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Nike Romaleos 3 Review (2023) | Good for Squats and Competition?

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The Nike Romaleos 3 is the third iteration of the popular Nike Romaleos weightlifting shoe line. As the next version of what some consider to be the best weightlifting shoes of all time, this shoe was set to have a lot to live up to.

In the gym, the Nike Romaleos 3 provides a stable base and heel elevation for heavy strength training and strength sports such as weightlifting and powerlifting. Additionally, this shoe is often slated as a middle-priced specialty shoe for CrossFit athletes and team sport athletes to utilize for serious training.

At first glance, the Nike Romaleos 3 appears to be much more narrow than the Nike Romaleos 2, both in the toe box and heel support. However, it is objectively the more stylish shoe.

In this Nike Romaleos 3 review, I’ll discuss some key details you need to know about this shoe before investing, as well as insights into what you can expect from its construction.

Nike Romaleos 3 Review

Who should invest in Nike Romaleos 3?

Similar to the premium weightlifting shoes, the Nike Romaleos 3 comes with a sizable price tag of $180-200+ USD so the justification here for many needs to be large.

Weightlifters, powerlifters, CrossFit athletes, college/professional team sport athletes, and lifters who perform some kind of barbell squat in >50% of their training sessions could benefit from the support provided by this shoe.

Competing in the Nike Romaleos 3

In addition, this model could also be useful for lifters and athletes who want to start utilizing heel elevation for squatting. The Romaleos 3 could also be a good weightlifting shoe for athletes who want to eventually compete in strength sports and need shoes to accompany their goals.

For everyone else squatting less than 2x/wk on a consistent basis, a cross-training shoe such as the Nike Metcon 8 is a more versatile option that will allow you more freedom in your movements and workouts.

Nike Romaleos 3

The Romaleos 3 is a specialty shoe so if changing your shoes during a workout is an issue for your schedule, or you have a strict budget and want to spend less than $100 USD, then this shoe is probably more of a “nice to have” than a “have to have” shoe.

Nike Romaleos 3

Nike Romaleos 3 Product Shot
4.5
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • Heavy Squats
  • Weightlifting
  • Athletes Needing Weightlifting Shoes
  • Narrow and Neutral-Width Feet

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet
  • For Long-Term Upper Durability

Pros

Over the last four years of training in the Nike Romaleos 3, I’ve found a few pros and things to really like about this model. For example, how they lasted four years.

  • Great Shoe for Weightlifting and Plyometric Training
  • Secure Lacing + Strap Configuration
  • Durable Overall Construction
  • Tacky Sole for Improved Stability

The first thing to like about this shoe is obvious, which is it does its job incredibly well. In this shoe over the last four years, I have consistently squatted 300-550lbs 2-3x/wk and trained in Olympic lifts and jumps without any issue in stability or security as far as my foot moving around inside the shoe.

Squatting in the Nike Romaleos 3

A second benefit is that with the Nike Romaleo 3, the casual athlete can expect a smooth transition and feel when switching back and forth between barefoot squatting or squatting in cross-training shoes.

The less aggressive construction of this shoe means that if you were to use them for your heavy days only, your squat form won’t be terribly disrupted when you go in to do, say, goblet squats on a HIIT or circuit day.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 for weightlifting

Having said that, if you’re someone that is short on time or prioritizes efficiency in your exercise transitions, the Nike Romaleos 3 study, but with an approachable configuration will allow you to keep them on for almost any exercise that isn’t running should you choose.

Another thing to like about the Romaleos 3 is its lacing and strap system. The system on this shoe provides a nice secure base for heavy lifting, without being too constricting on your feet — given that you don’t have very wide feet (more on that later).

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 Width

Another added benefit that doesn’t jump out at you immediately is that the laces are finished with metal aglets, which is great news for a shoe that might sustain some abuse via dropped barbells and plates.

Again, the Nike Romaleos 3 has been my primary training shoe over the last four years, and while it is an attractive shoe at first glance I have to say it is even more impressive in its durability. This shoe has held up well for my needs, and the insole has basically formed my foot which is great for comfort under heavy loads.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 Durability

The last thing to like about the Nike Romaleos 3 is its hard outsole and tacky sole. In the Romaleos 3’s case, a thin piece of rubber with tiny dimples and holes in the heel provides an almost suction-like effect to rubber and wood surfaces. In four years of training, I have not experienced traction issues in this shoe

Cons

Despite enjoying the Nike Romaleos 3 over the last four years of my using them, I have found a few cons to be weary and know before investing in this shoe.

  • Narrow Toe Box Isn’t Great for Wide Feet
  • Comparatively Narrow Heel to Other Models
  • Glue On Sole Has a Few Weak Spots

The Nike Romaleos 3 is a fairly narrow shoe, especially compared to its predecessor the Nike Romaleos 2 which has a much bulkier and wider feel and look, and a solid plastic heel.

Upon first wear, the Nike Romaleos 3 has a pretty snug fit, with aggressive arch support and it will definitely take some breaking in for most lifters and athletes. For those new to weightlifting shoes, this model is definitely an easier transition from cross-training shoes than some other models and one that while snug will feel freer than others due to its lightweight construction.

Nike Romaleos 3 Heel Construction

Granted, it does still take a bit of an adjustment period to get used to this shoe, though, especially if you’re coming from something like a cross-training shoe with a wide sturdy base. The Nike Romaleos 3 is fairly narrow overall and initially makes it feel like you need to balance on the shoe instead of pressing into it.

I believe the feeling of needing to balance comes from the construction. The base of the heel is as wide as any other weightlifting shoe, but narrows immediately around the heel cup and then widens again where it meets the actual shoe creating this sort of balance beam effect.

While initially, this may be an issue, it seems that over time and breaking in the shoe, balance improves and the width becomes less of an issue.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 sizing and width

The last few drawbacks with the Nike Romaleos 3 are that I have noticed a few weak spots in the glue between the plastic heel and the rubber base on the sole, and some weak points in the construction of the upper.

The rubber sole has a tendency to come apart from the plastic base quickie even with minimal use. While this doesn’t affect functionality much, it is rather annoying on top of not being very aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, the construction of the mesh and leather upper seems to be weak with the mesh tearing in multiple places.

Performance

To discuss the performance of the Nike Roamleos 3, I’ll cover how this shoe performs in a few key training categories. I’ll discuss their performance for squats, weightlifting, and accessory exercises.

The rigidity of the shoe, when compared to a cross-training shoe, is also something to be desired when making sharp or powerful movements in training.

Nike Romaleos 3 Performance Breakdown

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 for Squatting

The Nike Romaleos 3 handles heavy lifting extremely well. With a mostly solid TPU heel and midsole, you have a solid amount of stability thru every part of your squats.

The rigidity of the shoe when compared to cross-training shoes is also something to be desired when making sharp or powerful movements in training. So, while we would never recommend that you run in these, don’t be afraid to keep them on for things like box jumps.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 for back squats

The heel height plays a role here as well, with a 20mm/0.78 inches lift like the Romaleos 2 the angle is just enough to get the extra depth in the squat that you’re looking for while not pitching you onto your toes.

The Nike Romaleos 3 handles daily use and heavy squatting extremely well. With a mostly solid plastic base, you have a great amount of stability thru every part of your lift.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 for front squats and cleans

The heel height can play a nice role in helping you achieve more depth in the squat that you’re looking for while not pitching you onto your toes if you are someone with shorter tibial length; however if you are someone with longer legs, a longer torso or both a higher heel may be more beneficial for you.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 for Weightlifting

Being a weightlifting shoe the Nike Romaleos 3 lends itself well to both the snatch and clean and their variants. This model provides a very stable base in both lifts, with a heel elevation that doesn’t take much getting used to.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 for snatches

This stands true, especially for athletes transitioning to this shoe from something like the Nike Metcon 7 or Nike Metcon 8. The one place some people would find lacking on the Nike Romaleos 3 is its performance on the jerk.

The sole can be somewhat tacky and not move along the platform on a split jerk as well as other lifting shoes, so if you’re someone who constantly struggles with this in your jerks, then you may want to consider this.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 for clean and jerks

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 for Accessory Exercises

As mentioned earlier, this shoe is intended for intermediate weightlifters. Its construction is less aggressive than that of some other weightlifting shoes, and it can reasonably be worn during accessory work, including conditioning.

Some places that the Nike Romaleos 3 truly excel at are the rower and the sled/prowler. On the rower, the heel of the Nike Romaleos 3 fits well into the lower strap, and the additional heel elevation actually lets you get a longer pull on each repetition helping to make your rowing more efficient.

On the sled, the tacky sole and sturdy construction allows for a great base to push off of. Other conditioning efforts would prove to be not great options for the Nike Romaleos 3; they feel awkward for extensive plyometrics like jump rope if you’re blending lifting with plyometrics.

Sizing

For most lifters and athletes, the Nike Romaleos 3 should run fairly true to size. The length runs true and the width will be preferable for people with neutral or narrow feet.

Testing the Nike Romaleos 3 size and fit

The shoe fits snugly around your foot and the strap+lace combination makes it an even more secure connection. The heel is somewhat narrow so for someone with a wider foot, a better option may be the Nike Romaleos 2 or the TYR L-1 Lifter.

Even if you size up in this model, I’m not convinced wide feet will have enough width in the toe box, so again, this shoe is definitely a more narrow or neutral foot-width-friendly shoe.

  • Nike Romaleos 3 Sizing Thoughts: True to size for narrow and neutral-width feet.

Nike Romaleos 3 Sizing and Fit Assessment

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Nike Romaleos 3, drop a comment below and I can help you out accordingly.

Price Breakdown

For the Nike Romaleos 3, you can expect to pay anywhere from $180 USD to over $200 depending on the vendor and the colorway as this shoe is no longer available through Nike’s main site.

This price point is similar to many other plastic-heel weightlifting shoes in this class which we can consider an “intermediate” shoe. If you are training squats or Olympic lifts consistently it is definitely a shoe to consider at this price.

That being said, if you’re closer to a beginner a cheaper option with a solid sole like the Nike Savaleos or the Adidas Powerlift 5 may be a better starter option.

Nike Romaleos 3

Nike Romaleos 3 Product Shot
4.5
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.3

Best For

  • Heavy Squats
  • Weightlifting
  • Athletes Needing Weightlifting Shoes
  • Narrow and Neutral-Width Feet

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet
  • For Long-Term Upper Durability

Construction Details

Below, I’m going to outline the key construction details that influence this shoe’s performance and durability. This model is similar to the Nike Metcon 7 in many ways, but it has received a few notable construction updates.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 20mm/.78 inches
  • Weight: 16.20 oz (for my size 12 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Seatbelt-Like Strap
  • Metal aglets
  • Nike Flywire eyelets
  • TUP Elevated Heel
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Thin Suede/Leather Tongue
  • Supportive Upper+Collar

If you have additional construction-related questions on the Nike Romaleos 3, drop a comment below and I can help you out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Are the Nike Romaleos 3 good for squats?

A:
The Nike Romaleos 3 deliver a strong performance for squats. The outsole on this shoe grips different surfaces well and its TPU midsole and heel provide a high level of stability.

Q:
Do the Nike Romaleos 3 fit true to size?

A:
The Nike Romaleos 3 fits true to size for most narrow and neutral-width feet. If you have wide feet you may want to pass on this model and explore different options.

Q:
What is the effective heel height of the Nike Romaleos 3?

A:
The effective heel height of the Nike Romaleos 3 sits at 20mm or .78 inches.

Takeaways

This is truly a value in the mid-tier Weightlifting shoe class. For more serious Weightlifters who are consistently competing, the Nike Romaleos 2 would be the way to go, for true beginners the Nike Savaleos are the better option at a lower price point.

For everyone right in the middle, serious about training, and in it for the long haul with no illusions of making an Olympic team, these can be a great option. Not too expensive, very durable, lighter, sleeker, and more athletic- heck, they’re even lighter without insoles than the current Metcon 8.

For CrossFitters, intermediate weightlifters, and pro and college team sport athletes this shoe is a fantastic pick.

Jack Van Dam

Jack Van Dam

I'm an ex-college football player turned Fit Pro that's been actively involved in changing mine+others bodies for performance and health for the last 10+ years. In that time, I've trained thousands of clients, inspired countless pounds of weight loss, opened a gym to better serve our local community, and helped hundreds of people improve their life through strength training. I absolutely love training; the weight room has been my sanctuary since the first day I stepped in as a kid going with my dad to football practice. Training has shaped a large portion of who I am today and I love helping people find even a fraction of the benefit I've received. As for my educational background, I have my Masters in Sport Management, Bachelors in Human Performance, and have my CSCS, Precision Nutrition L1 and USA-Weightlifting L2 certifications.

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