Dear Coach Ray,
I want to fit in with all my new CrossFit pals, so I’m thinking about getting oly shoes. What should I look for? Does color matter? Anything else I should consider???
If your sole motivation for getting lifting shoes is to fit in with your friends, then buy whatever you think looks the coolest and fits your budget. Make sure to buy them from Rogue Fitness by way of clicking the “Shop Rogue” link at the bottom of this webpage. The gym gets a sweet little referral bonus for every purchase made that comes by referral from this site. Tell your friends. We use that money to buy more toys for you and your fellow members.
Now, if you also care about becoming a better lifter, it would be good to know why lifters have special shoes. Weightlifting shoes have stiff heels to maximize the transmission of power through the floor when moving big weight. They also have an elevated heel (most commonly .75″) that helps create more dorsiflexion at the ankle which in turn makes it easier for lifters to maintain a more upright torso when squatting. This is especially helpful in lifts like the front squat and overhead squat which are movements that are well known to expose deficiencies in a lifter’s mobility and ability to get and maintain optimal positions.
When selecting a shoe, I HIGHLY biting the bullet and getting the highest quality shoe you can reasonably afford. The Adipower by Adidas is my personal shoe of choice. The Nike Romaleo 2 is also a great option. The Nike is a tad heavier (and in my mind clunkier) than the Adipower. But is very comparable.
My first pair of lifting shoes was the classic Do-Win by Pendlay. It was a decent shoe to start with. I have no experience with their newer versions. Risto is another popular company and makes handmade custom shoes. They are one of the few companies I know of that still constructs shoes with solid wooden heels. Everyone else is making shoes with plastic heels these days.
The shoes I mentioned above are designed solely for weightlifting. They are not well suited for anything else. Reebok and Inov8 make shoes that are more of a hybrid variety. They give you the same elevated and stiffer heel (though not as stiff) that a dedicated weightlifting shoe will give you, but are also suitable for other movements that may appear in a CrossFit workout (i.e. box jumps, double unders, etc.). They don’t do super well for running though. I personally am not a fan of the hybrid shoe. I’m an all or nothing kinda guy. I wear my Adipowers for lifting and lifting only. I wear them for nothing else but snatches, cleans, jerks and related accessory work. As I side note, I will usually change my shoes to flat shoes during squat sessions to work on my mobility. I don’t recommend this for everyone though, especially if you have a particularly tough time keeping your torso upright. Get your mobility up and then you can opt for this additional challenge.
Anyway…so what shoe should you get? If you’ve caught the bug and know that you want to go to the next level, then invest in some good shoes. They will last a long time and will perform better than the bargain or hybrid option. Wear what fits your feet and feels the best; not what all your friends are wearing or best matches your workout attire.
Remember, function over fashion.