Are Vans Good For Lifting? You Better Believe It!

Almost everyone has had a pair of Vans at one point or another. The shoes are commonly associated with skateboarding and youth culture, but did you know they also work well for weightlifting? They happen to be constructed in a similar fashion to proper lifting shoes but at a fraction of the price. Vans will perform much better than running shoes in the gym, as they feature a zero-drop design, rather than a raised heel. 

A pair of Classic Vans can make all the difference when performing squats or deadlifts, especially if you are used to doing these lifts in running shoes. Plus, they produce high-top models that can provide even more ankle support when the lifts get heavy. Let’s explore some of the positive features of Vans and determine if Vans are good for lifting.


When talking about shoes, the “drop” is a reference to the angle between the heel and toes. In the case of zero-drop shoes like Vans, there is no angle—the sole of the shoes is flat. The heel-to-toe drop is often referenced in millimeters. For example, the average running shoe might have a drop of 5 to 10mm. 

Running shoes are not recommended for the gym. Most of them have a raised heel to help soften the constant impact that comes with running. This does not translate well to the gym, as lifting doesn’t need that cushion. When the ankle is elevated above the balls of your feet, stability and mobility can become limited.

Instead of running shoes, a flat-soled shoe is highly-preferred for weightlifting. If you’re used to wearing improper footwear to the gym, Vans can take a little getting used to. However, you should notice an increase in your performance almost immediately, especially with lower-body movements like squats and deadlifts. If you’re currently using running shoes for these lifts, Vans may give you a huge boost in performance. 


Specialized weightlifting shoes can carry quite the price tag. Both the Reebok Legacy Lifter II and the Adidas AdiPower II will run you $200—and for what? They don’t do anything that a pair of Classic Vans can’t do. Unless you are participating in weightlifting competitions, you probably won’t benefit from expensive weightlifting shoes. 

Best of all, a pair of Vans will only set you back around $55-65, and can often be found for even less. This saves you money for more important aspects of lifting, such as gym memberships, supplements, or a proper pair of shorts for squats. If you require more ankle support in your lifts, Vans Sk8-Hi (their high-top model) will only cost a few dollars more. 

Vans multipurpose shoe graphic

Multi-Purpose Footwear

Specialized footwear can be perfect for weightlifting, but that also makes them unusable for practically any other situation. Vans can be worn in a variety of situations, including a stroll around the block, a business casual workday, or even date night. 

The Classic Vans are the ultimate all-day shoe. They can be worn to the office (if casual, yet stylish shoes are acceptable). Before or after a day of work, Vans can transition right into the gym and give you the support you need. And when it’s time to go out to a nice restaurant, they go great with a nice pair of pants and a dress shirt. They’re casual, but not too casual. 

Vans vs. Converse for Lifting

In addition to Vans, another popular option for lifting are Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. They are remarkably similar, both employing flat soles, canvas uppers, and rubber bottoms. Converse can be a viable shoe for lifting, but Vans are usually a better all-around choice due to the style, material, and color options that are available. 

Durability is a key factor when choosing shoes. Both Vans and Converse are usually made out of canvas. However, Vans also produces models with suede or leather uppers, which can increase the longevity of the shoe (but also the price). 

Are Vans the Best Shoes for Lifting?

Vans are great for weightlifting, but specialized weightlifting shoes will technically be “the best.” However, for 99% of lifters, a pair of Vans will be the best shoes for lifting. Most gym-goers don’t need anything more specialized, and you just can’t beat the price of Vans. 

You can purchase three pairs of Vans for the price of one weightlifting shoe. This means there is less concern about damage or theft of your shoes. Plus, they can be used for more than just the gym—skating, a night out, or just a casual stroll are all made better with a pair of vans. 

The Best Vans for Lifting

The Classic Low-Top Vans will generally work best for weightlifting. Some may prefer the support of high-tops, or the laid-back feel of slip-ons, but you just can’t go wrong with the original Vans style. They are a great all-purpose option, for both in the gym and out on the town.

If durability is a concern, Vans also offers leather or suede options for their shoes, although these will generally cost a little bit more. And for extra ankle support, the Vans high-top models are a great option. They provide a little extra stability and support when you start increasing your squat and deadlift weights. Whichever model you end up choosing, they will perform leagues better than the running shoes that are unfortunately common in the gym these days. 

Now go get yourself a pair of Vans and get lifting!


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