I was on the fence about whether or not I wanted to try weightlifting shoes. Since I’ve transitioned away from running, one of the things I like about Crossfit is how little gear you actually need. Even a shirt is optional.

I’ve watched a fair share of lifting videos recently (nerd) and noticed that almost everyone was wearing weightlifting shoes — some Crossfitters, but mostly weightlifters and powerlifters. I got curious. Then I read stuff about why weightlifting shoes are important, and kept finding people insisting that they’re important. I got curiouser. I saw a video of CrossFit founder Greg Glassman dismissing the whole notion of weightlifting shoes in an asinine way. I became curiouserer still.  Then I read the following quote in “Starting Strength”:

“Just buy the damn shoes.”

OK then.

If you’re not familiar with weightlifting shoes, here’s the deal very briefly: They’re special shoes for weightlifting only (duh). Mostly they’re for the Olympic lifts (cleans, jerks, snatches), squats, and overhead presses. You wouldn’t need them for bench presses, because think about it. Weightlifting shoes have flat, hard, grippy soles and elevated heels made of wood or very dense rubber. The heels are not meant to be soft. Nothing about them is meant to be soft. The uppers are usually stiff leather and have one or more velcro straps in addition to laces. You lock your goddam foot inside there real good and tight so it doesn’t move at all. The point is to provide maximum stability and glue your feet to the ground. The elevated heels make it possible to pull a bar from the ground better and squat much lower if you’re a stump with limited flexibility like me.

When I first started Crossfit, I wore my Brooks running shoes because that was what I had. It took a few weeks before I realized that wearing them a really bad idea. Also, coaches told me, “That’s a really bad idea.”  I can’t squat for shit in running shoes. They’re squishy and my feet roll laterally.  Couldn’t get ass to grass. I squatted in socks for a while, which was OK but not optimal. I got a pair of Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0s, which are pretty good — flat, not squishy, very comfortable, great for most things you have to do in a CrossFit workout. Except for my squats and Olympic lifts. It was hard getting into a deep, full, ass-to-grass squat without lifting my heels and going up on my toes, which is unsafe and unhealthy.

Long story slightly longer, I made a little extra money working overtime one day and found a great sale on the Adidas Powerlift Trainers. They’re not the most top-of-the-line weightlifting shoes out there, but I’m not a competitor. They’re sturdy, well-made, and are helping me get where I need to go (i.e., buttocks in close proximity to the lawn).

They’ll probably last me the rest of my life. Which is nice.

I took some video to test them. First there’s me trying a light 65-pound clean and jerk with my Reebok Nanos. Then there’s me cleaning and jerking the same weight in the Adidas Powerlift Trainers. Then there’s a little footage of me doing 2 power cleans and 1 jerk at 100 pounds. I think the results are promising.*