How Tight Should Weightlifting Shoes Be?

how tight should weightlifting shoes be

It’s a common question to ask when buying our first pair of Weightlifting Shoes, we’re laying down a lot of money and want to make sure we’re getting the right size. Many of us don’t have the luxury either of trying on different sizes before we buy, which makes sizing all the more difficult.

So, How tight should Weightlifting Shoes be?

Weightlifting Shoes are like any other shoe when it comes to tightness, however, there are a few important points to remember:

  • You shouldn’t be able to pull your shoe off your foot once you are laced up and strapped in.
  • You shouldn’t feel your heel lift out of the shoe.
  • You should be able to freely move your toes.
  • Circulation to your foot should never be restricted.

Get these points right and, as long as your shoe is comfortable to wear, you have the correct tightness.

Getting your Weightlifting Shoe appropriately tight doesn’t need to be complicated, for the most part, just treat it like any other shoe and you should be good to go. Let’s look at the four points in more detail however to make sure you never miss a lift due to your shoe’s tightness!

Laces and Straps

The lacing and strap system is the main area that dictates how tight or loose our shoe will be, so how do we ensure we get it right every time? I’ll walk you through the method I go through each time I put on my Weightlifting Shoes.

First, make sure your laces have been loosened off and the strap is unfastened. Put your foot in the shoe and move it around until it’s seated correctly (I like to place the heel of my shoe on the floor and push down with my foot inside the shoe until my heel is right up against the shoe material).

Starting at the bottom of the laces, tighten each eyelet one by one working your way up the shoe. You want to tighten until you feel a bit of resistance but no more than that, a short tug should be all that’s needed (settle down in the back!).

Now just tie your laces as you normally would.

All that’s left is to fasten the strap. I like to pull it straight out to the side while pushing the shoe in the opposite direction, then wrap the strap over the shoe to the other side. You should be doing this with consistent even pressure, just enough that you feel the resistance against your foot but not so much that it’s uncomfortable or hurts.

Ok, now that our shoes are on and fastened, try and take them off, your foot shouldn’t budge from your shoe no matter what you do.

A good example of how laces and straps can influence tightness are the Adidas Powerlift 4 and Adipower 2. The Powerlift 4 features really robust, thick laces which are able to take a lot of abuse, however the Adipower 2 laces feel really flimsy and trying to tighten them can be an uncomfortable experience for fear of breaking them!

Heel Lift

One key thing to look out for is if your heel is lifting out of your shoe when you walk around. This could signify that your laces aren’t tight enough at the top of your shoe but could also be a sign that you have the wrong shoe size or that your foot isn’t seated correctly.

Remember my tip to push your heel into the back of your shoe while you lace up, if you’re doing this and are tight at the top of the shoe and still have heel slip, chances are the shoe fit isn’t right for you.

Your choice of weightlifting shoe can also play a factor in how much heel lift you will experience. The Nike Romaleos 4, for example, have in my opinion, a very poorly designed heel and no amount of positioning and tightening will solve this.

Conversely, Reebok have a unique feature that can be seen in the Legacy Lifter and Legacy Lifter 2 which makes a massive difference in controlling heel slip and holding your foot in place.


It may come as a surprise to some but our toes are a very important part of maintaining our stability and balance during a lift (and in general). If we give our toes the freedom and space to do so, they can provide lots of little corrections to our balance and this can make the difference between completing a lift or failing.

For this reason, your toes should never feel squashed together or jammed into the front of your shoe, this is the one area where you want a bit of room. If they get tightly packed in, then they can’t do their job effectively and your lifts will suffer.

So, pretty simple overall, just make sure you can wiggle your toes freely inside the shoe.

The Adidas Power Perfect 3 is a good example of weightlifting shoe design that allows for plenty of room in the toe box for toe splay.


Circulation is another very obvious one to most, but so many people think that you need to tighten until you can’t feel your foot anymore, and that’s just not true.

You should never, and I repeat, never tighten your shoes so much that you lose circulation to your foot, it will not benefit your lifts at all.

In Summary

You’re probably reading this article and thinking that all of this is completely obvious. And to be honest, you’re right, there’s nothing complicated or special about how tight our Weightlifting Shoes should be and it really comes down to just putting them on like any regular old shoe.

The only real difference is, in regular shoes, we get away with them being a bit loose here and there now and again. With a Weightlifting Shoe, your shoe’s tightness can make the difference between a new PR or a failed lift.

So, follow the steps in this article and your shoes will be suitably tight and you’ll be well on your way to your next PR!