Converse shoes have seemingly been popular for decades, from making a fashion statement to even playing some sports way back when.
But, what about using Converse shoes for other types of workouts? Are Converse good for lifting weights? Is it okay to do lifting in Converse shoes?
In this article, we will discuss the pros and cons of wearing Converse for lifting weights or wearing Converse in gym workouts.
More specifically, we will cover the following:
- Can You Wear Converse For Lifting Weights?
- Are Converse Good for Lifting Weights?
- Drawbacks of Lifting In Converse
Let’s dive in!
Can You Wear Converse For Lifting Weights?
Whether you are relatively new to the gym or have been weightlifting for some time, you have likely noticed other people in your gym lifting weights wearing Converse shoes.
Because Converse shoes were originally designed for basketball, Converse shoes are now worn for many different activities and types of exercise, so it is certainly not uncommon to see people wearing Converse shoes lifting weights.
But, just because something appears to be popular does not necessarily mean that it is good for you or ideal.
With that in mind, this begs the question, “Are Converse shoes good for weightlifting?” or “Are Converse good for the gym?”
First, let’s take a brief look at the history of Converse shoes.Converse shoes debuted back in 1908 in the United States (Massachusetts).
Notably, in 1921, the semi-professional basketball player, Charles “Chuck” Taylor, joined Converse and helped make numerous improvements to the original Converse shoe, such as enhancing the flexibility of the shoe and improving its ankle support.
Converse “Chuck Taylors,” also called Converse All Stars, have since been one of the brand’s most popular and universally-recognized models.
Converse All Stars are still the most popular of the Converse shoes.
They have been worn by many professional basketball players and were even the official shoe of the Olympic Games for over 30 years (from 1936 and 1968), as well as the official athletic training shoe of the US Army in World War II.
Converse shoes became extremely popular among recreational and competitive basketball players in the 1950s and were even popular as street shoes for non-athletes.
Although Nike acquired Converse in 2003, the Converse All Stars (Chuck Taylors) are still sold in stores worldwide, and the brand remains one of the most recognizable shoe brands (thanks to the iconic All-Star logo) in many parts of the world.
The Converse All Stars remain a very classic shoe, still relatively true to the updates from Chuck Taylor in the early 1920s.
Are Converse Good for Lifting Weights?
In general, Converse shoes can be perfectly suitable as beginner shoes for weightlifting and powerlifting at the gym.
In fact, the world record for the squat, which was set by Pete Bennett, was done wearing a pair of Converse Chuck Taylors. Other notable weightlifters also swear by wearing Converse shoes for lifting weights, such as world champion powerlifter Laura Phelps Sweatt.
Here are some of the benefits of lifting in Converse shoes:
#1: The Flat Sole Improves Balance, Form, and Technique
Like shoes that are specifically designed for weightlifting, Converse shoes have a flat rubber sole, which in turn, helps enforce proper posture and gives better proprioceptive feedback and a stable base of support when performing weightlifting exercises like deadlifts, squats, and lunges.
When you wear a cushioned running shoe or training shoe lifting weights, the sponginess of the cushioning, the thicker sole, and the uneven amount of cushioning (the heel-to-toe drop) can reduce your balance, impede proprioception, and alter your biomechanics when lifting weights.
Converse shoes have a 0 mm heel-to-toe drop, which means that they are considered “zero drop shoes“ and have the same thickness across the entire platform of the bottom of the shoe.
Lifting in Converse shoes eliminates many of the drawbacks of lifting in running shoes or general training shoes due to the flat rubber sole.
Thus, Converse shoes are good for lifting weights compared to wearing running shoes or sneakers with a cushioned heel because the flat Converse sole allows you to push off of the floor more evenly and have better balance and ground contact throughout the range of motion of the exercises.
#2: Converse Shoes Are Stable
As mentioned, Converse shoes are zero-drop shoes, which means that the amount of cushioning or the thickness of the sole is consistent from the heel to the toe.
This can help improve balance and stability and provide a nice stable platform or base of support for lifting weights.
Additionally, the sole of Converse shoes is non-compressible for all intents and purposes, which is inherently not ideal for high-impact activities like running, where you want the midsole and outsole to compress and rebound to attenuate shock.
However, for lifting weights, a noncompressible sole is actually an asset because it improves balance and stability, especially when your body is loaded under the weight of heavy barbells, dumbbells, or other weights.
#3: Converse Shoes Are Comfortable
Although comfort footwear is subjective, many people gravitate towards weightlifting in Converse shoes because they find wearing Converse shoes to be quite comfortable.
Not only are the soles of the shoes nice and stable, but shoes like Converse All Stars have a lightweight canvas that will protect your feet and the top of your ankles without weighing you down.
The canvas is soft and flexible so that it moves with your body without impeding your range of motion or feeling heavy and stiff like a boot or stability running shoe.
Even weightlifting shoes that are designed specifically for powerlifting or competitive weightlifting are often considered to be less comfortable than lifting in Converse.
Weightlifting shoes are often relatively inflexible in the sole, particularly along the midfoot and forefoot region, which can make exercises like lunges, split squats, and weighted calf raises difficult and even cumbersome because the shoes may not flex well with your body, inhibiting your natural motion as you bend your forefoot.
While these types of professional weightlifting shoes are excellent and quite stable for exercises like squats, deadlifts, and bench presses because the foot remains flat throughout the range of motion of the exercise, for general weightlifting in the gym, wearing Converse may be more comfortable.
In this way, lifting in Converse shoes can better mimic barefoot weightlifting than lifting in either stiff professional weightlifting shoes or cushioned running shoes.
#4: Converse Shoes Are Durable
Converse shoes are prized for being extremely durable. The shoes are backed by a manufacturer’s warranty and will be replaced if you experience issues with them.
The materials are all high-quality, and the canvas is highly resistant to tearing or breaking down. The stitching is also of premium quality.
As such, buying Converse for gym footwear is a sound investment, and you can expect to get at least one to two years of use out of the shoes if you are only using them for weightlifting or non-cardio gym workouts.
Of course, the durability of any shoes depends on how well you take care of them, how often you wear them, and individual factors such as your body size and biomechanics.
#5: Converse Shoes Are Breathable
Another benefit of lifting in Converse shoes is that the canvas material is surprisingly breathable and allows air to circulate in and out of the shoe.
This can help prevent your feet from getting sweaty.
If you do want to clean your shoes, you can wash them by hand with warm soapy water and then stuff them with newspaper to dry.
Downsides to Lifting In Converse Shoes
Although Converse shoes can be great for lifting weights if you are a beginner, lifting in Converse shoes may not be ideal for serious athletes or those with special footwear needs.
For example, if you need to wear orthotics or have additional support needs, you might need to work with a podiatrist to find a more supportive and substantial shoe for weightlifting.
Additionally, professional weightlifting shoes usually have a bit of an elevated heel, which can be ideal if you have limited ankle mobility.
The elevated heel makes it easier to increase your squat depth without your heels popping off the floor.
However, this does not mean that you cannot improve your ankle mobility and capitalize on more natural biomechanics lifting in Converse vs weightlifting shoes with some dedicated mobility training.
Lastly, although professional weightlifting shoes and powerlifting shoes are admittedly stiffer, this stiffness is deliberate and is intended to provide greater ankle support, foot support, and overall stability.
If you are going to be lifting very heavy weights, wearing Converse in gym workouts may not be sufficient to properly hold your foot in the ideal alignment when your body is under a significant load.
Curious to learn more about footwear options while weightlifting? Have you seen that there are those lifting weights without any footwear these days? For more information, check out our guide to lifting weights barefoot: Barefoot Weightlifting: Should You Be Lifting Weights Without Shoes?