Which CrossFit shoes to use? Depends on the WOD!

There are multiple shoes specifically desinged to be used in CrossFit. However, CrossFit consist of many different exercises, WOD’s, and some benchmark WOD’s. This means there isn’t a single pair of shoes that are always the best option. This article will break down what to use depending on the exercise or WOD you’re doing.

All available CrossFit shoes could be divided in three distinct categories:

  1. Flat shoes (flexible but without cushioning); shoes without any real heel raise. For instance Nano 4 and Nano 5.
  2. Hybrid shoes; shoes with a built-in heel raise, but designed to still be flexible rather than stiff. For example, the Lifter 2.0 and Fastlift 315/335.
  3. Stiff shoes with heel raise; weightlifting shoes (olympic weightlifting shoes). These are designed for optimal stability, which also means they’re stiff. This makes them optimal for weightlifting exercises, but not for dynamic excercise (like box jumps, burpees or double unders). Under the Reebok CrossFit brand, there is the Lifter plus 2.0. Also, any other shoe that you’ll find on this website in the Olympic weightlifting category are stiff shoes with a heel raise.

First, it’s important you understnad why weightlifting shoes have a heel raise. I explain this in detail in this article. Weightlifting shoes are the best choice for the exercises snatch, clean and jerk, any type of squat, and thrusters.

Which shoe to use for which WOD?

The WOD (Workout Of the Day) is different every day. This means that you might be asking yourself what shoe to use for every new WOD. Here are some simple rules to figure that out:

  • Run as one of the exercises? Pick flat shoes; shoes with heel raises are terrible for running.
  • No weightlifting exercises (snatch, clean and jerk, squats or thrusters)?: pick flat shoes.
  • Equal mix of weightlifting exercises (snatch, clean and jerk, squats or thrusters) withy dynamic exercises (box jumps, burpees, double unders): pick hybrid shoes.
  • Nothing but weightlifting exercises (snatch, clean and jerk, squats or thrusters): stiff shoes with heel raise are optimal.

Also note that shoes without a heel raise are optimal for deadlifts. If your WOD consists of a mix of deadlifts and weightlifting exercises however, it’s still best to pick weightlifting shoes with a heel raise.

If your WOD consists of nothing but exercises like pull-ups, push-ups, sit-ups, wall balls and kettlebell swings, the shoe you’re wearing won’t make any significant difference in your performance.

Which Crossfit shoe to use for the Benchmark Workouts?

The so-called Benchmark Workouts or the girls are workouts that consist of a known combination of exercieses. These workouts are done to be able to easily check on your progress as a CrossFit athlete. This image shows all the current benchmark workouts. See the table below for the recommended type of CrossFit shoes for these workouts.

1. Flat shoes Annie, Nicole, Eva, Helen, Kelly, Karen, Diane, Nancy
2. Hybrid schoes
3. Stiff shoes with a heel raise Barbara, Chelsea, Mary, Cindy, Angie, Amanda, Jackie, Fran, Elizabeth, Lynne, Isabel, Linda, Grace

Coincidentally, hybrid shoes aren’t optimal for any of these workouts. However, there are quite a lot of WOD’s in which they are optimal for performance. Here are two recent examples: example 1, example 2.