I have minimal experience with shoes designed specifically for weight training activities. In 1992, when I was training for triathlon, I took great care to acquire the specific tools required to excel at each of the three sports that make up the tri, but for some reason, when I started getting serious about strength training, I didn’t give my footwear much thought. It’s ironic for me as I am prone to making one mistake in particular over and over again; and that is to move directly to the most advanced means of attaining a goal that I can find, even when I’m a neophyte.
When I decided to train for triathlon, I found Dave Scott’s Triathlon Training book at a local bookstore. Again, this was 1992 and I don’t think I owned a computer. Books and magazines were still the common means of obtaining information. Dave Scott was one of the early Ironman champions and I was astounded by the feat and inspired to work toward at least the short Sprint version of the sport. Triathlon was not popular then as it later became, so few people even knew what exactly it was I was training for, but that has never bothered me. It fits in nicely with my generally contrarian, rebellious nature to partake in something a bit outside the norms of everyday life. When I got to the training program section of the book, did I start at the beginner program as most reasonable minds would suggest? Of course not. I skipped straight to the most advanced system that trained Explosive Speed, Sprint Speed, VO2 Max, Anaerobic Threshold, and Distance methods in a complex mixture I now recognize as periodization building toward a competition. I made tremendous progress, but as I have also learned since then, as a beginner or “novice,” one can progress doing just about anything, coming from a point of essentially inactivity in the sport.
When I decided to try Powerlifting in 2007, did I start with some basic beginner type program? Of course not. I went right to Westside Barbell’s advanced “conjugate periodization” style programming before I even knew how to Squat, Bench and Deadlift properly. Such is my folly. I made progress of course, but again, as a novice anything will do for that score. Since that time, I have bounced around through all means and methods toward the same end, i.e. getting stronger, although I frequently detoured away from Powerlifting specifically as a sport. This is clearly not the best way to actually become better at anything.
Having finally decided again to make a go of actually competing, not just a nebulous goal of being “strong,” whatever that means, I returned to form and searched for the most comprehensive, advanced system of progress possible. Was block periodization better than pendulum periodization? Should I try daily undulating periodization? Perhaps an Olympic team’s training program? Wait… full stop. I recalled making rather significant progress in the bench press–which is my weakest lift–using Greyskull’s Linear Progression program even though it seemed deceptively simple. Perhaps I should strip everything down to the most basic elements and start from scratch. This is a painful position for me to be in, and I can feel the itch to move beyond something that seems too basic, but somehow, this time, I dug deep and made a personal commitment to take my current level of strength, consider it the starting point, and finding the most basic way to progress from here. I’ve decided to think like an athlete, a Powerlifter, and train like one. As such, I addressed my equipment needs and took a look at what I had currently, and where it could be improved upon.
When I started Powerlifting with Westside, I used Chuck Taylor’s because that’s what they were all using, even though I thought they were very uncomfortable shoes and never felt particularly solid in my footing while wearing them. I just didn’t think about it much because I was too busy thinking about accommodating resistance, calculating percentages, doing three week waves, and other complex issues I had no business worrying about. I don’t recall why I originally bought Squat Shoes, but I picked up a pair of Adidas Power Lifts II and really like squatting in them. I’ve been using them for a long time even though they were too small because I hate shopping, hate returning things and would rather suck it up with shoes that don’t fit properly. My feet have actually been bothering me quite a bit lately, and a quick scan of the InterWebs indicated it may be a result of always wearing ill fitting footwear. I was going to order new Adidas shoes, but they were pretty pricey, none of the colors I wanted were available in my size, and I wasn’t sure they were the best shoes I could own.
My research led me to a Russian shoe, and what with the incredible success of Russian strength athletes, and the unique geopolitical position Americans find ourselves in these days, I got a bit of a kick out of contemplating buying shoes from the former Soviet Union. Due to the needed size conversion, I had no choice but to measure my feet per the instructions, so I managed to avoid my usual problem of just buying the size I thought would fit and dealing with it when I had erred. I bought a pair of Sabo Squat Shoes, which they actually call Weight Lifting shoes, and a pair of Deadlift shoes, which actually say Deadlift on the strap. They are both very attractive, and much more affordable than the other options available to me. The Squat Shoes were only 3995 Rubles.
Today was the inaugural training session and I was very pleased with the performance of both of these shoes. The Squat Shoes not only fit, but they are more comfortable than the Adidas. The Adidas is a hard plastic shoe, which feels very stable when squatting, but the Sabo’s didn’t feel any less stable, with the added comfort of not being made of unforgiving plastic. I kept them on for benching and they have a serious non-slip sole. I felt anchored to the floor. The Deadlift shoes were equally awesome. Soft, flat and sticky, I Sumo’d like a beast decked out in stylish Russian awesomeness.
As I stated at the outset, I’m no expert, but these shoes are designed for the sport I am training in, comfortable, stylish and affordable. Мне они очень нравятся.