Unlike with Olympic Weightlifting where there’s really only one answer to the question, or powerlifting where there’s just a few popular opinions, with strongman footwear is almost as variable as the events. Most of the top strongman athletes in the world go to events with a whole gym bag of footwear in tow. This is a quick guide to the types of shoes you might want to invest in, based on typical strongman events, if you plan on delving down the strongman rabbit hole.
There are two routes you can go for overhead pressing with strongman. Some athletes will wear any type of flat-soled shoe, like Chucks, and others prefer an Olympic Lifting shoe. Oly Shoes work best if you have poor ankle mobility on static pressing events, or with minimal movement involved; they also are best reserved for surfaces that are perfectly flat and smooth. You should be competent with both type of footwear if you choose Oly shoes in case you have to lift on grass or perform a pressing event where fast feet dictate the victor, such as Fingal’s Fingers, or a pressing medley with lots of moving.
Squats - Car, Axle:
Just like with overhead pressing you should either go with a flat-soled shoe or an olympic lifting shoe, depending on your preference, on any type of squat event. Mind you they are fairly uncommon events in strongman.
Flat soled shoes or barefoot are the way to go for reps, max attempts, cars, axles, you name it. I really like the Reebok Crossfit Lite TR as it is designed like the Chuck, but is better for wide feet. Very rarely I will see someone who prefers to deadlift in olympic lifting shoes, so you could possibly try that if your deadlift is lagging and you can't find anything that works for you.
Rock Climbing Shoes are the number one choice for truck pulls. You want them to be very snug on your feet, so that there’s no room for your feet to slip. They are quite uncomfortable to wear, but get the job done well. To get a little more use out of these shoes, they also are great for tire flip events with super heavy tires or if you struggle with slipping in your regular shoes on tire flips due to the surface.
Stones and Loading Events:
Most athletes will often opt for something flat-soled or a cross trainer to move well in these events. Some shorter athletes will don a hiking or work boot that gives them a few extra inches of lift to get them over the bar or onto the platform better. Olympic Lifting shoes also work really well to give you a bit of lift, but more importantly, help you out of the hole with the implement if you don’t have great ankle mobility. I have been testing out using Olympic Lifting shoes lately and find that I am much or explosive with the triple extension movements, because of the better squatting position.
For Yoke, Farmers, Medleys and anything in between, you want something that will give you a little more stability and support than a flat-soled shoe, but will still allow you to move your feet as fast as possible. Most athletes will opt for something similar to an indoor soccer shoe, or a cross-training shoe. I have worn the Adidas Samba for a number of years now and it works great for almost all events, the only downside is it's a very narrow shoe for my foot.
There are two other instances where different types of shoes may give you an advantage for moving events or for a particular competition. In the case of competitions being held in convention centres with polished concrete floors, savvy athletes will have a gum-soled shoe to help them get traction, as almost any other shoe will slip on those floors. You should also always have some cleats on hand for any outdoor competitions where you might have to push, drag or pull something on grass.
If you need to limit your selection of shoes for strongman the one shoe that will work the best for all events is a indoor soccer type shoe like the Adidas Samba that is flat-soled but provides some support. From there you can add shoes based on your needs, but the second shoe I added to my collection that helped the most was the Olympic Lifting Shoe.
I hope you find this sort of shorter form quick tips article helpful! Leave a comment below if you want to see more frequently asked questions articles and share this with anyone who keeps asking for advice on what type of footwear to wear for strongman!