(Really) Short Term Review: Inov-8 Fastlift 335

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Inov-8 Fastlift 335

My first run in with the Inov-8 Fastlift was back at OC Throwdown in January.  Except then, it wasn’t called the Fastlift, but rather the Crosslift.  I guess to drop the stigma of it being just a crossfit shoe, they changed the name to Fastlift.   Which IMO, doesn’t quite have a great ring to it.  It even still seems to be marketed as a crossfit shoe anyways.  Go figure.  Anyways, I didn’t get to try it on at the time, so all I’ve been going on was what my friend was saying about the shoe when he tried it on.  Keep in mind, this friend favors Vibram Five Fingers and owns no other Olympic lifting shoes.  His impressions of them were favorable, but then again, he had nothing to compare them against, so while I gave him the benefit of the doubt, I also took everything with a grain of salt.  Since then, my anticipation for the shoe garnered more and more as I would see it pop up on the internet.  Would the Inov-8 stand up as a contender for the Reebok oly’s, as far as a hybrid shoe is concerned?  How would it perform for pure Olympic lifting?  Well, let’s just get down to what I’ve come to think about this shoe with only one day of experience.

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Pretty slick yo.
    • Sizing & Fit:  Normally Inov-8’s in sz 9 (210 & 195) fit me with a little room to spare up at the front of the toes.  Perfect.  With the Fastlifts in sz 9, my toes are right at the front.  Moving around in them actually feels good, but my toes were really uncomfortable doing some light jerks.  I know oly shoes should be snug, but the jury is still out here.  I might exchange them with 9,.5 depending on how they work out this week.  Otherwise, expect a more narrow shoe, familiar to Inov-8 running shoes.
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      Suction cups.
    • Performance & Feel:  Still limited here.  When I first put them on at my house, I thought they felt unstable.  I was worried that since they were a little more narrow than some of the other hybrid/oly shoes, that I wouldn’t feel as planted during lifts.  Wearing them at the gym proved to be another story.  Dropping into the bottom of a snatch felt fast and sturdy at the same time.  It’s actually very easy to move around in these shoes, they don’t feel clunky like the Reebok’s.  I actually feel like I could run in them.  The front of the shoe flexes pretty easily as I whipped through double unders.  I hit a 3RM front squat PR @285#; which honestly isn’t so impressive to me since every other time I tried to PR my FS, I made stupidly large jumps without even trying 285.  Squatting in the shoes felt nice though; I didn’t notice any kind of give in the heel.  Moving around on the oly platforms we have, I noticed the bottoms aren’t  as sticky as I would like.  Then again, the platforms were dusty, and no shoes I’ve tried on them has been able to truly glue themselves to the platform like I would want.
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Power-Truss
    • Design & Looks:  Looks are very much a subjective thing, but I think the Fastlift’s are slick, not to mention one of the better looking oly shoes.  I have the shoe in the black/red colorway, but if I had to do it again, I would get the Again Faster (black/blue) models.  The external heel cage looks cool as it sports a carbon fiber look.  The front of the toe box is a very hard material.  The upper is synthetic, looks like it’ll withstand the rope for climbs, but I’m not about to test that theory out just yet.  The laces are thin and crappy feeling, but easy to tie.  The heel is made out of a (Power-Truss system?) TPU, which I tried to press down with my fingers to see if it gave any.  Along the edges, it didn’t, but towards the middle it did.  I don’t actually think this is such a big issue seeing as how the heel doesn’t give in the most important area.  I’m not so sure about the indentations on the heel actually giving you a suction-cup like action.  I certainly didn’t feel it.  Heel height?  Lower than most others, at 0.65″.  I doubt this is going to affect 90% of the people using this shoe, but it’s worth noting that the majority of oly shoes are 0.75″ in the heel.  The weight is 335g or 12oz, making the Fastlift the lightest “oly” shoe on the market.  Trust me, working with heavy weight, those couple of ounces makes a huge difference when you need to move your feet quickly.
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Heel height differences…not so noticeable to the naked eye.
  • Value:  Retails at $149.99.  I managed to do some wheeling and dealing online to get this shoe for $130 after tax and shipping though.  Price $25 under the Reebok Lifter Plus, the same as the original Reebok Lifters and $60 more than the Adidas Powerlift Trainer 2.0, which really are the only true competitors against the Fastlift.  Up to you here, swim in the mainstream or be a hipster and go with the original brand for functional fitness?  Do you really need that 0.10″ in the heel or does having a more light and agile shoe entice you?
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The Fastlift in sz 9 is noticeably smaller than the other shoes in 9.

So, what do I think?  The Inov-8 Fastlift has a lot of great things going on here.  It looks good, it’s light, it’s stable enough for Olympic lifting/power lifting, you can run in it (short distance), it’s not clunky feeling like most lifters are, and you can get a deal on it, making it cheaper than the Reebok’s. For most people, this is going to be the only Olympic lifting shoe they’ll ever need.  Don’t get rid of your training shoes just yet, as these are NOT designed to run in.   As a hybrid shoe, there’s nothing too new here since the Reebok Lifter did this first.  Most importantly, the Fastlifts just give you more variety as far as getting a hybrid shoe is concerned; which in a market with only about 3 other choices, is a big deal.

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Don’t mind the mound of shoes in the background.

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Rope off

Hopefully all of you read my earlier post about getting those double unders and are now so intrigued that you want to buy your own rope.  Problem is, there are so many different ones out there, you don’t know which one is the right one for you!  Well lucky for you, I’ve pretty much used or own every single one out there. I’m not going to go into an in-depth review on every single one; my goal is to go over the pro’s and con’s of a few briefly to help guide you to your decision.  I’ll go from the most beginner friendly, to the most advanced.  NOTE:  Everyone is different.  Just because I think it’s beginner or advanced, doesn’t mean it might be that way for you.  I also think that if have the patience to learn on an “advanced” rope, the rewards will be greater.

  1. Boxer’s Jump Rope (http://Buyjumpropes.net) – I know a lot of people stress that novice’s should start with this and that this rope is fast enough for DU’s.  I decided I’d try it out…This rope sucks.  I don’t even know why I’m putting it in here.  Maybe because I think you should just skip it altogether.  PVC ropes just require too much effort to manipulate.  You can almost feel the PVC cord stretching out while you do double-unders.  Might be a good enough rope for singles to build footwork, but you’re gonna need something faster to string multiple DU’s.  (I could hardly get 10.)  Goes for about $10 bucks. Save your money.
  2. RX Jump Rope (http://rxsmartgear.com/) – Customization!  RX Smart Gear offers a slew of different handle colors, rope colors, rope sizes and weights.  The great thing here is that you can just buy a new cable depending on how proficient you get at DU’s.  Start with either the “Buff” or “Elite” cables, and work your way to the “Hyper” cable when you get better (size up 1-2″ from how they say you should size the rope).  Save the “Beast” cable for endurance building.  This rope can be fast enough for novices to pro’s alike.  Now for the downsides:  Even at the fastest cable, it takes a bit more effort to manipulate the rope, meaning you’ll probably burn out faster.  Also, for smaller handed athletes, the handles might be a bit much to hold.  This can be problematic in WOD’s with grip intensive movements.  Still, this rope is solid and will remain in my bag as a back-up.  This rope runs for around $40 shipped, with cables at around $8 a piece.  Not the cheapest, you’re paying for the customization.
  3. Ultra Speed Cable Jump Rope (http://www.buyjumpropes.net/) – This is where the learning curve starts getting steep.  This kind of jump rope is sold in a bunch of different variations and under a ton of names.  Not the speediest handles on the market, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  Still, this rope is faster than you are, guaranteed.  The handles rotate well enough so that you’re not expending too much energy turning them,  but still provide enough feedback so that you know where the rope is.  The cables vary depending on who you’re getting it from, but the cable that comes from Buyjumpropes.net is heavy enough so that you can feel where it’s going and so that keeps rope tension easily, but is light enough so that you won’t get too fatigued turning it.  The best part? This thing is DIRT cheap at $8 bucks.  You might as well start here since it’s about as much as lunch will cost you.
  4. JumpNRope R-1 (http://www.jumpnrope.com/) – Probably my favorite overall jump rope and the rope I really learned on.  They might look like they have the same design as the Ultra Speed rope.  Well, they do, but with a couple tricks.  The cable passes through another free turning eyelet and the bearings here spin a lot better than the former.  They offer a few different cables and two different handle lengths; I would stick to the blue steel cable and regular handles. The handles spin extremely fast, but something about how the bearings are set up makes it feel like its they’re a bit off axis.  This is nice because all you really have to do is flick your wrists to get it rotating and also to keep the rope going while providing feedback for your wrists. Stay away from that black coated cable; it’s flimsy and binds in the air.  On the other hand, the blue steel cable and bare cable cut the air without any kind of resistance and keep their form as you turn the rope.  Downsides?  The blue steel cable coating will eventually fray even if you’re just using it on rubber gym floor. The rope goes for about $30 shipped, but also comes with a spare 11′ cable and extra hardware!  Best bang for your buck!
  5. Rogue SR-1/SR-1S (http://www.roguefitness.com/) – This is currently what I’m using, but with the blue steel cable from JumpNRope.  The bearings spin INCREDIBLY well.  Same kind of eyelet set-up as with the JumpNRope handles.  The bearings here might be TOO smooth for some, but if you’re pretty decent with double unders, your wrists will be thankful in those longer DU’s strings.  With the longer handles, whipping the rope around you is easy and effortless.  I can’t say the same for the shorter handles, as I had a lot of trouble stringing any DU’s when I owned them (I also wasn’t as good at DU’s).  They spin just as well as the longer handles, but the feedback isn’t the same since you can’t create the same “whip” motion.  As I mentioned above, I’m using these handles with the JumpNRope blue cable.  Why?  The red cable that’s included is CRAP.  It retains whatever shape it was in, it binds in the air, it feels flimsy despite it being the same diameter as most other cables making it difficult to keep up rope tension.  Rogue is an AWESOME company and I hope they do something about this sometime.  I might go back to try those short handles out because the Spealler rope looks freaking awesome.  Goes for $22 for both sizes plus tax and shipping depending on where you are in the US.
  6. RPM Rope (http://rpmrope.com/) – The fastest.  The smoothest.  The sleekest.  Man, these handles have awesome knurling.  They feel great, they’re built solid, they just ooze pure quality.  Why isn’t this my favorite rope though?  Them being the fastest and smoothest doesn’t leave much for feedback.  I lose track of the rope, far into DU sets.  Throw in other movements and I’m screwed.  It’s a little easier using the blue steel cable on this rope, but still, this thing is designed for speed.  You’d be defeating the purpose of this rope by slowing it down like that.  This thing is constantly sold out, so if you’re intent on getting one, you better be ready to pull the trigger.  Runs for $43 before tax and shipping.  You can also get it engraved nowadays for added jump rope swag.  UPDATE 8/2/13 – After picking up the new revised version with 50% lighter handles, this has become my go to jump rope!  The lighter handles make the rope a lot easier to manipulate and way less fatiguing on the forearms!

That’s the rundown on a few of the ropes that I own or have owned.  If you’ve got any questions about any of them, or any other rope out there, feel free to leave me a comment!

If the shoe fits…

I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from friends lately regarding the fit of the Nano 3.0’s.  One male friend that normally wears a 9.5 in Nano 2.0’s says 9’s in Nano 3.0’s fits him perfectly, whereas a female friend said that hers fit too large (She normally wears a 7.5 and her 3.0’s are 7.5.).  If you read my earlier posts on Nano 3.0’s, you’ll know that my right shoe (sz 9) had been fitting a little too tight.  Well, I just said f’ it all and I’m selling my pair and I have a pair in 9.5 coming to me.  In the meantime, I tried on a friend’s 2.0’s in 9.5 and there wasn’t THAT much difference in size compared to my 9’s.

I have no clue what the hell is going on with the shoe sizing now.  Come Friday, I’ll have an update on how the 9.5’s fit me.  Until then, feel free to leave comments regarding how your shoes are fitting you.  I’d like to know where others stand in this debacle.

UPDATE (7/11 Happy Slurpee Day!):

Finally.

Finally, the shoe is comfortable and feels “as it should” on my foot.  While the 9 felt just right on me, when I would walk, my foot splay would crush my toes into the front.  On these 9.5’s, there’s a little room in the toe box, but when I walk, my toes come close to the front but don’t jam anymore (pun intended).  They feel GREAT, the shoe is super comfortable now.  As for the color, well…Crossfitters wear some really douchey stuff, right?  I’ll fit in just fine with this colorway.

So…as far as SIZING goes;  If Nano 2.0’s and U-Forms fit you PERFECT (meaning your toes are at the front of the shoes when you walk), size up for Nano 3.0’s!  The toe box is less forgiving on these shoes.

That’s it.  No more Nano 3.0 talk, unless someone is paying me or giving me free shoes.

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It’s Official

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They’re officially out now. Black/red looks good…better in person as did the grey/orange.  Thinking about swapping laces to red though…that is if I decide to even keep them.

A few more weightlifting notes:

  •  Went up to my 90% clean, no stability issues to report.  Power delivery was so good, I didn’t bother putting my oly shoes on.
  • Jerks felt good, foot movement was quick.  Still had a problem turning that back foot in, but that’s probably just my technique since that’s how it is for me with all shoes.
  • Back squatted bare up to my 3RM (345#) in these.  No issues that you wouldn’t find squatting in other sneakers with squishy soles.
  • Toe box still hasn’t loosened up.  My right foot gets cramped, but still it’s just my right so it’s probably me.  The original two Nano’s just fit better for me.
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