the comfort department. The shoes felt supportive to the point of being stiff, and there’s a scratchy tag on the inside of the tongue that was never compatible with my low-rise socks. And given the fact that they were nowhere near as comfy as the Nike Metcons, I wasn’t about to buy taller socks to accommodate them.

Weightlifting Shoes You Can Skip

reebok vs nike vs converse vs notorious lifters for weightlifting
Wendy McMillan

Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars

  • Size range: W 5-19, M 3-17, available in standard and wide widths
  • Suitable for: Dumbbell training, kettlebell training, barbell training
  • No drop
$65 at Converse
product image, white background
  • Could be part of your après-gym look
  • Many weightlifters swear by them
  • Very uncomfortable
  • Not supportive enough to feel comfortable
  • Too cushioned for optimum power transfer with heavier lifts

It’s hard to give such a low rating to a shoe that so many people love. But these Chucks failed me on so many levels, I just can’t recommend them. For one thing, the sizing is way off. I knew they ran a little big, so I ordered a half size smaller than my usual size. But when they arrived, they were enormous. I felt like I was wearing clown shoes. So I ordered a half-size smaller, which was fine on my right foot but uncomfortably tight on my left foot, to the point where even walking around the gym was irritating after about 15 minutes. While my feet have never been the exact same size, this was the first time I’ve come across a shoe that fit noticeably tighter on one foot.

Sizing issues aside, I just didn’t love them. They offer too much cushioning, to the point where I felt they limited my power transfer for moves like lunges and squats. At the same time, the sole’s stiffness was distracting during dynamic moves like walking lunges and jump squats. I assume they’d break in and become more flexible over time, but with the sizing and comfort issues, it didn’t feel worth it to wait.  

Weightlifting Shoes Visual Comparison

The Shoes We Tested

The Soles


  1. What weightlifitng shoes are and what to look for in a pair: Email interview with Karl Bratland, USAW L1 and CrossFit Trainer who focuses on functional fitness training (January 2023).
  2. Olympic lifting focuses on the snatch and the clean and jerk: Email interview with  TJ Mentus, a Charlotte, NC-based certified personal trainer and weightlifting coach (January 2023).
  3. Weightlifting is associated with longevity: “Association of resistance training with mortality: A systematic review and meta-analysis.” European Journal of Preventive Cardiology (October 2019).
  4. Weightlifting can improve mental health: “Practices, Perceived Benefits, and Barriers to Resistance Training Among Women Enrolled in College.” International Journal of Exercise Science (May 2018).
  5. Weightlifting may improve cognition: “Lifting cognition: a meta-analysis of effects of resistance exercise on cognition.” Psychological Research (January 2019).
  6. Weightlifting may prevent cancer: “Weight Training and Risk of 10 Common Types of Cancer.Med Sci Sports Exerc. (September 2019).
  7. You can reap the benefits of weightlifting in two sessions per week: “The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans.” JAMA Network (November 2018).
  8. Weightlifting shoes can keep your trunk in a more upright position: “Footwear and Elevated Heel Influence on Barbell Back Squat: A Review.” J Biomech Eng (September 2021).

Exploring the health and wellness world is better with a friend.

Wellness recommendations you’ll want—delivered to your inbox twice a week. Subscribe to our (free) newsletter and join our growing community!


"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
In this article
Articles you might like

Want more?

Subscribe to Nessie Sightings. Wellness recommendations you’ll want—delivered to your inbox twice a week. Subscribe to our (free) newsletter and join our growing community!

The emails are free, the finds are priceless.

A dose of wellness for your inbox


Ness will process your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time.

“This card is such an exciting addition to my wallet and it’s perfect for someone who values health and wellness but hasn’t found a credit card that rewards me for that. I love getting rewarded for wellness practices like sleeping, meditating, and moving my body—plus extra points on purchases at my favorite places like Whole Foods, ClassPass and sweetgreen. The app is easy to use and the card is designed for your definition of health and wellness, which I love. It’s flexible!”

Kira's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“It’s no secret that wellness is such an important part of my everyday life. I spend a lot of money to help fuel my love of running, recovery, nutrition and mindfulness, so the fact that I can now earn rewards for every dollar I spend with the Ness Card is amazing. My health always comes first, and the Ness Card makes that easy to do. It’s a win-win for everyone!”

Andi's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“As a new mum, wellness and self-care is a priority for me—so I can, in turn, be able to take care of my baby. I love the incentives that Ness offers for making healthier choices. And to be rewarded along the way for those purchases is such a plus!

Oh, and getting 5x point rewards on my Erewhon $20+ smoothie makes it a little more justifiable.”

Amrit's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“I made a promise to myself to find my joy again in 2023. For the past few years, I haven’t been taking care of myself mentally and physically because I’ve just been on the go and focusing on the future instead of being present. I realized that part of the reason I wasn’t happy was because I wasn’t taking care of myself. So, now with the Ness Card—which literally rewards you for staying on top of your wellness journey—I’ve easily been able to focus on my mental and physical journey. Using the card is now a part of my weekly routine, whether I’m buying groceries, going to therapy, spending a day at the spa, or treating myself to a delicious yummy meal.”

Candace's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“I love life with the Ness Card! The team behind the scenes work really hard to make it valuable and to create a sense of community, which you feel in every newsletter and hand-crafted partnership. The card itself encourages me to be even more curious about where I’m spending my money. It definitely incentivizes me to spend ‘healthier’, which is really unique. On top of that, getting points for taking more steps? There is seriously nothing like it.

David's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“My favorite thing about the Ness Card is that it rewards you for your healthy habits, and not all of them require spending. Yes, you can earn 5x points when you spend at any of their approved health and wellness merchants (think Erewhon and many of your other favorites) but you also earn points for being active daily! So now your sanity walks are literally paying off :) As someone who not only works in wellness but lives and breathes it, essentially most of my expenses live in that realm and with the Ness Card I can now be rewarded nicely for those purchases.”

Kirsty's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“I love that I have rewards to look forward to when I focus on my health and wellness. As a mom of two and full time photographer/creator, it’s hard to find time to prioritize my health and—as my body ages—I want to make sure that I’m treating it to all the TLC it needs (and deserves)! The Ness Card reminds me to take care of my mental, physical, and emotional health on the daily.”

Valerie's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“It’s refreshing to have a card app that is so easy to use. I can track my spending and rewards at the click of a button. I love getting a notification when I get extra points for getting a full night sleep or getting my steps in, though of course those are optional. I work a lot, and I feel like I get extra rewarded for taking the time to take care of myself – whether it’s therapy or simply cooking at home instead of dining out. The points accumulate really quickly, and I’ve already gotten a $1,000 credit at Erewhon in my first four months. I also go visit family in Europe a lot, and no one takes my card there, so it’s so convenient to be able to use my Ness Card without ever paying a fee.”

Mélanie's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“As someone who spends the majority of her money on wellness, the Ness Card is perfect for me! I love earning 5x points on purchases at healthy businesses that I was already making, anyways. The Ness Card also motivates me to get enough sleep, practice mindfulness and other healthy habits. The app is really user-friendly and I love watching my points add up. I am excited to redeem them for wellness-related items!”

Lauren's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“The Ness Card motivates me to keep up my healthy habits, and has helped me discover new brands and products that are in alignment with my goals. I’m not spending any more with my Ness Card, but the money I am spending on health and wellness is actually earning me rewards, benefits, and even cash back. And because Ness’s definition of a ‘healthy merchant’ is so generous, I’m able to recognize all of the small ways I practice self-care throughout the week. From buying fresh veggies to going to therapy to taking my supplements, the Ness Card is there to cheer me on: ‘Keep being healthy, girl. You deserve 5x points for that.'”

Melissa's Favorite Healthy Merchants

“The Ness Card rewards me when I spend money on health and wellness. Especially because so much of my wellness routine is spent being active, gardening, making food with my husband, getting a massage, or having some me time, it is nice to be rewarded for that with points that are with brands I shop at all the time anyway. It allows my wellness choices to work harder which I love.”

Research Based

This article was rigorously researched and fact checked. We use peer-reviewed journals and reputable medical sources (think: CDC, WHO, NIH, and the like) to back up every claim we make, and also reach out to experts in the field to ensure we’re covering things the right way. We apply these principles to everything we cover—including brands we partner with—and we’ll always disclose sponsorships, ads, and any kind of financial relationship with anything featured on The Nessie. You deserve the best, most straightforward information on health and wellness, and we think this is the right way to do it. You can read more about our testing and review process here.

If something doesn’t seem quite right, let us know at [email protected].