When I first started working with the squat rack I noticed my center of gravity felt "off." I thought it was just my muscles getting used to the new movement and vertical load. But I soon realized that it was my choice of footwear.
Because I like to hop on the on the treadmill for a warmup before hitting the weights, I used to just wear my running shoes for strength training. Then I became obsessed with Nike's Air Jordan Mid-Rise Basketball Shoe, and I realized that the right shoe can be a game changer!
I'll admit, I fell in love with these shoes because of the way they looked, but they turned out to be pretty comfortable too, despite having a completely flat sole. When I debuted them during a weight training session at the gym, I noticed the difference immediately--especially on the squat rack! Not only were my feet firmly grounded but I felt more stable. This made it easier for my body to adapt to the new loads that were being placed on me, and I was able to focus on my form and movement instead of trying to keep my balance.
Sure there are running shoes that have flat soles, but many of them are made of soft, flexible materials and don't provide enough stability when you're working with heavy weights. Brands like Converse, Reebok, Adidas and Nike make a variety of shoes designed specifically for weight bearing exercise, and basketball and crossfit shoes typically have flat, rigid soles too. Now when I go to the gym I bring two pairs of shoes: one for running and another for strength training.
Check out this article by SHAPE magazine on the best strength training shoes, and let me know if you have a favorite brand too!