10 Dec 14 – So many WODs, so many shoes

Over the past few months, we have taught you a whole host of lifts… everything from Zercher squats, deadlift and snatch, to push jerk, cleans and bench press. Then there are the non-barbell related movements…. Double unders, pistols, tyre jumps, etc. And of course let’s not forget running, rowing, prowler pushing and burpees!

CrossFit = Constantly Varied

And what do Constantly Varied workouts lead to?

Loads of different shoes!

Maybe not the answer you were expecting, but recently one of our members asked for a breakdown of the different shoes we use in CrossFit and, as an athlete who has tried my fair share of CrossFit apparel, I am more than happy to oblige.

So below is an incredibly opinionated, totally biased, very concise review of some of the shoes you will see in CrossFit…

Reebok CrossFit Nano 4.0

Reebok CrossFit Nanos
From £80

The quintessential CrossFit shoe, Nanos are created by Reebok and are good for pretty much anything we do. They have a wide footbed, flexible midsole, pretty durable (although I have had issues with my Nano 3.0s) and they have a stable enough heel to allow for Olympic lifts (Froning snatched 300 lbs in Nanos…)

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0

In my humble opinion, Nano 2.0s are the best iteration of Nanos and I am dreading the day that mine finally fall apart and I have to trade them in. Read The Rx Review’s post on the newest Nanos, Nano 4.0. 

Use them for...


But don’t use them for….

Going out. Don’t be that guy that goes out in Nanos. As stylish as the colour combos are, I still think they make you look like you have ninja turtle feet.

Inov8 F-Lite 195

Inov8 F-Lites
From £50

The inov-8 F-Lite 195 was the first minimalist shoe I tried for CrossFit. I loved it for my powerlifts as, with its barely existent differential (the difference in height between the toe and the heel from foam padding), I felt at one with the ground. However, inov8s weren’t originally made for CrossFit and, after a few months WODing, they started to fall apart. The rope climbs ripped up the sides, the wall climbs and handstand pushups tore the toes and heels to shreds and I started to rip holes in the netting right where my pinky toes were (This is a common complaint amongst CrossFitters. The narrow footbed of inov8s limits your ability to create torque with your feet during squats and deadlifts without eventually ripping holes in the shoe.)

Many people swear by inov-8s, and in newer versions of the shoe, they have added an additional ‘Rope-Tec’ guard to protect the shoe from the aforementioned razorblade rope climbs.

Adidas Powerlift

Olympic Lifters
Varies drastically, but expect anywhere from £75 - £100+

The first day I did an overhead squat in my Olympic Lifters was an amazing day. AH MAYZ ING. Just like squatting with your heels on a plate, lifters instantly give you increased range of motion around the ankle, thus improving your overhead position and depth in the squat.

You can go traditional with adidas, try the Nike Romaleos 2, which seem to be all the rage now, or go for the versatility of Reebok's OLYs, but be warned…. When some athletes first put on their olys and experience the amazing feeling of a perfectly upright overhead squat, or full depth in a pistol, or a snatch without losing their footing, they tend to become inextricably connected to them. They use them for all of their squat sessions, all of their lifting sessions, then all of their WODs, then they put them on before class even starts. I have even seen people mobilise their ankles in Olympic lifting shoes...  

As the legend that is Diane Fu says, don’t use lifters as a crutch. If lifting shoes are the only way you can hit depth in a squat, maybe you should spend some more time on your mobility. Don’t get me wrong, I wear my lifters for heavy squat sessions and oly lifting technique work, but I also try to get in as many lifts as possible in my Nanos. Because you never know when you’ll encounter a WOD with snatch and double unders. Doing double unders with a heavy lifting shoe because you can’t snatch without your lifters = not fun.

Use them for... 

Olympic lifts (obviously), overhead squats, pistols

But for the love of God, don’t use them...

In every single WOD you do and don’t you DARE use them for deadlifts.

Asics or your average running trainer

Most runners (myself included) have a nasty habit of heel striking when they run. This can lead to everything from shin splints and lower back pain to knee injury and Achilles Tendinitis.

To combat this, most running shoes have a massive foam heel, which cushions the impact from a heel-strike running style. HOWEVER, bring this into lifting and it causes you to do exactly what we don’t want: The thick heels push you on to your toes leading to quad-dominant lifts.

Use them for...

Running errands around town

But don’t use them for….

Anything in the box. Sorry, but we'll most likely ask you to take them off.

There are many types of shoes around that I haven’t even hit on – New Balance, Vibrams (although many of you know my thoughts on Vibrams already…), the new Nike MetCons, etc.

Have a shoe that works for you? Or seen a shoe on a CrossFitter that you want to know more about? Let us know!

Ilya Ilin snatching 185 kg at the 2012 Olympics


A) Snatch push press + Overhead squat with 3 second pause: 3-5 x 1+2

B) Hang power snatch + Hang snatch: 3-5 x 1+1

C) Reverse snatch grip deadlift: 3-5 x 5