So you’ve started CrossFit or a weightlifting program and you look around the class and everyone has multiple pairs of shoes. You think, when “I get good enough I’ll get some too.”

However, that though isn’t really in your best interest. It’s really important to have the proper gear but totally unnecessary to get gear just to get gear. For example, if you sign up to play soccer you would go out and buy soccer cleats right? You wouldn’t wear your bowling shoes for your soccer game, just because they’re shoes right? Similar thing with CrossFit and lifting, in the case of shoes, having the proper gear will help you get the most out of your workout.

Let’s just look at shoes first. Everyone has running shoes, and I’d say 19 out of 20 people show up for day 1 of their intro class wearing running shoes. They’re comfortable and have great marketing and they’re sitting in your garage, so why not wear them to the gym… I get it. But there’s so many reasons to not wear your running shoes for anything besides going out for a jog.

First off, they’re designed to be soft and absorb impact of your body weight with each step while you run. That’s great for running. But not for jumping, not for squatting, not for deadlifting, and anything besides running. Jumping, squatting, and lifting a weight requires energy transfer from your body to the ground. In other words you press through your feet to do the movements. So wouldn’t you want a hard surface to press from then a soft surface? Try standing on a bed, and see how high you can jump from the mattress, then try jumping barefoot off the floor. Which did you get a higher jump from? Exactly the same principal.

Secondly, a running shoe pushes your weight forward on the balls of your feet. That’s the exact opposite of what you want to do when you squat or deadlift. I’ve seen so many people that can’t get squat depth or keep their heels down in running shoes switch to a crossfit shoe or a lifter and squat properly.

That brings us to the funny looking shoes with velcros straps everyone else is wearing. They’re lifters, it’s a heavier shoe with a raised heel and a flat hard bottom. They keep you balanced when squatting or pressing over head, and even help your press in the bench press. Because of the raised heel and hard bottom you won’t want to run jump or deadlift in these, they’re more of a squatting and pressing specialty shoe. Does everyone need them? My opinion is yes! So many times I hear “when I am able to lift heavier weights I’ll get Lifters” and I want to cringe. They help stabilize you under load, so you can lift more weight, why would you want to wait to be able to lift weights with a more stable base?!

Lifters also help those of us with poor ankle mobility. If your coach keeps telling you to keep your weight back or heels down when you’re squatting, there’s a fairly good chance stepping into a lifting shoe will fix that problem. Honestly, if it’s between one of my athletes spending months of doing ankle mobility work while quitting poorly vs just putting them in a new shoe that will fix the problem right away, guess which one I would chose.

So if you want to get the most out of your CrossFit workouts having a shoe that is designed for the movements you do in crossfit will help your performance. There’s two solid options of shoes designed specifically for the sport of fitness… the Nike Metcon and the Reebok Nano.  There’s several versions of the Metcon and Nano, but regardless of which one you chose you’ll be better off with them then in your running shoes. As for lifters there’s more options. My opinion the best choices are the Nike Romaleos 2 and the Reebok Legacy, but both Nike and Reebok have other lifter options as well as adidas and No Bull make pretty good options for lifters.