Weightlifting shoes for crossfitters.

This isn’t supposed to be a review; more like, a guide.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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(!)

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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.

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Bar Shootout: Again Faster Team Barbell v.s. Fringe Sport Bomba Bar

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Again Faster Team Barbell v.s. Fringe Sport Bomba Bar.
Both pwned by UPS during shipping!
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Just IWF on the Team Barbell vs Dual Markings on the Bomba.
Note, sloppier end knurling ends on the Bomba, but kind of like the 2nd AF bar I got.
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Sexy gold bushing/bright zinc finish v.s. low key Silver bushing/black zinc. To each their own.
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Once again, the first AF Team Barbell I got is longer than the two other barbells I have.

Review: Again Faster Team Barbell (Bright Zinc) (Discontinued Model)

Update: This version is now discontinued, please refer to the review on the new iteration. (click for link)

 

If you’ve been following my reviews or if you read my review on the Fringe Sport Bomba bar, you’d know that I’ve only got positive things to say about Crossfit equipment companies. It’s probably just my luck that I end up with the problematic stuff, but every single company has gone out of their way to make sure that I’m happy at the end of the day. Again Faster is no exception. I had actually ordered the Again Faster Team Barbell before I got the Bomba bar. The coupon code for it from July 4th was still active in my shopping cart and since I was looking for a bar to use at home, so I said what the hell. I had been in contact with Beth from Again Faster for a few months before when I was looking for my first bar, and her customer service alone brought me back to purchase the Team barbell. The day that my bar arrived at my house, she had sent me an e-mail saying that certain bars with coating blemishes were sent out and upon inspection of my bar, I found out I received one. A few pictures and an e-mail to Beth and I had a new barbell shipped to my house. I didn’t even have to send back the perfectly working one that I already had! Two barbells for the price of one? Uh, YES! Unfortunately, with what must be that dumb luck stated earlier, the second one had a few of the same coating blemishes, but hell, I got one for free! I literally told her to not send me another one. I’m still a 100% satisfied customer.

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Again Faster Team Barbell

Enough already, on to the bar specifications…

  • 20kg Bright Zinc Plated
  • IWF Markings
  • 28.5mm Shaft Diameter
  • 185k PSI Tensile Strength
  • Bronze Oil-lite Bushing
  • Snap Ring Collar Design
  • Made in the USA
  • Lifetime Guarantee
  • $209

This bar has a hell of a lot going for it on paper, for the money. As well all know, that doesn’t mean much if the bar sucks when it’s in your hands. Thankfully, this bar, does not suck. This bar would be a good deal at around $300. To think that the price of this bar was less when it came out blows my mind. Quite honestly, this is probably my favorite bar that I’ve used, Ohio bar included. The collars on this bar spin freaking awesome! Every time I clean, I can hear my wrists sigh with relief, if wrists could sigh that is. I haven’t used the most expensive needle bearing bars, but the AF barbell spins just as fast as the Pendlay Nexgen HD, IMO. Maybe not as smooth, but we’re not far off their either. I don’t ever have a problem with slow lifts either, but I couldn’t imagine the collars starting to spin on their own there.

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I love goldddddddddd.

There are two many black bars on the market. Not that I have problem with black zinc, it’s just kind of played out now. Call me a hipster, but I like the bright zinc look. The coating here feels pretty good, though I could see the middle part between the knurling becoming slippery when you get sweat on it. I’ve heard a lot of people complain about the knurling being too aggressive on the AF bar, but honestly I think it feels just like the Pendlay knurling. Maybe a little more sharp if anything, but it’s definitely not harsh (The Ohio bar was the hardest on my hands). If you were to get the black zinc finish, I’m pretty sure that knurl would be a little lighter since that bar is probably coated with bright zinc, then black zinc.

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Clean lines.

With steel rated at 185,000 PSI tensile strength, the bar should be able to take a beating and not bend a millimeter. Which is a good thing, because I love dropping bars. The bar definitely has an indestructible feel to it as well, unlike some of the other budget bars on the market that have a semi hollow-ish feel to them. The collars are secured on using snap-rings, which seems to be pretty standard nowadays, but is nice to see. The first bar I got has gold colored bushings, which looks pretty hot, the second has silver. Dat spin doe. (They both spin equally well.)

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Bar 1 v.s. Bar 2…a little messier the 2nd time around.

The bad? More just like little quips. As mentioned before, both the bars that I got have coating blemishes. Not a big deal to me since they’re perfectly usable. But maybe someone should have clearly marked the bars as “defective” bars so they don’t make their way out of the warehouse. Both times, the bars ended up at my house with one end cap from the tubing packaging gone and somewhere along the way, someone dragged the bar along the ground causing an end to get pretty scratched up. The first bar with gold bushings is actually longer and the knurling start stop points are more precise than on the 2nd bar that has silver bushings. Not a big deal, but it’s interesting to note that the manufacturing changed a little bit. Also, it seems like the black zinc bar now comes with dual IPF/IWF markings, and the all black bar is only 130k PSI tensile strength. If this is any indicator about how the manufacturing is going to change, I’d probably pick one up soon if you were planning on getting a Team Barbell. Oh, it’s noisy when dropped as well.

I LOVE the Again Faster Team Barbell. For the price, the specifications, and the customer service…it’s unbeatable.

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Bar 2 on top, is shorter by a little.
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Gold or Silver, they both spin amazingly well.

Review: Reebok ONE Trainer 1.0 – The not-so-quite-Nano.

$110 for “Crossfit” shoes?! Give me a break.

Yes, I too was there at one point of my life. I remember thinking this same exact thing when I took the plunge on my first pair of Nano 2.0’s. My Nike Free’s just weren’t cutting it though, so I said “What the hell? Might as well if I’m doing this for the long haul.”. Keep in mind, those NIKE’s only costed me $100, and usually Nike’s demand a higher premium than Reebok’s. What I’m getting at is that Crossfit ain’t cheap, and Crossfit shoes sure as hell ain’t either. So what’s a budding crossfitter to do? Stick with running shoes that aren’t quite geared for the movements of Crossfit, or drop (almost) a month’s worth of membership dues for a pair of “Crossfit” shoes? Well, there have been some other great, cheaper options on the market for a while now from Inov-8 and New Balance, but there was nothing that replicated the experience of wearing Nano’s…until now.

I’ve made it a habit to check the Reebok site every few days, in hopes that the Black/Grey Nano 3.0’s might pop up. Despite my love/hate relationship with those shoes, I really want some darker colored shoes. The problem is that I’m extremely impatient, and I can’t pass up a great deal when I see one. Recently, there was a friends & family code for Reebok that was 30% off. Like normal, it wasn’t valid on Crossfit related items, I thought I’d check out some of the Reebok ONE gear, since I figure it’s probably pretty decent too. Lo and behold, there was something that caught my eye…

One Trainer 1

Looks:

This shoe also bears the Reebok ONE/Reebok Crossfit logo, the delta, can easily be mistaken as actual Nano’s, and obviously has some of the technology trickled down to it, without the price tag of Nano’s. Honestly, just looking at these shoes, you would think they’re actual Crossfit Nano’s. Wearing around my gym got me a lot of attention from people that know about my shoe fetish, asking me which Nano’s they were. They look like the 2.0’s and 3.0’s had a drunken night together, and came up with this lovechild. Personally, I think the ONE Trainers look awesome, and the color I got is dark, just how I wanted. There isn’t much fancy looking about these shoes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

One Trainer 2

Fit:

Nano 2.0. If you loved those shoes, you’ll love the fit here. It feels 95% the same. Size them accordingly. A major difference here is that the sockliner is removable on these shoes! Needless to say, I don’t have any of the sizing problems that I have with 3.0’s, here.

Performance:

This is where things get pretty decent. The test WOD included running, box jumps, deadlifts, double unders, overhead squats, push-ups, then more running. If you can’t get a feel for shoes with those movements, you must be a paraplegic. One thing that I’ve always hated about Nano’s is how clunky they feel when you run. Since the ONE Trainers seem to have a slightly softer sole, running in them is a little more comfortable. You still get the width (platform) of Nano’s though. This is what the Nano Speed should have been. Rebounding up and down for box jumps wasn’t as bad on my patellar tendonits, but I could definitely still feel the shock. All the lifting felt very similar to wearing Nano 2.0’s.

Don’t let the stock photos on the website fool though, the materials here may look the same but to the touch, they feel very different. Obviously, some corners had to have been cut to come up with this shoe. Everything feels a little softer, like they wouldn’t be able to stand up to the same kind of punishment that Nano’s can. I have high hopes for the durability of the shoe, but I don’t expect these to last as well as Nano’s. On the flip side, the ONE’s seem to feel like they’re lighter than any of the Nano’s. Probably partly due to less heavy duty material. The 3D fuse frame looks similar to the Duracage of the 3.0’s, but it’s just fabric, don’t expect it to handle the rope quite the same. One more thing, there isn’t a toe cap. Don’t miss those double unders.

I would go as far to say that these shoes are basically a cheaper, less durable, repackaged 2.0.

One Trainer Size Comparo

Value & Conclusion:

Here’s the kicker. With that code (FF30) I mentioned earlier, they came out to under $60 taxed and shipped! Half the price of a brand new pair of 3.0’s, not including tax. The regular retail is $85, which yes, is still not cheap…but for a shoe that performs this similarly to Nano’s, it’s a pretty good deal. Add in the fact that Reebok is ALWAYS having discount codes on non Crossfit branded items and you’ve got yourself a steal. If we’re talking not having a discount code, then go get some of the Nano 2.0’s that are on sale. If you’ve got a code like I did, you might want to just get the ONE Trainers. You’ll look the part at least.

Fringe Sport Bomba 20kg Oly Bar Review

First off, before I start this review, I want to commend Peter and the team over at Fringe Sport for being such a great company to work with.  They pretty much bent over backwards to get me the right bar.  Super friendly customer service, not to mention fast and FREE shipping on their products with competitive prices; you just can’t go wrong doing business with such a company.  One thing that I will always bring up about Crossfit, is the community being an amazing group of people – this remains the same with the people who distribute and manufacture the gear we use (including Again Faster and Rogue!).

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Pretty cool endcap.

Now that I got that off my chest, let’s get to what we’re here for.

Barbell shopping is interestingly enough, a very painstakingly complicated procedure.  There are so many different sizes, shapes and variations out there and no real resources or in-depth reviews on them.  Probably due to the fact that everyone is also going to have a personal preference towards a certain type.  Personally, I needed a barbell that could handle Crossfit movements: power and Olympic lifting.  Also, since this was just a bar that I was buying for my home gym set-up, it had to be on the inexpensive side of things.  After doing some sleuthing on the Crossfit forums, I was contacted by Peter at Fringe Sport to try out their Bomba (Boh-m-ba) bar. To be 100% honest, I had just purchased a bar from Again Faster, but I couldn’t resist the deal that Peter gave me.  One more thing that Fringe Sport didn’t have to do for me, but they did anyways.

The first bar I bought, was a Rogue Ohio bar.  I’m not going into direct comparisons of the two bars, as the Rogue costs at least a full $100 more, so you can’t say that they’re in the same league.  What I can tell you though, is that the Bomba bar, performs up to 90% of the Ohio bar’s performance and is $100 cheaper.  I’m not saying the Rogue Ohio bar isn’t worth every penny, it’s an amazingly crafted piece of steel, but if you’re looking to just get your lifting done, the Bomba bar is all about the business end of things.

Let’s take a look at the specifications (copied from Fringesport.com):

  • Weight: 20kg/44lb; Material: 165,000 psi steel, black zinc plated shaft, bright zinc plated collars
  • Origin: USA(!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
  • Length: 86in
  • Oil-lite bushings
  • 28.5mm shaft diameter
  • 1200lb static test weight limit
  • Snap ring collar construction
  • One year warranty

I’ve used a TON of different bars in my Crossfit career; anything from crappy 31mm economy bars that hardly spin to the Rogue Ohio bar (duh!) and Pendlay Nexgen HD bar.  The Bomba bar fits somewhere towards the top end of what I’ve used.  The 28.5mm diameter of the shaft is pretty common for what you’re going to find on bars that are geared towards Crossfit since it’s right there in between 28mm Oly bars and 29mm power bars.  In my experience, steer clear from anything that’s above 29mm.  They’re usually a thicker diameter to compensate for the bar’s weaker PSI rating (and still bend), and they just feel crappy in the hands.  The Oil-lite bushing provides a very smooth and reliable spin, without being overly fast when you need to do slow power lifts.  I had absolutely no problems getting my elbows around the bar doing semi-heavy clean & jerks in my Oly lifting session.  I noticed no performance decline switching to the Bomba at my heaviest lift (I warmed up to that lift using a Pendlay HD).  The collars held well doing overhead squats (ugh) even as I was moving quickly though the WOD.

Silver bushings.

We’ve got some bars that are similar to the Bomba bar at my box, except I have no clue where they’re from and their black zinc finish is of the glossy kind.  The coating on the Bomba is a more “matte” feeling black zinc and just feels more sturdy in the hand, even without having to chalk the bar up.  I’m personally a big fan of the knurling here.  My Ohio bar (black oxide) and the Pendlay’s at my box pretty much rip my hands to pieces.  The Bomba just feels right in the hands, not aggressive and not too weak.  With some chalk on it, it’s perfect.  Combined with the finish, you’ll have no problems with slippage here.  It also comes in a full bright zinc flavor if you’re not down for the two toned look.

At 165k PSI, you probably shouldn’t have to worry about bending this bar under normal use, dropping it on an edge is a different story as that can bend pretty much any bar that has weight on it.  Snap ring construction is nice so that if the collars ever get gunked up and stop spinning, you could get in there and add some lithium grease to rehab it; though that probably will void the warranty.  Speaking of which, the Bomba comes with two options:  1- Year for $219 shipped(!) and lifetime for $269 shipped.  The 1 year option is backed by their satisfaction guarantee.  Don’t like the bar?  Return it on their dime!  You probably will like the bar though.

IPF & IWF Markings, though not the cleanest start and stop points.

Gripes?  Yes, there are some.  First off, I like a very fast bar, mainly because my elbows are somewhat slow.  The Bomba spins well, but I prefer the fast spin of the AF bar to it.  Let me add this in, the Ohio bar spins the slowest out of the three.  I haven’t had the Bomba for too long, and theoretically since the bushings are self-lubricating, it should spin better over time, right?  The knurl start and stop points aren’t the most well defined?  That’s COMPLETELY superficial and I’m probably just nit-picking.  Paying more for a lifetime warranty, not so keen on that either.  Then again, chances of me ever needing that warranty are probably slim to none.

I don’t know what more I can say about the Bomba bar.  It’s an awesome choice when it comes to barbells for any purpose and I have no qualms recommending it to anyone looking for a bar that’s going to perform well and last for a lifetime.  Add on top that Fringe Sport is a stellar company to deal with and you’ve got a winning combination.  Even though I have multiple barbells at my house and at the box, I probably won’t ever be getting rid of my Bomba bar.

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