metcon

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 Romaleos 3 Weightlifting Shoes Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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 Rogue Fitness starting 1/21!

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Adidas CrazyPower TR Review (Women & Men)

Quite possibly the biggest thing to rock the functional fitness world, was when the Adidas CrazyPower TR’s were announced last December. All the talk about the Metcon 3’s vanished, and it was all about Adidas. Honestly, I think the CrazyPower’s became the most hyped up shoe of 2016 real quick. Which is fitting, because Adidas has been dominating the premium sneaker market as of late. Though the release of the CrazyPower’s coincides with the Metcon 3’s and Nano 7’s, the current giants of the fitness world, I think they couldn’t have possibly picked a better time to jump into the functional training shoe market.

Here’s why:

Many people have expressed an almost extreme displeasure with the timing and appearance of the newest Nano. Also as great as it is, Nike relatively hasn’t done a whole lot with the new Metcon; making people pay the premium of $160 for the more different, DSX Flyknit. That’s where Adidas comes in – a brand new model shoe with a fresh look, new platform, tried and true features that make a great training shoe with the currently premium Adidas name. The only issue that could make Adidas fail is if the shoe just doesn’t perform as it should…which it doesn’t…for the most part.

Right when the CrazyPower’s were announced, I didn’t waste any time putting my order in. The problem was, at the time only the female models were available. Another would be problem is that the women’s and the men’s models varied slightly in features and in looks. Thinking there couldn’t really be any major performance differences, I sized the women’s shoe up and pulled the trigger on it; also putting in a pre-order for the men’s, just in case. Honestly the women’s model looked a little more appealing because I liked the design, colorways, and the feature set was a little better. Looks are only skin deep though, as there are actually a few major differences. I thought the women’s model was just a pretty good contender, that is, until I received the men’s version.

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Looks/Construction:

Styling of the CrazyPower’s is unlike any fitness shoe out there at the moment; even the Metcon 3’s and Nano 7’s share similarities. Both models look great, but in their own ways; personally I prefer the look of the female model just because it’s a little bit more loud than the guys. The women’s model has the slightly more risque design of the upper due to it’s not uniform pattern compared to the men’s, but both models sport an RPU (rigid polyurethane) overlay over fabric. Think of basically what Reebok did with the Nano 3.0 and 4.0, which are some of the more durable and well liked shoes of their line. Though they both have the RPU cage, the women’s model seems to be more pliable, but flexes oddly in certain areas. Whereas the men’s model is more rigid, but still flexible and doesn’t have any weird hotspots inside. This difference tips its hat in favor of the men’s version.

I immediately noticed that the women’s model has the TPU heel clip exposed and figured that was a benefit to the shoe, but if  you feel around the same area in the men’s shoe, you can feel the “pro-moderator” heel support inside the shoe, which is basically doing the same thing the exposed heel clip is. The overall profile of the shoe is similar between both models, they both have a 3mm drop, wider fit (they really mean wide), and a flat, low to the ground platform. The main difference between the two models lies where you can’t really see, and that’s the insole. I was extremely surprised to find this out when I put the men’s versions of the CrazyPower’s on; there was much less cushioning than the women’s model! More about this later on when we talk about performance.

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The outsole of the shoe has what Adidas refers to as their “TRAXION” system. I don’t get that that means, but I’m going to assume it’s the compound they’re using, since the tread pattern varies between the men’s and women’s shoes, once again in favor of the men’s. Though both provide no shortages of grip on rubber or asphalt, the men’s shoes have a more aggressive pattern at the front of the shoe, rope grips in the middle of the shoe, and protrusions at the heel. Compared to the mostly flat, but well patterned women’s shoe. It seems like the men’s was designed for more varied, rugged surfaces, where the women’s was designed for hardwood or rubber flooring.

The final thing that varies between the two shoes is the tongue. One of my early complaints with the women’s shoe was that the more flat styled tongue never really sat right. The men’s has a more padded tongue and doesn’t suffer from this issue at all. Once again, odd.

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Fit:

Both versions of the shoe fall into the extremely wide category of shoes. I have a pretty average sized foot, not narrow or wide, but I have a bunion on my right foot that makes some narrow shoes uncomfortable. I’m satisfied with the fit and would call it comfortable. Sorry narrow footed people, this is not the shoe for you but fans of the Nano 3.0 will love the extremely wide forefoot of the CrazyPower’s. Length is pretty true to size, though the typical rule of going 1.5 sizes up to fit a women’s shoe doesn’t apply here as my 11’s are slightly long. If you’re looking to get the women’s model, just go up 1 full size. Otherwise, size them as you would your normal running shoes. Here are my sizes for reference:

  • CrazyPower M/9.5 W/10.5
  • Metcon’s 9.5
  • Nano 10
  • Chucks 9
  • Weightlifting shoes 9

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Performance:

Before I got my hands on the Metcon 3’s, the women’s CrazyPower’s were my current go-to shoe. Initially I was worried that the amount of insole cushioning might affect my lifts because it was just something I wasn’t used to having, but surprisingly I was able to do all of my lifts just fine from weightlifting, powerlifting, and lifting in WOD’s. I was skeptical about being able to hit my higher percentages, but the shoes performed well from snatches to back squats. The only hitch that I came across was during WOD’s, the softer insole made it a little awkward to set up lifts when you’re limited on time. Even then, since the outsole is still extremely dense, power delivery was good enough for me to not ever have to worry about missing a lift because the insoles were too squishy.

Traction is probably the CrazyPower’s strongest suit; the outsole material grips everything excellent. When testing the shoes on the rope, I never had any kind of issues with it slipping through my feet. It’s tread pattern also allows for very good flexibility throughout; workouts with a lot of double-unders never caused me any kind of discomfort. It also probably helped out that the insoles are softer than I’m used to. Response is still spot on when you need it, though you might be unsure it’s there at times. I haven’t done any major running in the shoes yet, but they feel like they’d be like any other wide, flat training shoe – clunky.

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Once again, the major difference between the two models is that the insole is more cushioned in the female model. Why Adidas did this, we might not ever know, but rest assured that it’s not enough to detract drastically from the performance of the shoe. The platform is pretty much the same between both and it makes for an excellent training shoe. If I had to go with one for functional fitness, it would have to be the men’s version; mainly because I prioritize lifting, but if you wanted to sacrifice a little bit of rigidity for comfort, go with the women’s model.

It seems like the more flexible, comfortable female CrazyPower’s were designed more for a HIIT style workout, whereas the men’s was designed more for heavier lifting and stability. Personally, I don’t agree with the way they made the CrazyPower’s different, but it’s all I can come up with for why they’d want to make slightly varied models. Everything else that differs between the two shoes is pretty dismiss-able, but the insole might be a deal breaker for some.

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Value & Conclusion:

Adidas is slightly undercutting the rest of the pack with a price tag of $120 for either model shoe. Still, I would place the CrazyPower’s at the same price point, which begs the question:

Why would you want to pick these shoes over the established models that are currently out?

I’d say the main one would be that you needed a WIDE shoe, possibly because you liked the way they looked, but the main one is probably going to be because they’re Adidas and they’re different. All reasons are fine and you really wouldn’t be making a bad choice going with the CrazyPower’s. The models are slightly different but mainly the same, they both perform well, though in my opinion, the men’s shoes are superior. It’s like they took all the complaints I had with the female model and fixed them; almost like a revision. They fit better, they flex better, and the insole is more dense. Like I said, either way, it’s a great alternative and finally cements Adidas into the functional training market. They’re on the right track with the CrazyPower TR and if they keep this up (and maybe make it slightly less wide), they could make a major play for the functional trainer crown.

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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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Rogue Fitness Stainless Steel Ohio Bar Review

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I’ve owned just about every iteration of the Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar. My first being the black oxide 1.1, and since then, a few more black zinc 1.1’s and 1.2’s; even the Operator bar and Echo bars can be counted as spin off versions of the Ohio.  The only real drastic change in the Ohio bar since it was first conceived was the tensile strength going from 155k psi to the current 190k psi. Besides losing the option to get a chrome version of the bar, mainly everything everything stayed the same. Still, 3 years later the Ohio bar remains arguably the most popular barbell in the world. Partly because the name behind it, but mainly because it just works for just about everything and everyone. The latest version of the ever popular barbell brings some useful features but also a questionable “downgrade”, at a moderate premium in price.

The shaft largely remains the same, but now has a 195k psi tensile strength rating, probably due to being made from stainless steel. In the real world, that 5k increase really isn’t going to do a ton in the way of durability, but anything above 190k should be able to stand up to just about anything you can throw at it anyways. The stainless steel Ohio bar came to me extra dirty, but at least it wasn’t too greasy when it arrived. Stainless steel is unmatched in feel by any coating, as it’s basically like having a bare steel barbell. If you’ve never used either types of barbells before, they have a chalky feel to them, unlike zinc or chrome. Though the shaft is stainless, the sleeves are still coated with chrome. Rogue’s website says something about not using a steel wire brush to clean the SS Ohio bar because it can cause rusting. I’m going to assume this is the same reason they went with chrome sleeves instead so that bumper plate collars aren’t going to be rubbing and causing rust issues.

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Since it is the Ohio bar, the shaft remains the 28.5mm multi-use bar standard diameter. Don’t expect this to ever change, but at least they’re going to be releasing stainless versions of multiple bars in their line-up, including a 28mm (Ohio?) training bar. Still, 28.5mm remains a popular pick because it can fit in with just about everything you’re planning to do. If you’re a dedicated weightlifter, get a 28mm bar, it makes a difference.

Arguably the best feature of the stainless steel shaft is the fact that it’s provides the knurling the exact feel the Rogue engineers designed it to have. With bars with coating, the knurling is cut, then the coating is laid on top of the bar, bastardizing the knurling to some degree. As always, Rogue knurling is the most uniform and well cut knurling on the market with a pattern designed to satisfy most people. I say this because I have plenty of friends that think Rogue’s knurling is too aggressive, but many would beg to differ. Personally I think it’s more towards the medium depth spectrum – after getting used to it, the knurling will be tolerable to use for high rep work but at the same time it’ll be grippy enough to use for powerlifting and weightlifting singles. Vary rarely do I ever feel the need to use excessive amounts of chalk. At this point, I love Rogue’s current knurling but there was definitely a break in time for my hands.

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As with my first Ohio bar and those that followed it, the sleeve spin isn’t anything to write home about. When I first experienced this, it was a major letdown, but over time I’ve learned that free spinning a sleeve isn’t actually indicative of how well it will spin under load. Ohio bars have always had very smooth and consistent rotation with their bronze bushings and the SS Ohio is no different; you have nothing to worry about as long as the sleeves spin without seizing, . Rogue decided to go with the same composite bushings that they use in their Rogue Bar 2.0. Performance feels the same between bronze and composite bushings, but durability is questionable. Composite should actually cut down on friction between the bar and sleeve by reducing metal to metal contact, assuming the bushing itself lasts that long. In my Rogue Bar 2.0, one of the bushings has flattened out after so many drops, to the point where I have had to pull the excess of it off the bushing.

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Even though spin between composite and bronze bushings is very similar, I think this change is a huge mistake. I can’t be the only one that sees the stainless steel version of the Ohio bar as a premium version of an already premium product, also with a premium price tag, so taking away a “premium” feature like bronze bushings is just ridiculous. Keep in mind this is exactly what separates the not so premium Rogue Bar 2.0 from the “premium” Ohio bar; even Echo bars have bronze bushings.

Performance remains largely unchanged from generation to generation of Ohio bars. That’s kind of what makes the Ohio bar what it is and why it’s popular. It’s a jack of all trades, master of none kind of barbell. The spin isn’t amazingly fast, the whip isn’t very dynamic and actually feels slightly stiffer than it’s original models. Still, the Ohio bar will handily do anything you ask of it, and that’s exactly what most people need/want. If you want a stiffer bar for squatting and pressing, get a power bar. If you want a whippier bar for olympic lifting, get a training bar. The Ohio bar is the perfect multi-use/CrossFit/functional fitness barbell.

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So, why drop the extra cash on the stainless steel Ohio bar when you can get a normal one with bronze bushings for about $75 less? The main draw, and really the only reason you should buy the stainless bar, is it’s corrosion resistance. Unlike it’s counterparts that will eventually lose their protective coatings and rust, stainless steel will never have that problem because it doesn’t have a coating. Corrosion resistance is a spectrum and stainless is at the top, though it’s not completely immune to rusting – it will just take much, much more for it to start to oxidize. Being near Los Angeles this really isn’t an issue (no, we don’t all live by the beach). I spent the last couple weeks using the SS Ohio bar as my daily driver, not worrying about knocking the chalk out of it or wiping it down, and it looked as good as new when I did.

If you’re in the south, where humidity runs rampant a good chunk of the year, this bar is made for you. Garage gym enthusiasts might also want to look into the SS Ohio bar since their bars will be more exposed to the elements. Hell, this might be a good choice for you even if you’re just too lazy to maintain your barbells. If you don’t fall into any of these categories, you’re better off saving your money by purchasing the tried and true version of the Ohio bar.

Get your Rogue Fitness Stainless Steel Ohio Bar here!