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Welcome to my first product review! Here I’ll discuss particular strength training oriented equipment that I’ve used in the past or even now. I’ll also include a brief backstory into the product in question as well as my personal opinion. Just remember that one guy’s opinion is not the end all be all and only you can truly judge for yourself.
With that out of the way we’re going to start things off with an all time classic, the Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars. If you’re reading this right now, your age being irrelevant, you’ve seen these in your nearby Foot Locker. But instead of buying such a vintage looking shoe you instead bought the more expensive and way cooler looking Nike. I’m totally guilty of this as well. But what I didn’t know as a kid was that those vintage looking Converses were originally designed for Basketball use.
Created in 1901, the originally named Converse All-Star was one of the first shoes in the market specifically for Basketball, which was still it’s infancy as it was. Chuck Taylor, a high school Basketball player from Indiana began wearing them. Six years later he not only began working for Converse as a salesman, he also used his experience from wearing the All-Stars on the court to suggest to his bosses that changes be made to provide better functionally, including more flexibility and support, as well as a patch to support the ankle, hence the design you see today. The All-Star logo was added to the patch and not even decade later, Chuck’s name was added to the patch in his honor, thus renaming the shoe the Chuck Taylor All-Star.
So, with all of that being said, why use Basketball specific shoes to lift?
Here are two different views of a Chuck Taylor. As you can see the most important aspect about it is the sole is essentially flat. It may seem like nothing important at first. But upon reading up on them on Stronglifts I realized something as I had begun to take my lifting technique more seriously in late 2009: in order to properly perform most major, multi-joint moves – especially the Squat and Deadlift – you must be flat on the ground and you must remain stable. Perform those two moves alone in any cross trainer sneaker with a cushy sole and you will tip forward, which could be very disasterous if you’re someone who squats 315 or more.
As I’m writing this I actually remember the first time I saw a powerlifter wearing a pair of Chucks during my time in Bally Total Fitness. I actually spotted him as he squatted 405 and I took note how perfectly stable and solid he remained throughout the lift, not wobbling once. So what else makes Chucks so convenient? Unlike most gyms of yesteryear, you won’t come across many gyms today that’ll let you train barefoot and it’s easy to see why. Therefore, with a pair of Chucks, you can easily emulate the experience of training barefoot yet still having a layer of protection. You now are able to use your whole foot to push against the ground. There’s one more really important thing to understand about Chucks: they’re dirt cheap.
Here’s a photo of former Mr. Universe Ken Waller squatting barefoot.
I bought my first and only pair of Chuck’s in January 2010 – for just $50! – after having not trained in about three months. As I performed my first set of squats with just the bar for ten reps I felt different, not because I was away for a bit, but because I finally had traction. Only problem now was that I realized how weak I really was. It was while in Chucks that I first started to get real strength gains, finally being forced to use my whole body to stabilize myself. It was with Chucks that I first deadlifted more than 200lbs. I used the same Chucks for over five years until I purchased my current training shoes.
Like any product, even the Chuck Taylor All-Stars have a drawback or two, however.
As seen above, Chucks are pretty narrow, which can prove uncomfortable for anyone with wide feet. It’s a bit tight against my toes, which made it frustrating during my squat sessions. Also, at least accodoring to Stronglifts founder Medhi Hadim, “But the sole is made of rubber so it compresses a little.” But it’s nothing to worry about.
It’s often said that you get what you pay for, and let me tell you; for just $50 at most you’re getting a very simple, yet extremely versatile and effective training shoe that could last you years, so long as you take care of them. I recommend this shoe particularly for beginner and intermediate lifters, although even more advanced lifters surely can use them too if they want.
My pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All-Stars
The Stronglifts article used in reference:
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