Finding the right pair of training shoes is absolutely critical for any exercise, and sourcing the best shoes for CrossFit is no different. In fact, your shoes might just be the most important addition to your gear for CrossFit. Fitting your best shoes for CrossFit depends on a variety of factors – your individual body size and shape, the types of activities and your level of exercise intensity are just a few things to think about when looking for the best shoes for CrossFit. So, what is a good CrossFit shoe?

In this article we’re starting off with a bit of background, surveying the critical features any training footwear suitable for CrossFit should have. Then we’ll move onto  a review of shoes for CrossFit, looking at the top five sneakers for CrossFit for 2013 to help you find the shoe that fits you best to help you get the most out of your workout with the maximum amount of comfort and safety.

How to Choose the Best Shoes for CrossFit

CrossFit is a unique sport in that it involves a range of activities. Runners have specific demands from their shoes for their singular activity, so too do tennis players and other dedicated sports. A CrossFitter however is doing all sorts of different activities involving running, lifting, jumping, skipping, climbing, pushing, pulling – all with a lot of downward pressure through the feet. As such, the perfect pair of shoes for CrossFit will be something that can perform across a variety of activities. You’ll need a shoe stable enough for weightlifting, but you’ll also need a shoe light and flexible enough for sprints or plyo box jumps, burpees or any other WOD actions that need a swift bit of explosive footwork. A versatile shoe for CrossFit might be a tricky find and some CrossFitters do prefer to work with a couple of different pairs of shoes on the go for whatever WOD they’re doing that day.

Like every other type of training shoes, shoes for CrossFit will come in all shapes and styles and your best choice will depend on your own body and your CrossFit training needs. There’s generally not going to be a lot of difference between the best women’s shoes for CrossFit and the best men’s shoes for CrossFit besides the colors and designs between styles, and some brands, the Innov8s for example,  even come in unisex sizing.  For both men and women’s shoes, there are four essential  features to consider when looking for the best shoes for CrossFit – weight, flexibility, durability and the heel to toe drop.

Shoe Weight

CrossFit involves a lot of quick movement in running and jumping, so the last thing you’ll need for your WOD will be a heavy shoe. Can you imagine doing a box jump with a shoe that fits like a lead weight putting you off your game?  The best shoes for your CrossFit workout will be lightweight with maximum breathability to ensure your feet aren’t weighed down and they stay cool.

The Reebok Nano 2.0 is a perfect hybrid CrossFit shoe with its lightweight and breathable fabric. Click on the picture to find out more.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0

The Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 is one of the most lightweight CrossFit shoes. Shown here is the Charged Design. Click on the image to find out more.

 

Shoe Flexibility

CrossFitters also require a great deal of flexibility in their shoe to achieve maximum foot mobility. In the same way that a heavy shoe impedes your movement and reduces your training effectiveness, so too does an inflexible shoe.

The Nike Free 3 is one of the most flexible shoes on the market, good for a range of CrossFit workouts. Shown here is the Team Red and Pure Platinum design. Click on the picture to find out more.

Nike Free 3

Nike Free 3 (shown in Team Red) is one of the most flexible shoes for CrossFit. Click on the image to find out more

Durability

While good shoes for CrossFit need to be light and airy with a flexible range of motion, any CrossFit athlete will tell you, you’re also going to need a quality shoe that can take a serious pounding and still go the distance, so durability is also really important. A training shoe that balances durability with a lightweight and flexible construction can be a tricky equation, but the Reebok Nano 2.0 has done it, featuring a carbon rubber sole. Shown here is the Women’s Blue and Red Nano 2.0. Click on the picture to find out more.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 women's blue red white black

Best sellers, the Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 is an ultra durable show for CrossFit. Shown here is the women’s blue red white black design. Click on the image to find out more.

Heel to Toe Drop

Shoes for CrossFit are most effective and most safe with the smallest heel to toe drop, also called the heel to toe offset or differential. This refers to the difference between your heel height and your forefoot height, and for CrossFit, a shoe with a zero or close to zero heel to toe drop – as close as you can get to being in bare feet – is your best choice. If your foot is sitting firmly in your shoe and your heel and the ball of your forefoot is the same height off the ground, then your shoe has a zero drop. The lower your heel to toe differential, the easier it is to land on your midfoot which means your step is firm and stable and you’re minimising your risk of ankle, knee, foot and back injuries.

For this reason, the barefoot shoes like the Vibram Five Fingers have been popular with some CrossFitters. While the Vibrams do have zero heel to toe drop and offer all the flexibility you’ll need, a lot of athletes do prefer a shoe for CrossFit that has a bit more padding on the sole and more sturdy across the top of the foot. And let’s face it, some people just don’t like the curious look of the Five Fingers.

Vibram Five Fingers

The Vibram Five Fingers are a unique style of barefoot running shoes, popular among CrossFitters. Click on the image to find out more.

The Inov8 F-Lite 195 is a brilliant alternative to the Vibram barefoot shoe with the same lightweight and flexible benefits. Shown here is the unisex grey/blue/yellow design.  The Merrell Hammer glove with a zero differentiation and good durability is also a great alternative to the Vibram Five Fingers.

Innov8 f lite 195

The Innov8 F-Lite 195 is a great lightweight alternative to the minimal Vibram Five Fingers. Click on the image to find out more information.

Merrell Barefoot Hammer Glove

The Barefoot Hammer Glove by Merrell has a zero heel to toe drop making it a perfect alternative to the Vibram Five Fingers or barefoot training for those looking for more foot support. Click on the image to find out more information.

 

Any minimal natural movement shoe you use, you’ll probably need to take time to get used to it as you’ll be using different muscles in the foot, especially if you’re making the transition from heavier or bulkier traditional training shoes.

The Best Shoes for Cross Fit – The Top 5 Shoes for 2013 Reviewed

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0

reebok

 

 

The Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 are one of the most popular training shoes among CrossFitters. The Nano 2.0 are the new generation of Reebok CrossFit shoes and offer everything you need in a pair of good all round shoes for CrossFit, perfect for running, squats, lifting, jumping, climbing and anything else you’ll come up against in your WOD.

Reebok Nano 2.0 are built with an athletic mesh covering most of the forefoot area providing great breathability to help keep your feet cool and dry.  They’re lined with an Orthalite sock liner for a really natural feel which means you don’t lose any natural foot action responsiveness so the Nano comes really close to a barefoot feel while still giving you a good amount of cushioning. The carbon rubber outsole is really durable, able to withstand just about everything you can throw at it while still being a super lightweight shoe.

The Reebok Nano 2.0 has a 4mm heel to toe drop offering a good neutral and natural movement while still providing an effective stability for safe, quick and comfortable movement. The sole also offers enough firmness to really help to drive your heels down for maximum lift stability and power.

CrossFitters whose focus stays mainly on pure weightlifting often stick with the Nano’s cousin, the Reebok Lifter (which used to be called the Reebok Oly CrossFit shoe). While the Reebok Lifters are still a great shoe for weightlifting and squats, they’re a touch heavier and don’t have the flexibility and breathability of the Nano 2.0 making the Nano the better all round shoe for hybrid CrossFit training.

Reebokc crossfit lifter

Reebok’s Crossfit Lifter (aka Reebok CrossFit Oly), a pure weightlifting shoe are specifically designed for lifts. Click on the image for more information.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 shoes come in a range of colors and designs in both men’s and women’s styles. Reebok also offers a custom design service (click this link for more details). Shown here are the men’s green “Charged” and women’s pink. The Nano do run a touch to the narrow size, so a lot of CrossFitters do well with ordering half a size up from their usual sneaker size to compensate for the tight fit.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0

The Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 is one of the most lightweight CrossFit shoes. Shown here is the Charged design. Click on the image to find out more.

Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 women's pink

Women’s Reebok CrossFit Nano 2.0 Pink and Black. Click on the picture for more information.

The Reebok Nano 2.0 are currently available from $109.99.

Pros – Good all rounder suits a wide range of activities.

Cons – sizing can be too narrow

New Balance Minimus X20

new balance

New Balance make some of the best general fitness shoes in the industry and the New Balance shoes for CrossFit are no exception. The New Balance Minimus X20 are a good and reliable pair of cross training shoes perfect for CrossFitters looking for a shoe to suit a variety of activities.

The mesh covering a lot of area over the top of the shoe gives the X20s a good level of breathability. The Minimus X20s are designed closely following the New Balance running line so the shoe weight is good and light, perfect for quick sprints as well as jumping. The shoe’s upper construction is flexible but it is still a bit stiffer than other shoes suitable for CrossFit.

The New Balance X20 has a decent rubber sole with excellent grip. The toe to heel drop is 4mm, same as the Reebok Nanos, which is generally good for achieving safe stability during squats and lifting, and hitting the midfoot strike in your stride. The sole is a touch softer than some other training shoes so if you’re looking for something to suit really heavy lifting, you might be better to keep your sights on the Reeboks. The softer rubber can also be a durability issue during rope climbs and other workouts that involve a lot of abrasive pressure on the feet.

New Balance Minimum x20s, like all New Balance footwear, comes in a range of sizes that tailor not only to foot length but also variable width, so athletes with a wider foot who often have trouble with width in other brands, will do well to check out the X20 range.

The New Balance Minimus come in the WX20 for women and the MX20 for men, and both men’s and women’s shoes offer the same weight, flexibility and durability features. Both are available in a range of colors and designs. Shown here are the Kinetic Blue in the men’s and purple in the women’s styles.

New Balance Minimus x20

New Balance Minimus Men’s MX20 (here in Kinetic blue) are a good allrounder shoe for CrossFit available in wide sizes. Click on the image to find out more.

New Balance Minimus x20 womens

The New Balance Minimus shoe for CrossFit training, women’s style WX20, shown here in purple. Click here to see more colour options and find out more information about this shoe.

At the time of writing, Amazon has sales on select options of the New Balance Mx20 starting at around $35. Typically, the NB MX20s will sell from around $95 to $110 making these some of the cheapest shoes for CrossFit available.

Pros – wide sizing options, excellent breathability

Cons – not as flexible as some other shoes and rubber sole not as durable as other brands

Inov8 F-Lite 195

Inov8-logo-white-copy

 

 

The best Innov8 shoes for CrossFit are the F-Lite 195s.  Innov8 F Lite 195 is one of the lightest shoes on the market and it’s a good alternative for any athlete looking for the comfort and light flexibility of the minimal Vibram Five Fingers while still getting a bit more support and foot protection from a more traditional shoe.

The shoe has a mesh upper, making it a super lightweight and flexible shoe as well as offering unsurpassed breathability. The Innov8 has a fully lined and lightly cushioned sock for added comfort  as well as ensuring it fits snug as a slipper. The advanced lacing system also ensures a snug fit cradling the midfoot behind the base of the toes.

With its light and flexible design the Innov8 F-Lite 195 is perfect for CrossFitters with more of a running focus in their training, but it’s also good for the explosive plyometrics. The natural barefoot design also makes it a good choice for lifters looking to stabilise their feet and perfect their form without a lot of excess padding on moves like the power clean, squats, deadlifts and kettlebell swings, where there’s a lot of pressure going through the feet and careful form is important.  This shoe has a 3mm toe to heel drop giving it that slight edge over the Reebok Nano or the NB Minimus in terms of the evenness of the sole.

Innov8 uses unisex sizing so do be careful when sizing up your feet. On average, women will tend to go down around two sizes from their regular shoe size number.

Innov8 f lite 195 black and white

The Innov8 F-Lite 195 (shown here in black and white) is one of the most lightweight shoes for Crossfit, but still a very stable wear. Click on the image to find out more info and see the full range of design options.

The Innov8 F-Lite 195 is currently available from around $95 to $170 with the lower price available on certain designs only.

Pros – extreme lightweight flexibility for a close to barefoot experience while maintaining cushioning and stability.

Cons – unisex sizing can be hard to fit, especially for women.

Nike Free

nike

 

 

 

The Nike Free is another good option for an all round pair of shoes for CrossFit, suitable for everything from sprints to lifts and everything in between your WOD can throw at them. There are currently three grades of Nike Free shoes – 3, 4 and 5.

Nike Free 3 4 and 5

The different flexibility options in the Nike Free Range. Click on the picture to find out more about each shoe option.

With a large area of mesh covering, Nike Free 3 is the lightest and most flexible shoe in the Nike Free range and is the closest thing Nike offers to a true barefoot running experience. The shoe has a 4mm offset.

Nike Free 3 mens

The Men’s Nike Free 3 in Volt/Reflective Silver-Pro Platinum-Anthracite. A highly flexible training shoe suitable for CrossFit. Click on the image to find out more.

The Nike Free 4 has slightly more cushioning and less mesh covering than the 3 but is still lightweight and flexible, but again, not quite so flexible as the 3. The sole has a 6mm offset.

Nike Free 4 womens

The Nike Free 4 – shown here in the women’s dark with purple style – are a lightweight shoe suitable for CrossFit training and are the mid-level flexibility in the Nike Free Range. Click on the image for more information.

The Nike Free 5 is the least flexible in the Free range but still a lightweight and considerably flexible shoe. The 5 has an 8mm offset so it’s not going to be a good option for CrossFitters looking for a more neutral sole differentiation but it is a good choice if you’re building up your foot resistance and working your way up to a natural barefoot workout experience.

Nike Free 5 mens pimento

The Nike Free 5 – shown here are the men’s pimento black and white – are the least flexible in the Nike Free range but are still a good lightweight shoe suitable for CrossFit training. Click on the picture to find out more information.

Nike Free 5 is quite supportive with an arc of cables wrapping the midfoot and arch from underneath the foot to ensure a close and stable fit that is still adaptive to your stride.

All shoes in the Nike Free range are fitted with sock linings that mould to the foot’s natural shape to ensure the best fit and maximum comfort. All the Nike Frees are also built with abrasion resistant rubber for excellent durability and also feature a grooved outsole with deep contours along the length and width of the midsole so the shoe moves with your natural movement rather than trying to resist it.

The Nike Free range for both men’s and women’s shoes come in a huge range of colors and designs.

Sizing on the Nike Frees in all ranges to tend to run toward the narrow so check the size charts before ordering as you may need to order a size down.

The Nike Free range sell from around $90 up to around $180 depending on your style and design choices.

Pros – a range of flexibility and toe to heel drop ratios makes the Nike Free perfect for athletes gradually adjusting to a more natural fitting shoe

Cons – Even the lowest toe to heel offset is a few millimetres off zero. All tend to be narrow in fit.

Merrell Barefoot Hammer Glove

merrell

 

 

 

The Merrell Barefoot Hammer Glove shoe are another leader in the minimal shoe market and their light deign and durable flexibility make them a popular choice for shoes for CrossFit. With a zero toe to heel drop, the Merrell Barefoot Hammer Glove have a completely neutral sole making them the only choice for CrossFitters looking for the barefoot experience while still having the overall protection of a traditional shoe. They’re also a good alternative for CrossFitters who don’t like the design of the Vibram Five fingers. The durable rubber outsole of the Merrell Hammer is actually made by Vibram.

The upper part of the shoe is designed with a breathable mesh with synthetic leather reinforcements so you’re getting a light and glove like fit while still getting the lateral and medial support around your foot ensuring a stable lifting stance. For that added insurance of fit stability, the Merrell are also fitted with a Velcro strap to secure the forefoot.

As the Merrell Barefoot Hammer Glove offers natural stability and balance as well as a light weight design, these are perfect shoes for all facets of CrossFit training.

Merrell Barefoot Hammer Glove ice

The Men’s Merrell Hammer Glove in Ice Denim Blue. This shoe is super lightweight and has a zero toe to heel drop while still providing side stability. Click on the image for more information.

The Hammer Glove are specifically designed for men and don’t have that many color options, offering mainly greys and black shades. For women looking for the same features of the Hammer Glove but in a shoe designed specifically for women, Merrell also make the women’s Barefoot Train Crush Glove shoe which has similar features to the Hammer Glove with a  zero drop, a super lightweight and flexible design. The Train Crush has less mesh covering overall making it not quite as breathable as the Hammer and does not come with the Velcro forefoot strap. The Merrell Train Crush Glove does however come in a far greater range of colors and designs.

Merrell Barefoot Train Crush Glove

The women’s Merrell Barefoot Train Crush glove also has a zero tow to heel drop off like the men’s Hammer Glove but comes in a far greater range of colors. Click on the image to find out more information.

On average, you can pick up a pair of the the Hammer Gloves for around $114, while the Train Crush Gloves come in at around $110.

Pros – zero toe to heel drop making for perfectly neutral and natural running motion

Cons – Hammer Glove only available in men’s designs (women have other design options and similar shoe specs by opting for a different style of shoe)

 

The Verdict

Like any piece of CrossFit apparel your perfect fit for the best shoes for CrossFit is going to depend on your body and your overall workout needs. A lot of CrossFitters, like any other athletes prefer to rotate their shoes depending on their specific training needs for the day. The best weightlifting shoes for CrossFit, for example is the Reebok Lifter, but good as the Lifters are for weight training, they’re not so great for running or swift footed plyometric exercises. So, if you’re after a single pair of shoes to do the trick for your full workout from sprints to lifts, there are a few options here perfectly suited to the needs of CrossFit training.

If you’re after a fine pair of shoes for all round CrossFit training, you can’t go by the Reebok Nano 2.0. Available in a wide range of colors and designs for both men and women, the Reebok Nano CrossFit shoes are durable and lightweight with a relatively low toe to heel drop offering the best all round natural stability to suit a full range of CrossFit needs. The Reebok Nano CrossFit shoes however can size a touch narrow so if you have a wider foot, choose the New Balance X20 with similar specs to the Nano but available in wider sizes. But, if you’re working out to the extreme side of intense, the NB X20 might not have the durability you’ll need. The NB MX20 is also one of the cheapest shoes for CrossFit available.

If you’re after a super flexible shoe for CrossFit, look no further than the Nike Free 3, a durable and comfortable shoe with unsurpassed flexibility.

For CrossFit athletes looking for a natural and barefoot experience while maintaining the overall cushion and stability of a more traditional sneaker, then the Inov8 F-Lite 195 is the best choice. For CrossFitters who want to go that extra step toward barefoot training then the Merrell Hammer Glove for men or the Merrell Train Crush Glove for women are the best choices for shoes for CrossFit with a zero toe to heel drop. If you’re just getting used to the idea of neutral sole CrossFit training and want to make the change from traditional sports shoes to the barefoot experience gradually, then a good place to start might be the Nike Free 5 or 4s, working your way down to a more neutral minimal shoe.

The right pair of shoes is a critical component of your arsenal of CrossFit equipment, clothing and accessories, so don’t let the wrong pair of shoes get in the way of achieving your maximum results and optimum health and fitness. Finding the best shoes for CrossFit might take some experimenting, but once you’ve made the match the effort will show as your performance soars to unstoppable heights.

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Crossfit jump ropes

Rogue makes great jump ropes. Click here to check them out.

Jumping rope, or skipping is an awesome workout and a standard favorite within the CrossFit world but, how do you find the best jump ropes for CrossFit? While jumping rope is a relative simple exercise, not all jump ropes are created equal and in this article, we’re going to show you why and help you know what to look for when buying your next rope.

A quality jump rope is one of the most important pieces of equipment for CrossFit training. Jumping rope is a super effective functional exercise which is while you’ll see it used in the training regimens of so many athletes in such a variety of sports, not just CrossFit WODs. Jump rope training targets speed, balance, agility, dexterity, coordination, endurance and concentration. It’s an excellent cardio workout and also builds shoulder strength and is great for your legs.

The double under – whipping the rope under your feet twice while in mid jump – is the classic CrossFit exercise when it comes to jumping rope as it marks both muscular strength and cardio endurance. For CrossFitters training to improve their double unders and even those just starting out with single jumps, the right rope for your body and workout styles will make all the difference.

There are four basic key points to think about when you’re first looking through the jump rope store.

1. Length

Essentially, taller people need longer ropes. The two things to consider when looking at the length of a jump rope for CrossFit is the static rope length and the dynamic rope length. The static length is how long the rope is when it’s not being used and dynamic is the range of length the rope covers when you’re jumping. Dynamic rope length will depend on your body size and the exercise you’re doing, so when choosing your new jump rope for CrossFit training, you’ll be focusing on static length.

To work out the ideal static length for your next rope, stand with your hands held at your midline axis, elbows relaxed and shoulders disengaged where you’ll be holding the rope handles before you start to jump. From this position, the ideal rope length will have a minimum of 12” even clearance passing over your head and in front of your toes. A lot of ropes, especially the standard issue plastic speed ropes will come with adjustable lengths. Rogue makes jump ropes with adjustable lengths. Click here to check them out.

2. Weight

The second basic thing to look for when buying a jump rope for CrossFit is the weight of the rope. Beginners will have better luck learning the moves with a thicker cable and heavier rope. A heavy jump rope cable moves more slowly so you have more control over the movement of the cable which allows you to build your coordination and skill. Because the rope moves slower, you’ll also be doing fewer jumps to a slower rhythm, so if you’re hitting around ten or less double unders or trying double unders for the first time, a thick and heavy rope is your best choice.

For intermediate CrossFitters reaching around 50 double unders, a mid-weight rope of around 3mm diameter is ideal. For advanced jumpers who are whipping out 100 plus double unders, a thin, light speed rope of less than 2mm diameter is generally your only option. A light rope will give you less shoulder and wrist fatigue, but as they are so much faster you just have to make sure your legs can keep up!

3. Material

One you’ve figured out how long your ideal rope is and the weight of rope you’ll need for your personalized CrossFit training, the third key point you’ll be also thinking about the rope material. There are plastic, vinyl cord, rubber tube and nylon ropes; those made of traditional rope or leather; beaded jump ropes with plastic sheaths for weight;  and there are also steel cable types of jump rope. The type of rope you choose will depend on what you need it for within your training, as well as your overall size and body condition.

The most common ropes are made of vinyl plastic or rubber and are great for beginners right through to advanced skill levels. Plastic ropes last for a reasonable time depending on how often you use them, and they’ll typically come in different colors. For the traditionalist, jump rope made of actual rope or cloth, or sometimes leather can be an option but these tend to be lighter so are better for more advanced skill levels. These cloth or leather ropes do tend to wear out faster.

Jump ropes for CrossFit are also available with thin metal cables. These thin wire cables move incredibly fast so before considering buying one, you’ll need to be approaching at least 100 consecutive double unders. Another thing to consider when using wire jump ropes is these things seriously sting if they hit your feet, so wearing shoes while jumping is highly recommended to avoid getting hurt.

sr-1-h

The Rogue SR-1 bearing speed rope is made from thin wire cable and moves very fast. Click on the picture to find out more.

4. Handle

types of jump rope handlesIn addition to these basic elements, the type of jump rope handle you choose will also be something to consider. Most jump ropes have plastic handles, though there are some made of wood. Whether you choose plastic or wood, you’ll be looking for two things – the first is the way the rope connects to the handle and the second is ball bearings. The best jump ropes for all fitness levels will have a swivel mechanism attachment that allows the rope to rotate freely from the handle. Some beginner style ropes will have the cable fitted within the handle which is fine when you’re starting out, but the more repetitions you do, and the faster you start to workout, the quicker the handle will wear away at the rope. Having a rope rotating freely reduces this common point of wear and tear and will help you get more out of your new jump rope.

 

 

Jump ropes with ball bearing weighted handles are the best choice for CrossFitters moving from beginning to intermediate levels – though beginners can use them too – and are an absolute must for advanced jumpers.  The ball bearings within the jump rope handles evenly distribute the weight of the rope throughout the rope’s rotation and allows for a smoother movement, which all translates into easier and more efficient jumping for you.

So, now we know why jumping rope is such an awesome part of CrossFit training and we’ve seen some things to consider when looking for a rope to match your needs, let’s have a look at the best jump ropes to buy for CrossFit and where to buy jump rope.

Rogue Custom Rx Jump Ropes

rogue-logo

 

 

 

Rouge fitness make a seriously good Rx jump rope that is available in custom lengths and weights. These ropes all have plastic, ergonomically molded handles with patented ball bearing weights and a swivel cable attachment. These ropes come in five different plastic rope weights from heavy for beginners to ultra-light for the double under masters and lengths range from 7 feet to just shy of 10 feet. While custom Rogue Rx jump ropes have everything you need when looking for a new jump rope for CrossFit, the absolute best thing about them is the ropes are interchangeable. So, if you buy a heavy rope to start out learning on, as your fitness increases, you can easily switch to lighter and faster ropes on the same handles. Brilliant.

The Rogue Custom Rx Ropes sell for $42.95 from Rogue.

Crossfit jump ropes

Rogue makes great jump ropes. Click here to check them out.

Pros – Custom rope options can be interchanged on same handles

Cons – The plastic rope can wear quickly for advanced users.

Valeo Speed Jump Rope – Deluxe

The Valeo Deluxe Speed Rope is a great choice for beginners. The rubber plastic rope comes at a ten foot adjustable length and while it doesn’t have a swivel mechanism like to Rogue fitness jump rope, the Valeo is given a fair amount of free rotation through plastic cuffs on the handles. The foam handles are soft and comfortable and weighted with a ball bearing system to allow for smoother movement. While the Valeo won’t last you for years, for that low price you can probably afford to wear one out as you’re learning before progressing to a more advanced rope.

A Valeo speed rope will cost you only $5.99 from Amazon

valeo speed jump rope

Click on the picture to check out the Valeo on Amazon

Pros – Cheap.

Cons – Rope will wear quickly, especially for more advanced users

SR-1 Rogue Bearing Speed Rope

The SR-1 Rogue speed rope is the ultimate in jump ropes for advanced CrossFitters and one of the best jump ropes for double unders. This speed rope is made of a metal 3/32″ cable coated in a plastic sheath, and  is easily adjustable to your rope length needs. The six inch tapered handles are glass filled and nylon resin coats which means they’ll last pretty much a lifetime. Each handle is weighted with two ball bearings and has a swivel rope attachment providing a smooth and clean rotation. The only drawback to the SR-1 is the plastic cable sheath will wear out over time, particularly if you’re jumping on concrete or a similar surface, leaving you with an exposed metal cable. If that does happen though, Rogue also stocks relatively cheap replacement cables that are easily fitted to the handles.  If you’re after a shorter handle, Rogue also makes the SR-1s Speed Rope.

sr-1-h

The Rogue SR 1 Speed Rope.

The Rogue bearing speed rope is $21.98 and replacements cables are available for $7.50 from Rogue. Click here or on the picture above to purchase.

Pros – highly durable handles with long and short options avaialble, well designed for smooth action

Cons – plastic coating on cable wears out

Powermax Jump Ropes

Powermax jump ropes from Rogue are a good option if you’re just starting out with a metal cable rope or a curious to see how they perform. The rope here is a 3/16″ vinyl coated steel cable which makes it heavier than the SR-1 but a better choice for intermediate cable users. The Powermax handles are 5.5” and made of soft grip foam. Each handle has a single ball bearing to aid movement, and a basic swivel attachment. The ropes come as either 9’ or 10’ lengths. The Powermax aren’t the best in ultra speed cable jump ropes, but they are a great option for cheap jump ropes for more advanced CrossFitters.

The Powermax jump rope will cost you $11.50 for the 9′ and $12.50 for the 10′ lengths from Rogue.

powermax jump rope

Pros – Cheap. A good introduction to jumping with a cable rope

Cons – lack of adjustment options makes for a less personal rope than other brands

SKLZ Speed Rope

The SKLZ weighted rope provides a different approach to handle weighting, with two removable steel bolts which add an additional 1.2lbs to the rope for a more effective swing and cardio workout. The rope is adjustable to users up to 6”6’ tall and is made of smooth rubber tubing. The rope does move nicely through the rotation but as it is so soft, you’re not looking at too long a long lifespan on this rope. The handles don’t have a swivel attachment or ball bearings. The SKLZ will be one of the best weighted jump rope options for beginners and those looking to refine their form and coordination before moving up to faster ropes. SKLZ are also good jump ropes for CrossFitters looking for a rope with adjustable handle weight for more varied training.

You can pick up a SKLZ speed rope from $29.99 from Amazon.

sklz-jump-ropePros – Removable handle weight adds variation to jumping.

Cons – soft rubber tubing rope will wear out with heavy use.

The Verdict

What’s the best jump rope for CrossFit? One of the best ropes CrossFit athletes can find for all round performance is the Rogue Custom Rx Jump Rope. With excellent quality materials and a fantastic range of custom options to suit all skill levels, the Custom Rx is a no fail choice when you’re looking to buy a jump rope.

Rogue take it again for the best jump rope for double unders in CrossFit with their SR-1 Rogue Bearing Speed Rope. This steel cable jump rope is one of the best speed jump ropes CrossFit

The best jumping rope for beginners at the best price is the Valeo speed rope deluxe. With adjustable rope length and a decent jump rope speed, the Valeo is a solid choice.

If you’re looking for a rope with an adjustable weighted rope option, the SKLZ speed rope is the best and most affordable option out there.

So now you know what to look for when shopping for the best jump ropes for CrossFit, you’ve got no excuse but to get on out there and start whipping out those double unders like never before.

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With a massive range of brands and models available, finding the best rowers for CrossFit might sometimes seem tougher than the workout itself! Rowing is an invaluable addition to your CrossFit training arsenal and one of the most functional full body exercises around. Running or swimming are good options for other cardio exercises, but when you hit the rower you’re putting all of your large muscle groups through a long range of motion with serious resistance. Further, working up a sweat on a rower gives you a metabolically demanding, low impact cardio session that will have you hitting your Vo2 max like few other exercises. Not convinced? Think about this – Olympic rowers consistently rank among the top athletes for Vo2 max, and the highest Vo2 max level ever tested was on a rower (New Zealand sculler, Rob Waddell). It’s not surprise that the ‘Rowing WOD’ is popular among CrossFitters around the world.

best rowers for crossfit

Rowing has become an integral part of CrossFit

Adding rowing to  your regular CrossFit training is a brilliant way to add variation and intensity to your workout. On the rower, CrossFitters are able to nicely balance the typical pushing, lifting and pressing movements of CrossFit moves like burpees, deadlifts and other lifts, with an explosive pulling exercise that smashes your quads, shoulders, and all of those hard to hit posterior muscles.

For that extra bit of sweetness, the benefits of using indoor rowing machines for CrossFit training also extend beyond the actual physical effects of the exercise. Rowing can be done indoors in all weather and because it’s such an intense and efficient exercise, rowing can pack a lot of results into a short period making it a great workout if you’re pressed for time and need faster results.

concept 2 D model rower for crossfit

The Concept2 D rower is the most popular rower for CrossFitters at home
Click on the picture to find out more

When you’re in the market for rowers to add to your CrossFit equipment, there are a few key features to watch for:

The Type of Resistance

Rowing machines are made with four different types of resistance: Piston, Magnetic, Air (or fan), and Water.

Piston Resistance

Resistance in a piston rower comes from compact hydraulic cylinders attached to the arms of the machine. A piston rower is typically smaller than other types, which also often means they’re a lot cheaper so if cost and space are an issue, pistons could be worth thinking about. However, piston resistance rowers don’t have the smooth motion of other rowers and can therefore lessen the overall effectiveness of your workout. Piston rowers aren’t really suitable for CrossFitters as they just can’t match the workout intensity of the other rowing machine options.

Magnetic Resistance

Strong electromagnets control the resistance in a magnetic rower. A magnetic machine offers a similar resistance to a piston rower but they have a much smoother operation and the resistance intensity can be more easily adjusted. Magnetic rowers also have a super quiet operation. If space is an issue, a magnetic rower can be a problem due to their long main rail that can’t be folded or separated for storage.  In our rower reviews, we found the LifeCORE r100 a great option for a magnetic rower for CrossFit – read on to see why.

 

 

lifecore r100 rowing machine

The Lifecore r100 is an example of a good rowing machine with magnetic resistance. Click on the picture to find out more.

Air Resistance

An air rower or fan rower is by far the most popular type of rower with CrossFit athletes and regular rowing machine users alike. The resistance in an air rower comes from a damper lever on the side of the flywheel which adjusts the amount of airflow into the wheel. An air rower is the closest simulation to rowing on water and offer the smoothest range of motion which gives you a better workout.On the downside, air rowers are the noisiest models to operate and they’re also often the largest models on the market. Air rowers are also often the most expensive but in terms of quality to cost ratio, air rowers are typically the best value rowers out there. In this review of rowers, the Concept 2 brand rowers come out on top for air resistance rowing machines.

best rowers for crossfit

The concept2 is an air resistance rower, and the one used in the CrossFit games
Click on the picture to purchase

 

Water Resistance

Water Resistance models are a generally good simulation for actual rowing and like the air models, they also allow a smooth movement. The resistance in a water rower comes from a variable amount of water in the resistance tank which increases or decreases the amount of tension on the wheels. While water resistance is customizable, it’s not nearly as convenient to change resistance as the other types of rowers can be. These rowing machines are generally more uncommon. They’re far heavier than other types of rowers and while not as noisy as an air rower, the water models do make a fair bit of sound.

The Ergometer

The ergometer, or erg, is the computer that records all of your exercise stats like stroke counting, how fast you’re going and how many calories you’ve burned. By the way,  in case you’re wondering about calories burned rowing you’re looking at around 500-600 calories per hour for an average build man doing an easy row.

Ergs are handy tools for anyone wanting to track their setting and progress, so for CrossFitters the ergometer is essential. Most modern models will be erg rowing machines.

A good erg machine will have a large display that’s easy to read mid-workout. The two most important stats during your rowing training for CrossFit will be the stroke rate and the split time. The stroke rate not only shows you how hard you’re working but also helps you to control your rhythm. The split time tells you how much force you’re applying after each stroke so again, the split time is important to maintain a smooth and regulated workout, regulate your momentum and also helps to track intensity intervals. The watts readout is also important as it tracks the actual power produced by the wheel so will give a good indication of the quality of your stroke as well as your overall intensity.

As well as these numbers, a good ergometer might also synch to a heart rate monitor. Things like preset workout programs and resistance notes are extra features on some machines and some CrossFitters do enjoy these features but these extras come more down to individual preference and what you think you need to get the most out of your rowing workout.  The best Ergometers in terms of the number of features in the rowers we reviewed come from the LifeCORE r100 although the PM3 and PM4 ergometers from Concept 2 have more than everything you need to track your workout.

Other Factors

No matter the individual fitness of the rower or the overall intensity of the workout, you need to keep good posture and proper technique to maximize the effectiveness of any rowing workout. While a lot of this comes with practice and training, the style of machine also has a lot to do with your rowing technique. Ensure your rower has the right seat height and overall rail length for your body size. The C2 E model has the highest seat of those reviewed here, but the LifeCORE seat is adjustable as is the angle of the whole LifeCORE frame.

Also, when buying a rower, look at the length and width of the handle to ensure it’s right for your shoulders and grip distance. The weight capacity and stability of the machine is also an important factor to consider when matching a rower to your body.

So, now we’ve got an idea of the key features to look for in a rowing machine for CrossFit training, let’s now take a look at the three most popular rowers for CrossFitters and compare the models.

Best Rowers For CrossFit Training

Concept 2 Rowers

concept 2 rowers

For a lot of CrossFitters, Concept 2 Rowers are the only choice for incorporating indoor rowing into a WOD.  Taking a look at these features, it’s really not that hard to understand why the Concept 2 rowing machine is such a popular choice. Concept 2s have a smooth glide for a seamless rowing movement and have been specially designed to minimize the noise you’d expect from a lot of other air resistance rowers. In addition to the features of the individual C2 rowers themselves, the Concept 2 logbook – an online fitness tracking system available to Concept 2 customers – contributes to the overall popularity of the Concept 2 brand.

There are three types of Concept 2 rowers: Model D, Model E and the Dynamic.

All Concept 2 models are easy start, tough, air resistance rowers and each model has varying features for different physical needs. All models come with one or the other of the two makes of C2 ergometers, the PM3 and the PM4.

The PM3 and PM4 both have the standard split times, watts, stroke rate, time, intervals and averages. Both also come with inbuilt games. The PM3 lets you race against other machines with additional equipment, while the PM4 lets you set up a race wirelessly. PM3 can be linked to a heart rate monitor with additional extras while the PM4 has a native heart rate function inbuilt. The PM4 also has an increased memory capacity and rechargeable battery.  While each model of C2 rower comes with one or the other display as its default standard, you can opt to replace monitors from one to the other.

concept 2 PM3 and PM4 displays

Concept 2 Model D

Model D is the most affordable C2 rower and is recommended for most home users and those CrossFitters who want to WOD at home. It’s an air resistance rower with a spiral damper that lets you easily adjust the airflow and change the feel of the stroke to suit your preference.

The Model D sits fairly low, with a 14” seat height and the monorail is 52” though a longer rail can be fitted at an extra cost. The chain is nickel coated to ensure maximum durability. The frame is aluminum, the whole machine weighs around 57 lb, and the rail is easily separated for convenient storage. The D comes with the PM3 Concept 2 erg as standard.

Price will vary with any additional Concept 2  features such as Performance Monitor Display types or custom length rails.

concept 2 D model rower

 

Click here or on the picture above to check it on Roguefitness.com

Pros – Cheapest in the C2 range while still a high quality machine. Packs up for easy storage.

Cons – Unable to adjust seat height

 

Concept 2 Model E

The Model E has the same 96” overall length as the D Model, though it’s a touch heavier at 65 lbs. Also, the E Model has a much higher seat at 20” which makes it a good choice if there are any knee or other bending issues you have to contend with or you just prefer the look of a higher built machine. The rail can be separated for storage, and like the D model a longer rail is available at an additional cost. With its welded steel frame, Concept 2 recommends the Model E for commercial applications so this is most likely the C2 rowing machines you’ll see used by most gyms and CrossFit affiliates. The Model E comes with the PM4 as standard.

concept 2 E model rower

Click here or on the picture above to check it out on Rogue’s website

Pros – Packs for easy storage. High seat improves maneuverability for some users.

Cons – Non-adjustable heights.

Concept 2 Dynamic

The C2 Dynamic is the ultimate step up to high level rowing machines for CrossFit and is best suited to kayakers and other athletes training for rowing on the water. The Dynamic is shorter in overall length than the D and E, at 76” however, the monorail length itself is a touch longer. Note that the rail on the Dynamic can’t be separated for storage so the Dynamic is only really an option is you have the space for it. Unlike the Model D or E, the Dynamic’s footrest moves freely so there’s minimal body mass movement throughout the stroke maximizing your core stabilization. The Dynamic comes with the PM3 erg as standard.

concept 2 Dynamic model rower

Pros – closest match to actually rowing on water

Cons – large machine, size can’t be compacted for storage.

LifeCORE r100

lifecore

The LifeCORE r100 rowing machine is a decent alternative to the Concept 2 models. The LifeCORE is a magnetic rower which means it has a super quiet function and smooth glide. While this will be a great feature for a lot of athletes looking for a home rower, a magnetic rower machine doesn’t proved the same simulation for actual water rowing as an air resistance model does. That said, with 16 levels of resistance you can still pack a workout from the LifeCORE. The rower comes with 15 pre-programed options as well as four heart rate programs deigned to sync with a Polar brand monitor. All 19 programs are easily accessible from the large LCD display which also reads pace, watts, time, speed, distance and calories.

Overall the r100 is 94 inches, built of sturdy aluminum frame with steel support and the entire machine folds for easy storage. The LifeCORE has a cooling fan as well as specially designed angled footrest. While the footrest has been designed for a more ergonomically powerful rowing position, some users do report discomfort and heel problems from the angle, so the LifeCORE might be something better tested in person before deciding to purchase.

lifecore r100 rowing machine

Pros – almost silent operation with a smooth glide.

Cons – angled footrest might not be suitable for all users.

Stamina Air Rower

StaminaLogo

The Stamina Air Rower is a good quality rowing machine perfect for CrossFitters looking to supplement their CrossFit training without breaking their budget. Like the Concept 2 D model, the Stamina Air Rower is a fan resistance rowing machine. While the resistance intensity on the Stamina Air Rower is great for lower impact rowing training, more advanced CrossFitters will probably do better with a slightly higher level machine. Beginner and Intermediate athletes however will do well with this well built, reasonably cheap rowing machine.

The extra wide padded seat on the Stamina glides smoothly and evenly,  and the angled monorail is also a touch longer than you’ll find on a lot of other machines so it’s perfect for taller athletes.  The large foot plate area with adjustable shoe straps means you can really pack some force into your legs, blasting your hams and quadriceps without having to worry about the discomfort of your feet slipping around, as happens on a lot of smaller and cheaper rowing machines. The Stamina Air Rower has a basic erg readout, displaying speed, distance, time and calories. When it’s not in use, the sturdy steel frame folds up nicely and can be wheeled away easily.

stamina air rower for crossfit

Click on the picture to learn more about the Stamina Air Rower

Pros – Budget cost. Extra comfortable seat and large foot pad area.

Cons – Generally lightweight and really only suitable for beginners.

The Verdict

Rowing makes a great addition to any WOD, and is a wonderful cardio alternative to the running or using an airdyne.  The added benefit of providing a far more intense resistance workout makes a rowing machine one of the best cardio machine choices available. In addition to the usual gym equipment people need for CrossFit, such as kettlebells and the more typical CrossFit moves like squats or box jumps, rower workouts bring a whole new level to your range of CrossFit moves.

If you’re in the market for the best indoor rowing machine for CrossFit, these options are all a solid choice but, as with the purchase of any fitness equipment your best match will come down to your specific CrossFit needs.

Summing up, the Concept 2s are by far the best option, with the D model most suitable for home and more general use. For something with a bit more power or commercial applications, go for the E model. If you’re training for actual on water rowing, then the Concept 2 Dynamic is your only choice. Consider though if storage is an issue for you before grabbing a Dynamic. Looking at a Concept 2 rower for sale, some may be put off by the price, and if that’s too much of a hurdle, buying a good condition used Concept 2 rowing machine in should be a serious consideration.

If you’re looking for a perfectly functional rowing machine a bit cheaper than the C2 models with added programmable features, then get your gear on a LifeCORE r100. Remember though that the magnetic resistance won’t give you as authentic a rowing experience as an air resistance model will.  The Stamina Air Rower machine is another efficient air resistance rower and, as it’s a whole lot cheaper than the C2 models, it’s a great option for anyone on a budget. The Stamina however isn’t really tough enough for advanced athletes so the Concept 2 models still come out as the overall winner for the best home rowing machines and the best rowers for CrossFit.

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