Finally, everything you need to know about weightlifting shoes for women. One of the most important decisions women lifters can make before performing Olympic lifting, powerlifting, or general weight training is their shoes. The old adage goes that you pay for quality on things that separate you from the ground: tires, mattresses, and shoes. Why would it not go double when you’re planning to pick up your bodyweight or more dozens of times?
Weightlifting shoes, sometimes known simply as lifters, are becoming more popular in the female weightlifting market in recent years. This is due to the rise of heavier weight training regimens among women, the incredible popularity of CrossFit leading to the growth of powerlifting as a sport, and larger availability of weightlifting shoes for women.
Finding the Best Weightlifting Shoes for Women
At ShoeGuide we always want to ensure that you’re armed with the best information when looking for high quality shoes. Our research came with a lot of time in a niche still dominated by men and men’s gear. However, with some searching and testing of our own, we arrived at some unique findings, which we share here.
To review the best lifting shoes for women, we looked to both newer and older models of shoes from everyone from smaller companies focused solely on the lifting world, to some of the largest shoe companies around today. Why did we do this? Because, for everyone from seasoned women with years of powerlifting experience, to those brand new to the scene, finding the perfect pair of lifting shoes can be daunting.
Our Selections: The Best Women’s Weightlifting Shoes for Lifting and Weight Training
Getting a solid list narrowed down was a very difficult process. There are many features that are beneficial to women looking to improve their lifting game. This made things rather difficult to settle on a list of top choices. However, we did land on what we here at Shoe Guide consider the absolute best lifting shoes for women.
Update February 2022. When we did the testing earlier this year adidas was making both the Powerlift and Adipower Weightlifting II in women’s specific size/color combinations. As of now, it appears they have dropped that and moved to Unisex sizing. For adidas, if you add 1 to the Men’s size, you’ll get the equivalent Women’s size (so order a Men’s 5 to get a Women’s 6). You should double check that on the adidas website, of course. We’ll try to keep this updated. Drop us a line if you see adidas offering their weightlifting shoes specifically in women’s size/color combos again. We try to keep stay on top of things, but can miss small changes to model lineups.
Here are the Best Women’s Weightlifting Shoes you can buy:
- Best Overall: adidas AdiPower Weightlifting II
- Runner up: Inov-8 FastLift 360
- Best if you love Nike: Nike Romaleos 4
- Best for Narrow Feet: Reebok Legacy Lifter II
- Minimalist Women’s Weightlifting Shoe: Vibram FiveFingers V-Train 2.0
- Best Women’s Powerlifting Shoe (lower heel-height): adidas Powerlift
- Best for the gym with heavy weight training: Nike Metcon 7
Why Do I Even Need Weightlifting Shoes for Training?
This is a fair question, with an easy answer. Shoes made specifically for lifting weights enhance your stability and allow your force to stay perpendicular to the ground. This reduces your chance of injury and improves the safety of your heavy lifts. They also enhance the feedback you feel from your feet and legs helping to improve your form. If you’re serious about Olympic lifting, women’s weightlifting shoes are one of the best areas to invest some time and money. They come with benefits for women of all shapes, sizes, skill levels, and ages.
The Best Weightlifting Shoes for Women - Detailed Reviews
1. adidas AdiPower Weightlifting II
Responsible for creating some of the first weightlifting shoes in the late-70s, adidas has refined their weightlifting shoe offerings over the years. The adidas Adistar shoes are still legendary in some circles (though were discontinued years ago). The latest adidas offering is the adidas Adipower Weightlifting II. This is one of the more popular weightlifting shoes in existence. Also, adidas offered specific sizing and colors for women’s weightlifting shoes as well as men’s versoins. (Update: Well, seems that is no longer the case, as of February 2022.)
The Adipower weightlifting series utilizes Adidas-only technology to create a weightlifting shoe focused on lifter’s needs, deriving aspects of their most comfortable offerings outside the lifting world. The Adipower Weightlifting II is one of the few shoes on the market featuring a full textile upper. However, they’ve incorporated advanced fabrics to ensure durability. Solving this addresses the main issue with textile uppers: they wear out and start to fray quickly. The upside of a full textile upper is breathability and flexibility. They keep your feet cool, and stretch better than other materials, allowing you to tighten the shoes down so they mold around your feet. Even as your feet swell a bit, which they will while lifting, the textile upper shouldn’t get too tight or uncomfortable.
The Adipower Weightlifting II also comes with extensive arch support provided by unique sole structure and a thick foam interior.
adidas Adipower Weightlifting II: Advantages
- With a breathable and soft fabric lining, this shoe provides minimal friction in the toe box and plenty of splay with lifting. This is one of the most common pain points with female lifters.
- The heels are made from injected polymer fillers. This provides some give, and are made to flex some when pushing in instead of putting unnecessary pressure on the feet.
adidas Adipower Weightlifting II: Potential Disadvantages
- Although the textile upper offers advantages, and adidas uses new technology to improve longevity, it still won’t last quite as long as a full synthetic.
2. Inov-8 FastLift 360
Available for Women at
Inov-8 makes the list again for the FastLift 360, and for good reason. These are some of the most technologically-advanced lifting shoes. In addition to new technology, Inov-8 women’s weightlifting shoes are known for assisting with plantar fasciitis and flat feet.
Inov-8 hasn’t been around for too long as a brand. However, the time they have been active, they’ve cultivated a stellar reputation for the highest quality shoes with incredible support. These shoes are made with attention to detail at every turn. For example, the rubber toe bumper of the FastLift 360 provides enhanced grip during functional lifting moves, and adds to the shoe’s overall durability.
In addition to the above, the forefoot has impressive flexibility, allowing for a broader range of motion without stability loss. Inov-8 ditched the BOA strap they tried out with the FastLift 400 a couple year ago, and we’re all the better for it. In theory, BOA is great, allowing users to dial into the snugness they are looking for. In reality, the adjustments always seem just a little wrong, and they feel like they keep getting looser during our workouts. We’ve started avoiding BOA technology in lifting shoes altogether. Give us hook-and-loop straps and old-fashioned laces and we’re happy.
Inov-8 FastLift 360: Advantages
- The heel cage and power truss technology that is built into the heel of these shoes ensures lateral support and lift stability, as well as a solid and secure base.
- Flexible forefront toe areas provide lifters the ability to use these shoes for both weightlifting and other cross training activities, leading to extensive versatility.
Inov-8 FastLift 360: Potential Disadvantages
- The heel to toe drop is one of the most important metrics for weightlifting shoe effectiveness. These were a lot less steep than alternatives.
- With advanced technology and stellar durability, these were some of the most expensive weightlifting shoes that were on our list.
3. Nike Romaleos 4
Nike’s Romaleos are by far some of the most well-known weightlifting shoes on earth. Many Olympic lifters, male and female, use these shoes in competition and training. They are the latest version of one of the more popular lifting shoes of the last 10-15 years. These have earned a stellar reputation as one of the most effective shoes for lifting weights.
For many women lifters, leather is going to win over synthetic alternative uppers for longevity and durability. However, the Nike Romaleos 4 are one common exception to this rule. They use some of the most advanced synthetic upper technology available on the market. This means Nike gives us women’s weightlifting shoes that combine the advantages of a synthetic upper while minimizes the disadvantages.
Nike developed one of the most breathable, yet durable and form-fitting lifting shoes available. The synthetic material is impressive, and compares well with leather products on the market today. With a strong elevated heel, many style and color options available, and extensive product support by one of the most popular brands in shoes, you aren’t going to go wrong.
Nike Romaleos 4: Advantages
- The Nike Romaleos 4 are some of the most impressive lifting-focused shoes on the market from all angles. They are a true workhorse, and a known favorite for men and women alike.
- The breathable, tough synthetic uppers work to ensure that the Romaleos are some of the most snug yet comfortable weightlifting shoes on the market.
Nike Romaleos 4: Potential Disadvantages
- While being top of the line for quality, they are also top of the line for the price point. You’ll be hard pressed to find a new pair of Nike Romaleos 4 for under 200 dollars.
- With the synthetic upper, we wish very much that there was a version of the Romaleos that had all of the above features, but also worked well for cross training, running, and more.
4. Reebok Legacy Lifter II
Available for Women at
These shoes look strange, we know. However, these have long been some of the most impressive weightlifting shoes for both men and women. They received one of our top ratings in our guide to the Best Weightlifting Shoes for Men, and translate well into a female-centric lifting world.
The Reebok Legacy Lifter II comes with very uniquely-designed elevated heels, ideal for both Olympic lifting and powerlifting. Powerlifters, such as those competing in deadlift or squat tournaments, will often struggle finding shoes made for their specific needs. This is solved with the Legacy Lifter II, with a split focus on both Olympic-style lifts as well as powerlifting.
If your main focus is powerlifting, there is no better option than the Reebok Legacy Lifter II. Powerlifting requires durable, strong shoes, and this is what you get. What they lack in structure for other types of exercise, they shine in their focus.
Reebok Legacy Lifter II: Advantages
- The Legacy Lifter II is great with both stability and flexibility. Also, with high-abrasion rubber outsoles and reinforced toe straps, they will maintain structure and the “new look” for as long as you maintain them.
- Enhanced lateral support provides stability from sinking through heavy lifts, while also removing and alleviating back pressure, one of the most common points of concern for women in the lifting world.
Reebok Legacy Lifter II: Potential Disadvantages
- These shoes are some of the heaviest on our list. Shoes meant for more extreme lifts will be heavier by design. But, wearing these out and about, or outside the gym, is highly not recommended.
- The price point for these shoes was on the higher end of those researched and chosen for our list. This is disappointing, as they aren’t multi-functional, and are really great at only one thing (lifting).
5. Vibram FiveFingers V-Train 2.0
Available for Women at
We have written extensively about the benefits of the shoes that Vibram has released in recent years. The best weightlifting shoes for women is no exception to this. The V-Train 2.0, a stalwart contender in our Best CrossFit shoes guide as well, excels in powerlifting and weightlifting as well.
If you’re looking for a minimalist option for weight training, CrossFit, or powerlifting, then we think this is a good option. These are minimalist shoes with a solid, flat sole, and no raised heel. This makes them poorly suited for Olympic lifts, but ideal for deadlifts and some of the other powerlifting in your routine. However, they really shine as a versatile option that works for powerlifting as well as cross-training.
As you can tell from the picture, these will not provide cushioning or arch support. Nor should they. Vibram makes these shoes with a minimalist design, letting your foot’s natural shape govern your motion. If that’s what you’re looking for then this is great.
The V-Train 2.0 might be minimalist, but it still features a number of innovations that we should point out. The most obvious feature that sets these apart from other Vibram offerings is the hook-and-loop strap lock on the laces. The strapping features reinforcement along it’s length and allows you to get a tighter fit than the lace system alone. This is ideal for your powerlifting as well as jumps and rope climbing.
Vibram FiveFingers V-Train 2.0: Advantages
- Aggressive outsole design featuring multiple lugs. There are rounded lugs around the ball of the foot and heel to increase stability during lifting. However, there are also lateral lugs through the midfoot to improve traction and grip during HIIT-type motions.
- Rubber compound in outsole. These rubberized outsole are extremely durable. This is good for gym work, but even better if you plan to do some outdoor cardio in them. They’ll resist damage from concrete, asphalt, or trails if you are using these as a minimalist runner.
- Somewhat heavier and more substantial than other Vibram designs. We think this is an advantage if you’re using this for lifting since it improve the stability of your feet.
Vibram FiveFingers V-Train 2.0: Potential Disadvantages
- Not Olympic weightlifting shoes, and will not help with your snatches or cleans. Of course, if you’re looking at minimalist lifting shoes, then you already know this.
- Well, do you like toe shoe designs or not? Our opinion is that toe shoes don’t look great, but, as usual, ymmv.
6. adidas Powerlift
adidas is by far one of the most globally-known athletic shoe brands. This being the case, they have cemented themselves as a true figurehead in sports footwear. The world of women’s weightlifting and powerlifting is no exception.
We feature two adidas brand weightlifting shoes on our list of the best weightlifting shoes for women. This one, though, the adidas Powerlift, has a few notable differences in comparison. For one, these lifting shoes can be used for various cross training activities. Whether you are doing wind sprints or squats, clean and jerks or box jumps, just about anything is possible with the Powerlift. We don’t put them quite in the CrossFit category since they do have a 0.6″ raised heel and a very stiff sole, but they’re close. This is a perfect shoe for powerlifting and heavy weight training. They’ll handle the occasional cardio WOD, but you should use these primarily for lifting.
The Powerlift features a synthetic textile upper that is similar to the Adipower Weightlifting II. Additionally, these synthetic uppers provide breathability, giving these shoes the ability to really open up once you step outside the gym. This breathability in the synthetic upper, however, comes at the expense of both longevity and durability compared to alternatives.
Finally, unlike many comparable weightlifting shoes that are on our list of the best lifting shoes for women, the heel wedge of the Powerlift is quite low. This improves the capacity for standard ranges of motion when traversing through other exercises outside the lifting realm. With a variety of style and color options, these are the true “do-it-all” lifting shoe, at a fraction of the price of alternatives.
adidas Powerlift: Advantages
- These hit the marks as some of the lightest lifting shoes on the market, with the lightest price associated with it as well.
- With fully synthetic uppers and a thinner, less elevated heel, these are ideal for daily exercise in addition to powerlifting and weightlifting.
adidas Powerlift: Potential Disadvantages
- While the synthetic upper is ideal for both breathability and flexibility, it suffers in longevity and durability. These aren’t going to last anywhere near as long as leather-upper alternatives.
- With a low price, you truly get what you pay for. However, for what you get with the Powerlift, you may still be overpaying.
7. Nike Metcon 7
Available for Women at
If you have spent any amount of time looking through the guides to any sports-centric shoe category we work with, you will notice that Nike shoes manage to make their way into the highlights of just about every guide we put out. They appear consistently in ShoeGuide research and reviews. This isn’t any type of bias on our part!
The shoes just perform admirable in some way, shape or form in just about every category we test. This is the case with the Metcon and weightlifting shoes for women as well. A great, light shoe with a grippy sole and a new more breathable upper. Also, a sleek stylish design leads to this being a surprising champion in the world of female weight training. As we noted above, this is a shoe for gym work, weight training, and CrossFit, but not an Olympic weightlifting shoe. They are a great place to start if you want to add powerlifting, or other heavy lifts to your workout, but aren’t ready to invest in dedicate lifting shoes just yet.
These shoes are impressive. With a stylish upper, minimalist styling, and impressive stability and comfort, the Nike Metcon 7 surpassed expectations, and work fine both in and out of the gym. They also feature Nike’s removable HyperLift inserts (new with the 7) that allow you to increase the heel height for specific workouts. This helps them bridge the gap between a CrossFit shoe and a weightlifting shoe.
The HyperLift’s work really well for an insert, and definitely add versatility to the Metcon. However, we still don’t think these are substitutes for an Olympic lifting shoe if you start to get serious about training or competing in the sport of weightlifting.
Nike Metcon 7: Advantages
- These breathable, lightweight shoes are ideal for things like CrossFit, circuit training, and other exercise routines including heavy lifting but not exclusively.
- In comparison to many alternatives, these shoes are not strange-looking or bulky at all. They are some of the most stylish weightlifting shoes we found in our research.
Nike Metcon 7: Potential Disadvantages
- The Metcon 7 is not going to prevail in squats compared to some of the alternatives. There is no solid heel rise, and the support in that aspect lacked a bit.
The History of Weightlifting Shoes
The growth of lifting shoes for women has been astronomical in recent decades. However, this hasn’t always been the case. Until the last decade no manufacturers made dedicates women’s weightlifting shoes. Demand and use of these lifting shoes has correlated directly with the popularity of powerlifting and weightlifting for women.
Overall, right before the Great Depression in the United States, the International Weightlifting Federation, or IWF, created a more rule-oriented competition to test bench press, snatch and clean and jerk power of lifting professionals. In the time that followed, many athletes, both male and female, competed with many different styles of shoes, ranging from standard sneakers to boots to boxing shoes and beyond.
However, with the growth and development of weightlifting, styles of lifting started to modify as well. From here, it was discovered that an elevated heel had an incredible advantage for competitive weightlifters.
Why Elevated Heels Matter in Weightlifting Shoes for Women
Elevated heels were an absolute game changer for weightlifters of all shapes and sizes. They provided a wonderful new method for lifters to come out from underneath the weight. These shoe lifts alleviated the issues common with stability struggles and the increased shin angle, prone to injury, discomfort and general pain. This is as true for women’s weightlifting shoes as for men’s.
The Soviet Union gets credit for starting this trend, noticing significant improvements with their male weightlifters regarding ankle mobility. Soon after, many popular manufacturers of shoes started to create their own versions on weightlifting shoes with elevated heels, improving upon the original design and translating it into modern options for both men and women.
Seeking Continuous Improvements
Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, adidas planted their flag as the market leader for weightlifting shoes, pushing the idea of modern weightlifting in the United States among men, and eventually women. They were the first company to release women’s weightlifting shoes as a separate line from their men’s shoes.
Later on, developers of lifting shoes decided to remove the high-top section from their shoes, and instead to push the strap on the forefoot further down. This change was determined to provide extensively more ankle mobility in comparison to high-top models of the past. Ankle mobility is one of the most common pain points for women who compete in heavy weightlifting competitions. From this point, shoe manufacturers continue to make minor tweaks in style and technology, from BOA lacing to less elevated heels, synthetic uppers and more.
Performing Weightlifting Shoe Due Diligence
Weightlifting shoes, especially those women’s weightlifting shoes, are some of the most technologically advanced and complicated types of shoes on the market today. This being the case, there are quite a few nuances that should be addressed before pulling the trigger on a purchase.
Some of the most important factors that should play into due diligence and your own research are: Heel height differences, Straps and securing mechanisms, Heel composition, and Lacing systems. We are going to dig into each of these, but first, let’s take a look at what comprises a standard weightlifting shoe.
Standard Weightlifting Shoe Composition
The typical weightlifting shoe contains a higher upper boot, tightening system or straps, wide toe boxes, and elevated and stiff heels. From the bottom up:
- Stiff heels. Standard weightlifting shoe heels are built from TPU. However, some of the more old school options utilize EVA, stacked leather or wood.
- Elevated heels. These heel elevations can vary based on the model, make and manufacturer, but the standard is three-quarters of an inch.
- Wide toe boxes. Not all weightlifting shoes for women provide wider toe boxes, but most do. This wider toe box assists with stability and toe splay.
- Tightening systems or straps. Many shoes will have at least one type of tightening system or strap, whether it be a standard velcro strap, a BOA tightening system, or anything in between.
- Higher upper boot. Many weightlifting shoes have higher boots, providing additional ankle security.
Heel Height Differences
One of the most crucial things that all female weightlifters should consider when weighing their options is why lifting shoes are their own category from the get-go: elevated heels. The height of a heel is an important factor for many lifters, as it provides assistance for comfort when completing lifts.
Standard heel height for weightlifting shoes is three-quarters of an inch. However there are some models (for example the Leistung outlined above) that have a one-inch heel height. There are others, such as the PowerLift 4, with a far more conservative heel elevation.
A woman’s height also plays a role in how much of a heel elevation should be considered. For those on the taller end, higher heels are likely a more effective option. This comes from taller women typically having longer legs.
Straps and Securing Mechanisms
Another common characteristic found in weightlifting shoes for women to put into consideration is the securing mechanism of the shoe. Many lifting shoes have a single strap and laces. However, there are some with multiple straps (like Reebok’s Legacy Lifter reviewed above). There are others that have a BOA adjustment only, and even more that have a combination of straps and BOA adjustments. There are also some, like the New Balance Prevail, that don’t have any straps or securing mechanisms, but still make for a wonderful weightlifting shoe. The preference is completely up to the buyer.
The most common strap location is across the upper portion of the tongue. This provides added durability and stability for the increased ankle mobility required with such exercises as heavy squats, one of the most common heavy lifts performed.
Many shoes made for weightlifting have that elevated heel, which comes from a variety of materials. The material you select is a personal preference. Many common heel bases are plastic, a TPU material that is typically high quality. Plastic heels provide harder surfaces to stand on. They also usually last longer than wood or leather heels.
In comparison, heels made of wood focus on weightlifters wanting a more old-school, traditional shoe style. Wooden heels provide lifters with a stronger “floor-like feeling.”
Much like their wooden counterparts, heels made from stacked leather provide a more traditional look and feel. One example of this is the NOBULL lifting shoe reviewed above. This brand has some of the few remaining lifting shoes that use stacked leather instead of TPU or wood.
In most cases, shoes for weightlifting will arrive with standard shoe lacing that you would find with just about any other sports related shoe. In fact, the laces in weightlifting shoes are typically identical to their tennis shoe or running shoe brethren. However, you can always change these for more effective and focused lacing.
But, there is a difference in tightening systems with a few of the shoes we reviewed above. Two to note for this are the Inov-8 FastLift 370 and Adidas Leistung. Both of these shoes have a BOA lacing system, which involves a dial that is tightened like a knob, providing tightening and snugness. This BOA system works to replace both standard lacing structures, as well as velcro straps.
Wrapping It Up
You have the basics of women’s weightlifting shoes. The right pair of shoes can make or break your success in weightlifting.
Whatever shoe you choose, make sure that it provides a stable and secure base for your lifting. We hope you found the guide helpful, and please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions!
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