Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Low Top (Unisex)
For comfortable, stable, inexpensive weight-lifting shoes, we love Chuck Taylors.
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High Top (Unisex)
High-tops won’t add ankle support, but some staffers feel the added tension from the laces is a benefit.
The iconic Chuck Taylors (aka Converse All Stars) need almost no introduction. These century-old shoes—with their flat, white rubber soles and white-laced canvas uppers—were initially marketed for playing basketball, which, given their lack of arch and ankle support, seems an unlikely use these days. And though Chucks have generally become a speciality item (at best) when it comes to fashion, they’ve experienced an unexpected athletic resurgence in the weight room as lifting shoes—for the very reasons they’re no longer considered great for shooting hoops.
“When it comes to squats and deadlifts, for example, the cushion of a squishy athletic shoe can actually compromise the lift,” said Eric Emig, a certified personal trainer and co-founder of Evolution Fitness in St. Louis. “You want to be able to feel a drive through your heels into the floor, which can be difficult when wearing heavily padded shoes. The extra effort to keep the ankle stable [on a padded surface] can take away from your ability to produce power for the lift making your lift weaker.”
Kathryn Alexander, an exercise physiologist and personal trainer in Austin, Texas, added: “Imagine trying to do a heavy squat on top of a mattress; [wearing running shoes to lift] is kind of like that.” She has lifted in her trusty black-on-black high-top Chucks for years. “They’re pretty irreplaceable to me,” she said.
As a personal trainer myself, I’ve even encouraged clients to squat barefooted, just to see how that feels, so they can understand how certain shoes can destabilize even a light or bodyweight-only lift. (Although lifting barefoot is technically fine to do in general, doing it on a gym floor isn’t very sanitary.)
Several of Wirecutter’s most avid recreational lifters wear high- or low-top Converse sneakers while getting swole. “They’re cheap, flat, and you can wear them to and from the gym, so you don’t have to carry a second pair,” said staff writer Chris Heinonen.
Kevin Purdy, another staff writer, agreed. “Every trainer I talked to about weight lifting said Chucks are all you need,” he said, “and I like their look.”
According to senior editor Nathan Edwards, who describes himself as a novice/intermediate powerlifter, “Chucks are not tight, so they give you a stable surface for weight lifting without pitching your heels or toes too high.” Both he and Kevin are partial to high-tops, though Nathan noted that the extra, ankle-high material doesn’t provide any extra support. Compared with low-tops, high-tops seem like they provide more tension from the laces, he said, which “may be more psychological than anything.”
The only real drawback to Chucks is that they are not suitable for running (see our guides to the best running shoes for women and men). And for cross-training workouts, you’re better off with shoes that have a snugger fit through the heel and better arch support, said Paul Langer, DPM, a sports podiatrist at Twin Cities Orthopedics. But at the end of the day, “Comfort is by far the most important aspect in selecting shoes for any given task,” he added. “Chucks are perfectly suitable for weight lifting as long as the person wearing them finds them comfortable.”
Source: NY Times – Wirecutter