Athletes are turning to deadlift slippers for their purported competitive edge.
Thin, firm soles theoretically lead to less wasted energy and less distance to travel during the pull. But can deadlift slippers really help you lift more?
In this guide:
- How Deadlift Slippers Beat Most Shoes
- Deadlift Slippers: Better Than Weightlifting Shoes?
- Do I Need Deadlift Slippers?
- The Best Deadlift Slippers
|Our top deadlift slipper pick|
|FitKicks Minimalist Footwear|
“The thin, grippy rubber sole keeps you close to the ground and doesn’t steal your energy during the pull.”
What Are Deadlift Slippers?
Deadlift slippers are thin, lightweight shoes designed for deadlifting.
They’re usually designed around these two focal points:
- Lightweight and snug outer material
- Flat, thin soles that don’t compress
The soles keep you close to the ground without absorbing any precious energy during the pull, and the snug fit ensures your don’t slide around.
And unlike weightlifting shoes, deadlift slippers tend to be really inexpensive. They don’t require much material or precise engineering.
In fact, deadlift slippers are so lightweight and comfortable that some people like to wear them around the house.
But, of course, most people use deadlift slippers to leverage every advantage possible when deadlifting.
Our Top 2 Deadlift Slipper Picks
How Deadlift Slippers Beat Most Shoes
When performing deadlifts, squats, or most other lifts that involve the legs, the ground is a key player. As you lift, you’re applying force against the ground to move the barbell.
Ideally, 100% of that force gets resisted by the ground. That force travels up through your body and eventually into the barbell. However, we don’t live in a perfect world.
In reality, most shoes absorb precious energy as they compress during the initial pull. Running shoes in particular are a huge offender, since they’re designed to compress.
In fact, research has shown that lifting with shoes can result in a lower peak force output than lifting barefoot.1Shod vs. Barefoot Effects on Force and Power Development During a Conventional Deadlift Put simply, deadlifting while barefoot can result in a greater amount of force produced.
That’s why a lot of high-level deadlifters train without shoes.
For example, check out powerlifter Cailer Woolam performing a deadlift at 837 lb / 380 kg in his socks:
However, deadlifting barefoot isn’t an option for everyone. It’s not very sanitary, and many gyms require footwear to work out.
The solution: Shoes with flat soles that don’t compress, like deadlift slippers.
Deadlift Slippers: Better Than Weightlifting Shoes?
There are three features that define a weightlifting shoe:
- A solid, unyielding sole
- A heel lift (often 0.75 inches / 1.9 cm)
- A strap over the top of the foot
The firm sole helps to ensure no energy is wasted during the lift, as explained above. Even the wedge in the heel is made of something solid, like wood or a stiff plastic composite.
The heel lift helps to improve the biomechanics of squat movements. That slight raise in the heel reduces the amount of ankle flexibility needed to get into a low squat position.
Research has even shown that this helps to reduce the amount of forward trunk flexion during the squat.2Kinematic Changes Using Weightlifting Shoes on Barbell Back Squat
Practically every high-level athlete who performs Olympic lifts uses weightlifting shoes. But do they help with deadlifts?
Deadlifts in Weightlifting Shoes: Pros and Cons
- Deficit Deadlift Training
Deficit deadlifts are performed on a platform up to several inches high. The increased height results in a greater level of muscle recruitment to perform the lift.
Since weightlifting shoes have a wedge, deadlifting with them is like doing a very small deficit deadlift.
- Increased Muscle Work
That slight increase in height also means you need to use more total energy to lift the bar to full extension, working the quadriceps and posterior chain slightly more in the process.
Over a long period of time, that extra work can add up.
- More Lifting Distance
The advantages and disadvantages of deadlifting with weightlifting shoes are two peas in a pod.
While those wedges do provide an opportunity to perform a little more work, they also make the lift slightly more difficult.
If your goal is to lift as much weight as possible with good form, weightlifting shoes are a disadvantage.
- Lower Peak Power Output
As mentioned previously, wearing shoes while deadlifting can actually decrease peak power output.3Shod vs. Barefoot Effects on Force and Power Development During a Conventional Deadlift
Deadlifting barefoot or while wearing flat, firm shoes can help to ensure you’re producing as much force as possible during the lift.
So if your goal is to fatigue your muscles as much as possible, wearing weightlifitng shoes while deadlift is a decent option.
However, if your goal is to lift as much weight as possible, it’s not a great idea to deadlift in weightlifting shoes.
If you want to lift as much weight as possible, deadlift slippers are a great option.
Do I Need Deadlift Slippers?
Short answer: No, you don’t need deadlift slippers.
Deadlifting with running shoes or weightlifting shoes are viable options for most people.
However, if you’re wanting to lift as much weight as possible, deadlift slippers are a great option—and really inexpensive.
They offer a few advantages over other shoes:
- The firmness of the sole results in no wasted energy during the pull
- The thinness of the sole gets you as close to the ground as possible
Do swimmers need a swim cap? Do Olympic squatters need knee sleeves? No, but accessories like those can slightly improve performance.
Deadlift slippers are an inexpensive accessory that can improve your lift—even if by a small amount.
The Best Deadlift Slippers on Amazon
These are fantastic deadlift slippers. The thin, grippy rubber sole keeps you close to the ground and doesn’t steal your energy during the pull.
The compressive outer material and diagonal grip strap help to ensure a tight fit. If you’re on the fence about two sizes, try sizing down since the material stretches. (And they offer free returns anyway.)
These shoes are also waterproof, which means you can easily wash them after they’ve spent some time in the gym. It’s easy to keep them fresh and like-new.
Best for Sumo Deadlift
When performing sumo deadlifts, it’s really important for everything to be tight and grippy.
These deadlift slippers feature two velcro straps for extra lateral support during the pull. And the rubber sole helps to ensure you stay locked in place.
As a bonus, these shoes also feature a removable insert to get you as close to the ground as possible during the pull.
Note that these deadlift slippers fit pretty snugly if you follow the size chart. It’s probably best to order true to size to get a snug, supportive fit.