fitness

Adidas CrazyPower Weightlifting Shoes Review

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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Adidas Leistung 2 Review

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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.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

You can currently purchase the Nike Metcon 3’s on Amazon.com or Zappos.com, but the actual launch date is January 6th for the normal model and 2nd for the DSX Flyknit.

Now what about those DSX Flyknit’s…

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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…

Check out Inov-8’s F-Lite 235v2’s product page!