This isn’t supposed to be a review; more like, a guide.
There are probably (correct me if I’m wrong) a ton of reviews up on the two primary weightlifting shoes in question in this post.
The Nike Romaleos 2 and the Adidas Adipower weightlifting shoes. Both of which, are incredible shoes. Both of which are probably the most dominant shoes in weightlifting at the moment. Both of which have been widely adopted by people who do Crossfit.
The question is: Do you really need them (weightlifting shoes)?
No, but if you can, why not?
On one hand, one can argue that using weightlifting shoes isn’t exactly practical or a part of “general physical preparedness”. In the real world, you’re not going to get the chance to switch into your weightlifting shoes whenever there’s something heavy to be lifted. On the other hand, you’re going to use them for the sport, building technique and hitting PR’s, so more power to you! Just don’t get too reliant on them.
In my Crossfit and weightlifting careers, I’ve gone through many a shoe. I’ve hit PR’s in pretty much all of them, including shoes that weren’t even designed to be meant for weightlifting. This include Vibrams, Nike’s, Reeboks, Converse’s…just about everything. One thing that I’ve learned is that shoes DON’T make you any stronger. Perfect practice and good programming get you there. If you practice in shoes that aren’t necessarily designed for a sole purpose, wouldn’t that make you better overall?
Then again, certain shoes do promote better form; such as weightlifting shoes. The shoes probably aren’t going to make you any stronger, but they’re probably not making you any weaker either. The added heel height, width and density aid in keeping the torso upright, provide more lateral stability and help keep power delivery at it’s max. This is all why you’re probably not lifting to your full potential wearing those Nike Free’s.
Coming from someone who coaches and is primarily a crossfitter? If a client came up to me and asked me what shoes they should buy for Crossfit, meaning they don’t have any kind of minimalist shoe…I would tell them to probably just get Reebok Crossfit Nano’s. I believe those shoes are competent for everything that a Crossfit workout will throw at you. Don’t believe me? If Rich Froning can hit a 300# snatch and 370# clean and jerk in them, they’re definitely enough shoe for you.
If you’re dead set on getting weightlifting shoes though, like I said, more power to you. They’re a great tool to have and promote better form; but weightlifting shoes don’t come cheap and are more luxury than necessity. Now that we’ve come to that decision, which weightlifting shoes are right for you? With the explosion of Crossfit, there are a gang of options out there. What would you like to focus more on: weightlifting or WOD’s?
Let’s go over some of the more popular choices:
Nike Romaleos 2 ($190):
The king of weightlifting shoes, IMO. I’ve never felt so “stuck” to the ground with these shoes on. They provide the greatest amount of stability out of any shoe I’ve ever tried out. They’re also the stiffest and most heavy shoe that I’ve used, you’ll feel this during split jerks. Do count on hitting lifting PR’s, don’t count on getting the fastest WOD times. I wouldn’t WOD in these unless all it was pure heavy Oly lifts. Size them half size down from you Nike running shoes (Mine are 9). Heel height = .75″ Weight 17.1oz
Adidas AdiPower ($200):
A “pure” weightlifting shoe that’s also WOD-able in. A bit more narrow than the Romaleos in both fit and lateral stability. Power delivery is pretty much the same as that heel definitely not going to compress on you. Also they’re a bit lighter that the Romaleos, and yes, you can feel it. I’ve seen people WOD in these with pretty good success (200 DU’s unbroken? I can’t even do that with sneakers on.); though I probably wouldn’t WOD in these unless it was just a pure heavy lifting WOD with little metcon movements. Size them half size down from your Adidas running shoes (9). Heel height = .75″ Weight = 16.2oz
Reebok (Oly) Lifters ($150):
Ah my first “weightlifting” (I refer to them as “hybrids”) shoe. Solid, dependable, light, and great for climbing the rope. These are designed as a shoe that you can do both WOD’s and weightlifting in. If your emphasis is to do a Crossfit class a day, these are probably the shoe for you. They’re versatile in the way that you don’t have to remove them to do double unders or run (pose), since the forefoot is considerably more flexible than the previous two shoes. Back to climbing the rope, the grooves on the sides of the heel do a REALLY good job “biting” the rope down. As expected, these aren’t the most stable for weightlifting, but they’re good enough for most people. Definitely WOD-able in, but I’d stick to my Nano’s. Size as you would your Reebok shoes (9). *Didn’t feel too much of a difference between these and the Lifter Plus. Heel height = .75″ Weight 13.4oz
Inov-8 Fastlift 335 ($150):
The new kid on the block, aimed to take king of “hybrid” shoes title. The lightest of the bunch, also with the lowest heel height of the bunch. These guys are comfortable and feel the most like running shoes. Also the least stable shoe with a heel that I can compress with my fingers (the outsides at least). If you’re looking for the most WOD-able shoe, this is it. The downside is that while they’re still pretty good for powerlifting (make that just squatting), they’re just okay for Oly lifting. I noticed myself rocking forward a lot with these on. Probably partly due to my technique, but the other shoes save me more there. Size half a size up from your normal Inov-8 shoe (Those following this shoe from before, I ended up sizing up to the 9.5. They fit much better!). Heel height = .65″ Weight 12oz(!)
I know someones going to say, “…but what about Chuck Taylors?”. Chucks are cool if all you’re going to do is squat and deadlift. I’ve blown out ALL of my Chuck, not from lifting anything, but from DANCING. I love ’em, but they just don’t hold up. Sorry, old school foo’s.
Back to where I stand with weightlifting shoes. If you’ve got the money to burn, go ahead…pick some up in ADDITION to your normal Crossfit shoes. If you’re still running around the box with Nike Free’s on (lord help you), go pick up some Reebok Nano’s, Inov-8’s (195, 230, 240, 210) or Minimus’ first.