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Joey Moore, pictured above, a CrossFit instructor in Thousand Oaks, California, instructs classes and does the WOD (workout of the day) in minimalist shoes, barefoot, or toe shoes. For those of you not in the know, CrossFit can be best described like this: Constantly varied, functional movements, performed at high intensity. Today I'm going to break down each of the different minimalist shoes I’ve used for CrossFit with the hope of shedding some light on what works and what doesn't.
Pros: Bare feet have the best possible ground feel with nothing encumbering them from doing their job while you move.
Pros: Depending on the model, a pair of Vibram FiveFingers can feel about as close to barefoot as you can get while still wearing shoes. Cons: Still no protection from falling weights, and double-unders are still a really bad idea. Pros: Good grip for agility sprinting, decent protection for toes on double-unders, no sole squish on heavy lifting, and the New Balance Minimus Trail still weighs in at under 6 ounces in my size. Cons: You will sacrifice a significant amount of ground feel with the MT10, and there is a slight heel drop (4mm). Pros: Decent grip on the floor for sprinting, good protection for double-unders, and dropped weight.
As much as I love my VFFs, I have to be completely honest with you and tell you that as an instructor I don’t wear them very often to work. Of course, there's another side to the toe shoes coin: here's a tip to all you trainers and fitness instructors out there: DO YOUR GROCERY SHOPPING IN VIBRAMS! I have been searching for a while, and I don’t think there is one shoe that fits all CrossFit situations. After going through all the shoes I mentioned above, I can tell you the best strategy is to suit the shoe choice with the workout. Having said all of that, I recognize that most of these shoes cost $100 or more, so I know it’s not realistic to expect all you CrossFitters out there will have a closet that holds thousands of dollars worth of athletic shoes. Subscribe by email and get your weekly BirthdayShoes fix plus news alerts OR subscribe by RSS ! I have always found it strange that we in CrossFit always say that we promote "functional" strength and yet many among us strap on specialty shoes when we want to lift something heavy.
Having said all that, I fully recognize that if you plan on competing in any juried weight-lifting competitions, O-shoes are important and useful, but neither myself not any of my clients plan on that, as far as I know.
We also do strength almost every session, and I find the Merrell's a touch unstable (rounded heel) for this. Even wore them without the sock-liner for a holiday WOD involving HSPUs and laps of the pool as the water drains straight out! What is your opinion of the rest of the Inov-8 line-up, in particular the F-lite 195 and 220?
As far as the Minimus Zero, it's essentially an update of the Minimus line where they kill the 3mm heel drop, and zero out the sole. The Adam looks like it's the answer to that problem since it's everything I like about the Instinct, but with a thinner, more flexible sole.
Now that I am specifically doing crossfit I believe in my opinion that Metcons that require running and lifting that the minimus mx20's. Reebok just came out with a hybrid, and I have seen videos where guys are running in them for a 400-800m!
You said: "If you read any crossfit journal on oly lifting it says that Oly lifting is a specific skill that you use in crossfit.
IMHO one of the greatest things about the CrossFit community is the "open-sourced" nature of it. I'm looking to order another pair of minimalist shoes sometime soon, but I don't want it to waist more money.
The content of this site is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License. Note: This site is not owned, operated, or otherwise affiliated with Vibram or Vibram FiveFingers. Whenever Matt and I travel (we were just in Europe for 5 weeks this summer) we always try to come up with creative workouts for us to do if there isn't a CrossFit gym near us. Posted on December 11, 2014 by Jenna Lodin and filed under Travel, Fitness for Adults and tagged CrossFit Travel Fitness Workouts Dumbells Kettlebells. Here is his experience with various applications of these shoes (or barefoot!) with CrossFit. The sole is much stiffer than the Trail, and the toe box has very little vertical room for toes to bend and flex.


The rubber of the outsole is also slightly softer, so while it’s great for general CrossFitting, I would not recommend the Road-X 155 for max effort heavy lifting—you will get a little sole squish with these.
They tend to stop the newbies in their tracks, and I have to answer a bunch of questions when I have one hour to give them a good thorough workout.
I can't tell you how many times I have had someone strike up a chat with me while out and about sporting my Komodos or Speeds.
If I know I want to do double-unders today, I will avoid my VFFs and probably wear either my Inov-8s or my New Balance Trails. If I had to suggest the one that I would argue is (at the time of this writing) the best all-around shoe, I would go with the NB Minimus Trail. I will sometimes recommend the plate under the heel to clients who have poor ankle flexion, but with good, open dorsiflexion in your ankles, there isn't any lift where that should be necessary.
We talk about all of our training applying to real life, unlike a bicep curl, or lateral raise, or other body building junk, but if you're in a real life situation where you have to lift something heavy off the floor in your day-to-day, are you really going to go change your shoes first? I've been Crossfitting in Australia for 2yrs now and have got progressively more minimalist in shoe choice. I have their Neoas well which is a good allrounder, but the Ultra is so light and low it's totally different again. There are a couple other models of theirs that I am supposed to be receiving samples of at some point, but not sure when. Other than some cosmetic changes, that seems to be the only change of substance, but Justin may know more about that than I. I haven't tried one on, but I had a smaller size in my hands at the CF Games this past summer, and it looks legit to me.
Personally I love them- they have zero drop and a roomy toe box so it feels just like being barefoot.
Last summer we were at my cousin's farm in Minnesota and we did the workout "Chelsea" (similar to Cindy) on a grass yard using the clothesline pole for pull ups.
Check out my "Yoga Tutorials and Videos" Pinterest board that has all of my favorite free yoga flow videos.
You don’t get any of that squishing down into the sole when you try and hoist up that 400+ lb.
And if we’re talking KSOs, you can forget about a 4 Cone Drill, or a Suicide sprint unless you want your butt and the ground to become better acquainted. My foot feels heavily inhibited in these shoes from its normal range of motion, and my gait is noticeably altered. And I like the open air of the sandal upper: it feels great when you’re sweating up a storm.
If it’s just a straight heavy lifting day, or something that is mostly gymnastics and sprints, these are fine, but not for much more. Not a neutral-drop heel, but very close (3mm) and reasonable enough protection for double-unders. Also, since these are a road-model, there is almost no tread on the outsole, so agility sprints can get tricky, especially in wet situations or on grass. Their class time is something they are paying good money for, and shoe-chatting is a distraction that I’d rather not deal with. When a stranger hears me speak articulately and passionately about the reasons for wearing minimal footwear, they see me as an authority figure, and immediately want my business card. Reeboks new “CrossFit” shoe for the CF Games was a big disappointment in my opinion, but K-Swiss has a new minimal one in the works right now that I’m trying to get a hold of, so we’ll see on that one. If there are double-unders and agility sprints or max effort lifting on the menu, I will rule out the Inov-8 and go with the Trails. It’s the only one on the list above that does not have a single specific situation where it is poorly suited. We do a fair amount of O-lifting (a strength component is a typical element every day - not all boxes do that) and most of us switch to O-lift shoes for that part of the training. Myself, I prefer doing my strength lifts sans shoes as often as possible, like Arnold in the above pic.
Initially went to Onitsuka Tigers (Asics I think) which were a great allrounder compared to previous cloud shoes (far from barefoot though). I am merely politely disagreeing that you need special shoes or even any shoe with a raised heel for lifting.
There is disagreement among CF Journal contributors sometimes from one article to the next.
After a few months of owning my NB Minimus Trails and a few rope climbing wods the soles got ripped up (I do Spealler's style of rope climbing).


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You can even use them as a warm-up, cool-down, or if you just need to do some stretching. Try sprinting and do a quick cut and redirect and you will end up slipping and sliding, no question. Seriously, those little hundred-dollar shoes are more effective than any other marketing I have employed. Inov-8 is also sending me a sample of a new shoe model that is geared specifically towards rope-climbing, so that could be interesting. But if I know I’m going to do one of the old school staples like "Angie," "Cindy," or "Eva" or something like that, I will either go barefoot or throw on my KomodoSports.
You can lift in it, sprint in it, jump in it, climb in it, and double-unders are particularly nice, since there is that odd lip of rubber that comes up over the front of the toe box to protect your feet from rope-whip. Good for running, bodyweight, fine for O-lifting, just not the cone-runs etc as shoe flexes a lot. I also own pairs of VFF Bikilas LS, Merrell's Glove and Inov-8 Road-X 155's, which may be replacing my 220 soon. And keep in mind that I already made the concession that if you're going to compete in an O-lifting specific competition with a purse and judges, then I fully understand the need for the shoes. There is disagreement between the way USAW teaches a snatch and the way CrossFit level one teaches a snatch.
I currently use my KSO's for rope climbing, and I try to have the rope locked between the velcro strap and sole, but I've painfully missed that mark a few times and have gotten burned.
I have had a pair in my hand at the Games, but it wasn't in my size, so I haven't been able to give them a whirl yet. Throughout any given day I teach six classes, do a couple personal training sessions, and frequently do two to three of my own workouts. You would be amazed how intense a workout can get when you are chasing "points." CrossFit has become a wildly popular form of high-intensity training over the past few years and you're likely to have at least one CrossFit gym somewhere near you if you're interested in checking it out. Komodo, TrekSport, or Bikila can handle those well enough, but you also add some weight and lose some ground feel. Just make sure you've got your facts straight and try to avoid sounding like a sales pitch before you expect to reel them in. Again, it’s not a perfect shoe, but there’s nothing under the CrossFit sun that you can’t do in them safely and effectively.
I needed a transitional shoe to ween myself off a 30 year addiction to cushion and padding. I walk in to the gym in my KSOs, carrying my O-shoes and can handle just about anything between those. For trail running I go for my Inov-8 trail shoe, sure they're not perfect in all situations but they work most of the time. Surprisingly, my next shoe of choice would be NB Minimus Trail, however NB is supposed to come out with a new minimal shoe called the Zero I believe. That said, if it's not immediately obvious, this site is a fan site for minimalist footwear such as Vibram Five Fingers, which is to say that there is a stated bias in favor of these products. I’ve been wearing minimal shoes for years now, and I am still struggling to figure out what shoes work best for the life of a CrossFitter. Oh, and for metcons that combine lifting with running outside, depending on the lift, I wear my V5Fs and put 10# plates under my heels to get the proper angle, if I think it's needed.
Despite our stated bias, between the hundreds of user-submitted stories, the thousands of forum posts (both positive and negative, warts and all!), and the in-depth resources and guides, we do our best to provide in depth information on all products reviewed.
But I myself will never be in that situation because I am not interested in competing at that level. Make sure that your other knee (lunged out in front of you) never passes in front of your toes.
Also, try to make sure that you knees don't cave in, but are tracking directly over your toes.



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