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I’ve had a few pairs of lifting shoes now and friends I workout with often look at them with bemusement – what are they for? Why do they look like that? They cost HOW MUCH?!
So I will answer what, why and how much here… As well as conclude on whether they are worth the money or not!
At a glance…
- Weightlifting shoes are designed to help with squatting and Olympic movements primarily
- They are worth it if you value good form and adding weight to the bar
- Romaleos are great, but at full price there are better value options out there
- You can’t run competitively in squat shoes, but you CAN deadlift in them
- Nike Romaleos run true to size, but you may want to go down a half for a tighter fit
What are Nike Romaleos for?
A weightlifting shoe – usually – has a wedge shaped sole between 0.5” – 0.75” made of a solid (or at least very, very hard) material.
This design is for four main of reasons:
- A rock solid sole provides the best force transfer from the ground, through the shoe, in to your body and subsequently the barbell. A running shoe has the opposite aim – it wants to absorb energy and keep your body shielded from the ground.
- The stability this provides helps you maintain form – squatting in running shoes for instance will often lead to knees caving in or arch collapses as the weight lifted goes up
- A wedge allows you to squat down lower while keeping the shoe on the ground (with the force transfer / stability). As you go lower your heels want to come up to accommodate the bend in your knee – the wedge makes this safe.
- For Olympic weightlifting the flat sole can be beneficial when performing moves that require quick footwork
Since wearing lifters in the gym I’ve really benefitted from the additional stability – particularly when squatting. It feels natural to squat in them.
The force transfer and stability are also super effective when doing overhead movements – clean and jerks, or even simple overhead pressing, have benefit from the solid footing my weightlifting shoes provide.
A raised heel has helped my squat form greatly as well. The elevation means my ankle doesn’t need to bend quite as much which then changes my hip and back angles. So what does this actually mean? It means I can hold crisp form for deeper squats. Previously I would get the ‘butt wink’ when going low on squats as going to depth meant I lost some lower back tightness – lifting shoes have eradicated this.
This really was huge for me as I was regularly getting mild glute strains from squatting due to butt wink – not since I strapped on my first set of lifters though (which were Adidas Power Perfect 2’s)!
So, are weightlifting shoes worth it?
If you are serious about weight training then Nike Romaleos are a worthwhile investment (or any other good quality weightlifting shoe for that matter) .
This is because:
- Can you put a price on good form? Knees caving in on squats can lead to knee pain, which may keep you away from the gym. I suffered glute pain from forcing myself lower on squats without a raised heel.
- The investment does not need to be large – squat shoes will run you between £60 – £200 for a pair. At the lower end of this range it’s less than a months gym fee at many of the mainstream places
- You will lift more weight. Would you pay £60 to add 60lbs to your squat? I can’t guarantee what you will add to the bar – but I’d be willing to bet it’s something.
What about the Nike Romaleos specifically?
I moved from a set of Adidas Power Perfect 2’s to a set of Romaleos 3 – that’s a jump from an entry level £80-per-pair to the premium tier which retailed for around £180-per-pair at the time. I picked up my set in a sale at £140 so a ‘bargain’, relatively speaking, but still almost double the price of the Adidas. The Nike’s are competitively priced against the other premium shoe models out there – Reebok Legacy Lifters, Adidas Adipowers, etc.
For me the Romaleos have been worth it in the sense that they fit much better on my narrow foot and the single strap over the mid foot is more effective at tightening the shoe that the single heel strap of the PP2’s. They are super lightweight too which can be “a pretty cool thing” – this is helped by the thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) heel construction which is quite special to look at. The upper shoe is made with Flywire material which helps it feel really tight and supportive.
When you unbox your Rom’s first impressions are simply OK – I would not say it is a tier above the Adidas PP2’s in quality ‘in the hand’. The shoe is deliberately lightweight, but that has meant the tongue in particular is prone to ripping. Compare this to the traditional construction of the cheaper Adidas and it surprisingly different. The Romaleos 3 offering a much more ‘crossfit’ style shoe that could be worn for whole gym sessions compared to a more traditional ‘lifter’ shoe in the Adidas.
For day to day use and at full price I would struggle to say that the Romaleo is worth the premium over an entry level shoe for a home gym user looking to hit a few squat sessions a week (my all time PR squat was in my Adidas for reference… ) That said, if you can get the Nike’s on sale (they often are, but in limited colours) then I think they are worth the extra to get a tighter fit from the Flywire construction if you have a narrow foot.
Can you run in weightlifting shoes?
You certainly can run in any shoe you like – but I can’t guarantee you will be fast 🙂
You should not run in weightlifting shoes as they are inflexible and with their solid soles they would just slow you down or break.
Can you deadlift in Romaleos?
You can deadlifting in weightlifting shoes. Some people prefer to lift in their shoes, some prefer barefoot or a flat sole. Lifting in barefoot is a slightly shorter range of motion and therefore MIGHT have the edge in the most extreme of cases, but for those of us reading (or writing) this? Likely just personal preference. Try it out and make your own mind up.
Are Nike Romaleos true to size?
Nike squat shoes run true to size (or even slightly larger) compared to other shoes in their range such as the Free X Metcon trainer.
A few thoughts when ordering:
- Weightlifting shoes should be a tight fit, so while they are true to size you may want to go slightly smaller (half size) than a general trainer
- Nike and Adidas have different fit profiles – length of the foot is one thing, but consider the width as well for a lifting shoe. I found Nike to be a much narrower lifting shoe.
- They will break in – if they feel a hair too tight on day 1, they will loosen up a little over time
You can check out the official Nike sizing page here which is pretty helpful.
What about the Nike Romaleos 4’s?
Since I pulled this Nike Romaleos review together we have seen the Romaleo 4’s land. These are pretty awesome shoes – BUT they are different to the 3’s. Here are a few notes on the Rom 4’s:
- Nike Romaleos 4 are MORE similar to the Romaleo 2’s than the 3’s – with a double strap and heavier shoe, the Rom 4’s are trending back towards the designs favoured by Nike for the earlier, heavier Rom 2’s. This is great for powerlifters, but less so for CrossFit athletes.
- Durability is improved – the Nike Romaleo 4’s have a stronger construction than the early 3’s (and even the revised Nike Romaleo 3 XD’s). This is at the expense of weight and general agility.
- Flywire is gone – I love the Flywire system on the Romaleos 3’s and unfortunately this is no longer available in the 4’s. They are sturdier as a result, but as a careful owner I do think this is an unfortunate loss as the feeling of tightness around the foot is fantastic on the 3’s.
- Double metatarsal straps – where the 3’s had a single mid-foot strap the Nike Romaleo 4’s have two straps similar the Rom 2’s. I personally liked the single, thick, well-positioned strap of the 3’s a bit better, but appreciate that with he generally wider and heavier shoe a double strap makes more sense than the flyweight Rom 3’s.
I cannot tell you definitively whether weightlifting shoes are worth it to you as I don’t know how much you care about lifting, or how much £60 – the cost of entry level shoes – means to you personally.
What I can say is that my Romaleos have been worth it as the fit on my narrower foot is excellent and this support is tangible when under the bar. That said I struggle to justify the price difference versus some of the better entry level shoes out there for your typical home-gym user.
My advice? Find some cheap lifting shoes – buy them, try them, hit some new personal bests and simply don’t look back. Nike are great – but if you want to go a little cheaper you will still get most of the benefits.