Wearing the right shoes while you squat will help you get deeper, keep you more upright, lift more weight, straighten your spine, and help protect your knees. If inflexibility is a major source of your problem you can fix that by mastering the third world squat.
There are two types of shoes to choose from, and making the decision is as simple as looking at how wide your squatting stance is.
Narrow To Medium Stance
This is the stance that you see most of the time in the gym. With it you should be wearing Olympic weight lifting shoes.
The elevated heel will help improve your form and to push from your heels. Doing so will likely allow you to immediately lift more weight, and being able to lift more means you’ll build muscle faster. Better form will also help to reduce risk of injury to your knees and back.
The hard sole of a lifting shoe allows you to lift more weight. Sneakers are designed to absorb shock through their soft sole, protecting your joints as you walk or run.
When you squat in soft soles they absorb some of the energy you produce. Even worse, they create an unstable platform for your foot that you have to constantly work to stabilize with each rep.
The below two pairs of shoes will help you transfer all of the force you produce to the ground, create a stable platform, and to add more weight to your squat while reducing the risk of injury.
Inov-8 Fastlift – A very lightweight but stable shoe thanks to it’s exoskeleton combined with a nylon upper. The properly elevated heel will let you squat deeper and help protect your joints when you go for that PR.
Adidas Adipower – You’ll see these Adidas on many Olympic athletes during training and competition. Incredibly stable leather upper yet very comfortable. Specialized heel that helps lock foot into place.
If you have a wide stance, specialized shoes like you need for a narrow stance squat are not necessary.
You simply need a shoe with a flat firm sole that creates a stable platform for your foot. A soft sole absorbs some of the energy you produce instead of transferring it to the ground. Any energy that is absorbed by your footwear is lost forever, and the end result is that you can’t lift as much weight.
Converse Chuck Taylor’s – These classics are the perfect option and are worn by nearly every record setting powerlifter that uses a wide stance. And you can’t beat the price.