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Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Reebok Nano X2 Review

 


Reebok Nano X2:
Strength Training Excellence
By Contributor Ryan Flugaur

I can still remember purchasing the original Nano, the Reebok flex Nano. It was designed with U-Form technology claiming to help provide a custom fit experience. To achieve this “custom fit”, you would first heat the insole with a hair dryer until the U-Form badge on the side of the shoe turned red. You would then lace up the shoes and sit until the badge turned black again. This would “mold” the shoes to your feet providing a custom fit. I remember thinking how neat it was to have custom fit shoes and how this was likely how all shoes would be in the future. Obviously, this was not the case as Reebok went away with the U-Form technology soon after. Looking back, I am sure the “custom fit” approach was more of a marketing ploy than true performance enhancement, but I sure felt cool at the time.

Price: $135 at Reebok
Weight: 10.8 oz, g (men's size 9)
Stack Height: N/A
Drop: 7mm
Classification: Training


TRAINING SHOE SUMMARY

The Reebok Nano X2 is designed for all-around gym functionality including short runs, sprints, cuts, squats, and general weight training. Updates to the Nano X2 correct many of the issues I experienced with version X1 and overall improve the function of the Nano line. Designing a shoe with such extreme functionality is no easy task and therefore sacrifices must be made to certain aspects of the shoe to improve performance in other areas. For example, the Reebok Nano X2 shines in its ability to perform high level strength and balance exercises. However, this takes away from its functionality as a running shoe.


FIT

The Reebok Nano X2 fits slightly wide and long for me with even the Reebok website recommends sizing a half size down. Having slightly wider feet I appreciate the extra room but individuals with narrow or small feet may prefer a half size down for a snugger fit, especially if you plan to perform ladder and running drills where you need the security. The Flexweave knit upper is a big change over last year's X1 model. The new upper feels more “stiff” and secure as knit is much thicker. During lifting and cutting I appreciated the more secure fit. However, during running and daily wear, the material feels as if it needs to be “broken in.”  

Moving to the back of the shoe, the Nano X2 retains the similar heel clip design used in previous versions with the X2 constructed using slightly stiffer plastic than previous models. This adds structure to the midfoot and heel with improved foot stability during heavy lifting sessions. Another new addition to the X2 includes two pieces of thick rubber material that originates near the laces and connects to the heel clip adding structure to the midfoot. The tongue has also been updated this year and now includes a much-needed lace loop; I had issues with the tongue not staying in place on the X1. Overall, the new additions to the X2 make it feel more secure during cutting and lifting tasks compared to previous versions but the upper may be too stiff for some individuals.  


PERFORMANCE

In this section, I will highlight key characteristics of the Nano X2 during a variety of functional and cross training activities. 

Jumping and Plyometrics
Jumping rope, ladder jumps, and box jumps feel smooth and stable in the Nano X2. The flat platform and Floatride Energy midsole provide a secure and stable landing during dynamic tasks. As the midfoot is flexible, it was easy to push off the toes which allows jumping in the Nano to feel natural as well as push-ups. The heel clip wraps around both the medial and lateral sides of the shoe and prevents the shoe from collapsing in either direction with landing. Due to the thickness of the upper material, I experienced a slight pinch in the material over the dorsum of my foot. This did not affect the workout but was noticeable when pushing off the ground.  

Cutting and Running
The Nano X2 is designed for short sprints and runs up to 5k. I completed multiple runs in the Nano X2 including a MURPH (1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push-ups, 300 squats, followed by a 1-mile run). I personally wouldn’t want to run any distance over a 5k in the Nano X2 as it feels clunky and heavy. Its lack of more traditional heel and forefoot bevel make it a more stable lifting shoe but take away from its functionality as a running shoe. Initial contact feels stiff and the transition to midfoot is anything but smooth. As the shoe transitions to forefoot, I could hear the flat outsole slap the tread on the treadmill. The flexibility in the forefoot leads to a smoother toe off but I again was able to feel the pinch in the material over the dorsum of the foot. Running is not the strong suit of the Nano X2, but it is not designed to be. Most individuals will be able to run short distances but don’t expect it to perform like your typical runner daily trainer.  

When cutting, the Nano X2 performs well keeping the foot glued to the insole. This was an issue for me in the X1 as the upper was too flexible and allowed my foot to slide around during dynamic tasks. This was fixed in the X2 thanks to the improvements in the upper material as well as the heel clip.   

Strength Training

The true strength of the Nano X2 is its performance of weight training and strength tasks. Performing squats, deadlifts, and lunges in the Nano X2 feels secure and stable. Despite the floatride energy midsole, the foam does not feel squishy even during 300 lb squats. The outsole provides excellent grip to many surfaces while the heel clip keeps the foot planted and secure in both the medial and lateral direction. If you are considering a gym shoe used primarily for lifting tasks, the Reebok Nano X2 is an excellent option.



STABILITY

For me, the previous Nano X1 lacked structure through the toe box and midfoot but provided a secure fit in the heel. This was most evident during cutting, jumping, and running tasks as my foot slid around inside the shoe. Updates to the X2 work to correct these issues and for the most part do a good job. The more rigged heel clip and the newly updated rubber strips in the X2 add structure to the midfoot during cutting and jumping tasks. The thicker upper also adds to the overall stability of the shoe. As the upper is stiffer, I did not feel my foot move in the shoe despite the toe box fitting slightly wide. The Nano X2 retains many of its previous stability features including dense float ride energy midsole foam and a flat platform. There is a small heel and toe bevel to assist with running and sprinting, but this is very minimal compared to more traditional running shoes.




THOUGHTS AS A DPT / FOOTWEAR SCIENCE

Why runners may want to consider a cross training shoe for the gym instead of a running shoe?

There are many differences between shoes designed for cross training and those for running. Typically, a training shoe features a flat, full contact outsole with very little, if any, rocker. Stack height will also be minimal to keep the foot close to the ground helping keep the foot planted during periods of heavy lifting. Many training shoes also feature added structural components to assist with stability in the heel and midfoot in both the medial and lateral direction. These include the cage used in the Inov-8 F-Lite G300 and the heel clip Reebok uses in the Nano. One last major difference is the midsole foam. Typically, a gym shoe will be constructed using a stiffer foam to limit compression during heavy lifting. Studies have shown that participants who performed squats on an unstable softer surface, such as a foam pad, resulted in weight reduction in 6 rep max loads by 7% compared to squats off a firm surface such as the ground. This would make sense as the foam would increase instability forcing the foot to work harder to prevent the foot from collapsing.

For the runner that doesn’t need an aggressive lifting shoe like the Reebok Nano, running shoe companies are designing shoes with a hybrid running and gym function. These shoes include the Hoka Kawana, Saucony Freedom 5, and Topo ST-4. These shoes typically feature firmer midsole foam as well as a low drop. The Kawana features a rocker bottom outsole while the Freedom and ST- 4 has a flat outsole platform. A reason to consider a shoe like those above would be that it typically will perform better with running tasks versus a gym shoe and can still be used during occasional lifting.

When choosing the best gym shoe, it will ultimately come down to budget and what you plan to do in the gym. For the runner planning on light lifting and occasional fitness classes, you will likely be fine using a running shoe. Look for a running shoe with a lower stack height, firmer midsole foam, full contact or wide base, and a secure fitting upper. Some examples include, the New Balance 880, Saucony Freedom 5, and Topo Magnifly 4. For those runners willing to spend some extra money, investing in a true lifting/cross training shoe will give you extra benefits traditional running shoes are unable to provide.

Reference:

Andersen V, Fimland MS, Brennset O, Haslestad LR, Lundteigen MS, Skalleberg K, Saeterbakken AH. Muscle activation and strength in squat and Bulgarian squat on stable and unstable surface. Int J Sports Med. 2014 Dec;35(14):1196-202. doi: 10.1055/s-0034-1382016. Epub 2014 Sep 25. PMID: 25254898.



RECOMMENDATIONS

The Reebok Nano X2 addressed many of the issues I experienced in the X1 but the upper material continues to be an issue for me. With the Reebok Nano X1 the upper felt loose and allowed extra motion in the forefoot. The X2 is a step in the right direction as it provides more structure to the shoe during dynamic activities, but the thicker material frequently bunched up causing a pinch on the top of my foot. I would love to see a slightly softer material used that maintains shape but also moves with the foot.

WHO THIS SHOE IS FOR

The Nano X2 is for the individual that wants a great all-around gym shoe. However, it is not able to take the place of one of your running shoes. For me, I choose to wear the Nano X2 on gym days I know will be heavy on my legs, specifically squats, lunges, plyometrics, and deadlifts. For the runner looking to get a bit more out of their lower body workout, a true lifting shoe such as the Reebok Nano X2 may be a nice upgrade from a traditional running shoe.


GRADING

Ryan
Fit: B (Fits slightly large in length and width. For those with narrow feet or whom prefer a snugger fit, you may need to size down.)               
Performance: B+ (The Nano X2 performs well with lifting and jumping tasks. Continues to fall behind traditional running shoes with running)
Stability: A- (Great stable platform. Updates to the upper makes the midfoot more secure. Heel clip does a nice job adding to the structure to the back of the shoe.)
Personal: A- (The Nano X2 will stay in my collection for heavy lifting and cross training.)
Overall: B+/A- (Good update over previous models. Overall a great lifting shoe. Upper can feel too stiff and may occasionally cause a  pinch over the top of the foot.)


SHOP | SUPPORT DOR

Price: $135 at Reebok

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Editor's Note: As always, the views presented on this website belong to myself or the selected few who contribute to these posts. This website should not and does not serve as a replacement for seeking medical care. If you are currently injured or concerned about an injury, please see your local running physical therapist. If you are in the Los Angeles area, I am currently taking clients for running evaluations.

***Disclaimer: These shoes were provided free of charge in exchange for a review.  We thank the people at Reebok for sending us a pair.  This in no way affected the honesty of this review. We systematically put each type of shoe through certain runs prior to review. For trainers and performance trainers, we take them on daily runs, workouts, recovery runs and a long run prior to review (often accumulating anywhere from 20-50 miles in the process). For racing flats we ensure that we have completed intervals, a tempo or steady state run as well as a warm-up and cool down in each pair prior to review. This systematic process is to ensure that we have experience with each shoe in a large variety of conditions to provide expansive and thorough reviews for the public and for companies. Our views are based on our extensive history in the footwear industry and years testing and developing footwear. If you are a footwear rep looking for footwear reviews or consultations on development, we are currently looking to partner with companies to assist, discuss and promote footwear models. Partnership will not affect the honesty of our reviews.

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Inov-8 Parkclaw G 280