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Old 04-19-2012, 01:59 PM   #1
Patrick Costello
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My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Hey everyone. It seems that over the past few years, I’ve developed quite the collection of weightlifting shoes. Since we have such a wide spread of brands and price ranges, I wanted to do a write up of the pros and cons of each shoe that I've owned and lifted in. I know there are a lot of shoes out there now, but hopefully this will help make your shoe selection a little easier.

NOTE: Shoe conditions are based on daily use during training sessions lasting up to 2.5 hours.

My background:
5 years ago, I was over 200lbs and a fat mess. I started Crossfit to get in shape and lost a ton of weight. After 1.5 years of CF, I attended a lifting seminar with Glenn Pendlay and Jon North, became obsessed with lifting and never looked back.

I am a USAW coach and lift in meets regularly. To give you an idea of how often I wear my weightlifting shoes, I train the Olympic lifts and/or supplemental strength exercises (pulls, squats, presses, etc) 5x a week up to 2.5 hours per session. I wear a size US10 sneaker and my feet are slightly on the narrow side.

Now, let the games begin.

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Shoe #1: VS Athletics Weightlifting Shoe - $79.99 + shipping

Specs (from website):
  • Leather upper & sole plate w/hard rubber material on bottom of shoe
  • TWO “hook and loop” straps over laces for added support
  • Leather reinforced flat rubber sole

First impressions:
This was my first pair of weightlifting shoes. They were an enormous upgrade from my Adidas Sambas that I had been previously lifting in. The heels felt solid and there was a good amount of flexion of the rubber soles. The leather was rigid and hugged my foot quite well. The weight of the shoe felt light and the double strap allowed me to really secure my feet.

12 months:
The leather of the shoe has stretched at this point and without the double strap, there was a noticeable amount of foot movement. The forefoot of the soles have become very flexible, almost as much as my pair of New Balance running shoes. The heel remained solid and there were no other major wears on the shoe other than the rubber sole flexibility and the leather of the shoe body loosening up.

PROS:
Affordable, great starter shoe, solid heel

CONS:
Seem to wear fast, do not hold rigidity

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Shoe #2: 2010 Pendlay Do-Win - $119.99 + shipping

Specs (from website):
  • Heel height of ”
  • Heel constructed of solid cork encased in rubber
  • Single “Hook & Loop” strap

First impressions:
A slight upgrade from the VS, these shoes offer the “classic” look of a weightlifting shoe. It’s basically another shoe with a solid heel and a pretty flexible front sole. They’re great for narrow feet and seem to form to your foot and break in pretty quickly. In my opinion, they look a little cheap with the plastic glittery strap, but hey, some people might like that.

For women: I have been told by multiple women that the toe box of the shoe is very wide and uncomfortable (I have not heard this from men). Maybe that’s a result of producing a shoe that is basically unisex (unless you buy pink).

3 months:
Part of the sole has separated from the rest of the shoe. I had it glued and repaired.

8 months:
The sole has separated again and the sole of the other shoe is starting to separate as well. This seems to be a common problem with this shoe. Literally everyone I know with these shoes has experienced this either out of the box or within a few weeks and has returned them for another pair or bought a different shoe entirely. The heel has remained solid and it still secured the foot well within the shoe.

PROS:
Still an affordable option

CONS:
Shoe construction could be improved, questionable longevity, toe box is uncomfortable for women

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Shoe #3: Adidas AdiStars - $199.99 + shipping

Specs (from website):
  • Developed for the Beijing Olympic Games
  • Adidas “ClimaCool” mesh
  • PU-coated Leather in midfoot and forefoot areas for a durable, form-fitting hold
  • Instep strap with “Hook & Loop” fasteners for adjustable support and pressure distribution
  • Wooden heel wedge for stability and durability
  • Midfoot strap for improved performance and support
  • “TORSION System” provides lightweight arch support while allowing the forefoot and rearfoot to move freely for surface adoption, and to stabilize the foot

First impressions:
Adidas really hit it out of the park with this shoe. The quality of these shoes are incredible and it is immediately noticeable when you open the box. They fit my feet perfectly. Between the high quality leather and the mid foot strap, it secures your foot in VERY well. The shoes are very, very light yet strong and sturdy. The “TORSION” system gives great support and the shoes breathe very well. I’m not sure of the exact heel height, but it is higher than the VS or Pendlays.

11 months:
They still feel the same as when I bought them. No noticeable difference in wear and tear.

PROS:
Look great, exceptional quality, breathes well, very stable

CONS:
Not so affordable, discontinued due to Adidas’ new 2012 AdiPower weightlifting shoe.

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Shoe #4: Reebok OLY/CrossFit - $149.99 + free shipping

Specs (from website):
  • 13.4 oz
  • U-Form technology
  • Supposed to be versatile

First impressions:
These are my wife’s shoes. Though I don’t have any direct experience with lifting in them, I figured I’d give my 2 cents since they’re in the pic.

For Reebok being new to the lifting shoe game, I was pretty impressed with the quality of these shoes. They are definitely a level up from the VS and Pendlays. The shoe construction seems to be pretty solid. The heel is some kind of plastic/polymer material and looks to be very strong. The shoe material and stitching are excellent and they fit her feet very well.

U-Form technology means you bake them in the oven for 10 mins then put your foot in them and they’re supposed to mold to your feet. It felt slightly ridiculous to be putting a pair of shoes in the oven. They are very light and breathe quite well. She only bought them a few weeks ago, so they are still relatively new.

PROS:
Pretty good quality design, stylish design, perfect for CrossFit/lifting WODs

CONS:
Not sure how they would hold up to daily abuse.

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Shoe #5: Nike Romaleos 2 - $199.99 + shipping

Specs (from website):
  • 25% lighter than original Romaleos
  • Substantially more forefoot flexibility
  • NIKE contoured TPU hell wedge
  • Double power “Hook & Ladder” straps
  • Includes “training” and “competition” inserts

First impressions:
I bought these because I love the way they look and I’ve always wanted a pair. I know they go for $189 with free shipping from Rogue, but they only offer the shoe in black. I gladly paid $20 more for a different color combination.

My Initial thought was “Wow, these shoes are big.” These shoes felt very wide and chunky on my feet and are noticeably heavier than my AdiStars. Though, it has been said to me “Who cares how heavy your shoes are if you’re putting weight over your head?”

They come with 2 soles: “Training” which is just a flat piece of foam, and “Competition” which is a stiffer material that contours to the bottom of your foot. I put them on using the competition inserts and my feet were locked in. The double straps fasten in opposite directions to really let you wrench your foot in place. The main difference between these and my AdiStars (other than the weight) is the entire sole of the shoe is in contact with the ground. This seems to offer an unmatched level of foot stability when coupled with the inserts and these shoes feel indestructible.

After trying them on initially, my feet began to sweat after 5 minutes of walking around the kitchen. After a few minutes into my first training session, my feet began to feel warm and wet. These shoes don’t seem to breathe very well, though a friend of mine said it’s because of the competition insert. I may try the “training” insert and re-evaluate.

After my second training session, they felt less chunky. I think I just needed to visually adjust to the size difference of them on my feet since it feels like the base of the sole is wider than what I’m used to.

PROS:
Bad *** looking shoe, high quality design/construction, STABILITY

CONS:
Not so affordable, feel a bit chunky, a little heavy compared to others
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Last edited by Patrick Costello : 04-19-2012 at 02:06 PM.
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Old 04-19-2012, 03:01 PM   #2
Dan Kreeley
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Nice write up man, pretty inline with what I've read elsewhere. From personal experience, the Reebok Olys are doing well 2 months in using them in the gym 4 days a week. I don't do anything "abusive" in them though.

My do-wins split as well about 1 month after I bought them. I believe that I read that is why they wrapped the heel of the newer version with the rubber. Doesn't matter, they still look cheap.

The old Adiworks were also very good shoes, I'm not a fan of the Power perfect or the trainer they came out with.
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Old 04-19-2012, 06:32 PM   #3
Greg Light
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Great resource. Thanks for taking the time to put that together!
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Old 04-20-2012, 05:43 AM   #4
Adam Molnar
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Here is another grateful reader, thanks man.
I am on the mission to choose my WL shoes, definitely will take your comments to consideration.

Due to some budget issue, I try to decide between the VS. and the Adidas PowerLift Trainers (the one sold on Rogue website for $90+free shipping), so If you could share your thoughts - that would be a great help.
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:50 AM   #5
Martin Rivera
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Really awesome review, thank you.
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Old 04-20-2012, 10:08 AM   #6
Patrick Costello
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Molnar View Post
Here is another grateful reader, thanks man.
I am on the mission to choose my WL shoes, definitely will take your comments to consideration.

Due to some budget issue, I try to decide between the VS. and the Adidas PowerLift Trainers (the one sold on Rogue website for $90+free shipping), so If you could share your thoughts - that would be a great help.
Sure man, no prob. I have not personally worn or lifted in the PowerLift Trainers, but a few of the guys I used to coach trained in them. I did handle them when they were brand new and they were really nice for what you pay for them.

I actually can't tell any major differences between these and the PowerPerfect II's. They're both synthetic leather (or whatever you call it), same heel, same sole...pretty much same everything down to the breathing holes in the top of the foot.

I would go with the Adidas over the VS all day
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Old 04-20-2012, 12:50 PM   #7
Bradley Hanson
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick Costello View Post
Sure man, no prob. I have not personally worn or lifted in the PowerLift Trainers, but a few of the guys I used to coach trained in them. I did handle them when they were brand new and they were really nice for what you pay for them.

I actually can't tell any major differences between these and the PowerPerfect II's. They're both synthetic leather (or whatever you call it), same heel, same sole...pretty much same everything down to the breathing holes in the top of the foot.

I would go with the Adidas over the VS all day
I believe the PowerLift Trainers have a 0.6" heel whereas the PowerPerfect IIs have a 0.75" heel.

Source for PowerLift: WLShoes
Source for PowerPerfect: Todd @ Dynamic Fitness

Last edited by Bradley Hanson : 04-20-2012 at 12:53 PM.
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Old 04-20-2012, 04:32 PM   #8
Dustin Wintczak
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Since we're talking Oly shoes I'll throw in my 2 cents on the new Adipower weightlifting shoes I picked up a month or so ago (the bright red ones).

I got them on sale for $155 from Eastbay. I have to preface this with I've only worn one other Oly shoe and those were the Adi Powerlifters.

I wear a size 10.5 in my Nike's and so I ordered the same size for the Adipowers. They do fit true to size but if you have wide feet I would suggest another shoe because these are on the narrow side. My feet are normal width and they are very snug. They are light and have a flexible forefoot. Unlike the Adistars, the sole design allows for your entire foot to remain in contact with the floor. I think the heel is .75" and is a very rigid polymer. The straps are placed well and I feel locked down to the floor once I have them on. I don't have a real problem with foot sweat or overheating but I know that just under the insole there are sets of ventilation holes to allow some airflow.

I use them for Oly lifting/squats but I just recently decided to try them out with DU's and I was able to do DU in them without really feeling any difference. I wouldn't sugges box jumps or running but you could get away with a little more than just lifting if you wanted to in these.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:02 AM   #9
Nalin Prabhu
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dustin Wintczak View Post

I wear a size 10.5 in my Nike's and so I ordered the same size for the Adipowers. They do fit true to size but if you have wide feet I would suggest another shoe because these are on the narrow side.
^^ Agreed.

I used to share a pair of the older Adidas shoes (Ironworks 2?) and loved the stability, but couldn't wear them for any extended period because of the width.

Own the Romaleo 1s right now and love it. I'm sure the second gen shoes are even nicer.
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Old 04-22-2012, 03:48 PM   #10
Andrew Eyanson
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Re: My Weightlifting Shoe Reviews (VS, Pendlay, Adidas, Nike, Reebok)

Thank you for the reviews!
Im having some problems deciding on a pair of shoes and I thought you guys could help.
I have decided on a hybrid shoe so that I can do cross fit wods in them also.
Im looking at the adidas power lift trainer or the reebok oly shoe I was also looking at the adidas power perfect 2(this would be more of a real oly shoe).
My biggest question is do you think the reebok is worth the extra$60 over the adidas power lift trainer?
I am also worried about how well the reebok will hold up I have held the adidas power lift trainer and they feel well made. I have also read the adidas have a softer heal any thoughts on that?
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