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Nike Free Metcon 5 Review | Great Workout Shoes for HIIT?

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The Nike Free Metcon 5 is the fifth shoe to debut in Nike’s popular Free Metcon training shoe line. This model features similarities to its predecessor, the Nike Free Metcon 4 but with a few big upgrades.

For the most part, I’ve enjoyed the progression and changes of the Nike Free Metcon training shoes, and I was super excited to put the Nike Free Metcon 5 to the test. After multiple workouts in the Nike Free Metcon 5, I’ve built a list of pros and cons to keep in mind before buying this shoe.

Free Metcon 5 Pros and Cons

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Pros

  • The reworked upper and tongue give this shoe a more spacious fit and they're easier to get on than the FM4.
  • If you want a shoe for mostly HIIT/class-style workouts with some strength blended in, then you'll enjoy this shoe.
  • The Nike Free midsole is flexible in the forefoot while the heel is a little more stable. This shoe should be stable enough for most light to moderate-weight training contexts.

Cons

  • The heel can feel a little clunky and blocky at times and if you like lower-profile shoes, then you'll want to consider this.
  • The exposed midsole foam in the midfoot can hinder this shoe's long-term durability for daily wear and outdoor workouts.
  • For heavy strength sessions, I'd pass on this shoe. This shoe's midsole started to compress when I was lifting anything over 225 lbs.

The Nike Free Metcon 5 can be a good option for anyone wanting a training shoe for light strength training, HIIT/classes, and short runs. The reworked upper in the Nike Free Metcon 5 gives them a more roomy and spacious fit.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Summary

The Nike Free Metcon 5 can be a good “jack-of-all-trades” style shoe for lifting, HIIT, classes, and light runs. I think if you’re overwhelmed about which shoes to go with because you like to vary your training then you’ll be happy with the Nike Free Metcon 5. This shoe is stable enough for things like 275-315 lb deadlifts and they have a nice bounce for jump rope and classes.

This shoe’s upper has also been improved compared to the Free Metcon 4 which had a super low-profile and snug upper. I like the toe box better in this model as it feels a little wider and the upper accommodates different foot thicknesses better, too, speaking to the volume. Keep in mind, these won’t necessarily be your best shoes for lifting and CrossFit as they’re more of a generalist.

Free Metcon 5 Specs to Know

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm (per Nike’s support)
  • Weight: 10.05 oz
  • Stack Height: N/A
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Width: Medium/Regular
  • Sizing: True to Size.

Nike Free Metcon 5

$120

Nike Free Metcon 5 Product Shot
4.5
Stability
4.3
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • HIIT
  • Class Workouts
  • Light to Moderate Strength Training
  • Short Runs (3 miles)

Falls Short

  • For Heavy Lifting (225+ lbs)
  • For CrossFit

Who Should Buy the Nike Free Metcon 5?

The Nike Free Metcon 5 will be best for anyone wanting a training shoe that can do a little bit of everything but also want a well-rounded workout shoe that has a HIIT-focused training bias.

For my HIIT workouts, plyometric-focused training sessions, and circuit workouts, the Nike Free Metcon 5 has delivered a well-rounded performance. I’ll typically reach for the Nike Free Metcon 5 over the Nike Metcon 8 for these styles of workouts.

Me Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for gym workouts

I also think if you enjoy training shoes that have a bit more flexibility in the forefoot, then you’ll resonate with this model. For jump rope and jumping, this shoe feels responsive and reactive, for example.

For Nike Free Metcon training shoe fans, I think this model is a stronger shoe than its predecessor the Nike Free Metcon 4. I found that the 4 ran a little too snug and that it could be a pain to get on at times.

Me Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 Outsole

The reworked upper construction in the Nike Free Metcon 5 has given them a much more spacious feel and the split in the tongue has helped boost how easy it is to take this shoe on and off.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Nike Free Metcon 5?

If you didn’t like the Nike Free Metcon 4’s feel and performance regarding its midsole and outsole, then I’d pass on the Free Metcon 5. These construction elements have remained unchanged in the Free Metcon 5 compared to the 4.

In addition, you’ll want to pass on this shoe if you plan to do a lot of heavy lifting in them. This shoe’s midsole, while stable for some strength contexts, will lack the stability you want when getting heavier with barbell and machine work.

Me Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for strength work

For context, I experienced midsole compression with this shoe when doing 225 lb power cleans and hang cleans. On the leg press, the midsole compressed as I passed around 300 lbs of cumulative weight.

Basically, the Nike Free Metcon 5 works for general strength training, but if you’re lifting heavy or doing things like CrossFit, I’d pass on the Nike Free Metcon 5 and go with the Nike Metcon 8 or Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Pros

Over the course of my testing and experience with the Nike Free Metcon 5, I’ve found a few pros and things to enjoy with this model.

  1. Reworked Upper Is a Quality of Life Improvement
  2. Still a Good Shoe for a Little Bit of Everything
  3. Nike Free Midsole Is Comfortable and Flexible

The first and arguably most notable pro with the Nike Free Metcon 5 is its reworked upper construction. My biggest knock against the Nike Free Metcon 4 was its upper construction as it ran and felt really snug and the bootie construction made this model tough to get on at times.

Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 Upper Construction

The Nike Free Metcon 5’s reworked mesh upper gives it a much more spacious feel and I like its breathability. There’s a lot more room in the forefoot and midfoot regarding volume compared to the Free Metcon 4, relatively speaking.

I also like that Nike gave the tongue and boot a slit to help with the ease of getting this shoe on. Even when taking and putting these on post-workout with sweaty socks I didn’t have a ton of issues which was a nice quality-of-life update to this shoe.

Me Using and Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for lifting

The second thing to like about the Nike Free Metcon 5 is that it’s still a good jack-of-all-trades for those that want a workout shoe for a little bit of everything. More specifically, if you like to blend classes, HIIT, short runs, and lifting together, then you’ll enjoy this model.

In the context of being well-rounded, this shoe will definitely have a bias toward HIIT workouts. If you want a training shoe for a bit of everything that has a bias toward lifting and CrossFit, then you’ll want to look into a shoe like the Reebok Nano X3.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Tongue and Boot Construction

The final perk and thing to like with the Nike Free Metcon 5 is its Nike Free midsole. This shoe feels comfortable and flexible which makes their break-in process a breeze. Plus, with the roomier upper this shoe took virtually no time to break in for my experience with them.

The forefoot has a nice level of flexibility to it, and this might just be me, but it seems like the midsole in this model is a tiny bit plusher than the Nike Free Metcon 4. Note, I don’t think most will notice this and this may just be me based on my Free Metcon 4’s “feel” at this point in its life.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Construction Review

I also see this shoe’s midsole as a perk for individuals like personal trainers and retail workers that will be on their feet all day and want a comfortable shoe for their day-to-day contexts.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Cons

For the most part, I find the Nike Free Metcon 5 to be a stronger shoe than the Free Metcon 4. However, there are a couple of cons to note with this model.

  1. Pass On Them for Heavy Lifting
  2. The Heel Can Still Feel a Little Chunky

The first drawback with the Nike Free Metcon 5 is that this is not to be your best training shoe for lifting heavy. Granted, I tread lightly with this con because this isn’t really a con with this shoe, but more so a potential limitation for some.

For example, when training over 225 lbs I noticed that this shoe’s midsole started to compress a bit. I noticed this more when doing power movements like power cleans and for more static strength work like deadlifts, you should be okay loading up to 275 lbs.

Me Using the Nike Free Metcon 5 for Weightlifting

To be fair, I don’t think this limitation will hinder most who want this shoe for primarily HIIT and classes with a little strength work. However, the way Nike languages this model’s performance as stable and great for lifting needs a little context and should be taken with a grain of salt. 

The second drawback with the Nike Free Metcon 5 is that it still has its fairly large heel construction, which is a feature that has remained somewhat to the Free Mertcon 3 and 4.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Heel Construction

If you weren’t a fan of the Free Metcon 4’s heel, then I don’t think you’ll enjoy the Free Metcon 5 either. The heel does feel a little more responsive in the 5, but I don’t think it will be enough for those who are more prone to noticing the heels of their shoes.

In the context of training, I’m not the biggest fan of this shoe’s feel for slower steady-state runs as it can feel a little clunky when making contact with the ground, especially for those who are heel strikers when running at slower paces.

Nike Free Metcon 5 On Feet Performance

To break down the performance of the Nike Free Metcon 5, I used them across multiple workouts to assess their stability and versatility for different training styles.

I tested this model for lifting, versatile workouts, short runs, and daily wear. Since this shoe is designed to be versatile, I wanted to make sure I assessed its best features for training and limitations.

Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for Lifting

In my experience testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for lifting I enjoy them for the most part. This shoe feels consistent with its predecessors and its stability is what I expected for a HIIT-biased training shoe.

Me testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for lunges

As mentioned above, I don’t think the Nike Free Metcon 5 will be the best option for someone who plans to do a lot of heavy barbell and machine work with their shoes. I would cap barbell loading in this shoe to about 275 lbs and with heavy machine work like hack squats and leg presses, I’d tread lightly.

To add to the above about machines, since this shoe’s midsole compresses a bit and it lacks rubber tread through its midfoot, I don’t want you to experience slip and compression issues when hammering the legs heavily.

Me testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for leg training

That being out of the way, for accessory strength work, I really enjoyed these shoes. I liked how this shoe felt for my athletic-focused training days when I was doing things like split squats and lunges.

The flexibility of this shoe blended with its moderate level of stability makes it a good option for the dynamic-focused individual that wants to train strength and explosiveness all in one session.

Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for Versatile Workouts

For versatile workouts, I really like the Nike Free Metcon 5. This shoe feels “athletic” which I enjoy and if you’re similar in wanting a lightweight workout shoe that feels sock-like in nature, then I think you’ll resonate with these.

Me testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for plyometrics

When doing plyometrics, the Nike Free Metcon 5 felt lively and responsive, and I’ve had a solid experience thus far with them when tackling things like box jumps and jump rope.

The flexible forefoot is a nice perk of this shoe for HIIT and class workouts where you’ll be primarily on the toes and the outsole tread should provide enough traction to help promote grip for different training settings. At least, it’s performed well for me thus far.

Me testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for jump rope

Another positive experience that I’ve had with the Free Metcon 5 for versatile workouts is its upper construction. This shoe feels snug enough to promote security but loose enough to let the toes wiggle and do their thing when training.

One thing I did notice with this shoe is that you can see the glute of this model’s midsole when doing exercises that put more stress on the forefoot and how it’s flexing. For example, if you do a lot of heavy sled pushes, then you’ll want to keep an eye on this.

Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for Short Runs and Daily Wear

For short runs, the Nike Free Metcon 5 should do a pretty good job. I put this shoe into the camp of hybrid training shoes that can work for runs that range from 1-3 miles.

Me testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 comfort and fit for walking

I think if you’re tackling a pre or post-mile or two following your workout session, then you’ll enjoy the Free Metcon 5. I like how responsive the forefoot is and have enjoyed this shoe for my short interval running sessions.

For longer runs where you’ll be doing steady-state work, these shoes I think will be hit or miss. I find the heel to be a little offputting, however, I adapt a heel strike when running slow and this may not be the case in everyone’s experience.

Me testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for conditioning workouts

For daily wear, the Nike Free Metcon 5 is comfortable and I think it will work best for those that want a shoe for all-day indoor wear and in climates where there isn’t a ton of inclement weather.

On days when it’s rainy, I’d pass on the Nike Free Metcon 5. My durability experiences haven’t been the best with Nike Free training shoes when wearing them in dodgy weather. In addition, this model may not be the best for trail-focused outdoor wear where as the midsole can pick up rocks.

My Experience In the Nike Free Metcon 5 Summary

My Lifting Experiences With This Shoe

I’d give this shoe a 7/10 with the acknowledgment that this shoe isn’t technically designed for heavy lifting. It does a good job with recreational strength work and it should work for most individuals.

Here are some of the lifting tests I did with them with my thoughts.

  • 225 lb power and hang clean complex: Midsole lacked stability.
  • 275 lb deadlifts: Okay, and I’d cap loading here.
  • 60 lb rear-foot elevated split squats: Pretty good.
  • 270 lb leg press: Okay, but the midsole compresses a little.

My Versatile Training Experiences With This Shoe

For versatile workouts, I’d give this shoe a strong 8.5/10. The responsiveness, more spacious upper, and flexible midsole give this model a lively and athletic feel.

Here are some of the lifting tests I did with them with my thoughts.

  • Box jumps: Comfortable, light, and responsive in the forefoot.
  • Jump rope: Breathable and easy to wear.
  • Skater strides: Pretty good traction and stability.
  • Sled pushes: Not bad, but durability is concerning.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Sizing

For the Nike Free Metcon 5, I think most individuals should be safe going true to size in this shoe. Their length runs true to size and they have what I would describe as a medium/neutral width.

This shoe feels more spacious than its predecessor which I’ve mentioned a few times above, so I think this model will work for a wider range of foot anatomies especially those that found the Free Metcon 4s were too snug.

Nike Free Metcon 5 comfort and upper volume

I also like that Nike added the tongue slit in this shoe to make them easier to get on. This feature and change also give the midfoot a little more volume which I like for thicker feet and higher arches.

  • Nike Free Metcon 5 Sizing Thoughts: True to size for most.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Sizing and Fit Assessment

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Nike Free Metcon 5, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

Price Breakdown

For the Nike Free Metcon 5, you can expect to pay $120 USD which is in line with what the prior Nike Free Metcon models have cost. Personally, I think the price of this shoe is pretty fair for what they offer.

Nike Free Metcon 5 Midsole Quality

In addition, if you like the Nike Free Metcon training shoe line then I think you’ll find this model to be worth your investment as they perform well and have some nice upper improvements.

For CrossFit and heavy lifting, the price for this shoe will be a miss as they’re not really designed for that training context. If you need a training shoe for CrossFit, you’ll want to explore CrossFit-focused models.

Construction Details

The Nike Free Metcon 5 features a few similarities to the Nike Free Metcon 4 like its midsole and outsole construction, but it also has a few notable updates. Below are the construction details to note for this shoe.

  • Fit: True to Size
  • Price: $120 USD
Nike Free Metcon 5 Specs
Nike Free Metcon 5 Quick Facts
Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
Heel Stack Height: 24mm
Forefoot Stack Height: 19mm
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm
  • Weight: 10.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Nike Free Midsole
  • Forefoot and Heel Rubber Outsole Tread
  • Mesh Upper
  • Synthetic and Textile Overlays
  • Lateral and Medial Heel Cup Support
  • 4 Core Eyelets

If you have additional construction-related questions about the Nike Free Metcon 5, drop a comment below and I can help you out.

Nike Free Metcon 5 FAQ

Are the Nike Free Metcon 5 good for lifting?

The Nike Free Metcon 5 can be a good shoe for light to moderate strength training sessions. This shoe will be best for those who like to train dynamically and blend general strength work into their sessions.

Is Nike Free Metcon 5 good for running?

For short runs pre and post-workout, and for interval runs programmed in classes, the Nike Free Metcon 5 can be a good option. This shoe’s Nike Free midsole is responsive and flexible for forefoot runners.

Are the Nike Free Metcon 5 good for wide feet?

The Nike Free Metcon 5 should fit true to size for most foot anatomies. If you have slightly wide feet, you should be okay in the Free Metcon 5. For notably wide feet that are EE or wider, you may want to pass on this shoe.

Takeaway Thoughts

The Nike Free Metcon 5 has been a strong-performing workout shoe for versatile workouts and HIIT. This shoe is a nice continuation of its predecessor the Nike Free Metcon 4.

Despite not being crazy different from the 4, I do think the Free Metcon 5 can be worth it because its updates improve the quality of life components of this shoe. It’s not like the Metcon 7 and 8 which were similar but the 8 lacked any real upgrades.

Author’s  Note: This review will continually be updated as I continue to test and expand on my thoughts for this shoe.

If you have additional questions about the Nike Free Metcon 5, drop a comment below or reach out to me on Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend)!

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

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