5 Reasons Why Vans Shoes Are Good For Lifting

So you are looking to lift weights at the gym but you only have Vans shoes. They are definitely great for skateboarding, but are Vans shoes good for lifting?

Vans shoes are good for casual lifting because they have flat, hard soles which help you stabilize and push more efficiently during powerful lifts like squats and deadlifts.

They are firmer than running shoes and are cheaper than traditional lifting shoes, so Vans shoes are good lifting shoes for someone on a budget.

Unfortunately, Vans are not the most flexible pair of shoes because their laces do not go all the way to the toe boxes. In this post, let’s explore whether Vans are good for lifting or not.

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Are Vans Shoes Good For Lifting?

Vans Old Skool (buy on Amazon):

  • Flat soles help you stabilize and push efficiently off the ground during squats and deadlifts.
  • Firm and non-cushioned soles emulate the feeling of lifting barefoot.
  • They are not expensive.
  • Vans are more durable than most sneakers.
  • Rubber outsoles with waffle pattern grip the floor very well.
  • The uppers are not flexible enough for lunges.

When it comes to performing functional movements, like squats and deadlifts, your feet are the foundation of everything. Basically, they set the groundwork for stability.

With over 25 bones and 4 different joints, each foot is mobile and is able to do many movements. However, when you squat, you need to instantly create stability at each foot. 

The less stable you are, the less weight you are going to lift. In order to create the most stable position, you need each foot to form a neutral arch.

With that said, the choice of footwear during weight training must complement and support this neutral arched stance. Let’s explore whether Vans shoes are good lifting shoes or not:

1. Vans have flat soles

The biggest reason why Vans shoes are good for weightlifting is due to their flat soles.

Research has shown that minimal footwear is related to increased strength and size (hypertrophy) of the muscles of the foot. This is why some people train barefoot.

The flat soles of Vans shoes are able to emulate the feeling of being barefoot because there is no difference between the heel height and the forefoot height. In other words, Vans shoes are zero drop shoes. This is true for the Old Skool, Era, and Authentic.

As a result, you will have more stability on each foot to do lifts like squats and deadlifts, since the flat soles of Vans provide the platform for each foot to form a neutral arch. 

2. Vans have firm soles (not squishy)

Equally important with wearing flat-soled shoes while lifting is to wear firm shoes.

Most of us would not think of trying to run a marathon while wearing bowling shoes. We also would not play basketball while wearing soccer cleats. However, when it comes to weight training, some people would not think twice about wearing running shoes.

If you are training to run a marathon, it’s great to wear a pair of running shoes. But if you are trying to perform squats and deadlifts, then well-cushioned shoes are not the best.

Experts claim that squatting with the soft compressible sole of these shoes is basically like trying to lift while standing on a giant marshmallow.

While Vans shoes are not the best for running, their hard and firm soles do not compress easily, giving you a fairly solid base to perform squats and deadlifts.

3. They are not expensive

If you don’t want to break the bank, then Vans shoes are an excellent choice for weightlifting.

In fact, Vans shoes are sometimes worn by lifters who don’t want to spend a fortune on traditional weightlifting shoes (no shame in that, lifting shoes are expensive).

Instagram influencer Julian Michael Smith training in the gym while wearing Vans Old Skool (image taken from instagram.com/smith.julian/):

Most weightlifting and training shoes will cost you between $100 to $200, which can be considered expensive, considering that those shoes cannot be worn outside the gym.

Vans Old Skools, on the other hand, retail for just $60. That price point is affordable enough for beginners or anyone that is on a strict budget.

In short, Vans are cheap and are one of the best budget shoes available for weightlifting.

4. Vans are more durable than most shoes

In addition to being affordable, Vans shoes are more durable than most shoes.

Vans are skateboarding shoes, designed to withstand the grip tape of a skateboard. As a result, their canvas or suede uppers are able to resist scrapes very well.

But it’s not the uppers that are most impressive, it’s their vulcanized rubber soles that are tough. Vulcanized rubber is unique in that it goes through two stages of “baking”.

First, the rubber is cured by heat and compressed, then a second “steam baking” takes place after assembly to ensure a durable foundation for the shoes.

Sure, you may need some time to break into your Vans, but once they have conformed to the shape of your foot, they are durable and will last a long time.

5. Excellent grip and traction

There is nothing worse than slipping and sliding while trying to perform powerful lifts like squats and deadlifts. To keep your feet steady at all times, you need shoes with a good grip.

Vans shoes have good grip due to their waffle sole pattern and vulcanized rubber.

Fortunately, Vans shoes are non-slip thanks to their vulcanized rubber soles and waffle sole pattern. This allows you to perform unique exercises, like the sumo deadlifts, which require a unique stance that is prone to slipping.

Since the outsoles of Vans shoes are designed to grip a skateboard, they offer more traction than the average pair of shoes. This means that you can get a solid stance with Vans.

6. But, they are not flexible for lunges

Unfortunately, as great as the Vans shoes are, they are not flexible enough for movements where your toes have to bend, like lunges.

You also need to consider the shape of both of your feet.

Some canvas sneakers, like Converse Chuck Taylors, may be better for lifting because they have laces that extend much further down the shoes (near the toe boxes). 

With more eyelets, not only are the shoes tighter around each foot, but they may also give you more flexibility to adjust how each pair fits all the way down the length of the shoes.

Vans shoes, on the other hand, may have wider openings, but the laces don’t go all the way down to the toe boxes. As a result, they may not be the best for lunges. 

With fewer eyelets, your feet may also wiggle around inside, which means you need to tighten your shoelaces more often with Vans shoes.

However, you never know if you don’t try them. Most people consider lifting in Vans because they already own them and are not willing to invest in a pair of lifting shoes.

If you feel like Vans fit the shape of your foot, give them a shot.

Vans shoes seem like a fine compromise if you are a casual lifter, you don’t want to buy new shoes, and you don’t want to squat barefoot.

Bottom Line

Vans Old Skool (buy on Amazon):

  • Flat soles help you stabilize and push efficiently off the ground during squats and deadlifts.
  • Firm and non-cushioned soles emulate the feeling of lifting barefoot.
  • They are not expensive.
  • Vans are more durable than most sneakers.
  • Rubber outsoles with waffle pattern grip the floor very well.
  • The uppers are not flexible enough for lunges.

Now you know whether Vans are good for lifting or not.

In short, Vans shoes are okay for lifting. While you should not do lunges while wearing them, Vans shoes have flat and firm soles to help you feel more connected to the ground.

If you are a casual powerlifter or weightlifter, there’s no harm in wearing Vans shoes, as long as you wear socks to protect your feet from blisters and lift with the right technique.

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