Are weightlifting shoes worth buying for Kettlebell Sport?

When I was first told I should buy weightlifting shoes to lift kettlebells, I scoffed at the idea and thought there was no way the shoes would make a big enough difference to be worth spending $100-$200.

And I was right… at first.

As a novice lifter, honestly, your shoes aren’t going to make a HUGE difference. Plus, if you are not sure how seriously you want to take the sport yet, there is no need to invest in a pair of $200 shoes.

When I got to a level of experience where I DID see the benefit of lifting shoes, I started with an inexpensive used pair that I bought from a friend (Adidas powerlifting shoes $90). I owned these for the first year and a half that I was competing in Kettlebell Sport, and I have no regrets.

Me in my Adidas powerlifting shoes in 2013.

Once I got the Nike Romaleos 2 for Christmas in 2013 (thanks Dad!), the difference was amazing. My balance and efficient execution of the lifts was heightened. I was also farther along the road in my Kettlebell Sport journey – committed to the sport, and fairly advanced. Would I have noticed or appreciated the changes a more expensive pair of lifting shoes made when I was a novice lifter? Maybe, but probably not.

Lifting in my Nike Romaleos 2 in May 2015.

I won a pair of Adidas Adipower lifting shoes at the OKC NorCal competition in August 2015. They are comparable to the Nike Romaleos, and I enjoy lifting in both. The one difference is that over time, my Nike Romaleos have gotten looser and I have to pull the velcro straps super tight, which causes them to drag on the ground. So far this has not happened with the Adidas pair.

Lifting in my Adidas Adipower shoes at the Rotterdam Kettlebell Academy in December 2015.

Personally, I find weightlifting shoes MOST beneficial for Jerk and Long Cycle. While I usually wear them for Snatch because they do provide balance, sometimes I prefer practicing snatching in regular tennis shoes.  

While lifting shoes have their benefits, they are not necessary as a novice lifter. If you are unsure about competing or just want to train kettlebells for fitness, I recommend buying a cheaper pair. If you decide to regularly participate in competition and train solely for the sport, you may want to spend more on a pair of high-quality shoes.

Any lifters have shoe recommendations for Kettlebell Sport lifting?

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7 thoughts on “Are weightlifting shoes worth buying for Kettlebell Sport?”

  1. I tried some weightlifting shoes for the first time last week in our local crossfit gym–well, as usual, you are mega right. At first, swings to rack with two bells felt strange as the shoes pitch you forward a bit, but you really feel the difference in the launch upward. Not sure if it makes it harder to settle my elbows into the rack or not. Maybe a tiny bit, but it did seem to help the bells float upward.

    Also, I usually workout in vibrams–which are great for most things–but after five minutes invariable the soles of my feet are killing me if I use heavier weights. I’m not young anymore, so that’s probably part of it, but definitely something with more “foot stability” is a plus.

    Oh well, heh heh. One more thing to buy.


    1. Max Barbell may still have some WEI-RUI WL shoes left. I paid 45.00 for them. They have other good deals as well. These are the only ones I’ve ever owned, so I have nothing to compare them to. I’m happy with them, though.

  2. I think what you said is true not just for kettlebells but for any type of lifting sport – lifting shoes aren’t really necessary if you’re a beginner, especially if it’s uncertain whether or not you’ll actually stick with the sport. But once you have some experience and are really taking lifting seriously, they can really make a difference especially for certain lifts like power cleans or squats.

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