Why Your Shoes Matter When Deadlifting

Zach Kotecki
By: Zach Kotecki


Your shoe choice is crucial when deadlifting. In this article, we’ll go through different options, and figure out which shoe gives you the best chance for a stronger deadlift....

As some of you may have read one of my past articles, "What Shoes Are Best For Squatting", there are also shoes or types of shoes that are best suited for when deadlifting.

Now I know it can be quite the hassle to carry around 2 or 3 pairs of shoes in your gym bag just because ones better to deadlift in or to squat in or forbid even do cardio in than another but don't worry I've got you covered! All you'll need is 1 pair of shoes that will correlate into all your lifts! (Unless you're an olympic lifter, in that case have 2 pairs or go barefoot, which is always an option).

The shoe you wear during the deadlift is actually very crucial to the amount of weight you may be able to lift and can also save yourself from injury. When you deadlift in running sneakers (Nike Metcons or Crossfit Shoes, etc..) your foot is placed in a padded sole. This is good for you when performing ground striking movements such as running or plyometric exercises, but is detrimental when trying to lift maximal weight in the deadlift. With the padded sole of the shoe you will lose a great amount of strength and power when pushing your feet into the ground, trying to spread that floor apart. You don't want anything taking force production away. Bottom line: cushion is good for running, not for deadlifting.

A running sneaker is very unstable as compared to a flat soled shoe such as the Converse Chuck Taylors or if you want to drop the extra money the SABO Deadlift shoe. When it comes to strength sports stability is your best friend. The more stable the platform is when lifting weights the better. This is the exact reason why I teach my athletes and clients to Bench Press with their heals down on the ground and not on the balls of their feet. You are always the strongest specimen when you have stability and power. You'll never see a powerlifter or even someone in the gym take a squat with a few hundred pounds on the balls of their feet.

Running shoes or sneakers will for the most part have an elevation of 1-2 inches for shock absorption. You may not think 1-2 inches is a big deal but as we all know every inch matters, especially in the game of lifting. Think of it this way; If I am deadlifting 600 pounds would I want to place my body under even more stress and travel that bar up to 2 more inches? Heck no! Chances are is that I'm already hurting, uncomfortable and short of breath. I'm just looking to lockout my lift, lower the bar to the ground and grab some much needed rest until my next set. Ditch the running shoes and grab yourself a pair or flat soled shoes that puts you as close to the ground as possible.

If You wear non flat soled shoes to deadlift such as the Nike metcons or running shoes mentioned above you are deadlifting with an elevated heel. When your heels are elevated not only are you pushing your knees forward over the bar, you're also dragging your shoulders out of position in front of the bar as well. In the deadlift for every inch your shoulders are in front of the bar you are losing approximately 20 pounds on the bar. I don't know about you guys but I would much rather lift 20+ more pounds and get the right shoes than suffer my lifts and body. The ideal starting position you want to be in when approaching the deadlift is feet locked in the ground externally rotating, arms both fall naturally where the body wants them too, about shoulder width. Your shins are to be as vertical as you can get them, keeping your core tight and lats locked in. Squat down (NOT BENDING OVER) opening at the knees/thighs "Externally Rotating". Grab ahold of the bar pulling the slack out (that clicking sound it makes without the bar actually moving off the ground) and sit down and back into the deadlift making sure your shoulders are behind the bar. In this position with the correct shoes you are most powerful.

So now I've told you what NOT to wear when deadlifting and why, here is a list some of the Pros to my favorite shoe to wear when deadlifting and all times, The Converse Chuck Taylor which will solve all the above mentioned problems!

Pros Of Chuck Taylors

  • Hard soles don't compress under weight, resulting in better bar control and form throughout the movement.
  • Flat soles put you closer to the floor and reduce the distance you must pull the bar to the top.
  • Good foot traction protects feet against slipping which improves stability during the deadlift, especially in the sumo stance. Remember stability is strength.
  • Cheap in cost. Chucks run about $45 a pair!

Zach Kotecki

Zach Kotecki