Weightlifting shoes vs Vibrams

A common question among people who practice weight lifting is whether they need proper Olympic weight lifting shoes like the one we recommended in our best weightlifting shoes article.  Most already have their current footwear such as a pair of Vibrams and was wondering if there is a need to switch. The question, as usual, is that it depends. Read below to see what are their differences and what would be a good time to consider switching.


Main difference between weightlifting shoes and vibrams

A key difference between these 2 type of shoes are in the amount of heel life and support. For most weight or power lifting shoes, the heel is elevated such that it shifts your body balance slightly forward. This in turn allows your hamstrings to be shorten such that you can go deeper on a squat. The level of elevation depends on whether it is a Olympic weight lifting shoes (highest elevation) or just a power lifting shoes (modest elevation). Vibram shoes don’t really have a good heel lift compared to the weight lighting shoes.

Another difference is the forefoot protection that comes with weight lifting shoes. These reinforcement protect against the lateral shearing of the small bones on your feet. Most of the time, you will not need such protection unless you are lifting 400 pounds. In such case, the weight lifting shoes do make a difference and they are a better buy than the five fingers vibrams.

Finally, most weight lifting shoes have flat soles except for the heel area. Such design gives you far more stability than Vibrams’s five fingers. Such stability is important to minimize any back injuries. Basically, these type of shoes try to make your feet as immobile as possible.


Which one is right for me?

After understanding the difference, you should be able to know what is more suited to your current weight training level.

  • If you are doing only clean or deadlift, then Vibrams is fine. The lack of heel elevation doesn’t affect or improve such workouts so weight lifting shoes are not exactly needed.
  • For weight and power lifting, having weighting lifting shoes help to lessen the pull on your hamstrings and allows for a deeper squat position. It also improve the overall form of your weight lifting which not only gives you better development but it is safer as well.
  • If you are weight lifting over 400 pounds, the weight lifting shoes become important due to the forefeet reinforcement as mentioned. Also, the good ones will provide lateral and arch support that minimises the chance of your lower body getting injured. I would say they are quite necessary when you are lifting weights in this region.



For causal weight lifting, there isn’t much need to go for a weight lifting shoe if you already have the Vibrams. However, if you are doing really heavy weight or wants to develop a better form, then weight lifting shoes do help via their heel and sole design.

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One Comment

  1. Dan December 27, 2016