So you’re ready to start training and want to get geared up,or you’ve been training and it’s time for an upgrade, so you search for “training shoes” – you’ll be hit with so many results showing you a wide variety of shoes – runners, minimalist, lifters, cross-trainers…the options are endless!
So what shoes should you wear for what?
When you’re lifting, you want to maximise stability. Running shoes usually have a lot of cushioning and therefore don’t create a great stable base for lifting. So you want to get a flat shoe that’s got minimal cushioning, such as Chuck Taylors. These are great for lifts such as squats and deadlifts where stability is really important. Another benefit of low profile shoes such as these is the increased proprioception. Basically, your feet can feel the ground and are able to create the required balance and force for the lift.
Another option for optimal stability and control are weightlifting shoes. These are the shoes that have a slight heel on them. This artificially increases the range of movement in the ankle, which means you can get deeper and stay more upright in your squats (particularly useful for front squats). They also have a very rigid base, which limits the movement of your foot and gives you something solid to drive against to create more force in your lift. However, these are fairly expensive and have a limited use so unless you’re a powerlifter or weightlifter, I wouldn’t get these as your first or only training shoe.
In contrast to lifting, you need some extra cushion when you’re running. This is where shoes specifically designed for running are best. The additional arch support, impact cushioning, and the shape of the sole are all designed to help optimise your stride. If running is your preferred method of training, or you have the budget for it, a decent pair of running shoes can be a good investment.
There are also people who swear by running in minimalist shoes to mimic barefoot running. This is an acquired skill and I wouldn’t recommend jumping straight into a minimalist shoe for running; it can be quite a shock to your calves and takes some getting used to!
What about if you’re doing a bit of everything? This is where cross training shoes have really come to the rescue. They have a much lower profile than running shoes so they have better stability for lifting but also have a bit of flexibility and cushioning for (short distance) running and jumping. If you’re doing a variety of movements in a session, a cross training shoe is ideal. Shoes such as the Nike Metcons and Reebok Nanos have the combined support and stability required for lifting but the flexibility needed for other movements such as burpees, box jumps, and sprints.
What should you get?
As usual, it depends. Take the information above and choose the best shoe for your training goals.