In general, raw lifting does not require special equipment – chalk, straps, stable shoes and a belt are among the few needed accessories. This is why most people are interested in raw lifting rather than equipped powerlifting which demands the usage of bench shirts and other fancy entourage.
There are two types of shoes that are good for squatting – flat shoes, powerlifting shoes and Olympic weightlifting shoes. A good example of a flat shoe would be the classic Chuck Taylor sneakers. However, we don’t recommend that you actually spend so much money on such a simple shoe. You can find cheaper flat shoes. Remember – the bar does not care what’s the brand of your shoe.
When you make your choice make sure that the shoes are stable with absolutely flat sole. Stay away from fancy shoes – especially the shoes made for running. To squat heavy weights you don’t need the latest model of Nike or Adidas. To tell the truth you don’t need those models even for running. The masses have been brainwashed into believing that fancy shoes are needed for sports activity. This is an evil scam organized and spread by the big companies who exploit people in Third World Countries. A pair of hi-end shoes may cost USD 200 in the local Mall but the workers usually get paid USD 2 a day to make those shoes all day. Guess where the rest of the money is going…
Here’s a dilemma that arises – if you don’t buy those products, you are not supporting the evil brands. However, the people who made those shoes will also suffer. You have to make your own choice. Remember – you’ve been informed.
Another option would be the special powerlifting shoes made for squats. Those kind of shoes have a really sturdy and thick sole and feel very stable. If you find the right model, your stability during squat will increase tremendously.
The final option for squats would be the classic weightlifting shoes with a wooden heel. Those kind of shoes are made for squatting deep and to protect the Achilles tendon. When your shoes has a small heel, the mechanics of the squat change. You are much more upright and can easily go deeper. A pair of weightlifting shoes will also provide stability since the sole is made out of very thick material.
The only downside of using weightlifting shoes is that at the bottom of the squat your knees travel forward a little further. This may cause knee pain.
Note: The size of your weightlifting shoes usually correspond to the size of your dress shoes – not sneakers.
Conclusion: If you are doing low bar squats, all you need for the most part would be a pair of solid flat shoes. The popular powerlifter Ed Coan used the same flat shoes for squats and deadlifts (probably different pairs) through out his career. They were just basic sneakers and yet he squatted insane weights.
If you are more a of a high-bar squatter, you can still do your thing in a pair of flat shoes, but experimenting with weightlifting shoes is also a good idea. You will be more upright during the movement and there will be less stress on the back and more on the quadriceps.
The deadlift is even less pretentious than the squat. There’s absolutely no need to buy special deadlifting shoes. In general, you should lift in flat shoes for stability and in order to increase the involvement of the posterior chain – hamstrings and glutes.
There are many professional deadlifters such as the British champion Andy Bolton who regularly deadlift in ballet slippers. The reason being is that having a really thin sole shortens the bar path by 1 inch.
Over the last few years many people have actually started using weightlifting shoes even for the deadlift. The reason being is that weightlifting shoes increase the involvement of the quadriceps and make the initial part of the lift easier. However, unless you are at least an intermediate lifter you should stick to the classics which say – flat shoes.
Should I go barefoot?
An article on squat and deadlift footwear will never be complete unless we mention the barefoot maniacs. They like to do everything barefoot thinking they’re getting closer and closer to mother nature. To tell the truth there are not that many benefits to lifting barefoot compared to flat shoes. On top of everything lifting barefoot in dirty commercial gym seems a little counter productive due to the poor hygiene levels.