Wednesday 10 February 2016

Face Up Fitness: Performance Trainers - Worth The Money?

Some months back I had a few sessions with a personal trainer with specialist knowledge of sports-related postural problems. I’d been having pain in my hips and the adductor muscles in my right leg for about two years. I know, two years!

A course of physiotherapy last year helped to relieve my symptoms a little, but it’s been weight-training that has helped the most – go on girls, try lifting, it’s brilliant in so many aspects (not least that it makes you feel on top of the world)!

Charlie, my trainer, put together a programme largely focused around strengthening the glutes and core. He also gave me this piece of advice: go and invest in a pair of weightlifting trainers.

Before your eyes glaze over, weightlifting shoes (or high performance trainers) are not highly specialised for the diehard lifter only, those women who can lift 20 times their own bodyweight on the tip of their little finger. Any women who exercises intensely with dumbbells, kettlebells, bars, machine-based weights, or does intense cross-training, should consider investing in such footwear.

I’d never heard of women’s weightlifting shoes. And it seems I wasn’t the only one. The staff at both my local Sports Direct and JD Sports looked at me as if I was mad when I enquired. The sales guy at Intersports knew of them but said, ‘we don’t sell them and to be honest you’re the first woman in my 25 years here (not sure if he said 25, but it was about that) who has ever asked’.

A google search later and I’ve narrowed my search down to two brands, Nike and Adidas. I opt for a pair of Nike Metcon’s and these are them in the pics you see here – I know, pretty cool, huh?

Nike Metcon – key features 

  • Low platform and firm rubber in the heel to make you feel stable and connected to the ground during weightlifting
  • Flex grooves and soft rubber in the forefoot allow the foot to move more naturally. A drop in the midsole adds cushioning when running and helps keep the shoe flexible
  • Extra durable mesh at the toe and rubber on the sides to resist scuffing and help protect the foot during intense training
  • Flywire cables wrap your midfoot for lightweight support and a tailored fit
  • Perforations in the shoe keep the foot cool


I’ve been training in my Metcon’s for well over a month now, four times a week. I can sum up my thoughts on them in one word: love!

They’re as comfy as hell. I have quite wide feet and find most trainers pinch my sides. The Metcon’s are fairly wide across the toe joints (though if your feet are narrow, that may be something to consider), giving my feet plenty of space where they need it.

The firmness of the heel makes the foot feel very supported – something I’ve noticed as I’m lifting weights above my head (say when I’m doing a standing shoulder press) and also when driving down into the floor (such as when squatting).

Something that can easily happen when squatting with heavy weights is for your ankles to roll inwards (foot pronation). This is bad technique and it can lead to joint injury. With their reinforced support, I’ve found the Nike Metcon’s have helped my form to improve (though of course that responsibility really lies with me, not my equipment).

At £110, Metcon’s don’t come cheap – Nike has just launched the Metcon 2 (mine here are Metcon 1). Worth the money? Absolutely. While I’m still lifting weights, I’ll never train in anything other than a specialist trainer like these – they’re built for the job and don’t you know it!

More on Nike’s Metcon range here.

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