CrossFit continues to grow in popularity, with millions of people now taking part in gyms all over the world. In order to make sure that they are at the top of their game, though, everyone will have to get the right pair of shoes that will protect their feet, keep them safe, and make sure they are able to perform at their very best every single workout.
Whether you’ve just decided to take up CrossFit or you’ve been at your workouts for a while, one thing that you must be taking into consideration regularly is the shoes that you’re wearing on your feet.
Far too many individuals overlook just how vital a good CrossFit shoe is to optimal performance. Your shoes are basically what connects your body to the ground, so they will be with you through just about every exercise you do when you’re planted on the ground.
They’re going to support your body weight, providing the stabilization that you need to execute those heavy lifts, they’re going to cushion your joints whenever you make contact with the ground, and they’re going to serve to strengthen all the muscles and ligaments in the foot since the shoe won’t be doing as much work for you as would a pair of running shoes.
Perhaps even more importantly, they’ll help you prevent injuries. Remember, the minute injury strikes is the minute your WOD’s will come to a stop and all your progress with it. Therefore, it’s in your best interests to do absolutely everything you can to stay injury free.
A big part of that is choosing the right pair of shoes.
Hopefully you can see now why shoe selection is so critical for success. It’s not something to take lightly, but something that can feel very overwhelming with all the many options out there.
To help you make a wise decision with your purchase, we’ve broken it down to help you choose the shoe model right for you.
Here’s what to know.
Crossfit on its own comes with a lot of benefits. People who frequent a Crossfit gym are stronger, have more endurance, are healthy in an all around sense, and are always prepared for changing circumstances and whatever might come their way. Without specialized crossfit shoes you can still get the job done, but you won’t have the true benefits of Crossfit.
More often than not, people choose a shoe with performance in mind. There are many who perform just fine without having to pick the right pair of shoes, but they more often than not find that their performance is enhanced dramatically by picking up a new pair.
When you are lifting weights, running, jumping, and doing gymnastics, it is important that you have total control. That is precisely what a pair of the Crossfit shoes will give you. You will be able to run farther and faster, jump higher than ever, and lift more weight than ever without ever feeling like your footing is anything less than absolutely perfect.
Our bodies were made to be capable of handling any kind of situation that we find ourselves in. Unfortunately, there are plenty of people who don’t have proper form when it comes to working out, or doing anything in their life. When you do Crossfit, you are building up your body in a way that resembles what you would naturally come across in the real world, compared to sticking solely to lifting weights.
By wearing the right shoes, you will help your body move in a way that replicates the way our ancestors moved, although in a much safer and high performance way. Shoes should be able to enhance your performance, but they also have to be able to help you help yourself.
Many of the joints and muscles that are important to the proper function of our bodies aren’t used as frequently as they should be. Often, this is because our shoes cushion them and stop us from having to use them. With a little push in the right direction, though, you’ll be capable of having a workout that is truly “full body” without leaving a joint or tendon untouched. The stronger the supporting parts of your body, the stronger and safer you will be in a general sense.
Staying safe during your workouts is one of the most important things that you should consider when looking at Crossfit and the shoes that you wear while you are doing it. Working out will only benefit you as long as you can do it without injuring yourself. If you are serious about working out, you should be serious about staying safe.
By working out in the best shoes for Crossfit, you’ll have the ability to go longer and with more intensity without injuring yourself. Padded, improper shoes will only cushion your bad habits, not ever stopping you from being injured only slightly reducing the chances. If you are going to really stay save, you’ll be required to completely eliminate bad form, something you can’t do without the right pair of shoes on.
There are many things that you should be looking out for when you attempt to find the best CrossFit shoe possible. The most important thing to think about is the variety of conditions that you’ll be facing when you work out. Just as important is the ability to not make any sacrifices and still be able to perform just as well at any of them, just like you were doing them on their own with a pair of shoes that was designed for that purpose and that purpose alone.
Overall, when you are doing your workouts you’ll have to be ready for:
Lifting weights is something that a lot of people that come to Crossfit already have experience with, but the circumstances surrounding the lifts is much different with Crossfit. Here, you will have to do it while being able to run and do all of the other exercises without losing traction, comfort, or performance. That isn’t something that you can do with over padded shoes that don’t let you truly feel the floor. That also means they have to fit in a way that lets you never have to worry about them moving around.
In order to do that, the Crossfit shoes will use a “barefoot” sole that lets your feet conform to the floor, remain stable, and stay flat. The shoes will also have to have a secure fit, with room for your toes to move while still remaining stable enough to not roll your ankle and risk seriously damaging your feet and legs. Even worse, you might find that an unsure footing causes you to topple over and seriously injure yourself or others in a way that can sideline you for a very long time.
Running and jumping require a similar feature, but there is another reason here. Many people run with a technique that makes them move in an unnatural way that isn’t healthy. The majority of people who run use a method that involves striking with the heel and then rolling onto their toes. This isn’t necessarily unhealthy on its own, but it is very inefficient and can lead to a lot of other bad habits.
The barefoot soles will come into play here, forcing you to run on the balls of your feet, or at the very least using a mid-sole strike. Jumping is even more unsafe when you use improper technique, so learning how to land in the right way will be necessary. Crossfit is safe when performed properly, but it can lead to injuries if you don’t know what you are doing. In order to help yourself as much as possible, your shoes should take care of some of the effort, ensuring that you only have to spend a short amount of time working on form before you are ready to go.
Those two very different exercises come with their own terms. You will also be performing gymnastics, rowing, doing kettle bell lifts, and more. In all, you’ll have to keep an eye out for a number of features that are staples of Crossfit shoes. These are:
One recent trend that’s really taken the CrossFit community by storm is the concept of minimalist CrossFit shoes. While all CrossFit shoes will have a minimalist design compared to the traditional running shoe, these take it a step further.
These shoes aim to mimic that of barefoot training and are to be most utilized during running related activities or activities where you aren’t hoisting a heavy amount of weight and need additional cushioning.
If you make the decision to purchase one of these to try yourself, but be cautioned that heavy use of this shoe may not provide enough support for certain CrossFit exercises, such as a Clean and Jerk, so only wear them during exercises you feel completely confident you don’t need the support.
Worn at these times, these shoes will really help to build up as much foot strength as possible as it will be all you doing the work as you propel your body through the various movements you perform. This can then translate to better performance on all your exercises.
A great minimalist CrossFit shoe to try out is the Vibram FiveFingers Bikila shoe.
If you are going to be doing a high volume of weight lifting as you move through your CrossFit workouts, you may want to get a specific pair of shoes just for this purpose.
While some individuals simply opt for traditional Olympic lifting shoes, which will make it easier to squat due to their high heel to toe drop, these shoes are not ideal for many of the other moves CrossFit calls for such as jumping.
This is where CrossFit weight lifting shoes come into play. These are again like a middleman. They are going to have more flexibility in the sole than Olympic lifting shoes, allowing you to move around more easily, while still maintaining the same degree of stability and heel to toe drop that makes Olympic shoes so effective.
This way, you can get the best of both worlds and be as comfortable as possible throughout your CrossFit sessions. Try the Reebok Crossfit Lifter 2.0 for great results.
Now you may be wondering, do men need different CrossFit shoes compared to women?
When it comes to most factors driving the design and development of the two shoes, they will stand side by side. Both genders need a high quality shoe with a flexible sole that allows for as much foot-to-ground feel as possible.
Likewise, both genders will need something that’s breathable if doing their WOD’s in a warmer environment, so nothing changes there.
What we do see changing most between men’s and women’s CrossFit shoes however is the overall size and fit of the shoe.
Since most men do tend to have wider feet, their shoes will be build to accommodate this width, while women’s shoes will be more on the petite side.
The other primary difference between the two shoes will be the color scheme utilized, which will be a personal preference choice in itself.
Beyond that, the structure of the shoes will be remarkably similar, so when comparing reviews from a men’s shoe to the female variety, you can expect the same level of quality and benefits presented in both shoes.
One thing that I do want to stress to you is to pinpoint your experience level. An ideal shoe for someone who is just beginning their journey into CrossFit is going to be quite different than the shoe designed or the athlete who’s been training hard for one or more years.
Q: The main difference?
A: The level of cushioning.
Most people, all throughout their life, have been using highly cushioned running shoes for all their activities. But as you make the transition to CrossFit, you will be taking away from of that cushioning – keeping the support, but using a more minimalist cushioning system as discussed above.
If you go from the highly padded shoes you’re used to straight to the minimalist design of most advanced CrossFit shoes however, your chance of injury in the process will be much higher.
You could put yourself at risk for major trauma to the body such as shin splints, knee pain, as well as heel and foot problems.
A beginners CrossFit shoe will be designed more like the middle man – a shoe that provides some cushioning, but not too much. Go with something like the Nike Free Men or Nike Free Women or Asics Gel-Craze. This will be the perfect transition from your usual running shoe to the full blown CrossFit Shoe.
Shortly after this purchase, you can then pick up a pair of CrossFit shoes, such as the Reebok CrossFit Nano 3.0 and start easing into using those instead. Use them for one or two WOD sessions per week or some easy walks as your body adapts to this new level of cushioning.
One thing that I would recommend that everyone remember as they seek out a good pair of CrossFit shoe is no shoe is going to work magic. Meaning, if you are not able to execute an exercise you are going to perform properly, no pair of footwear will help you do so.
For this reason, you may want to spend some time perfecting your CrossFit exercises and the movement patterns involved first before you go out and purchase your shoes.
This way, when you do wear the shoes, you will already have good form in place and they will exert their benefits. Those who are still learning how to do the moves can be just as well served in a pair of good tennis shoes to start with.
Be sure that you are focusing on not only form, but gaining the flexibility in the joints and muscles to be able to perform proper exercise execution.
Once you’ve mastered this, then go forward to start your shopping.
When seeking CrossFit shoes, the first priority when looking for your shoe is performance. You want to be able to really feel your foot in contact with the floor as you go about your session, so want to ensure no cushioning is standing in the way of that.
You want to look for a shoe that contains a very flat and low insole with very little heel to toe drop. The lower this is, the better. As you will notice if you look at a classic pair of running shoes, the heel to toe drop can be quite significant, which is another reason these are not ideal for WOD’s.
You should also consider the type of workout you are purchasing the shoes for. CrossFit shoes for usual workouts that involve lots of running and moving around will call for a slightly different shoe structure than a workout that consists primarily of lifting. If you are planning on doing mostly lifting, you’ll want to look into CrossFit lifting shoes, as we discuss below.
The next thing to consider when hunting for the perfect CrossFit shoe is the level of comfort you have while wearing it. If you don’t feel comfortable sporting the shoe, it’s going to make for some very long WOD’s. You’ll want to wear the shoe around the store for a while to ensure it’s fitting well and your foot is snug, but not tight. If ordering online, make sure to look at the return policy in case it arrives and after wearing it at home for a while, you find it’s not fitting as it should.
You should also think about the breathability of the shoe. If you plan on wearing these shoes in a warmer climate you’ll need something that breathes well to keep you as comfortable as possible.
At the same rate however, realize that these shoes will also get the most damp if worn in a rainy climate, so you do need to decide where you most often will be. Will you be in a warmer environment or damp and wet one? Use this to guide your decision on how breathable your shoe should be.
Finally, one last word of caution, when it comes to the shoes for high intensity training such as CrossFit, realize that you get what you pay for. If you opt for a lower cost shoe, chances are that shoe isn’t going to be as effective and it won’t hold up as long as you would have hoped.
If you can afford to a more expensive shoe, invest the money. It’ll likely last twice as long as the cheaper shoe, so at the end of the day, may even cost you less than had you went with the cheaper variety in the first place.
Reebok has been in the footwear game for decades, but they have made the most of their short amount of time in the Crossfit arena. The CrossFit Nano 3.0 is their most recent offering and it really stands among the best that any company has been able to produce.
These were designed to be able to handle the job no matter what it is that your gym is throwing your way. They started by creating a shoe that is just as light as many of the bare bones shoes that companies like Inov-8 produce. In doing that, however, they also ensured that they would be incredibly comfortable and durable.
The fit of the Reebok Crossfit Nano 3.0 finds the sweet spot between the snug and roomy fit that many workout shoes have. They are always secure on your feet, but the toe box is large enough to allow your feet to grip the floor and stay firm. A little wiggle room is a great thing. Unfortunately, too many leave a great deal, although that won’t be a problem here.
That comfort won’t mean anything, though, if they can’t hold up to a good beating in the gym. These specifically feature rope protection on the inside as well to make sure that you don’t destroy them from frequent rope climbing. Mesh like materials are used extensively on the outside, which resembles barefoot shoes in many cases, which means if you choose to purchase these you will have to be careful during workouts if you don’t want to injure your toes and feet by dropping a kettle bell on them.
What really stands out about these shoes is the sole. There is a problem that often arises in terms of the soles of workout shoes. They are often on one side of the spectrum or the other, either too cushioned or too minimalist. Reebok managed to find a center zone with the Nano 3.0 that allows your feet to be adequately supported without having to give up the feel of the ground. There is a bit more padding involved than most other Crossfit shoes, but for people who have had problems in the past, this means it can be a perfect fit and a perfect addition to a workout.
Overall, the Reebok Nano 3.0 is a great all around shoe that matches the all around exercise conditions that Crossfit provides. For comfort and performance, this is a great shoe. Many people have complaints about one feature or another, but if you are new to Crossfit especially this is a great way to find out what you like in a shoe.
Inov-8 is one of the leading producers of the best CrossFit shoes on the market. They are consistently ranked among the top companies, and with good reason. Of all of the products they have, the Inov-8 F-Lite 240 is one of those that standouts the most.
To start with, they spent a lot of time making sure that your foot is comfortable while you are wearing these shoes. The upper is constructed out of breathable mesh that is extremely lightweight and allows you to stay cool and comfortable without filling your shoes up with sweat during the most intense workouts.
For CrossFit, having a flat sole is important for recreating the barefoot feel that your feet naturally run with. The heel toe drop in these isn’t exactly flat, but it does offer a lot greater feel than shoes with a raised heel. That being said, it is still easy to run on your heels when using these, so you’ll have to make sure that you always keep an eye on your technique when you are going through your workouts.
The bottom of the sole furthers that quality feel on the ground. The special F-Lite traction technology used on the outside of the shoe uses a blend of rubber that they have developed to provide the best grip and traction without being bulky or prone to falling apart.
What many people have commented on is the ability to wear these shoes and start working out without even having to break them in. From the very day that you get them, they will be able to help you perform at your best and never have to worry about putting your lower body at risk just to get a good workout in. Inov-8 continuously puts out quality shoe after quality shoe, making any shoe from them a great choice. Here, however, the F-lite 240 stands out above the rest.
The New Balance Minimus hasn’t been around for very long, but the Minimus v3 provides a huge benefit over previous models and many people have found that this is their new favorite shoe, especially if they aren’t interested in paying an outrageous amount of money.
First, comfort. These have a great feel straight out of the box, feeling flat, neutral, and and one of a kind. Even without socks on, these perform incredibly well and make it possible to focus on your workouts without ever having to worry about the kind of shoes that you have on.
The performance is just as great, though. The snug fit and high quality grip on the sole makes them great for your workouts whether you are running, jumping, or powerlifting. These will help maintain the natural movement that your body craves, allowing you to build up the right muscles and truly get the right benefits from your workouts that you might have missed out on if you had padded shoes on. Many people even use these as basketball shoes, that’s how well they perform.
If you are interested in shoes that look great, you’ve found them. People have stayed away from Vibram shoes for a long time because they don’t like the appearance of shoes with toes in them. In contrast, the Minimus line more closely resembles traditional sneakers, making them perfect for wearing any time day or night, whether you are working out or not.
For an entry shoe into the world of CrossFit, it is hard to do much better than this. They offer the barefoot, bare bones feel that is important to CrossFit, but it manages to do so without making you uncomfortable. It can be hard to deal with at the start, but once you are used to them these can be one of the best possible shoes to wear.
Q: Can’t I just use my running shoes for CrossFit Classes?
A: I would recommend against using regular running shoes for CrossFit classes because with their highly cushioned sole, they aren’t doing much to allow for full strengthening of the muscles in both the foot as well as the lower leg.
In addition to this, they may prevent you from achieving the full range of motion you need to with your CrossFit exercises, therefore reducing the results that you see.
The only time when you may use running shoes for your CrossFit classes is if you are overcoming some type of foot injury and need the additional support or cushioning to stay comfortable during your WOD.
Q: I’ve heard that CrossFit can injure you. How can I minimize the risk of getting injured?
A: Yes, when care is not taken, CrossFit can be a more dangerous type of activity to perform. The good news however is that if you are mindful of all you do, you can prevent injuries and achieve the best shape of your life.
Two of the most important things to be doing to stay injury-free are always warming up before each WOD you do and making sure you do invest in good quality footwear, such as we are discussing right now. With these two in place, your body will be ready to tackle the intense movement patterns and heavy weight loads you’ll be utilizing during each session.
In addition to that, you also want to make sure that you fully understand how to utilize good form before you start each session. If you aren’t using good form as you move through the exercises, this too will dramatically increase your risk of injury.
And finally, also watch that you are giving yourself sufficient time off for rest and recovery. If you aren’t having enough down time to recover from each training workout you do, you’ll only continually break your body tissues down further and further with each workout performed, eventually leading to loss of muscle mass, strength, and the development of injury.
If you train wisely, you won’t put yourself at any greater of a risk of injuries than any other workout would have you at.
You can check out this video podcast on how to train pain and injury free by Dr. Brad Cole.
Q: What kind of shoes do I need for CrossFit?
A: The type of shoes required for CrossFit are as described above – a shoe that helps you feel connected to the ground as best as possible and that helps you strengthen all the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the foot.
Shoes for CrossFit should have zero differential between the heel and the toes, making them as flat-soled as possible. They also need to be lightweight, fit your foot snuggly, but not too tight, and provide minimal padding.
Q: What is the lowest cost CrossFit shoe for a beginner?
A: If you don’t have much money to invest in CrossFit shoes but want to avoid doing them in plain running shoes, which isn’t advised, then your best bet is Chuck Taylors, All Stars.
These shoes are available in a variety of different color designs, have a completely flat sole, and provide the minimal padding that you are looking for.
Q: What’s the best CrossFit shoe in your opinion?
The Reebok CrossFit Nano 3.0 have a 9mm heel and 5mm toe, so there is a very slight difference between the two. In addition to this, they come with a very nice and comfortable breathable mesh fabric that will keep you cool as your workout heats up.
Users have remarked just how comfortable and durable this shoe is, so if you’re looking for one that’ll be long lasting and help you achieve your own personal fitness goals, it’s a great shoe to invest in.
The second shoe, the Inov-8-195 is one of the best for those who are doing highly intense CrossFit workouts day after day. They’re highly durable, so will stand up to higher amounts of stress and strain. With a 6mm heel to toe differential and a 3 mm foot bed of EVA for cushioning, these are a great shoe for anyone who is making the transition to minimalist shoes.
One added benefit to note of this shoe is that it comes with additional protection along the sides of the foot for protection while doing any rope climbs.
Q: What kind of socks do I need to wear with CrossFit shoes?
A: After purchasing your shoes, don’t forget your socks! CrossFitters should bring a pair of knee-high socks to each workout they do, which will help to protect their shins throughout your WOD’s.
So don’t put off investing in a pair of CrossFit shoes any longer. It really will make or break your workout performance and could also be the one thing that keeps you in the game longest since they may help you prevent injuries as well.
With the right pair of shoes, reaching your CrossFit goals is possibly along with some good old-fashoined hard work and dedication.
At the end of the day, these shoes are a great place to get started. You really can’t do wrong with any of them, but it is also important that you understand what it is that makes them work. Crossfit can be one of the most beneficial things that you ever do for yourself, but without the right shoes on you won’t be able to handle it. Make the right choice and buy a pair today. You will never regret the boost in performance that they give you.