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Initial investment: Shoes vs Belt

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  • Initial investment: Shoes vs Belt

    Quick question for the BBM community

    when it comes to a new lifter, would it be better to spend a little bit more money on a quality pair shoes or a quality belt? I know the optimal goal is to have both but if you are tight on money, what would be the best area to focus on at first?


  • #2
    Be it that you claim to be new, which makes me think you are going to run a linear progression program first, I would invest in shoes. The belt you can purchase when the program asks for it. Right now focus on getting stronger.


    • #3
      I would go with the shoes. By far the best investment in lifting I made.


      • #4
        If you work out in a public gym, shoes. If you work out at home, save your money, barefoot's fine.


        • #5
          Yea I would go with the shoes first. Even in my home gym I squat in my shoes. No real support to it other than I would buy the shoes first then get a belt.


          • #6
            Definitely shoes first.

            However, Strength Shop does a cheap single prong 4 inch belt, which is cheap (GBP 50 or USD 55) and great and will be more than adequate. I have a Strength Shop belt and it is great. Any other belt would be a luxury purchase. Maybe you can stretch your budget just a teeny bit.


            • #7
              Personally I prefer squatting with flats, so heeled lifting shoes were not the best investment for me personally. So if you have a hard time reaching depth without shoes or with flats, then I would highly recommend getting shoes first. If you reach depth without form issues then you might end up preferring flats one day anyway, so I would recommend getting the belt first.


              • #8
                Can I throw my vote in for both? Having purchased and sold 3 pairs of shoes and 2 belts the phrase “buy once, cry once” holds true for our sport. It’s relativley inexpensive for items you’ll potentially use for decades. For what it’s worth I settled on a Best Belts 13mm 4” single prong and Adidas Power Perfect 2’s. Good luck!


                • #9
                  If you want the added heel height of a shoe, you might as well do it as soon as possible.


                  • #10
                    I'll chime in that if you intend to eventually get both, assuming aren't one of the few who will be better off in flats, getting the shoes first is the better option.

                    The belt does allow you to lift more, and thus presumably get stronger from the training stress of lifting more, but the shoes actually make changes to your form that make getting used to them earlier preferable. And that doesn't even touch on the problems you will addreses by switching to good lifting shoes from squishy running shoes.

                    Also, many gyms* have belts available for their members to use, making getting the belt less of a priority. I will add though that frequently gym provided belts are "weightlifting" style belts rather than powerlifting, and in my experience the difference between the two styles is about as significant as the difference between no belt and a "weightlifting" belt.

                    *I work out in an MWR gym and a YMCA, both have belts available, but the MWR has MUCH more selection, and nether has a 10mm+ powerlifting belt in my size.


                    Here's a good article on why shoes

                    Here's Jordan's shoe review quoted from the BBM quickstart guide

                    • Nike Romaleos III: These shoes are, for me, probably the best compromise of all the features I look for in a shoe that I’ve highlighted below. They have a millimeter over the standard 3/4″ effective heel height, a metatarsal strap that is the appropriate length and correct location to be functional, a deep heel cup, and a toe box that doesn’t feel like a piece of concrete. I think that if you liked the Adipowers, you’ll love the Romaleos III’s as the heel cup, upper, and tongue are slight upgrades. If you have a wide foot, e.g. greater than a D width, the toe box may be a bit narrow, but for everyone else these would be my recommendation unless you like a taller heel (Leistung 2) or a stiffer shoe carcass (Reebok Legacy). The price point at 200.00 is in line with other top-end shoes and they are widely available. I also like that they ship with high quality laces and competition insoles so you can see which fit and feel is best suited for you.
                    • Adidas Power Perfect 2: This may be my favorite shoe of all time and if Adidas had updated the colorway it probably would’ve won top honors. Again, for wide feet this probably isn’t the shoe to get because of the narrow toe box, but for everyone else the sizing is dead on. The shoe is made of high quality leather, the heel cup is deep and there is no heel slip, and the metatarsal strap- while a bit long if you like the crank the shoes down- is in the perfect spot. The crepe sole also allows for easy modification and shimming if you need to do so for a leg length discrepancy. Best thing about these shoes, however, is the price point at about 120.00. There’s not a better shoe on the market for this price in my opinion. C’mon Adidas, update the colorway!
                    • Tie (Adidas Leistung 2) and the Reebok Legacy. A tie? What?!? I know, how could this happen and especially with two very different shoes? Well, I really liked the Leistung 2’s for it’s innovation and fit, but the heel height of about an inch was a deal breaker for me. Conversely, the Reebok Legacy had the right heel height, great fit, breatheable heel cup, and the metatarsal straps were well position and innovative too with no velcro where the laces would lie, but the shoe is very stiff and heavy. It is similar to the Nike Romaleos I and II’s, but with a modern toe box that isn’t quite as “numb”. I honestly think the BOA system for the metatarsal strap on the Adidas shoe is the best innovation I’ve seen on a lifter in quite some time and, additionally, the material that the shoe carcass is made out of is top notch. I just wish it didn’t have a 1″ heel. The Reeboks ended up being a bit too stiff for my liking, but that is my preference and if you loved the Romaleos I and II’s, you’ll love the Legacys more because the metatarsal straps and toe box are improvements in my opinion. The Reebok probably gets the nod for wider foot lifters too.
                    • Adidas Adipowers: I have actually had 3 colorways of these shoes- the original (and controversial) London edition shoes in 2012, the black and red shoes in early 2013, and the all-white storm trooper colored lifters in mid 2013. These shoes are great for the folks with a wider foot. The heel and heel cup is solid, the shoes are light, and the toe box is flexibleallowing the lifter to feel significantly more than the Nike Romaleos I and II’s. Ultimately, I didn’t like the metatarsal strap’s positioning and length (and velcro) as much on these shoes compared to the Reebok, Romaleos III, or Leistung II, but since these are the older editions they are available for a pretty steep discount at multiple locations. I would recommend them for folks on the fence about getting a pair of quality shoes who don’t want to spend the 200 dollars for the latest and greatest.
                    • Nike Romaleos I and II: Back prior to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nike released their first iteration of the Romaleos. At the time, their biggest competition were the Adidas Adistars and the shoes couldn’t have been more different. The main defining features of these Nikes were that they were very stiff, the metatarsal straps were a little too long, and they were hot. Not alot changed between the first and second edition besides them losing a little bit of weight and getting some different color ways. They are a great shoe nonetheless and given that they are discounted because they are the “old” models now, I think these are a great entry level shoe for folks who’d rather wear a swoosh than 3 stripes.
                    • Rogue by Do Win: These were my first pair of shoes back in 2008 and they were definitely old school being made from suede. They were very wide, heavy, and low on the technology front- but this just goes to show you how far shoes have come for lifting since CrossFit and the subsequent barbell training explosion. I don’t think these guys are even being made anymore, but I don’t like shoes like this as a rule because they smell, they stretch, and there are better options at the same price point.
                    • No Bull Lifter: The most expensive shoe on our list at 300 dollars retail is the No Bull lifter. Vaunted as being made via a meticulous, craftsman-like process, these shoes are actually made in China- likely with a master craftsman nonetheless. Unfortunately, the shoes have some shortcomings that I think can be fixed going forward with some design modifications. To begin, the heel cup is nearly non existent and the heels do move around quite a bit. The laces are more suited for dress shoes than athletic endeavours and will not get the shoe tight enough so that the foot doesn’t slide around in it. The metatarsal strap is about 1/2″ too far back from where it needs to be to support the lifter’s arch and, additionally, the material of the shoe carcass is quite flexible so that the shoe tends to be quite flexible. The stacked leather heel and crepe sole is a nice feature, paying homage to the old Safe squat shoes, but the boot of the shoe itself is not suited for lifting just yet. I think they can improve on the product, however, and am interested to see what they come up with for round 2
                    Last edited by Serack; 03-06-2019, 02:02 PM.
                    Forum topics and other links I've found useful


                    • #11
                      Without more information I'd agree with the majority and say shoes, but largely because if you're buying new, the shoe price is fairly fixed (unless on sale, which here in Australia rarely seems to happen for such specialist items) whereas you can generally get and make do with a crappier belt that will just wear out more quickly. Plus, you'll likely be wearing the shoes for the whole training session, the belt need only be worn for heavier sets, i.e. more wear on the former, less the latter.

                      Having said that, depending on your location and access to such services, had you considered buying used? I just updated the Do-Wins I've had for years by purchasing an almost new pair of Reebok Legacy Lifters and Romaleos 2 via Facebook Marketplace from someone who'd decided to do yoga instead. The Reeboks fit me better so I sold the Romaleos and recovered the price for both shoes, plus a little profit. The Legacy Lifters retail here in Australia for around $AU200 so that's a pretty big saving.

                      Money aside, the bigger question for a new lifter however, is knowing WHICH shoe or belt suits you. You can watch review after review, read recommendation after recommendation, but at the end of the day it's what fits you best, at your current stage in training, that matters. Finding that out will take trial and error, which costs money and is another reason to try and buy used if you can. A small example of how reviews/recommendations may miss the mark is socks. If you're mostly training in a hot/warm climate like I do then you may be used to wearing thinner socks, but in a colder environment you're likely to be wearing thicker socks, that's going to make as much difference to fit and feel as shoe features like toe room, laces, etc, but I've yet to see any review/recommendation mention it.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for all the replies everyone. I actually have both shoes and a belt, but neither is the greatest. Was thinking of upgrading, but wasn’t sure which direction to go. I currently own a pair of Adidas Powerlifts 3.1 and a Dark Iron fitness belt. Both do the job, but the belt is already starting to degrade (holes are ripping). It has a lifetime warranty, but not sure if I should get it again or get something better.

                        However, I was interested in what a brand new lifter should do, if they come across this question.


                        • #13
                          *googles dark iron fitness belt*

                          that looks thin and not particularly durable. When I got my first powerlifting belt, I went cheap on amazon and I've been plesantly supprised with how well the resultant $55 Steel Sweat belt has held up in a year of use. A powerlifting belt should be 10mm minimum though.

                          Also, I recommend staying away from cheap black belts... In my limited experience, the more natural colors aren't as... brittle, and the blackening they put on the edges sometimes gets gummy and gross, especially if you leave it in a hot car.
                          Last edited by Serack; 03-08-2019, 01:23 PM.
                          Forum topics and other links I've found useful


                          • #14
                            If you have a decent shoe and a poor belt, upgrade the belt next. The ones made from real sole leather, like Best or Pioneer, are what you want.

                            For a beginner, it's hard to know. Some people prefer no heel, and are happy squatting in chucks with the insole ripped out, or wrestling slippers, or just barefoot.

                            I'm a shoe guy though, if I had to squat with just my shoes OR my belt, I'd pick the shoes.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cwd View Post
                              If you have a decent shoe and a poor belt, upgrade the belt next. The ones made from real sole leather, like Best or Pioneer, are what you want.

                              For a beginner, it's hard to know. Some people prefer no heel, and are happy squatting in chucks with the insole ripped out, or wrestling slippers, or just barefoot.

                              I'm a shoe guy though, if I had to squat with just my shoes OR my belt, I'd pick the shoes.
                              Jordan said on FB last week that He'd recommend squatting in squat shoes over barefoot 10 out of 10 times. An amusing choice of wording.
                              Forum topics and other links I've found useful