Best Shoes for Crossfit

Crossfit is a program of “constantly varied functional movement performed at high intensity” developed by Greg Glassman to use data to improve fitness.

Crossfit focuses greatly on changing workouts each time to avoid routine and to continuously surprise the body’s muscles, encouraging adaptation and endurance. This principle is intended to mirror the unpredictability of life, preparing Crossfit participants for whatever physical task they may encounter in their day-to-day lives.

Crossfit incorporates weight-training, endurance drills, and aspects of gymnastics in functional combinations aiming to train up the body for movements that are needed in life. The belief that workout movements should reflect the activities of life such as picking items up, pulling, carrying, etc. is commonly referred to as functional fitness training. Functional fitness training is recommended by medical experts for making everyday movements easier, reducing the risk of pulled muscles or injury when completing life tasks, and improving a person’s quality of life and longevity.

The final principle of Crossfit besides variation and functionality is a focus on intensity. Exercise intensity is a data-driven measure of how quickly a person can accomplish work with the most conservative amount of energy used. In other words, the more work or activity you can accomplish in as little time as possible – such as the difference between lightly jogging versus sprinting – is the intensity of a workout.

A recent New York Times article explained that high intensity workouts, when done safely with intense periods being broken apart by moments of rest, have the potential to improve fitness, alleviate some chronic conditions, and prevent the development of some future health issues for many people. The studies published by the Times suggested that high intensity exercise, like those seen in Crossfit, can be beneficial for people suffering with diabetes, stroke, heart disease, arthritis, Parkinson’s, dementia, and pulmonary disease.

With the many benefits associated with Crossfit, the choice to consider the program for physical fitness seems to be a simple one. Of course, the program can seem slightly intimidating to a new-comer without experience in the Crossfit world.   So, what does one need to know to successfully engage with the fitness lifestyle that’s sweeping the nation?

How to Find Your Perfect Crossfit Shoes

Find a box or affiliate for your WODs

In the world of Crossfit, a box is a simplistic workout space that is equipped with everything needed for a workout-of-the-day, or WOD.

For the average person, a box can be a room at a local gym or the garage of their home, as long as the location has all of the necessary equipment. Similarly, an affiliate is a gym with licensed Crossfit trainers on staff; these gyms are officially recognized as part of the Crossfit organization.

For those not interested in seeking out the perfect affiliate or working out at a local gym, The Crossfit Journal has published an article that lists the equipment every Crossfitter should include in their personal box, including dumbbells, plyo boxes, jump / climbing ropes, abmats, rings, paralettes, and rubber mat flooring.

Once a Crossfitter has found their box, the focus shifts to the WOD. The workout-of-the-day is whatever exercise regime that is being performed on a given day, with the aim being that no two workings be exactly the same. While official Crossfit WODs are available online, many individuals choose to design their own daily programming. Hero WODs are workouts programmed to honor fallen military and those killed in the line of duty by pushing Crossfitters to honor their sacrifice through more intensive exercise.

Some WODs, such as Fran and Murph, have become infamous in the Crossfit community. Fran refers to a workout of 21 thrusters, 21 pullups, 15 thrusters, 15 pullups, 9 thrusters, and finally 9 pullups, which some experienced Crossfitters can complete in approximately 3 minutes. Crossfitters will fight through a one mile run, 100 pullups, 200 pushups, 300 squats, and a second one mile run when tackling Murph. Grace, Isabel, and Filthy Fifty are also infamous WODs in the community, all recognized for having high levels of intensity.

Time, Reps, and Score

Those active in the Crossfit community often take inspiration from the drive of competition. Crossfit workouts for time measure how quickly you can complete a given workout.

Often the focus within a given time frame is on the measure of AMRAP, or achieving As Many Reps As Possible before the time expires. The final score of a Crossfit competition, even if that competition is based on an individual’s past and current performance, is calculated as the total number of reps in a given workout.

Reps, or actual units of each movement, are intended to build endurance and strength. The Crossfit organization provides free online exercise demo videos for those seeking training in the individual exercise movements. All functional movements used in Crossfit feature a spotlight on essential fitness skills including stamina, flexibility, cardio endurance, strength, power, coordination, speed, agility, accuracy, and balance.

The Magic of Metacon

The functional movements used in Crossfit are comprised of metacon, or metabolic conditioning achieved through repeating rounds of 2-3 exercises, and weight-lifting. While WODs generally focus on strength and skill training, metacons rely on high intensity exercise within a time frame.

The Crossfit Journal refers to metabolic conditioning and more traditional cardio / aerobics interchangeably when explaining how Crossfit maximizes the benefits of metacon through interval training. The journal assers that weight-lifiting can equal endurance training for the same benefits of traditional cardio. Furthermore, the journal explains that metacon training with varied movement / workout modalities can prevent the body’s adaptation to the exercise which results in more functional strength.

With the focus of Crossfit on pushing the body to its limits for maximum functional results, your first step in workout success will be ensuring that you have a strong foundation for your movement – good shoes. Proper Crossfit shoes must be able to provide the right amount of support, flexibility, and comfort for the wide array of movements practiced in the workouts. The shoes should promote top performance while providing the body with healthy support and alignment. In fact, for many veteran Crossfitters, shoes are the most essential and basic piece of equipment needed when beginning a fitness journey.

Qualities of Good Crossfit Shoes

Selecting propter Crossfit footwear is crucial for success. These shoes should be breathable with thin soles that provide adequate support and protection. Crossfit shoes that feature low-heel drop are advantageous for weight-lifting. With the many footwear options available on the market, it shouldn’t be a problem for you to find the perfect Crossfit shoes to fit your needs!

Thin soles offer sensitivity.

Selecting Crossfit shoes with thin soles will increase your sensitivity when exercising. For maximum performance in Crossfit, being able to feel the surface area you’re on during your movements allows you to optimize your techniques.

This is especially important in weight-lifting when all of your movements must be technical to ensure maximum muscle use and safety. Being able to feel the ground as you’re exercising also helps you to determine where and when you’re exerting the most pressure in your movements, which allows you to maintain awareness of your body and techniques at all times.

Thin-soled Crossfit shoes also allow for an increase in responsiveness. Shoe flexibility is increased when the soles are thin and lightweight, which allows for faster and more accurate lateral movements when engaged in Crossfit. The official stance of Crossfit on shoe soles is the recommendation that weight-lifting be done with non-compressible soles to increase stability while other sole choices be made in consideration of the particular WOD being completed.

Prevent pain with Crossfit foot protection.

Protection of the feet is one of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of workout preparation. Crossfitters often hit their feet or sustain foot injuries when performing exercises like rope climbs, box jumps, double-unders, and toes-to-bar movements. Box jumps and toes-to-bar exercises in particular may require a shoe with a protective toe-cage, which prevents injury and damage to the front of the foot and toes where many impact injuries occur during exercise. Crossfit experts also recommend considering shoes with a strong outer sole lining and a higher back to protect against injuries such as blisters or rope burn when exercising.

Breathability is key!

Whenever you workout or perform any physically strenuous activity during the day, your body naturally releases sweat to regulate body temperature and to sustain you through the activity. Sweating is essential for human survival! Problems can arise, however, if we allow sweat to stay on the body for prolonged periods of time.

Andrew Skurka, active lifestyle advocate and consultant, warns that allowing sweat to stay on the feet during cardiovascular activity can lead to foot irritation, blisters, fungus, and odor. In addition to potentially creating foot health problems, excess sweat on the feet also decreases overall foot stability, which is pivotal for a successful and safe Crossfit workout.

Making sure that you select permeable Crossfit shoes that allow your feet to breathe will enhance both performance and comfort during your WODs and weight-lifting. The material used for the construction of the shoe is usually a good indicator of how well it will breathe, with mesh and some fabrics generally being the most permeable over time.

Low heel-drops have many advantages.

Heel drop refers to the angle of the slope from the shoe sole at the heel of the shoe to the front toe area. In can be referred to as heel-to-toe drop, angle, ramp angle, or offset. Your average shoe will likely have a 4-10 mm heel-to-toe drop. Many experts suggest low heel-drops for weight-lifting shoes because the shoes support the foot, align the foot with the ground in the most natural way, and allow the body to generate more force for the upward lift of the weights. For example, lots of weight-lifters swear by Chuck Taylor shoes.

Make some room for those toes!

Toe allowance is important for appropriate fit of any shoe, but is especially important in a Crossfit shoe. The rule of thumb for toe allowance is literally just that; you should measure the distance of your longest toe to the front of the shoe to ensure that there is at least a thumb’s width of space. Because this measurement is difficult to apply for an exact measure and varies by person, experts recommend having your foot measured by a professional for fit.

This space in the shoe is essential to allow your toes to move, which increases balance and coordination. You shouldn’t leave too much toe allowance, however, because then the shoe will be too big and you’ll risk blisters and a loss of stability in movement as the foot and toes move within the shoe during workouts. The most important thing to remember when checking for toe allowance is that your toes should be able to move without being squashed, but your foot should remain stable within the shoe.

Many Crossfitters maintain that it is best to have at least two pairs of dedicated Crossfit shoes to alternate for increased shoe longevity and to use depending on the components of the exercises: weight-lifting and athletic shoes. Experts recommend that you consider using a dedicated weight-lifting shoe, or at least a flat-soled shoe such as those available form Chuck Taylor, for weight-lifting portions of WODs. Many Crossfit programs feature separate conditioning and strength-training portions. Proper weight-lifting shoes will have the heels slightly raised to improve your flexibility and stability during strength-training.

While many shoes can meet your Crossfit needs, there are some popular choices among those experienced in the movement. The most common recommendations include: Crossfit shoes, minimalist shoes / barefoot, cross-training shoes, and indoor athletic shoes.

Types of Crossfit Shoes

Crossfit constructs and markets their own specialized shoes available for purchase at their online store. The shoes are designed to provide a more stable base for weight-lifting as they tend to have hard, flat soles instead of cushion soles like most running shoes.

Minimalist Shoes / Barefoot

If you’re not interested in investing in Crossfit-approved footwear, you could consider following in the footsteps of other people in all areas of fitness by ditching shoes altogether. The barefoot movement has swept grown in popularity to combat the rigidity and commercialism in retail market of footwear. Advocates of minimalist shoes explain that many foot, gait, and skeletal alignment problems faced in our modern culture may stem from forcing our feet into unnaturally shaped and contoured shoes. They support this argument by pointing out that many foot issues still don’t exist in cultures where shoes are not worn on a regular basis.

Minimalist shoes are recommended by some because they allow you to use your entire foot to propel your body, as opposed to movement being centered in the heel of traditional shoes. Minimalist shoes are light-weight, breathable, and shaped to mimic the natural contours of the foot. Other benefits of minimalist shoes include encouraging the individual to land lightly as they step, increased foot and ankle flexibility over time, possible increased natural arch strength, and sensitivity to the ground. Being barefoot takes this idea a step further and is recommended by those in favor of facilitating the foot’s natural function and increasing the body’s performance through returning to basics.

Medical experts warn, however, that going barefoot or wearing minimalist shoes, especially for activities as intense as Crossfit, requires an adaptation phase to prevent muscle and tendon damage. The feet will be required to use more muscle and absorb more force than when traditional shoes are worn. The calves and knees will also have to adjust to the different impact of movements with minimalist or no shoes. A proper adaptation phase, which can take as long as 3 to 6 months depending on what shoes were previously being worn.

Cross-training Shoes

The National Academy of Sports Medicine explains that there are several advantages to using cross-training shoes for workouts, including Crossfit. Because cross-training shoes are designed and constructed to increase performance and comfort for a variety of activities, they are often a very appropriate footwear choice for Crossfitters. Each cross-training shoe will be constructed differently, depending on the focus of the designer, with most having added support and comfort to absorb impact, promote foot safety, and facilitate workout comfort. Most cross-training shoes are also constructed of highly flexible and breathable materials with increased flexibility near the toes and on the sides of the shoe for boosted performance and agility.

While cross-training shoes match the varied movement principle of Crossfit, they may not always provide the adequate support and protection depending on the WOD. This is another reason why many Crossfitters suggest having two dedicated pairs of Crossfit shoes. Some people also argue that cross-trainers don’t have the same life span of other shoes, but this likely just depends on the intensity of the workouts performed and the frequency of use of the shoes.

Indoor Athletic Shoes

Another popular footwear choice for Crossfitters are indoor athletic / soccer shoes. These shoes are durable, great for sprinting, and are constructed with soles that allow for mobility and stability with various Crossfit movements.

Indoor athletic shoes are some of the best shoes for workouts that require sudden pivots, sprints, and agility drills. To increase flexibility and sensitivity, the shoe design is generally constructed with less internal cushion than other traditional running shoes. This is not necessarily a negative feature, however. Crossfitters can purchase over-the-counter insoles to increase the cushion in the shoe and replace the insoles when they’ve worn out, increasing the life span of the shoe and allowing the individual to determine what level of support they need for WODs.

The right shoe can drastically increase your Crossfit performance, which allows you to reap all of the benefits of the workouts. The first step in reaching your fitness goals start with your shoes. Making sure that your footwear features all of the qualities needed for maximum performance will facilitate you making progress and enjoying every minute of your journey!

Best Shoes For Crossfit

1. Nike Metcon 2

Men’s

Nike Men's Metcon 2

Women’s

Nike Women's Metcon 2 Ankle-High Fashion Sneaker

Nike Metcon 2

Pros

  • Incredibly fashionable, power of the Nike brand
  • Variety of colors and patterns to choose from
  • Roughly 4 out of 5 people who purchased the shoe online said that it fit
  • Dual density foam support insole for added comfort and control while working out

Cons

  • Expensive: can cost nearly $300 for some of the options
  • Slightly narrow fit

Summary

Crossfit can be extremely intense with all of the squatting, jumping, and movement in general. So you need a show that can keep up with you, and the Nike Metcon 2 definitely does. This shoe was built specifically for weightlifting and activities in the gym, so it is extremely comfortable – especially with its dual density foam support insole that adds a layer of cushion to the bottom of your feet and keeps your stable. This shoe is incredibly stylish and fashionable, and since Nike is such a huge globally recognized brand, it’s never a bad fashion choice. There are tons of great colors and styles for you to choose from so you get exactly what you want. And what’s more, it has a great fit rating, with 82% of those who bought it online finding the right size (although, some did say that it was slightly narrow). The shoe can cost nearly $300, but it is a small price to pay if you’re looking for a quality shoe while you’re doing crossfit, at the gym, or any other athletic activity.

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2. Reebok CROSSFIT Nano 8.0 Flexweave Cross Trainer

Women’s

Reebok Women's CROSSFIT Nano 8.0 Flexweave Cross Trainer

Men’s

Reebok Men's Crossfit Nano 8.0 Flexweave Sneaker

Reebok  CROSSFIT Nano 8.0 Flexweave Cross Trainer

Pros

  • Specifically designed for crossfit; ergonomic design
  • Multiple styles and colors to choose from
  • Multi colored, patterned outsole of the shoe
  • Tri-blend foam fusion technology midsole, very comfortable
  • Mesh fabric, releases sweat and moisture
  • Built with flexweave

Cons

  • Can be expensive (up to $200)
  • Might not be best for wide feet

Summary

The Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0 is a shoe that offers it all – it’s lightweight and has a design that is specifically designed for crossfit, so you can wear these to your favorite crossfit gym and tear your workout apart! These shoes are incredibly sturdy and have a very comfortable midsole die to the tri-blend foam fusion technology. You can really feel the difference! And also, the shoe is made with flexweave so that it is strong and durable, yet breathable for your feet. Outside of the mechanics of the shoe, it is visually really nice as well with the wide assortment of colors and patterns, so you can find something that you really love. The only major downside is the price, since it can range upwards of $200 with most around $80, but overall the quality is great and that price point is well deserves. Some reviewers have said that the shoe has fallen apart after just a month or two, but normally that isn’t the case and this is a great shoe.

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3. Innov8 F-Lite 235 V3

Men’s

Inov-8 Men’s F-Lite 235 v3 – Cross Trainer, Fitness & Weight Lifting Shoe

Women’s

Inov-8 Womens F-Lite 235 V3 Cross Training Shoes

Innov8 F-Lite 235 V3

Pros

  • Reasonably priced; high quality at that price point
  • Cool design with accenting colors, many to choose from
  • An intensified grip stickiness on the outsole so you can run, skip hop, jump etc. and your shoes won’t slide out from underneath you
  • Functional fitness performing shoe

Cons

  • Only 2 out of 3 said it fit as expected when purchased online
  • The synthetic fabric material may rip apart form the sole
  • The grip may be too strong for other activities outside of crossfit

Summary

Surprisingly, you can get the Inov8 F Lite shoe at an incredibly reasonable price online at Amazon for some select models. The design of the shoes is super cool and incredibly fashionable, with it’s split curved design, with one portion of the shoe being one tone or color, and the other portion of the shoe being different, but complementing the other side. The shoe has a very sticky outsole that will grip your feet onto just about any surface (normally a good thing, bad for pivoting, dance, spinning, etc. may be too strong). This is totally an awesome fitness shoe in general, and great for use at a crossfit gym. Just some things to be cautious about when buying the shoe: only 66% said the shoe fit as expected, with the other third stating it was generally too small (so, it’s recommended to order half of a size up!). Also, some have reported that the material of the shoe may rip apart from the sole. However, it’s still a great shoe to have at the end of the day – especially for crossfit.

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4. New Balance MX20BS4

https://www.amazon.com/New-Balance-MX20BS4-Minimus-Training/dp/B00R605ILS?th=1

New Balance MX20BS4

Pros

  • Fashionable shoe that serves its purpose as a great athletic shoe
  • Breathable mesh holes
  • Different colors available
  • Lightweight
  • Unique, patterned outsole with great grip

Cons

  • The curve of the shoe
  • One in four found that the fit wasn’t right for their feet once they ordered it online

Summary

New Balance is world renown for having great shoes, and the New Balance MX20BS4 is a great option to have. Because it is so lightweight, and specifically designed for usage in the gym, doing crossfit, running, wtc. The shoe really moves with you. New Balance is all about creating shoes that have a great fit, and this shoe fits really well (despite the awkward curve in the shoe and flat looking angle on the edge of the toes, it fits really well. Just make sure to buy the correct size as one in four people found that the shoe had fit differently once they tried it on in person). You are sure to find exactly the right shoe for you in exactly the right color and style for you, and once you’re using the shoe and working up a sweat, because of the mesh holes, your feet will stay cool during your intense workout.

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5. ASICS Men’s Conviction X Cross Trainer

https://www.amazon.com/ASICS-Conviction-Trainer-Carbon-Energy/dp/B01N06ZGN3/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=ASICS%2BMet-Conviction&qid=1614810581&sr=8-1&th=1&psc=1

ASICS Men’s Conviction X Cross Trainer

Pros

  • Specialized midsole that specifically is breakdown resistance and has bounce back technology for added comfort as well as prevention of aches and pains in the joints
  • Incredibly durable outsole with high abrasion rubber in areas that break down easily
  • ComforDry sock liner that is antimicrobial and has properties that help keep the foot dryer and cooler
  • Lace garage so that shoes can be tucked away within the shoes easily

Cons

  • Only one color available
  • A bit masculine looking, looks like the stereotypical men’s shoe

Summary

The Asics Men’s Conviction has a lot of great features within the shoe that make it hard to compete with. Despite the fact that there are only one color available and that the shoe may look a bit masculine for some, like a man’s shoes, the other features really compensate for those minor negative aspects. First of all, this shoe is very durable, and in fact has an outsole that is resistant to being eroded and broken down, especially in the heel and the ball of the feet area. Also, if you feel like your feet often tire out rather quickly, or begin to ache and cause pain, then you will love the midsole that this shoe is designed with. It springs your foot right back and acts like a shock, almost. And the sock liner uses Comfort Dry technology that helps reduce and eliminate germs, as well as keep the foot nice and dry as well as cool while you’re at the gym, playing any sports, or doing crossfit.

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6. Adidas Performance Men’s Samba Classic Indoor Soccer Shoe

adidas Performance Men's Samba Classic Indoor Soccer Shoe

Adidas Performance Men’s Samba Classic Indoor Soccer Shoe

Pros

  • Stylish in design; popular amongst soccer players and other athletes
  • Made of full grain leather in the upper portion of the shoe
  • Die cut insole for comfort that’s lightweight
  • Outsole that is particularly effective at preventing streaks ad marks from skidding on surfaces
  • Relatively inexpensive

Cons

  • Not as lightweight as other options
  • Only available in black, white and blie

Summary

This shoe is truly a classic. Many soccer enthusiasts can be seen wearing these and other athletes. They are great for running inside on astro turf when playing soccer, but can also be used in the gym, lifting weights, as crossfit shoes, etc. They may not be as lightweight as other designs and are only available in 3 shades (black, white and blue), but they are still pretty lightweight with the die cut insole. It’s really nice that the shoe also has full grain leather on the upper portion of the shoe, it makes it look aesthetically pleasing and very classy for a gym shoe. The outsole is great for indoor sports – it prevents streaks and black marks so it’s suitable for use on artificial grass, a basketball court, etc. These shoes run about $55, so it’s a pretty reasonable buy for the quality you get.

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7. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Ox Sneakers

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Core Ox

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Ox Sneakers

Pros

  • Classic shoe that can be used in the gym as well as casually
  • Spin on the plain, classic colors. Now has patterns and other designs to choose from
  • Unisex – can be work by both men and women
  • Fit below the ankle rather than the high top options
  • Made of canvas, which is breathable and soft

Cons

  • A bit heavy compared to other options
  • The grip is a little flat; no grooves for extra grip strength

Summary

If you grew up in America, then you probably owned the classic Converse Chuck Taylor shoes. These shoes are not only extremely fashionable and timeless in design but represent the previous generation and era as well. They’re obviously a great choice for casual wear, but have double use as gym shoes, or when doing crossfit, yoga, etc. They are made for both men and women and look great on both sexes.  The fit is right below the ankle so it doesn’t cause any friction and rub against the skin. The shoe, however, is a bit heavy compared to other athletic shoes since it is primarily used as a casual wear shoe, and the grip is a little flat, but if you want a shoe that you can wear straight to the gym, and head out into the streets and wear casually, this is the right shoe.

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8. Vibram KMD LS Cross Training Shoe

Women’s

Vibram Women's KMD LS-W

Men’s

Vibram Men's KMD Sport Ls

Vibram KMD LS Cross Training Shoe

Pros

  • Super trendy design; individual toe shoes
  • Outsole is incredible durable; can be used in gyms, courts, as well as ice – a special feature, it’s so slip resistant you can walk on ice
  • Can wash in the washing machine on cold
  • Offers the perfect balance between foot perception of the surface you are walking on and protection
  • Fast lacing system
  • Incredibly light

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • For people who specifically like this shoe with the unique toe design

Summary

These shoes by Vibram are either going to be hit or miss for you as far as the design. Either people love the individualized toe look that this shoe has, or they hate it. However, the majority has found that the design is trendy. But beyond the design, the real magic of this shoes is in the functionality. The outsole is really the main selling point – it has an incredibly strong grip strength. SO strong, you can walk on sleek ice and not slip! The outsole and midsole are thin enough to where you can feel the ground below your feet for a good grip, but is thick enough to prevent damage from stones and other things that can poke your feet. The shoe is super lightweight, and made of a nice mesh material that keeps your feet nice and dry while working out. Also, tying your shoes won’t be a problem with the lace tying strap that tightens and adjusts automatically; no tying required!

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Additional Resources

http://www.roguefitness.com/shoes?a_aid=577ccf25338cc

The 7 Best Shoes for CrossFit

http://www.outdoorgearlab.com/Shoes-For-Crossfit-Womens-Reviews

http://sizeadvisors.com/blog/2011/12/05/what-experts-can-tell-you-about-toe-allowance-part-2/

http://www.webmd.com/men/features/how-a-shoe-should-fit

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