First Impressions of the Velaasa Strake Olympic Lifting Shoe

After 20 years immersed in Olympic lifting I have to be honest that I never dreamed of being heavily involved in the development of a lifting shoe. It was always for the big boys of shoes to do. Because I left it to the major players to design and produce shoes I’ve owned nearly all of them. 5 generations of Adidas shoes, every release from Nike, and some Asics you have to order off of a Japanese website (and 15 steps to get them actually shipped to the US).

In weightlifting terms I am a shoe head. They are that important. Your only connection to the ground, they are the means by which you actually produce the power necessary to be a high performing athlete. They must be stable, they must not leak power, they must be light enough, and not least of all they must look cool.

When my old competitor and buddy from Big Ten hammer throwing, Lynden Reder, called me just over a year ago to discuss what a good weightlifting shoe would need to do, look like, feel like, I knew all the answers. There had to be a wood heel, it couldn’t look like a bowling shoe, it couldn’t feel like a brick on your foot.

After a year of development I finally got my hands on a pair ready to put through the ringer.

Here are my first impressions:

The shoe looks amazing. You cannot tell that this is the first foray into weightlifting shoes for this young company. Wood heels went the way of the dinosaur 6 years ago, and the companies that are making wood heel shoes make them look like a bowling shoe. This shoe is an athletic shoe with a powerful base, the wood heel. Some of the smaller design elements, like the embossed logos, are incredible. Both my female and male lifters like the looks.

When I put on the shoes my first impression was that they are sturdy but light. This is a hard balance to strike, but they were simultaneously strong on your foot, with no lateral wobble, but light. When you get a stable shoe sometimes it is brick-like, this one is not. Sturdy shoes can also make you feel like you’re far above the ground, but this shoe felt close even with the large heel. Small manufacturers sometimes don’t know how to make a weightlifting shoe and it ends up feeling like a wedge under your foot. This is a shoe with a solid heel, not a wedge

As I worked out, I noticed that it performs at the top of the class. Going into the workout I was worried... worried that the shoe I helped design and give so much input on would look great but feel terrible. I need not be worried any longer, this shoe performs as well or better than any weightlifting shoe on the market. I was connected to the ground so my power could stay high, stable in my lifts and all in all it felt just like I was wearing the shoes I’ve worn for 5 years.

My favorite detail is the wood heel. This wood heel is not like any we’ve seen before, it’s contoured and really good looking. Wood heels are back in a big way with the Strake.

As we continue to test I want to keep a close eye on durability. I need to see how these wear long term. I still have my first pair of weightlifting shoes and could go lift in them tomorrow. I have my second, third, and so on. They’re supposed to last. Will the Strakes stand the test of time? I’ve only just begun to put them through the ringer.

Weightlifitng diehards are going to love this shoe. It is a high performing wood heel shoe, something that’s been missing from weightlifting shoes for a number of years.

Learn more about the Strakes and secure your pre-order discount code now. We'll continue to keep you updated in the run up to the pre-order later this fall.

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