It amazes me how prevalent the recommendation for Olympic weightlifting shoes is in the online muscle building and fitness forums for people struggling with the back squat, when a so very cheap alternative is right at your fingertips!

I’m a former personal trainer who, when it comes to the back squat, is “anthropometrically challenged.”

I wouldn’t dare waste $100 on a pair of weightlifting (aka “Oly”) shoes! Instead, I paid only $11 (plus a minor shipping and handling fee) for shoe lifts that I simply insert into my sneakers.

They provide the same elevation as weightlifting shoes do, except that nobody knows I’m doing anything special to improve my back squat biomechanics.
For back squats, it’s just insane to spend $100 on weightlifting shoes to do this exercise.

No matter how anthropometrically challenged you are, don’t fall prey to this gimmick that’s preached so much in muscle building forums.

And we’re talking about the squat exercise in a gym, not an Olympic-style weightlifting competition — in which, due to regulations, you WOULD have to where the Oly shoes.

Again, this is for the typical gym rat. The shoe lifts that I use were purchased off a site for height increase, not weightlifting.

But that’s called using your noggin: recognizing that a product that’s sold for one purpose can be used for an entirely different purpose, and quite effectively.

Shoe or heel lifts (which easily insert inside a shoe) provide the same biomechanical alteration as do those expensive “Oly” shoes. Don’t throw your money away.

Are shoe lifts comfortable?

You won’t even know they’re there. The 1-inch pair I have cost $11, but the half-inch pair costs $9.50 (plus shipping and handling). You simply won’t know they’re there.

However, I do not recommend more than a 1-inch elevation, because more so will force your heel up too high in the shoe, unless you’re wearing high tops.

However, more than one inch alters the foot’s positioning in the shoe, causing the top of the foot to press up against the shoe.

So I’d stick with one inch or less. There are various sites that sell heel lifts. Do NOT buy the ones made of gel that you stack on top of each other.

I’ve used these for vanity purposes, not weightlifting, and they don’t always stack securely.

Furthermore, depending on the airport, they will be confiscated by TSA because they’re gel-based.

It’s crazy to buy Olympic weightlifting shoes when all you want to do is improve your ability to perform the back squat.

The cheap and much smarter alternative is shoe lifts.

Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. She’s also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.