What are the Differences Between Weightlifting and Powerlifting Shoes?

weightlifting shoes vs powerlifting shoes

You’ve been training for a while now and you’re ready to take your lifts to the next level by investing in a dedicated pair of shoes, but what kind of shoes should you get?

You’ve searched Google and you can see Weightlifting Shoes, they sound good, but what about Powerlifting Shoes? It’s hard to know if you’re getting the right type of shoe for your needs.

So, what is the difference between Weightlifting and Powerlifting Shoes?

In truth, there isn’t really a difference between Weightlifting and Powerlifting Shoes, because they are one and the same. The term ‘Powerlifting Shoes’ is basically a catch-all for any type of shoe that can be worn in the sport of Powerlifting, this includes Weightlifting Shoes.

If a Shoe helps you with your Squat, Deadlift, or Bench Press then it would fit into the bracket of Powerlifting Shoe. As a Weightlifting Shoe is an excellent choice for the Squat and Bench Press, this, therefore, makes it an excellent choice as a Powerlifting Shoe.

So why is there confusion over this in the first place?


Firstly, clever marketing could be to blame for some of the confusion and the belief that there is a difference. Adidas is probably the main culprit for this with its Powerlift series of shoes.

“But they’re called Adidas Powerlift, they must be Powerlifting Shoes, right?”

Well, yes and no. The Adidas Powerlifts have a stiff, raised heel, so technically they are a Weightlifting Shoe, but because they are a Weightlifting Shoe, that also makes them a type of Powerlifting Shoe.

By the way, you can also check out my review of the latest Powerlift shoe, the Adidas Powerlift 4. It’s a great budget choice for Weightlifters and Powerlifters alike.

Weightlifting & Powerlifting

Another reason that might explain why people think there is a difference between Weightlifting and Powerlifting Shoes, is that the two sports are different.

A good Weightlifting Shoe is going to benefit our Powerlifting Squat pretty similarly to the Overhead Squat of the Snatch.

For the uninitiated, Weightlifting, or Olympic Weightlifting, to give it its full name, is a sport centered around two lifts; The Snatch and the Clean and Jerk, whereas Powerlifting is centered around three main lifts; The Squat, the Deadlift, and the Bench Press.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that two different sports with completely different lifts would require different Shoes. You wouldn’t wear Golf Shoes to play Tennis, for example.

But in reality, there is quite a lot of crossover. Take the Snatch, for example, a big portion of this lift is a Squat with the bar extended overhead. There are some subtle differences between the mechanics of this Overhead Squat compared to a standard Back Squat, but when it comes down to it, our lower body is going through the same basic movement pattern, so why would we need a different shoe?

A good Weightlifting Shoe is going to benefit our Powerlifting Squat pretty similarly to the Overhead Squat of the Snatch.

If you’re looking for a detailed breakdown of the differences between both sports, check out my article, What is the Difference Between Weightlifting and Powerlifting?

The Deadlift

The Deadlift is the one lift where you could argue that there is in fact, a difference between Weightlifting and Powerlifting Shoes.

For most people, a Weightlifting Shoe is not going to be optimal for the Deadlift, the raised heel brings you further from the floor and, ultimately just adds distance that the bar has to travel. Therefore we need a more specific type of Powerlifting Shoe. Something that has a very thin sole and good ankle joint and lateral stability.

Feel free to check out my article on Powerlifting Shoes for the Deadlift. I particularly like the Sabo Deadlift Shoe, which as the name suggests is a shoe that’s specifically designed with the Deadlift in mind.

In Summary

So hopefully this article has helped clear up some of the confusion around the differences, or lack thereof, between Weightlifting and Powerlifting Shoes.

It’s pretty simple really, a Weightlifting Shoe is primarily used in the sport of Olympic Weightlifting but is also regularly used in the Sport of Powerlifting, most likely during the Squat and Bench Press, therefore, although not specifically a Powerlifting Shoe, it could still be considered a type of Powerlifting Shoe.

And then we have the Deadlift, which benefits from a different type of Powerlifting Shoe, such as a Deadlift specific shoe such as the Sabo Deadlift Shoe or even wrestling shoes or indeed, Deadlift slippers.

Ultimately, the three main lifts in Powerlifting require quite different features in a shoe and because of this, it just doesn’t make sense to have a dedicated Powerlifting Shoe. Instead, Powerlifting borrows from other sports and the Weightlifting Shoe falls into the overall family of Powerlifting Shoes.