Training isn’t just about lifting weights. “A well-rounded training program incorporates every major movement pattern and hits all three of your body’s energy systems [phosphagen, anaerobic and aerobic] weekly — if not per workout,” says Ryan Flaherty, Senior Director of Performance Training at Nike.

According to that, any given training workout should include lifting, running, jumping, cutting and gymnastics movements (body-weight movements and isometric holds performed on the floor, rings, pull-up bar, climbing rope and so on) that are done in one of three ways: short-term and high-intensity bursts lasting about one to 30 seconds each, large bursts over somewhat longer periods of time (30 seconds to three minutes max each) and longer-duration, lower-intensity activities.
“This variety will allow you to build muscular and cardiovascular strength and endurance as well as better mobility, which, aside from improving physical performance, is important for your overall health,” explains Flaherty.

It may seem like a lot to take on, but the good news is you don’t have to go extreme on any of it. Just aim to do a little of everything throughout the week. “To help make that easier, we designed a stable shoe that performs well during a variety of functional exercises across all movement patterns — it’s supportive enough for moderately heavy lifts, flexible and light enough for sprints, stable enough for jumps and lateral bounds and durable enough for certain gymnastics skills,” he says.
He’s talking about the Nike Free x Metcon, a new men’s training shoe designed specifically to hold up to the five movements described below (and anything similar). Flaherty describes why and how to do each of these movements, and how the Nike Free x Metcon delivers everything you need to execute them confidently.

Three reasons to do it

  1. Regularly training 60-percent of your max — an attainable goal for most — will translate to increased overall strength, power and speed, making any workout feel easier.
  2. Squatting is one of the most functional movements, meaning you do it multiple times daily. Improving your strength and movement pattern with this pays off in more mobility and less pain in general.
  3. It’s not just a move for your butt. It deeply works your back, abs, glutes, quads and hamstrings — some of the biggest muscles in your body — as well as a bunch of other smaller muscles.

How to do it
Set a time or distance goal (30-second intervals, 400-meter repeats and so on) and push your pace out of your comfort zone. Aim to keep your head and torso lifted and gaze forward (think: nose over toes). Relax your shoulders. Keep elbows bent at around 90 degrees and make loose fists with your hands. Maintain a short, quick stride (your foot should strike under your knee rather than in front). Try sprinting anywhere from 20-100 meters, then recover for 4-8 minutes. That's 1 set. Aim to do up to 10 sets 1-2 days a week. 

Where the Nike Free x Metcon helps
Laser-siped flex grooves in the forefoot maximize natural motion and flexibility; a soft-density foam provides cushion underfoot.

Three reasons to do it

  1. They build explosive power by training your fast-twitch muscle fibers. (And if you do any Olympic lifting (cleans and snatches) you’ll see improvement there thanks to faster hip flexion.)
  2. Because you land high, there’s less impact (compressive stress) than vertical or broad jumps, which should make your knees happy.   
  3. Each rep recruits your abs, glutes, quads, hamstrings and calves — and stokes your heart rate, improving both core and leg strength as well as cardiovascular fitness.

How to do it
Stand facing a box with feet hip-width apart and about a foot from it, arms at sides. Keeping knees in line with toes, send hips back and down to about a quarter squat. Jump off of both feet, swinging arms forward and up for momentum, landing with both feet entirely on the box. Stand, fully extending hips, knees and ankles. Step or jump down. That’s 1 rep. Aim for 3-4 sets of 5-8 reps 1-2 days a week.

Where the Nike Free x Metcon helps
Rather than set the last on the upper (a pretty typical process), designers set the last in the upper and then set that in the tooling, so the tooling wraps up around your arch to stabilize your foot during impact.


Three reasons to do it

  1. They improve your side-to-side quickness, power and hip stability. Getting good at these means you’ll be good at changing directions and jumping off one leg (and less likely to lose your balance).
  2. It's a plyometric exercise (explosive jumping movement), which can train your muscles to fire in a way that protects your joints from injury.
  3. Most muscle recruitment happens at your hips, glutes, thighs and legs; the faster you move the higher your cardiovascular boost will be.

How to do it:
Stand on your right foot, arms at sides. Jump off of your right leg as high and far to your left as you can, swinging arms right, landing softly on your left foot. Hold that position for a moment, then repeat on the opposite side. That’s 1 rep. Aim for 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps 1 day a week.
Where the Nike Free x Metcon helps

Flywire (about as light and minimal as you can get from a containment system) provides lockdown during side-to-side movements.


Three reasons to do it

  1. For some, it brings back middle-school gym vibes. For others, it’s about conquering a fear. Regardless, there’s an adrenaline level associated with it that can keep your workouts interesting and, when you nail it, boost your confidence.
  2. Unlike with most strength exercises, the angle of your grip is uneven during a rope climb. Add your bodyweight and exhaustion to that mix and you’ve got one of the best ways to improve your functional grip strength (a weak grip translates to weakness across any strength exercise that requires you to hold on to something).
  3. Rope climbs demand you to move your entire body weight in one motion, thus resulting in a full-body workout. Your upper body pulls, your core helps you stabilize and rotate, and your legs essentially do a few squats to propel you to the top.

How to do it:
Jump to grab rope overhead with both hands and straight arms. Let the rope fall on the inside of your dominant leg, cross over your shin and wrap under your foot. Sweep your non-dominant foot under the dominant foot to pull the rope up, then clamp the rope between feet. Keeping the rope along the center of your body and your feet hooked but loose, tuck your legs and pull your knees toward your chest. Clamp your feet around the rope and pull your upper body toward the rope, hand-over-hand, extending your hips and legs. Repeat until you get to the top. Spread feet to slide down. That’s 1 rep. Try 1-3 sets of 1-5 reps (going only as high as you feel comfortable) 1 day a week.

Where the Nike Free x Metcon helps

TPU-faced open mesh — a new material created specifically for this shoe —  through the vamp is super light and breathable, and also tough enough to stand up to the rope
Illustration by Hannah Warren
THESE 5 MOVES (AND 1 SHOE) Nike THESE 5 MOVES (AND 1 SHOE) Nike Reviewed by FADED4U on April 05, 2018 Rating: 5

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