Crossfit

Adidas CrazyPower Weightlifting Shoes Review

IMG_7771

Functional fitness is as popular as it’s ever been and everyone is trying to cash in on it. Surprisingly, even though Adidas is the parent company of Reebok, they’re not just going to stand by and let Reebok handle all of the functional training segment. I think it’s actually perfect timing for Adidas to come out with serious training shoes, since they’re destroying the sneaker market. The CrazyPower TR’s are good shoes, not great, but they’re still hard to get your hands on.

While everyone had their eyes on the Leistung II, Adidas dropped a brand spanking new weightlifting shoe out of no where. Named the exact same thing as their newest training shoe, the Crazy Power, just without the TR designation at the end. It’s easy to just plop the Crazy Power WL shoes into the Oly lifter category, but no one actually knows what segment Adidas is trying to cater to with these shoes. Are they hybrid shoes? Are they the long awaited replacement for the AdiPowers? Are they a more serious Powerlift Trainer..?

This is what I’ve come to find out…

Looks/Construction:

Visually, the CrazyPower WL shoes are a little funky in design. It’s a huge departure from the AdiPowers or even the new Leistung II, more of a functional fitness look than one you’d see on the platform. Personally, I don’t think they’re bad looking, but I like funky. They’re a mix of synthetic TPU overlays, mesh, and a shiny, stretchy neoprene-ish sock like upper, similar to what we’re currently seeing on most of Adidas’ popular sneakers. It’s no PrimeKnit, but the upper is soft and actually provides a nice fit. The materials look cheap in photos, but the shoe is really well built with nice materials, though I’m not sure they’re premium enough to warrant the $175 price tag.

As opposed to the new Leistung BOA dial, the CrazyPowers have a standard medial strap with hook and loop velcro. The toe box is mainly open mesh and the entire forefoot is very flexible. The insole is surprisingly cushioned, but don’t worry, it’s still fairly thin and doesn’t effect power output at all. Adidas’ wording of the heel makes it sound like it’s not entirely made of TPU, but it is solid TPU and will not depress under any kind of weight. The outsole is entirely flat with an anti-slip rubber coating which does a fine job in holding it’s ground.

IMG_7780

Fit:

As with all Adidas weightlifting shoes, I sized my CrazyPower’s at a 9.5 and the fit is perfect in length and width for me. The silhouette of these shoes resembles the Adipower’s more than anything else and I would say they’re a slightly more narrow fitting shoe; definitely more than most weightlifting shoes. Though the socklike upper provides a great fit, one of the worst parts about the CrazyPower’s is actually getting your foot in the shoe. I don’t have a wide foot by any means and it requires quite a bit of jamming my foot through the top to get it in; laced, unlaced, unstrapped, it doesn’t matter. At least when it’s on, you get a really nice fit around the ankle with no heel slip and there is great support for your Achilles. The medial strap does a great job tightening the midfoot area  but another weird thing is that when I have my foot in the shoe, laced up with the strap tightened, the upper bunches up in the middle; it’s not really uncomfortable, but it’s worth noting.

Here are my sizes for reference:

  • Adipower/Leistung – 9.5
  • Romaleos 3 – 9
  • Romaleos 2 – 9.5
  • Position USA – 9
  • Legacy – 9
  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Chucks – 9

IMG_7778

Performance:

So what exactly were the CrazyPower’s made to do? We know they’re very flexible shoes and fairly lightweight at 15.58oz, but what about the heel height. This is always a funny area for me because I always get some kind of flak for putting up heel heights that people don’t always agree with. Per Adidas Specialty Sport’s wording, heel height is the total height of the heel and heel lift is the effective heel height (or drop), they just sometimes forget to add in the heel lift to their descriptions. The heel HEIGHT of the CrazyPower’s is 28.6mm/1.06″, which would be insane to be the effective height since I own both, put them on side by side and the Leistung’s are noticeably taller. Just so I don’t put speculation out there, I contacted Adidas to find out what the heel LIFT is…

16mm/.63″.

Yup, I knew it felt a lot shorter. Honestly it doesn’t feel a ton different when it’s on compared to the 20mm heel of the AdiPowers, but it is lower, and just slightly higher than the Powerlift trainers. Also, per the e-mail I received back from Adidas, the CrazyPower’s aren’t designed to be a “competition” weightlifting shoe, more suited for squat, bench and deadlifts. I would take all of that with a grain of salt though.

untitled

IMG_7772

Based off what we know, I’m going to peg this shoe into the functional fitness or powerlifting category; it’s like a more serious Powerlift Trainer because of the wider platform and incompressible heel. That doesn’t mean  you can’t use this for Oly lifting though, I personally like the lower heel height for cleans since I’m not the fastest under the bar. I even happened to PR my clean at 285 for a legit single, and I got under 300, but my knee dropped…still stood up though. I prefer squatting in flatter shoes, since I feel like I can balance better, so after I hit that clean, I proceeded to PR my backsquat (high bar) with relative ease at 405. The platform of the CrazyPower’s is crazy stable.

For me personally, this is all I’m looking for in an Oly shoe. I don’t need a huge heel and would rather have something lighter and flexible with a solid platform. I’m not really into using Oly shoes in WOD’s but the CrazyPower’s are comfortable enough, I would still avoid them if you’re doing a ton of plyometric movements, though I think these are some of the most responsive WL shoes I’ve ever used. Short runs and double unders should be fine, but I would stay away from rope climbs because of the flimsy upper. If you’ve got gross mobility issues, maybe stick to the Leistung or AdiPowers. If you’re a powerlifter squatting low bar and you just wanted a solid platform with a slight heel, these are the way to go. If you’re a CrossFitter looking for a flexible WOD oly shoe and you didn’t quite need the boost in mobility, you’re in the right place.

IMG_7782

Value/Conclusion:

I picked these shoes up from Holabird Sports for $155 and since I PR’d my clean and backsquat in these shoes, it was all worth it. Just kidding, I think for a more serious Powerlift Trainer, that’s a bit much to be asking; the MSRP is $175 and I think that’s just ridiculous. Still, in this case taller isn’t always better for everyone. If you’re looking for a pair of solid squatting shoes and don’t need the heel, these might be for you. Honestly the heel height between 3/4″ and these shoes isn’t a noticeable difference, so if you wanted to save a little bit of cash over the Romaleos, you might want to check out the CrazyPower’s. You could find AdiPower’s probably cheaper though…or Inov-8 FastLifts…the list goes on.

I didn’t think I’d like the CrazyPower’s as much as I do…and I’m planning on keeping them around for a long while because they just work well for my technique. I can confidently lift in them, they fit well and are fairly comfortable. Not everyone has a huge Oly shoe collection like me and are going to be able to swap out shoes all the time, so it’s a weird recommendation for me. Overall, there might be better options out there, but for me the CrazyPower’s might be one of my favorite lifting shoes at the moment.

Get your Adidas CrazyPower WL shoes here!

IMG_7785

NoBull Trainer Review (2016 Update)

IMG_7741

Since the release of their original Trainer, NoBull has been making waves in the fitness community. I thought they were excellent shoes, just not anything new or revolutionary…but I guess that’s kind of the point. NoBull’s mantra is in it’s name, shoes don’t make you stronger or faster, that’s all dependent on how much work you put in and the NoBull Trainers were designed for you to do work in.

In 2016, NoBull updated the already highly functional Trainer and I’ve just finally gotten around to them. The only thing that remains the same is the signature SuperFabric upper, which makes it look like not much has changed, when in fact it’s pretty much a brand new shoe. Not that there was anything wrong with the previous model, but no shoe is perfect and in this game, you have to be constantly making changes to stay relevant. The previous Surplus Trainers were great, so are the current Trainers worth upgrading to?

IMG_7733

Looks/Construction:

You would never know that NoBull’s were a company thats only been around for a couple years by the construction of their shoes.  As simple as they may be, they’re just as well built as any sneakers from the big brands. One nod to quality that wasn’t really acknowledged are the lace eyelets, which now have flat edges, compared to the cheaper looking rounded ones.The simplicity of the one piece SuperFabric  upper is what makes the Trainer’s a beautifully plain shoe.  Unless you get one with print, or somehow braille offends you, you can’t really say the Trainers are ugly because there’s really nothing to them. What makes SuperFabric what it is, are the abrasion resistant “guard” plates that are spaced out on top of a mesh baselayer, keeping the shoe flexible and lightweight, but durable.

Personally, I preferred the thicker tongue in the previous model, but that’s been changed to a more thin version, like you’ll find in the Metcon or Nano 7; not a big deal either way. Another thing I found interesting was that the sockliner/insole has been changed to a much thinner one compared to the thicker Ortholite style one in the old model. Honestly, I thought that was one of the better features in the shoe because it gave you a little bit of comfort while still remaining stable.

The most notable change to the Trainer’s are the redesigned midsole and outsole. Once again, I didn’t have any issues with either of these areas of the old model, but now the midsole compresses much less than before. The outsole now has a more uniform tread pattern that extends a bit more up the instep for better grip while climbing ropes. It’s also generally more flat on the bottom, so combined with the incompressible midsole and paper thin insole, the new Trainers feel even more neutral than before.

IMG_7736

Fit:

I had the original Surplus Trainers in a 9.5 men’s and found that they ran a bit on the small side. While I could work out in them for short periods of time, my feet would get cramped over extended periods of wear. With the newer model, I opted for a size 10 and the fit is now much better, if not a little more open inside the shoe, which I think might be due to the thinner insole. Either way, I’m happy with the fit, which is reminiscent mostly of the Nano 3.0 or 5.0. Remember, NoBull does unisex sizing, so you could size up or down in either men or women’s shoes. My sizes for reference:

  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • CrazyPower – 9.5
  • Chucks – 9
  • Romaleos – 9.5
  • AdiPowers – 9.5
  • Legacys – 9

IMG_7732

Performance:

No bull, seriously.

There’s nothing that the Trainer’s even bother trying to do differently than what’s known to make a solid training shoe, besides the SuperFabric upper. Wide flat base, incompressible midsole/outsole, 4mm drop, lightweight, and flexible. If the formula works, why bother even messing with it? The Trainers are a no nonsense shoe that I’d feel comfortable doing pretty much any workout in, from Oly lifting to running WODs. At the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.

For lifting, which is honestly where I put most of my emphasis of my reviews towards, the Trainers are everything you’d want in a minimalist training shoe. There’s no cushion to get in the way of power delivery and the base is stable, flat and wide. They’re extremely light and responsive so it’s easy to move your feet. The new tread pattern and outsole material holds everything well, so you’ll never be at a loss of footing. While they’re still a little choppy feeling while running, you really won’t be bothered by them because they only weigh 10.44oz per shoe and the upper flexes well enough. I still think the previous models were better for running because they had better cushioning and the outsole wasn’t as flat. The Trainers are extremely responsive when it comes to plyometric movements like box jumps, burpees, and double unders. Best of all, my feet never get uncomfortable after repeated bounding because there is nothing pushing back against my arches.

TPU heel clips are all the rage when it comes to handstand push-ups, which is something I feel the NoBull’s could benefit from if they were to integrate it well. Right now the contact point for when you do HSPU’s is the gummier bottom part of the outsole that does drag up the wall a little. They could even just extend the midsole down the rear of the shoe, which is a bit more slick than the outsole.

IMG_7731

Value/Conclusion:

You can’t go wrong with vanilla ice cream and neither can you with the NoBull Trainers. There is really nothing special about them, which makes them perform better than most training shoes on the market. They combine all of what makes a great training shoe into one well executed package, without trying to do too much of anything. Luckily at $130, they don’t cost more than any of the other bigger brands, so you can rest assured you’re getting your money’s worth with the NoBull Trainers. Should you upgrade if you have the previous models? For an overall shoe, I believe so, but keep those older ones for running days. If I went into a day of training, not knowing what the hell was coming my way, I would probably pick the NoBull Trainers to use because I know they would just do well with anything that was thrown at me.

If all you want is a great performing, durable pair of training shoes without any frills or gaudy branding, check out the NoBull Trainers. There is a lot of beauty in their simplicity.

www.nobullproject.com

IMG_7739

Adidas Leistung 2 Review

IMG_7457

The Adidas Leistung 16 Rio was one of the most asked about weightlifting shoes on the market last year for many reasons. First was that they were the “Official” shoe of the 2016 Rio Olympics, second was that they had the BOA dial enclosure system, third was that they were fairly ugly, and last but not least, no one could seem to figure out what the effective heel height was.  I think it was mainly the latter that created the most confusion about the shoe because most sites didn’t have any concrete information. When I did my review, I had to do a bit of looking around, but I found the Adidas Specialty Sports store which had both the total and effective heel heights. Even still, a bunch of people questioned my source’s authenticity.

I’m not going to lie, the Leistung’s were not my favorite weightlifting shoe. Besides the convenient BOA dial system, there weren’t a ton of redeeming features to me. I was a huge fan of the Adipowers and the Leistung’s just didn’t produce the same magic that the Adipowers did for me. I’m usually a fan of crazy designs, but the upper pattern was just not pleasant to look at and the color wasn’t doing it any kind of favors. The real drawback to me was the heel height, they were my first 1″ heeled shoes and I just couldn’t get used to them. Personally, I don’t have hip or ankle mobility issues and my femurs aren’t long, but my lat mobility isn’t the greatest; slow elbows with the higher heel hindered my performance with the Leistung. Even once narrowly missing destroying my wrist on a clean that was too forward.

Newly refreshed for 2017, we’ve got the updated Leistung 2. While it boasts an updated look and new features, the Leistung at its core, remains the same.

Looks/Construction/Fit:

With the Leistung 2, you get a brand new upper design and material; these shoes look WAY better in comparison to the original Leistung. Carbon fiber in look, the new upper is actually woven synthetic material throughout most of the shoe, that not only looks good, but flexes much better. The TPU heel is basically the same exact thing as it was in the original model, but now is frosted white in color so you don’t get the pink “bleed through” color from the upper. Materials on Adidas shoes are always pretty good and they’re probably only going to get better due to the surge in both training and Adidas as a brand. Both shoes are consistent as far as construction goes and don’t have any odd issues I can complain about.

The BOA enclosure system returns, but with a different purpose this time; now all it just tightens the medial strap versus before when it was the actual lacing system. Shoelaces make their return to the Leistung 2 which in conjunction with the medial strap, make it much easier to get a tighter fit. While much better than the original Leistung, I haven’t quite figured out a way to get a fit where I don’t get any kind of heel slip. Sure, you have to tie your laces now and there’s no where to tuck them in, but I prefer the new/old lacing system to the previous model’s. Those using them for just “squat shoes”, could still probably get away with taking the laces out and just using the BOA dial.

IMG_7462

After having the Leistung 16 in a size 9 and finding the toebox to be on the small side, I decided to get the 2’s in a 9.5. The fit this time around is much nicer and gives my toes plenty of room to splay, without being too big so that my feet would slide around. The midfoot isn’t narrow by any means, but it can be if you need it to be because of the BOA dial medial strap. I recommend getting these shoes in your normal training shoe size. For reference, here are my sizes:

  • AdiPower – 9.5
  • Romaleos 2/3 – 9.5
  • CF Lifters/Legacy – 9
  • Position USA – 9
  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Chucks – 9
  • Ultraboost/NMD – 9.5 or 10

IMG_7471

Performance:

This area is going to be extremely YMMV. I know that there are high level weightlifters that can use the Adidas Leistungs (see – Aleksey Torokhtiy), but personally, I could just not get used to these shoes for Olympic weightlifting. Since the heel construction is the EXACT same as the Leistung Rio 16, performance is pretty much identical. The effective heel height is 1″/24.8mm and the TOTAL heel height is 1.5″/37.8mm. That extra .25″ compared to most Oly shoes makes a huge difference for me. I’m not the fastest under the bar so I’m typically finding myself missing things in front of me when I snatch. On the flip side, when I do make it under in time, I receive the bar in a much more upright torso position. For cleans, my lat mobility isn’t amazing and my elbows are on the slower side, making me catch with low elbows. These are all technical errors on my part and not the shoes being defective. In my opinion, in order to use these shoes to 100% effectiveness, you should be a highly skilled weightlifter.

That added heel height could help you out if your ankle mobility was bad, giving you more angle for your shins, or if you had longer femurs, or even both! When it comes to squatting, high bar requires a little bit more concentration to keep your chest up; if you’re low bar squatting and needed the shoes for mobility, you should be plenty fine. The shape of the outsole and the material Adidas used make the Leistung’s very stable shoes during a squat. Power output while squatting is excellent because that TPU isn’t compressing anytime soon, but since the shoe is so tall, you feel a little disconnected for Olympic lifts. I had a lot of trouble trying to find a balance inside the shoe, being either too far forward or too much on my heels with my toes off the ground. The 1″ heel to toe drop is just too steep in the Leistung for me, compared to the more usable, gradual drop of the Position USA lifters.

The weight of the Leistung 2 per shoe is 17.7oz according to my scale. They’re featherweights (anything is) compared to the Legacy’s, but significantly heavier than the Adipowers, Romaleos or even the new CrazyPower’s.  For a weightlifter or powerlifter, this really shouldn’t be an issue, for a CrossFittter trying to WOD in these shoes, it will be. Not that I would even recommend trying to do WOD’s in these shoes. Having to get set up quickly with the 1″ heel just takes too much effort to do for the weight that you’re typically lifting during a WOD.

IMG_7481

Value/Conclusion:

MSRP of the Leistung 2 is a little higher than most weightlifting shoes at $225. You really have to decide if that 1″ heel will suit your lifting style. Though I think most people will be fine with a more standard .75″ heel, people that need the extra bit of mobility will benefit the most from the higher heel. The 1″ heel to me, is a high risk, high reward kind of thing. It can pay off if you’re more technically sound, but if you’re not, it might be more of a hindrance. Personally, it wasn’t my thing, just like in the original Leistung. If you were a fan of the original Leistung, you’ll probably love the updated model. They’re still an excellent pair of weightlifting shoes, they’re just not for me.

Get  your Adidas Leistung 2 at Rogue Fitness

IMG_7458

New Balance Minimus 40 Trainer Review (MX40v1)

IMG_7748

Long before I even got into CrossFit, I somehow got into minimalist shoes. My buddy had gone to REI and picked up a pair of Vibrams, so I followed suit. Back in the globo days, I wore Vibrams and my New Balance Minimus MT20’s religiously. The whole thought process of training your feet to be stronger made a lot of sense to me, even if it was all a hoax at the end of the day. Still, my big takeaway from all that was that cushion was not good for power output; the more “support” you have, the harder it is to exert power to the ground. Since you can’t always actually goto the gym barefoot, you’d want as dense “protection” as possible but not so soft that it would create too much of a barrier between you and whatever you’re pressing against.

In an ideal world, we’d all just be lifting, but in the real world, fitness is multi-faceted. In functional fitness, you have to be able to do anything, at anytime, and that includes running. This introduces a huge issue, comfortable running shoes are bad lifting shoes, and effective lifting shoes are horrible running shoes. Many companies have tried to come up with a solution for both, but most have failed, until now. New Balance has come up with the best blend of comfort and stability in a cross-trainer yet with the Minimus 40, and they don’t look half bad either.

IMG_7756

Looks/Construction:

New Balance had always tended to have an understated look with their shoes and the Minimus 40’s are no exception. Understated does not mean shoes have to be ugly, and while the Minimus 40’s are simple in design, they’re far from ugly. There are no gaudy logos, no crazy prints, and all but just excellent color combinations. The lines of the shoe keep it modern looking without being too silly; these shoes are made to look like they’re actually capable of doing work. One thing that will never change is the unmistakable “N” logo that adorns the side of the shoe. People have said that these shoes look like Metcon 3’s, but in all actuality Metcon’s look like the Minimus 40 since the New Balances came out first.

The uppers found on the Minimus line of training shoes have been decent, but always bit on the thin side. I thought the MT20’s were some of the best constructed shoes I’ve owned. After I retired those, I picked up a pair of MX20v3’s because I thought they looked cool, but they just felt a bit flimsy. Never did I go hard on them because I was always worried they would not stand up to the test of CrossFit. The Minimus 40 brings a refreshed no-sew woven synthetic mesh upper to the Minimus line that not only flexes extremely well, but is comfortable to wear with or without socks, and is resistant to abrasion. Couple that with the flexible Vibram outsole that should be as durable as the upper (though I don’t have any long term durability tests.) and you’ve got a shoe that is nothing less than confidence inspiring for all the rigors of CrossFit training. All the materials are top notch, the shoe actually feels like it’s worth it’s cost now.

IMG_7753

Fit/Comfort:

My original MT20’s were a size 9 and fit like a glove, but I always wore them without socks. Since then, I think my feet have somehow grown a bit from all the squatting I’ve done over the years. My last pair of MX20v3’s were a size 9.5 but did not accommodate my Morton’s toe well, so with the Minimus 40’s, I went up to a size 10. The fit for me is slightly long, but I would say they’re comfortable. If you don’t have Morton’s toe, size them your normal training shoe size. Though New Balance’s offer different width shoes, they generally fit on the more narrow side of things and the Minimus 40’s are no exception. This is something that you might want to take into account if you’re coming from Metcon’s or Nano’s, because those shoes are very wide in comparison. Here are my sizes for comparison:

  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • WL Shoes – 9
  • NoBull – 10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Boots – 8.5

Comfort isn’t necessarily one of the things at the top of my list when I look for training shoes; my number one priority is that I’m able to lift efficiently in the shoes. Over the years, my feet have gotten much more tolerant and used to not having any kind of cushion when I run, in fact – I prefer it that way. Call me crazy, but all “support” ends  up doing is make my feet work harder to stabilize when bounding, which causes them to ache. This was a huge problem that I had in the Nike Metcon DSX Flyknit. It still happens to a lesser extent, but I can deal with it as it doesn’t usually set in until late into a workout. That being said, it’s nice to have a little bit of impact deadening so my knees don’t get wrecked afterwards. New Balance’s Rapid Rebound foam makes for an easier ride, and paired with the REVLite heel, the Minimus 40 are firm enough training shoe at the same time.

IMG_7751

Performance:

When I first put on the Minimus 40, I thought to myself “There’s no way I can train in these, they’re too soft!”…how wrong I was. As I mentioned earlier, I judge my training shoes on their ability to be a lifting shoe and usually the more comfortable the shoe, the worse it is to lift in. You might think this too initially, but that’s why we need to try things out, because you never know what you’re gonna get. Though the insole and midsole combination compresses, it doesn’t go down very far due to the low midsole height and fairly solid Vibram outsole. Power delivery is excellent, rivaling even the most stiff soled shoes out there. The insole/midsole might feel a bit squishy, but at the end of the day, stability is almost as good as it is in any of the best training shoes out there. So much so, that I was able to PR my snatch hitting the 225 milestone. I’m not saying the shoes helped me hit that lift, but they certainly didn’t interfere either.

 


With all Minimus shoes, the 40’s are neutral and have a 4mm drop that actually feels flatter than it is. Pair the measley 10oz per shoe weight with the Rapid Rebound midsole and you’ve got one of the most responsive rides in a cross-trainer. New Balance’s claims that the Minimus 40’s are a new approach to training footwear, is entirely accurate as they never become too harsh for running, or too plush for lifting. They’re responsive yet comfortable enough to rebound box jumps, flexible enough for multiple burpees, and a more than stable enough platform that will never let you down when you need to pick up something heavy. I abhor shoes that have too much “support” because it usually ends up with my feet becoming excruciatingly sore after trying to find balance after repeated bounding. My support comes from ground feel, which the Minimus 40 never lack.

Can you run in them? Absolutely, they happen to be now one of my favorite shoes to comfortably do running WOD’s in, all while remaining stable enough to hit lifts in. I prefer neutral runners that don’t force your feet anywhere, so the Minimus 40’s stable, responsive, yet still “plush enough” platform is perfect for me. These are the kind of shoe that you would want to wear for a workout like “Helen”. At the end of the day, they’re still training shoes, if you want to run distances, get some running shoes, but if you’re looking for an all around metcon shoe the Minimus 40’s are one of the best choices. Take notes bigger brands.

IMG_7757

Value/Conclusion:

It’s really hard to tear people away from Nike and Reebok, especially when you’re not typically known as the “cool” brand (Exception: 247’s!). Retailing at around the same price ($120), the Minimus 40’s are definitely worth the look for anyone looking for a great performing and great looking shoe that can pretty much do it all. I’m not keen to giving up any kind of power output for comfort but New Balance has successfully come closer to finding the balance between comfort and rigidity in a fitness shoe to date. I’ve used a lot of shoes, liked a bunch, disliked even more, but I’ll  definitely be using my Minimus 40’s for a long time after this review.

IMG_7759

Nike Romaleos 3 Weightlifting Shoes Review

IMG_7604

It’s been a long 5 years since the ever so popular, Nike Romaleos 2 released back in 2012 before the London Olympics and 9 years since the original Romaleos were released before the Beijing games. The Romaleos 1 & 2 were basically the same shoe in design, but the second iterations were made more flexible and more importantly, cut off a ton of weight. One that that hasn’t changed is how insanely popular these weightlifting shoes are. I started CrossFit the same year the 2’s were released and I remember the Romaleos 2’s always being sold out. It wasn’t until I got my hands on them that I realized why: they were insanely stable. At the time the only shoes I had to compare them to were my Reebok Oly Lifters and Adidas Adipowers, which were both great shoes, but nothing felt as rock solid than the Romaleos 2 did.

It’s now 2017 and the Romaleos 3 are out, a completely redesigned shoe for the new age of weightlifting that like it or not, includes CrossFit. These are not just Olympic weightlifting shoes, they’re not just powerlifting shoes or “squat” shoes, and they’re not just CrossFit shoes. They’re training shoes for everyone whose purpose is to lift weights, whatever discipline you follow. This couldn’t be any more apparent with the changes made to the Nike Romaleos 3.

IMG_7607

Looks & Construction:

It’s been 9 years and the Romaleos were in dire need of a facelift. Not that the older models were ugly, but updated colorways just weren’t cutting it anymore.  While still looking very much like a weightlifting shoe, the R3’s carry no cues of the original models over in it’s updated look. If I could sum up the new look of the R3’s compared to it’s predecessors, in a single word: it’s svelte. Some people are going to disagree with me on this one, but the R3’s look sleeker and sexier than the old models in every way. I think all the launch colorways are perfect, though I would personally like to see a louder one *cough* volt *cough*.

The upper is a new synthetic material that at the back of the shoe has a fabric like feel to it, and at the toe area feels more leathery. It doesn’t feel cheap at all, but it doesn’t feel as robust as the rubbery upper of the Romaleos 2. The toe box is covered with ventilation strips that act as flex points giving you a much more natural toe off. Though the shoes do have the updated Flywire lacing system, it’s only around the ankle area of the shoe, with another set of eyelets for if you want to use lace lock. The updated strap isn’t ridiculously long and actually does a good job of tightening the shoe. Like the previous model, the R3’s come with two pairs of insoles: a softer one that’s mainly going to be directed towards CrossFit athletes and a stiffer heavier one that weightlifting purists will probably gravitate towards.

IMG_7624

The biggest change to the Romaleos 3 is something you can’t actually see, it’s how insanely light these shoes are. This is immediately apparent from the time you pick the shoe box up. Without the insoles the shoes weigh 12.2oz which is about the same as a normal trainer. It’s not realistic to wear the shoes without insoles but the “soft” insole increases the weight to only 13.4oz and the “firm” insoles up to 15.4oz. Either way you go, you’re going to notice the weight reduction – Romaleos 2 with the “soft” insole weighed 16.5oz according to my scale.

IMG_7618

IMG_7619

Fit:

Fans of the Romaleos 2 might not be too keen on the Romaleos 3 new slimmer profile. While it’s still very much a wide base, it’s considerably more narrow than the Romaleos of old. You’re going to notice this much more in the mid foot section of the shoe and even more if you’re using the thicker, firm insoles. Interestingly enough, I got a much more locked down fit using the softer insoles. I barely tightened my laces up and my heels stayed seated in the shoes the whole time during a WOD, whereas with the firm insoles, I actually had to use the lace lock to get the same kind of fit during Oly lifting. Either way, the fit outclasses the Romaleos 2 by a long shot and there’s virtually no heel slip.

The toe box to me still feels the same and my digits get cramped up a bit, though not uncomfortable for weightlifting, not ideal for WOD’s. If you’re a CrossFit athlete looking to do WOD’s in the R3’s, I’d recommend sizing up a half size and just changing the insert whenever you wanted to do hit a WOD or a weightlifting session. If you’re just looking to strictly do Olympic weightlifting or squatting in the Romaleos 3, just stick to your normal weightlifting shoe size because you’re not going to want that extra wiggle room. Personally I went with a size 9, but seeing as how I’m going to be using the shoes for CrossFit and weightlifting, I would go with a 9.5 if I were to do it again.

My sizes for reference:

  • Romaleos 2 – 9
  • Metcons – 9.5
  • Nanos – 10
  • Chucks – 9
  • AdiPowers/Leistung – 9.5
  • Legacy – 9
  • Fastlifts – 9
  • Lifter Plus – 9
  • Positions – 9
  • NoBull Lifters – 9, but should be a 9.5

IMG_7608

Performance:

The Romaleos 2 are excellent shoes and quite possibly one of the best pairs of lifting shoes of all time due to their incredible stability. The R3’s are very stable shoes in their own right, but they’re not as much so as the R2’s (*gasp*). What very little you lose in stability, you gain in other areas and in my opinion, that’s what makes the R3’s the superior shoe. At least for me they are.

You’re going to notice the R3’s slightly more narrow platform from the get go if you’ve been lifting in the R2’s for a while. AdiPower fans will feel right at home because that’s the closest shoe the new Romaleos feel like. Once again, not narrow by any means, just more narrow than before. The R3’s also don’t have that same planted feeling the Romaleos 2 had when you jump; like gravity boots sucking you back down to the Earth. This is mainly due to the the reduction in weight, but at the same time it’s a lot easier to move around in the R3’s with either insole, which is more valuable to me. I’m able to move my feet much faster than ever before in the R3’s, which is invaluable to me because I have the tendency to drag my feet along. Where the R3’s really shine is that they’re excellent shoes to WOD in, because they’re almost sneaker like in weight. Combine that with the best in class forefoot flexibility and you’ve got movement as natural as it’s going to get in any Oly shoes. The R3’s feel the most connected your feet than any Oly shoe before it.

IMG_7614

The effective heel height of the Nike Romaleos is 20mm or .79″, which still puts it in the 3/4″ territory like most weightlifting shoes, excluding the Adidas Leistung. Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the 1″ heel and 3/4″ seems to be perfect for me. Don’t freak out, you’re not going to a difference between the slightly lower heel (19mm) of the Romaleos 2. As before, the heel is made out of TPU and is incompressible, making power delivery perfect. Nike left the inside of the heel hollow probably to save on weight, but there are pylons throughout the heel to give it structure. At the ball of the foot, you can actually press the outsole in, but if you were to push through the inside of the shoe, you’d just be pressing into ground, so that’s not a big deal. The outsole material is a bit tackier than before and does a great job sticking to rubber flooring, but an even better job sticking to the platform.

IMG_7612

Value & Conclusion:

These are currently my favorite pair of weightlifting shoes…

…Despite saying that, I don’t think everyone’s going benefit equally from the Romaleos 3.

Here’s where things get really subjective: who will benefit the most from “upgrading” to the Nike Romaleos 3? To be completely honest, CrossFitters will, and that’s not just because I am one. Like I said before, Romaleos 2’s were some of the most stable shoes of all time and they still are more stable than the Romaleos 3. If you’re not having to move your feet around, you won’t really notice the weight reduction as much. Weightlifters will benefit as well, but not to the same extent because the amount of movement done, while precise, is short. Proficient weightlifters could actually want the added weight for stability. Powerlifters and globo’ers will never have to worry about this and would actually benefit from having a heavier shoe so they won’t have to worry about their feet shifting around during squats. This is not to say the Romaleos 3 can’t be good for everyone, they are indeed EXCELLENT shoes for everything.

Before you go pulling the trigger on the Nike Romaleos 3, you’ve got to take into account what you’re using them for and what shoe you would actually benefit from the most. The Reebok Legacy Lifters, while bricks (20oz), are the most stable shoe out there. The Adidas Leistung 2 have a 1″ heel for those that need the extra mobility and weigh in at a little above 17oz. Even the Romaleos 2’s would still be an excellent choice for most people and since the R3’s are out, they cost less! Once again, this is not to say that the R3’s can’t be used by everyone out there, if you like them, by all means get them. The Romaleos 3’s will perform above and beyond everyone’s needs; there is no way you’ll be disappointed in them! For those doubting the ability of the Romaleos 3 to be a competition ready shoe, go watch Colin Burns snatch the American record in them.

The Nike Romaleos 3 cost $200, which like most weightlifting shoes, isn’t a small a price to pay, but it’s an investment in your training. While some might not find it the perfect shoe for their discipline, it’s the perfect weightlifting shoe for me because of blend of stability, flexibility, and agility. I think it’s pretty obvious that Nike chose to design the Nike Romaleos 3 with functional fitness in mind as well as Olympic weightlifting. There will no doubt be some controversy for this in the weightlifting world. For CrossFitters, Romaleos 3 are a no-brainer; but for everyone else, you might want to check your options first.

Get your Nike Romaleos 3 at Rogue Fitness starting 1/21!

IMG_7616