CrossFit shoes are created to enhance athletic performance and withstand the heavy demands of CrossFit, a physical exercise regimen and a competitive fitness sport. They are also commonly referred to as cross-training shoes, or cross-trainers.
CrossFit training is focused on improving fitness by developing the body’s strength and conditioning with frequently changing functional exercises, or what the CrossFit community calls Workouts of the Day (WODs). They can include all sorts of activities, from jumps and burpees to deadlifts and rope climbs.
The ever-changing and challenging nature of CrossFit calls for a special type of footwear, capable of transitioning from one exercise to another without you even noticing it.
Benefits of using CrossFit shoes
While regular workout shoes are good for cardio, calisthenics, and the plyometric activities of CrossFit, they can be ill-suited for heavy lifting exercises or things like rope climbing. Here is what makes a CrossFit trainer shine in its field:
CrossFit shoes have a flat-heeled, denser midsole that makes for a steady foundation for weightlifting. Of course, they do not offer all the advantages of a dedicated weightlifting shoe with an elevated heel, but they are ready to assist the wearer for the ever-changing nature of CrossFit.
These trainers also come with special add-ons that protect them from damaging exercises. They are equipped with a rope-guard to shield the midfoot from rope burn. A thick toe cap also protects the toe area during burpees. Finally, a sturdy heel counter protects the heel and ankle-end part of the shoes from abrasions due to headstand pushups. It also ensures that the rear is held firmly in place throughout the training session.
Purchasing a pair of CrossFit shoes will save you money in the long run as you no longer have to be lugging different shoes for different activities. You are also guaranteed to have shoes that will support you through the day-to-day grueling workouts in the box.
Things to consider in CrossFit shoes for men and women
Comfort ranks high on the must-haves for CrossFit shoes as it affects athletic performance and even the probability of injuries. Discomfort should be caused by the challenging nature of your training regimen and not by your footwear.
Comfortable shoes for CrossFit should have a lightweight, durable and snug upper that moves with your foot. They should also be supportive during weightlifting sessions. A wide toe box is supposed to give room for your toes to splay and wiggle. The midsole should easily bend in the forefoot section to accommodate the natural flexibility of the foot throughout an agile training session. Moreover, multidirectional traction is essential, so your CrossFit shoes should also have a robust outsole construction.
Any pair of training shoes is meant to be comfortable enough to feel like a second skin. It should let your foot move naturally but with the added benefits of improved stability, support, and protection.
While some people believe that a shoe has to be broken in for it to have a comfortable fit, that shouldn’t always be the case. CrossFit shoes (or any athletic training shoe for that matter) should feel comfortable right out of the box.
If you feel any discomfort while wearing your CrossFit shoes, it may mean that you’re experiencing insufficient arch support, an improper fit, shoddy construction, or that you’re just wearing the wrong footwear for the activity.
Wearing uncomfortable CrossFit trainers has adverse effects on your physical and emotional well-being. It can diminish your physical capacity, barring you from reaching your full athletic potential and perhaps even deterring you from working out altogether. You may also have to endure issues such as joint and foot pain, foot and heel conditions (such as calluses, blisters, corns, and bunions), or significant injury.
The high-intensity and multi-disciplinary nature of CrossFit’s daily workouts tend to push your body’s capabilities to its limits. It is vital for your CrossFit shoes to weather these strenuous activities while also protecting your foot from potential injuries.
Be on the lookout for the shoes that have unique features and components which reinforce their structure and protect it against damage. These helpful add-ons come in the form of rope guards, midfoot cages, toe shields, fortified uppers, and heel counters.
CrossFit involves a rope-climbing exercise that can be incredibly damaging to the shoes. That's why shoes for CrossFit are protected by rubber rope guards on the lateral and medial sides of the outsole which extend up to shield the midsole and upper as well. They guard the shoe against the abrasion caused by sliding down the rope and deliver strong grip on the ascend.
Since CrossFit is a strenuous activity, it requires the feet to do a lot of bending, bouncing, and moving around. Thus, it is essential to have a long-lasting upper that won’t easily rip. Some CrossFit shoes utilize strengthened yet breathable fabrics to ensure durability, foot containment, protection, and ventilation. Other pairs have overlays sewn on them to reinforce the high-wear areas. Toe caps are also installed on several CrossFit-specific models to protect the forefoot area from potentially abrasive exercises such as pushups, burpees, and weighted planks.
CrossFit involves a lot of weightlifting exercises that require a high level of support from the footwear. It is also crucial that the body weight is equally distributed across the foot during this activity.
While dedicated weightlifting shoes incorporate a wooden or TPU wedge to accommodate that, CrossFit shoes can’t afford to have that kind of add-on due to their versatile nature. Instead, they use a firm, low-profile midsole with minimal difference in height between the heel and the forefoot. It is for this reason that most CrossFit shoes choose a 4-mm heel-to-toe drop. It helps athletes plant their feet with confidence and avoid undesirable wobbling.
Well-fitting CrossFit shoes should have a snug upper to secure the foot and prevent it from moving around inside your shoe during high-intensity workouts. It should also have a roomy toe box to let the toes spread out during jumps and heavy weightlifting.
When you try the shoe in person, walk across a room and mimic some of the activities you’re going to perform in it. If the footwear doesn’t feel too restrictive or overly spacious, then you have chosen the right fit. Your longest toe should also have a thumb-wide space from the end of the shoe. Make sure that your toes have room to spread out, as well.
Remember that wearing ill-fitting CrossFit shoes can leave you susceptible to a host of problems such as corns, hammer or crossover toes, bunions, sores, ingrown toenails, and blisters.
Everyone’s feet change in size over time, even beyond adulthood. As we age, our feet expand in girth. Such an instance is also caused by weight increase and gravity. Moreover, feet change shape due to heredity, lifestyle or general health condition. These are the reasons why you should never assume your shoe size. Get regular fittings from a podiatrist or a shoe store that has a Brannock shoe measuring device to know your current size.
Brands also have their distinct sizing standard. Your usual size in Reebok CrossFit shoes may differ from those of other companies.
The feet may also vary in size. One foot might be larger than the other, so it is essential that you base your shoe size on the one with bigger dimensions.
Since CrossFit shoes have a lower heel-to-toe drop than other athletic shoes, some people may have a hard time adjusting to them. You need to take your athletic background into consideration when easing into lower-heeled footwear.
If you are used to running or working out in generously cushioned trainers, then you may take some time to get accustomed to the firmer soles of CrossFit shoes.
You should also be wary of minimalist cross-training footwear which has a 0-mm heel-to-toe drop and no midsole. Even though studies have shown plenty of benefits of barefoot training, it may have adverse consequences for unprepared feet. Thus, it is advisable to consult a podiatrist before exercising in this type of trainers.
While budget is one of the first things to consider when shopping for this type of footgear, it’s ultimately beneficial to look beyond the price tag. More often than not, super cheap options have subpar construction due to the inferior materials used to keep the cost down. However, acquiring expensive trainers does not necessarily heighten the quality of your performance during the CrossFit workouts, either. Some pairs are just pricey because of the licensing or partnership deals that the brands have with other notable labels and celebrities. Instead, what you should do is to research the series or model that you want: its features, purpose, and what the other consumers are saying about them.
Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, find out if there are any deals available, so that you could score your pair at a discounted rate. Lucky for you, RunRepeat has compiled the information that you’ll need to purchase your future pair of CrossFit shoes, including consumer reviews, detailed shoe analysis, and the best shoe deals. While the average retail price of CrossFit footwear hovers around $120, you can get a bargain of as low as $50 during sales.
Frequently asked questions
How will I know if a training shoe is appropriate for CrossFit?
Most brands don’t usually market their shoes using the CrossFit name because Reebok is the only brand licensed to do so. But they have found a way to work around this restriction by naming their CrossFit-dedicated lines of shoes after specific terms used within the CrossFit community like Nike’s Metcon line. Brands like Inov-8 tend to market their CrossFit trainer shoes as functional fitness shoes as opposed to everyday training shoes.
As for the construction, a surefire way to tell if the footwear is ideal for CrossFit is if it has a rope-guard in the midfoot. It also has a more robust exterior thanks to the toe guard, midfoot rubber cage, and heel counter.
Are CrossFit shoes good for weightlifting?
Yes, CrossFit shoes can be used for weightlifting. They are designed to be versatile to be able to keep up with the grueling demands of the sport. CrossFit shoes are equipped with sole units that have a low-profile construction which allows it to be steady during dynamic movements. The forefoot is flexible to facilitate natural bending while the heel is flat and offers stability during weight training. There are also lateral support structures that prevent the foot from moving inside the footgear, so no sudden movement would occur while you are lifting heavy. However, some CrossFitters still invest in weightlifting shoes because they believe it helps them beat their personal records in squats, cleans, and jerks, and other exercises.
Can I use running shoes for CrossFit?
While there may be some running involved in CrossFit, it is not advisable to wear running shoes for full CrossFit classes as the cushioning in these shoes is too squishy and elevated. It makes them too unstable as a weightlifting foundation, increasing the risk of injury. CrossFit shoes that are designed to have firmer and lower midsoles than running shoes to provide athletes with the necessary support for lifting and multi-directional movement.
Are CrossFit shoes good for running?
Most CrossFit shoes are engineered to be less cushioned and sturdier in the heel to provide the necessary support during weightlifting. These features make them unsuitable footwear for running. On the other hand, some CrossFit trainers that lean more towards high-impact intensity workouts than weightlifting. These shoes have a more lightweight, flexible, and cushioned nature that make it easier to achieve proper running gait.
However, their construction is still not appropriate for long-distance running. It is only designed to accommodate sprints and short runs that are part of a circuit training or a WOD. Also, if you are a heel striker or are used to underfoot cushioning, you may feel discomfort or even pain when going for a run in a pair of CrossFit shoes.
Can CrossFit shoes be customized?
Yes, but not all. Only a few brands offer customization for their CrossFit shoe offerings which include Nike and Reebok. To know if a model can be customized, look for the ‘Customize’ tab on the official Nike site and 'Design Your Own' on the Reebok page.
How long do CrossFit trainers last?
There are two main factors which determine the life expectancy of your CrossFit shoes: the frequency of use and how well you are taking care of them. Most athletic shoes have shelf-lives of six months, and that time may even be shorter because of constant use. To make them last longer than the prescribed period, keep your Crossfit shoes clean, dry and ventilated. Also, you can buy another pair that you can use alternately.
How to take care of CrossFit shoes?
Most CrossFit shoes employ upper materials made of mesh or synthetic fabric. To clean the top, a quick wipe down using a clean, damp cloth usually does the trick of removing surface dirt. However, if there is caked-in mud or stain, you could dip a cloth or brush in a mixture of warm water with gentle detergent and then scrub the dirt off. Remove the suds with a clean, damp cloth. Air-dry your shoes as most companies do not recommend using any heat sources because that might compromise the structural integrity of the footwear. If the CrossFit shoes get soaked, remove the laces and insoles, then clean and dry them separately. As for the unit itself, stuff it with paper to absorb excess moisture then leave it to air-dry overnight.
Are CrossFit shoes available in different widths?
Most CrossFit shoes are available in a medium profile (B - for women and D - for men), but the toe box is crafted to be roomy to accommodate toe splaying during jumps and weight training.
There are brands like Inov-8 which use a Fit Scale system, scored from 1 to 5, with 1 being the narrowest and 5 the widest at the forefoot. The fit at the heel remains snug regardless of where the shoe falls into the Fit Scale.
Did you know …
… that Reebok is the only company which is legally allowed to use the CrossFit brand? Reebok and CrossFit struck a partnership back in 2010 which encompassed the creation of Reebok-CrossFit branded shoes, apparel, and accessories, not to mention the shoe company sponsoring the annual CrossFit Games. The exclusive deal was supposed to last until the 2020 CrossFit games, but CrossFit recently filed a lawsuit against Reebok for allegedly underpaying royalties. This incident may affect the longevity of the contract.
… that Reebok’s Delta logo was originally used only for its CrossFit line? The Delta logo symbolized the brand’s focus on fitness and the three sides represent the changes in a person’s physical, mental, and social well-being when they push themselves to their maximum capacity. Soon, the Delta logo became Reebok’s symbol of rebirth and was used to replace the vector logo in all of its merchandise.
15 best crossfit shoes
Reebok CrossFit Nano 6.0
Reebok CrossFit Nano 9
Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave
Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0
Reebok CrossFit Nano 4.0
Nike Metcon 4
Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
Inov-8 F-Lite 260 Knit
Nike Metcon Sport
Nike Free x Metcon 2
Nike Metcon 5
Nike Free x Metcon
Nike Metcon 3
Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 v2
Nike Metcon Flyknit 3
Nick is a powerlifter who believes cardio comes in the form of more heavy ass squats. Based on over 1.5 million lifts done at competitions, his PRs place him as an elite level powerlifter. His PRs have him sitting in the top 2% of bench presses (395 lbs), top 3% of squats (485 lbs) and top 6% of deadlifts (515 lbs) for his weight and age. His work has been featured on Forbes, Bodybuilding.com, Elite Daily and the like. Collaborating along the way with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.
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