The Nike Romaleos 2 weightlifting shoes are one of the best investments I’ve made when it comes to training gear.
It gave me an immediate performance enhancement in the squat, allowing me to easily hit ATG depth and feel rock solid and stable as if my feet were glued to the floor.
This enabled me to break 4 personal records in the past 5 weeks; on March 9, March 16, March 23 and April 6, 2012. (Note: Since the time of writing, I have hit many PR's in these shoes, which can be found on my "personal records" page)
It’s safe to say that the Romaleos 2 are responsible for making an impact on my recent squat numbers.
Here’s my review of the Nike Romaleos 2 weightlifting shoe:
Mark Rippetoe wrote (in Starting Strength 2nd Edition, p. 61):
Weightlifting shoes are the most important personal equipment a lifter can own.
They provide solid contact with the floor and eliminate sole compressibility and the instability of squishy footing.
Get a pair. It will be the best money you spend on your training gear.
I wish I had taken this advice more seriously and invested in a pair of weightlifting shoes right from the start.
I first started squatting and deadlifting with New Balance shoes. It always felt uncomfortable and unstable in these shoes, almost like squatting on a stiff bed. So after reading some shoe recommendations for weight training I purchased the economical, often-used, and way-to-narrow-for-my-wide-feet Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.
After all, it seems like almost everyone at Westside Barbell uses these shoes, so if it’s good enough for those modern-day Vikings squatting 1000+lbs, it should be good enough for me.
Well, over a year has past since I started wearing those good ol’ Chuck Taylors. It felt more solid than those New Balance shoes, but I could always feel a bit of instability as I performed my lifts. Watching a few videos of myself squatting confirmed this.
I’ve read how other people have switched to wearing weightlifting shoes, and how that made a world of difference when it comes squatting.
I figured I was due for an upgrade, so I began to research on what was the best weightlifting shoe to replace my Converse Chuck Taylors.
Nike Romaloes 2 Vs. Adidas AdiPOWER Vs. 2012 Rogue Do-Win
I have wide feet, and have read that the Do-Win shoes accommodate those with a less than slender foot. It’s the cheapest of the bunch, and have read many good reviews about the Do-Wins. But looking at the pictures of the Do-Wins on Rogue’s website, it doesn’t look as well constructed as the Nike Romaleos 2 or the AdiPower weightlifting shoes.
For the Adidas AdiPOWER, while they look nice in red, I’ve read that they were on the narrow side, so they were out of the question. It also has one metatarsal strap compared to the Rogue Do-Win and the Romaleos 2 which both have 2. I would prefer 2 straps to make it easy and convenient to secure my foot in the shoe.
From my online research, the Nike Romaleos 2 would be more suitable to accommodate my wide feet compared with the AdiPower, and looked very well constructed. Just like the Rogue Do-Win, it has 2 metatarsal straps, but in opposite direction. Apparently this secures the foot more firmly in the shoe. In the end, mostly because of width, I ordered the Romaleos 2.
When the Purolator mailman arrived at my door, he told me that he thought the package he was holding was probably shoes, but it felt a little heavy.
He was right.
Holding the box, it felt like I was carrying a pair of heavy steel toe boots.
When I opened the package, I feasted my eyes on a pair of shoes that would help me break a few personal records in the squat over the course of the next few weeks.
True To Size
I normally wear a size 10 US, and I’ve read that the Romaleos 2 run true to Nike shoe sizing. I didn’t have a pair of Nike shoes to try out, so I searched the internet and found a picture comparing a New Balance shoe and a Nike shoe of the same size.
I can’t find the original picture, but the New Balance shoe seem to be a little bit bigger than the Nike. I’ve also read other people saying the same thing.
I figured that since I wear a size 10 New Balance shoe, and size 10 Nike shoe SHOULD fit.
I’m glad it did, because I really did not want to deal with the hassle of exchanging these shoes for another size!
Take a look at the pictures below to see a comparison of a size 10 Nike Romaleos 2 with a size 10 New Balance shoe, size 8 Converse Chuck Taylors, and for good measure, a size 10 Rockport dress shoe:
One thing I really like, and what adds to the feeling of stability while lifting in the Romaleos 2 is the width of the soles. It's wider compared to the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars, and very stiff. I can easily bend the soles of the Chuck Taylor shoes, but I can hardly bend the Romaleos 2 by apply a bit of force.
Take a look at the comparison pictures below and see for yourself:
The heel height is 0.75 inches.
From the product description on Rogue’s website:
“The most revolutionary innovation in the Nike Romaleos weightlifting shoe is Nike’s exclusive “Power Bridge,” a contoured TPU heel wedge designed to support the foot and bear as much weight as a man can lift, without any compression or give.
This technology provides a lightweight alternative to the wooden heel wedge that competitors have been using since the 1960s.
The Power Bridge is also a technical advancement because, unlike a flat wood shim, it is contoured to cup the heel, providing stability and comfort under stress. “
In other words, unlike most shoes where the heel is at the bottom of the shoe, the Romaleos 2’s heel wraps around the back of the shoe.
The Nike Romaleos 2 came packaged with 2 insoles, pictured below:
“The Nike Romaleos comes with two different sockliners: a softer insert for training and a harder version for competition, when athletes benefit most from zero deflection as power is transferred through the foot.”
The flat ones are for training purposes, and the more contoured insoles are for competition.
I’m of the philosophy that training should mimic competition as closely as possible, so with this in mind, I’m currently wearing the “competition” insoles while I lift. And because it’s contoured compared to the flat training insoles, my foot doesn’t move around as much inside of the shoe.
I got these shoes about a month ago. In order to give a well opinionated review I wanted to wear them during my workouts for a few weeks.
The first thing I noticed when I put them on and started walking around is how immobile I felt, and how heavy the shoes were.
It feels as though I’m walking around like Frankenstein, and it sounds like I’m walking around in high heels.
Note: I don't do do any Olympic style lifts like the clean, clean and jerk, snatch etc. so I can't give my opinion on how these shoes perform during those lifts. But here are my experiences wearing the Romaleos 2 while performing the squat, overhead press (power cleaned into position), bench press and deadlifts:
As I mentioned before, it’s easier to squat deep wearing the Nike Romaleos 2 compared to Converse Chuck Taylors.
So far, I’ve set 4 personal records in the squat since wearing these shoes to train.
It’s also very stable, making me feel like I’m glued to the floor. There’s no rocking side to side or back and forth movement while I lift.
Now, either because of the weight of the shoe or the flatness of the soles, or both, it seems a lot more difficult to adjust my feet when I prepare to squat. It takes a lot more effort to pivot on my heel and rotate the toes slightly out after I un-rack the bar. I had no problems with adjusting my foot position with the Converse Chuck Taylors.
But this issue is really not so bad, because it has taught me to step into a position where I am ready to squat without having to adjust my feet. Also, it goes to show how stable these shoes really are.
Also, performing the squat is different compared to the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars.
Since the heel is elevated on the Romaleos 2, hitting a below parallel, ass-to-grass squat is way easier. However, the elevated heel tends to shift my body towards my toes during a squat, especially at loads near my 1RM or the last few reps of a heavy set.
Because of this, sometimes the bar movement doesn’t go up and down in a straight line.
Watch the video below to see what I mean:
Now, because of the elevated heel, even though it makes it easier to squat below parallel, I need to make conscious effort to shift my hips back in order to keep the bar moving up and down in a straight line.
Compared to the Chuck Taylors, I find myself rarely needing to take a step backwards or forward when pressing an heavy barbell over my head. It’s easier to balance the barbell overhead, allowing me to focus on pressing the weight up. It really feels as though my feet are glued to the floor.
Also, unless I’m going for a 1RM, I power clean the bar before OHP. The initial power clean feels as though my feet are landing flat on the floor, which sets me up perfectly for the overhead press.
I’m using the Rogue Flat Utility Bench (review here) during bench press. The height of that bench is 18”, which is a bit high for me, so I use a pair of 35lbs plates on either end of the bench to allow me to get proper footing.
The 0.75” heels of the Nike Romaleos 2 makes it a little bit easier for me to place my feet flat on 35lbs plates. But I really don’t feel a difference benching with the Romaleos 2 compared to the Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars. I normally wear the Romaloes 2 because I perform bench presses after squats, and changing shoes for something that doesn’t make a difference would be a hassle.
Deadlifting in the Nike Romaleos 2 makes me feels more stable, probably because of the super hard and flat soles. The 0.75” heel makes it seem like a smell deficit deadlift. But because of the elevated heel, deadlifting feels a little different compared to deadlifting in the Chuck Taylors (where the soles are a uniform height) or wearing no shoes at all.
I’m probably just going to use the Nike Romaleos 2 for squatting, overhead press and bench press, and wear the Converse Chuck Taylors for deadlifts.
What I Don’t Like
COLORS. Or lack of it.
The Romaleos 2 are black.
I like black. Batman wears black. Darth Vader wears black. Black is awesome.
And on a totally unrelated note, check out how freakin’ awesome this picture is:
Anyways, Rogue Fitness only sells black Romaleos 2. I’ve seen a white version of them floating on the internet, but I’m not sure where to get them.
I’ve seen some pictures of the first generation of Nike Romaleos, and they look SWEET in different colors.
Take a look below at the various colors of the Nike Romaleos 1:
Since the Romaleos 1 are now discontinued, the only place to find them in different colors are probably on forums, or eBay.
For convenience, I've included the latest listings for "Romaleos" from eBay below. If you're lucky, you might be able to score one of the Nike Romaloes in a color other than black!
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I wished the Romaloes 2 came in different colors, or even better, have the option to customize the colors.
But in the end, when there’s a heavy ass barbell on your back, the color of your shoes doesn’t matter.
The Nike Romaleos 2 are now available in
highlighter neon yellow.
They're called the "Nike Romaleos 2 Volt" and they look pretty nice! Definitely a head turner at the gym.
They're now available in RED!
These look similar to the China Romaleos 1 (pictured earlier), but without the stars, Chinese writing and the 08-08-08 on the back. Also, the buckle on these red Romaleos 2 are gold. Now I need to come up with a reason to get another pair of weight lifting shoes...HMM...
I have to admit, $200 is a lot to spend on a pair of shoes.
But then again, I’ve spend thousands of dollars on shitty shoes that have long passed away. I’ve also spend thousands of dollars on bodybuilding supplements that did not produce the immediate performance enhancing effects like the Romaleos did.
Since I’m only using these shoes 3 times per week to squat, bench press, overhead press, and the occasional power clean, the Nike Romaleos 2 will likely last a long time. And I'll be lifting weights until I'm dead, so I'll be using these shoes for many years. The cost per use over time will be low.
If you’re wearing Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars or another non-weightlifting shoe to squat, and you’re looking for something that will make an immediate impact on your technique, squat numbers and give you a rock solid, ass-to-grass squat, I recommend you check out the Nike Romaleos 2.
And if my review wasn't enough to convince you, read what other people had to say about their experience with the Nike Romaleos 2 here (under the tab "Reviews").