HITTING THE GYM in your trusty, well-worn, comfortable running shoes may sound like a fine idea. In fact, plenty of people do it all the time.

But here’s the reality: Running shoes are not made for lifting weights. If you’re skeptical about going through the trouble of buying new shoes just to lift, we can assure you that you won’t regret it—especially if you’re serious about hitting the iron.

We connected with Lee Boyce, C.P.T., and Dan McCarthy—an L3 CrossFit coach, pose running technique specialist, and co-owner of Crow Hill CrossFit—to break down the risks of lifting in improper shoes.

Running shoes vs. weightlifting shoes: The basics

A good way to think about the running-vs.-weightlifting shoe discussion is that every sport has sport-specific gear that you’d probably buy to both look and perform better, and weightlifting is no exception, says McCarthy.

“Running shoes have turned into all-purpose athletic shoes,” he says, “but soft and cushiony running shoes are nothing like what all-purpose shoes should be.”

Put another way: Running shoes and weightlifting shoes are on opposite ends of the footwear spectrum, and those differences impact your performance. The most basic—and most important, when it comes to lifting—is that running shoes are cushiony, while lifting shoes are hard. Weightlifting shoes typically feature soles made of plastic or hardwood, which is the opposite of the pillowy soles found on most running shoes. They also tend to have a raised heel, which allows you to squat deeper by reducing the need for extreme ankle mobility in the bottom portion of the squat, McCarthy explains.

Running shoes, on the other hand, usually have heavy arch support. Many also feature a raised toe to facilitate forefoot mobility so that a typical running stride isn’t compromised, and that doesn’t make for a solid base while weightlifting, according to Boyce.