Top 10 High Top Shoes for Weightlifting
Many serious or competitive weightlifters prefer high top shoes over low tops. In powerlifting, especially, the extra ankle support is an advantage. It helps you lift more, while also virtually immobilizing your ankle to help prevent rolling injuries.
The products in this top ten review feature wafer-thin rubber soles, minimal padding, extra traction, and tight lacing systems along with straps. Some high top lifters even have an additional strap across the ankle to offer even more support and safety.
But not all high top weightlifting shoes can deliver the same result. Though they all have the same basic silhouette, some of these shoes will be geared towards hobbyist lifters who do not need to lift huge amounts of weight. We aim to educate and inform all our readers. No matter your current goals or fitness level, you will find the best high top weightlifting shoes here.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 20 hours of research
Wide roomy toebox
Thin sole, so your muscles do more lifting work
Synthetic leather and mesh uppers are breathable
Best High Top Weightlifting Shoes
1. Otomix Ninja Warrior
Wide roomy toebox
Thin sole, so your muscles do more lifting work
Synthetic leather and mesh uppers are breathable
Thin arch may be bad fit for some
These are versatile shoes you can wear to lift weights or practice martial arts like boxing. The support provided by the ankle padding will keep you on your feet during either activity.Read more
The barely-there insole lets you drive your toes into the floor during squats, making sure you get the maximum benefits. You may want to purchase inserts if you have high arches, though. The rubber outsole gives you consistent traction and grip. You can move freely, being confident that you won't get injured as the shoes help immobilize your feet.
Being boxing shoes, the Ninja Warriors are lightweight and won't cause you any ankle fatigue. This leads to longer workouts and better muscle gains over time. Synthetic leather and poly mesh make up the uppers. The materials make the shoe breathable and prevent your feet from sweating, cutting down on foul odors and bacteria growth.
The widened toe box adapts to wider feet and leaves you room to move your toes, using all of your foot for heavy lifts. The laces are designed to ensure a snug fit using Otomix's well known behind the tongue system. The laces will hold tight and will not get in your way during intense workouts.
2. Otomix Mens' Stingray
Ideal for deadlifting
Tight lacing closure
Thin rubber sole for traction
No elevated heel for squats
This is a lightweight, bootlike lifting shoe that is flexible and lest you move around in safety while keeping your foot still enough to avoid injury.Read more
The sole has exceptional traction. Padding in the ankle helps support you and keep you stable. The structure of the shoe, including the minimal padding, makes it a good choice for deadlifts. There is no wedged heel, though, so it will be harder to get a full range of motion when you squat. You can purchase heel lift inserts from many online retailers.
Traction is provided by a thin, flat, rubber sole. The outsoles grab hold of and rest on the ground until you are ready to move to another weight station. Since the laces start higher on the lower part of the shoe than ordinary sneakers, you get a tighter lacing job for a snug fit.
This shoe does not have a strap, which is typical for Otomix. The throwback style shoe comes in several primary colors, and in camo. Reviewers recommended ordering half a size bigger than your regular shoe size.
3. Puma Women's Fierce Core
Easy to get on and off
Can use as cross trainers
Arieprene is exceptionally comfortable
Extra heel support
No heel wedge for squats
This stylish trainer is made completely from synthetic Ariaprene, a fabric that offers exceptional durability, stain resistance, and natural ventilation for your feet.Read more
A rubber sole, not quite as thin as you'd see on straight weightlifting shoes, still provides stability and helps you plant your feet for Olympic style lifting. Mesh pieces in the upper and lower aid with heat dispersal. There are no laces, an unusual choice for a lifting shoe, but the Ariaprene keeps everything snug and in place.
A pull tab helps with getting the shoe on and off. Tongue and ankle collar feature padding. Puma built pivot points on the toe, heel, and outsole to facilitate a complete range of movement. Extra thick heels aid in squats and also keep you comfortable during wear.
The shoes are cute and comfy enough to wear away from the gym. The Ariaprene will keep them from getting dirty in the street. The shoes are even water-resistant in case you have to walk in the rain.
4. Iron Tanks Titan V2 Gym Shoe
Mesh and leather construction
Supportive ankle collar
Pull tab in back
No heel lift for doing squats
A paper-thin rubber outsole and extra ankle support will help you achieve your weightlifting goals while keeping you stable and comfortable.Read more
Proprietary Oxford mesh and leather construction keep the foot cool and sweat-free. A pull tab in the back helps you pull the shoe on and off. This is needed because the shoe has a higher ankle than usual. You will be glad for the extra padding and support after a hard workout in the Titan.
The shoe is feather-light thanks to the materials, eliminating leg fatigue so you can go longer and deal with less soreness on recovery days. The thin outsole suits the Titan to squats, deadlifts, and the clean and jerk. The rubber makes a tight seal with the floor, giving you traction, grip, and balance.
These shoes are unisex and come in a few different colors, although not every color is widely available. Do yourself a favor and go to the Iron Tanks website to fit yourself using their size chart, as your standard size may not work with the Titans.
5. Uzafit Logan
Extra high ankle with padding
Leather and mesh construction
Tight lacing closure
Excellent traction on the outsole
Some lifters will not want this much cushioning
Uzafit makes these mid-priced extra tall weightlifting shoes. They are exceptionally flexible and contain an inner gel for cushioning, while still making sure you do the work of squatting and other barbell lifts.Read more
The shoes, made in Brazil, are leather and mesh, with a look similar to Vans high tops especially in the ankle collar. They are made by hand and their primary function is for lifting weights. You can also use them for martial arts and CrossFit. The Uzafit is lightweight and lets you move fast while providing plenty of traction and stability.
The thin rubber soles mimic and compliment the foot's anatomy and the gel insole molds to and remember the shape of your foot. You get a tight fit, comfy ride, and a stable platform for all your standing barbell workouts. The leather is solid, with no vent holes, but the mesh intertwined with it makes the shoe breathable and cuts down on odors.
All in all, this is a durable, versatile, affordable weightlifting shoe that will stick with you as you grow and get stronger in your weight training. Solid construction and stitching ensure the shoe will stay viable for a long time.
6. Sabo Deadlift Shoes
Extra deadlift support
Thin rubber sole
Extra strap on the ankle collar
No squat assist
As you can tell by the name, this sturdy shoe was made for doing deadlifts and will help you maximize your muscle use for substantial gains.Read more
The shoe is suitable for conventional deadlifts but has something special to offer the sumo deadlifting enthusiast. Sumo deadlifts use a much wider foot stance, with the feet angled outward to make things easier on the spine. The Sabo features thinner than average soles, good arch support, and the metatarsal strap, all to facilitate doing sumo deadlifts.
Although it's sumo squatting dream, the Sabo is good for all of your standing or Olympic style lifts. There isn't a raised or wedge-shaped heel, for squatting, but a good pair of inserts can take care of that if you want the extra range of motion and downward pushing power.
Durable construction includes side support for protection from rolling your ankles. The outsole has a grippy bottom for stability. You get a full range of movement in these tough, lightweight lifters. There is an extra strap, across the ankle collar, for even more balance during deadlifts.
7. Sabo Goodlift Powerlifter
Nonmarking thin sole
Strong leather construction
Sole not perfectly flat
This second Sabo offering has a lower ankle than its deadlifting counterpart and returns to the classic design of a single metatarsal strap.Read more
The upper and lower are solid leather, which promotes freedom of movement but may cause sweaty feet and odor if you do not clean the shoes regularly. The outsole is thin, but not perfectly flat like many lifters want to see on their shoes. The ankle is supportive but without excess padding or extra height.
There is no heel on the Goodlift. If heavy squats are a focus, you will need to get a pair of inserts. The outsole provides plenty of traction and grip. The strap keeps the shoe tight on your feet, keeping the feet still on the inside while still letting you move your toes. The leather is durable and will hold up for a long time under normal use.
The sizes for this shoe are in Russian, which makes things a little tricky. You can get them up to size 13 men's/15 women's. Just make sure you use the sizing chart on the website, and you will be fine.
8. Seve Men's Crossfit Trainer
Strong leather and canvas outer
Extra tall ankle
Comfortable inner EVA lining
Company does not have an established track record
This is another pair of extra high ankle lifting shoes with durable construction and a few features to help you lift safely and efficiently while giving you a lifting advantage.Read more
Outer construction materials are lightweight leather and canvas. Seve's ad copy promises a breathable shoe, but we have our doubts, especially since there are no vent holes in any of the pictures of the shoe that we saw.
Ankle protection and stability include a padded collar as well as a thick tongue. EVA insoles cut down on the Seve's weight. The thin rubber outsole is slip-resistant and offers some traction. Gluing and sewing are decent and the shoe will be durable, though maybe not as long-lasting as some of the better-known brands.
All in all, this is a bargain-basement shoe from a little known company. There were very few search results for Seve. Their ad copy comes across as a little out of touch, but Seve does offer a money-back guarantee. Customer reviews indicate the Seve is a good entry-level shoe, probably not a good choice for the dedicated and experienced Olympic lifter unless you need a backup pair for your regular weight shoes.
9. Uzafit Denver Weightlifting Shoe
Leather and canvas outers
Comes in several cool colorways
Insole conforms to your foot
No squat support
These unisex high tops come in all kinds of eye-popping colors, including some retro designs. They're fun, but also a more than adequate shoe for your lifting routines.Read more
These shoes are made in Brazil, by hand. The outers are light, pliable leather, with canvas sides on the uppers to help your feet breathe. The shoes are lightweight and will support your ankle while not causing leg fatigue. You get a foot molding insole, which you can remove if you prefer less padding.
The Denver is also suitable for CrossFit and martial arts. The shoes are flexible and stable by design.
10. Gorilla Wear Men's GW High
The outsole provides shock absorption
Synthetic leather is sturdy and breathable
Suede can be hard to keep clean
Gorilla Wear is an international company, with a sharp, professional web presence, that offers a few varieties of high top lifting shoes and knitted sneakers for running or general fitness.Read more
Soles are flat and thin, for traction, grip, and stability. The shoes come in a wide array of colors and are stylish enough to wear outside the gym. These shoes are dedicated lifters, though, and won't be safe or effective for CrossFit or martial arts.
The soles are flat, grippy, and thin, letting you drive down with your toe and heel during squats, deadlifts, and overhead presses. The shoes are durable, according to product information and positive customer reviews.
There is no leather, canvas, or synthetic mesh in the makeup of these shoes. Instead, they are made from synthetic leather, suede, and polyester. The shoe is quite breathable, but the suede will be hard to keep clean. The suede makes up about two-thirds of the outer shoe. If you purchase the Gorilla Wear, it will be a good idea to coat the suede with a protective stain guard and waterproofer. These products are available at most retail shoe stores, or a department store.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Weightlifting shoes don't need to be weatherproof, but they do need to be gym proof.
By "gym proof," we mean that the shoes should be able to withstand hard floors, continue to provide shock absorption over time, not cause excessive foot sweat, and not stain easily or allow bacteria to flourish. Gym staff works hard to keep the gym clean, and most gym users are good enough to wipe down equipment, but any public place where sweat flows freely is susceptible to germs. This is why many shoes have antibacterial liners, either as standard equipment or as user-installed options.
Cheaper, poorly made shoes will cause you to sweat more and will absorb the sweat. They may also develop tears or splits, often after a short time of use. We want you looking and feeling your best. You should be able to meet your goals and focus on pushing weight, not constantly cleaning your shoes or having to replace them early. For this reason, we put a high priority on the durability factor. If you use them as directed, the shoes on our list will all perform well and stay strong for you throughout their life cycle.
The shoe's ability to snug your feet is at least as important as durability.
Many of the best weightlifting shoes are made outside of America, by international companies. At least two of our reviews are handmade in Brazil, and Gorilla Wear is based in Europe.
There's nothing wrong with this, except that our American readers will need to consult the sizing charts. If you aren't familiar with European sizing, you could end up with pinched feet or blisters. Getting the right fit in the first place is always easier than having to do a return.
Also, many shoes do not run true to size, meaning that, if you normally wear a size 10, you may need a ten and a half, nine and a half, eleven, etc. We have talked about Converse Chuck Taylors as lifting shoes before, and Chucks are famous for this. If you typically wear an 11, for example, you may be more comfortable in size 10 Converses.
Aside from the actual numbers, the fit of a shoe comes down to its construction and inner material. Part of fit is subjective, too. You may need something with a wider toe box, or you may prefer shoes that fit like a second skin. It pays to learn about materials, design, and manufacturing processes as you narrow down which lifting shoe is perfect for you and your feet.
A lifting shoe has to be flexible for freedom of movement, while also having no give so that you and your muscles are doing the work.
Some materials are more flexible than others, and some shoes are more flexible than others. You'd never dream of wearing wingtips to go for a run, for example. But wingtips are perfect for formal occasions while being little suited to everyday life.
So it is with lifting shoes. They can't and shouldn't be as flexible as running shoes, because they don't have to absorb the repeated shock of your foot contacting pavement again and again. But if they are too rigid, you will not feel you can move around in them. And unlike any running shoe, weightlifting outsoles have close to zero give. They are as thin as the soles you'd find on a pair of bowling shoes. This is so you can push your toe and heel down into the ground to get the weights up in the air. So the best lifting shoes walk a fine line between flexibility and firmness.
The outsole is not the only thing that sets lifting shoes apart from ordinary gym shoes, but it's of crucial importance.
This is because the sole has to both absorb part of the impact, so your bones and joints don't bear the brunt, while also keeping you planted on the ground and providing traction. You could, conceivably, lift in bowling shoes, which we mentioned earlier. The soles are thin and have some give even though they are not rubber. But the bowling shoes have nowhere near the traction you need; bowling shoe outsoles are often smooth. You could lose your footing, which is not worth the risk.
Our point is that, if you are serious about lifting, you cannot compromise on the outsole. Your safety depends on it. So we carefully examined ratings, materials, thicknesses, customer reviews, and other specs. Our goal is to keep you moving and put you in the best position for achieving your fitness goals. Often, this starts with the outsole.
You need a stable platform, so what goes into the shoe matters.
Weightlifting shoes are not stability shoes. Those are for runners.
If you go to a high end running shoe store, the staff members can put you on a treadmill right there on the sales floor. They will analyze your gait, taking your height, weight, and body frame into account. The instruments can tell if you are an overpronator (foot rolls towards arch) or underpronator (your foot makes too little contact with the ground). Either condition can cause injury. So, after the treadmill test, the staff will help you pick out a shoe with more or less padding, as needed.
What does this have to do with lifting shoes? Well, it is almost impossible not to overpronate when you do heavy squats. So lifted heels are important. Wedge-shaped inserts, too, can keep your arches high and make sure you drive your feet down towards the floor. Every modification or concession to human anatomy will affect how stable and balanced you are when you lift. So we have included shoes with little padding, abundant padding, and extra ankle support. This is all to help you reach that end goal of safe, productive, pain-free lifting.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
We have spent a lot of time talking about squats, including which shoes are and are not designed to optimize your range of movement during heavy squats.
But, as with any exercise, there is a right way to do squats along with many wrong ways that can lead to injury or impede progress. The best shoe in the world will not do much good if you don't have the basic squat motion down. Let's take a few minutes and do a quick recap of that motion.
Barbell squats should always begin with you facing the squat rack. Preload the barbell to your desired weight. The barbell should be at about shoulder height on the rack. Stand under the barbell and support it on your shoulders as you remove it from the rack.
Flex your hips to bend down, keeping the hips immobilized as much as possible. Your knees will push forward as you squat down, with your upper body as straight as possible. Make sure your knees align in the direction of your feet. If you are a beginner, practice this with an empty barbell first.
As soon as your upper legs make contact with your lower legs, stand back up, still keeping your upper body straight. At the top of the motion, either re-rack the barbell (for max heavy lifting) or check your alignment and squat down if you are doing multiple reps.
As you squat down, the weight should be centered on your heel as you drive into the floor.
There isn't anything wrong with low tops for weight training! The earliest lifting shoes were high tops, and they quickly became the standard. These were the early days of Otomix, the company that became iconic in the powerlifting community.
Low top lifting shoes will support your weight, help you grip the floor, and encourage you to use proper form. The high tops add extra ankle support, which is important if you are concerned about rolling your ankle. The support is augmented even more with ankle padding, which most of the shoes in this review feature. Many lifters like low tops because they are easier to get on and off, or because they don't feel they need extra ankle support. Either way, the perfect weightlifting shoe is the one that meets your needs the best.
Other Factors to Consider
A breathable shoe is one that provides a means for cooling air to flow around your feet and prevent overheating. Overheating can cause sweat, which in turn causes foul odors and bacteria that can cause athlete's foot and other conditions. For this reason, every weightlifting shoe has to have either porous material or ventilation holes (often both) in its design.
We are big fans of synthetic mesh because it is naturally porous, but leather can create a stronger feel and that might be important to you. In this case, the manufacturer will use lightweight leather, perhaps even synthetic, and will provide vent holes. Any shoe can be breathable, regardless of material, but it pays to look at what the manufacturer does specifically to keep you from having problems down the road.
The best high top weightlifting shoes are usually made of one or more common materials.
The materials include genuine leather, synthetic leather, synthetic mesh, poly-fiber materials, canvas, and suede, though suede is rare. Poly fiber materials include Ariaprene, which Puma used for its Fierce Core slip-on high top lifter.
Each material has its own properties and its own requirements for cleaning. It is a good idea to look at these properties, to decide which shoe is right for you.
Leather is firm and secure, but not very porous, so breathability may be a problem. Often, leather lifters will have vent holes. Synthetic leather is lighter and more breathable than cow leather. Any leather shoe will keep your feet snug while allowing you to move freely.
Synthetic mesh and poly fibers are typically stained and water-resistant, lightweight, and extremely breathable. However, some lifters find the mesh too light, and prefer something with a bit more weight to it, like leather. Some lifters also have concerns about the environmental impact of the poly manufacturing process.
Canvas is tough and durable, though not as strong as leather. It is lighter and breathes better than leather does. However, canvas stains easily. There are consumer products you can buy to protect your canvas shoes.
Suede is not often used because it can stain so easily and is less durable than almost any other shoe material. Suede has a velvety texture, almost like fine fur. Suede also isn't very durable. When companies do use suede, it is usually for trim around the toe box area or the sides of the shoe. Suede looks great, and it is lightweight, so it isn't the worst material for lifting shoes.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Should I buy weightlifting shoes as soon as I start weight training?
We suggest not doing so and holding off. This is because ordinary tennis shoes will meet the needs of neophyte lifters who are not ready to lift large amounts of weight. When you start, you should take some time to learn to build your own routines. Knowing which muscles each lift will target is a part of this. Go for the lifting shoes later, when it becomes clear that you need the mechanical advantage to maximize your squat weight. Remember, too, that it's okay never to get into heavy lifting. Regular workouts with dumbbells, bench presses, and squat machines at a comfortable weight will make a big difference in your strength and overall well being.
q: What will lifting shoes do for me, when I am ready for a pair?
They will help you avoid injury, which we always stress is the most important consideration. You can't skimp on safety. However, in addition to the added stability and protection, the right pair of lifting shoes will actually help you lift more weight. This is because they are built specifically to give you a mechanical advantage and keep your form as close to perfect as it can be.
q: My friend lifts barefoot and swears by it, because she says she's doing all the work herself with no help from the shoes. Is that true?
Barefoot lifting can set you up for overuse injuries, and the bottoms of your feet will not give you the same traction as a good pair of minimally padded lifting shoes. These are reasons enough to think about getting shoes for weight training. But remember, lifting shoes are also designed to give you an advantage with their raised heel and extra thin sole. If you are into functional fitness, too, it is unlikely you will need to lift over a hundred pounds, outside the gym, with no shoes on. So using the shoes is not weakening you any more than using power steering on your car is.
q: How exactly does a pair of these shoes improve my squat performance?
The shoes will help you keep your torso upright, letting you use your large muscle groups more efficiently and without pain.
q: Can I wear my lifting shoes as everyday shoes?
Usually, no. But there are a few pairs, like Puma's Ariaprene Fierce, that will work as sneakers because of their design. Of course, the Fierce won't help you with powerlifting, just because it is not that kind of shoe. Typically, if you are interested enough in heavy lifting to invest in a pair of dedicated lifters, you will never want to wear them when you aren't lifting. It's okay to go from your car to the gym with them on, but beyond that, you will cause excess wear and tear and won't have the support you need.
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