Calisthenics refers to the fitness workouts that you perform using your body weight and gravity as the training resistance. Think of lunges, squats, crunches, planks, burpees, handstands, pull ups and so on.
Although most of these workout procedures don’t require exercise machines or free weights, you need to wear proper training shoes. So, which are the best shoes for calisthenics?
Well, your typical cross training shoes might not give you optimal performance. The best shoes for calisthenics should promote natural or barefoot sensation while offering the necessary comfort and foot protection.
Here are my recommendations!
Related: Best Shoes for Plyometrics
Reviews: 7 Best Shoes for Calisthenics 2021
Dubbed as a barefoot cross trainer, this shoe feels almost non-existent on your feet, thanks to the 210g weight per shoe. Barefoot means it comes in a zero drop design so that your feet are level from heel to toe. However, it makes use of a 3mm footbed which is meant to offer sufficient impact absorption for calisthenics exercises.
Most of the calisthenics workouts do not cause dangerous impacts on your feet. So, you’re good to go with a little padding under your feet.
With the zero-drop outsole you can feel the ground in a better way thus contributing to better foot control, increased stability and firmer grip. The material for this part of the shoe is a highly grippy rubber which is meant to offer secure grip even on wet floors.
The Meta-Flex groove contributes to greater forefoot flexibility which is necessary for calisthenics such as lunges, planks, burpees and so on.
Also offering sufficient flexibility is the top part which is built with a stretchable mesh. The rearfoot, sides and forefoot are built with synthetic overlays to protect the mesh and deliver support for your feet. However, the overlays won’t inhibit the flexibility of your feet.
Rope-Tec technology is also incorporated as side panels to provide grip during rope-climbing exercises. The rubber toe bumper is necessary for toe protection.
What’s more, this shoe comes with Met-Cradle type of lacing system designed to offer a secure fit without inhibiting flexibility.
Turning to a minimalist shoe like Vapor Glove 3 results to an almost natural foot movement which is ideal for calisthenics workouts. It comes with a thin layer of CMEVA compound which offers minimal but comfortable cushioning.
In addition the midsole is equipped with TrailProtect technology which is meant to guard your underfoot from debris and sharp objects.
Vapor Glove 3 employs the highly revered Vibram TC5+ rubber as the outsole material. It comes as thin layer so as to give a barefoot experience and minimize the weight of the shoe. Designed for high resilience, this compound guarantees prolonged longevity and accurate traction.
What’s more, the sole unit also exhibits admirable flexibility which allows your feet to bend efficiently during calisthenics.
The foot compartment comes with a wide toe-box which allows your toes to splay naturally. Backed by the breathable mesh, the upper unit promotes effective breathability which keeps your feet cool and dry.
Moreover, the mesh is supported with TPU overlays to uphold its structure and offer the necessary foot support. The extension of the outsole at the toe area provides a rubbery bumper to keep your toes safe.
Related: Best Pull up Bar for Calisthenics
Minimus 20 v7 is an extremely lightweight trainer yet very responsive. Such a configuration results from the use of REVlite cushioning in the midsole. REVlite exhibits adequate responsiveness which makes it ideal for sprints and jumping workouts. However, it still retains the sturdiness needed for weightlifting. Plus you get extra underfoot padding from the insole.
A low profile Vibram rubber is utilized as the sole unit of Minimus 20 v7 Trainer to give you a barefoot experience. Vibram rubber is preferred because of its superb hard-wearing and traction properties.
The heel part of the outsole is made firmer to give you sufficient stability when lifting. On the other hand the forefoot is built to allow better responsiveness. Backed by the miniature nubs and flex grooves, the forefoot delivers outstanding performance during plyometrics, burpees and even running.
The knitted mesh on the upper results in a flexible and breathable configuration to give you optimal comfort during calisthenics workouts. Meta support technology is incorporated to offer the ideal support for lateral movements.
What’s more, the forefoot is covered by the outsole extension which serves as a bumper.
As its name depicts, this shoe comes with a zero drop outsole designed to offer a barefoot or natural ground feel. So, if all you need is a platform to protect your feet without much responsiveness, then you can’t go wrong with this one.
The footbed is a 2-mm thick insole whose cushioning is enough for most calisthenics workouts since they don’t involve excessive impacts. The design of the heel area is in such a way that it keeps your heels centered.
Not only is the outsole made of a grippy rubber, but it’s also equipped with multidirectional lugs to heighten grip on varied surfaces. Plus it’s thin and flexible to allow appropriate foot bending when performing lunges, planks, burpees and so on.
The low-cut upper configuration is intended to allow optimal ankle movement because calisthenics involve numerous foot movements. It’s constructed with flexible textile so that your feet don’t feel restricted during your workouts.
The synthetic overlays on the sides and back offer protection and support without hindering foot flexibility. The toe area features a sturdy toe cap which is meant to guard your toes.
What’s more, it comes with reflective straps which work with the lacing system to offer a customized fit.
Related: Best Weighted Vest for Calisthenics
Every aspect of this minimalist running/training shoe is meant to give you a barefoot sensation where your feet feel free and flow naturally. A minimalist shoes is in fact what you need in your calisthenics workouts since they don’t involve significant impacts or other hazards.
Underfoot cushioning results from a 3-mm thick insole which can be substituted with custom orthotics of choice.
The bottom of Primus Swimrun FG entails a rubber compound whose stickiness delivers accurate grip. Multi-directional patterns guarantee you a high level of traction no matter the orientation of your feet.
To guard your underfoot from debris and sharp objects, the shoe also employs a puncture-resistant material known as Pro-5. However, the sole unit retains its flexibility properties.
The lightweight construction of the upper aims at minimizing the overall weight of the shoe for optimal comfort. A combination of mesh and V-W overlays results in a sturdy construction which is also able to support and protect your feet effectively.
The use of elastic laces aims at allowing a customized fit for optimal comfort.
Built for cross training, Metcon 4 is meant to serve different purposes including the various forms of calisthenics, plyometrics, weightlifting and so on. It comes with a removable low heel-to-toe midsole to keep your feet close to the surface for added stability. Thus, you can comfortably lift heavy weights without losing stability.
The minimal cushioning provided by the midsole is sufficient for calisthenics, weightlifting and plyometrics such as box jumps.
On the underside is a sturdy rubber compound designed to offer reliable traction and prolonged usage. The entire gripping surface is finished with tri-star patterns to improve its traction properties.
The rubber material and the tri-star patterns also make the rope-climbing surface on Metcon 4. This configuration makes it possible to grip on the rope while guarding the mesh.
The use of sandwich mesh aims at creating a plush feel over your foot to enhance your comfort. A rubbery material known as haptic is lined at convenient areas to guard the mesh from hazards such as abrasion and tearing.
Also adding to secure foot-hold is the TPU heel counter at the rear of Metcon 4.
Three words can be used to describe Metcon Flyknit 3 – comfortable, flexible and versatile. You can don it during lifting, plyometrics, calisthenics, cardio and short runs.
Having your feet close to the ground is what gives you the stability to lift heavy weights without injuring your feet. The midsole is a drop-in component which is responsible for underfoot comfort and springiness during short runs and box jumps.
The rearfoot also incorporates a firm heel insert which contributes to stability during weightlifting.
A sturdy rubber complete with tri-star treads is responsible for the effective traction and flexibility delivered by the outsole. The forefoot exhibits superb flexibility which enables you to perform burpees, planks and lunges with minimal strain on your metatarsal.
You get reliable grip on climbing ropes since the outsole rubber also extends upwards at the midfoot.
The shoes gets the name Flyknit because this is the technology that makes its upper part. Flyknit is a sturdy mesh fabric meant offer a long-lasting foot cover without inhibiting natural or normal foot mechanics.
Flyknit technology is backed by synthetic overlays at the heel, toe box and lateral sides as a means of structural reinforcement. These overlays also contribute to a desirable foothold and support to enhance stability.
Additional lateral support is delivered by the Flywire cables which complement the lacing system.
What’s more, your toes are guarded by the extension of the sole unit at the forefoot.
How to Choose the Best Shoes for Calisthenics
While you can do bodyweight/calisthenics workouts, it’s recommended to wear barefoot shoes to guard your feet and minimize discomforts. As the name suggests, barefoot shoes are intended to give you a barefoot sensation during your bodyweight training.
So, exactly what are features to look for in the best shoes for calisthenics?
Here’s a brief summary of how a typical minimalist shoe for bodyweight training should look like.
1. Barefoot Sensation
A thin sole, minimal cushioning and a zero-drop heel-to-toe underfoot platform is what gives you the barefoot sensation during training. It allows your feet to feel the ground below so as to better communication with the brain.
As such you’re able to make accurate moves and therefore train more effectively.
You don’t want to wear shoes that hinder natural foot biomechanics. Therefore, your typical shoes should be flexible so that your feet can bend and spread like you’re wearing nothing.
Consider a mesh fabric for the upper part of the shoe since it promotes natural foot movements. It won’t constrict your feet when you’re doing bodyweight exercises like burpees, push-ups or planks.
Another factor to consider in your shoes for calisthenics is weight. Shoes for bodyweight training come with a thin sole and minimal cushioning. Thus they’re lightweight sneakers which are intended only to offer an artificial protective skin on your feet.
They should actually feel non-existent on your feet during your bodyweight training.
A rubber toe-bumper will guard your toes against possible hazards during calisthenics. Your toes won’t be squished or sustain injuries in case you accidentally knock on items during training.
Benefits of Calisthenics Training
Calisthenics is the simplest term used to refer to bodyweight weight training. Calisthenics training provides a very effective means for achieving total body fitness without using any equipment.
It makes use of bodyweight to provide the necessary resistance for increasing muscle strength and endurance as well as burning calories.
I believe that you’re already doing calisthenics in your fitness programs like Burn boot camp, Barry’s boot camp among others. If you’re new to the term calisthenics, then these are the bodyweight exercises involved in most of the fitness programs.
Common calisthenics exercises include push-ups, pull-ups, burpees, lunges, planks, squats, sit-ups, chin-ups and so on.
In this guide I have summarized 5 benefits of incorporating calisthenics in your fitness program.
Gives you Full-Body Fitness
Calisthenics are science-backed exercises which can yield full-body fitness when done correctly. In fact by doing burpees only, you can achieve full-body fitness. Burpees are very effective in increasing muscle strength and endurance as well as burning calories.
By combining burpees with other forms of calisthenics workouts, you’ll achieve even better fitness goals without using any equipment.
Good for Strength and Endurance Building
Before incorporating external resistance, first train with your bodyweight resistance to build muscle strength and endurance. Engaging in bodyweight training prepares your muscles for greater resistance with training equipment.
If you first build your muscle strength and endurance with calisthenics, there’ll be lesser risk of injuries during more intense workouts.
Enhances Balance, Stability and Muscle Coordination
By combining complex moves and bodyweight resistance, calisthenics exercises engage major muscle groups including the core. Studies show that, having a strong core improves your balance and stability. Plus it enhances coordination among the major muscle groups.
Not only does this enhance your performance but it also minimizes risks of injuries during sports or physical activity.
Calisthenics training provides an effective means for cardiovascular fitness. These workouts result in increased oxygen supply to the active muscles while enhancing heart and lung performance.
Simply speaking, calisthenics exercises help in reducing fat accumulation in these vital body organs. Studies show that burning excess calories reduces chances of suffering cardiovascular diseases like high blood pressure or heart attack.
Calisthenics is perhaps the most convenient fitness program. Since no equipment is required, you can conveniently do it home. Plus you can do calisthenics exercises even if have limited space. Your small apartment is enough to do calisthenics exercises like burpees, push-ups, squats, planks and so on.
You can however get more resistance by incorporating calisthenics equipment like weighted vests, pull-up bars, resistance bands and so on.
You can also buy a portable doorway pull-up bar for doing pull-ups and chin-ups.
If you already own some cross training shoes, then you might want to know whether they are good for calisthenics. Well, the best the shoes for calisthenics should allow barefoot or natural foot mechanics since the workouts involve body weight resistance.
Minimalist trainers are the most preferred calisthenics shoes because they give you a barefoot training experience. However, unlike training barefoot, wearing minimalist shoes guarantees protection for your feet against hazards.