The Nike Romaleos 2 weightlifting shoe is, as its name suggests, the successor to the original Romaleos released by Nike back in 2008 in time for the Beijing Olympics. The original Romaleos (the name, fittingly, means ‘strong’ or ‘robust’) quickly earned a reputation as one of the best built lifting shoes on the market but suffered somewhat due to its high pricing and reputation as a chunky, heavy shoe. The new model, the Romaleos 2, which was released in January 2012 ahead of the Olympics in London, goes someway towards redressing these criticisms and firmly establishes Nike alongside Adidas as one of the world’s leading manufacturers of weightlifting shoes.
Introducing the Nike Romaleos 2
The Nike Romaleos 2 picks up where its predecessor left off with its undeniably sturdy build and solid construction. This time round however, Nike have managed to trim 50g of weight from each shoe, making it a less bulky and more mobile option for lifters discouraged by the heft of the original model. Despite the reduction in weight, the Romaleos 2 remain extremely stable and robust.
The shoes are made from synthetic leather that is reasonably supple and doesn’t take long to break in. Unlike many Adidas shoes, the Romaleos 2 feature two metatarsal straps, one near the top of the tongue of the shoe and the other further down the midfoot, a little back from the toes. The end of each strap is covered with a metal cuff designed to prevent fraying and the upper and lower portions of the strap becoming detached through wear and tear
Like a few other high-end shoes, most noticeably the Adipower weightlifting shoe from Adidas, the Romaleos 2 dispense with the traditional wooden heel for a contoured TPU wedge. This hard-wearing plastic forms the base of the shoe and supports the athlete’s foot by extending into the upper in a full heel cup and the contouring is most likely where that 50g of weight has been saved. Naturally, Nike have seen fit to bestow a high-tech moniker on its innovation and so the Romaleos 2 feature “Power Bridge” technology, as is etched into a transparent portion of the sole.
Heel height is 1.9 centimetres, or 0.75 inches, which is the same as for both the Adipower and Power Perfect II. However, a few extra millimetres can be added by using the “competition” insoles that Nike supply. Each pair of shoes comes with two sets of insoles, one flat, softer set ostensibly for training and another harder, more contoured pair recommended for competing. I’ll talk about this a little more later on but I found that I liked the extra heel height the competition insoles offer.
One final nice touch with the Romaleos 2 is the the inscription towards the toe on the instep of each shoe. The left side bears the legend “Go forth and…”, with “…Dominate” etched into the right one. It’s a small touch but it very much adds to the feeling that you’re wearing one high quality pair of shoes… and just maybe provides a little spark of inspiration when you’re slipping them on.
Aesthetics and Colour Choice
I’m quite a big fan of how the Romaleos 2 look. They look significantly more chunky than some of the other weightlifting shoes I’ve seen around the gym and exude heft and stability. Visually, these shoes mean business. The nearest equivalent I can think of is the profile of DC skateboarding shoes
Alongside Do-Win, Nike are one of only a few manufacturers to offer a choice of colours in a weightlifting shoe. I opted for the rather striking Volt/Reflection combination – the upper, tongue, laces and straps are a neon yellow/green while the Nike tick on the sides are metallic-coloured plastic – but there are a number of other choices. In the UK, Strength Shop carry the Romaleos in Black/Grey and White/Red and will soon be getting Red/Black in stock. In the USA, Obsidian/Red – my favourite of the colours I’ve seen – and White are also available.
Sizing and Fit
I have pretty wide feet and usually have to size up when choosing any kind of shoes, not just weightlifting footwear. I take a UK 10 in Nike running trainers and thought sizing for the Romaleos 2 would be similar but I decided to check with the retailer for their advice first. They recommended a 9.5, which turned out to be a very good fit. Romaleos are generally better suited to lifters with wider feet and have a larger footprint compared to the more narrow Adidas shoes.
When I first put the shoes on with the training insoles fitted, I noticed that they felt a bit loser around the top of the foot than I liked and slipped around ever so slightly. Tightening the metatarsal straps helped but not quite as much as I wanted. I then tried them with the competition insoles which, as previously mentioned, are a bit thicker and contoured. The extra material on the competition inserts made the difference for me, removing any excess space and giving a much more snug and comfortable fit.
Another unexpected benefit of using the competition insole was the contouring around the instep and arch of the foot. I expect this may not be to everyone’s taste but I have fallen arches and am an extreme over-pronator. In other lifting shoes, I find this can unbalance me and cause my ankles and knees to collapse inwards which is really not good when squatting or on heavy olympic lifts. It can also cause problems with foot positioning in the split jerk where one foot falls inwards upon making contact with the platform. Since I started wearing the Romaleos 2, this issue has disappeared, probably due to the shoe’s much wider base.
Lifting with the Nike Romaleos 2
Before buying the Romaleos 2, I was slightly concerned by some reviews I had read that suggested that the shoes were difficult to move in due to their weight, made it tricky to readjust foot positioning in squats and could potentially slow down jerks. I’m happy to report that none of these situations have arisen for me in the couple of weeks I have been wearing the Nike shoes.
As suggested above, the most noticeable difference in wearing the Romaleos 2 for me is the greatly increased stability over my old shoes. I’m sure much of this comes down to the quirks of my own physiology but it really makes a big difference. Aside from improving foot placement and stopping my knees from collapsing inwards, I’ve found that I feel more confident and assured knowing that these are less likely to be problems and so split faster on the jerk and get under the bar that bit quicker. I also notice a much more audible ‘clap’ against the platform when using these shoes, suggesting that I am landing lifts better.
I’ve read elsewhere that some people find the Romaleos 2 quite stiff towards the toes and have difficulty coming up on their toes in the second pull of the Olympic lifts and in back foot placement in the split jerk. I can’t say that I’ve experienced this problem and found that the shoes were properly broken in after just a session or two. If anything, they broke in a little more quickly than my old shoes.
While I’m not for a moment suggesting that there’s any connection, the week I started wearing the Romaleos 2, I PR’d both Olympic lifts, my front squat and my back squat. Coincidence probably, but a nice one.
There are a few areas where there’s clearly room for improvement in the Nike Romaleos 2. The most obvious one is pricing – these shoes aren’t cheap. Lifters in the USA can expect to pick up a pair for $200 or a little less from some online retailers but here in the UK, you’re looking at £165 or so, with shipping on top of that. While this isn’t too far away from the price point of other high-end weightlifting shoes, there are obviously much cheaper options and the Romaleos 2 may be out of budget for cash-strapped athletes and beginners unwilling to make such a substantial investment when only getting into the sport.
Another quibble is the metatarsal straps. While doing a great job of ensuring a a secure fit, the upper strap is about an inch too long. This may sound like a silly complaint but when fully tightened, the tip comes worrying close to the floor and threatens to go underneath the shoe. Due to the extra height afforded by the competition insoles, I haven’t had this occur when lifting but a bit more clearance from the ground would be nice and would certainly give a bit more peace of mind. To solve this problem, you can try folding the end of the strap over on itself but it is likely to come undone again fairly quickly. There is of course the option of cutting off the excess material but it seems a shame to even consider taking scissors to such an expensive piece of kit.
Overall, I’m extremely pleased with the Nike Romaleos 2. While they are very definitely at the pricier end of the market, the build quality justifies the high cost and they compare favourably in this regard to many other shoes. They seem very well suited to my the peculiarities of my feet, certainly more so than my old weightlifting shoes and lifting in them is a much better experience in terms of stability and security.
I’d highly recommend the Romaleos 2 to any other wide-footed lifters who have experienced issues in finding a shoe that fits well and doesn’t cause a host of minor but niggling problems. Those with narrower feet who feel ready to invest in a high-end weightlifting shoe might prefer to check out the Adidas Adipower lifting shoe, which boasts a number of similar features including a TPU sole and a more pronounced heel cup. Either way, you can be assured that you’re buying to quality athletic footwear.