Let’s get started. Weightlifting shoes, also known as “squat shoes,” have an elevated heel. The purpose of the elevated heel is to allow athletes to achieve a greater depth or range of motion in their squat.
The elevation works by lowering the use of dorsiflexion (toes to shin movement) so the body can achieve greater knee flexion. By getting more depth and range of motion, you are creating more functional strength and can result to more muscle mass.
Now the “squat shoe” is a tool. We have many tools in our tool belt. It is not something to become dependent on. For your average gym goer I would not use squat shoes often, if ever. Rather than using them as a crutch or a band aid, fix the actual issue, which is probably ankle or even hip mobility.
The reason they work so well for the average person is because the average person lacks major hip and ankle mobility. If we don’t fix the root problem then what happens when we adapt to this tool? Are we all going to start wearing stilettos when we squat?
Obviously not, so once we fix the issue, then we can start utilizing this tool when we preform heavy lifts or personal records. The idea is not to become dependent on the “squat shoe”, but use it for what it is.
That is a tool and there is and time and place for each and every tool we have. In the case of a powerlifter or a competitive athlete that will be using these shoes in competition, then yes, practice in them. Practise in the gear you use, but I would still address hip and ankle mobility so you can perform your movements with optimal power and explosiveness.
Context matters. My answer would be different for most people. Generally though, this is a tool and there is a time and place for them. For the average person, I would focus on hip and ankle mobility and use the shoes once in a while. For a competitive lifter, I would practice in them but prime your hips and ankles to get better movement patterns.