Tag Archives: training shoes

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!

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Under Armour Charged Legend TR Review

Under Armour gets SO many things right in the Charged Legend TR’s, but sadly they miss the most important thing…an incompressible midsole. UA opted to go the same route as Nike with a drop-in midsole, which would be great if they made replacements that were stiffer, but the one that comes in the shoe is just too soft for any serious lifting. Also the arch support is very high causing my feet to get destroyed in any workout with a lot of bounding. Otherwise, the shoe has a flat, grippy outsole, great fit, understated looks, and the upper feels rugged enough. If they could fix that single issue with the midsole, the Charged Legends would be legendary!

 

Adidas CrazyPower Weightlifting Shoes Review

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

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

This is what I’ve come to find out…

Looks/Construction:

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

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

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Fit:

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

Here are my sizes for reference:

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

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Performance:

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

16mm/.63″.

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

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

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

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Value/Conclusion:

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

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

Get your Adidas CrazyPower WL shoes here!

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Nike Metcon 3 DSX Flyknit Shoes Review

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***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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!