Performance: Medium Intensity: 75-80% x 5 x 4
Fitness: 3 x 5 Linear Progression
Add two to five pounds to last week’s exposure.
Fitness and Performance: Work up to one heavy set of 8 using perfect form.
Heavier than last week’s set of 10. Dead start, no touch-and-go.
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For Time, 21-15-9:
Wall Balls 20/10, 14/9
Kettlebell Swings 53/35
Box Jumps 24/20″
Post time and Rx to comments.
The State of CrossFit Footwear, 2015
By Noah Abbott
A few days ago, someone mentioned to me that they had recently read my article about CrossFit shoes, and I realized that it had been almost five years since I had spent far too much time expounding about the relative merits of Sneaker A vs. Weightlifting Shoe B. A lot has changed in the CrossFit world since 2011, and shoes are no exception. That said, we are still fighting the same battles—trying to find a pair of shoes that allows us to tackle the broad range of CrossFit activities while being unobtrusive and hopefully even a little stylish in the bargain.
Instead of a dissecting what to look for in a shoe (which I covered in the old article) I am going to talk a bit about some trends that have emerged in the last five years. That said, here are the things you still want in a shoe overall:
- Low profile, non-compressible sole.
- Sweet colors.
The Re-emergence of the Heel and the Beefification of the Shoe
For a time, “zero-drop” shoes (which have the exact same height in the heel and forefoot) were the coveted ideal. Since the human foot is naturally relatively flat, it was thought that a perfect flat shoe would mimic natural movement the best and be the healthiest for people. In the early days, CrossFit shoes and barefoot/minimalist running shoes were somewhat synonymous terms.
Turns out that the demands of a heavy snatch and an easy 5k in the park are quite different! In recent years, training shoes have begun to incorporate a slight heel-to-toe drop again, influenced a bit by the ¾” heel in weightlifting shoes. Shoes are still lightweight, and the soles are still relatively low and definitely not squishy, but most companies seem to realize that a small heel helps lifts without taking away too much from proprioception (“ground-feel”).
Along with realizing that glorified ballet slippers aren’t necessarily the best footwear for high-intensity exercise, the big companies also realized that some stuff we encounter in the gym really ruins shoes. Rope climbs, burpees, and other movements can eat through lightweight mesh, so the past few years have seen DARPA-level technology incorporated into shoes to make them more impervious to daily use. Toe bumpers, rope guards, KEVLAR, and other protective elements have made shoes more durable and broadly useful, and that’s a good thing.
The War at the Top
In the early days of CrossFit, there was a certain joy in “hacking” a cross-country flat or trail shoe to serve as your daily training shoe. Today, most of the bandwidth is occupied by two big manufacturers, Reebok and Nike, with sparks flying between the two of late.
Reebok introduced the CrossFit Nano in 2011, soon after my first article (coincidence or conspiracy, you decide!). The Nano has seen five iterations (1.0, 2.0, 3.0, etc…zzzzz) with a few offshoots (Sprint, Pump, etc.). The Nano is a pretty good all-around fitness shoe, and Reebok has done a pretty good job of incorporating feedback into each new release. The Nano 5.0 was released for the 2015 CrossFit Games, and is an obvious nod to the 2.0, which is widely considered “the best Nano.” The 5.0 is the first shoe that incorporates Kevlar, which to me seems a bit like overkill, but it’s cool cause I get to run around and do this at peoples’ feet.
Nike has recently joined the fray with the Nike Metcon 1, and their entry into a pretty uncrowded field has been textbook Nike—they win. They’ve done a good job limiting their releases, choosing typically awesome colorways, and they answered Reebok’s busy, techy, highly branded Nano with a smooth, refined, and unobtrusive shoe. Reviews have been mostly good, with some complaints, and I’m excited to see what the Metcon 2 will bring. (Personally, the Metcons leave me a little cold; they look like tennis court shoes and I wanted Nike to get a little wilder with the colors. Really, I just want these.)
As far as dedicated weightlifting shoes go, I’m going to go full elitist and caution you not to waste your time with anything but the best: either the Nike Romaleos II or the Adidas Adipower Weightlift. Both of these run around $150-200 and represent the best shoes you can buy. You will end up replacing any other weightlifting shoe you buy with one of these, eventually. The Adidas are a little narrower, although of higher build quality IMHO. All of this will change after the next Olympics, of course.
Surprising Quality and Choice at the “Bottom”
While Nike and Reebok dominate most of the CrossFit shoe atmosphere these days, there are other manufacturers who make training shoes that rival or surpass the offerings of the “big two.” My personal favorites are offerings from Inov-8 and New Balance.
Inov-8 was in many ways the “first CrossFit shoe,” originally designed for trail running, but well suited to the rigors and demands of functional fitness training. Since the early days, the company has continued to make high quality trail runners, but has also taken steps to better incorporate the needs of the functional fitness industry. Often criticized for being aggressively narrow, Inov-8 bifurcated their line, creating two different fit profiles for their shoes. Their “Standard” fit now offers a wider toe box and more natural ground feel, in contrast with their “Precision” fit, which is the original, somewhat narrow shoe they have been producing for a while. Inov-8 also has released some CrossFit specific shoes like the F-Lite 235 that are as high quality as they come.
New Balance’s Minimus line also offers top quality shoes for someone who wants to exist outside the Nike/Reebok spectrum. Their training shoe, currently on its fourth iteration, the 20v4, is light, firm, and high quality, with the best soles (Vibram) in the industry.
Both Inov-8 and New Balance seem to come out with more products than Nike and Reebok, and do less work hyping them and limiting their releases. This leads to generally larger supply than demand pools, which in turn means you can often find their shoes at significant discounts if you look around a little bit.
The Death of the Toe Shoe
I’d be remiss if I finished this article without mentioning one of the larger footwear trends in the last few years, which is the gradual but almost absolute disappearance of the Vibram FiveFingers line of toe-shoes from most CrossFit gyms and athletes’ feet. As the value of some stability, heel-lift, and protection in a shoe has become more and more apparent, the ultra-minimal, ultra-weird looking FiveFingers have receded from gym staple to the choice of that weird IT guy who wears them in the office. Good riddance says I.