Tag Archives: leistung

Foost Fitness Lifter Review

The last time I can remember stretching, before I got into CrossFit, was probably around when I played high school volleyball. Ain’t nobody got time to stretch at Globo Gym. That compounded with all the ankle sprains and sitting down playing video games have done a good amount to negatively affect my mobility. Even still, I know I’m still better off than most, so at times it’s hard for me to emphasize with others that have really bad mobility.  As a coach, I say the best thing you can do for yourself is just put a little bit more effort into your stretching and myofacial release, but that just takes time. The other option is to get yourself a pair of Olympic weightlifting shoes in the meantime.

Picking a pair with the right heel height takes a bit of luck. Not everyone is going to need or be able to lift with a high heel and vice versa. Foost Fitness is aiming their lifter at the people that have poor mobility, typically found in beginner CrossFitters. The main draw to the Foost Lifter is their 1.28″ heel height, currently the highest heel in a weightlifting shoe (that I know of), wooden heel or not. They’re still a new company without any history behind making Olympic weightlifting shoes, but if their big gamble works out, it could shake up things in the world of Oly shoes for both beginners and seasoned vet’s alike.

DSC06817

Looks/Construction:

I opted for the new canvas Foost Lifters mainly because they were new and different, but personally I think the leather versions are much sexier looking. Surprisingly, the canvas model actually costs a little bit more than the leather ones do! The canvas upper is a little bit more plain looking, not something you’d wear to a ball, but it doesn’t look bad at all. In fact, a ton of people have said that the Foost Lifters look pretty bad ass, in which I’d have to agree, just not as much as the leather ones do. The strap and C-Frame on all of the canvas models is brown, which I think accents very nicely, especially with the red, blue and black colorways I’m not quite sure what type of wood is used for the heel, but I’m pretty sure it’s not stained or anything, but it does have a unique look about it. These shoes are made in Brazil, so it’s probably a tree native to their country. Sadly, my lifters didn’t come with the cool rope laces shown in the pictures, but just plain black ones instead.

The materials used on the canvas model Foost Lifters are good enough, but not great. I wouldn’t go comparing these to a pair of any other top shelf lifting shoe in terms of finish. Honestly, I’m not surprised being that they’re such a small startup company, but it’s definitely an area they could improve on. The overall construction of the shoe feels well built, but the quality of the materials isn’t quite top quality. The upper fabric came a little bit dirty, got crumpled up looking really fast and the leather strap feels a little bit flimsy. The wood heel looks au natural, literally like they just chopped up a tree and put it in the shoe. It is carved into a design, but it’s not smoothed out well and mine has some divots in it, not to mention there are some dark spots that almost look like the wood was rotting. It might sound like I’m nitpicking, but it’s a crowded playing field and I haven’t seen these issues on any other shoe before, especially ones that cost $200.

I’m sure sourcing materials must be a pain in the ass; I’ve heard import taxes to Brazil are outrageous. The Foost lifters are well built and definitely don’t feel like they’re going to fall apart or anything, they’re just overshadowed by the build quality of some of today’s top lifting shoes.

DSC06826

Fit:

Duck footed people rejoice, these are the shoes you’ve been waiting for! If there’s anything I could say about the Foost lifters, it’s that they’re wide shoes! Even with a pretty in between shaped foot, I find the Foost’s extremely comfortable to wear for extended periods of time. The toebox is one of the widest I’ve come across in an olympic weightlifting shoe and lets the toes splay comfortably. There’s a ton of padding around the ankle collar and a stiff embedded heel cup which keeps your feet from shifting laterally, but make sure you lace the shoes up or you’ll get a tiny bit of heel slip. The tongue is also nicely cushioned without any hot spots up top. The lacing scheme doesn’t have anything fancy going on, but works well enough to get a locked in fit. The strap extends up through the lateral side and holds the midfoot really well.

I think the best part about how the Foost’s fit is how flat the inside of the shoe is, omitting the fact that the drop is 32.5mm. There is no arch support or anything, no contours really inside the foot, just a nice open space for your feet to do their thing. The insole is thin and just good enough to give you a little bit of comfort but if you wanted a competition feel, you could just take it out. Back to the drop, the Foost’s have the highest heel on the market at 1.28″ or 32.5mm, which is pretty apparent by how the shoe looks, but doesn’t feel as apparent when you’re using the shoes. It drops down very gradually from the heel to the toe without any harsh ledges, something that I really like from the Positions.

I got the Foost’s in a size 9.5 US, which fits me right on the money. The point of the toe box does a very good job accommodating Morton’s toe. Here are my sizes for reference:

  • Legacy – 9.5
  • Romaleos 2&3 – 9.5
  • Positions – 9.5
  • Adipowers – 9.5
  • Leistung – 9.5 (tight)
  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 10
  • NoBull (& Lifter) – 10

DSC06822

Performance:

Where the Foost’s make up for the lower quality materials, they make up in performance. As some of you know, I’m typically not fond of higher heels on weightlifting shoes. Before trying these shoes out, if you would have asked me what I thought about a shoe with a 1.28″ heel, I would have laughed in your face, but these are the real deal and have mostly changed my mind about a taller heel.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think there is anything wrong with higher heels, I just personally haven’t had the greatest success lifting with them. A higher heel is good for a few things, mainly for mobility reasons for people that have poor ankle and hip mobility. It can be beneficial for people that have longer femurs to help them sit back more easily. For me, they help me keep pressure down on the middle of my foot and keep my toes down through the second pull. Certain shoes where the drop is more pronounced make me rock back and forth. The added mobility lets me catch with a much more upright torso position since I can sit a bit further down in my squat, which really helps me lift on those days where I’m feeling extra tight.

DSC06832

Most all Olympic weightlifting shoes are stable, but the Foost’s are on another level. Lateral stability is quite possibly the best, if not tied with some of the best shoes I’ve used. Landing on their extra wide base feels rock solid, like the shoes were magnetic towards the ground. The TPU C-Frame does a great job of keeping your feet where they need to be without making the shoe feel any bulkier than they already are. No need to worry about split jerks, the forefoot of the shoe is extremely flexible, at least on the canvas model; just make sure you strap down the medial strap because your feet might slide into the wide toe box. The rubber outsole doesn’t look like it has any kind of special treading, but it’s amount of grip is actually one of the best features of the Foost’s, traction on dusty wooden floors to smooth rubber mats is excellent.

Responsiveness is what you’d expect of a wooden heeled shoe – 100%. Wood provides some of the most solid platforms you can possibly get in a shoe, it’s no wonder it was the choice for years and years until people switched to cheaper to manufacture TPU. The Foost lifters are my preferred squatting shoe now because I can really sit back and let my hamstrings take over. Note that I squat high bar, your experience may vary with low bar. When I’ve got to squat high numbers for volume, I’m definitely putting on the Foost’s. Even though they’re a bigger shoe overall, they’re not the heaviest, not the lightest either at 18.45oz for a men’s 9.5. Still, they don’t feel that heavy on the feet like Legacy’s or ANTA’s do. I’d say they most closely resemble Romaleos 2 with a much taller heel.

Catching snatches deep with an upright torso is a dream because of the added mobility and stability of the Foost’s. I’ve always had an issue with taller heel Oly shoes pitching me forward when I catch cleans (because of my lat mobility), so I didn’t think I would like cleaning in the Foost’s. I’m not going to lie, I’m still adjusting to the height, but if I just take a moment to solidify the placement of the bar on my shoulders, I’m able to clean well enough without worrying about having to switch shoes. The pros of the Foost’s make me want to get better with cleaning in these shoes.

I did do the WOD “Amanda” in the Foosts and PR’d my time by a lot, but I wouldn’t go as far as to say that these are good shoes to WOD in. I was throwing up that 135 snatch in Amanda and catching it without much effort, but that’s pretty minimal movement. They’re flexible in the forefoot, but you’re not going to want to run or bound in them. You can definitely use them for gymnastics and weightlifting based WOD’s just fine though. They breathe as well as most Oly shoes do, not well – which is fine for Oly sessions, but not great to do a WOD in.

DSC06836//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

Value/Conclusion:

So what do you get for the $200-$213 you’re paying for the Foost lifters? While they don’t stand up to the competition as far as materials used, they trounce most other lifters in performance. Comparing heel height performance just comes down to preference, but from a guy that doesn’t really like higher heels, I have to say the Foost’s are legit. If you had piss poor mobility, the Foost’s are a no brainer. It’s tough having to put your money on a shoe that’s so new, relatively unproven, that you can’t try on, but I’ll put my name on it that you’ll like the Foost’s.

By purchasing into the Foost’s, you’ll be helping a smaller company grow, which in part will lead to better materials and manufacturing. Right now they do have some issues filling inventory as they’re growing. Honestly, I didn’t think I would like the Foost lifters as much as I do, despite the slightly lower quality materials on the canvas models, I’d say they’re in my top 2 favorite lifters (#1 is Position). I’ve got a pair of the leather models on the way, so when that comes I’ll update with how those feel.

If you’re looking for a ROCK solid stable weightlifting shoe with a taller heel, you need to check out the Foost Lifters.

The Good:

  • One of the most stable and responsive Olympic lifting shoes.
  • Wide toe-box is comfortable.
  • One of the best outsoles in terms of grip.

The Bad:

  • Canvas upper isn’t that nice.
  • Durability is yet to be seen.
  • Can’t really try them on anywhere.

The Ugly:

  • 1.28″ heel height might not be for everyone.
  • Shoe looks good from far, but…just okay from close.
  • Production is a little light.

Get your Foost Lifters here!

Advertisements

Adidas CrazyPower Weightlifting Shoes Review

IMG_7771

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

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

This is what I’ve come to find out…

Looks/Construction:

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

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

IMG_7780

Fit:

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

Here are my sizes for reference:

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

IMG_7778

Performance:

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

16mm/.63″.

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

untitled

IMG_7772

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

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

IMG_7782

Value/Conclusion:

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

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

Get your Adidas CrazyPower WL shoes here!

IMG_7785

Nike Romaleos 3 Weightlifting Shoes Review

IMG_7604

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

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

IMG_7607

Looks & Construction:

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

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

IMG_7624

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

IMG_7618

IMG_7619

Fit:

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

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

My sizes for reference:

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

IMG_7608

Performance:

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

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

IMG_7614

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

IMG_7612

Value & Conclusion:

These are currently my favorite pair of weightlifting shoes…

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

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

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

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

Get your Nike Romaleos 3 at Road Runner Sports! 

IMG_7616

Position USA Blue Suede Shoes 2.1 Review

IMG_7288

It seems like just yesterday I was writing the review for one of my favorite pairs of WL shoes of the year, the Position USA Blue Suede Shoes. I loved them, they worked well for me and I really had no issues lifting in them except that the pair I got was a bit too big for me. Most of all, they were arguably the coolest pair of weightlifting shoes on the market. Just as I put out that review, Position announced the Blue Suede Shoe 2.1, a version of their shoe that was slightly updated. Enhancements included a slightly higher heel, a more fitted feel, and a Vibram outsole. Being a big fan of the 2.0’s, I was skeptical about just how much better they could make their shoe. There has been a ton of requests for this review and it’s taken me 6 months to get my hands on a pair, but they’re finally here, so let’s get started.

Looks/Construction/Fit:

Despite the changes, the main points that distinguish the Blue Suedes are still here: suede-leather upper construction, hand carved wood heel, and the sexy blue color scheme. To the untrained eye, you wouldn’t even be able to visibly tell the difference between the two former and latter. The entire shoe remains the same in appearance with the only major changes being on the medial strap and the heel being stained a darker color. I have absolutely no issues with this, the looks were probably the main selling point of the original shoes and they still remain one of the strongest points of the Blue Suedes. The inclusion of a darker stained heel makes for an even classier look. For those looking for a not so “out there” color scheme, Position is releasing their “Redford” and “Eastwood” models in January.

From the wood heels being carved and stained to the uppers being sewn together, each pair is hand crafted and takes over a day’s work of labor to finish. Since the Blue Suedes are made in smaller batches versus your commercially mass produced shoes, there’s a story behind each one.  You’ll notice this in how not often certain sizes are in stock, but unfortunately also in the construction of the shoe, maybe the person that was making my shoes was just having a bad day. There are hot spots inside of the shoe where the metatarsal joints are, both on top and under the insole. On top it comes from where the tongue meets the toe box area, and on bottom it feels like its from the upper being stitched under the insole.  I usually have issues with my right foot rubbing in this area since I have a bunion, but with the P2.1’s it’s in the left shoe.  Oddly enough the majority of the fit issues are in my left shoe, though the right shoe suffers the same to some degree.

IMG_7292

Other issues include the logo already fraying and becoming un-stitched from the tongue, the loop for the medial strap not staying in place only on the right shoe, and the straps and laces being much longer than they need to be. The most alarming issue is that it feels like the heels are coming loose. I noticed this straight away when going to remove my left shoe, which once again is worse than my right shoe. You could alleviate this issue by not pulling your shoes off by the heels (totally normal to do though), but this shouldn’t be happening; I’ve never run into an issue like this with any of my lifters and I don’t remember it happening with the P2.0’s. It doesn’t feel like the heels are going to fall off anytime soon, but that’s not a good sign for lasting durability.

Like all Olympic lifting shoes, you’re going to want to make sure you size down half from your normal training shoes. While the P2.1’s have a slightly narrower fit than the P2.0s, I wouldn’t say that it’s enough to warrant going half a size up. The suede they use is fairly supple and should stretch a little bit over time. When I tried these on at the CrossFit Games I was worried they’d be too snug, but the pair that I have fits well, aside from the hot spots. Make sure you lace up tightly because you might get a bit of heel lift otherwise.

IMG_7291

Performance:

Fit and construction issues aside, the P2.1’s remain one of my preferred pairs of lifting shoes. Picking weight up has never been as fun as it is in the Position’s. Having just reviewed the Legacy Lifters, anything feels like a feather compared to them (20.03oz). According to my scale, the Positions weigh in at 16.37oz, only slightly higher than the leading shoes in weightlifting, the Nike Romaleos and Adidas AdiPowers. Moving your feet isn’t an issue, and the forefoot flexibility is actually much better than the popular picks probably because of the supple suede.

The greatest change to the P2.1’s is the decision to go from a .85″ heel to a 1″ effective heel; the majority of the weightlifting shoes fall into the 3/4″ category, .85″ included. The only other shoe I’ve tested with as high a heel was the Adidas Leistung’s, in which I wasn’t a huge fan of for cleaning because I felt the tendency to catch forward in them. Something about the way the heel to toe drop is more gradual in the P2.1’s makes me not have this issue to the same degree as the Adidas shoes. Cleans always feel more forward in shoes with a heel but front squats felt as right they do in other Olympic lifting shoes. I typically receive snatches in a very upright torso position to compensate for my shoddy thoracic mobility, and the P2.1’s one inch heel increases my ability to do so, which helps me out big time. Heel height is subjective and very debatable, but I haven’t had any issues with the 1″ heel of the P2.1’s. Typically, I would recommend a higher heel for those with longer femurs and/or crappy ankle dorsiflexion.

EDIT: Trying on multiple pairs of weightlifting shoes side by side and finding that the Postitions feel lower, prompted me to go back and actually go measure the difference between the toe and the heel of the P2.1’s. What I came back with interestingly is that the difference is actually 16mm or .63″. The actual heel itself is 1″ or the stated 2.54cm. Theres no real way to measure accurately, but according to these approximate measurements, there is no way the shoes can be an effective 1″ heel. This is probably why I was able to lift proficiently in the Positions compared to most shoes with a 1″ heel.


IMG_7296

Since the heel is also elevated more than normal Oly shoes, I have an easier time keeping my toes down throughout my extension; rocking back to my heels is a bad habit I have. Jumping feels natural and since the shoes are so responsive, I can move my feet with ease. The Vibram rubber outsole is extremely dense and paired with the wooden heel, should give you perfect power delivery with every lift. I was very excited to hear that one of the upgrades was the Vibram outsole, but there’s no pattern to it so the grip isn’t a huge upgrade over previous P2.0 – bummer. The insoles are also pretty anemic, as they are on most oly shoes, but at least they’re removable so you can swap them out with any orthotics.

While weightlifting is a joy in the P2.1’s, I recommend that’s what you stick to in the Blue Suedes. Just to test, I did a WOD which consisted of heavy power cleans and ring dips. While the shoes performed excellent during the ring dips, I had issues quickly setting myself into a low enough position to rep out the power cleans, so I ended up using my back for a lot of them. That and while the shoes are flexible, they aren’t flexible enough to be doing WOD’s in, so the plantar fascia burn was real.  Stick to weightlifting and squats where you can set yourself up better, in the P2.1’s.

Did I mention the P2.1’s make the absolute most bad ass sound when you stomp?!


IMG_7297

Value:

At $190, the P2.1’s fall in line with pretty much every pair of good weightlifting shoes out there. You really have to ask yourself if the style is for you, and if you would benefit from a 1″ heel. With a bit of practice, the 1″ heel could definitely be your ally; just look at the Chinese weightlifting team. Even if blue isn’t your color, you now have the option to go with a black/red or white/black color scheme. I’ve asked what other differences there were between the shoes and it’s just the color and some materials used, otherwise they’re all the same.

You could always opt for a mass produced technologically advanced lifting shoe like everyone else, but Position USA created the Blue Suede Shoes for those that march to the beat of their own drum. With that in mind, they’ve created something that actually feels special to wear, though I’m not getting rid of my Legacy’s anytime soon. Construction shortcomings aside, the Blue Suede Shoes are still one of my favorite pairs to lift in, because there’s just an undeniable badassery you attain from having them on.

Get your Blue Suede Shoes here! Use code: AMRAP for 10% off!

IMG_7295

NoBull Lifter Review

IMG_6835

NoBull has been absolutely crushing the functional fitness market this past year. People looking to set themselves apart from the usual suspects have been flocking to the NoBull name and not looking back. For good reason, they’re making top quality products that work as well as they look. It all started with a quirky shoe called the Surplus Trainer, which was a lot different than the rest in looks, but could stand toe to toe performance wise with the big dogs. I was a big fan of this shoe (you can read my review here), and I still think it’s one of the best training shoes out there.

The newest member of the NoBull family happens to be their take on the Olympic lifting segment. Necks were broken around the world when NoBull announced their Olympic lifting shoe a little earlier in the year. It’s striking design cues were unlike anything else; a little bit Surplus trainer, a little Timberland, a little oxford, and a little AdiStar. Interestingly enough, all of those elements make for one of the best looking fitness shoes to date and definitely one of the best looking pairs of Olympic lifting shoes. Of course, all of that badassery comes at a cost and the most important question arises:

“Are they worth it?”

IMG_6827

Looks & Construction:

Like the Surplus Trainer, the build quality of the Lifters are second to none. No loose glue or ill stitching to be found anywhere on the myriad of superfabric, leather and leather. I had to reiterate the latter because unbeknownst to me until I was recently, the heel is made from stacked leather and not wood. In my defense, it looks like wood, it feels as hard as wood; it’s just not wood. The craftsmanship that’s been put into making each heel is insane because you can’t really tell the difference, not that they’re trying to hide anything.

The combination of the black superfabric and mocha brown leather counter make for some of the best looking shoes, period. The simplicity of the design is a little offset by the technical look of the superfabric, but that’s only if you really want to nitpick; you’d be hard pressed to find someone that thinks these are ugly. NoBull didn’t skimp on the details either, the tongue is also made of leather, you get to pick from either the multi-colored boot laces or burnished black leather laces, and inside each medial strap is stamped: “#NoExcuses”.

The leather already looks amazing, but will only get cooler looking with age. I can’t wait to see what my Lifters will look like in a few years; a few months even, with the amount that I’m going to be wearing them. Everything about the way this shoe is presented, makes them already feel like they’re worth the price tag.

IMG_6829

Performance:

While you might be able to get away with wearing the NoBull Lifters to a wedding, they wouldn’t be worth a damn if they weren’t functional, but that’s just not the case. The total heel height is about 1.25″ but the effective is about .73″, or 18.5mm depending on what side of the pond you’re on. NoBull went with roughly the same heel height you’ll find on the most popular, such as the Nike Romaleos and Adidas Adipowers. We’ve been seeing a trend of manufacturers toying around with heel heights lately, but this height seems to be the most optimal. Unlike the big names, the NoBulls have a more gradual heel drop, which I greatly prefer over the more pronounced style. The shoes feel less clunky, especially when trying to keep my toes down, allowing me to get better extension in my lifts. Not to mention that they’re a lot easier on your plantar fascia.

Though the Lifters use the same superfabric as the Surplus Trainers through the vamp of the shoe, the Lifters feel slightly more flexible. The crease at the top of the toebox that bugged me about the Surplus Trainers is almost nonexistent. Movement feels natural and unhindered, going hand in hand with the more gradual drop. Flexibility in the forefoot of the shoe is excellent, which leads to a more comfortable step and split position. I never feel like I’m being forced into any positions, which almost gives it a trainer-like feel; the main reason I prefer lifting in trainers. These could be a great indoor WOD shoe for lifting metcons, but personally I’d avoid taking them outside just because I’d be weary about thrashing them.

IMG_6832

One slight concern to me was that the Lifter’s heel was made out of leather, and not wood. Leather heels are usually found in dress shoes, so the decision to include them in Olympic lifting shoes is interesting. Leather is a softer material and under enough weight, could deform.  Which leads back to the age old debate on whether the EVA heel on budget weightlifting shoes could depress under enough weight. On the NoBull Lifters, if I were to press down on the edges of the outsole, I can depress the heel. To a much, much lesser , neigh unnoticeable degree than EVA, but yes, I can still do it. When I try doing that to the middle part of the heel, I can’t depress it at all. Most people, like 90% of people out there, will never be able to get the heel to depress under normal circumstances; the other 10% are probably already sponsored by Nike or Adidas. Even weightlifters in the Olympics were putting up massive weight with shoes that had EVA heels.

You’ll be fine with the NoBull Lifters.

The concern of the heel being leather was quickly laid to rest after I started lifting in the NoBull’s. They just simply have the best combination of mobility, stability and power delivery that I’ve come across yet in weightlifting shoes. Everything including cleans, snatches, squats felt great from the get go. Usually you’d have to spend time “breaking in” shoes, which more literally means getting accustomed to fit and feel; but the moment I started lifting in the NoBull Lifters, felt like I had been lifting in them for years. I always like to say that the best shoes are the ones you put on and forget about, so you can just worry about the task at hand. Even after my lifting sessions were done, I didn’t even bother switching back to my regular shoes. They’re even comfortable enough to wear while coaching.

On the plus side, the stacked leather heel on the NoBull’s leads to a slightly lighter shoe. I weighed the Lifters at 15.69 oz. For comparisons sake, I weighed the Nike Romaleos at 16.8 oz, which is roughly what I remember my Adipowers being at, though I don’t own them anymore.

IMG_6828

Fit:

I took a leap of faith when ordering the NoBull Lifters, because historically my sizing has been weird with their Surplus Trainers; I didn’t know how much I should size down. My Surplus Trainers were size 9.5, but they’re fairly tight on me, which leads me to believe a size 10 would have been better. I wear a size 9 in EVERY pair of lifters that I own (I’ve tried 9.5’s but they’re always too big), so I went with that in the NoBull Lifters. Initially I thought they were slightly tight, but I couldn’t get an exchange so I just went with it. I’m glad I made the decision to just use them, because they actually fit me perfectly. The ONLY case where I might recommend you going up half a size is if your foot is extremely wide. NoBull’s superfabric allows for a pretty good amount of stretch in the forefoot, but it’s still overall a tad on the narrow side.

For reference, here are my sizes:

  • Reebok Nano 6: 10
  • Nike Metcon 2: 9.5
  • Romaleos/Adipowers: 9
  • Chuck Taylors: 9

IMG_6834

Value & Conclusion:

I’m sure by now you’re pretty much sold on the NoBull Lifters, but let me tell you, they’re not cheap. After everything was all said and done, the NoBull’s set me back $321.43 after tax, but with free shipping. That’s the most I’ve spent on any shoe, period. As previously mentioned, quality comes at a cost.  Though the NoBull Lifters are definitely an amazing pair of shoes, they’re probably not going to put 20kg on your snatch. I feel like I value these more, because they cost me so much, but since they’re such excellent performing shoes, I don’t have a single bit of buyers remorse. Which happens to me quite often!

These are a quality pair of lifters and should last you for many, many years to come. They’re made using age old, traditional shoe crafting techniques. Even if you were to burn out the outsole, you could probably just take them to any competent shoe cobbler and get another one glued on. If you stopped spending $20 a day on fast food, for 15 day’s you’d have enough to buy the NoBull Lifters, which would last you much longer. Hell, I could not go out for a couple weekends and that would be enough to buy another pair.

I know not many people are going to be willing to shell out $300+ dollars on a pair of lifting shoes; and to those people, the current staples of lifting shoes will do you just fine. If you’re a person that just simply needs the best, loves well crafted shoes, or just has a ton of disposable income, then you need the NoBull Lifters. It might sound like I’m riding NoBull’s jock, but I really am blown away by the Lifters; NoBull has pulled no punches in creating an immaculate pair of weightlifting shoes. I’ll continue to try out new Olympic weightlifting shoes as they come out (I’m talking about you, Romaleos 3’s!), but I couldn’t imagine shoes getting much better than the NoBull Lifters.

Pre-orders start 10/14!

NoBull Lifter

IMG_6830