powerlifting

Nike Metcon 3 DSX Flyknit Shoes Review

IMG_7409

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

What if we made a shoe that was flexible enough to run and jump in, but stable enough to cut and lift in? That is exactly what the original Metcon 3 is made to do. So what’s the DSX Flyknit for? Running, jumping, cutting, and lifting. Wait, what? Yes, the DSX is made to do the same thing the normal Metcon’s do, just with more of an emphasis on running or jumping, and less on stability. A revolutionary idea, except that it’s not revolutionary at all since Nike’s been making more soft and flexible training shoes all along; not to mention ones in Flyknit.

Personally, I’ve never found any Metcon or functional fitness shoe uncomfortable for the runs we’re doing in any given metcon, including something like “Helen” or even “Murph”. Let’s be real, the max you’re ever going to be running in a WOD is maybe 3 miles (exception: “Dragon”), in which case isn’t even that long of a run. If running that much really bothers you that much, you could wear a running shoe. I’m sure most running shoes are stable enough to do pull-ups, push-ups, and squats in anyways. What makes the Metcon 3’s so good, is that they’re the one stop solution for everything fitness, but most importantly they’re great lifting shoe; so why sacrifice that with the DSX Flyknit?

Looks & Construction:

Metcon’s have always had a distinctive silhouette and the DSX Flyknits though new in material, share the same iconic design. At launch the only color way is the even more iconic original volt/grey/black scheme from the original Metcon 1 and boy did Nike do that shoe justice. The DSX Flyknit is definitely one of the best functional training shoe designs to come out in a long time. They’ve gone and taken the tried and true design of the Metcon and twisted it around in Flyknit flavoring, without going too overboard. All the lines and colors synergize well with each other and while the shoe is somewhat louder than the original, it’s also refined and never too gaudy.

I was skeptical about how the Flyknit material would hold in a Metcon shoe because typically they’ve never fit me spot on, but Nike’s reinforced Flyknit for the DSX fits like a glove. It’s not too loose like the Flyknit Racers were in some spots, but not overly tight like the 3.0 Free’s were (the only Flyknit shoes I had to compare with), and does an excellent job holding your foot in place. I think that’s also partly due to the extended TPU heel counter found at the rear of the shoe, which extends almost halfway to the front of the shoe.

IMG_7413

Like on the standard model Metcon, you still get the TPU heel clip for handstand push-ups, drop-in midsole (6mm drop), sticky rubber outsole and Flywire lacing system. I can’t comment on durability, because it just hasn’t been long enough. I’m sure the shoes will last the rigors of daily life, but I’m not sure I want to see how these shoes look after a few rope climbs though.

Unfortunately the squeaky insole problem returns in the DSX Flyknits. Yes, I know there are a bunch of Mickey Mouse way’s you can go about fixing this, but that’s not the issue. The real issue is how this isn’t already fixed, 3 generations into a shoe.


Fit:

Though the DSX Flyknit shares the same basic platform of the Metcon 3, the upper provides a more fitted feel. Initially they might feel tighter than what you’re used to, but that’s how it should be. Sizing the DSX Flyknit should be the same as it is your normal Metcon’s. Here are some of my sizes for reference:

  • Metcon 3/DSX – 9.5
  • Nano 6.0 – 10
  • Chucks –  9
  • Weightlifting shoes – 9

IMG_7414

Performance:

Besides the Flyknit exterior, the main difference between the Metcon 3 and the DSX is it’s drop-in midsole. Basically what that does is it makes the Metcon’s a more modular system with interchangeable midsole densities, except that you can’t actually go out and shop for new ones by themselves. To me, the midsole in the Metcon 3 was perfect; it was decently flat with a 4mm drop, dense, flexible, decently comfortable, and most importantly stable. The DSX Flyknit has a 6mm drop, greatly increased forefoot flex grooves, and an added articulated cushioning system for comfort for “more miles and reps”.

Initially when you put the shoes on, you’ll feel a little bit taller than if you were to stand in normal Metcon 3’s and the midsole does a pretty good job holding your body weight up. I was surprised to find that the DSX were more stable than I had thought they would be, until you start to lift. If you’re a seasoned Metcon vet, you’ll immediately notice that the platform of the DSX Flyknit’s are inferior for lifting. It doesn’t take a ton of weight to make the new midsole start to compress; I felt like I was pushing, but going no where when squatting a reasonable weight. Olympic lifts start okay, but landings have you jostling with the shoe for the right position. I still consider 6mm generally flat and the outsole is still as grippy as ever, so those couldn’t be where the DSX falter. At the end of the day, I can forgive the DSX Flyknit’s for being a mediocre lifting shoe, because that’s not their intended purpose.

The DSX Flyknits are lighter than the standard models by an ounce, but also more flexible and generally comfortable to walk around in. I spent the whole day walking around the mall with the DSX on and don’t have any complaints as far as breathability or comfort go; they’re great casual shoes. Once you really start get moving in them is when things change. Running in the DSX Flyknits feels just like it does in normal Metcons with the short runs I’ve done; I’m probably not going to go run a 10k with these shoes on, neither will most people, so that’s not something I’m going to test them with. After a workout with 250 double unders and 75 burpees, but my plantar fascia’s felt like they were on freaking fire. I gave the shoes a pass there because that’s going to be hard on your feet in any shoe, but I got that same feeling after a workout with wall balls, snatches and muscle-ups too. I think the idea is great, but the added cushioning does nothing more than make the shoe less responsive, making your feet work overtime trying to find positions; a problem I’ve never had with the more stable Metcon 3’s.

IMG_7419


Value & Conclusion:

Retailing for $160, the DSX Flyknit’s are not a cheap shoe, definitely not one you’re going to want to thrash. So, if the DSX Flyknit’s are uncomfortable and less stable than the normal Metcon 3, but cost $30 more, what’s the point? As a shoe, they’re awesome to look at, well made, generally okay to lift in – globo’ers will love them…but I think most box goers will find that the normal Metcon 3’s are still the way to go.

A Metcon, made for metcons…

Great idea, except when you’re sacrificing what make’s the Nike Metcon’s such an excellent shoe: their stability. Let’s be clear about this, the DSX Flyknits were never meant to be shoes to replace the original Metcon’s. They’re designed for lighter WOD’s that have an emphasis on running and plyometrics, with occasional lifting thrown in the mix. Which they’re generally okay at, but they’re no better than the normal models and aren’t even all that comfortable for anything other than casual use. If you want to do distance runs, go get a real running shoe. I think the DSX Flyknit’s would be better if they kept the Flyknit upper, but had the normal Metcon 3’s midsole. Which you could switch for yourself if you had both shoes, but most people aren’t going to buy both of them (or you could use your Metcon 1/2 midsoles). If I had to recommend one, it would be the standard Metcon 3, which is lighter, more flexible, and more comfortable than its predecessors.

I value stability in a shoe above all else and typically prefer more minimal platforms. If you’re like me, you probably won’t like the DSX Flyknit’s.

IMG_7416

IMG_7449

IMG_7453//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

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.

IMG_7407

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.

IMG_7399

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.

IMG_7395


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

IMG_7385

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.

IMG_7403

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.

IMG_7391


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.

IMG_7383

Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2 (Late 2016)

IMG_7012

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.

IMG_7013

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.

IMG_7018

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.


IMG_7014

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.

IMG_7016

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.

IMG_7015

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!

Vulcan Standard 28mm Training Barbell 20kg

DSC06874

Quite some time ago now, I blindly picked up a barbell from a company I didn’t know a whole lot about named Vulcan Strength. I admit, at the time I was much more of a noob about equipment than I am now. Honestly, I don’t even remember how I came about finding out about Vulcan in the first place, but I remember being dazzled by their “Standard” barbell. It was and still is, one of the few U.S. made barbells that isn’t Rogue, American Barbell or Diamond Pro. That alone gave it a certain allure, but the performance quickly made it one of my favorite and most recommended barbells.

If there was anything “wrong” with the Vulcan Standard; it was that the shaft was 28.5mm in diameter making it more of a “CrossFit” bar (I’m a crossfitter), and less of a training barbell. Which could be fine for you purposes depending on what you’re looking for.  I also think it’s kind of weird when 28.5mm bars only have a WL marking, but Vulcan must have read my review and not too long after the PL marking was added in; I guess the same could be said about 28mm bars with PL markings! The original 28.5mm Standard is still available, but you now also have the option to go with a true 28mm Training Bar under the same moniker.

DSC06875

  • 28mm diameter shaft with nickel chrome coating and a single IWF marking.
  • 196k PSI tensile strength.
  • Medium depth knurling.
  • Oil impregnated bronze bushings with bright zinc sleeves.
  • Made in the U.S.A.
  • $345 with Free Shipping
  • Lifetime Warranty

Many of the specifications of the original Standard carry over to the training bar other than a very slight jump in tensile strength. This is not a bad thing as the original Standard was a great barbell due to many of these attributes. The same good ol’ American made build quality still stands as well; the Training bar is one of the most sturdy sounding bars when dropped. A more significant change is the difference in price, but more on that later on.

DSC06877

As with the original Standard, rotation is aided by a set of bronze bushings per sleeve. Spinning the sleeve freely without weight surprisingly doesn’t produce as many rotations as the original Standard did. We all know by now that spinning the sleeves like that doesn’t mean much to the actual performance of the bar. On the contrary, the bronze bushings found in the Standard Training bar allow for buttery smooth rotations under any kind of load. Since the bushings are sintered, rotation should actually get better with use and last you quite some time before having to re-lubricate. If you wanted “wow” factor, you could opt for the bearing variant!

Out of the box, Vulcan uses a much thicker grease lubricant to protect the bar from it’s own tight tolerances. This reduces metal to metal contact, resulting in less wear over time and a “looser” barbell. Other manufacturers will use a thinner type lubricant to make the bar spin better out of the box, but not necessarily to safeguard the barbell.

Tensile strength has changed from the 194k psi tensile to a 196k psi tensile, which does mean that the metallurgy of the steel has been altered. It’s interesting to see that the thinner shaft has the higher strength between the two, but the hike in tensile strength doesn’t do anything to the dynamic properties of the barbell. Most barbells in this range usually have an adequate amount of whip for most people but should increase as the weights go up.  I found that the Training bar feels a lot like the Standard I remembered in this area. You start to feel the bar move around 100kg, but not enough to make a difference. YMMV if you’re a big boy/girl lifter!


DSC06870

Vulcan’s nickel chrome coating is blingin’. Aesthetically, the Training bar is beautiful, but that’s probably not the reason you’re buying it. Chrome is great against chipping and scratching but remember, oxidation can still happen. Though I haven’t experienced any issues with this being from SoCal, you can expect this to happen in the most humid of environments. You can count on the shaft looking great for years to come if taken care of properly. I always recommend keeping a nylon brush near by to knock the chalk out of your knurling. The polished shaft is without center knurling but you shouldn’t have any issues with it slipping off your chest, as I felt it actually caught my sticky skin instead.

Vulcan is one of the only manufacturers to actually tout they have a medium depth knurling; I think companies stray away from this because they’re afraid that it might cost them some bar sales, but over the years I’ve notice a trend of people that actually want a more aggressive knurl pattern. I remember the original Standard not having a very aggressive knurl, which I personally liked, but the Training bar’s knurl is much more aggressive than it what it once was. Knurling is the most subjective thing when it comes to choosing a barbell; what I like, you might not, and vice versa. However, I actually find the Training bar’s knurling to be quite comfortable, even for reps. The pattern is a bit more fine, but also deeper and provides excellent grip even without having to chalk up. Fans of more aggressive knurling will revel at the touch of the Training bar’s knurling.

DSC06867


The Standard Training bar will set you back a cool $66 more than the OG ($345 vs $279), which is a considerable amount more. If you’re a dedicated weightlifter, this is a no-brainer, you need that 28mm shaft! From a Crossfitter’s point of view, you might be just fine saving a little bit and going for the original Standard. You can sure as hell perform Oly movements just fine with the OG just as well as you can do WOD’s with the Training bar. They’re still both excellent and it mainly depends on your budget, but I would always opt for the 28mm barbell.

For the price, there are other great barbells, so I think it mainly comes down to what your preferences are with knurling.  There are no wrong answers in this range of barbells, but if you’re looking for a good ol’ American made 28mm training bar with a real medium depth knurling, is built like a tank and should last you for years to come, look no further than the Vulcan Standard. If theres anything I know about Vulcan, it’s that they have an insatiable need to put out the the best quality gear out there; you can shop with confidence.

Get your Vulcan Standard Training bar here!

RepFitness Gladiator Barbell Review

IMG_6734

Back when I was looking into purchasing my first barbell, there weren’t as many choices as there are now, but one company that was fairly new at the time had one of my picks. It was between the Rogue Fitness Ohio Bar and the RepFitness Excalibur bar; I ended up going with the Ohio, but shortly after not being wowed by that bar, picked up the Excalibur to soothe my woes. Not that the Ohio bar is a bad barbell, but if you ask anyone that purchased it under the impression that it would have great spin, they’ll probably give you the same underwhelmed impressions that I had. On the contrary, the Excalibur had amazing spin for a bushing barbell, but even better whip! For a little under $300, it was one of the best deals at the time, it’s a shame that bar isn’t being sold anymore. You can still read my review of the bushing and bearing barbells.

I have no clue why they discontinued, maybe contracts ended with the company that made them, Gymway (who make a lot of other popular barbells as well). Since then, RepFitness hasn’t had a barbell that caught my attention until recently, with the Gladiator barbell. How could it not? It’s a 10 needle bearing barbell, with an insanely high tensile, hard chrome coating, and 28mm shaft for under $250! Sounds pretty good, right?!

IMG_6724

The Gladiator is a beautifully constructed barbell. The shaft is a whopping 230k psi tensile with 210k yield, only second in strength to barbell formerly known as the Klokov bar, the XTraining Competition bar. While its easy to be wowed by such high numbers (because higher is always better right?), tensile and yield aren’t necessarily indicative of performance, but more on this when we get there. Each sleeve is held on without very much play side to side, so dropping the barbell with weight doesn’t produce any rattles. Added details include a machined groove for ID bands and ribbed sleeves. The diameter of the shaft is 28mm and has both IPF/IWF markings on it, which fitting the barbell’s mixed use intentions; though I would say this would be a better weightlifting training bar.

The knurling is a very well cut medium depth, with prominent start and stop points. I’ve gotten use to knurling like this so the depth doesn’t bother my hands much anymore and it provides excellent grip. For pure oly lifting, it’s just about perfect, but it can be a bit much for high rep workouts. Hard chrome is just a bit more slippery by nature, so I would recommend chalking up, at least until you leave some residue in the knurling. Rust prevention has yet to be determined, but any coating can rust, and chrome has the tendency to develop surface rust no matter what you do.

IMG_6727

If you’re looking for a barbell that rotates well, this is it. The 10 needle bearing system of the Gladiator bar rotates the shaft excellent and I’ve never been at a loss of speed using this barbell. Moreover, the rotation feels smooth and not “grindy” like some bearing bars can be. Back to the high tensile/yield strength of the barbell – the Excalibur bar this is not, in terms of whip. While not being as stiff as the Klokov bar was, the Gladiator is a bit less dynamic that I would like to see from a training bar and oscillation falls in line with pretty much all multi-use barbells under $300. I’m not going to knock it for this though, since most bars around this price range feel the same and most people would not notice a difference in this area.


All things considered, for $230, the RepFitness Gladiator bar is probably the best barbell under $250. For a training bar around this price range, look no further. Even without the Excalibur like whip, the Gladiator performs like a bar double the price; take into consideration the bearing version of the Excalibur did almost cost double. The Gladiator is an import barbell, but you can’t even compare the build quality to 90% of what’s out there. Everything about this barbell is solid, from the sleeve rotation to the construction, but most importantly, the price!

Is it the perfect barbell? No, I’m still trying to find that one. Is it going to be perfect for people wanting a the best value to performance ratio barbell? Yep.

Get your Gladiator Bar here!

IMG_6730