Review of the Best Minimalist Weightlifting Shoes of 2016

Flat-soled minimalist lifting shoes have caught fire in recent years with everyone from podiatrists to Olympic athletes singing their praises. Their attraction has spread beyond the edge of the lifting platform to the world of CrossFit where the sole-to-the-ground ethos has been heartily embraced and spawned dozens of new designs. Below we’ll take a close look at the best minimalist lifting shoes available today and see if one stands out above the others.

New Balance MX20V3

The Best Minimalist Weightlifting Shoes

Whether or not you subscribe to the theory that modern footwear is killing our feet the fact is that there are many types of athletic activity, including weightlifting, that are performed more effectively wearing lightweight, minimalist footwear. The three best minimalist shoes for lifting are all shoes we believe fit the performance bill while also delivering outstanding value.


Vibram Five Fingers El-X

Vibram Five Fingers El-X

The Five Fingers design tends to divide people into the love-em or hate-em camps but no matter which camp you’re in the quality and versatility of these minimalist weightlifting shoes is something that can’t be denied. This particular model of Five Fingers footwear is noticeably more comfortable than most of its predecessors and for many lifters is the closest thing to going barefoot. Unique among minimalist shoes for weightlifting is the antimicrobial footbed designed to keep odor under control. Other key features include:

  • Machine washable
  • Well ventilated upper mesh
  • Extremely flexible throughout
  • Dri-Lex® linings to prevent moisture buildup

Merrell Flux Glove

Merrell Flux Glove

The Flux Glove is Merrell’s all-purpose shoe intended to attract the attention of CrossFitters by being as at-home in the box as it is on the lifting platform. The extremely lean sole offers barefoot style feedback on any indoor or outdoor surface and the shoe really shines when the powerlifting weights get piled on. Excellent for deadlifts and squats the Flux Glove will have you running straight from the lifting platform to the cross country trail. Key features include:

  • Zero drop
  • Extra wide toe box
  • Snug yet breathable upper
  • Vibram rubber sole for superior grip

New Balance MX20V3

New Balance MX20V3

Designed for CrossFit but adopted by serious lifters the MX20V3 has the least flexible sole of any of the New Balance minimalist shoes yet that sole’s rubber hexagon grid produces a grip that really needs to be experienced to be believed; it’s that good. The MX20V3 is not an easy shoe to remember by name but once you ride it hard for a couple of hours you’ll never forget it. Also an excellent transitional shoe for those moving up from standard sneakers but who may not be ready for dedicated lifting shoes. Key features include:

  • Excellent build quality
  • Extreme lightweight construction
  • Great grip on every conceivable surface
  • Surprising degree of support throughout

The high quality construction also promises longevity and while I have not owned my pair of Adidas Adipower weightlifting shoes long enough to know for sure yet, I would be very surprised if they don’t turn out to be one of the most durable pairs that I have owned.


Our Favorite Minimalist Shoes

Winner:

New Balance MX20V3

You would do well to memorize this shoe’s less than amazing name because if it’s minimalist shoes for weightlifting you’re after you won’t find better value than this offering from New Balance. Extremely well built, versatile, comfortable and able to hold its own under the weight or dragging a sled, the MX20V3 is a lifting shoe to be reckoned with.

Final Thoughts / Additional Information

The overall number and quality of minimalist shoes for lifting has increased exponentially in recent years. If none of the above mentioned shoes is your particular cup of tea you’ll find plenty of others out there to choose from including the Nike Free, Inov8 F-Lite 195, Reebok Nano 2.0 and Asics Onitsuka Tigers. Our choice - the New Balance MX20V3 - is a shoe that is guaranteed to impress without breaking your bank and will be a welcome addition to any lifter or box junky’s kit. For more information on the New Balance MX20V3 check out this video:

Conclusion

Minimalist lifting shoes are propelling weightlifters to new personal bests on a daily basis and casting doubt on the long held belief that barefoot is best. Whether you’re a novice or veteran lifter, a weekend CrossFitter or dedicated extreme athlete these amazing, nearly invisible pieces of 21st century weightlifting footwear can raise the bar of your performance with minimal fanfare or expense.

Looking for more affordable shoes? Check out Wei Rui weightlifting shoes that are available to both men and women.

If you suffer from being flat footed please read this article on the best weightlifting shoes for flat feet. We've broken down the best flat footed weightlifting shoes currently on the market. Fear not! We've got you covered.

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