Tag Archives: training shoes

Altra HIIT XT Training Shoe Review

Seems like everyone nowadays is trying to get in on the training shoe market Not that you can blame them though, training in general is more popular right now than it’s ever been all 32 years I’ve been alive; or at least I think it has. Barefoot/minimalist shoes aren’t exactly new things anymore, but they have been increasing in popularity due to the training craze. Altra is a fairly young company with a big cult following, which was founded on the premise of wide, neutral, minimalist running shoes; all characteristics you’d want in a competent training shoe. Everyone I know that runs in Altra’s, swears by them. So why not just use the shoes on hand to train in? I’ve never owned another pair of Altra’s, but I’m going to assume it’s because of midsole cushioning. If they specialize in minimalist shoes, why has it taken them so long to come out with a training shoe? Well, that’s anybody’s guess, but let’s just say they’re coming to the party fashionably late.

2017 has already been a big year for training shoes, one could assume that Altra held off the release of the HIIT XT until the shoe was just right, or maybe until it was after the rush of early year training shoes. Either way, this has been the most hyped shoe that no one had seen coming. It’s pretty clear that Altra can make some competent running shoes, but how will they fare on the training shoe front?

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Looks/Construction:

Another shoe that I hope to check out from Altra are the Escalante’s, I was sold on them just by the looks alone. I can’t say the same about the HIIT XT’s, while they’re not the worst looking shoes I’ve seen and pictures online definitely make them look a lot worse than they do in person, but they won’t be winning any beauty contests any time soon. Unlike the Escalante’s, I feel like there’s just way too many lines here and crosshatches there on the upper of the HIIT XT’s, giving them way too busy of a look. Altra’s logo isn’t bad at all, but the material they used for it is stiff to the point where I can feel it from inside the shoe. I hope to see this just printed on in the future. The most ridiculous claim I’ve heard is that these shoes look like Metcon’s; my response to that is that you probably need to get your eyes checked.

On the flip side, the shoe feels extremely well built. From the “Powersole” platform to the not so great looking upper, everything at least feels like it’s meant to take a beating. The upper is a combination of mesh materials with PU overlay’s on top of it; there are reinforced areas of PU at the front of the toe box and a built in heel counter at the rear of the shoe. The tongue is well padded, the ankle collar even more so, making you feel like there may be a little too much to the upper to the HIIT’s. Since pretty much the whole upper is mesh, your feet never really overheat.

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A nice little touch that Altra included is the “stitch ‘n’ turn stitching underfoot”, so that you can use the HIIT XT’s with or without the included 5mm insoles. I was surprised to find that the stack height was a fairly tall 24mm, but removing the insoles drops it down to 18mm. The problem here is that unless you have a beefy foot, you’re going to end up with an excess of space inside the shoe. In my testing, I didn’t really notice any response differences anyways so you’re better off just keeping the insoles in.

The drop, like all Altra shoes, is 0mm. For a men’s 10, I weighed the left shoe at 12.3oz and the right at 11.8oz, close enough to the 11.2oz listed weight. They’re on the heavier side of training shoes, but fall in line with the the more popular Nano and Metcon’s.

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Fit:

One reason people love Altra’s so much is because they’re wide shoes, and the HIIT XT’s are no different. Altra’s technology behind this is called the FootShape toe box, in which their lasts are 360 molded around actual feet, rather than a sleeker shape to increase appearance.  I have to be honest, this took a little bit of getting used to since the toe box was a lot bigger than what I’m used to, but it’s a welcome change overall and I ended up really liking the extra space.

Though the HIIT XT’s are wide shoes, they run on the small side length wise. Honestly, I don’t think the shoes actually run small, but the unnecessarily stiff front toe box cap gives it the illusion that they are. I ordered my normal size 10 and my toes eventually end up running into the front of the shoes. It’s not so bad before a workout, but at the end of the workout I have to end up switching my shoes or altering the way I walk. I recommend that you go with half a size up from your normal training shoe.

My sizes for reference:

  • Nano – 10
  • Metcon – 10
  • Speed TR – 9.5
  • Inov-8 195 – 9.5
  • Oly shoes – 9.5
  • NoBull – 10

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Performance:

To say I was excited for my first pair of Altra’s would be an understatement, but I’ve got to be honest, when I received the HIIT XT’s, I wasn’t super impressed by them. First off, I felt like they were really bulky and clunky, a huge departure from the 195’s I had just reviewed. Secondly, they ran small, my toes pressed slightly up into the front of the shoes. Finally, for a “minimal” shoe, they’re fairly tall with a thick insole. Still, with all that, I kept an open mind and wore them day and night hoping something would change – It did.

The first workout I did in the HIIT XT’s was a combination of running and clean and jerks, where I basically found myself tripping over my own feet because I wasn’t used to the wide platform of the HIIT’s. Having just reviewed the 195’s, I wasn’t used to the platform for running either, the shoes just felt really clunky to me. I didn’t make it throughout that workout without switching my shoes. Afterwards, I did some squats to check the stability of the HIIT’s, to where the wide platform really shined. Like I mentioned before, I didn’t really notice any stability or power differences with or without the insoles, but overall, squatting with the ultra wide zero drop platform felt great. The gum sole on mine also did an amazing job keeping my feet from shifting around.

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Probably the most notable area that the HIIT XT’s perform best at is Olympic weightlifting. The supremely wide base and outsole material make for the most stable of landings, just so long as your mobility can match up to the zero drop of the shoes. Keeping your toes or heels down might also be an issue for some people, but personally I do better lifting in flat shoes so I felt right at home in the HIIT XT’s, and soon I found myself maxing out my clean and jerk without any kind of second thought – something I hadn’t done since February. With a little bit of practice, going for reps started to feel better as well. My main issue on day one is that I wasn’t moving my feet enough (a bad habit) to compensate for the bulk and grip of the shoes, causing me to trip up on the ground when going for reps. Once I figured that out, repeatedly picking the bar up became an almost mindless task where I could just hold on, push my feet down and the bar would fly up. I could see definitely see myself reaching for these shoes not only for heavy oly days, but also for “grip it and rip it” workouts like “Grace” or “Isabel”.

The biggest movement that I needed to adjust to was running. Initially, I thought these shoes were going to be thin and lightweight, but they’re the opposite, wide and a little heavy. I’ve had plenty of experience with zero drop shoes, but never any that had quite as much cushioning as the HIIT XT’s. The first day I ran in them was the fist day I got them in and they felt clunky, kind of like I was running in Oly shoes. Still afterwards, my feet/calves felt great, like I hadn’t run at all. With a little bit of break in, the shoes eventually got to the point where you’d be pretty surprised they were that flexible, given the way they look. The platform is a little bulky, but the PowerSole midsole allows for a more powerful stride, though there’s not a ton of bounce. The width in turn makes the shoes very stable so you don’t have to think about where drop your foot down, which is nice to have one less thing to worry about when running. I was able to pretty consistently sprint 100m at around the 17 second mark (with a turn) and also keep my mile pace sub-8 mins. I’m not a great runner (I suck), so that’s pretty good by my standards. I still think the shoes could be lighter, but I think the width actually ended up helping out my running.

Where the Altra’s aren’t spectacular, are burpees. No one likes them, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have to do them. Once again, the Altra’s are a big shoe with a stiff toe cap, making getting down and up somewhat uncomfortable. Sounds silly, but burpees are just as important as running or weightlifting. The HIIT XT’s are responsive enough for rebounding box jumps, but I wouldn’t be going for any max height work. Overall, they’re a little clunky for plyometric movements and wouldn’t be my shoe of choice to do any kind of agility work in. You can’t have it all, but keep in mind that there’s worse out there too.

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Value/Conclusion:

The HIIT XT’s retail for a little bit less than normal at $99. I think Altra made a very good decision in selling the HIIT XT’s at a lower MSRP than their competitors. As far as I know, the HIIT XT’s are Altra’s first training shoe, so having a slightly lower price point makes people a little less wary to try out a new shoe that they’re buying based solely on the brand’s reputation. To further ease your shopping experience, Altra has a 30-day satisfaction guarantee where you can return or exchange the shoes no matter what. You can at least try them out without repercussions. I expect the price to go up incrementally as Altra gains more training shoe experience and releases more models, but a bill is a an excellent place to start for their rookie debut.

Nothing that comes easy in life is worth it.

This review would have looked a lot different if I had just used these shoes for a day.  While they might take some time to break in and get used to, I ended up really liking the HIIT XT’s. No shoes are without their faults – I still think the shoes could be lightened up, slimmed down, lose the toe cap and are in need of a facelift. But what the HIIT XT’s do right, they do really well, and not to mention do it at a significantly lower price point. It’s easy to forgive them for what they don’t get perfect and considering that these are Altra’s first training shoe, I’d say they have a really solid foundation to build upon.

These are my very first pair of Altra’s, so I don’t have anything besides other training shoes to compare them to – but overall, I think the HIIT XT’s are an extremely well built, excellent performing pair of trainers, especially for $100. They’re not going to be for everyone, but if you’ve got a wide foot, have the mobility, and are into supporting a smaller brand (which would mean furthering their training shoe development), I think you should definitely check out the Altra HIIT XT’s.

The Good:

  • Extremely stable shoes with good grip.
  • Zero drop promotes better bio-mechanics.
  • They only cost $99

The Bad

  • A little heavier and bulkier than one would expect from a minimalist shoe.
  • Wide platform might take some getting used to.
  • Narrow feet won’t do very well in these shoes.

The Ugly

  • They run small, size them up compared to your normal training shoes.
  • Not immediately comfortable shoes and require some breaking in.
  • Appearance won’t be for everyone.

Get your Altra HIIT XT’s here!

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Adidas CrazyTrain Boost Elite Shoe Review

Adidas hit the training market in a big way earlier this year with the CrazyPower TR. In all honesty, they didn’t have to do too much to attract all the sneakerheads already riding the Adidas train. Even though I thought the CrazyPower’s were good shoes, they were a bit boring for my liking and didn’t do enough to pull me away from my current favorite training shoes. Once again out of the blue, the Adidas CrazyTrain Elite popped up on Roadrunnersports.com, much like the CrazyPower’s did. Pretty vague in description once again, but this time around there was a distinguishing feature that set the CrazyTrain’s apart from any training shoe before – Boost.

Admittedly, I was a bit skeptical about the inclusion of a full length Boost midsole on a training shoe. After all, Boost by nature is designed to be soft and comfortable – the antithesis of an effective training shoe. Either way, I knew I had to give it a shot, on one hand because Boost, and on the other because I had a feeling Adidas wouldn’t release their “flagship” training shoe, subpar. Keep in mind, I’m by no means an Adidas Boost mega-fan; I do own Ultraboosts, Pureboosts, and NMD’s, but I don’t think they’re the end all be all shoe.

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Looks/Construction:

These quite possibly might be the best looking training shoe of all time.
(In my humble opinion of course.)

The CrazyTrain’s have a distinctly Adidas look about them, similar to Ultraboosts, but it’s like they took the silhouette and pumped them up with PED’s. Though it’s no Primeknit, the one piece “Close-knit” woven upper is comfortable, looks clean and is very flexible. The package feels beefy and rugged for training, but still remains sleek enough looking to wear on the streets. There are bits and pieces of TPU that cover higher wear areas like the toe or places where you need more support, but overall the upper is primarily Close-knit. I think my favorite part of the upper is the rear pull-tab, that’s very much like the one on Ultraboosts. It’s simple, effective, and gives the shoe a more finished and modern look. Construction is on point, my pair had no signs of loose glue or stitching anywhere to be found.


On the bottom, you’ll find an outsole almost identical to the on the women’s CrazyPower trainer, which strikes me as odd because I thought the men’s outsole of that shoe was a little more versatile. The main difference was that the mens had areas where the tread protruded versus the just flat surface of the women’s (and CrazyTrain). Either way, the outsole does a great job in holding whatever surface you’re training on and I never felt like I was at a loss of footing. Another thing that carried over from the women’s outsole is the lip that extends out on the lateral sides of the shoes, giving you a little bit more of a platform without adding bulk. There’s no sign of Adidas’ “Traxion” anywhere, but the rubber feels the same for what it’s worth.

Fit:

Adidas sizing is typically all over the place, which I think is generally an issue with all the different types of uppers that they use for their shoes. Materials like Primeknit make sizing a little bit more forgiving, whereas the normal NMD upper isn’t quite as. The Close-knit woven upper on the CrazyTrain’s aren’t like either and feels more like a normal shoe upper. Sizing on the CrazyTrain’s run a little bit on the large side, but depending on your foot, it might not warrant a size down. I got these shoes in a 9.5 and I have a little bit of room in the toe area, but with my Morton’s toe, it’s comfortable. If you do not have Morton’s toe, where your second toe is longer than your big toe, size them down a half.

The shape of the shoe most closely resembles the Nike Metcon 2 so overall, I would just say size them exactly the same as that shoe. These are not narrow shoes by any means and they don’t have much in the way of arch support.

My sizing for reference:

  • Ultraboost – 9.5 or 10
  • PureBoost – 9.5
  • NMD – 10
  • CrazyPower – 9.5
  • Metcon 3 – 10 (I started sizing this shoe up)
  • Metcon 2 – 9.5
  • Nano – 10

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Performance:

The burning question in everyone’s mind’s:

“Can Adidas make an effective training shoe, with Boost?”

Honestly, I was a bit skeptical about this myself, but at the end of the day, Boost is just another midsole material that can be made into pretty much any density. It’s made to be responsive and it’s Boost “pellets” are supposed to deform more naturally to fit your feet. The degree in which the Boost cushions in the CrazyTrain’s is the real question, and how they could stiffen up the rest of the chassis.  Upon first putting your foot into the shoe, you’re going to notice that the insole compresses, but when you start moving around, you’ll find that the midsole doesn’t compress, almost at all. You can compress the Boost on the outer rim of the shoe, but if you try to push down on the inside of the shoe, it doesn’t go anywhere. In no way, can you even compare the stiff Boost in these shoes to the comfortable midsole of the Ultraboost.

So, what’s the point of having Boost in a shoe if it’s not ultra-plush and comfortable? At the end of the day, Boost is a running shoe technology made for high energy return. Running and jumping movements in the CrazyTrain’s feel extremely responsive, better than almost every shoe I’ve tested so far this year. The feeling inside the shoe is similar to the “springy” drop-in midsole of the Nike Metcon 3, but is more comfortable since Boost is more flexible. The midsole does a great job attenuating shock from landings better than most shoes without being cushy, your joints will thank you. Unlike Ultraboost’s, the CrazyTrain’s have more structure that’s created by the TPU midsole casing on the lateral side and the TPU bar on the medial side. Basically, the stiff Boost midsole also has a shell which adds rigidity necessary for a solid training shoe.

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Lifting in the CrazyTrain’s feels as solid as it would in minimal shoes, though they are slightly taller than other training shoes. The midsole doesn’t compress even under the heaviest weights, giving you an extremely solid platform to lift with. Blindfolded, you wouldn’t even know these shoes used Boost. The TPU bar doesn’t allow for much flex in the middle area of the shoe and the built in heel counter keeps your foot in place, giving you tons of lateral stability. Also the TPU bar extends into the shoe creating a propulsion plate giving you added acceleration. I’m still waiting on word back from Adidas about the drop, but it couldn’t be anything more than 3-4mm; the shoes feel flat an neutral. UPDATE: Adidas’ training product manager reached out to me, heel lift in these shoes is 6mm, thanks Nora! I was able to work up to all of my 90%+ lifts (385BS, 215Sn, 265CJ) with no issues of stability and nothing in the back of my head telling me to change shoes. When I put the CrazyTrain’s up against some of its top contenders, I found that I liked the way they felt better, almost on par to my favorite training shoes, the Nano 6.0’s. These are serious lifting shoes.


Like all the best lifting shoes out there, where the CrazyTrain’s start to suffer is in running. The wide shape of the shoe feels clunky, but they’re not awful to run because the flexibility of the forefoot. Unlike the CrazyTrain’s running counterparts, these shoes do not have a plush ride at all and the only cushioning you get is the amount from the insole. Even though they’re not soft, the CrazyTrain’s still have a very responsive ride which still works well for sprints, bounding, and the shorter runs found in WOD’s.

Where the CrazyTrain’s really fall behind the pack, is the weight of the shoes. I weighed them at 13oz per a mens 9.5, which is much heavier than it’s peers. Truth be told, I didn’t really notice the weight since the shoes feel so responsive. You’ll definitely notice the weight compared to NoBull’s or Inov-8’s, but not so much against Nano’s or Metcons.


Value/Conclusion:

At $140, the CrazyTrain’s retail for a little bit more than most of the top training shoe choices and $20 more than Adidas’ first true training shoe drop, the CrazyPower. Anything with Boost is considered a premium product, the CrazyTrain’s shouldn’t be any different, so it’s not surprising to see the hike in price. Honestly, $10 isn’t such a huge deal to me but some might be put off by this. If you’re an Adidas fan, this isn’t going to be a big deal to you either. Even though the CrazyTrain’s are excellent performing shoes and quite possibly my favorite pick at the moment, they’re not leagues better than their peers. If you’re looking for bang for the buck, you could probably look elsewhere because other top training shoe choices usually still cost less.​


To my utter surprise, the CrazyTrain’s ended up being my favorite training shoe of the year so far. They look great and performance is top notch for all things CrossFit, especially in the lifting area, but the most important thing is that they just feel good. Including Boost in the shoe seems just like a marketing tool in the case of the CrazyTrain’s, since it doesn’t really work like it does on Adidas’ other shoes. Hearing that is going to turn Boost-heads off, but will turn serious lifters on to these shoes.  Big ups to Adidas for not making a shoe with Boost that you weren’t able to train in, just to make sales. This shoe legitimizes Adidas stance in the training shoe game (which might be good for Reebok at the end of the day).

Since Reebok’s Nano 6.0’s are still out of the picture, I can’t really recommend them anymore. Right now, the Adidas CrazyTrain’s are riding at the top of my favorite training shoe list. If you’re still skeptical of a Boosted training shoe, try them out! RoadRunnerSports.com offers a 90-day trial period, but I’m sure you’ll be just as surprised (in a good way) about the performance of the CrazyTrains.

Purchase your Adidas CrazyTrain Boost Elite’s here!

Inov-8 All-Train 215 Shoe Review

We’ve been at a standstill in training shoes for quite some time now, not a ton of technology has really changed. Not that the formula didn’t work, but we’ve really just had the same shoes with different brands on it. It’s just the beginning of the year but 2017 is looking to change all of that. As the sport of fitness evolves, so does the footwear we require.  Interestingly enough, we’re starting to see a departure from the rigid, flat soled shoes into shoes that are a little more geared towards all around performance, with running included. Not that you couldn’t run in flat shoes of old, but they were a little clunky and athletes nowadays are required to be more agile than ever.

Late last year, I reviewed the Inov-8 F-Lite 235v2, which I loved. It has all the makings of a great training shoe: zero drop, flexibility, lightweight, and dense midsole. I don’t mind running in them, but like all wide and rigid trainers, they can be a little choppy to run in.  Leave it to the masterminds at Inov-8 to shake up the formula with the All-Train 215 by fusing their roots in all-terrain running shoes and training shoes to make one of the best all around trainers of the year.

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Looks/Construction:

Honestly, Inov-8 trainers have never been my favorite shoes to look at since the 195. While the 235 and 250 are great performing shoes, their blocky aesthetic and choice of color combinations are probably the biggest reasons why they haven’t really taken off with the mainstream. I don’t really think they care that much to appeal to everyone, but having attractive shoes isn’t a bad thing. The All-Train 215’s are the best looking shoe silhouette that Inov-8 has come up with, period. They look like the spiritual successor to the ever so popular 195 – not overdone, sleek with a little bit of tactical badassery. Most of the colorways fit the design of the shoe and aren’t really outlandish, but this is still an area I think Inov-8 could work on a little bit. When in doubt, just get black.

Build quality is the typical, excellent quality of Inov-8 shoes though one might initially mistake them for being built cheap because they’re so lightweight weighing in at just 7.5oz/215 grams per shoe. Inov-8 keeps things flexible compared to a lot of the other brands out there with a more normal synthetic and mesh upper. One question might be long term durability, but I don’t think any of us have had these shoes long enough to comment on that. They survived a few rope climbs here and there, but who knows what they’ll look like after a hundred or so.

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Fit:

Inov-8 shoes run small on me, so I went with a size US10. I would always recommend just going with the EU size since I think the sizing is a little more accurate that way, in which case I wear an EU43. Compared to the 235’s, the 215’s feel a little bit more fitted since the shape is more like a running shoe, which I prefer over the more boxy toe. I wouldn’t say the 215’s are narrow shoes, but they’re more so than the 235’s just mainly at the toe. Here are my sizes for reference:

  • 215/235v2 – 10
  • Nano 6/7 -10
  • Metcon – 9.5
  • Ultraboost – 9.5-10
  • Boots – 8.5
  • WL Shoes – 9-9.5

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Performance:

Are they running shoes or are they training shoes? They’re both.

The 215’s aren’t marketed as “cross fitness” shoes (which I’m using them for), but rather as a more general training/HIIT gym shoe. It seems that Inov-8 is trying to attract a broader/different audience with the 215’s, or even new grassroots fitness communities, since ours isn’t so much of one anymore. Either way, the 215’s still work excellent for what we do as “cross fitnessers”.

Before receiving the shoes, I was thinking that they might not be good to lift in because of the way they’re marketed. The biggest difference from the 235 is the midsole construction, in that the 215 use an injection molded Fusion EVA midsole rather than a compressed one. While it’s similar in height and drop to the F-Lite 250 (20mm heel/12mm forefoot/8mm drop), the overall feel is different since the 235 and 250 both use the stiffer CMEVA Powerheel. You’ll notice that steps in the 215 have a little bit more “bounce” and are cushioned more, which favor running and plyometric movements, but that doesn’t exactly make them running shoes, as they’re still very responsive for lifting.

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One thing that takes a little bit of getting used to is the forward bias caused by having the larger drop. On the 250’s, you can anchor down more on the heel of the shoe since it doesn’t compress, where you might notice your feet sliding a little forward more in the 215’s due to the slightly more compressible midsole. Even though the majority of the cushioning is at at the heel of the shoe, it doesn’t give enough to detract from most lifts. I’d still use my 235’s for 1RM deadlifts or backsquats, but I felt comfortable enough to do all of my percentage lifting in the 215’s.

Where the 215’s shine the most is in the name: All-Train. These aren’t shoes designed just for lifting, they’re for everything in the fitness world. If you want to go on a trail run, then hit the gym for some lifting, and maybe even go on a swim – the All Train 215’s are the shoe for you. For me, they’re one of the most complete WOD shoes available. They have just enough cushioning to keep my feet comfortable for runs I’m doing in WODs, but I wouldn’t be afraid to wear them for up to a few miles. Since WOD’s don’t typically have 1RMs in them, they’ve been stable for all the lifting I’m doing in a WOD. They’re probably best suited for workouts with a fair amount of plyometric movements since they’re so flexible and most of all, lightweight. You’ll barely even feel like you have shoes on, except that the outsole lug pattern gives you excellent footing no matter what the surface is, asphalt, gravel, rubber or wood. For most people, you’ll never need another pair of training shoes!

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Value/Conclusion:

The All-Train 215’s retail for $110, but you can usually find them slightly discounted if you shop around. At MSRP they’re a steal, but if you can get them cheaper, it’s a no brainer. The All-Train 215’s are currently one of the best deals in training shoes.

I typically favor shoes that are just rigid, flat and favor weightlifting, but it’s impossible to not like the 215’s. If you were a fan of the 195, or more so the 240/230’s, you will no doubt be a fan of the 215. These shoes return to the greatness (not that they ever left) that were the original Inov-8 cross-training shoes. There are better lifting shoes and there are better running shoes, but there are very few shoes that have combined the two as well into a training shoe like the All-Train 215’s. If you’re a cross-fitnesser looking for a WOD shoe and you do your lifting in Oly shoes, or if you’re just someone looking for a damned good pair of training shoes, this is the one.

Get your Inov-8 All-Train 215’s here!

For additional information check out Inov-8’s product page.

Under Armour Project Rock Delta Highlight Shoe Review (Longest title ever, if ya smell what The Rock is cookin’.)

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For this review, we’re going to have to step outside the box. Think back to a time before you did functional fitness, back to the days of globo-gym and bro-science; if that’s what you still do, it should be easy. Before I knew anything about minimalist shoes, zero drops, or weightlifting shoes – I, like most people, just wore running shoes to the gym. Granted, leg day wasn’t a big part of my routine and my footwear was more for style than anything else. The crazy thing is that even though the world is a lot more informed now, people still weight train in running shoes. (See: Instagram). Some people just don’t know, or they just don’t care, savages. Either way, people out there still do it and as inefficient as it is, it doesn’t mean that it’s impossible.

When the Rock announced his shoe from Under Armour, I thought to myself, “Finally, a serious training shoe from Under Armour!” thinking the Rock’s input would lead to something a little bit more competition based than what UA had previously offered. Rather than being a completely new shoe built from the ground up, I was extremely disappointed to find out that THE ROCK’s signature shoe was nothing more than a special edition model of a RUNNING shoe that they had already released, the Delta Highlight. Still, it’s the Rock, one of my childhood heroes – how could I not buy his signature shoe?!

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If it’s good enough for The Rock, it should be good enough for me…right?

Disregarding the fact that The Rock training in the Rock Delta’s in his Instagram is probably just marketing, he is indeed doing some work in them. Granted hes not really doing any compound movements, he is working out in them at least, so I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s doing all his training in them. Keep in mind that these shoes are NOT functional fitness shoes and they’re not marketed towards functional fitnessers. As far as I know, the Rock has never done functional fitness and never will do functional fitness. Now that’s out of the way…

Looks/Construction:

The Delta Highlight as it’s own shoe is actually a pretty good looking piece of footwear, assuming you don’t mind high-tops. It’s upper is a knit like material that’s unlike other knit’s because it lacks any kind of real elasticity.  What I’m thinking is exclusive to the Rock Delta’s is a reflective underlay throughout the whole knit area of the shoe, that not only is functional, but also gives the Rock Delta’s an ultra premium look. Other cues that make the Rock Deltas stand out from the normal ones are the exclusive yellow/black colorway, two of laces (grey or yellow piping), and The Rock’s signature Brahma bull at the rear of the shoe. Some people have clowned these shoes for looking like hiking boots, but I think they look mean AF.

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All the Under Armour shoes I’ve come across have never had any issues with build quality. In fact, they’re some of the best built shoes as far as materials I’ve come across and the Rock Delta’s are no exception. There’s no loose glue or stitching anywhere to be found on the shoes and though they’re not terribly expensive, they feel like a shoe that costs more than what they’re asking. Keep in mind that these shoes were not designed to handle the rigors of functional fitness. The upper is lightweight and flexible, but also very thin and the midsole/outsole combination would probably get eaten up in a single rope climb.

The Rock Deltas have a two pieced Charged Cushioning system that consists of a softer piece of foam on top of a more dense compressed EVA foam for comfort, but not too much that it would totally compromise stability. The outsole is pretty solid and has surprisingly good grip, with flex grooves at the forefoot of the shoe and rubber pods at the forefoot and heel. The heel to toe drop is a whopping 10mm, which is a dead giveaway that these shoes are indeed a running shoe. Despite the bulky looks, each shoe only weighs in at 10.8oz.

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Fit:

Sizing is pretty consistent to other Under Armour shoes and for the most part is true to size. Unlike most UA shoes, the Rock Delta’s don’t feel the slightest bit narrow and should be comfortable for most foot shapes. The forgiving knit upper probably has a lot to do with the way the shoes fit and I think these are some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn! My sizes for reference:

  • Under Armour Rock Delta, Charged Legend, Charged Ultimate – 9.5
  • Reebok Nano – 10
  • Nike Metcon – 9.5
  • Adidas Ultraboost/NMD – 9.5/10
  • Chucks – 9
  • Red Wing/Wolverine Boots – 8.5

Performance:

This is where things start to get weird.

Fully knowing that these are running shoes, I still decided to do some real weightlifting in them. Those that are used to minimalist platforms will immediately be turned off by the ultra plush (relatively speaking) ride; I was too. Still, I decided to hit some olympic lifts with the intention of removing the shoes before the warm-up was over…but I didn’t. I kept the Rock Delta’s on throughout my whole snatch, clean & jerk, and front squat session. While they definitely weren’t the best shoes to lift in, I could lift in them and not resort to blaming any fails on my shoes. The two piece Charged Cushioning system makes things a little wobbly, but does have pretty good energy return for dynamic movements. Landings in the snatch and clean & jerk were a little sketchy, but I was still able to balance okay. Squatting in the shoes was surprisingly okay as well, with very good lateral stability due to the molded heel cup. You can feel the cushioning pushing back and it takes a little bit to get your feet set, but once you do, you can put up some decent squats…though I would definitely not try to PR anything in the Rock Deltas.

Trust me, I’ve seen people squat in worse shoes.

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Where the Rock Delta’s shine the most is an area that functional fitness shoes are notoriously bad at: running, duh. The upper moves really well with the foot and the two part midsole cushioning provides a soft and stable ride that’s not only good for running, but plyometrics as well because of how well the Charged cushioning returns energy. I have to say that out of all the actual running shoes that I’ve tried out in recent years, the Rock Deltas might be my favorite because they provide great cushioning without totally diminishing ground feel. I typically have issues with plantar fascitis after a lot of running, but the Rock Delta’s kept my feet comfortable with a WOD that included a 3 mile run, box jumps, and deadlifts. When it comes to a lighter weight metcon, possibly one that is solely plyometrics and running, I couldn’t think of a better shoe to work out in.

Another thing that I was worried about was the high-top cut, but the collar is very flexible and doesn’t cause any kind of chaffing against the ankle, even without long socks. That being said, I think a low-top version of the Rock Delta’s is in order.

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Value/Conclusion:

The Rock Delta’s are currently sold out, but normally retail at $140. If you don’t care for The Rock’s branding, then you can opt for the Delta Highlight’s which you can actually get on clearance right now for $90, but normally retail for $120. So should you pay the extra $20-50 for The Rock’s signature shoe? That just really depends on who you are and if you’re a fan. To me, it’s worth it, The Rock was (is) a hero of mine growing up and is much more respectable compared to some of the other worthless celebrities, people support out there.

While The Rock Delta’s might not be the best functional fitness shoes, that doesn’t keep them from being damned good running shoes that you can use for general training as well, considering you’re not going heavy with the squats. I am definitely disappointed that these aren’t a true training shoe, but I’d happily support Dwayne Johnson and rocking his shoes are one of the better ways to do so. If you’re someone looking for an Under Armour alternative functional fitness shoe, you’re still better off looking at the Charged Legend or Ultimate, though they don’t carry the same swagger the Rock Delta’s do. If you’ve got access to a serious pair of lifting shoes, you’re a globo-gym bro that doesn’t care much about leg day, someone in need of some slick running shoes, or you’re just a fan – the Rock Deltas should be a sound choice.

LALO Tactical Maximus Grinder & Bloodbird Shoe Review

After TONs of requests, I finally got around to doing a review on some LALO Tactical shoes. I heard about these shoes a LONG time ago, but just never felt like they would fit my training purposes, so I never tried them. At the end of the day, I think they’re decent shoes, but just not optimal for my type of training. The Bloodbirds are great running/all terrain shoes, but the Maximus’ more closely fit a CrossFit WOD where you need stability, but also the ability to move. I’m actually surprised that the Maximus’ work as well as they do!