Who should buy the Nike Flex Control 4

While not entirely minimalist like Nike Free Train, the Flex Control 4 still has some cushioning to it. You are likely to appreciate this trainer if you are after the following:

  • an entry-level shoe for a very low price
  • a light and flexible workout shoe for aerobic exercises, plyometrics, and similar
  • a no-frills pair of school gym shoes
  • footwear that can be doubled for casual, everyday wear

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Who should NOT buy the trainer

As one of Nike’s cheapest training shoe offerings, the Flex Control 4 may not live up to the expectations of some people when it comes to durability. If you hope to get a more well-built and lasting shoe, you may want to consider paying an extra $20 for a shoe like Nike Renew Fusion.

Alternatively, Reebok offers a Speed TR model, which is also light, flexible, and great for agile workouts. It is a bit more expensive yet also more durable.

And if you are looking for a shoe that can handle some serious training sessions that involve lots of weightlifting, then it may be better to check out the more premium-level Nike Metcons. Some of their earlier iterations are offered with a generous discount. Also, you can check out the cheapest Metcon, which is Nike Metcon Sport.

For more options, see our guide on the best workout shoes. We monitor the market of training footwear and select the best models in different categories.

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Comfortable from the first step-in

A great number of reviewers are happy with the in-shoe feel offered by the Flex Control 4 from the first step-in. They praise the great fit of the trainer, noting how good it feels just walking around in it. Those who have used the trainer for walking around report experiencing “no foot fatigue at all.”

There are multiple design elements that contribute to the 360-degree comfort of this Nike shoe.

Soft mesh fabric in the upper conforms to the wearer’s foot shape for a snug fit.

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The rounded toe box provides ample space for the toes to spread out.

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Despite being on the minimal side, the Nike Flex foam has enough cushioning to keep each step supported.

The collar and the tongue are both cushioned. The foam lining serves to prevent chafing and blistering, as well as preventing the foot from accidentally sliding out.

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Keeps the foot feeling fresh

The trainer's front area is entirely made of breathable mesh. It is very efficient in letting the heat escape from the shoe.

You can also see how transparent the material is when put against a bright source of light.

Flex Control 4 is lighter than average

“Light as a feather” is a pretty accurate description of how the Flex Control 4 feels on the foot. With its 9 oz (255 grams) per shoe, this Nike is significantly lighter than the average 10.6 oz (300 grams) among the workout shoes on the market.

This is a great option if you are after a very light gym shoe.

It is really flexible

The Nike Flex Control 4 is aptly named as it features deep furrows at the forefoot section. These grooves facilitate proper foot bending to support quick transitions.

In addition, the edges of the outsole sport a rounded design. This construction allows the foot to smoothly transition from landing to midstance, and finally to toe-off. The beveled edges on the lateral and medial sides of this Nike workout trainer also facilitate fluid side-to-side agility.

Generally, the wearers describe the ride of this shoe as “smooth.”

Fact check

The Flex Control 4 is indeed one of the bendiest trainers on our roster, being second perhaps only to Nike Free Metcon 4. The Flex Control is 23% more flexible than training shoes on average.

Fact check

We assessed the shoe's longitudinal and torsional flexibility as 2 out of 5 (1 being the most flexible).

Your foot feels in control of the movement

With the minimal sole and highly flexible design, you can feel the ground much better compared to the more cushioned options.

Athletes highly appreciate this construction as it really makes fast-paced workouts more efficient.

Fact check

The Flex Control 4's cushioning is significantly thinner than what you normally see across gym shoes. Its heel stack (19 mm) is 3.2 mm lower than the average, while the forefoot (15.6 mm) is 2.4 mm less.  

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Note: We always measure stack height with the insole included. It is 4.1 mm thick in the Nike Flex Control 4.

Another contributing factor to the surefootedness of this Nike trainer is its fairly wide footprint. The shoe's sole is 111 mm wide in the forefoot and 89.2 mm in the heel. Curious that its forefoot is 1.3 mm and 2.4 mm wider than that of the Reebok Nano X1 and Nike Metcon X respectively.

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The shoe's cushioning is not very soft either. It doesn't compress easily creating a steady platform to rely on.

Fact check

Based on the durometer measurement, the Flex Control 4 is 20% firmer than the average for training shoes.

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Disclaimer: We take 5 measurements with the durometer to ensure the accuracy of the result. The photo above shows one of the takes.

Not a shoe for weightlifting

The highly flexible nature of the Nike Flex Control 4 makes it a poor choice for lifting weights.

It may suffice for working out with dumbells and lighter loads, but this is a no-no for lifting-oriented training. See how much the shoe forces the foot to roll forward.

Hard to find cheaper than the Nike Flex Control 4

With the asking price of $65, you can’t beat the price point of this shoe. It is one of the cheapest models offered by Nike, while on average, their training shoes hover around $100.

But despite belonging to the cheap shoe category, the Flex Control 4 is reported to be “good for the price.”

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But don’t expect much on the durability front

Unfortunately, it’s not the type of shoe that will serve you nice and long. Multiple reviewers have reported the shoe’s frailty in some of the parts:

  • “rubber peeled off after a month”
  • “the shoe started to come apart at the toe and the internal liner/padding has worn away”
  • “holes wearing out in the upper”

Grips well!

The bottom of the Flex Control 4 is strategically lined with rubber to give traction where it’s most needed. It is riddled with triangular treads that provide a multi-direction grip on both indoor and outdoor surfaces. It works great for cutting and other side-to-side movements.

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There is no full-length rubber outsole used on the shoe to keep its weight to a minimum.

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Simple aesthetics of the Nike Flex Control 4

It is a sleek one!

The reviewers are happy with the clean, athletic style of the Flex Control 4 which is so easy to match with various outfits.

Complete lab-specs overview

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  Nike Flex Control 4 Average
Whole shoe
Weight (g) 255 294
Drop (mm) 3.4 4.6
Overall Internal Length 253.1 (men's US 7.5) -
Flexibility of the shoe (N) 24.4 31.5
Flexibility of the shoe (Freezer 20 min) (N) 36.5 42.7
Flexibility of the shoe (% of change) 49.7 45.1
Longitudinal flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2 2.0
Torsional flexibility (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2 2.5
Upper
Thickness - Tongue (mm) 4.3 5.7
Width Upper - Forefoot (mm) 99.7 100.1
Width Upper - Heel (mm) 77.0 75.5
Flexibility of the heel counter (1-5 scale, 5 being the stiffest) 2 2.2
Tongue: gusset type none -
Heel: pull tab none -
Midsole
Width Midsole - Forefoot (mm) 111.0 109.7
Width Midsole - Heel (mm) 89.2 89.9
Stack - Forefoot with insole (mm) 15.6 18.0
Stack - Heel with insole (mm) 19.0 22.2
Durometer Midsole Heel (Room temperature) (HA) 32.0 25.6
Durometer Midsole - Heel (Freezer 20 minutes) 41.0 36.9
Durometer Midsole - Heel (% of change) (TEST) 28.1 47.1
Outsole
Outsole thickness (Heel) (mm) 4.4 4.2
Durometer Outsole Heel (Room temperature) (HC) 85.0 83.3
Insole
Insole Heel Thickness (mm) 4.1 4.0
Insole: removable yes -

Facts / Specs

Weight: Men 255g
Use: Workout, HIIT, Jumping rope / Gym / Cross-training
Width: Normal
Features: Lightweight
Collection: Nike Flex
BRAND Brand: Nike
Toebox: Medium

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Author
Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo

Nick combines 10+ years of experience in the health and fitness industry and a background in the sciences in his role as the Fitness Research Director. During his competitive powerlifting years 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 Bodybuilding.com, LiveStrong, Healthline, WebMD, WashingtonPost, and many more. Along the way, collaborating with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.