The first time I ever saw Converse was back in the ’90s watching old clips of the Harlem Globetrotters whooping everyone in basketball!
They looked cool, but after wearing Converse for years now and playing basketball the odd time, I quickly realized they don’t go together!
Years later, I was watching Ross Enemait workout performing deadlifts, and he was wearing Converse!
As someone who loves the gym and already had a quality pair of lifting shoes, I was curious to give Converse a try in the weight room and see what all the fuss is about!
Besides wearing Chuck Taylors as a fashion item for a specific demographic, let’s see what else Chuck Taylors are useful for!
In today’s post we’ll talk about:
- Who is best suited to use converse.
- When to use weightlifting shoes instead.
- Other factors to consider too when looking for the right shoe and more!
Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
Are Chuck Taylors Good For Weight Lifting?
In my humble opinion, yes, they’re certainly not in the same league as Olympic weightlifting shoes hence the name.
If your goal is to get in shape lifting heavy weights by incorporating compound movements that include the Squat, Dead-Lift, Bench Press, and the strict Press, then Chuck Taylors will do.
You will see many people doing these exercises with a squishy athletic shoe on the gym floor.
While it’s not the end of the world, using runners for heavy lifts isn’t very useful!
When lifting weights, e.g., squatting in runners, you’re pushing up through your feet. With a good inch of unstable flat rubber sole under your feet, you won’t be maximizing your potential in that movement!
It’s vitally important that you’re pushing through from a place of control.
Squatting or Deadlifting barefoot is better, but from a hygiene perspective, it’s not always allowed, so that’s where converse comes in!
While I never understood how the Harlem Globetrotters survived running around on the basketball court using the Converse flat shoe instead of sneakers, but on the gym floor, the Chuck Taylor flat shoe is way more comfortable and useful than running shoes.
Walking around feels better on your feet; they’re better than going barefoot and most important of all, the flat sole provides the proper surface to execute the lifting properly!
Here’s the deal
When performing the lifting, the hard flat sole with little padding of converse shoes mimics being barefoot, which is ideal for low impact barbell exercises.
You’re also closer to the ground then if you were to use normal cross-trainers.
Whether you’re doing a pushing or pulling movement to move a substantial resistance from A to B, doing it from a stable platform will make a big difference.
You just don’t get this from most running shoes, and if you don’t want or feel the need to invest in a pair of weightlifting shoes, then Converse is definitely a happy medium.
Other forms of exercise that include running, jumping, HIIT or any different kind of high impact movement are better suited for cross-trainers or running shoes.
If you’re a casual non-competitive lifter here are some other benefits of working out in Converse:
1. Converse are affordable:
The price varies, but you can get Chuck Taylors at around half the price of most weightlifting shoes. You can get them in almost any shoe store and make sure you try them out first.
Unlike most runners, they have a narrow foot design, so get a size or two up if you only want to use them for heavy lifting in the gym and nothing else.
Otherwise, you’ll have feet like Sideshow Bob! 🙂
Obviously, this varies for everyone, so do your homework before making the investment.
2. Chucks are Comfortable:
With the solid flat surface, routine activities like walking around or feeling comfortable in general are better with Converse then with runners, in my opinion.
If my body is feeling stiff in any way, if I have runners on it doesn’t help things, but with the flat surface of Chuck Taylors, I can feel more of my foot connecting to the ground.
It’s not the same as going barefoot, but it’s better than regular cross-trainers.
3. Converse Last Forever:
My first pair of Converse are the classic Navy style, and I have them now I don’t know how many years!
A few years ago, I purchased a new, pretty white pair too, even though I only need one pair, lol!
The Navy ones I leave in the gym and the white ones are at home, which I use for a bit of everything.
I’ll probably have both pair five years from now because of the quality of the material, it’s second to none!
Converse has been around since 1917; they know what they’re doing, so if you decide to get a pair, rest assured because they’re built to last!
Continue reading as I share my own feeling after using both.
My Converse Experience
I initially bought Chuck Taylors because I like them for casual wear, it had nothing to do with my training.
I already owned a pair of Adidas Powerlifting shoes for weightlifting exercises.
I’m flexible enough as far as squatting ass to grass, which we’ll talk about later on, it doesn’t matter what shoe you have on if you don’t have certain other things in place too.
For me, Chuck’s are more comfortable and faster to set up than weightlifting shoes, not that I want to make a big issue out of that.
But, if I’m pressed for time, am not competing in any competitions any time soon and I just want to get going, then Converse do the job!
That being said, if I had to only pick one for the gym, then there are no comparison, weightlifting shoes all the way.
Moving on, let’s see which one suits you best!
Converse vs Weightlifting shoes
Flat sole shoes such as Converse are a cheaper option than lifting shoes.
Still, if you’re someone that suffers from a limited range of motion in the ankles, then lifting shoes may be a better option unless you correct that flexibility if possible.
Unlike the flat Converse sole, weightlifting shoes have a reliable, non-compressible 2.5-inch raised heel at the back to provide proper support.
For anyone suffering from flexibility issues when performing squats or Olympic lifts, the high top makes wearing weightlifting shoes a much better option than Chuck Taylor’s.
You might see people lift weights in the gym placing small weight plates under their heels when squatting, lifting shoes also provide this through their raised heel.
When performing the Squat, individuals with a limited range of motion often arch their lower back when dropping into the bottom position.
You want to keep your chest up, and if your back begins to bend and you make this a habit over time, all of that sheers force from the weight can cause lower back problems.
If you’re someone who has limited mobility when squatting, besides working on something such as FRC mobility, then you might be better off with weightlifting shoes instead of Chuck’s!
Weightlifting shoes are an excellent investment if you want to Squat, Deadlift, and Press heavy.
They’re incredibly comfortable, you don’t have to be a competitive powerlifter to own a pair.
They provide the highest return in regards to improved performance, joint health, and better technique!
Things to Consider before Investing in Shoes For Weightlifting
Next up are a few suggestions for what I’d do before investing in either Converse or Weightlifting shoes.
So often, you see people in the gym that get all the latest accessories but never take the time to get up to a level where they’ll get the full value out of those accessories.
Like giving someone a Ferrari that’s just passed their driving test. Some will be ok, but generally, it is better to start off with a car that hasn’t got that kind of power!
You can still get the right shoes; just make sure you’ve made the commitment to train using them.
Some of the info below is common sense, but I have to put it in just in case. Here are a few tips if you haven’t nailed them down already:
1.Train for better form in the big lifts.
Learn how to Squat, Deadlift, Bench Press, and Overhead Press the right way before investing in proper shoes.
If your Squat or any of the other movements is off, then you could injure yourself.
To fix this, either learn how to perform the movements correctly from an experienced strength coach or a certified personal trainer with a proven track record and legitimate testimonials.
You can also get this book from Mark Rippetoe that covers all of the basic lifts for beginner’s barbell training.
If you do that and feel comfortable and happy training this way, and you know you’re in it for the long haul, then go ahead and get the Converse flat shoe or lifting shoes if you haven’t yet.
2. Modify the barbell exercises to your body type.
For most people, if they do the work and take the time and patience to do the movement right before increasing the resistance on the bar, they’ll be fine.
We mentioned earlier that some people have limited ankle flexibility for specific movements.
You can work to fix this for sure.
The thing is
For some individuals, maybe it’s their limb lengths or something else that prevents them from, e.g., deadlifting, then modifying to say a barbell rack pull instead.
As you know, on top of being effective, you need to be safe too, so if you have to change the movement, then do!
I love Chuck Taylors for the gym, and if you already have a pair on Converse, then work away with them when doing low impact resistance training at the gym. They’re infinitely more comfortable than running shoes.
For the big lifts and competitions, lifting Shoes are definitely the way to go.
That being said
If you’ve no interest and you want to maintain a healthy level of fitness incorporating barbell training, then Converse might be enough.
Don’t buy lifting shoes just for show if you won’t be using them regularly.
I’m going back and forth here, but the point is, be honest with yourself about what you want and need regarding the best shoes for your goals and go from there.