Want a Better Workout? Start with Better Shoes.
Walk into a Crossfit Box and you’re likely to see a lot of Nike, Reebok and Nobull sneakers. While Reebok was first to the Crossfit training shoe game in 2011, Nike followed suit in 2015 and has since crafted some exceptional Crossfit shoes. The latest is the Nike Metcon 4, released in January, which brings an upgraded appearance along with upgraded performance. Here’s how it compares to previous iterations, plus the light under which it really shines.
The Good: The Metcon 4 takes basically all of the best features of the Metcon 3 and adds just a few tweaks. The shoe is more durable and works for both weight lifting and sprints. Design features like the interlocking pattern on the sole look cool, plus they grip exceptionally well for sled pushes and pulls. The sole also allows you to crush 100-meter sprints. The 4mm offset means your heels are close to the ground to allow for a stable launch for tuck jumps and power cleans — as well as provide firm support for deadlifts and overhead presses. The dual-layered sock liner lets the shoes breathe a bit, and the added sixth loop for the laces enhances fit and comfort.
Who They’re For: Anyone who lifts weights, frequently visits a Crossfit Box, takes athletic conditioning classes or boxes. The shoes perform well in all conditions where distance running and jumping aren’t integral to the workout. For the average gym-goer, this is a great shoe. It shines on all weight-lifting machines, as well as with free weights.
Watch Out For: While the Metcon 4s are updated to be a bit more flexible than the 3s, it’s still not a sneaker I’d want to grab for a run. The toe box flexes back toward the tongue, but it’s built to be a more rigid shoe — offering the support you need for gym exercises.
In terms of fit, heel slip was something the Metcon 3 had a slight issue with, and while Nike has added an additional lace loop to tighten the fit, it’s still something to watch out for. If you’re used to working out in standard running sneakers, these shoes are built differently, so it might take a little while to get used to them. When I first put them on, I thought they were snug, but after three months of use, they’re comfortable and feel normal.
Alternatives: One would be remiss not to mention the Reebok Nano, and the newer Nano 8 Flexweave. While I have yet to test the Flexweave, the fabric construction also provides security and durability, like the TPU Tri-star shapes all over the Metcon 4. The Nobull Dark Grey Trainers have a similar-looking upper construction as well.
The Verdict: Compared to the Metcon 3, there aren’t a ton of changes — which is a good thing considering what a strong performer that shoe is.
The more I wear them, the more I discover new uses for them. Previously, I’ve slid all over the place in my running sneakers during boxing or conditioning classes. My ankles were bellowing out for support. Once I started using the Metcons for those classes, I found myself more stable, able to focus more on doing the actual workout instead of worrying about flimsy footwear.
That peace of mind comes partially from the all-over rubber tri-star design that expands beyond just the sole and up the sides, slightly under the arch. The tri-star shapes are also placed strategically around the entire shoe, along areas where wear and tear usually take place — adding increased durability. They’re most visually evident along the heel, but they’re also dotted along the sides of the shoe and near the toe box.
For weight lifting, the shoes are unparalleled. The drop-in insole is easily removable, which I had no issues with. There are some complaints about a squeak because of that, but I never noticed it. It’s also dense and stable, especially right under the arch, yet flexible under the forefoot. The overall feeling is an extremely solid base from which you can lift, pulse, clean and squat — an ideal shoe for all gym-goers.
What Others Are Saying:
“There’s no CrossFit shoe I’d rather don for a sprint on a Trueform treadmill; the ride, while rougher than, say, Nike’s Air Pegasus running shoe, is still smooth and lets me generate quality speed over 100 meters, 200 meters, and 400 meters. Despite that lack of rigidity in the mid-foot, the shoes offer a solid enough base that I’ve deadlifted 315 and above in them and had no problem squatting and keeping my weight back in my heels.” — Ebenezer Samuel, Men’s Health
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