Gear: Taylor-made

Who would have thought that an almost-100-year-old basketball sneaker would become the perfect shoe for power lifters.

THE RUBBER-SOLED ALL STARS were initially marketed as basketball sneakers when they hit the market in 1917. Over the next 99 years, the design barely changed. Their popularity on the basketball court declined, but musicians and artists made them fashionable again in the ’90s. Even today, Chucks remain popular among skateboarders. But perhaps most surprising is how their flat rubber soles have made them a staple among weightlifters.

“You can do just about everything in [All Stars],” says CJ Murphy, a competitive powerlifter and the owner of Total Performance Sports in Malden, MA. “Chucks are the most versatile, all-around shoe.” The sturdy canvas sidings and flat sole keep your feet close to the floor and in place during power moves. This allows the lifter to transfer more power through the heels during lifts. The amount of force generated during that transfer is what makes or breaks a PR attempt. Ironically, high-tech sneakers that feature thick rubber soles often work against you, removing mph from your lift.

But as effective as Chucks can be for power lifters, Murphy further recommends investing in more expensive, yet less comfortable, Olympic weightlifting shoes for competitions. With a solid-heel construction, they provide better leverage for presses, squats, and kettlebell work. Their heel elevation is meticulously calculated to enable the knees to travel slightly forward while the torso remains upright for greater quad activation during lower-body movements like back squats. You may not see them on the hardwood anymore, but Chucks still prove that age is just a number.

Lifting You Higher
Three kicks to help you crush your old reps.

1. Chuck Taylor Star High Top Converse released All Star II in 2015, which includes a “sockliner” for cushioning people’s feet and ankles, assisted by a foam padded collar. These won’t help with your lifts so you can stick with the Original and cheaper All Star.

2. Adidas Powerlift 3 The most affordable (and stylish) Olympic weightlifting shoe is built extra wide and has an open forefoot to ensure comfort that won’t compromise your lifts.

3. Minimus 20v5 This flat-soled cross-trainer from New Balance comes with a durable thermoplastic polyurethane that handles everything from sprints to squats to sit-ups.