Adidas has been pretty quiet on the training shoe front since the release of the CrazyTrain Elite – a shoe that I loved as an alternate, but wasn’t quite ready for the big time. Before that, the CrazyPower Trainer hit on some marks as well, but had no real compelling reasons to use it over the best shoes at the time. As it stands, Adidas has been just doing well enough in the training shoe segment, can the Alphabounce Trainers pull them out of mediocrity?
The look of the Alphabounce Trainers is probably going to be the most polarizing part of the shoe. The Alphabounce line-up has an alien-like yet symbiotic look to the shoe where all of the materials and rounded lines play off each other. The traniers look similar from a design standpoint, just with a lower tongue and taller heel tab. To me, the shoe looks modern and I’m at least happy that someone is make strides in changing the overall landscape of shoes. We could use some more interesting colorways though.
Upper construction is a single piece of fabric with just a bit of elastic at where the tongue of the shoe would be; it’s a slip on shoe that you can lace up to tighten up the fit. There are reinforced lines throughout the upper like Zebra print that are there to add structure to the shoe. While it is a slip on shoe, the upper is not stretchy, soft or flexible like Primeknit or Circleknit are; it’s taut like a proper training shoe should be. Around the Achilles area, there’s no missing the heel tab that is generously padded and while gigantic, is comfortable and you don’t notice it while wearing the shoes.
Since the shoe is part of the Alphabounce line-up, it does sport a full length Bounce midsole; the brother compound to the more popular Boost. Like we saw with the Boost in the CrazyTrain Elite’s, you can make these high energy return compounds with more density for lifting weights. According to Adidas’ product description, these shoes are “made with strength training in mind” and the Bounce midsole found here can hang with even the best trainers. Honestly, I was a bit skeptical of how they would feel, but I was very surprised to find that there was barely any give to them.
Underneath the shoe you’ll find a full length rubber “Traxion” outsole. I’m assuming this is the same material found under the CrazyPower TR since they carry the same name and all. It’s generally flat with opposing lines of treading for multi-directional traction. This with the extended surface area leads to some insane amount of grip.
Like a training shoe should be, the platform is generally flat at a 6mm heel to toe drop. Not as flat as the 3mm CrazyPower, but right on par with the CrazyTrain Elite which I thought was flat enough.
To say that the Alphabounce Trainers are wide is an understatement, they’re easily the widest training shoe both in platform and fit that I’ve tried out yet. The heel and midfoot of the shoe fit pretty standard with only a slight arch, but the forefoot expands into a cavernous space for your toes. While it’s wide, it’s not a tall space so the shoes don’t feel like Elf shoes. Another thing to note is that the ankle collar rides up a little high and rubs on the inside of my right ankle, weirdly it’s only that one – but that’s the ankle that I’ve broken before.
The lacing system basically just tightens up the shoe from the top, even though the eyelets look like they’re in the style of Flywire. When you lace up, the top ends up just scrunching up, which is a little annoying to look at but doesn’t chaff against your foot so it’s fine. You can either slip these shoes on and go pretty comfortably, the only time I really cinched them up was when I did rope climbs.
In a size 10, my normal trainer size, the Alphabounce’s run ever so slightly long, but I don’t think I would size down if I were to do it again. They fit comfortably and don’t feel like clown shoes, so I can’t complain and wouldn’t size down due to my Morton’s toe. Compared to Metcon 4’s in a 10, they feel like a 10.5 but compared to Nano 8’s, they feel a little less big. The closest shoe, sizing-wise is probably the Speed TR’s, which ran slightly long as well. My advice is that if you don’t have Morton’s toe (2nd toe longer than big toe), size these half down. If you do (like me), size them as you would your normal training shoes.
My sizes for reference:
- Nano 8 – 10 feels just a little bit smaller than these shoes, I still have space.
- Metcon 4 – 10 feels way smaller, I don’t have a lot of space left.
- Speed TR – 10 feel similar, good amount of space in the shoe.
- CrazyTrain Elite – 10 with the old sizing felt the same, with the new sizing less room.
- CrazyPower TR – 9.5 feels smaller, but I can wear it comfortably. Similar to Metcon4.
The biggest issues with Adidas’ training shoes of the past is that they were not very flexible. Unlike both the CrazyTrain Elite and CrazyPower TR, the Alphabounce Trainer breaks the curse and are actually a good amount flexible.
Part of the flexibility comes from the single piece upper – there are no welds or stitching to get in the way of your foot doing its thing. While not stretchy, it moves with your feet well and there are doesn’t create any weird flex points or hot spots when it bends. The fabric itself is also breathable so your feet don’t get hot and bothered during even the most intense workouts.
The other bit of flexibility comes from that Bounce midsole. It’s not running shoe soft or even close to it, but it’s still very flexible, especially for a training shoe. With that said, it’s not the most “comfortable” if you were looking for a shoe that was soft or easy on the feet. Compared to the other Bounce shoes, the Trainers do not have anywhere close to the same kind of energy return or bounciness. Don’t expect these to be shoes you’re going to want to wear for anything more than a 5k.
However, I still feel like they’re great for plyometric based movements. The flexibility in conjunction with the responsiveness of the shoe make them excellent for most workouts that require you to be agile on your feet. They feel like minimalist shoe, without being minimalistic, or anywhere close to that. With all that width, they still don’t feel like clown shoes either. They wouldn’t be my number one choice for footwork, but you could manage without being too slowed down.
The most surprising characteristic of the Alphabounce Trainers is how insanely stable they are; I was not expecting anything close to how much they are. I almost think that making them part of the “Bounce” line-up might hurt their sales as a training shoe because people looking for a stable shoe might immediately disregard these by just the name. Those people would be missing out solely. (Sorry, I had to.)
Before I even get into how dense the midsole is, I need to reaffirm how insanely wide these shoes are. All throughout the shoe, the midsole stretches out far away from the already wide upper, as outriggers for a huge amount of contact area with the ground. Laterally, these shoes are king; they even make Nano 8’s look like a narrow shoe, stretching out almost a full half inch further at it’s widest points at the heel and the forefoot. The difference is noticeable, but doesn’t feel overdone or like these are clown shoes other than a little bit of clunkiness when you’re running. There is no wider shoe that I have ever tested.
That width translates into some insane stability, without even going into detail about how dense the midsole material is. To my surprise, the Bounce midsole is actually really dense and doesn’t give much at all, all while remaining flexible. I, like most people, saw the Bounce title and almost wrote these shoes off, but I had been eyeing the Beyonds for a while so I thought I would just take a shot at them anyways. The moment I put them on, I knew the Trainers were a real deal training shoe. Also, unlike it’s counterparts, the Trainers have a 6mm drop, which is a giveaway that the shoe was made for lifting weights.
The sheer width of the Alphabounce Trainers with the dense midsole make these shoes excellent for any kind of pure strength movement. Initially, I had reservations squatting around my 90% (370) in these shoes, but decided to give it a go anyways since I’m reviewing them, and ended up keeping the shoes on for the rest of my sets. Power delivery is excellent, there’s really not much give if any at all in the midsole. Squat heavy with confidence, my friends.
For Olympic weightlifting, the shoes fair just about as well as they do for power movements. The contact area that you leads to powerful takeoffs and stable landings. I do wish the shoes were a little bit more flat, because the heel height plus the wide toe can leave you a little forward sometimes, but overall these shoes are very good for weightlifting.
A movement that you should probably stay away from in these shoes is rope climbs. Grip is great and they stay on your feet when you come down, but after only about 5 rope climbs, the sidewalls of the midsole are already showing wear from rope abrasion. It would probably ruin the look of the shoe, but all Adidas would need to do is make the Traxion outsole extend into the lateral and medial parts of the shoe and it would be durable enough. They should be able to take a few descents as they are, but I wouldn’t want to ruin the shoes for that purpose alone.
Value & Conclusion:
Somehow, Adidas managed to let their best training shoe to date fly under the radar in releases. While not the absolute best all around, but they’re up there and definitely the surprise hit of the year. The Alphabounce’s do so many things right and maybe just one thing wrong, all while still being priced at a very competitive $100. For almost all things training, the Alphabounce Trainers should be at the top of you list of considerations, especially if you’re looking for something that breaks the mold.
- Excellent traction.
- Not durable for rope climbs.
- Dense, but also kind of a dull feeling midsole.
- Ankle collar rides a little high.
- Might be a little too wide for some people.
- Looks are polarizing.