Are Vans Good for Lifting? Yes, Depending on the Situation

Whether you’re a shoe enthusiast or not, you’ve probably heard of Vans. For years, they’ve been a go-to shoe brand for skateboarders and people looking for casual footwear. Vans come in many colors and styles, so most people can find a pair that matches their taste. If you’ve been to a commercial gym, you might’ve seen people lifting weights in Vans.

Are Vans good for lifting? Many lifters train in them, but do they provide enough support and stability for lifting weights? In this article, we look at the benefits and drawbacks of lifting in Vans. We’ve also included recommendations for Vans to lift in.

What are Vans?

A person wearing Vans while standing on a skateboard - Are Vans good for lifting?

Vans, formerly known as the Van Doren Rubber Company, was started in Anaheim, California during the mid-1960s. It was founded by two brothers, Paul Van Doren and Jim Van Doren, and their business partners, Gordon Lee and Serge Delia. Since their origination, Vans shoes have been known for their waffle outsoles and canvas uppers.

In the 1970s, Vans became popular in Southern California’s skateboard community. This was because the shoes provide excellent traction and durability for skateboarding. Today, Vans is a well-known skateboarding shoe and apparel company that serves customers worldwide.

Over the years, many lifters have made Vans their preferred lifting footwear. This can be attributed to the shoes’ flat, non-compressible soles and durability, which are good for lifting weights.

Benefits of Lifting in Vans

A grey Vans sneaker

Wearing flat-soled shoes can be beneficial for lifting weights, which is why many lifters train in Converse and Vans. Although Vans aren’t designed for lifting weights, many of their features make them suitable for it.

Zero-Drop Construction

Vans have a 0mm heel-to-toe drop, which is also known as a “zero drop”. A shoe’s heel-to-toe drop is the difference in height between its heel and toe. If a shoe has a zero drop, its heel is the same height as its toe, meaning the shoe is flat.

While zero-drop shoes aren’t required for weight training, some lifters prefer to wear them when performing certain exercises, particularly, the squat and deadlift.

Flat shoes allow your shins to be more vertical than heeled shoes when squatting, which allows you to involve your hips more. Lifters with a hip-dominant squat style might prefer squatting in flat shoes. Deadlifting in flat shoes is ideal because heeled shoes alter the exercise’s mechanics and increase its range of motion.

Non-Compressible Midsoles

A shoe’s midsole, which is found between the shoe’s insole and outsole, is made of foam and is responsible for providing comfort. Non-compressible soles provide a solid surface for your feet to push off of, which is ideal for lifting weights.

Some types of shoes, such as running shoes, have lots of cushioning in their midsoles, making them compressible. Compressible soles allow your feet to sink into them, which can negatively affect your stability and ability to produce force.

Vans have non-compressible midsoles that are made of vulcanized rubber, providing a solid base for your feet. Their stiff soles work well for lifting weights and provide adequate support and stability.


A shoe’s outsole, which is the bottom of the shoe that touches the ground, is responsible for providing traction. Having adequate traction is important for lifting weights because it helps prevent your feet from sliding, which can affect your form and cause you to injure yourself.

The classic Vans design is meant for skateboarding, so the shoes’ outsoles provide enough traction to prevent slipping while riding a skateboard. Although it’s not their intended purpose, Vans’ anti-slip design works well for lifting weights. Vans’ outsoles are made of rubber and include waffle tread, providing good traction for lifting.


The shoes you train in will accumulate wear and tear over time, which is unavoidable. Eventually, you’ll no longer be able to safely train in them and will have to replace them. To avoid having to replace your shoes too soon, you should make sure they’re durable. The more durable your shoes are, the longer they’ll last.

As mentioned earlier, Vans shoes are made for skateboarding. They’re designed to withstand the demands of skateboarding, which include frequent landing and falling. Their uppers are made of materials to help prevent wear and tear, and their soles are designed to remain compression-resistant.


If you’re attuned to lifting weights, you probably know that lifting shoes can be expensive. Since they’re designed for weight training, they have features that provide support and stability for performing weight training exercises. This increases their manufacturing cost, and consequently, their retail price.

Vans are more affordable than most lifting shoes, usually costing less than $100. If you’re new to lifting weights and/or looking for affordable shoes to lift in, Vans can be a good option.

Drawbacks to Lifting in Vans

A pair of Vans shoes sitting on a counter

Vans can be worn for performing different types of strength training exercises, but for some exercises, it’s better to wear other types of strength training shoes, such as weightlifting or cross-training shoes. Below, are instances where Vans aren’t ideal for strength training.

Squatting With Limited Ankle Mobility

Vans are flat, so you need good ankle mobility to squat in them. Ankle mobility refers to your ability to draw your forefoot toward your shins, which is also known as ankle dorsiflexion. Some lifters have limited ankle mobility, making it difficult for them to squat to full depth without heeled shoes.

Weightlifting shoes, also known as squat shoes, have a higher heel-to-toe drop than Vans, which are zero-drop shoes. Because weightlifting shoes have heels, they reduce the amount of ankle mobility necessary to squat to full depth. Examples of weightlifting shoes are the Nike Romaleos 4 and Reebok Legacy Lifter III.

Olympic Weightlifting

Weightlifting, also known as Olympic weightlifting, is a strength sport. In weightlifting competitions, weightlifters perform two lifts – the clean and jerk and snatch. Each lifter’s competition performance is based on how much weight they’re able to lift.

If you’re a weightlifter, you should train and compete in weightlifting shoes. Not only do weightlifting shoes make it easier to squat to full depth, but they also enhance your lifting mechanics when performing the clean and jerk and the snatch. The clean and jerk and snatch are complex lifts, and it’s important to wear footwear that allows you to perform them properly. Weightlifting shoes provide much better stability and support than Vans do for weightlifting exercises.


While Vans can work well for some exercises, such as the squat and deadlift, they’re not good for CrossFit. As stated in the previous section, they’re not ideal for Olympic weightlifting exercises, which are a staple in CrossFit. They’re also not ideal for plyometrics and HIIT exercises, which are staples in CrossFit.

Vans’ thick outsoles are heavy and inflexible, making them sub-optimal for functional training. If you plan on including exercises like short sprints and box jumps in your training, a good pair of cross-training shoes will be a better choice.

Alternatives to Vans for Lifting

A lifter deadlifting in Converse sneakers

If you don’t want to lift in Vans but still want an inexpensive flat shoe, there are other options. You can opt for Converse shoes, which are similar to Vans, or barefoot/minimalist shoes. Alternatively, you can lift barefoot.


Another popular shoe among lifters is the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star. Converse, originally known as the Converse Rubber Shoes Company, was founded in 1908. In 1916, Converse started selling basketball shoes, and in 1923, Converse introduced the Chuck Taylor All Star.

Similar to Vans, Converse have flat, non-compressible midsoles and canvas uppers. They’re also affordable, costing roughly the same as Vans. Their midsoles make them perfect for deadlifting, squatting, and many other weight training exercises.

Chuck Taylor All Stars are available as high tops and low tops. The high tops don’t provide much more ankle support than the low tops, so choosing one over the other won’t affect your performance. If you’re looking for ankle support, you should choose a different shoe.

Barefoot Shoes

Another option is to lift in barefoot shoes, such as Vivobarefoot shoes. Barefoot shoes are designed to be flat, thin-soled, wide, flexible, and lightweight. These features are meant to make the wearer feel like they’re barefoot.

Some lifters like to train in barefoot shoes because they allow their feet to be closer to the ground than other types of shoes. Similar to Vans and other flat shoes, barefoot shoes have a 0mm heel-to-toe drop. Barefoot shoes can be used for many different exercises and types of training.

Lifting Barefoot

Many lifters prefer to lift barefoot. If your goal is to get your feet as close to the floor as possible, nothing will accomplish this better than being barefoot.

Having your feet close to the floor is especially helpful for the deadlift because it reduces the deadlift’s range of motion. The closer your feet are to the floor, the shorter the deadlift’s range of motion will be.

Walking around a gym barefoot can be unsanitary, which is why some gyms don’t allow it. If you want to lift barefoot, you’ll have to find a gym that allows it or build a home gym. A good alternative to deadlifting barefoot is to use deadlift slippers.

Frequently Asked Questions

A question mark written on a chalkboard

Are Vans Good for Lifting?

Yes, Vans are good for lifting. They have flat, non-compressible midsoles, a 0mm heel-to-toe drop, and grippy outsoles. All of these features are helpful for lifting weights. Vans are also durable and affordable, making them a good option for new lifters.

Can I Squat in Vans?

Yes, as long as your ankle mobility is good enough to squat in flat shoes. Vans’ flat, non-compressible midsoles prevent your feet from sinking into them and their rubber anti-slip outsoles help prevent your feet from sliding. If you don’t have the ankle mobility to squat in flat shoes, you can opt for weightlifting shoes instead.

Can I Deadlift in Vans?

Yes, Vans are good for deadlifting because their midsoles are non-compressible and they have a 0mm heel-to-toe drop. When deadlifting, you want your heels to be flat. Heeled shoes increase the deadlift’s range of motion, making the exercise more difficult. If your goal is to deadlift as much weight as possible, you should deadlift in flat shoes.

Are Vans Better Than Converse for Lifting?

Vans and Converse are very similar, so it’s no surprise that they’re both used for lifting weights. They both have a 0mm heel-to-toe drop and flat, non-compressible midsoles. They’re also affordable, costing roughly the same price when comparing similar styles. Neither brand is better than the other. The one you choose to lift weights in depends on your preferences.

Can Vans Be Used for Running?

We don’t recommend running in Vans. They don’t provide the necessary support and cushioning for running, and they’re heavier than running shoes. Their heavy soles and lack of cushioning can negatively affect your running mechanics, preventing you from running efficiently and increasing your injury risk.

The Bottom Line: Are Vans Good For Lifting?

So, are Vans good for lifting? The short answer is yes. They’re a good option for novice or intermediate lifters who need affordable shoes to lift weights in.

Vans work well for lifting weights because they have zero drop heels, stable midsoles, and waffle tread outsoles. Vans are flat-soled, so if you prefer squatting and deadlifting in flat shoes instead of heeled shoes, they’re a good option. Their midsoles do a good job of limiting midsole compression and providing stability, and their outsoles provide good traction.

Although Vans don’t provide the same stability, support, and durability as shoes designed for strength training, their affordability makes them a viable option.