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Squat Shoes: To Buy or Not to Buy?

I recently attended a child’s birthday party which inevitably led me to park myself in a group of newlyweds. (Read: We’re the group without babies … outside the womb that is.) The conversations are drastically different in this group of folk; less sippy cup talk, more new couple conversations (like: Where did you honeymoon? And how’s living with a person who puts the toilet paper on opposite of the way you do?). There was one couple in particular who Mark and I zoned in on quickly. They married around the same time we did and are pretty big fitness nuts like us. It didn’t take us long before we were talking gyms and workouts. You might be an FBG if

I enjoyed the inside jokes associated with couples who work out together and the inside information that comes from fitness enthusiasts. I’ve learned there’s always a moment in these types of conversations when folks start discussing equipment or apparel they’ve tried and liked/hated. That’s when we started discussing minimalist shoes.

We all know about minimalist running shoes. I see more people rocking “toe shoes,” as I call them, than any other kind of shoe. It was only a matter of time before the minimalist movement hit other types of workouts beyond running. Our friends had recently purchased squat shoes and were raving about how great they were and the difference they made in their forms. Honestly, I had never heard of squat shoes. I didn’t even know they existed.


Mark prefers to put on a pair of Converse when he’s lifting heavy. He’s an advocate of flat shoes packing the best benefit, but ol’ boy also works at a gym. He has an office full of shoes he uses for the different workouts he does, and he can change them out at will. My question though is: How do the normal folk make such a shoe work? Do you just bring some cross trainers/running shoes along and then go back to the locker room and switch?

According to reviews I’ve been scanning on various athletic company websites, so-called “squat shoes” are really weightlifting shoes and shouldn’t be worn for regular weight lifting or your CrossFit workout. They’re specifically for Olympic power lifting. Some would consider that the rantings of purists. I recently read this interesting article that quotes a podiatrist’s take on flat shoes. They definitely help you stabilize, which is kind of the whole point, so my newlywed friends as well as Mark are on the right track. Flat is definitely better, but there are all kinds of flat shoes on the market you could re-purpose.

I’ve been out of the serious workout game for quite some time due to lackluster pregnancy energy levels, but even then I don’t know if my workouts would ever be THAT specific or THAT serious to where I’d purchase special shoes for more than a hundred bucks. Therefore, I’m reaching out to you.

Do you think niche shoes are worth it? How do you make them work for you if you are a fan? This squat enthusiast is itching to know! —Tish

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  1. Kristen says:

    I wear Nike Free cross trainers for both lifting and Zumba (I don’t want to buy special dance shoes, and regular cross trainers tend to stick/grip more, which can lead to joint injuries when you are trying to twist and shake!). I have Brooks running shoes for, well, running. 😉 I don’t do minimalist running shoes, but they aren’t super cushy. I have high arches and bunions, so wider toe boxes are a godsend! I wear converse shoes for my regular mom-duty day time activities (zoo, park, errands etc) and go barefoot in my house. I think “traditional” cross trainers would throw off my form when lifting. I’m a real stickler for having correct form! I don’t want an injury, and I don’t want to waste my time by not working correctly.

  2. Naomi @ fitnomes says:

    I have two pairs of sneakers on the go, a running shoe and a less padded, firmer, flatter sneaker for weight training. I looked at proper weight lifting shoes, but after chatting with my trainer decided completely unnecessary for the type of training I am doing. Most of the weight lifting shoes that I have seen have a ‘chocked’ heel, meaning that your heels are slightly elevated – I figure if I want to do that, I can put a plate on the ground and put my heels on the edge of it. I don’t even do that, to be honest, I feel that it’s a bit cheaty and I’m not working through the full range.

    I do see guys in the gym working on Olympic lifting style work – they are often in lifting shoes and will change out of them for other activity. So comes back to if you are doing that specific type of training, then might be a good investment, other than that I don’t really feel they would be worth it.

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