metcon

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!

Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2 (Late 2016)

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

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

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Looks/Construction/Fit:

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

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

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

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

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


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Performance:

Zero drop.

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

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

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

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

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Value:

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

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

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

New Nike Romaleos 3 and Reebok Legacy Lifter pics!

New images of the Nike Romaleos 3 and Reebok Legacy Lifters have surfaced. They showed the Legacy Lifters off at the Mia Classic, whereas the Nikes came in as an exclusive to me.

Which ones do you guys like better? I can’t wait for both!