The outsole of the Nike Metcon 3 has sticky rubber in the forefoot to enhance traction, providing you with better grip when moving fast on your toes.
Running shoes are for running. Training shoes are for training. The logic is simple, but often the default is to go with the former regardless of the workout.
“We tend to see most people buying running shoes out of habit and to be their overall workout shoe when they run once or twice a week — but they’re spending much more time in the gym,” says Greg Smith, the head of Men’s Training footwear at Nike. “It should be the other way around.”
That’s because running is linear. You move forward and in the same way, stride after stride. So (generally) a runner needs a shoe with a light, breathable upper, cushion underfoot and a durable outsole. Training, though, is not linear. You lift, carry, slam, sprint, pedal, climb, jump cut and everything in between. With all that in mind, Nike training shoes are strategically built to provide 360 stability, durability and cushioning in addition to other attributes, including things like multidirectional traction.
Here’s exactly how Nike designs shoes to support specific training workouts so you can move fast, lift heavy and perform your best.
The more stable you are, the more weight you can push and the quicker you can move, which is why Smith says the most important quality in a training shoe is stability. “In order to do any exercise well, you need to be stable over the shoe’s platform,” he says.
Stability comes into play in two ways: First, under load or underfoot (when you start adding weight to a movement you don’t want your foot to rock), and then laterally (when you move side to side your foot doesn’t roll in or out). In a training shoe with 360-degree stability, whether you’re doing a pistol squat or explosive lateral bounds your foot is less likely to wobble.
“When you’re trying to do a heavy back squat you’re most likely trying to train your core, glutes and quads — not the little muscles in your feet,” explains Smith. “Training shoes let you focus on that, not on trying to stay upright.”
“There’s only one surface of a running shoe that touches anything, whereas every inch of a training shoe comes into contact with the ground, a wall, equipment and so on,” says Smith. “We design training shoes to be durable in places like the toe box, the arch, and so on, to stand up to various movements such as handstand push-ups, rope climbs, mountain climbers and even strapping into a bike for 45 minutes,” says Smith.
Another Nike training shoe constant is a platform of stable cushioning underfoot (necessary for moves such as box jumps and sprints). But what sets training shoes apart is that the cushion extends throughout the entire shoe. When you’re in the gym, you might strap into a bike, a rower, a GHD machine or do burpees and side planks. “That’s where cushion on the top and sides of the shoe can help keep you comfortable,” says Smith. And it stands to reason that pain-free feet may make you stay on the machine longer or power through more reps faster.
Beyond stability, durability and cushioning, each Nike training shoe is created to benefit you during certain styles of training sessions—from bodyweight circuits to do-it-all metabolic conditioning workouts and heavy barbell days. Here are a few examples of some of Nike's many styles that can help you perform your best.
The Nike Free Train Virtue Hustle Hart (available in men's sizes), the Nike Free TR 7 (available in women's sizes), the Nike Metcon 3 (available in unisex sizes) and Nike Romaleos 3 (available in unisex sizes) are available now on nike.com and at select retailers.
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