Runners know that their shoes are extremely important to their sport, but the shoes you wear directly affect your strength training too. Before you go out and purchase the latest trendy shoe that a celebrity is wearing, make sure you follow my guidelines for shopping for athletic shoes, then use these tips to find the best pair for the gym.
What to Look For
The most important thing to keep in mind for strength-training shoes is that you want to be stable, which means having your heels as close to the floor as possible. While there is no prescribed measurement for what is too high, always opt for a shoe with a lower to minimal heel.
Running shoes or any shoes with air-infused, bubbly, or springy-like soles and higher heels will disrupt your body's center of gravity, causing loss of stability and balance, which could lead to improper form and injury. Cushioned soles also can wear down after a lot of use. If you take your running shoes and turn them over right now, one side may be more worn than the other. If you do your strength training in shoes with worn heels, one hip or side of your body could be lower then the other, again creating an imbalance. Wear those shoes continuously, and years down the road your body will suffer.
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You may have heard about Arnold Schwarzenegger walking around the gym training barefoot. What better way to get your heel as close to the ground as possible? This leads to improved technique, thus creating a safe and more effective means of training. We can't all tread around the gym barefoot, though, so here are a few great shoes for weight training.
1. Chuck Taylors. These are one of the most efficient and effective shoes for strength training and my personal favorite. They're not expensive (you can pick up the low-top version for as little as $30), and Chuck T's offer a thin, flat sole that enables the body to maintain great stability and control through your lifts.
2. Vibram Five Fingers. The barefoot craze is actually a healthy and effective choice when it comes to strength training. Having relatively nothing between your foot and the floor allows for increased range of motion in your foot and leg muscles, which might otherwise be compromised with a more cushioned shoe.
3. CrossFit Reebok Nano 2.0. These are a good choice for anyone who wants a little more shoe. Don't go much higher than this with the heel, though.