Going back a few years, when Inov-8 released the FastLift 335, I thought it was a revolutionary shoe. The first time I saw it, was at the Inov-8 booth at the 2013 OC Throwdown. From it’s good looks to some innovative (no pun intended) features that made it stand out as a hybrid lifter, I knew I had to have it. They became my primary lifting shoes for a few years, with me even preferring them over my Romaleos and Adipowers. So what made them special? The .65″ heel height for me was spot on. Call me crazy, but I always feel that .75″ heeled shoes push me too far forward. My ankle dorsiflexion is pretty good, but my hips are generally pretty tight, leaving me with a more forward position altogether. This is also why I prefer flat shoes to lifters when I squat and clean; but snatching, pistols and overhead squats, I will wear lifters for.
I managed to score a pair of FastLift 370’s from being an Inov-8 tester. Inov-8 changing things up again by the Boa dial system. I loved that shoe for the ease of slipping it on and tightening with a couple twists while retaining everything good about the 335 and just slightly increasing the weight. The newest iteration, the 325,replaces the now defunct 335. It’s more of an update to that shoe, featuring a standard lacing system, Power-Truss heel, .65 heel height, it weighs a little less and some new colors. Honestly, I wasn’t planning on discontinuing use of my 370’s but I couldn’t say no at the opportunity to test out the newest iteration of the FastLift series.
If you’ve never tried out Inov-8 lifters before, they make their name by providing the lightest oly shoe, that is stable, flexible and has a slightly lower heel than most oly shoes. Like the Inov-8 F-Lite 250’s I just reviewed, the heel is 17mm/.65″, slightly shorter than most dedicated oly shoes. Obviously the target audience in mind is one that would need to be able to go from lifting, to burpees to double unders while not needing to switch your shoes. Like all of the previous FastLift models, the 325 is capable of doing all these things without much issue. Will double unders in them be totally comfortable, no, but they’re doable and you’ll still get the benefits of having a rigid, elevated heel for pistols. You’re just going to need to compromise; compared to dedicated oly shoes, transitioning from lifting to gymnastics movements in the 325s (or any FastLift) is a breeze.
Being a capable functional fitness shoe is one thing, but the 325’s should be not taken lightly for a serious pair of platform ready shoes. Returning is the Power-Truss heel system that brings an extremely lightweight, but 100% rigid outsole for lifting. I really think the flexibility of the forefoot in the 325’s helps immensely with split jerks and even when you need to take a few steps to save a lift gone awry. Some people have complained that the lightweight nature of the shoe is detrimental to stability; while you won’t feel as planted to the ground as Romaleos, you also don’t have to deal with the heft of them either. Once again, a compromise I’m willing to make because I have issues with moving my feet anyways; I don’t need anything slowing them down.
When sizing the Inov-8 325’s, you should go with your normal shoe size. Typically with lifting shoes, I go half a size down because they run big. The 325’s are more trainer-esque and so is the last they probably designed it on; they fit more like a regular shoe than a lifter. For reference, I wear a 9.5, just like all of my other shoes, besides my Romaleos and Leistung’s that are size 9. Another thing to note, while the Inov-8’s may look more narrow than other lifters, they’re still designed with their standard fit. Fear not, these are not narrow shoes at all. While everyone’s doing all sorts of new synthetic uppers, Inov-8 chose to go with nylon rip-stop fabric with a ballistic nylon mesh in the toe area. The Power-Truss heel extends slightly upward and acts as a cup for your heel for added lateral stabilty. A single medial velcro strap locks down the top of the shoe and the outsole provides excellent grip with the “suction” cup design at the heel. As always, build quality is excellent and I wouldn’t worry about durability issues (my 335’s are still immaculate looking too).
So what could be wrong with the 325’s? Like the 250’s, the lack of interesting color ways is probably the main flaw. Another thing, that isn’t actually Inov-8’s fault is that there are just other popular big brands that people will gravitate towards. I can see the weightlifting hipsters turning their noses up towards the Inov-8’s because of their dual functionality marketing, which is a shame, because the 325’s are a very capable shoe both ways.
For current owners of the 335, while the 325 is an excellent replacement, it’s just an evolution of the 335 and honestly doesn’t really warrant the upgrade for the loss of 10g. Unless of course your shoes are wrecked. For those of you looking for a hybrid fitness/oly shoe for the first time, you won’t find anything nicer than what Inov-8 has to offer (unless you REALLY needed that extra .10″). There’s just nothing that is as lightweight and comfortable to both WOD and lift in as the FastLift series.