What is Cross Training?
Cross training (i.e., training in sports outside your core competency with the objective of improving overall performance – but especially performance in your first sport) has enjoyed increasing popularity over the last decade. But, for the average Joe, cross training really has more to do with developing and maintaining long-term function fitness.
I want to be able to push and pull and squat and jump into my 50’s and beyond. I want to be able to play yard ball with my two boys without pulling a hammy or throwing my back out of whack. And, I know that I won’t accomplish that goal by just going to the gym 4 times each weak and isolating specific muscle groups to maximize size and strength. So, I cross train.
CrossFit has really taken up the mantle in terms of driving cross training’s popularity. As the name itself implies, the overarching idea is that CrossFit followers will attain to a fitness level that crosses multiple athletic disciplines. Not only that, the idea is that a CrossFit athlete adapts to their surroundings and makes due with what is at their disposal.
CrossFit athletes have used the regimen to improve at other sports. But, in increasing measure CrossFit itself has become the end as opposed to the means (just check out the CrossFit Games to get a glimpse). So, to an extent, CrossFit has turned cross training into an end in itself. Instead of mastering one particular set of movements, you achieve CrossFit mastery by being ready, at the drop of a hat, to perform one or more movements or activities from a wide range of formerly unrelated disciplines.
They’ve taken Olympic lifting, power lifting, gymnastics, track and field, and mixed them all up. Sometimes you’re moving heavy weight. Sometimes just your body weight. Sometimes you’re doing hand stand push ups. And at other times you jump roping.
All this to say, if you’re cross training in the conventional sense of the term, or if you’re a CrossFit fanatic, you need a shoe that can rise to the occasion. This post will hopefully simplify your life as you search for the best cross training shoes.
Cross Training Shoes Requirements
As you consider your options in cross training footwear, here’s what you should look for:
- You need shoes that you can successfully use for most sports or movements even though it might not be the best option for any of them.
- You need a shoe that provides enough cushioning to protect you on short to medium runs (say 5k and under)
- You need a shoe that provides a stable enough base so you can perform power and Olympic lifts (even though they might not suffice under maximal loads)
- You need shoes flexible enough that you can use them for box jumps and double unders (jump roping)
- You need shoes with enough stability to keep your foot firmly over the shoe soles and to keep your ankles from rolling inward or outward.
Options to Consider
If you’re determined to find the best cross training shoes, you should really consider the following options:
First off, be aware that Inov8’s shoes are built on a fairly narrow last. So, if you have wider feet, you may want to consider their “Natural” line.
The F-Lite 195 comes in two versions – one with “RopeTec” and one without. If you’re climbing ropes you’ll likely want to opt for that additional protection so the shoes don’t wear out too quickly. Just be advised that his option adds a little weight.
Inov8 intentionally manufactures their shoes to stimulate natural running movement. They want their shoes to support your feet, not dominate them. They are built with a minimalist mindset, so you should find them light and well fitting. The F-Lite 195 is manufactured with a 3mm drop from heel to toe. This may be too little of a drop for heel-striking runners.
Reviewers of this shoe mention its looks, light weight, and comfortable fit as positives. Negatives are few and far between. A couple folks mentioned that there was little to no arch support. Another mentioned they had to double knot the laces or they would come undone.
The F-Lite 230 (a unisex shoe) would likely be better for folks who are just starting to make the transition from heel-striking to natural/POSE running. Why? Because they provide you with a 6mm drop from heel to toe. This additional heel cushioning will help prevent unnecessary abuse to your joints as you try and wean yourself off the heel strike.
Also, the additional 3mm in drop over the 195 will assist you with difficult lifts such as the overhead squat. Regardless of your flexibility, that additional 3mm will really help you maintain proper form. Also, this shoe has fantastic reviews on Zappos.com. It’s been reviewed 593 times and 83% rate it five stars.
This is Reebok’s most recent Nano iteration. The shoe is designed to be the all-purpose CrossFit option.
Reviews indicate the shoe is solid, flexible, grippy, and durable. Reviewers also complemented the fit and feel of the shoe. Compared to the Inov8’s, the Reebok Nanos tend to run wide. So, if that’s something you need these may be the right option for you.
From what I’ve found, folks really like the Reebok Nano 3.0. They feel it’s an improvement over the 2.0 and they are confident it can handle whatever they dish out.