Should I Wear My Lifters For This? by Coach Chris
This question is one of the most frequently asked of all time at RECF, especially at Barbell Club. I got asked three times this very evening, so I thought it would be a good one to write about!
First of all — if you’re unclear what a lifting shoe is or why you’d ever want them, check out our article HERE all about the subject!
If you’ve got a pair of lifters and you’re not sure when you’re “supposed” to wear them, keep reading.
The purpose of an Olympic lifting shoe with an elevated heel is to help the lifter achieve more optimal positions during the squat portion of the clean & snatch. In other words, if there isn’t squatting in the workout, you won’t get much (or any) benefit from wearing them.
Here’s two simple questions to ask yourself if you’re unsure when to use your lifters!
First: is there squatting involved in your workout?
If yes, go ahead and wear them if you want! Unless there are other movements in your workout (like running, jumping, etc.) that the lifting shoes would negatively affect. Squats are the number one time where lifters would actually be beneficial for some athletes. Cleans, snatches, front squats, overhead squats, pistols, and even wall balls can feel more comfortable in lifters, due to the elevated heels and extremely stable soles of the Oly shoe.
If there’s no squatting in the workout, then ask question 2:
Question 2: Are there Olympic lifts involved, but no squatting? For example, power cleans or power snatches, clean pulls or snatch pulls, split jerks, etc.
If yes: It’s your personal preference, and it may depend on what your “other” pair of shoes is. Do you have some solid flat-soled shoes like Nanos or Metcons? Those work just fine for those lifts. Do you have cushy running shoes? Then the lifters are probably the better choice.
If the answer to both these questions is no, then wearing your lifters is likely to be counterproductive.
The one caveat we have is that we don’t ever want to rely on Oly lifting shoes as a crutch. They exist to help make good positions even better, not to be a replacement for working on mobility! If you can’t feel solid in a front squat or overhead squat without them, find yourself a quality at-home mobility program like the ones from our friends at Little Shifts and put in some work. Get comfortable and solid with squatting in your regular gym shoes or barefoot first, then graduate to lifters if you want.