Inov-8 FastLift 325 Review
Cons: You would still need another pair of shoes for non-lifting workouts
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Inov-8 Fastlift impressed our reviewers with its versatility around the CrossFit gym. It has the stability and support of a lifting shoe, and yet flexible enough for other movements. Most lifting shoes are not necessarily breathable, but these Inov-8s scored high on our breathability matrix. Keep reading to see what other areas these shoes excelled in.
Weightlifting is, of course, a large part of the programming in CrossFit, and we want a shoe for CrossFit that is safe for throwing up some heavy loads. The last thing you want is an injury that could have been avoided with a better shoe choice.
Naturally, a weightlifting specific shoe should rise to the top of the pile regarding how well it performs on the lifting platform. This shoe is indeed a fantastic shoe to lift in and scored a 10 on the lifting matrix along with the NOBULL Lifters. If you have never worn lifting shoes and decide to go with the Inov-8s, don't be surprised if break some personal records quickly in these shoes. You will quickly see how the 16.5 mm heel rise helps you drop more solidly into a deep squat to catch the barbell in your clean for instance. On the other hand, if you already have some lifting shoes, but looking for something that you don't have to change out of for anything that is not an Olympic lift, then you will also love these!
Like it or not (and a lot of CrossFitters do not) there will inevitably be some running in CrossFit workouts. No matter the specific type of shoe you decide to wear for your workout, it should be something that you can at least run in for a short distance.
Are these fantastic running shoes? Well clearly, they are not designed for long-distance running. We did, however, test these shoes in metcon workouts that included some short runs.
These shoes luckily have enough flexibility at the midfoot to make running in them surprisingly more comfortable than we expected. The stiffer, pressed leather soles in the NOBULL Lifters were not as giving when we ran in those. If you are searching for a shoe that can handle linger run distances, and yet still a solid contender for heavy loads, then take a look at our Editors' Choice winning NOBULL Trainers.
When performing Olympic lifting movements, you need to know if you are balancing your weight where you need to during the movement. You must know for instance if you need to lean further back or perhaps shift your weight forward onto the balls of your feet.
Not surprisingly, our Top Lick for Lifting WODs scored at the top of the charts for sensitivity. There are a few factors about a shoe that can lead to just the right amount of sensitivity. A contender with too much squish in the sole will not be an ideal shoe for keeping your weight balanced where needed during a lift. The Minimus Trainer for instance has a lot of give in the soft sole which was much loved for jumping and longer runs. The squish was not helpful on the lifting platform as we struggled to keep our weight stable on a soft shoe.
When we look for a good shoe for CrossFit, we are looking for a shoe with enough support to handle bodyweight movements but also the addition of some extra weight for barbell movements.
Some of our reviewers that had grown accustomed to lifting in wood or leather soled shoes were a little skeptical that a plastic sole could give them enough support during Olympic lifts. Even though this sole is far more flexible than a traditional lifting shoe, it still provides excellent support as a lifting shoe. The design of the uppers is also a piece of the puzzle when looking at the broader category of support. The Fastlifts have a strap across the top of the foot which is a standard feature in lifting shoes. This strap helped our feet feel snug and in place as we screwed our feet into the floor while standing out of a deep squat. If you don't want a strap across the top of your foot, the NOBULL Trainers are almost as supportive and even more versatile.
Protection and Durability
CrossFitters are hard on their equipment, and they search for gear that can protect them as well. You want a shoe that can last a long time in a harsh environment as well as keep your feet protected against rope friction and missed double unders.
This shoe just kept giving us nice little surprises! Rope climbs in the Inov-8s went well. The material on the uppers of these shoes gripped onto the rope tremendously and showed no sign of any damage after a few climbs. Our feet felt safe and protected from the heat of the hope as we let our feet slide down on the descent as well.
Compared to the NOBULL Lifters, rope climbs are another area that highlights the Inov-8's superior versatility. No need to worry about hurting your feet on missed double unders either in the Inov-8s; your feet will be safe from the sting of a steel cable. We can't guarantee the backs of your arms will feel the same though. Ouch!
Another concern in keeping your shoes intact in a CrossFit environment is handstand pushups. During a handstand pushup, the athletes' heels will often slide up and down the wall. This up and down motion can pull on the heels of a shoe in a way that most shoes are not designed for, especially lifting shoes. Shoe manufacturers are adding a little extra protection in the heels for this specific purpose.
When doing an uncomfortable workout, why not try to keep your feet as cool as possible? We paid close attention to which shoes kept our feet the coolest in the midst of high-intensity workouts. Of the two lifting shoes we tested, the Fastlifts ranked the highest in breathability. Parts of the synthetic uppers on these shoes have a nice light mesh area which allows for great airflow. The NOBULL Lifters, on the other hand, got a bit stuffy with their thicker fabric.
Our last, but not the least important rating is for comfort. You need shoes for CrossFit that you want to wear on a regular basis! There are always excuses not to go to the gym, so don't let your uncomfortable shoes be one of them.
Our reviewers like the overall feel of these shoes. While you wouldn't want to stand around all day in a pair of lifting shoes, your feet will be comfortable in these for a long workout. If you are searching for a shoe that you can spend hours in while coaching at the gym, then our Best Buy winning Reebok CrossFit Speed would be better suited for your needs. Part of the design that makes the Inov-8 more comfortable than most traditional lifting shoes, however, is the flexible sole and upper material. The added flexibility makes other CrossFit movements more realistic for a pair of lifting shoes of course, but also just makes them more comfortable to walk around in between lifts.
The Fastlifts are a great lifting shoe. They are a wonderful pick for your dedicated lifting shoes. However, these lifting shoes are highly versatile off the lifting platform as well. You can rely on these shoes for CrossFit to take you through a heavy metcon workout without having to worry about needing different shoes for the other movements you will find in the workout.
Retailing around $160 these shoes are more expensive than most of the other shoes in this review but are a great value for a reliable pair of lifting shoes. The fact that you can use these shoes for other workouts and not just lifting makes them well worth the higher price.
The versatility of the Inov-8 Fastlift was one of the main reasons it was awarded our Top Lick for Lifting WODs. You won't feel the need to change shoes in the midst of a heavy metcon when transitioning from a heavy lift to short run or plyometric movement. We found this lifting shoe to be lightweight, flexible and breathable compared to the stiffer NOBULL Lifters.
— Audrey Hammond