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Stepping Up Your Squat Game: The Best Squat Shoes for Maximum Performance

 Written by 

Ilinka Trenova

 Last updated on 

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There’s hardly a type of workout that isn’t determined by proper footwear, and the squat is no exception. When you have proper stability and control during a squat, you’re able to lift heavier and longer without compromising form or injury. If you stick to unsupportive or awkward-fitting shoes, you won’t be able to perform at the level you’d like or reach your fitness goals at the rate you’d hope.

With this in mind, you can’t just go with any old shoe for squats. You’ll need to make sure the shoe provides enough stability, support, and cushioning in all the right places. While regular pairs of running shoes may work in a pinch, they won’t be ideal for long-term use when squatting. This is why we’ve done the legwork and put together a comprehensive list of the best squat shoes for better form, comfort, and overall performance.

Man does a barbell sqaut in a gym
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In a Hurry? Here are our best ranked Products

Product Image Product Name / Primary Rating / Primary Button
Best Overall
Best for Narrow Feet
Best for Wide Feet
Best for Beginner Lifters
Lasso Brag
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Why You Should Trust Us

Our extensive strength training and exercise backgrounds give us a unique insight into the ins and outs of different workouts, from the traditional to the unorthodox. The diverse BoxLife team includes strength coaches, personal trainers, weightlifters, and CrossFit devotees who are constantly checking out new equipment and doing research to make sure our readers are informed about the latest trends.

We also have a wide range of personal experiences that we draw on for our reviews. We’ve gone through the testing process and understand how a product performs in different contexts, so we can spot those nuances that make certain products stand out from the rest. This allows us to be very thorough in our review process, and we’ve applied our strict criteria to select the best squat shoes for all kinds of athletes.

Who Is This Guide For?

If you need a reliable pair of shoes that can improve your overall squat performance, you could certainly benefit from our guide. We’ve included several options that cater to different preferences and sizes, with an in-depth look at each product’s features, pros and cons, and who would benefit the most from using them. It doesn’t matter if you have your own home gym or you’re more of a CrossFitter, having the right pair of squat shoes can take your workouts to the next level.

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CAP Barbell - The Beast
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How We Picked the Best Products

Our personal experiences doing squats alone weren’t enough to determine the objective frontrunners of the squat shoe market, so we took a peek at what others have to say about specific weightlifting shoes in terms of performance. We read through reviews and opinions from both athletes and fitness professionals across Amazon, Titan, and Rogue Fitness in an effort to get a better picture of which products excel in the eyes of most.

We also had a look at discussion threads across Reddit and Quora, two of the most free-flowing and outspoken sources of conversations on the internet, to see how other lifters experienced their squat shoes in real life. These sources, along with our personal experience and expertise, gave us a solid base from which to pick the best.

How We Graded Each Product

Once we had a preliminary list of shoes for weightlifting, it was time to place them into a comprehensive grading system. Each pair was put against a strict set of criteria to determine their overall performance and suitability for various types of squats. Some had more points than others for specific rankings, but they all had to satisfy the following:

  • Heel Height – Elevated heels on weightlifting shoes are perhaps the most crucial aspect when it comes to squatting. A slightly raised heel helps keep your weight distributed correctly, with better balance and stability. Most of them fall in the 8-10 mm range, but the construction of some shoes can make them feel less elevated. The more elevated the heel, the better your chances of hitting your squat goals.
  • Midsole Type – The way a midsole works largely determines how comfortable and supportive the shoe is during squats. In this regard, you can opt for one of two choices – Thermoplastic Polyurethane (TPU) or Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA) midsoles. The TPU is more flexible and durable, while the EVA provides better shock absorption but isn’t as long-lasting or stable.
  • Supportive Qualities – A good pair of squat shoes should provide you with enough stability and support to get through even the toughest workouts. The fit, lockdown, and arch support are some of the most important factors for this ranking, as they determine how well your foot is secured during squats. If you have greater support, then the chances of slipping or losing form are far less.
  • Traction – How well a shoe holds to the ground can have a major impact on the quality of your squat. The better the traction, the more power and control you’ll have during your sets. We looked at the tread pattern and material to determine how a shoe stands up in this area. Generally speaking, shoes with herringbone or honeycomb patterns perform better in this regard, thanks to their deep cuts and grip.
  • Upper Material – Since this part of the shoes for squats makes up the bulk of their construction, we paid close attention to the materials used. We looked for breathable and durable fabrics, as well as synthetic overlays for added support. Their inherent flexibility and stability go a long way in creating the perfect fit for squats, while also providing comfort and support. Additional aspects like reinforced seams, integrated lace systems, and metallic eyelets can also play a role in the overall grade.

The Products

When we had a general idea of each product’s performance from our criteria, it was time to check out some of the top contenders for the titular spot. Some had better marks than others in certain areas, but they all had great reviews and a good reputation among lifters.

Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 – Best Overall

Best Overall
Reebok Mens Legacy Lifter II
5.0

Most supportive and stable shoes on the list.

Pros:
  • 22mm TPU midsole for great stability
  • Anatomical design for increased power
Cons:
  • Shorter velcro strap
  • Pricey
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As part of the Reebok mission to become the best fitness brand in the world, the Legacy Lifter 2 is a significant step in that direction. It brings forth a combination of comfort, stability and power that can take your squat game to the next level. The flexible upper and TPU midsole provide the ideal balance between maneuverability and structure, with the right amount of heel elevation and arch support to help you hit those numbers. They differ from normal shoes in that they have a raised heel and higher arch, designed to enable you to stay in a better position for squats.

Reebok Legacy Lifter 2
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Source: Reebok Canada

Pros

  • 22mm TPU midsole for great stability
  • Anatomical design for increased power
  • A removable strap that provides better lockdown
  • Additional antimicrobial lining that reduces odor

Cons

  • Shorter velcro straps that aren’t as adjustable
  • Higher price point than other options

Key Specs

Heel Height22mm
Sole MaterialGrip Rubber
Upper MaterialTextile Faux Leather
SizingTrue to Size

Why It’s Great

The thermo-polyurethane midsole makes the Legacy Lifter 2 one of the most supportive and stable shoes on the list. It relies on soft cushioning for shock absorption and energy transfer, as well as anatomical contours to provide an optimal fit and balance. The sole feels neither too firm nor too flexible, which inherently gives it a great balance of stability and maneuverability. Raised-heel shoes are generally better suited for squatting, and the Legacy Lifter 2 does not disappoint in this regard.

As for the upper construction, the faux leather and mesh provide a breathable and comfortable fit, with the addition of an antimicrobial lining that reduces odor buildup. It doesn’t feel overly tight or restrictive, allowing for plenty of room to move without sacrificing stability. The ankle collar is also a bit higher, providing greater support and security when doing squats, especially with heavy lifts. The more you move and flex, the more support you get.

Finally, the tongue pump is another notable feature, as it helps keep your foot secure while also providing a better range of motion. It’s basically an enhanced lacing system that gives you more control over the fit and feel, making it one of the most versatile shoe options on this list. It acts as a secure lock-in that lets you adjust your fit as needed, without sacrificing stability. Not to mention the excellent grip and traction that comes with a herringbone pattern, with deliberate cuts for optimal performance.

Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 blue
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Source – Reebok Canada

Who It’s Best For

The cleverly designed features and the optimal heel elevation make the Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 one of the best weightlifting shoes you can get. It’s definitely a better choice for intermediate and advanced lifters since they need more stabilization and support to hit their goals but that doesn’t mean that beginners can’t benefit from its performance. The all-encompassing and ever-adapting fit can help prevent injuries and other related issues, which can be quite helpful for anyone starting out.

Nike Romaleos 4 – Best for Narrow Feet

Best for Narrow Feet
Nike Romaleos 4
4.5

The sheer amount of stability and support you get from the Romaleos 4 is quite impressive

Pros:
  • A fully integrated lacing system
  • Dual-density cushioning for superior comfort
Cons:
  • May be too constricting for wider feet
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There’s hardly any sports or fitness brand that could even come close to the standing of Nike and they have earned every inch of it through stellar performance and good old hard work. The brand’s dedication to ever-evolving technology is evident in the Romaleos 4, a shoe specifically designed for narrow feet. It merges the flexibility and support of a TPU midsole with the breathability of a lightweight upper fabric, as well as an innovative sole design to provide the perfect fit for your delicate feet.

Nike Romaleos 4
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Source: Nike

Pros

  • A fully integrated lacing system that provides a better fit
  • Dual-density cushioning for superior comfort
  • TPU midsole with anatomical contours for increased stability
  • Distinct rubber heel pattern that improves traction

Cons

  • May be too constricting for wider feet
  • May not be suitable for high-impact activities

Key Specs

Heel Height20mm
Sole MaterialTPU Plastic
Upper MaterialWoven Fabric
SizingRuns Small

Why It’s Great

The sheer amount of stability and support you get from the Romaleos 4 is quite impressive, even compared to some of the more expensive models we’ve reviewed. The midsole is made from a firm thermoplastic polyurethane material that offers great rebound and energy transfer, as well as a flawless balance between flexibility and support. The anatomical contours encourage proper form when squatting, while the low platform helps keep you from leaning too far forward. When you take into account the dual-density cushioning, it’s easy to understand why this shoe is so popular with lifters.

The breathable mesh upper is made with a lightweight fabric that’s supportive and flexible enough to provide a comfortable fit. Nike has also implemented an innovative lacing system that not only improves the overall fit but can also be used for better lockdown and increased stability. The elevated heel position also features a distinct rubber pattern that provides superior grip and traction, allowing you to make quick adjustments during your workout without slipping. If you need a flexible shoe option that feels secure and snug, then the Romaleos 4 is definitely worth a try.

Moreover, the cushioning setup is one of the most comfortable we’ve seen yet. It uses two separate foam layers for a softer and more responsive feel when on your feet, especially during deep squats. As an added bonus, it comes with an additional removable insole that provides extra cushioning and arch support, as well as a better heel-to-toe transition. While there’s no denying that these features come at a cost, they’re well worth it if you have narrow feet and are looking for a top-notch weightlifting shoe.

Nike Romaleos 4 white
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Source: Nike

Who It’s Best For

The stable base and the snug, cozy fit make the Romaleos 4 a fantastic option for anyone with narrow feet. Its flexible upper and anatomical designs ensure that it adapts to your movements without compromising on stability or support. It takes on an almost tailored look and feel, allowing you to move freely while still maintaining the ideal alignment for proper form and balance. It’s certainly something any lifter of any skill level should consider if they’ve been struggling to find a shoe that fits their less-than-average feet.

Inov-8 Fastlift 360 – Best for Wide Feet

Best for Wide Feet
Inov-8 Men’s Fastlift 360
4.5

This pair of weightlifting shoes is all about providing a flawless balance between stability and freedom of movement

Pros:
  • Power lift design with a wider and more stable base
  • Ballistic nylon upper for durability and flexibility
Cons:
  • The midfoot strap may come undone during more intense workouts
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The wide base of the Inov-8 Fastlift 360 takes on a more traditional approach when it comes to weightlifting shoes but with a few interesting twists. It combines the classic power lift design with an advanced sole design for increased stability and maneuverability. Despite its wider construction, the shoe is still fairly lightweight, with cleverly placed support structures and a textile upper to make sure there’s no instability or discomfort. It feels incredibly solid and secure on your feet, with some handy innovations that make sure it stays that way.

Inov-8 Fastlift 360
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Source: INOV-8

Pros

  • Power lift design with a wider and more stable base
  • Ballistic nylon upper for durability and flexibility
  • Unique Apex lacing system for better lockdown
  • Strategically placed traction points for better grip

Cons

  • The midfoot strap may come undone during more intense workouts
  • May not have enough cushioning for some

Key Specs

Heel Height16.5mm
Sole MaterialRubber
Upper MaterialSynthetic
SizingWider 

Why It’s Great

This pair of weightlifting shoes is all about providing a flawless balance between stability and freedom of movement. The mid-foot strap helps keep your foot secure while simultaneously allowing more flexibility in the toe area, so you get more range of motion without cutting down on flexibility. Even though it may come undone during more intense sessions, it holds up quite nicely during regular workouts. Plus, it’s a nifty feature to have if you like to have extra control over their foot position. This type of shoe is inherently more stable, with a more powerful base that improves balance and stability.

Additionally, the upper is made with a ballistic nylon material that’s both durable and flexible. This means you get the support you need without losing out on breathability or comfort, which can be quite a struggle with some of the other products available in this category. The sole also features a unique design that provides superior grip and traction, allowing you to adjust your stance with ease. You can get into an upright position quickly and with minimal effort thanks to the strategically placed traction points.

Lastly, the lacing system is one of the best we’ve seen yet, with its Apex straps that provide extra lockdown and support. The rigid midsoles are made from a lightweight foam material, which while not giving you much cushioning does keep your feet fairly comfortable during your workouts. Not to mention the metal eyelets and double straps that act as external supports, allowing you to adjust your lacing for better lockdown during heavy squats.

Inov-8 Fastlift 360 green
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Source: The WOD Life

Who It’s Best For

If your squat position calls for more stability and you have wider feet, then the Fastlift 360 is definitely worth checking out. Its distinct sole design, extra support straps, and wide platform provide more control over your range of motion while also keeping you firmly rooted to the ground. It’s ideal for anyone who wants a more traditional weightlifting shoe that allows them to stay in control of their movements all throughout their workout session. The more you use it, the more you’ll appreciate its features and stability, as well as the cozy fit that delivers superior performance.

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