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New Balance Minimus 40 Trainer Review (MX40v1)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Get your Minimus 40’s here!

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Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.0 Review

***NANO 7.0 WEAVE REVIEW HERE!!!***

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I almost can’t believe it’s already been seven generations of the Reebok CrossFit Nano. When I started CrossFit, the Nano 2.0 had just been released; at that time I was working out primarily in minimal  shoes. Lucky for me, the theme of CrossFit shoes was minimal, but that didn’t stop me from grabbing a pair of Nano 2.0’s, mainly because they were acutal CF shoes. They were, are, and probably will forever be, my favorite Nano’s. Ever since then, I try not to use shoes not designed for “CrossFit”, even if they are training shoes; mainly because they’re usually not capable of doing all we do proficiently.

CrossFit is an all encompassing fitness regimen, you have to be able to lift, run and jump in them. Being able to balance all the traits is where things get tricky, and few have been able to come close to total solution for a shoe. Though I’ll forever love the Nano 2.0’s, last year when Reebok released the Nano 6.0, they came pretty damned close to putting together the perfect CrossFit shoe, and definitely made it difficult for them to create a follow-up. Surprisingly, Reebok strayed away from Nano 6.0’s with the 7.0’s, not only completely changing the winning formula of the shoe, but also changing the release schedule it had always had. There were a lot of salty people after they found out the Nano 7.0’s would be released in the beginning of January, after they had just gotten 6.0’s for Christmas.

The release of the seventh generation model was met with nothing short of criticism, mainly for their appearance, but also because of the change in release schedule to “undercut” the Metcon. For whatever reason, the Nano 7.0’s are here in January, once again being touted as the best Nano yet (of course they would be), but they’ve got some big shoes to fill, pun intended.

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Looks, Construction & Fit:

Personally, I think people are being a little harsh about the way the Nano 7.0’s look. True, they take a huge departure from the no nonsense styling of the Nano 6.0, but different doesn’t mean bad.  I think the main issue was the launch colorway, which at my box we’ve dubbed “Shoe by the Foot”, because the colors resemble the Fruit by the Foot flavor no one knew they were eating. Since then, more colors have been released and I think people are starting to warm up to them a bit; I think the grey is pretty good looking. When I see the shoe, I think of all the possibilities for colorways, in which the 7’s have quite possibly more options than any Nano before it.

Gone is the Kevlar outer shell and replacing it is the brand new “Nanoweave”. I don’t blame Reebok for not wanting to pay Dupont and going with a proprietary option; I never thought the Kevlar worked well anyways. The texture is rough and has a basket-like weave over a traditional synthetic upper; it feels sturdy enough, but also very stiff. Before you get the shoes broken in, it creates uncomfortable ridges in the toe box area; it takes a few days for them to go away. I’ve never had an issue with durability in Nano’s yet and I don’t think there will be any questions about how well Nano’s hold up any time soon. I did a few rope climbs and the shoes looked as good as new afterwards.

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While the platform largely feels the same as far as width, the Nano 7.0’s are definitely the tallest shoe in the line-up. I don’t know why they chose to go this route, but it doesn’t effect the performance of the shoe much. The heel to toe drop remains the same as it’s always been at 4mm. Inside the shoe, there’s a little bit more arch support compared to the generally flatter, older models. Initially, people were saying that the Nano 7.0’s were more narrow, but I don’t really find this to be the case. I think the stiffness in the upper is what they’re talking about, I measured the shoe at almost identical dimensions as the 6.0. The only one that was off, was the length of the shoe, which the 6.0 was longer. Oddly enough, the 7.0’s feel longer to me, giving me a little bit more room for my Morton’s toe.

For sizing, I would recommend you size the exact same as all of your other Nano’s. Be wary that these ones take more time to break in, but after that they should be fine. My sizing for reference:

  • Nano 6 – 10
  • Nike Metcon – 9.5
  • Adidas Ultraboost/NMD – 10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Weightlifting shoes – 9

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Performance:

In my extremely biased opinion, CrossFit is the most demanding fitness regimen, both mentally and physically. With that, the expectation for functional, durable, and high performing footwear is as equally demanded. Specialization is punished in the grand scheme of fitness, this theology translates into the footwear made for the sport. You could wear weightlifting shoes for stability and power, but you’d be giving up agility. You could wear running shoes, but you’d be giving up stability and power. The key to a great CrossFit shoe is to be able to blend all of the facets of fitness into one. Like every Nano before it, the 7.0’s were designed to handle everything you can throw at it, but they lean further than ever in one direction than ever.

Remember that stiffness we talked about earlier? Well, it’s not just in the upper, the outsole is the most rigid and dense of any Nano as well; probably in part due to the thickness of it. The heel is near in-compressible, making power delivery and landings the best yet. Lateral stability has always been good, but this time it’s excellent with the addition of the new TPU heel cup and the midsole’s new shell. I’ve always thought Nano’s were some of the best platforms for lifting, but the Nano 7.0 really takes the cake. You’ll never second guess a lift or landing because of lack of footing. They’re still flat as can be, so powerlifting movements have never been better; which seeing as how all the powerlifting shoes were discontinued, makes sense now. Personally, I try to not spoil myself by lifting in Oly shoes and the Nano 7.0’s make me not miss them at all.

Where the Nano also shines is the new redesigned outsole pattern and material. Meta-split grooves carry over from the previous models, giving your toes a little more flexibility to splay. The multi-directional tread pattern has been reworked, but I think the tackiness of the outsole is what gives the 7.0’s such sure footing. It’s a little gummy in feeling, compared to the standard rubber on the previous models. You might not notice the Rope-Pro, but it’s there and it is the best version yet. This year, they ditched the traditional spikes for a ribbed pattern across the middle of the outsole, but it does an insanely good job of holding onto the rope when climbing. From asphalt to the platform, the Nano 7.0’s have the best grip yet.

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Lifting, check. Grip and rope climbs, check. Running..?

The Nano 6.0’s were so good because you could actually run in them too.  Sure, there are better running shoes, but none of which you can lift in as well. What makes the 7.0’s such great lifting shoes, makes them horrible running shoes, probably the worst yet. Imagine what running in clown shoes would feel like and you’ve pretty much pictured running in Nano 7.0’s. The overall flexibility and comfort of the shoe took a big hit with the “improvements” to the upper and outsole. I don’t think even the best running coaches could help you efficiently run in the Nano 7.0’s. Even if you pose run, the forefoot isn’t very flexible and the upper is uncomfortable and heel strikers will get wrecked because the heel is so dense. I did a running workout with some snatches in between and my IT bands and TFL’s were wrecked for days afterwards.

Any other type of plyometric exercises are just passable. Thankfully, since the shoes are so rigid, they’re also very responsive. Box jumps felt sure enough, though landings were a little hard. Burpees are a little rough on the way up because of the inflexibility of the shoe. Double unders weren’t bad at all and my plantar fascias never got the “burn” even after a few hundred of them. All things the Nano 7.0 do well, but not nearly as good as it’s predecessor. Weight is so similar it’s almost not even worth noting. I weighed the 7.0’s at 11.8 oz and the 6.0’s at 11.4oz for a men’s size 10.

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Value & Conclusion:

One thing that hasn’t changed, and probably will never change is the price of the shoe. Nano 7.0’s retail for $130 and right now, while the 6.0’s are still for sale, I don’t know if I could recommend them over the less expensive 6.0. What really hurts the Nano 7.0’s is that the 6.0’s were just SO good; I’m talking about one of my favorite pairs of training shoes of all time good. If you’re a powerlifter or globo gym person (both of which probably would’t even be looking at CrossFit shoes), the Nano 7.0’s would be a better performer. Don’t get me wrong, the 7.0’s are still an excellent training shoe, as every Nano was before it. As a complete CrossFit shoe, the Nano 7.0’s are just not as good as the 6.0’s. 

I can appreciate the work that Reebok is continually putting in to make their shoe the best, but I feel like the 7.0’s might have been rushed out a little bit. The enhancements detract too much from the overall experience. Historically, the odd numbers in the Nano line up have been the odd ones out that people don’t really care for, and the even models people love. It’s kind of like when Apple decides to release a new iPhone, but then corrects all the faults with the “S” model. Maybe Reebok has something else in store for this year that might be an alternate model to the Nano line up. As it is right now, the Reebok CrossFit Nano 7.0’s are great lifting shoes, just not the best CrossFit shoes.

Get your Nano 7.0’s here from Reebok!

Get your Nano 7.0’s here from Road Runner Sports!

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Nike Metcon 3 Review

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***Click here for the Nike Metcon 3 DSX Flyknit Review***

It seems like just yesterday I received a beautiful package from Nike containing the now antique, the Metcon 1. Since it’s original release, the Metcon has been the biggest thing that’s hit functional fitness since Brooke Wells. For good reason, it is Nike after all.  People were over using their Free’s and begging for Nike to put out a true shoe designed ground up for functional fitness. It wasn’t even that Reebok put out a bad shoe, the Nano’s are quite possibly one of the best designed shoe lines in the history of footwear. To be honest, the only issue that anyone really had with them is that they just weren’t Nike’s.

The original Metcon’s were a great first effort offering amazing stability and response, but they weren’t without their issues. Many suffered from durability issues, heel slippage, and squeaky insoles. All of that wasn’t enough to dissuade anyone, especially me, from stocking up on many of the awesome colorways. Then along came the Metcon 2’s – more like a 1.2 model, meant to address many of the issues that the original shoe had, but in reality, it had failed in doing so. I say failure in the most liberal way because the Metcon 2’s shot Nike from not even being a player in the functional fitness world, to numero uno. In all actuality, the Metcon 2 was a failure because it really didn’t fix the issues that plagued the Metcon 1. Heel slip though lessened, was still there. The overall durability was no better than the last, and that damned squeaky insole was only put off for a little while. Still, they were awesome performing shoes that had the look, and most of all, had the swoosh.

Two years later and were now coming upon the release of the much anticipated Metcon 3. When it was originally leaked, many people weren’t keen to the futuristic look Nike decided to take with the latest model, but it didn’t take long for them to warm up to it. Besides the Romaleos 3, these shoes have definitely been my most requested review of the year, as the previous versions were before it. So what exactly have we been holding our breath for? Was it worth the wait? Is it worth upgrading over the previous models?

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Looks/Construction:

If you were to take a quick glance at someones feet wearing the Metcon 3’s, you probably wouldn’t notice they were a different shoe than the two before it. Granted, the 3’s look the most different than the previous models, they still definitely have the Metcon appearance. Though the upper looks a little different, the lines of the shoe generally remain in the same spots but synergize a bit better due to the redesigned material. While it may look like the 3’s have a knit type material for the upper, the feel is very reminiscent of the thermal wrap found on the 2’s, just to a lesser degree. What it makes for, is a much more sock like feel and pliable upper. The ballistic nylon that was once only found in the toebox is seemingly fused with the thermal wrap and extends all the way from the font to the back of the shoe, slightly reinforced in areas like at the toe and where the rope would make contact. Flywire lacing system makes it’s return and as always provides a nice fit when tightened adequately.

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Durability issues of the Metcon 2’s were mainly due to the upper being so rigid. Most of the time you would see the instep part of the upper starting to crack after multiple rope climbs, or even the thermal wrap coming unglued from the mesh. Since the 3’s have the mesh and thermal wrap fused together, it’s a lot lighter and flexible feeling. This should alleviate issues with the cracking, but only time will tell.  The insole also resembles the original model’s insoles, but now features redesigned flex groove and is ever so slightly thinner. About that squeaky heel, as we know from experience, the 1’s squeaked right away, while the 2’s had to develop it. The bottom of the insole is now a little more tacky feeling, but I have a feeling that over time as moisture builds up in your shoe, it will wear the bottom of the insole out. Maybe it will or maybe it won’t squeak, that’s another thing I’ll have to report back with in a few.

Gone is the hexagonal tread pattern of the outsole and in place is a triangular webbed pattern that is much more pronounced. The material that the outsole was made of remains the same despite the change in tread pattern, but now offers more flexibility. Overall the shape is more narrow than the previous models, most notably in the midfoot, but not so much that I would say the shoe is narrow; it’s still very much a wide training shoe.  The height of the midsole stack also seems to be a little bit shorter, giving you a closer to the ground feel. At the rear of the shoe you’ll find the return of a more well disguised TPU heel clip that’s now matte in texture. New to the 3’s are the TPU heel “cups” found externally on the sides of the rear that help stabilize your foot laterally.

Build quality is mainly what you’d expect from a Nike shoe. The Metcon 3’s are very well put together and feel suited to take on just about anything you can throw at it. Interestingly enough, my blackout models have quite a bit of oversprayed glue, which isn’t a huge deal, but does detract from the sleekness of the shoe a tad. I’m sure this has to do with the previous model’s laces not staying tied, but the laces that come with the Metcon 3 are just plain cheap feeling. I’d gladly take the ones of old and just tighten them up a bit more.

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Fit:

If you’re coming from any of the previous iterations, just go ahead and size the 3’s the same unless you were on the extremely tight side. Remember that the 3’s are slightly more narrow, though the length of the shoe remains the exact same. People with Morton’s toe shouldn’t have to worry about having to size up either, as the shape of the Metcon’s toe box accommodates your second toe well.  Here’s a sizing chart of what I wear, so you can kind of get an idea of how you should size your Metcon 3’s:

  • Metcon 1/2/3 – 9.5
  • Nano – 10
  • Inov-8 – 10
  • Chucks –  9
  • Speed TR – 9
  • Nike Free – 10
  • Romaleos – 9

Another variance that I’ve noticed between my two pairs of shoes is that the blackout’s fit a little more snug and have less heel slip than my grey/volts. If you’re at the store buying them, you might want to try on a few pairs before pulling the trigger on them.

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Performance:

In my opinion, the Metcon 2’s (and originals), though technically designed for all facets of fitness, were the best training shoe for pure lifting. I’ve hit numerous PR’s with both models, including a 515lb sumo deadlift and very narrowly missing a 225lb snatch, so I will usually grab my Nike when I know I need to lift big. What made them excellent lifting shoes also made them a little hard on the feet when it came to plyometric movements. Honestly, it’s a give and take with training shoes; you just can’t have it all. If you want better power delivery, you’re usually sacrificing flexibility, and vice versa. The key is to find the balance between the two, and I think Nike has come the closest out of any training shoe with the Metcon 3.

Squatting is the foundation of everything we do, so if I can’t squat in a shoe, I really have no use for that shoe.  The Metcon 2’s were arguably my favorite squatting shoe of all time. Sure, they are not the most minimal or shoe closest to the ground, but they are plenty flat, stable, and offer excellent energy rebound. I’ve been doing a lot of squatting in Olympic weightlifting shoes lately with the Legacy and Position’s, but I don’t miss them one bit because squatting in the M3’s feels just as good, if not better. As a functional fitnesser, my mantra is to always be able to use what’s available at the time; you’re not always going to have time to change into oly shoes after all. The M3’s manage to keep up with the best oly shoes, but also outshines the previous models because of the TPU heel counters. Lateral stability is far greater than it was in the M2’s and you never get a feeling of spilling out of the sides of your shoe.

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Once again, historically Metcon’s have been my favorite shoes to do Olympic lifts in. Nano 6.0’s had a really impressive showing earlier this year, easily becoming my favorite training shoe because they were so responsive; that is, until I tried the Metcon 3’s out. Power delivery is excellent and the sloping outsole makes for a shoe that translates power well throughout the entire pull when weightlifting. Honestly, the way I would call it between the two shoes is a draw, they’re both equally just as good as the other with the Nano’s having a slightly more minimal platform with better ground feel and the M3’s guiding your feet better with an insole with greater energy return. It just comes down to preference as it’s just too close to call here, but stability would have to go to Nano’s for having a flatter base, but interestingly enough, rowing in the Metcon 3’s feels better due to the shape of the outsole. Compared to the Metcon 2, you lose out a little bit in forward stability, but gain in lateral and heel stability. The reduction in weight and width in the toe area doesn’t really hurt the overall stability much. Also, the drop remains the same as it’s always been as the original models and the 2’s at 4mm.

According to my scale the M3’s come in the lightest at 11.15 oz, followed by the M2’s at 11.57 oz, and the Nano 6.0’s barely being the heaviest at 11.61 oz. My Nano’s are a men’s size 10 and my Metcon’s are both size 9.5.

Since the upper is much more flexible and the redesigned outsole pattern allows for greater flex than it’s previous counterparts, moving around in the M3’s is much more comfortable; an area that the Metcon’s were notoriously bad at. Typically with repetitive jumping movements, my plantar fascia region will develop a burning sensation, but that hasn’t been the case with the M3’s. Speaking of which, all of the jumping movements feel extremely natural in the Metcon 3’s, making more than half of what we do as fitness-ers much easier. That’s in part due to the redesigned outsole having a more pronounced slope up from the midfoot to the toe and the the flexibility being heightened. Since it’s been cold and rainy outside I haven’t done a ton of running, but agility drills felt excellent due to the toe shape and flexibility. I’d imagine that running still will not be the Metcon 3’s strong suit since the outsole is still fairly ridid, but that’s what the DSX Flyknits are for! Beware, the previous models were pretty forgiving if you had the tendency to lean forward on your toes, but the M3’s are not quite as much due to the new shape.

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I never really understood the need to have the TPU heel clip for handstand push-ups. Other than doing strict handstand push-ups, your feet should almost never drag up the wall. With the Metcon 2’s, I never really noticed the heel clip ever sliding and if anything it would actually stutter up the wall. Doing handstand push-ups in the M3’s felt a little better since the material of the TPU is less tacky, but I never noticed any kind of enhanced smoothness with my kipping. Another area I noticed the M3’s lacking in are sadly, rope climbs. I’ll usually baby my new shoes, but since I know I’m going to get a ton of inquiries about this, I just went for it. It was embarrassing how many times I lost my footing trying to coach rope climbs. Spanish wrap or j-hook, it didn’t matter, the rope slid right through my feet almost every time. I didn’t think the M3’s would falter so hard in this area since the outsole reaches up quite a bit more. I’ll keep trying, maybe the outsole needs a bit of wear before it starts to grab the rope better.

Value:

So why spend double, when you can get a fully functional pair of Metcon 2’s or Nano 6.0’s for almost half the price? Mainly social & brand recognition. That’s not to say the Metcon 3’s are a bad pair of shoes, they’re actually excellent training shoes and definitely one of my favorite picks. The previously aforementioned are still some of the best training shoes of all time and you’re currently able to pick them up for about half the price of Metcon 3’s. Why wouldn’t you want to go with that? It comes down to appearance, sometimes fit, social proof, or because one doesn’t have a swoosh on the side. I will admit that Metcon’s are easily the better looking shoe, and always have been, though the Nano 6.0’s aren’t an ugly pair of shoes.

In my opinion, the Metcon 3’s are an excellent pair of shoes, but they don’t do anything drastically different that what’s already out there. Unless your pair of Metcon 2’s, or even 1’s, were falling apart, you don’t necessarily need to upgrade your shoes. The enhancements are fairly incremental, and the overall feel isn’t that much different than the previous iterations. If for some reason you don’t like the way Nano’s fit your feet (the m3’s are narrower), then you might want to look into some Nike’s. Any way you cut it, the Nike Metcon 3’s  are still some of the finest training shoes on the market, and quite possibly the only true competition for the Reebok Nano’s. If you certainly must have the Metcon 3’s or you’re in dire need of an upgrade, the latest version of Nike’s Metcon are the most well rounded iteration of the shoe yet and you definitely will not be disappointed with them.

Purchase your Nike Metcon 3’s here!

Now what about those DSX Flyknit’s…

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Reebok Legacy Lifter Review

The calendar of training shoe releases every year hasn’t changed much over the past couple years. Not that it’s a bad thing, but we’ve been stuck with the same ol’ line ups without anything totally new being released. Though, once in a blue moon something comes out of no where and makes you go “holy s****. We’ve been expecting an update to the Reebok CrossFit Lifters for some time now, but nothing  really prepared us for the announcement of a completely redesigned, dedicated weightlifting shoe from Reebok:

The Legacy Lifters

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The release of these shoes to me honestly comes as a surprise, sort of.  While I’ve always thought the Reebok Lifter Plus 2.0’s were totally competent weightlifting shoes, they’ll always have the stigma of being “CrossFit” shoes. A shame that something so fickle would discourage people to use a great shoe, but that’s the reality of it. Nike and Adidas pretty much have the Olympic lifting shoe market on lockdown, with only a minority straying from the two giants. It’s not that others don’t make great shoes, there are TON’s of excellent lifters that could be platform ready on the market, those are just the tried and true. Using their know how from the CrossFit Lifters, Reebok is looking to cement their legacy (see what I did there?), into the weightlifting world by bringing out one of the best alternatives to the giants, to ever be released.

Looks/Construction/Fit

Reebok’s Legacy lifters are a brand new weightlifting shoe that improves upon much without straying too far from the formula that makes a great oly shoe. At first glance, the shoe looks like a much evolved Lifter Plus, more so like the original than the 2.0. Like most advanced weightlifting shoes, the Legacy’s have a TPU heel rather than wood or leather. The major benefit to this is that TPU is in-compressible, while remaining more lightweight and durable than wood.  Two metatarsal straps are met with another “strap” that the laces join together and completes the foot wrap upper. This provides fitment superior to any other weightlifting shoe. Quite possibly my favorite “feature” of the Legacy lifters is the gap in the velcro in the top medial strap, making it easy to tuck your tied laces in without ripping them to all hell. Such a simple thing that no one has thought to correct, until now.

The materials used for the Legacy Lifters are top quality. The foot wraps are a synthetic material akin to the Lifter series, while the quarter and vamp of the shoe are full grain leather, providing excellent comfort within the shoe. There are no hot spots that rub anywhere inside the shoe. Reebok has added an outside TPU counter to lock your heel in and prevent slippage. The removable insole is  minimal, yet very dense that contours to your foot much like the competition insoles provided with the Romaleos. They’re aren’t padded at all, but I’ve never found the Legacy’s to be uncomfortable during pure lifting sessions.

Sizing of the Legacy’s is dead on to all of the Olympic lifting shoes I’ve ever used in the past. I got a size 9, that fits me like a glove and was immediately comfortable out of the box. This is the same size that I got my AdiPowers and Romaleos in, but with those two shoes there was a break in period where the toe-box had to loosen up. The Legacy’s shape resembles the Romaleos more, but your toes don’t get bunched up in the front of the shoe and the heel-toe drop feels more gradual, though it is greater. Once again, the Legacy’s are very comfortable for lifting and just cruising around the gym, though they are just as clunky to walk in as any lifting shoe.

Keep in mind that these are performance shoes! When wearing them, there should not be any space in the front of the shoe; your toes shouldn’t be jammed together either. The last thing you want is your foot sliding around inside of them during a lift. If this is the first weightlifting shoe you’ve ever looked into, a good rule of thumb is to get them the same size you’d get your Converse Chuck Taylors or just half a size down from your standard training shoes.

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Performance/Features

Besides fitment, the most important part of a weightlifting shoe is the effective height of their heel. The benefits of having a raised heel is so that you can catch in a more vertical torso position, you can correct errors, and you can keep your toes down better throughout extension. Height of the heel is subjective, some prefer higher, some lower, but most can agree that around 3/4″ is the safest choice for most people. On the contrary to the current popular picks and from what they’ve produced in the past, Reebok has chosen to go with a 22mm drop, which equates to .86″, though most sites say 3/4″ effective heel height. It definitely feels slightly higher than the shoes with a 19mm/3/4″ heel, but that’s too close to call and to most people it will probably just feel the same. I can tell you is that the heel for me feels perfect, just as this height did on the Position 2.0’s. Catching cleans forward was a big problem I had with the Adidas Leistung’s 1″ heel, which isn’t an issue in the Legacy lifters.

Response in the Legacy lifters is excellent. Due to the nature of the hard TPU heel,  you can count on perfect power delivery throughout your lifts, whether it’s just squatting or snatching. The TPU heel does have a taper in it probably to reduce a bit of weight, but extends out to a full 82mm at it’s widest point. The width and density of the outsole paired with the locked down fit the full foot wrap upper provides one of the most stable lifting experiences ever on a shoe, definitely any shoe I’ve used. The platform is easy to maintain balance throughout the foot with, and you’ll never feel like you’re going to tip over in any direction. The Exoframe does a great job keeping your heel seated. Inside the shoe, the insoles have a bit of arch support that you can really push into to squeeze out a bit more energy. They are indeed removable if you wanted to insert custom orthotics.

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Adding on to the stability of the Legacy’s is just the sheer heft of the shoe. They’re about 20.3 oz per shoe, which makes them quite possibly the heaviest oly shoe at the moment. They’re bricks compared to the Romaleos (16.8 oz) and AdiPower’s (15.7 oz). Touching down in these gravity boots feels like someone poured cement in your shoes, you really don’t move around much after landing. Beware that the weight is substantial enough so that it could affect the ability to move your feet and is definitely going to be an issue if you’re looking to do a WOD in these shoes.  Not to mention that these are some pretty stiff shoes, granted mine are not even close to broken in. My first WOD in these shoes was just lifting, but even still, my feet got pretty achy after a few minutes in. I couldn’t see it going well for you doing box jumps, running or double unders in the Legacy’s.

The outsole of the shoe is nothing special and I would say is the other weakest area of the shoe. My platform at home sucks and is riddled with dust, it can make the most grippiest outsoles lose traction. I had some issues slipping around at home, but you shouldn’t have any issue on a legit platform and even the rubber diamond cut flooring I have at my gym performed okay. This could be an issue with the bottoms not being worn in at all, so take this with a grain of salt.

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Value/Conclusion:

Reebok has really hit the nail in the head with the Legacy lifters as a serious weightlifting shoe. These are no doubt, the most stable pair of lifting shoes available on the market, that also don’t look like they’re from the early 1900’s. At $200, they’re meant to contend directly with the other big name weightlifting shoes (though you can usually find any of those on sale for much less), and they trump many of them in almost every way. I’m sure the Legacy’s will see much use in the competitive weightlifting scene and might actually come to be a staple shoe.

Doing so many reviews, I’ve come to find out that there is no such thing as the perfect shoe and the Legacy’s might not be for everyone. In this case, the sheer heft of the shoe is it’s double edged sword. If you’re good about moving  your feet, then the Legacy’s will no doubt reward you with amazing stability and balance. If you’re one of those lifters that kind of drags their feet and isn’t quite there technique wise, you might struggle a little bit at first, but if you keep grinding through, you’ll have one of the best pairs of weightlifting shoes out there. Remember that while you can WOD in these shoes, I wouldn’t recommend it; they’re just not agile enough to stay comfortable with a bunch of movements.

Should you buy the Legacy lifters?

If you’re a weightlifter, there’s no question in my mind that you’ll love the Legacy’s. If you’re a novice lifter looking for your first pair of oly shoes, you might want to stick with one of the CrossFit lifters until you get your technique down. By the time you’re due for an upgrade, the probably lighter Legacy 2’s just might be out already.

Buy your Legacy Lifters here!

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Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2 (Late 2016)

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With all the talk about Nano this, Metcon that, it’s easy for Inov-8 to get overshadowed by the bigger companies. The grand papi of minimalist training shoes, and really the first functional fitness shoe (besides Vibrams), Inov-8 just keeps on chugging along making great trainers that often get overlooked because their marketing budget just isn’t quite as big as the other giants. They’re still producing the widely loved and well regarded 195, which you can find being worn in many boxes to this date. The 195 was a workhorse of a shoe that just did everything right, without any fancy bells or whistles.  Sure, it has it’s share of shortcomings, but if you wanted flexible, comfortable, minimal and lightweight, the 195 is the shoe to get…well…until Inov-8 brought out the 235.

Last year’s model of 235’s took Inov-8’s training shoe know how and upped it 100%. Many issues that plagued their previous training shoes were addressed, and it was one of the finest training shoes I had ever used. The 250 was a spin on the 235’s, and ended up being one of my favorite training shoes of the year. Fresh off the press, the 235v2’s look to up the ante by improving on everything that made the 235’s excellent to make a play for the title of the best functional fitness shoe.

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Looks/Construction/Fit:

Quite possibly the only thing that’s going to prevent the 235v2’s from being a star in the functional fitness world, are it’s hate it or love it looks. Personally, I don’t hate the way the shoes look, but I don’t love them either. I can appreciate them trying to do something different with the styling, which to be honest, is pretty true to Inov-8’s standards. Most people are not going to see it the way that I do and will go for one of the more “safe” choices. The actual silhouette of the shoe isn’t awful, but some of the colorways don’t quite get along with the lines of the shoe. The grey/blue/black scheme that I got is definitely the best of the bunch and I have gotten compliments on it. Though I have heard quite the opposite about some of the others. This can easily be remedied down the line, as Inov-8 usually does this and then adds in more “safe” colorways later on.

The F-Lite 235 is a completely new shoe designed specifically for functional fitness, but it still carries on the creed of the 195, with enhancements for today’s athletes. Sporting the new “Standard” fit, the 235v2’s has a wider base and much denser heel for stability during lifts. A well known issue with the 195’s was the durability; a few rope climbs and you’d see some pretty substantial damage to the shoe. Inov-8 added the Rope-Tec guard a little bit later on in the 195’s life, but honestly it didn’t do a ton to fix the issue as you couldn’t always count on the rope being in that exact spot. The redesigned 360 Rope-Tec system now carries onto the 235v2’s upper and with the inclusion of the much denser outsole, provide excellent tracking and durability against rope climbs.

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On the feet, the 235v2’s feel just as well built as any of the top fitness shoes on the market. You can definitely feel the solidity of of the Powerheel, but also how incredibly flexible the new “AdapterFit” technology upper is. During movement the upper conforms to your foot and provides one of the most natural feeling shoe experiences around. Upon entering the shoe, you’ll notice the midfoot “hug” from the Met-Cradle, which provides a more customized fit in the midfoot. Also new to the 235v2’s is the external heel counter that was present in the 250’s, working hand in hand with the Powerheel to up the shoe’s stability.

The flat laces are more dense but have the tendency to become untied unless you really tighten them up. Another slight annoyance is that the toe area of the shoes have a tendency to attract dirt and marks that take a little more than water to wipe away; nitpicking here, but it drives my clean shoe OCD crazy.

This time around, I went with a size 10 compared to my normal size of 9.5. I’ve been finding myself needing to size up lately as deep into workouts, my feet have the tendency to swell and my toes jam up into the front of them. The front toe guard is kind of a double edge sword here: it’s gives extra protection when doing burpees, but if you’ve got Morton’s toe like me, it’s inability to flex will end up smashing your second toe. Only an issue I had deep into workouts with the 250’s, but isn’t an issue with my size 10 235v2’s. The fit is comfortable and never feels too big, so consider going up half a size ONLY if your second toe is longer than your big toe.


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Performance:

Zero drop.

The 235v2’s are FLAT, just the way I like it. Since the fall of “minimal” shoes happened (Vibram?), there hasn’t been a ton of zero drop shoes on the market. Personally, I like to do everything in flat shoes, and the flatter the better; granted this might not be the same for everyone, especially those with poor mobility. Is this a huge departure from the popular training shoes on the market? Nope, most of them have a 4mm drop, which is pretty darn close to nothing, and it doesn’t take long at all to get acclimated to a zero drop shoe. What is quite different than most of the shoes out there, is the amount of ground feel that you get from the 235v2’s due to its low (10.5mm/3mm insole) stack height. The 235v2’s are as close to “barefoot” shoes as you can get without sacrificing protection. This makes for a very responsive, if not the most responsive feeling training shoe out there.

The outsole brings back some familiar technology in the Meta-Flex split grooves and Dynamic Facia Band (DFB). The latter keeps you in motion while the former makes it so your foot doesn’t feel constrained doing it. The pattern used is designed to maximize the contact area of the shoe’s sticky rubber outsole, giving you a sure step every time.  Traction in any terrain has never been an issue and is maximized if you’re stepping into a gym with rubber flooring. Tread with confidence.

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Power delivery is excellent with anything from Olympic lifts to plyometric movements. This has been my “go-to” shoe, and I haven’t ever looked back towards any of my big named shoes. Not saying they’re not excellent picks either, but the 235v2’s are just as good, if not better at things. Squatting in the 235v2’s couldn’t feel any better due to the zero drop and extremely dense Powerheel. I’ve saved some snatched that had gone awry from the 235v2’s keeping my feel planted into the ground. Did I mention that these are the most flexible trainers I’ve ever used? I did, but just so you know, moving around in the 235v2’s is like a breath of fresh air. Speaking of which, the 235v’2s are also the most breathable shoe I’ve ever used. Probably awesome during the summer, but also could be a bad thing if you live in cold areas. It’s getting California cold (50-60 degrees, lol), and sometimes my feet can get really cold.

If you’re looking for a true, minimal training shoe, this is the one. Zero drop, flexibility of a Yogi, reflexes of an F-1 car and light as a feather at 8.2 oz.

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Value:

The F-Lite 235v2’s run for a standard price of $129.99 per pair. This puts them in direct contention with the major manufacturers. I know you’re thinking you might as well go with the popular options for that price, but if you’re looking for a minimalist fitness experience, the big names just can’t deliver. Don’t get me wrong, they’re excellent shoes and some people might be looking for a little more support, or like the styling better, but give the 235v2’s a shot and I promise you won’t be disappointed.  The purist experience just can’t be replicated by anything other than the Inov-8 F-Lite 235’s.

Now to check out the crazier All-Train 215’s…

Get your Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2’s here!