These Are Best Shoes for Performing Deep Squats, According to a Podiatrist and Personal Trainer

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Whether you’re using a bar or dropping it low in a goblet technique, the one thing that will help you make the most of your squats in the gym (besides, you know, practicing the move) is your footwear. Yes, squat-proof leggings that keep you covered and stay in place are important, too. But deep squats require optimal stability and mobility, both key elements that the right pair of sneakers can drastically improve.

Why do shoes matter for squats?

If you’ve ever wondered if you can squat in "normal" shoes, you’re not alone. In fact, according to Google, one of the most commonly asked questions on the subject of squats and footwear is just that: "Do you need special shoes to squat?" While you don’t need them, experts assure that squatting in specifically-designed shoes can make a huge impact on how deep you can squat, as well as how aligned you can stay when you're dropping it low during all different types of squats.

Experts In This Article

While some weightlifting pros will suggest going barefoot while squatting and performing other heavy weightlifting exercises (to help feel more grounded in the movement) Judson MacDonald, CPT, who is a Learning and Development Specialist for Les Mills International and a Les Mills class instructor, recommends the opposite.

“My generalized recommendation is that strength conditioning moves, like deep squats, require superb grip, thus, a flat bottom is ideal,” he says. “This is because we use the tripod of the foot to push up and out of the floor. You will observe a slight arc in most running shoes on the market which prevents the balls of the feet from contacting the floor.”

Which type of shoes are best for squats?

That’s not to say that you can’t squat in running shoes, it’s just that they won’t provide as much feedback and support as flatter soles will while squatting. “The most effective way to recruit the full unit [while squatting] is when the toes can spread and the full foot can make contact with the floor,” MacDonald explains.

Now, just because flat shoes are recommended doesn’t mean that they should lack arch support. “Arch support is the most important thing to look for when buying a pair of athletic shoes that would be used for exercises like deep squatting,” says Brad Schaeffer, DPM,  a board certified foot surgeon at Sole Podiatry NYC and spokesperson for Dr. Scholl's. “Our feet have a variety of tendons and ligaments that need the appropriate support and help stabilizing our bones in the feet.” That’s why buying a pair of shoes for squatting is important.

To save you from searching high and low for a new pair of shoes, here are five of the best pairs of shoes for performing deep squats. Pair 'em with those squat-proof leggings, of course.

The 5 best shoes for squats, no matter how deep

Reebok, Legacy Lifter Women’s Weightlifting Shoes — $200.00

Available sizes: 5-11, in half sizes.

Beloved by hundreds of shoppers, the Reebok Legacy Lifter Women’s Weightlifting Shoes feature a flat sole, raised heel, and an adjustable upper strap for even more security while squatting. Now, notice how we said the sole is flat but the heel is raised—by lifting the heel, the shoes enable greater ankle mobility and increased stability, which in turn leads to deeper squats. “Shoes with an elevated heel serve a specific purpose—quad dominance versus glutes,” MacDonald adds.

Looking to take your workout outside? The new Reebok Nano X2 TR Adventure Training Shoes ($100) are a great option, as they’re designed for power moves like squatting, as well as varying terrains, so they’ll remain stable on pavement, grass, sand, and the like.

Colors: 4 different colors.

Nike, Metcon 7 Women’s Training Shoes — $130.00

Available sizes: 5-11, in half sizes.

Prefer a flat shoe with minimal heel lift? The Nike Metcon 7 Women’s Training Shoes are a solid option. In addition to having a flat, squat-ready sole, they’re designed with a React foam insole to ensure maximum comfort while lifting and working within cross-training and HIIT classes.

If you’re brand loyal to Nike, another option is the Nike Romaleos 4 ($200), which has a more significant heel-toe drop, making them particularly great for folks who need a bit more mobility to sink lower into their squats.

Colors: 6 different colors. Custom colors available, too.

No Bull, Trainer+ — $139.00

Available sizes: 5-11, in half sizes.

Particularly popular among the CrossFit community, the No Bull Trainer+ features a no-nonsense silhouette that’s minimalist in comparison to many other training shoes. The sneakers have flat soles and a traditional lace-up design, plus a padded heel and collar for a little extra padding while you workout. And no need to worry about slipping while you squat—their unique herringbone tread gives you serious stability so you can drop down on any surface safely.

Colors: 27 different colors.

Inov-8, Fastlift 360 — $190.00

Available sizes: 5.5-11, in half sizes.

For serious lifters, the Inov-8 Fastlift 360 remains a popular choice among shoppers. That’s thanks to their eye-catching design and ultra-supportive features, like an external heel cage, mid-foot straps, and flexible forefoot that moves with your body rather than holding it back. Fun fact: They weigh in at just 360 grams, making them extremely lightweight, so if you’re packing for a trip or vacation, packing them is no problem.

Colors: 4 different colors.

Adidas, Adipower Weightlifting 3 Shoes — $218.00

Available sizes: 6-15, in half sizes.

Last but not least, we have the unisex Adipower Weightlifting 3 Shoes from Adidas. Easily the chicest weightlifting shoes of the bunch, these trainers feature an elevated heel, upper instep strap for added stability, and durable rubber soles for more than enough gripping power.

Colors: 4 different colors.

Don't forget to practice your moves before you hit the gym. Watch the video below to perfect your squat form. 

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