The no-frills NoBull Trainer can handle anything CrossFit can throw at it. I found the firm, responsive feel was great for metcons and lifting weights, and the durable SuperFabric upper stood up to the rigours of regular rope climbs and handstand press-ups against a wall. You won’t want to run more than a mile or two due to the lack of cushioning in the midsole, but if you’re buying this shoe for CrossFit – its intended purpose – you won’t really need to.
- Firm midsole is great for metcons and lifting weights
- Very durable
- Understated design
- Fit slightly narrow
- Need to be broken in
- Minimal cushioning for running
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You’ll find NoBull shoes on the feet of the fittest man and the fittest woman on Earth, but why do the likes of Justin Medeiros and Tia-Clair Toomey trust this brand to take them to CrossFit Games glory? And, more importantly, do they work for someone who may not be the fittest person in their neighbourhood?
I’d say yes. I’ve been wearing the shoe for CrossFit-style workouts and would place it up there with the best CrossFit shoes on the market. This is a shoe that’s refreshingly simple and, more importantly, effective.
NoBull Trainer: Price And Availability
Simple, in this case at least, does not mean cheap. The NoBull Trainer’s RRP is $129-$139 in the US and £120-£130 in the UK, which is similar to other top-of-the-line CrossFit shoes like the Nike Metcon 8 ($130/£114.95) and recently launched Reebok Nano X3 ($150/£110).
However, while the latest Metcon or Nano shoe will see 30%-plus reductions after six months, I’ve never seen a discount on a NoBull (although there have been hints in the CrossFit Open newsletters that may soon change).
How I Tested The NoBull Trainer
I’ve owned a pair of NoBull Trainers for five months, wearing them for approximately half of my workouts, switching to the Reebok Nano 6 and Nike Metcon 5 for the remainder.
I train for 90 minutes six times a week. A typical session contains a weightlifting element, gymnastic skill work, a metcon, and accessory bodybuilding and mobility movements.
The CrossFit-focused brand was founded in 2015 and began life with a line of block-colour shoes. It has since branched out, but I prefer the simpler look.
That simplicity extends to the construction of the upper. While modern Metcons and Nanos, as well as newer rivals like the R.A.D Ones and Tyr CXT-1s, use a range of meshes and materials, NoBull employs a one-piece patented SuperFabric upper. The brand says this material is designed to be durable, breathable and abrasion-resistant and those claims have stood up in my tests.
Bar a faint crease above the flex point of the toes, the upper shows next to no signs of wear and tear. The flipside is that the upper is quite firm to begin with and it took a few sessions before this aspect of the shoe felt natural.
There are raised guards on the outsole to protect the shoe when climbing a rope or sliding against a wall during handstand press-ups.
I found the shoe on the narrow side for a CrossFit trainer, so those with wider feet might want to consider other options.
Is the NoBull Trainer Good For HIIT?
The NoBull Trainer is a top choice for HIIT workouts thanks to its secure fit, durable upper and responsive feel. I felt light on my feet for exercises like burpees and box jumps, with the lack of a spongy midsole making it easier to transfer power through the shoe. The sockliner and suede tongue made for a snug fit, and I experienced no unwanted movement or rubbing. The tread provided good grip on a range of surfaces, from gym flooring to Tarmac.
Is The NoBull Trainer Good For Resistance Training?
Other than dedicated weightlifting shoes, this shoe is one of the very best options when preparing to lift heavy.
The firm outsole and minimal midsole combine to create a firm foundation, from which I could generate plenty of power. Recent Nano and Metcon entries have a bit more foam similar to the sort used in running shoes to provide extra cushioning during WODs that include running, but this can come at the cost of stability.
The toe box isn’t as roomy as other weightlifting shoes, a feature many people like so they can spread their toes for greater balance when performing explosive lifts like the snatch or clean and jerk. However, the supportive midfoot and tight-fitting heel still locked my feet in place, letting me lift with confidence.
Is The NoBull Trainer Good For Running?
Distance running definitely isn’t in the NoBull Trainer’s wheelhouse, but it was never meant to be. CrossFit shoes are designed to handle short distances (two miles or less) that may crop up in metcons, so if you’re looking for a pair of trainers to help you rack up the miles these obviously aren’t for you.
The NoBull isn’t as cushioned as other CrossFit shoes either, so I would save it for sessions where you have to run 400m at a time, maximum.
Is The NoBull Trainer Worth It?
There’s no escaping the fact that the NoBull Trainer is expensive, but its excellent durability means it still offers good value.
The NoBull Trainer has become my preferred gym shoe – the Reebok Nano X1s I own haven’t had much of a look-in since the NoBull arrived. I feel lighter on my feet and more nimble for metcons in the NoBull, and also prefer its flatter sole for barbell squats and deadlifts.
The only time I look elsewhere is when Olympic lifting crops up in my programme. Here, I instead reach for the wider toe base of my old Nano 6 or Metcon 4.
I think the NoBull Trainer is a great choice for CrossFit fans since it can stand up to a beating from WODs, and gym-goers will find it handles most workouts with ease, bar running on the treadmill.
Harry covers news, reviews and features for Coach, Fit&Well (opens in new tab) and Live Science (opens in new tab). With over a decade of training experience, he has tried everything from powerlifting to gymnastics, cardio to CrossFit, all in a bid to find fun ways of building a healthy, functional body.