Join the cult…buy the shoes…
Join the cult…buy the shoes…
by Anne Mahlman
If you are newer to CrossFit and weightlifting, you may be wondering what kind of shoes you should be wearing. To an outsider, it may seem odd that every CrossFitter has the same shoe, and sometimes all matching colors. We do admit, it adds to the cult mentality of CrossFit, however there is a very good reason that everyone is wearing that shoe.
What’s wrong with my running shoes I have right now?
Traditional running shoes that most new lifters have are great for running. They are cushioned and are designed to take the hard, frequent, and repetitive heel impacts on concrete that running creates. Conversely, they are squishy and tend to shift your weight on your toes during most lifting movements and are not very stable for carrying heavy loads or developing stable movement. Shoes designed for CrossFit and/or weightlifting are designed to provide a stable platform. They are a flatter profile (less toe to heel rise) than most running shoes and will provide you with more support than a running shoe while you are lifting. Also, even though certain shoes like the Nike Air are flat on the bottom, they are not stable and will not provide you with the amount of support that you need while weightlifting or squatting.
Disclaimer: Keep your running shoes for longer runs! Although minimalist shoes are great for lifting, they are not so great for your long weekend hike or pretty much anything over a 2-3 mile run.
What type of shoes should I look for?
There are quite a few options that are available depending on your foot type. First, you should look for a minimalistic, flat soled shoe. This does not mean there is no cushion, it just means there is less cushion and little to no heel lift. Some of the shoe brands we recommend are Reebok Nanos, Nike Metcons, and Inov-8. The Reeboks are typically better for people with wider feet and the Nike and Inov-8s will be more suited for narrower feet. The Inov-8s will also be a little more flexible than the Reebok and Nike. If you want to improve your technique for most movements you do in the gym, we recommend purchasing one of these minimalistic shoes.
Make sure you try on a few different types to ensure the size and fit is what you want. Also, many of these companies have sales a few times a year so you don’t have to pay full price for awesome shoes!
What about an Olympic weightlifting shoe?
The next question is if and when you need to purchase Olympic weightlifting shoes. This depends on your goals at the gym. We recommend you invest in a pair of minimalistic general training shoes mentioned above before diving into the world of Olympic shoes. If you use CrossFit and Kraft as a supplement to your training or you are just trying to get in shape, a stable and minimal shoe will work great for you. You do not necessarily need to spend the extra money if your focus is not to perfect your squat or Olympic lifts. However, if you are ready to take your lifting to the next level, using an Olympic lifting shoe will help get you there. They are an even stiffer platform than minimal shoes and will slightly lift your heels. The heel lift will help improve your squat depth/position and the platform will greatly increase stability while holding everything from just body weight to a significant load.
The brands we recommend are Reebok, Nike, Adidas, and Inov-8. Just like any other shoe, make sure you try some on before you invest the money, or get free returns online. They will all fit and feel a little different!
When should I wear which shoe?
If you own both Olympic shoes and minimal shoes, it can sometimes be difficult to determine when to wear what for a workout. If its a purely strength or weightlifting workout, Oly shoes are appropriate. If its a workout with a combination of heavy lifting and other movements, most of the time you should wear Oly shoes. However, if there are some bar movements at moderate to light weight with other bodyweight movements using your training shoes is appropriate. When in doubt, ask your coach until you get a feel for what your preferences are!
Anne Mahlman is an owner of a climbing training and CrossFit gym, Mountain Strong Denver. She has a track and field background and has been been doing CrossFit for over five years. She is currently an owner & coach at Mountain Strong Denver.
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