Crossfit shoes – Is There a Difference?


Flat shoe, strong shoe

Right shoe, wrong shoe


It almost sounds like a Dr Seuss book, right? But with so many shoes on the market, sometimes it can be tricky to choose the right shoe for the right activity. Crossfit focuses on full body fitness and is an intense and diverse activity that puts a rather unique demand on your shoes. In saying that, there probably isn’t a single shoe on the market that will cater for all activities, but there is definitely a ‘more right’ shoe. And a wrong shoe! It’s all about arming yourself with some information and choosing one that suits you and what you want to do.


Here are some basic guidelines to help you get your feet into better shoes so you can smash out your PB!


Drop it Like It’s Hot

Shoe drop is the difference in height between the heel and the toe. In general for crossfit, the lower the drop the better. Most running shoes have a drop of around 8 – 10mm. For a good crossfit shoe, you’re looking for a drop of no more than 3 – 4 mm. The lower drop helps to distribute the weight more evenly inside your shoes, essentially mimicking being barefoot. This helps to provide you with a stable platform for all those deadlifts and cleans, whilst firing the glutes and hammies.


A lot of crossfitters choose a dedicated weightlifting shoe, which has a more elevated heel to help your torso stay upright during a snatch or clean-and-jerk. Essentially, the higher heel gives your ankles a bit more range of motion, which allows you to get into a deeper squat position without leaning forwards. However, a true weightlifting shoe is a bit limited in versatility.


If your workout is going to involve jumping on boxes, or shuffling, or running, you will need the added flexibility that a crossfit shoe can provide. Also, if you’re squatting, deadlifting or benchpressing more serious weights, you really need the weight to be in your heels more to allow for greater stability. The good news is, you can mimic the heel raise of a weighlifting shoe when needed by making a few modifications to your minimalist shoe or even modifying your workout just a little bit.


High drop                                                                          Low drop

A Beautiful Sole

Have you ever tried to lift a weighted barbell over your head while standing on your bed? Basically, that’s what you’re doing if you attempt a clean with your nice squishy joggers on. Ideally, crossfit shoes should have a firm, wide sole but with some flexibility to allow for the more dynamic activities like running. Regular joggers are designed to allow movement of your foot and to provide cushioning for shock absorption. For crossfit, it’s more about stability, support and balance. A nice hard sole will help you ‘feel’ the floor when lifting and will help to keep you more in place.


It’s not just about the firmness of the sole that you need to consider, it’s also about the grip. If you’re going to be moving heavy objects around or leaping tall building in a single bound, you need to know that your shoes aren’t going to be slipping underneath you. Again, it’s about creating that nice, solid and stable base.


Get Outer Here

Crossfit is renowned for completely destroying the outers of your favourite pair of shoes due to the nature of the activities; especially when there’s a bit of rope climbing involved! Running shoes are designed to be most durable where they get the most wear – on the soles. Crossfit shoes get wear all over the place but mainly in places that you’re not likely to wear out on your runners. They also have to be able to fit your foot snugly, whilst allowing for movement and without making your feet sweaty. Simplez! To make it a little bit easier, there are a few main things to look for when it comes to the outers – you want something that is durable, breathable, flexible and lightweight.


Durability is important if you want your shoes to last longer than your latest PB. There are a lot of different materials out there and it’s easy to get caught up in the latest and greatest but basically, you need a material that is tough but allows for movement. And that is true for the upper, the midsole and the sole. It’s also important to make sure that all the components on the shoe are firmly fixed together.


Obviously, crossfit can be a sweaty endeavour! Controlling the sweat at the foot level will not only make your friends and family thank you, but it will also help you to remain stable in your shoe so that you’re not slipping around. The upper needs to be breathable and lightweight to achieve this. Most shoe shops are happy to let you walk around in the shoes for a little while so make sure you do! It can be a balancing act to make sure the material is durable enough whilst keeping it light and airy but it’s all about compromise and choosing what’s most important to you.


Being flexible and lightweight is essential for a good crossfit shoe. Crossfit is demanding enough without big, heavy, clumpy shoes dragging you down and stopping you from achieving your best. It does need to be a balance, however, as what you gain in minimalism, you lose in stability and support. For this one, it’s all about what feels right for each person. If you feel your foot needs support more than movement, go for something a bit heavier with less give. Or, if you’re concentrating on lifting heavier weights, support might be more important for you too.


There are a few techie tricks that you can consider with the outers also. Some shoes have harder additions to the outer for rope climbing, some have special laces and some have an addition to the heel area for greater support in the rearfoot. Again, it’s up to you and what you want to do on your crossfit journey.


And Finally…

In the end, it’s a matter of choosing one that meets as many of your needs as possible. And most importantly, one that you find comfortable because you’re going to be in it for a while do some wild and wonderful things!