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Starting Strength in the Real World

Weightlifting Shoe Soles

by Mark Rippetoe | January 12, 2021

lifting shoe soles crepe rubber vs neoprene

We have spoken many times of the necessity of proper footwear for training. Weightlifting shoes are support for the foot under a load, and a tool for more effectively distributing the lifter's bodyweight and the weight of the barbell across the plantar surface in contact with the platform.

The surface of the shoe in contact with the platform can be of various materials. The modern shoes manufactured by Adidas and other manufacturers use some newer rubber compound I am not familiar with. The two earlier sole materials with which I am familiar are crepe rubber (above right) and polychloroprene – trade-named neoprene (above left).

Crepe is a latex product, and when new it is fairly soft and sticky, making it good for traction against the platform. Its primary drawback is that as it ages it dries out and loses its traction characteristics almost completely, before the lifespan of the shoe has expired. Polished dry crepe will cause a lifter to slip against a wooden platform surface if the movement is ballistic or asymmetrical – a split jerk in old crepe-soled shoes is a dangerous movement.

The other sole material, neoprene, is a synthetic rubber that has been used for shoe soles for decades. Neoprene doesn't dry out, doesn't polish, doesn't lose its flexibility, wears like iron, is inexpensive, and provides superior traction against both wood and rubber platforms. But most shoes are supplied with crepe soles, or the new stuff with which I am not familiar.

If I were you, I would take my crepe soled shoes to the shoe shop and have them re-soled with neoprene. Vibram replacement soles are very high quality soles, and your shoes will last a lot longer and behave themselves better on the platform, for less that $50.

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