Anyone who is familiar with CrossFit knows that we squat. We squat a lot. It serves as the most foundational movement. Many athletes struggle with the range of motion and proper movement patterns in the squat as a direct result of limited ankle mobility. It is not uncommon to observe a coach place five-pound weights under the heels of an athlete experiencing difficulty with their depth and positioning during squat movements.
We were recently introduced to and began using a relatively new product to hit the market that seeks to provide this same basic benefit of elevating the heel to compensate for, and even improve, limited ankle mobility in order to drastically transform an athlete’s squats. They are called, VersaLifts.
What Are Versalifts?
According to their website, “VersaLifts™ are adjustable heel lift inserts made to be worn in training shoes to optimize squat movement patterns and are widely used in the fields of Strength and Conditioning, Sports Medicine, and Functional Fitness. VersaLifts™ consist of three layers of 1/8" neoprene rubber topped off with a layer of durable, breathable leather. Individual layers can be easily removed to achieve a customized lift height, ranging from 1/8" to over 3/8"." VersaLifts™ are durable and designed to last as long as the pair of shoes in which they are used. To add versatility to your favorite training shoes, simply insert VersaLifts™ above or beneath the insole when desired.
It quickly became clear to us that beginner and elite athletes alike will benefit from this simple, yet seriously effective piece of equipment built to transform your movements, increase your confidence, and deliver results in the very first use. For improving mobility and proper technique at every weight and every level, VersaLifts might just be the best new accessory for your gym bag.
“VersaLifts are durable and designed to last as long as the pair of shoes in which they are used. VersaLifts inserts have given me an extra edge when I’m fatigued to keep my torso upright and my heels driving into the ground, helping me get quick, clean reps.” – Paige Field, Competitive CrossFitter & Boxer
With testimonials from athletes like James Townsend, Sheila Barden, Spencer Panchik, Carleen Mathews, Candace Wagner, and Noelle Henderson, (all big names in the functional fitness world) it’s not surprising that VersaLifts are becoming a staple piece of workout gear. In addition to being small and easily portable, the inserts retail for just $25/pair at vlifts.com.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the founder and owner of VersaLifts, Shane Rothlisberger. When I asked Shane what type of functionality and results the product aims to deliver he replied, “At VersaLifts, we are aiming to serve three specific markets”.
The Hybrid Training and Functional Fitness Market
“With the rapid growth of hybrid training models, like CrossFit, over the past decade, we consistently see Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting movements programmed with agility movements in the same workout. It is not uncommon for an athlete to go from an overhead squat directly to a box jump, or from a pistol squat to double-unders. Traditional weightlifting shoes can significantly benefit the squat movements, but provide serious limitations during agility movements.
Imagine repping out 30 box jumps in your Olympic weightlifting shoes. It’s neither safe nor comfortable, and actually inhibits your explosive power through the weight and rigidity of the shoe. We’ve sought to provide a simple, yet extremely effective solution. VersaLifts provide the extra heel desired during squat movements, without compromising the agility or comfort desired for the other movements. You are able to keep the inserts in your shoe throughout the entire workout. It really becomes a game-changer in this particular market.
Strength and Conditioning Programs
“We’re having a number of strength and conditioning coaches in collegiate and high school athletic programs having their athletes use VersaLifts. And while we are careful not to market VersaLifts as a way to convert regular training shoes into Oly shoes (the heel lift is only half of the benefit of Oly shoes), we do recognize that our inserts provide a convenient, cost-effective way for coaches to provide heel benefits for their athletes. This is particularly helpful in programs and schools where budget money for Olympic lifting shoes simply doesn’t exist, which happens to be the vast majority of high school and collegiate strength and conditioning programs.
“VersaLifts also serve as a helpful prescriptive and rehabilitative tool in the sports medicine field. This is the beauty of the adjustability of our lifts. For athletes recovering from injuries such as ankle sprains or Achilles repairs, mobility can be severely compromised. As coaches, trainers, and medical professionals work with athletes to help regain mobility, the layered feature of VersaLifts allows the lift height to be systematically decreased as the client’s or athlete’s mobility improves.”
“Honestly, we’re a bit stunned by the rapid growth of our company. We simply sought to solve a problem we were experiencing ourselves and observed many others experiencing as well. We’re just stoked to be able to provide a product that is changing the way athletes look at previously constraining movements that were keeping them from reaching their highest potentials.” - Shane Rothlisberger, Co-Founder/Owner of VersaLifts
It’s truly incredible that such a small product is able to make such a large impact for all ranges and levels of athletes. Simply scrolling through the VersaLifts Instagram feed (@versalifts) you’ll see testimonies and reposts from tons of recognizable elite athletes.
“Since I’ve been using VersaLifts, my knee pain has disappeared and my performance has improved… my right leg is shorter than my left, to help the issue, I use one VersaLift in my right shoe to allow for more range in my ankle and align my hips.” – Candace Wagner, CrossFit Games Athlete, USMC Veteran, & 5x Broken Skull Champion
Recently an adaptive athlete born with Cerebral Palsy, Noelle Henderson, gave VersaLifts a try. Previously, she had been doing CrossFit for about two years and kept running into a serious issue. She was unable to squat to full depth while keeping her right heel in contact with the ground. Then she tried VersaLifts. Due to the completely customizable height and versatility of the insert, Noelle was able to not only squat to parallel but transform her workouts and performance.
“It’s been amazing to see and feel my right side actually work more and I am thankful for this game changer from VersaLifts!” – Noelle Henderson, Adaptive CrossFit Athlete
Hearing stories like Noelle’s, Candace’s and even Shane’s are those that inspire us to continue chasing our dreams as not only athletes but business owners alike.
“We love being part of the fitness and strength and conditioning communities. The people we get to interact with are life-giving to us. We have been overwhelmingly encouraged by the response. It’s surreal, to say the least. VersaLifts is our small and simple contribution that we are overjoyed to provide. From beginner to elite to adaptive athletes, we are grateful to be able to help individuals reach their athletic and fitness potentials. – Shane Rothlisberger, Co-Founder/Owner of VersaLifts
Overall, the best part about VersaLifts is that they are for you, they are for me, they are for everyone. And they come with a connection to a company and a brand that seems to be in it for the right reason: Helping people. I relayed my personal results to Shane and he replied with, “Stories like yours never get old. It’s not uncommon for someone to be skeptical of the benefits of VersaLifts, but once they get the lifts in their shoes it’s so fun to see them light up from something so simple. It’s really fun to be building a business that legitimately helps people.
In the world of fitness, a little heel lift goes a long way.
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