Why Get CrossFit Shoes?
CrossFit is believed to be quite a hot, intensive workout that aims to improve your performance in workouts that combine various styles of training known as the CrossFit WODs. It includes weightlifting, plyometrics, HIIT, rowing, numerous styles of squats and push-ups, and so on. Let's figure out the key benefits of wearing CrossFit shoes and define why they surpass other standard sneakers and cross-trainers.
It’s a common problem among dedicated crossfitters to wear down multiple pairs of shoes throughout the year. So, CrossFit shoes are highly durable and made from high-quality materials, and no tough training won't kill them after several months or even a year of regular workouts.
Such abusive exercises as rope climbs, burpees, handstand push-ups, and other explosive movements can beat the upper construction of your shoes. Moreover, the additional friction coming from these exercises results in uppers becoming thin, ripping, and breaking down faster.
By using thicker upper materials and several layers in high friction areas like the toe box and midfoot, your CrossFit trainers will serve much longer.
High Level of Versatility
These boots are produced to provide superb performance and boost athletes' productivity in a wide range of disciplines. CrossFit includes diverse WODs: you can train your overall conditioning by performing cardio, and strength-oriented exercises, working out your balance, and improving responsiveness and speed. While other cross-trainers are targeted to specific sports directions.
CrossFit trainers give you more stability that you can notice especially when performing weight lifting. This is due to the reinforced midsole and outsole that reduces compression under different loads. Manufacturers use medium or high-density foam to prevent an athlete from losing balance or stability while working with a loaded barbell. Another perk is a full rubber outsole for extra grip when training heavy and lifting workouts.
Good CrossFit sneakers keep not only the heel in the right place, but also provide lateral support. This point is highly important in this sports activity because athletes perform diverse motions of three different disciplines: weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardio. Predominantly, the pressure from weight training exercises goes from the hips, by shifting the athlete's weight to the feet outside. This means crossfitters need extra lateral support to avoid sliding over the shoes' edges while doing lunges, squats, jumping, and running.
Medial arch support helps to cope with pains caused by flat feet, it also puts your ankles, knees, and hips in the right position to perform weighty lifts, i.e., squats and deadlift variations. So, wide supportive sidewalls on your CrossFit shoes will cope with this task well.
How to Choose the Best CrossFit Shoes?
Heel’s Firm Construction & Cushioned Sole
This is a characteristic that makes CrossFit sneakers different from other training boots and daily sneakers. A firm heel aims to add extra support and responsiveness when weightlifting and generally performs any WODs with lifting weight. Some sports brands design the heel with additional plastic components for more rigidity and firmness.
Generally, heels on CrossFit shoes are much firmer which makes them great for weight-bearing exercises. Here you are the leading materials used for shoe heels, such as TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane), high abrasion rubber, and EVA foam.
Another spec of the heel construction is its extra support that is visually noticeable and makes CrossFit kicks different from standard training sneakers. This additional heel support, or heel clip, brings an extra plastic layer.
You can notice some shoe models have blocky heels: this feature makes them great for all kinds of static lifts while decreasing your performance slightly during cardio HIIT workouts. A rigid heel provides better stability and anchoring during lifts and also presents high responsiveness when an athlete performs most dynamic exercises.
At the same time, CrossFit kicks should have a cushioned foundation for athletes to perform sprints or short-distance runs without hurting their forefoot or heel. High-quality and well-designed CrossFit shoes involve balance support and cushioning to perform multidirectional explosive movements of any intensive WOD. Foam sole also provides great energy return during short sprints, and can bring plenty of support for Olympic lifts, i.e., cleans and jerks.
This is a distinctive feature of CrossFit boots that provides shock absorption and good grip for exercises like rope climbs, squats, and med balls to assist an athlete in performing these movements more efficiently. Its mission is to limit compression and provide reactivity and responsiveness. However, this construction can benefit or bring some discomfort. So, you should know exactly what type of workout you plan to perform. Therefore, if you prefer more static WODs with weights and gym machines.
The heel drop size can differ from shoe to shoe. A high heel drop with 12mm like running shoes have, provides more support to avoid leg muscle strains and particularly Achilles injuries. But, such a height doesn’t suit lifting exercises and CrossFit generally, you need a smaller one for greater stability and balance. That’s why the majority of CrossFit shoes come with 4mm, 6mm, or a maximum of 8mm drops by helping athletes work efficiently under the bar.
Although true CrossFit trainers are zero-dropped because athletes benefit from flat soles mostly to perform deadlifts, lunges, rowing, jumping rope, etc with feeling the surface well without extra layers and amortization.
Shoes with a 22 mm drop are designed specifically for weightlifting because they transform all the effort and power to perform powerful clean and snatch.
Durable Material & Design
Material durability and the use of specific design technologies mean that these trainers can be worn for a workout that includes static and intense exercises. The mesh upper material should be durable enough to withstand the most active sets. Athletes shouldn't worry that their cross-trainers will tear them apart during the grueling training.
So, it's important to pay attention to the uppers, and shoe sidewalls that have reinforced fabric, and extra layers of support that can help extend shoe´s lifespan, especially when you attend the gym regularly and perform diverse agility sessions, rope climbs, sled pushes, and numerous lifting exercises and dynamic movements.
Roomy forefoot and midfoot can not only bring extra comfort for crossfitters with wider feet, but also make deadlifts, weight squats, or box jumps more efficient thanks to adding extra confidence. Since there's more space, a sportsman can splay their toes more naturally, so they feel more stability and optimal balance. Thus, they won't be disturbed by unwanted toe compression during the workout.
Speaking about the material and layers, they also matter for better performance since they improve the shoe’s durability, and provide more resilience when squatting, Olympic lifts, and explosive movements such as jumping. Manufacturers use such common materials as synthetic knit mesh, textured rubber, Flexweave, CORDURA®, and nylon.
Outsole Material and Pattern
The outsole of the CrossFit shoes should be highly grippy to provide good traction on any surface. For instance, a herringbone outsole pattern provides better traction during agility training. A lug pattern also offers an excellent strong grip on various gym floor surfaces. CrossFit boots usually come with a rubber sole to aid the resistance to rope climbs and transfer weight to the floor. Also, it’s useful when performing weight-lifting movements, crossfitters put power into the floor to produce enough force to move objects.
Extra eyelets on the top of the shoes vouch for a reliable lace lock structure, so your heel won’t slide during hard and agile training. The most effective and innovative lacing system like BOA guarantees quick, easy lockdowns whether in-training or post-workout. It provides extra solid foot fixation and supports predominantly for the heel and midfoot area.
Lace lock technology means that your laces won’t move around while you work out. Lockdown is an important point for worthy CrossFit shoes since it ensures your feet and ankles are supported during a wide range of movements, without being too snug or sacrificing comfort.
Is It Better to Crossfit Barefoot?
Working out barefoot isn’t a big surprise today, even the most serious lifters try to pull weights shoeless to improve their power distribution and increase stability. Barefoot CrossFit sessions are believed to build strength in feet muscles, by involving the back, hips, knees, and ankles, and promote training sessions generally, improving balance, stability, and coordination.
The reason why athletes don’t mind working out barefoot is the feel of a more solid connection with the surface. So, it’s absolutely possible to perform standard CrossFit WODs without wearing your trainers. For example, if you want to do deadlifts barefoot, you’ll get a power boost.
The reason is that when deadlifting, an athlete lifts weight with the help of the ground and shoes to weigh it off. So, cushioned soles absorb some force that you use to lift the barbell. Being barefoot this force is applied directly for lifting, and also adds better muscle support and strength.
Another sample is barefoot powerlifting and weight training: being shoeless when performing kettlebell swings facilitates feet to grip on the gym floor. Moreover, you need to activate larger leg and hip muscles that allow you to do heavier lifts. The same is with squats: when your feet are placed flat on the ground, you involve smaller muscles in the lower limbs. Thus, you get more mobility, balance, and grip. Such barefoot workouts increase balance, reduce unnecessary ineffective movements, and engage more muscles.
Nevertheless, to protect your feet from sharp objects and obstacles while dynamic WODs, you can try a good pair of CrossFit barefoot shoes. If it’s a novelty for you, you’d better start wearing them for strengthening-based exercises that include more upper body, and static strength work. Since barefoot shoes have less material separating your feet from the surface, you’ll get more gripping to the ground because of extra comfort and support shortage.
Zero-drop barefoot boots also provide enough space to allow your toes to spread naturally. Some models can have upper padding and go with laces to stiffen the heel cup to provide extra support. You can see another design of such shoes that imitates the real foot anatomy: they’re designed with separated toes to enhance better connection between the toes and the surface.
What is The Difference Between Weightlifting Shoes and CrossFit Shoes?
Basically, CrossFit shoes are perfectly fitted for weight training, plyometrics, light short-distance, or explosive runs that are assembled in one workout. They provide more stability in their midsole and outsole construction and have lower heel-to-toe drops.
This spec makes these boots a suitable option for lifters and crossfitters who plan to train heavily. Generally, CrossFit kicks are versatile boots for a wide range of dynamic functional training such as HIIT, lifting, athletic training, sprints, and agility training.
Meanwhile, weightlifting shoes are made specifically for weightlifting to perform strong snatches, clean & jerk sets, and weight lifting generally. They have elevated heels to provide the body with seamless support to get into the dorsiflexion position.
Being equipped with stable outsoles, weightlifting shoes provide lifters with maximal amounts of stability under the loads. They aim to optimize performance and technique while squatting, snatching, and clean & jerks.
Weightlifting boots are used in weightlifting competitions and overall sports training. Also, you can wear them to perform Olympic lifts of high volume, and when you want to refine positioning performance.
Weightlifting shoes differ from other gym boots with a raised heel that limits the range of motion for the ankles. This peculiarity makes it easier to transit into deeper squats while keeping the back straight. While the heels of the CrossFit shoes are more flexible and with smaller heel-to-toe drop to provide athletes with stability for heavy lifting. It also gives enough shock absorption effect for sprinting during WODs.
For instance, we have a premium Reebok Legacy 3 weightlifting shoes that come with a solid and durable 22mm heel. Some boots have 19 or 20 mm drop, or even milder one (although, we prefer not to consider such model for Oly lifts).
Another distinctive feature of weightlifting shoes is the availability of the in-step and/or midsole strap. Being located over the midsole, it's targeted for extra support to keep feet secure and prevent slipping or shifting. Most weightlifting boots have Velcro straps that enable quicker taking on and off. This feature prevents sliding and slipping with power transfer while an athlete jerks or snatches a weight overhead.
Since CrossFit workouts include quick movements and transitions, the shoes for these exercises should be sturdy enough yet flexible to simplify switching from squats to sprinting, rope climbing, and jump rope. Weightlifting shoes usually have limited padding and cushioning, so they have a solid heel and rigid sole to bring more stability, which is made of such materials as wood, plastic, or leather.
The more rigid the sole is, the more efficient power transfer you get during the lifts. It’s obvious that it’s almost impossible to walk in such shoes, they’re made purposely for lifters to perform the Olympic lifts quickly and make it technically correct, by generating maximum strength to lift the weight.
Another interesting fact is that some lifters prefer training in zero heel-to-toe drop trainers like Converse Chuck Tailor. Sure, it’s quite unexpectedly to hear, but it really works. Having no drop, these sneakers go with a firm and grippy sole that makes them appropriate for performing deep squats. The reason is that a lifter can develop ankle flexibility and range of motion.
CrossFit trainers should have a breathable design and materials, compared to weightlifting shoes. The use of mesh and other breathable fabrics helps prevent feet from sweating and overheating. These shoes should withstand long training sessions and bring a crossfitter's feet more airflow inside the boots.
On the contrary, weightlifting shoes are made of solid upper material such as leather, thick mesh, or canvas, some fancy models may have suede upper (although, we suppose it’s more for training purposes). It’s possible to consider perforated leather upper and a thick mesh upper that can ensure both breathability and durability.
Can You Use Running Shoes for CrossFit?
You can theoretically use running shoes for CrossFit workouts, but you'll face some drawbacks unavoidably. Also, you won’t find CrossFit running shoes on the market because “CrossFit” and “running” are two notions that come separately. A running shoe’s construction will cut your potential and performance output during the WODs. So, to avoid such unwanted outcomes, no matter whether you are a pro crossfitter, or start performing some CrossFit exercises, you need to pick up versatile trainers that can handle any dynamic WOD.
By choosing proper shoes for CrossFit training, first, you'll prevent injuries, knee pains, joints, and muscle strains. These kicks should comply with explosive cardio exercises, short running, deep squats, and heavy cleans. Meanwhile, running shoes can't provide an athlete with the stability, support, and grip needed for more dynamic drills.
For instance, for performing lifts, push-offs, box jumps, sled pushes, med ball throwing, etc you need high stability and support for your feet. Unfortunately, running shoes can't meet these requirements. Doing side-to-side motions, and Plyo exercises in running shoes may result in injury because of too much cushioning.
What's more, running shoes can tear apart quickly because of the stress and tension that come with CrossFit workouts.
CrossFit Shoes Vs Cross-Training Shoes
Selecting fitting shoes does matter for your performance and progress in CrossFit WODs. Good cross-training shoes will be stable, have durable upper construction, and provide the versatility to execute CrossFit workouts of any intensity.
CrossFit shoes are purposely designed to excel specifically in the CrossFit activities like rope climbs, burpees, squats, kettlebell swings, jumps, and so on. Sturdy and thick construction will promote better performance and the long-lasting durability of the shoes.
Shoe drop is the major feature that separates CrossFit shoes from other trainers, particularly cross-training ones. For CrossFit, the lower drop a shoe has, the better the result you'll get. For a good CrossFit shoe, a drop of no more than 3 – 4 mm is a perfect option. It helps to distribute the weight evenly inside your shoes, almost like being barefoot.
Crossfit shoes are more about stability, balance, and support. They should have a firm, wide sole but with slight flexibility to allow you to perform dynamic movements. On the contrary, regular cross-training shoes provide more movement to your foot and have moderate cushioning for shock absorption. For CrossFit boots, a hard sole helps you feel the surface better.
Good cross-training shoes have cushioning in the heel and forefoot areas, and also provide stability for side-to-side movements. It's something between solid boots for CrossFit, volleyball, and running. If you’re running long distances, you’ll probably need a pair of running shoes as well. If you need shoes that can take you from a weight training workout to a running session, and then to functional training, cross trainers will satisfy your expectations.
What Are CrossFit Shoes Also Good For?
You can try out wearing CrossFit shoes for running. Sure, they are designed to be applied to running sessions, but not for long distances and what's more, not to wear for running marathons. You'll get more benefits from running in CrossFit kicks for short runs and sprints during the WOD. This way you'll manage to transform your power and energy in the right direction.
Also, some gym devotees wear these shoes every day for walking to the gym. Although they choose better-looking models that look like casual trainers. CrossFit shoes are heavier but more supportive and firmer than typical running shoes. Protection, balance, and injury prevention are key points for CrossFit.
Do Shoes Make a Difference in Crossfit?
Sure, high-quality durable, and comfortable shoes are a must-have for any workout. First, you need to take care of your feet and joints' health, second, you're likely to be interested in improving your training performance and the quality of the workout. Perfect CrossFit kicks should be comfortable, versatile, supportive, flexible but firm, and light but durable enough to withstand the intensity of your WODs. Reliable gripping and outsole patterns also play a crucial role in explosive take-offs and safe landings.
Generally, CrossFit includes many disciplines and modalities. It can involve Olympic lifting, gymnastics, cardiovascular exercises like running, rowing, biking, plyo exercises, etc. Thus, to choose the most fitting shoes for CrossFit workouts, you should consider the peculiarities of the particular type of training you plan to join.
Is It Ok to Run In Crossfit Shoes?
To be short, no. CrossFit and running shoes are absolutely different footwear designed for diverse types of training. However, if you run a short distance of less than one mile, and some short runs are included in the WOD, you can perform such exercise in CrossFit shoes.
If you want to start running for long distances, consider buying good running shoes to receive maximum comfort and benefit for your health. At least, you'll avoid injuries. Also, there's another reason to refuse CrossFit shoes for running: they are quite heavy and don't have enough padding to cushion your heel while running on the pavement.
Having reviewed the 8 best CrossFit shoes that the majority of users prefer to wear for their workouts, we chose for you the best variant for crushing your next WOD. Our top pick shoes are Reebok Nano X2 which will provide you with exceptional stability and responsiveness to push the limits during each training session.
So, if you’re searching for a new pair of durable shoes, then consider our recommendations before the purchase. In any case, if you still hesitate about what pair of kicks to choose, write to us directly or leave comments below this article. We'll gladly assist you and give a comprehensive response to any tricky query.
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