Best CrossFit shoes - November 2018
CrossFit shoes are made to enhance athletic performance and withstand the heavy demands of CrossFit, a physical exercise regimen and a competitive fitness sport.
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 or WODs.They consist of plyometrics, gymnastics, calisthenics, strength training, and high-intensity interval training, among others.
Due to the ever-changing and challenging nature of CrossFit, you would need balanced footwear that is versatile and flexible enough to bend with your foot and keep up with all the different movements.
CrossFit shoes are also designed to be durable and supportive enough to keep you steady and protect your feet from the training-induced pressure.
Dedicated CrossFit fanatics wear different shoes for different phases of the WODs. For most of the training, they wear shoes, but some change into special shoes during the lifting segments to perfect their form and achieve their peak lifting performance. With cross-training shoes, you no longer have to switch between trainers and lose your momentum because they are already light and flexible enough for the high-intensity activities. They are also made to be sturdy and supportive for weightlifting.
While Reebok is the only label that is licensed to use the CrossFit name in their products, there are plenty of other companies that manufacture shoes specially designed for this activity. These brands are Nike, Asics, Inov-8, and Altra.
Difference between CrossFit shoes, workout shoes, and running shoes
The differences between workout shoes and CrossFit shoes are barely discernible. They both have similar qualities in regard to versatility, support, and flexibility. However, cross-training shoes have add-ons that make them more durable and withstand extremely damaging exercises such as rope climbing and wall push-ups.
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. You should instead opt for cross-training shoes that are designed to have firmer and lower midsoles than running shoes to provide athletes with the necessary support for lifting.
Things to consider in your future shoes for CrossFit
Comfort ranks high on the must-haves for cross-training 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 from what you are wearing.
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 gives 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.
A pair of cross-trainers 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 cross-training footwear, 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.
While the 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 cross-training shoes 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 available deals, 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 unbiased consumer reviews, detailed shoe analyses, and the best shoe deals.
- Be on the lookout for the best shoes for CrossFit which have unique features and components that reinforce their structure and protect against damage. These helpful add-ons come in the form of rope guards, midfoot cages, toe guards, fortified uppers, and heel counters.
- Other factors that affect how long your CrossFit shoes would last include the frequency of use and how good 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.
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 4mm heel-to-toe drop. It helps athletes plant their feet with confidence and avoid undesirable wobbling. Avid functional fitness enthusiasts tend to eventually work their way down to minimalist CrossFit shoes with a 0mm drop.
Well-fitting cross-training 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.
To get an accurate fit, try testing the shoe in a store. If you can walk across a room without the shoes feeling 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.
- 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.
Feet change sizes 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 over time due to heredity, lifestyle or general health. 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. And don’t forget to try on the shoe of your choice personally.
- Brands also have their distinct sizing standard. Your usual size for one label may differ from another.
- The shoe’s cushioning system and width can also affect sizing. These features may result in a snugger fit that would necessitate an adjustment in size.
- The feet may also vary in size. One might be larger than the other, so it is essential that you base your shoe size on the one with the more substantial dimensions.
CrossFit WODs aren't restricted inside the box. Some CrossFit workouts include 400-meter outdoor runs, so it is important that your CrossFit shoes are built to acclimatize to your local conditions.
- On snowy days, it is advisable to wear CrossFit shoes that have outsoles that can hold onto the wet and snowy roads. In sweltering hot seasons, you are better off with footwear that has a lightweight and ventilated upper to let your foot cool off.
Since CrossFit shoes have a lower heel-to-toe drop than other athletic shoes, some people may have a hard time adjusting to it. 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.
Specific shoe technologies
CrossFit shoes have technologies that aim to provide additional protection against damage, as well as support for the vigorous and varied workouts.
- 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.
Popular CrossFit shoes
Nike Metcon 4
The Metcon 4 is a well-received iteration of Nike’s famous functional fitness shoe line. This pair of CrossFit shoes features a lightweight and breathable upper with a new 3D-printed haptic technology for enhanced durability. A thin, 4-mm removable insole gives an additional layer of shock absorption and protection without compromising the ground contact and stability. The trainer also uses the tri-star tread pattern on the outsole to provide multi-directional traction. It employs the same sticky rubber that wraps up both sides of the midfoot to assist during rope climbs.
Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave
The 8th iteration of the renowned Nano series features a new proprietary Flexweave material in the upper unit. It is designed to deliver enhanced breathability, support, and durability. The material has a figure 8 construction that ventilates and reinforces targeted areas. The shoe carries over a host of features from its predecessors, such as the low-cut design, the 4-mm heel-to-toe drop, and the tough TPU rearfoot wrap.
Frequently asked questions about CrossFit shoes
Why are specialized shoes necessary for CrossFit training?
While regular training shoes are good for cardio, calisthenics, and the plyometric activities of CrossFit, they are ill-suited for the heavy lifting exercises. Regular training shoes lack the steadiness and support of specialized CrossFit shoes. They are also not durable enough for rope climbing and handstand pushups.
CrossFit shoes have a flat-heeled, denser midsole that makes for a steady foundation during weightlifting. On the other hand, the flex grooves in the forefoot area allow flexibility during high-intensity activities. These components help with the overall athletic performance in various CrossFit WODs.
The shoes also come with special add-ons that protect them from shoe-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.
Aside from the CrossFit-branded shoes from Reebok, how will I know if a training shoe is appropriate for CrossFit?
Most brands don’t usually market their shoes using the CrossFit name as Reebok is the only brand licensed to do so. The other brands have found a way to work around this restriction by naming their CrossFit-dedicated line of shoes using specific terms used within the CrossFit community like Nike’s Metcon (metabolic conditioning) line. Brands like Inov-8 and Altra tend to market their 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.
Can I run in my CrossFit shoes?
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 cross-training shoes.
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