The best weight lifting shoes will be a pair that is designed specifically with the logistics of weight lifting in mind. There are different shoe designs for all different kinds of sports, and just as you need cleats for soccer or spikes for cross country running, unique specifications exist for weight lifting. Slight variations based on personal preference is of course common, but in general you should look for a shoe with a good, sturdy sole that will not warp under compression. This will give you sufficient support under the added stress of the weights.
A casual exerciser will most likely have more relaxed standards for weight lifting shoes than an individual who lifts professionally. If you are not lifting very heavy weights or you only lift occasionally or at a low intensity, it will be easier to find weight lifting shoes that please you. Most people who work out for recreation do not buy shoes specifically designed for weight lifting, instead opting for cross-trainers or a generic, multi-purpose shoe. Exercisers who combine cardiovascular exercises into the same workout as weight lifting are likely to choose a shoe that is sufficient for both activities.
Even if you fall into the category of recreational weight lifter, there are some key elements to look for when picking out a shoe. Shoes with foam, air pocket or gel heels are great for running and other cardiovascular exercise because they manage to be lightweight while still providing cushion to protect joints from repetitive impact. Models like this are not ideal for weight lifting, however, because the light materials can compress unevenly under the added pressure from the weights. Compression can cause minor variations in form, which has the potential to make the exercise less effective, cause injury, or both. It can also contribute to loss of balance, which can be dangerous, especially if you are lifting very heavy weights.
For heavy weight lifting, you should look for a shoe with a firm, solid sole. The best weight lifting shoes have a unique detail: a low, solid wedge heel. This low heel resists compression, and will help keep you stable if you are completing exercises that would otherwise require you to lift your heels off the ground. Adding a low heel ensures that you will be able to maintain maximum balance.
Another factor that will help you choose the best weight lifting shoes is how much mobility they allow. Your weight lifting shoes should provide some support, but not at the expense of mobility, especially for the ankles. Even if you are an amateur weight lifter, you should avoid shoes that hinder movement.