Are Vans Good for Lifting?

If you’re a lifter, you’ve probably heard how good Vans are for lifting, especially deadlifts and squats. But how true is this? Are Vans good for lifting? We’ll get into the depths of this topic a little later, but in summary, yes, Vans are indeed good for lifting. Vans feature tough, flat soles that provide the wearer enough support to perform lifts. They perform much better than running shoes and are less expensive than dedicated lifting shoes, making them a good choice for a casual lifter. However, if you’re a competitive powerlifter, we wouldn’t recommend it.

6 Reasons Why Vans Are Good Lifting Shoes

There are mainly six reasons why Vans are considered to be good lifting shoes. Let’s break each one down:

  • Zero Drop: Vans have been marketed as “zero drop” since the ‘60s. The term basically refers to the lack of a drop in the shoe’s sole from the toe to the heel. This benefits the lifters as a no-drop sole offers greater stability, maintaining the foot’s natural positioning. 
  • Non-slip, flat sole: The biggest USP of Vans in the weightlifting department would be the firm, flat, non-slip sole. The brand’s signature honeycomb pattern zero-slip sole is stiff enough to let the wearer push against the floor in squats and deadlifts. Sure, the sole of Vans isn’t as firm as Converse’s, but the offered friction and comfort is still decent. 
  • Breathable: Constructed of premium grade canvas – plain-woven fabric, Vans features a rugged and durable build, designed to lock the foot in place while providing some flexibility. In addition, Canvas is naturally breathable, preventing the interior from overheating during heavy lifting.
  • Durable: Vans were mainly designed for skaters to wear when they’re cruising the streets and pavements on their skateboards. Vans hold up great against wear and tear alongside offering excellent support for lateral force. Not only are Vans great for lifting due to their promised long life, but they can also add some agility training and lateral speed to your general workout regime.
  • Low or High Top: High top shoes stretch above the ankle and help retain the body’s natural posture. In contrast, low top shoes have an open approach to the ankle to allow improved flexibility. And since Vans are available in both these designs, you can choose based on your personal style and the kind of exercise you plan on performing.
  • Affordable: If you’re running on a budget and can’t afford to splurge $200 on a pair of shoes, Vans introduce you to a much cheaper alternative that gets the job quite efficiently. Yes, we know that Vans aren’t the ultimate shoes for lifting, but they’re more than enough when you can’t afford anything else or hit the weights occasionally. 

Buying Guide to Van Shoes for Lifting

The build of every Vans shoe is distinguished by its lightweight and durability. Are Vans good for lifting? Yes, but only when you’re careful about the kind you buy for this specific purpose. Made out of the best quality materials, most models of Vans feature a canvas upper.

But, some models include textile, leather, or suede bits either to add some aesthetic value or reinforce particular parts. Pick a model that offers more durability so you can get the most use out of it.

It’s noteworthy that the soles of all Vans shoes have the same outsole but the insoles contain minor differences around the edges. The outsole comes in Vans’ iconic waffle-cut rubber that adds significant durability and strength alongside a lightweight grip.

These qualities come together to keep your feet grounded firmly. Plus, the sturdy rubber outsole is shock and impact absorbent to ensure your feet are secure and comfy. On the other hand, the insoles offer a bit more variation. For instance, some Vans come with somewhat stripped-down insoles paired with basic sock liners while other models include shock-absorbing, supportive EVA foam footbeds, alternatively UltraCush HD cushioning (which is thinner than the other choice and adjusts better to your foot’s contour) as a more luxurious cushioning option.

Finally, consider getting a pair of Vans with removable footbed. All the sweat and bacteria buildup will cause the inside of your shoes to smell horrible, unless they’re cleaner regularly. Wash the footbeds regularly to keep the shoes smelling fresh.

Lifts to Avoid When Vans Are Worn

Although Vans are good for lifting, they do come with a fair share of limitations. For instance, the tips of Vans shoes are rather firm, which can restrict feet movement if the lift asks for bending of toes or feet.

Steer clear of these few lifts when you’re wearing Vans:

  • Agility exercises: Different agility boosters (like jump box drills, dot drills, lateral plyometric jumps, and more) will require you to stand on your toes and move fast. Vans would be disastrous in an exercise like this; opt for a pair of running shoes to optimize your agility training. 
  • Lunges: Never perform lunges when wearing Vans. Lunges revolve around bending the foot at the toe, which gets extremely difficult thanks to the way Vans are built. In addition, trying to bend to perform said lunge will destroy the shoe and reduce its lifespan.
  • Running/Cardio: They’re not lifts, but still don’t wear Vans when going for a long run.
  • Any kind of calf workout: Calf raises (for example, jump rope, seated calf raise, downward dog, wall calf stretch) often include bending the toes to power up the calf muscles. Refrain from performing any of these while wearing Vans.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, that’s a big yes to “Are Vans good for lifting?” They’re a reliable option if you don’t have a bigger budget, are a casual lifter, or want a pair of affordable training shoes. Given their firm, flat, non-slip soles, Vans perform remarkably well for lifts. They’re much better than running shoes in this area and cost less than a pair of specialized shoes, so you make the pick. 

Read our article on How to Stretch Non-Leather Shoes.

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