To best understand how Powerlifting Shoes should fit, it is best to first consider what it is we want to achieve by wearing them.
The fit of a Powerlifting Shoe must be as tight and snug around our foot as possible, without causing pain or discomfort.
Ultimately, the sport of Powerlifting can be summed up by trying to lift the most weight possible within the rules of each given lift (The Squat, Deadlift, and Bench Press), so we must keep this foremost in our mind when considering how our shoe must fit.
When we think about the fit from this perspective, it should be fairly simple to determine what we want. To move the most weight possible, we want to transfer as much of our energy into moving the bar and have less wasted on other factors such as balance and stability. The fit of our shoe can help us here by being as tight and snug around our foot as possible. By ensuring this, we prevent any lost energy through our foot shifting around inside the shoe and the maximum effort can be transferred into the bar. And that’s all there is to it; we want a shoe that secures our foot in place without being so tight that we cut off circulation.
Of course, this is only the simplified answer. Read on to understand a bit more of the detail and the specifics as related to each lift.
Powerlifting Shoes Fit For Squats
As was discussed in my article, Do Powerlifting Shoes Help?, the majority of people find benefit in using a Weightlifting Shoe for the Squat, and the fit of this shoe is critical to ensuring the most efficient Squat possible.
I like the front of the shoe to have a bit of width, allowing me to spread my toes for a more stable base, so just wide enough for a good spread, but no more.
We want the shoe to hug our foot as tightly as we can get away with, without cutting off circulation or hurting us in any way. A large portion of this can be controlled by the strap that runs over the top of our foot (or metatarsal for those who prefer the technical term). This will help lock in our midfoot and prevent any shifting within the shoe.
Looking towards our heel now, we want this to be right up against the back of the shoe, I typically try to ensure that I can’t stick a finger between my heel and the shoe as a general guide.
The toes are the only area where I prefer a bit of ‘wiggle’ room. I like the front of the shoe to have a bit of width, allowing me to spread my toes for a more stable base, so just wide enough for a good spread, but no more. I also want enough room at the front to ensure that my toes aren’t crammed against the front of the shoe, pretty obvious really but you’d be surprised how many people subject themselves to this unnecessarily because they think they have to have the shoe as tight as possible in every area! If your heel and metatarsal are secure, there should be minimal chance of your toes shifting around the space in the front, especially if you have them spread and rooted.
So how does all this translate into a specific shoe size? Unfortunately, there’s no definitive answer here as each manufacturer will be different. If you want to be sure that you’re getting the right size, the best advice I can give is to buy the shoe and try it out. Although it’s pretty inconvenient, most suppliers will allow you to return the shoe if it’s not quite right. A good rule of thumb is to take a look at any of the shoes that you currently have (especially if you have a pair made by the same company). Put them on and critique the fit, is it tight? Loose? Does your heel have room to move around? What about your toes? Once you have a good idea of this, it should be a good indicator of whether you want to size up, size down, or stay where you are. I wouldn’t recommend going any more than half a size either way.
It’s also worth remembering that a good Weightlifting Shoe will need some time to ‘break-in’ so it should definitely feel tighter at first (but NOT painful). Over time the material should give and mold to the contours of your feet and you should be left with a good, snug fit.
A good tip to check that your heel is locked in is to press your toes on one foot against the heel of your shoe on the other and try and lift your heel. If the shoe is loose, you will likely find that your heel will raise up out of the shoe.
Amazon now has an option for Prime members called Prime Wardrobe, which allows you to try before you buy on a wide range of options. I have seen Weightlifting Shoes included in the past but it’s not always guaranteed, unfortunately.
Check out my article which looks specifically at Weightlifting Shoes, where I give some tips and tricks to ensure the best fit.
Powerlifting Shoes Fit for The Deadlift
When considering the shoe fit for the Deadlift, the same rules apply as with the Squat, tightness is the name of the game.
Starting with strapping, a good Deadlift Shoe is likely to have a metatarsal strap as well as an ankle strap. We want both to fit securely around their respective areas without strangling.
I would also aim for the same fit around the heel and toes as with the Squat.
For Sumo lifters, one key consideration would be whether the sole of the shoe curves up at the sides. The lateral force that gets exerted here can translate to the foot spilling over the edge of the shoe if the fit does not appropriately support this, so if the sole curves up and around the side of our foot slightly, we’re in a good place.
As far as shoe size goes, again, I would recommend either sticking with where you currently are or going half a size up or down depending on fit, if you can try before you buy then all the better.
The Sabo Deadlift Shoe comes highly recommended. As the name might suggest, this shoe was designed with the Deadlift in mind.
You can also take a look at my article on Powerlifting Shoes for the Deadlift if you are interested in more information.
Powerlifting Shoes Fit for The Bench Press
Finally, we’re left with the Bench Press and again, a good fit comes down to sufficient tightness around the foot. For those that lift with their heel on the ground, the key is to ensure your foot can’t slide forward in the shoe. A good Weightlifting Shoe should have you covered here if you stick to the same rules as with the Squat, if your heel and metatarsal are securely locked in place, you shouldn’t see your foot shifting forward and cramming your toes.
A good tip to check that your heel is locked in is to press your toes on one foot against the heel of your shoe on the other and try and lift your heel. If the shoe is loose, you will likely find that your heel will raise up out of the shoe. Aim for no heel lift whatsoever and you’ll have a good fit.
If lifting with your heel off the ground, I would say the fit becomes less important, in fact, you may want to consider a less tight shoe to allow you to get your feet back and get up on your toes. In this case, I’d be more inclined to secure my toes in place within the shoe to prevent movement as this is where all your force will be driven from.
Again, don’t deviate from your usual sizing unless you really feel you need to.
To summarize, there really aren’t any special requirements when it comes to the fit of a Powerlifting Shoe. For the most part, if you stick to just finding a shoe that is comfortable, yet tight, this should put you in good stead going forward.