Answer: Tight and snug in the midfoot and heel, with ample space in the toe box.
The idea is that your heel and midfoot stay locked down while your toes spread out naturally.
Your toes need to be able to move freely.
If not, it restricts movement, restricts blood flow and ultimately hinders performance.
If your feet feel snug but you can’t move your toes, they are too tight.
If you feel any sliding, regardless of working out or not, they are too loose.
Commonly Asked Questions
Should you be able to fit one finger in the front and back of the heel?
Honestly everyone says this and it causes confusion.
Everyone’s feet is different so it’s hard to tell whether or not it will fit properly.
The best way to know if the shoe fits is this:
When you move, your heel doesn’t slide, not even the tiniest bit.
They should be LOCKED in place.
And they should be impossible to remove by standing on the heel.
My shoes are tight but my toes don’t touch the end of the toe box. Is this okay?
It depends. Your toes shouldn’t be touching the end of the toe box anyway.
The same rules still apply.
Does your heel move or slide around when you move?
Can you remove the shoe by standing on the heel?
If yes to any of those questions, they do not fit correctly and they are too loose.
The reason for the tight fit may be caused by wide feet.
My feet are wide. Is it okay if I the length is right but the width is tight?
No, no, no.
Tight shoes in the width can cause all sorts of problems and foot deformities.
It’s how bunions and hammer toes are formed. Some people even have nerve damage from wearing tight shoes all their life.
If you have wide feet you have 2 options.
Either find a weightlifting shoe that accommodates wide feet, or size up a little.
Keep in mind that sizing up increases the width and length.
But again, all the rules still apply.
Because the length is longer you need to make sure they are snug but your feet do not slide around, or you cannot remove them by standing on the heel.
How dangerous is it to wear loose weightlifting shoes?
Your heel can slide around when performing squats and mess with your form.
And we all know that bad squatting form can cause bad knees.
Do weightlifting shoes run small or big?
Shoe companies base their weightlifting shoes exactly as they do their dress shoes.
This means if you wear a size 10 Nike running shoe, the same size applies to their weightlifting shoes.
This is with all shoe companies.
This means you should get your regular size regardless.
Should you wait for them to break in if they’re too tight?
In some cases they may just need breaking in.
Although since weightlifting shoes are constructed with tough and rigid materials, they’re going to take longer to break in than traditional sneakers.
Especially if you purchase premium Oly shoes. These are the best of the best and can take weeks to break in.
You may give tight shoes the benefit of the doubt by breaking them in.
However, do keep in mind that you’ll be voiding the return policy.
The Key Takeaway
At the end of the day they are weightlifting shoes.
Stability is far more important than comfort.
If you continuously try and chase comfort in oly shoes, you will forever be let down.
They should feel nice and tight without your toes crammed up.
Nor should there be any sliding around. That’s the easiest way to describe how weightlifting shoes should feel.