As the frenzied return to gyms around the country dies down somewhat in the wake of their re-opening, many people have found themselves embarking along a new fitness journey. For many, this involves a routine filled with new and exciting skill components and concepts. For others, they find themselves returning to a trusted routine that has served them well over time.
Whatever level of experience you have in the gym and whatever your outcome and process goals, one thing you can’t shy away from, is the plethora of gym equipment pushed out to potential fitness enthusiasts. Lifting belts, lifting gloves, chalk, specifically tailored clothing apparel and an endless array of supplements cloud the judgement of everyone who finds themselves on the gym floor.
Within the confines of a gym, the benefits of weight training being incorporated into your routine has been well documented, however the benefits of various forms of additional equipment have been explored to a far lesser extent. One of the most prominent forms of additional equipment is that of shoes. When marketing a shoe for fitness training, each specific form of exercise is now able to brand itself as an independent form of fitness and, as such, can promote a specific kind of shoe best-suited to its’ requirements. Training, HIIT, Endurance, Running, Weightlifting, Cardio Dance are just some of the classifications on Nike’s ‘Training and Gym Shoes’ section alone.
So just how necessary is it to have the ‘correct’ form of shoe?
The Value of a Weightlifting Shoe
For weightlifting, the concept is quite simply to apply additional weight (in the form of a barbell or dumbbell) to your body whilst undergoing a series of functional movements. By default, adding this resistance to your body whilst undertaking these movements provides an additional strain through your body’s muscles and joints and there subsequently needs to be a good platform from which to execute these movements.
When lifting weights, it is always valuable to have a steady and level footing at the sole of your shoe. All major footwear brands within the sports industry have an array of suitable shoes such as Adidas, Nike and Reebok that all provide a strong and stable base. The same valued reason is why lifting platforms are placed on a solid footing rather than the softer, protected mats that usually adorn the free weights section of a gym.
Having this stable footing allows you to safely execute the movements required without causing any joints to be impacted by potential imbalances from an unstable footing.
The increased popularity of Crossfit has now introduced a concept of securing a strong base whilst also allowing an individual to execute more dynamic movements such as running or burpees whilst still experiencing minimal discomfort. These functional training shoes provide the stability to perform weightlifting exercises correctly whilst also allowing for freedom of movement.
The Value of a Functional Training Shoe
As a result, these shoes have proven extremely popular in recent times, as the majority of gym-goers find themselves undertaking an array of different exercises throughout their routine. These functional training shoes support multi-directional movements, have firmer midsoles to provide stability for lifting as well as having a thinner sole to allow for better control of an individuals’ foot. As a result, the Nike Metcon shoe has dominated the market for functional training shoes and has been endorsed by some of the biggest athletes in the world, namely the Crossfit Fittest Man of all-time; Mat Fraser.
The durability and functionality of these types of shoe have given gym-goers around the world the assurance of minimising the risk of potential injury whilst practically assisting the ease with which they can perform other exercises.
Can You Lift Weights in a Shoe Designed for Another Form of Fitness?
In reality however, functional training shoes and weightlifting shoes make up a small portion of the sports shoe market. With the majority being designed for fashion or running, is it really that bad to lift weights in them?
The short answer is; no. It all depends on you exercise goals and how you go about reaching them.
A running shoe, such as the trusted Asics Gel Kayano, highlights the the flex grooves that help to form a softer and smoother landing of the foot on the ground. When this concept becomes overloaded with significant weight, an imbalance underfoot can cause a compensation throughout a muscle or joint that can subsequently cause injury. Whilst the shoe remains perfectly adequate to perform exercises at the gym in, like with all things, it is about moderation. Understanding your goals and how to reach them is crucial. A regular gym-goer looking to undergo an extensive period of weight lifting within their fitness routine will be in need of suitable footwear in the form of functional training or specific weightlifting shoes. For an individual not focusing specifically on weightlifting, and lifting light to moderate weight, there is no need to succumb to the marketing governance that accompanies the footwear industry.
How Many Different Types of Shoes do I Need to Train?
Understanding your training routine is crucial. If you only run, then a functional training shoe such as the NOBULL Sunrise Trainer may not give you the suitable support needed for your activities. Similarly, a heavy weightlifting routine multiple times a week would not be suited to the Nike React foam that is designed intentionally to be soft and absorbing.
For the majority of individuals, two distinct variances will be more than enough to cover the bases of all of the forms of exercise you are likely to undertake. For those that enjoy a good run as part of their cardio training, a pair of shoes designed specifically for running can save a considerable amount of pain and discomfort when the miles begin to add up over time. A Cross-Training shoe that provides the stability and durability to withstand the additional resistance and loads that accompany weight training would prove invaluable to support your body through the additional forms of strain it would face.