I was a firm believer in working out in my dedicated gym shoes. But when I had to throw mine away after it got ruined in the rain, I honestly didn’t want to buy another one. First of all, it is pricy. And secondly, I found a cheaper alternative that works just as well, if not even better.
I am of course talking about Vans shoes. When it comes to lifting or general workout around the gym, these shoes are amazing. The soles are flat and stable. It can make your deadlifts or squats extremely efficient. Many powerlifters and bodybuilders use it as gym shoes without any issues.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying Vans are the definitive example of a good gym shoe. Converse, for instance, might be even better for lifting weights. But if you need a quick solution, the pair of Vans sitting on your shoe shelf can get the job done.
In this article, I will talk about the performance and benefits of using Vans for lifting. So, the next time you have to invest in a new pair of gym shoes, you do not have to shell out hundreds of dollars.
What Makes Vans Good for Lifting?
If you are strictly lifting or squatting, there are certain features you want from your shoe. And a good pair of Vans tick all the right boxes.
Here are the main reasons why Vans is so good for powerlifters.
1. Vans are zero-drop
Zero-drop is a term that is often used in describing the design of the shoe and frankly, many consumers do not know what it means. Simply put, if a shoe is zero-drop, it means there is no drop in the sole. Essentially, the distance between the inside of the shoe to the ground is less.
Because of the zero-drop design of Vans shoes, you get more stability while lifting. Your feet will rest in a natural position. Sure, it also means these shoes do not give you any arch support. But since you are not running in Vans anyways, this should not be a problem.
2. Vans feature flat soles
When you are doing deadlifts and squats, consider what your body is actually doing. In essence, you are pushing against the ground in order to lift the weight. To do that efficiently, your feet need to be flush against the ground which a flat-soled shoe will help you achieve.
In addition to being flat, the soles of a good quality Vans also come with decent traction. These shoes feature a unique honeycomb sole structure that will not slip or skid.
That is why you will have a firm footing on the floor when working out without any fear of slipping. Firm footing is really important when you’re powerlifting. You don’t want to remain rooted to the ground as much as possible. That’s where Vans shines.
3. Vans are breathable
If a shoe is not breathable, you will not feel comfortable wearing it while doing any intense activity such as lifting. Your feet will get heated and since air cannot pass through the shoe, it will get smelly and start to give off a foul odor. None of it sounds very appealing.
Thankfully, Vans shoes are much more breathable compared to other similar style shoes. They feature a premium-quality canvas upper that feels comfortable and lets air pass through it to keep your feet fresh and cool. So you do not have to worry about getting too hot while working out.
4. Vans come in high-top and low-top design
Vans shoes come in both high-top and low-top designs, giving you a clear choice between more protection or more mobility. With high-top units, you will get more support for your ankle allowing you to dig in with more strength. Low-top designs on the other hand will let you move more freely.
If your workout requires you to move around more, then go with a low-top design. But for deadlifts and squats, I personally get better use out of high-top Vans. Gym shoes usually only come in low-top designs. But it is always nice to have that option to decide for yourself.
5. Vans are durable
Since these shoes were originally made for skaters, it is a pretty safe bet that Vans shoes are extremely durable. Think of the abuse that a shoe has to endure anytime you go skateboarding. A pair of shoes that can survive the constant thrashing and bailing while skating, can survive just about anything.
When you are lifting, you are not necessarily putting that much pressure on your shoe. So, these shoes will last you quite a long while without any issues. When you consider the durability of a typical gym shoe, the lifespan of a good pair of Vans is quite appealing.
6. Vans are quite affordable
Vans shoes for all their quality and performance are still quite affordable, especially when compared to a decent gym shoe. You can usually find a nice pair of vans within fifty to a hundred dollars. For a standard gym shoe, you will have to spend a lot more than that.
Sure, price does not have anything to do with lifting. But with a cheaper pair of shoes, you can spend the rest of your budget on other equipment. Heck, you can even buy a backup pair of vans so that you have something ready if your main pair of shoes get damaged.
Are Vans Good for Squatting?
If you are a regular at a gym, you already know how important squatting is to your daily exercise routine. It helps you build up the muscles in your lower back and buttocks enabling you to train harder and with heavier weights. But to get the full benefit out of your squats, your posture needs to be right.
Stability is the most important thing you need to worry about when squatting. Your feet need to be planted on the ground firmly. And believe it or not, squatting feels best when you are doing it barefoot. Sadly though, most gyms do not allow you to work out without shoes.
Vans can be a good choice for squatting because of their flat sole. Since it is quite rigid, you will not have to worry about your shoe slipping when you are doing squats. You can also use Converse Chuck Taylors because they have a similar structure and design.
What Workouts Should You Avoid When Wearing Vans?
Just because I am saying that Vans is good for lifting does not mean it works for any type of exercise. In fact, there are some forms of lifting workouts that involve bending your toe or feet at different angles to activate different muscle groups.
Wearing Vans for those types of exercises is not a good idea. Here are a few lifts you want to avoid if you are wearing Vans shoes.
Lunges are a great way to activate a lot of your major muscle groups in the lower body such as quads, adductors, hamstrings, etc. When doing lunges, you need to bend the foot at the toe area. With vans, that is not very comfortable. Besides, bending the shoe will also negatively impact its durability.
Calf Raise Workouts:
There are many types of calf raise exercises that one can do in the gym. But the one common element in all of them is bending your toe which again is a bad idea while wearing Vans. So, you are working out in the gym while wearing vans, it is best to stay away from any calf raise exercises
Agility exercises do not get the love it deserves in most gyms. But if you want to improve your speed and reflexes along with strengthening your lower body, there really is no better way to do it. But sadly, agility exercises require a lot of foot movement and Vans is not really a good choice for this form of workout.
Cardio workout is a staple in any workout routine. Without training your endurance, you will not be able to develop your core strength. Cardio workouts can be done in many different ways like rowing, running, jumping. But all of them require you to move and bend your toes. Again, Vans shoes are not a good choice for these types of workouts.
My Two Cents
I, like many people, used to think that Vans was only good as a skating shoe. But after trying it out for lifting, I never looked back. It is a great option that can come in handy especially if you are on a tight budget. And since they are so affordable, you can often buy a couple of them for the price of one decent gym shoe. So, if you are looking for a decent pair of shoes for lifting, give Vans a shot. By now, you should have no reason to doubt its quality and performance if you plan on doing deadlifts and squats in the gym. Good luck!