A difference in height between the heel and the toes.
- The lower drop delivers a more sensitive ground contact, while the higher one provides more heel cushioning.
- In case of weightlifting shoes, a high firm heel lessens the strain on the Achilles tendon during squats.
Training footwear typically weighs between 200g and 300g per shoe to accommodate agile workouts. Minimalist trainers go as low as 150g, while weightlifting shoes can go as high as 500g.
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There are different types of training shoes available on the market and choosing which one is the perfect pair solely depends on the preference of the wearer. There are high-cut, mid-cut, and low-cut trainers, ones with leather, mesh, knitted, or canvas upper; some have thick, visible midsoles while others don’t. Workout shoes are also categorized by weight and there is now growing popularity of lightweight training shoes or those that weigh under 300 grams. But the question now is, are there really any benefits in using lightweight training shoes?
Benefits of using lightweight training shoes
In 2016, a group of researchers from the Rodger Kram’s Locomotion Laboratory at the University of Colorado Boulder published a study on the effects of heavy running shoes on a runner’s performance. The study was conducted among 18 male distance runners using running footwear secretly fitted with 100-gram or 300-gram weights and predicted that time-trial performance would be slowed down by 1% and 3%, respectively. Based on the study, each 100 grams of weight added to the shoe is equivalent to adding almost a minute to a runner’s time; take 100 grams off the weight of the shoe, nearly a minute is shaved off of a runner’s time.
Though running speed may not mean as much to a cross-trainer compared to runners, using the right kind of footwear could easily mean beating a personal record in box jumps, burpees, jump ropes, or sled pushes. Below are just some of the benefits of using lightweight training shoes:
They don’t weigh the wearer down
There have been claims that using weighted shoes could help burn more calories, but studies show that there is little difference in the calories burnt when using weighted shoes and when not. These types of shoes could even cause injuries because they weigh the foot down, acting like a pendulum, which can strain the muscles and the joints of the lower extremities. As for lightweight training shoes, because they are made with materials that are usually soft and weigh very little, they feel like a natural extension of the foot and don’t burden the wearer with additional weight.
They are more flexible
Lightweight training shoes are typically made of pliable materials in both the upper and in the sole unit. They aim to support natural foot flexion. Some of the common materials used on the upper include mesh, jersey, and knit. These materials are soft and don’t cut into the instep when the foot is dorsiflexed, preventing any discomfort. As for the midsole, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA) is the most commonly used compound; but depending on the shoe manufacturer, it gets modified to be more flexible, cushiony, and even weigh less. Also, stiff sole units tend to cause foot discomforts such as arch pain, corns, and calluses.
As mentioned above, the materials used on the upper are mesh, jersey, or knit. These textiles are crafted to be breathable and to ensure that the inside of the shoe is well-ventilated. The interior of lightweight training shoes is also lined with either mesh or a soft fabric that contributes to the breathability. The importance of keeping the inside aerated is to prevent the foot from excessively sweating and developing an unpleasant odor. Moisture build-up could leave the inside of the shoe damp which becomes a breeding ground for fungus that could give the wearer athlete’s foot.
Frequently asked questions
How much do lightweight training shoes weigh?
Lightweight training shoes weigh less than 300 grams per shoe and about 200 - 250 grams on average. The most lightweight trainers belong to minimalist training shoes as their weight goes as low as 150 - 200 grams per shoe. The reason behind this is that minimalist training shoes do not have thick midsoles. They usually just have an outsole that is only a few millimeters thin and an insert that’s even thinner. This type of construction allows wearers to feel more ground contact as if they were training barefoot.
What’s the best brand of lightweight training shoes?
Nike, Puma, Adidas, Skechers, New Balance, Asics, Under Armour - these are just some of the manufacturers that offer lightweight training shoes. As for which brand makes the best one depends on the user as one type of footwear may come highly regarded by one group of fitness enthusiasts, but may not be as effective for other gym-goers. People have different foot types and also have varying tastes when comes to materials used, style, and fit. There are shoe experts and workout aficionados that extensively test footwear and provide their reviews. You can take their insights as a guide, but it is also wise to see what actual buyers say about the footgear you are interested in. Here at RunRepeat, we curate user and expert reviews, so consumers can have an overview of what the footwear has to offer in a timely manner.
How long do lightweight training shoes last?
The rule of thimb is that training shoes should be replaced every six months. However, there are several factors to be considered in doing so. First, how often is it used? If the footgear is worn on a daily basis, then the pair might have to be replaced earlier than six months. Another factor to look at is where it is utilized. Shoes used indoors do not wear out as fast as those used outdoors. You should also check various elements of the trainer such as the outsole, the midsole, and the upper. The tread of the outsole should be visible and able to provide traction. The midsole should still attenuate shock and keep the foot comfortable. As for the upper, it should not have holes or unravel seams that could compromise how it supports the foot. The eyelets, if present, should be intact as the wearer would not be able to achieve a proper fit if the eyelets are no longer functional. If any of these elements no longer work as they are supposed to, then it’s time to buy another pair of lightweight training shoes, regardless of how long you have been using the old one.
How to take care of lightweight training shoes?
The general rule when it comes to cleaning training shoes is not to throw them into the washing machine because that could compromise the integrity of the footwear. The same rule applies to lightweight training shoes. The best way to clean them is by brushing off dried dirt with a soft bristled brush. If there is staining or stubborn dirt, a clean cloth or brush dipped in a solution of warm water and mild soap can be used to remove it. The soapy concoction should be rinsed using a damp clean cloth or a clean wet brush. As for the drying method, do not throw it in the dryer or place it near a heat source as it could deteriorate or even catch fire. The best way to dry lightweight training shoes is by air drying them for 10 hours or longer, depending on how wet they got.