If the Shoe Fits...


To some, a shoe is a shoe. “Does it really make a difference if I wear my running shoes to a strength workout?” Well…short answer, yes – we believe it does. It might strike you as silly, but the shoes you train in can make a noticeable difference in your workout.

“What type of shoes should I wear in here?” “What kind of of kicks do your trainers workout in?” These are fairly common questions within our walls…and good ones at that! We can certainly make a few generic recommendations; however, answers surrounding what brand in specific makes the right training shoe for you can vary based on the individual.

Generally speaking…

Your feet shouldn’t hurt after the workout. They shouldn’t feel crammed. Or have an uncomfortable amount of lift. And they certainly shouldn’t weigh you down. Bottom line, the right shoe for you is the one you feel awesome training in.

In line with what we do inside the MADhouse, here are some basic guidelines that might be helpful in pointing you towards finding your ideal training kicks:

  • Lightweight
  • Minimal drop
  • Ankle stability
  • Durability (because shoes can be fu**ing expensive, and replacing them every three months is a pain in the ass)

The shoes you train in shouldn’t be the ones you garden in. Or the shoes you walk the dog in. Or even the shoes you jog in. If you can swing it, we highly recommend having a separate pair of training shoes on hand…we promise, you’ll feel the difference.

What do your trainers wear?

Again, the right shoe is very dependent on the individual; however, we appreciate the “I want to be like Mike” mentality, so we’ve rounded up a few of our MAD leaders to share with you what training shoes they love, and why they love them:

Brandon Cullen (MADabolic Inc. Co-Founder & CEO): York Athletics Mid Trainer

York Athletics' "Trainers” are a newer style of footwear to me, but I'm enjoying training in them.  Originally intended as a shoe for boxers, I find the brand transcends into what we do here at MADabolic Inc. The heel height provides solid ankle support and enables good lateral mobility, which can be excellent for much of the agility work you’ll find in our intervals.  Additionally, they lightly mold to the foot, providing reasonable cushion without weighing me down so I can comfortably move weight.  If you like a snug fit and a minimalist’s feel/look, you’ll love this shoe as an training option.

Kirk Dewaele (MADabolic Inc. Co-Founder & COO): Inov8 F-Lite 195

Inov8’s F-Lite 195s fit my narrow foot like a glove. They offer quite a few different options, but I prefer this model when I train. With minimal lift and a comfortable midsole, I find them breathable and adaptable to whatever I’m doing on the MAD floor, from lifting to running to jumping. I’ve yet to find a better training shoe for me, personally.

Ashley Mol (MADabolic Burlington Owner/Operator): New Balance Minimus Trail

I’ve been wearing the New Balance Minimus Trail shoe for years and am hard pressed to switch. Its design is minimal with a cushioned midsole, so I always feel light on my feet and naturally supported for agility and sprint work without compromising stability in my lifts. They also give me an awesome grip when needed to pivot for power or change direction quickly. The Minimus Trail's multi-functionality for both strength training and sprinting make it an easy choice.

Finley Amato (MADabolic Charlotte General Manager: NOBULL Trainer

As someone whose feet couldn’t be any flatter, the NOBULL women’s trainers have my vote. They are minimalistic, super lightweight, and have a nice wide toe box to comfortably accommodate a wider foot. When I’m moving weight, I feel sturdy and powerful; when I’m running suicides, I feel light and quick on the turn.  They’re breathable and flexible, so I never feel crammed (if you suffer from flat feet, you know what I’m talking about).

Yes, a quality training shoe (such as those mentioned above) can be an investment, but its value will be reflected in both its longevity and how you feel on the floor. Don’t expect long-term support from that $25 Target-brand pair. But if you’re consistently on the MAD floor working through our fundamental movement patterns – hinging, squatting, sprinting, pushing, pulling – you want the shoes on your feet to match the functionality of your movement.