What Shoes for Squatting?
Choosing the right footwear is an essential part of getting the most bang for your buck when training, especially if you have the goal of improving your strength! You can really benefit from the correct footwear for the right movements!
For exercise in general there are hundreds of options for you to choose from, however, today we are narrowing down the three most common shoes used in gyms and what is best for you to squat in as it is an exercise where footwear can play a big role!
Flatter / Firmer “Crossfit” style shoe
Firmer sole compared to your classic running trainer, not made from a gel, air or foamy rubber, and so will not compress under load. Good for all round workouts where you can be lifting and running in the same workout.
If you struggle with ankle mobility / stiff ankles then these wont give you any help as there is little to zero heel raise if thinking specifically about squatting.
The raised heel within weightlifting shoes will negate any limiting ankle mobility you may have and thus help you to squat deeper, with a more upright torso throughout the squat movement.
The base is normally formed from wood, or solid rubber / plastic to maximise stability so definitely no compression under load will occur here.
It essentially masks over any limiting abilities within your ankle mobility you have. Also, due to their rigidness and firmness they are a very inflexible shoe and so cant be used for multiple movements within one session where flex of the shoe would be needed, for example “walking lunges”. Therefore, it is only used for main lifts such as squatting or olympic weightlifting.
Classic Running Trainers
Often made from soft, ‘marshmellowy’ like materials within the sole and so when under compression from load like under a squat they can be easily manipulated, squish and compromise your foot positioning during the lift. Not only through a squat but other exercises too.
What Should I Do?
First of all, I would ask for an assessment of your squatting abilities to see where you can be improved across the whole movement. Following this, if ankle mobility is an issue which is limiting your movement, I personally would spend the time on improving the mobility in the ankle through correct stretches and mobilisations.
Also I would look at the type of workouts you do and your goals going forwards. If your goal is solely strength work then a weightlifting shoe maybe something to invest in. However, if your sessions involve many back to back exercises or movements that require the foot to flex such as lunging, running such as in our Breakthrough Classes I would suggest a firmer, crossfit, esc style show with a firmer base and not the squidgy, foam of a running trainer.