Let’s talk shoes.

I love shoes.

And let’s be honest about why we all got into CrossFit… the gear. Wrist wraps, jump ropes, knee sleeves, minimalist shoes, lifting shoes, deadlift socks, athletic tape, more lacrosse balls than John Hopkins University needs, and of course the never ending supply of awesome t-shirts.

All this from your head coach who loves getting to wear sweatpants and shorts to work nearly everyday.

But I digress. Shoes.

Weightlifting Shoes

Many of you have asked in the past couple of weeks about the differences in shoes that you see at the gym. With the holiday season coming, perhaps you are considering investing/splurging/indulging/gifting a pair of the weightlifting shoes you see around the gym.

First lets talk about what a weightlifting shoe is and how it is different than a regular shoe.

Regular shoes are made of a rubber or synthetic footpad that is designed to absorb your foot strike and movement into the ground, while providing ankle stability, traction, and resistance to scrapes, cuts and bruises say when running in a forest or on the street. It serves many purposes and does them all pretty well.

A weightlifting shoe is designed to do one thing and is defined by its heel. It has a solid wood, metal, or hard plastic elevated heel. Trying to bend a weightlifting shoe will result in only the slightest of flexion in the toes. (Think the Nike Free ad campaign the shoe is nearly in a knot)

This elevated heel will alleviate and enhance some of the ankle flexion needed for a proper squat/catch position. The solid heel provides a firm foundation to being to stand any weight up, from a 65# squat to a double weight snatch. Many olympic weightlifting gyms require their clients to have a pair before they begin to learn, we are a bit different in that requirement, but often as people realize they love doing CrossFit, I’ll encourage them to being to consider purchasing a dedicated shoe to help their productivity in the gym.

That being said let’s look at some of the different brands and styles. Each person will have a different opinion about which shoe they like. Sadly these shoes are hard to find in stores, leaving us to order and return at times to find the right fit for you.

Hybrids – These are a style of weightlifting shoe that is considerably lighter than their more dedicated counterparts. These shoes are typically light enough to be able to do most WOD’s in and were specifically designed for lifters who CrossFit.

Reebok CrossFit Lifter 2.0 ($150-$125) (1.0 might still be around online $65-$85) lifter-2-teal-gravel-blue-web1

This is the first Hybrid on the market, designed by Reebok after their deal with CF. For a long time it was the only shoe that was light and one could reasonably expect to do a WOD in. They fit a bit on the wider side. You can also more than likely find these locally in store at Road Runner Sports or at some CF gyms that carry large inventories.

Inov-8 FastLift 335(mens)/315(Womens) ($150-$100) 5050973770-lime-black-red-web1_3

Inov-8 is a shoe brand that has been on top of the minimalist/light/running shoe puzzle for years. They are very popular in the CrossFit world and their shoe is becoming a popular alternative to the Reebok hybrid. It has a more narrow fit and is apparently more comfortable to run in than the other options.

Dedicated – They have a way less cool sounding name, but these shoes are usually a lot more solid and heavy. I personally wear the Nike’s and they approach two full pounds in weight. Think anchors into the ground. Now imagine doing burpees with anchors. On the platform though, they provide unsurpassed stability.

Nike Romaleo 2 ($189-$175)

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This is Nike’s entry in the dedicated line, they will be launching their CF line of shoes in spring of 2015, so we’ll see if they release a hybrid. As I said before these shoes are heavy and solid. They are good for people with wider feet and/or those who like the security of two straps.

Adidas Adipower ($199-$125)

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These are Adidas top of the line shoe and are fantastic if you have a more narrow foot. They are lighter than the Nike’s and provide a lot more stability than the hybrid’s. If you ask people around between the Nike and Adidas, it is a 50/50 split based on feel and preference. Both are fantatic.

Adidas Powerlift 2.0 ($95-$75)

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This is Adidas entry level weightlifting shoe. It isn’t a hybrid and still weighs as much as the more expensive Adipower. This is likely the best price option if you are curious to try them and can’t find the older style of Reebok Hybrid’s somewhere. Perfect entry level shoe.