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PUMA PWR Nitro Squared Review | Good Shoe for Classes?

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The PUMA PWR Nitro Squared was a highly requested shoe on my YouTube channel. For background, this shoe is one of PUMA’s HIIT and versatile focused training shoes built for things like classes.

In my training, I follow hybrid-style programming, so I’m routinely lifting heavy, running, jumping, and doing a lot of conditioning work. For the PWR Nitro Squared, I pushed them for my workouts, where I did interval runs, sled work, and full-body circuits.

I don’t think this shoe will be for everyone, but like with most shoes, it has its time and place, depending on how you train. This shoe’s fit will land for some but be a total miss for others — here are my thoughts.

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Show Me the Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Nitro Foam midsole is bouncy and responsive.
  • Upper is breathable and lightweight.
  • Great for HIIT, short runs, and classes.

Cons

  • Not the widest toe box in the game.
  • Not ideal for minimalist lovers.
  • Take about 1-2 weeks to break-in.

What I Like

  1. Good Versatility: This model is good for workouts where you like to do a little bit of everything. Think F45 or Barry’s classes, where you’re doing plyometrics, short runs, and some light to moderate strength training. The Nitro foam midsole is super bouncy.
  2. Structured Feel: If you like supportive shoes, then you’ll resonate with this shoe’s sole construction. This model has a very “built-out” feeling, and you have a lot of material to support the foot while training in this shoe.
  3. Breathable Upper: The upper is awesome in this shoe because it walks that fine line between being breathable in hotter gym settings and secure. I didn’t have many spillover issues in this shoe when working laterally, for example.

What I Don’t Like

  1. Lacks Stability: This shoe has stability limitations due to its high stack height and foam midsole. If you want a training shoe for at all going heavier than 225 lbs, then you’ll want to look into more optimized cross-training shoes for lifting.
  2. Chunky Feel Is An Acquired Taste: The structured and supportive sole is going to be great for some, but if you at all like more ground feel and flexibility with your shoes, then I’d steer clear of these. They are thick and can feel clunky for minimalist lovers.

PUMA PWR Nitro Squared Review

Specs to Know

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: N/A (feels like 5-8mm, though)
  • Weight: 12 oz (size 10 men’s)
  • Stack Height: Forefoot 25mm, Heel 32mm (FYI: based on my measurements)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Width: Medium
  • Sizing: True to size for most

PUMA PWR Nitro Squared

$120

PUMA PWR Nitro Squared
4.5
Stability
4.1
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.4
Quality
4.6

Best For

  • Class Workouts
  • HIIT Sessions
  • Short Runs (<2 miles)
  • Light Lifting
  • Some Walking

Falls Short

  • For Heavy Lifting
  • For CrossFit/Functional Fitness
  • For Long-Distance Runs

How I Tested Them: Where They Excel and Fall Short

  • Max Weight Lifted In These: 255 lbs on deadlifts
  • Some Versatile Exercises Used to Assess: Broad jumps, skater strides, and jump rope
  • Max Distance Ran In These: 2-miles

My Experiences Lifting In This Shoe

I went into the PWR Nitro Squared knowing it wouldn’t be a good training shoe for heavy lifting, but I was curious about its thresholds. I wanted to know at what weight do you really start to feel the midsole compress and lose your stability.

I found that anytime I trained over 225 lbs, whether it was deadlifts or squats, I noticed the instability of this shoe. There’s a fair amount of toe spring in this shoe, which pitches you forward a little bit, and the stack height makes it tough to ground the feet during deadlifts.

Performing Single Leg Squats In the PUMA PWR Nitro Squared

If you’re a barbell-focused individual, opt for a different shoe for those training days. Even when doing lighter single-leg work like dumbbell step-ups and heavy walking lunges, I noticed that this model also showed some signs of instability.

This is not surprising, though, based on this shoe’s construction and intent — and I recognize that this shoe isn’t built for heavy lifting — however, I did want to assess where its limitations existed in this context.

  • Lifting Takeaways: It will be fine if you’re doing light strength work under 225 lbs and bodyweight workouts. You’ll notice compression if you’re going heavy, and I’d opt for something else if that’s your goal.
  • A Better PUMA Shoe for Lifting: PUMA Fuse 3

Testing This Model for Versatile Workouts

Where the Nitro Squared truly shines is in versatile training settings. From lateral movements like skater strides to sled pulls and drags and even kettlebell exercises, the shoe provided the responsive and supportive foundation I needed.

I particularly appreciated the lateral and medial support during quick, side-to-side movements. The structured midsole that wraps up on this model’s forefoot gives you a nice base to drive the foot into without spilling over the midsole.

Performing Versatile Workouts In the PUMA PWR Nitro Squared

The real winner of this shoe’s performance for versatile training is its Nitro foam midsole. This midsole is super responsive, and it gives you a lot of ground feedback when jumping and moving explosively.

Two things to note with this shoe and versatile training are: 1) it takes a week or two to break in, so give the sole a little more time than traditional training shoes, and 2) if you like minimalist training shoes for versatile training, you’ll want to skip this model.

  • Versatility Takeaways: The PWR Nitro Squared performs great in versatile workout settings. It’s bouncy and breathable, and it has a nice structure throughout to support multi-directional exercises.
  • A Versatile Shoe for Minimalist Loves: Inov-8 F-Fite 260 V2

My Thoughts On This Shoe for Running

For running, I like the PWR Nitro Squared ONCE it gets broken in. I actually didn’t love this shoe intiially for running, but I’ve seen changed my opinion on it because the midsole needed more sessions to give me more for running-focused asks.

With this shoe, I’ve pushed them for casual cooldown runs up to 2-miles and I’ve used for multiple workouts where I was doing circuits with 400 and 800-meter bouts, I did this to replicate some class workouts flows.

The interval runs were my favorite type of running to do in this model, and that was due to the Nitro foam’s bounce. I actually included this model in my latest YouTube video covering my favorite training shoes for running and lifting for this reason.

The PWR Nitro squared made into this YouTube video due to its bouncy and responsive Nitro foam midsole and its lightweight upper construction.

For longer runs, I would probably pass on this shoe and that’s mostly due to its bulky feeling. It works for casual running, but like with most training contexts that are specific in nature, I’d suggest finding a true running or hybrid shoe if running is at the forefront of your goals.

  • Running Takeaways: Good for shorter runs and runs programmed in classes. This model has a lot of structure, too, which can be great for individuals who need a little more support.
  • A True Hybrid Option: Inov-8 F-Fly

Is This a Good Shoe for Walking and Travel?

For walking, I’m a little conflicted about the PWR Nitro Squared. I do think it’s a fine and comfortable pick for walking for most who want that shoe for classes and HIIT workouts, especially for those who love thicker shoes.

I’ve walked up to a 5k in this model walking my mini-Aussie Maui, and these were comfortable for that duration. I like that the rubber outsole helps protect this shoe’s midsole from outdoor elements when walking.

PUMA PWR Nitro Squared Walking Tests and On Feet

That said, this wouldn’t be my go-to training shoe for travel. For example, if I want one model for training, walking, and being on my feet all day, I’d go with something like a Haze Trainer (better-looking) or On Cloud X3.

  • Walking and Comfort Takeaways: Not bad, not great. These will work for walking if you want a pair of shoes for training and walking-focused workouts. I just don’t love them from an aesthetic point of view, especially for standing all day.
  • Good Versatile Travel Shoe: On Cloud X 3

Have You Used the PWR Nitro Squared? Let Me Know!

Leave a Review

Crowd Sourced Reviews
3
3
3

Reader's Rating

4.5 out of 5
Sizing/Fit: True to Size
Durability
4.6

Reader Reviews

April 18th, 2024
These have been good for my workouts. They feel pretty sturdy for my full body home workouts which I like!
April 18th, 2024
Overall, good shoe. I think they run a little long for narrower feet. I have like a thumb width of room at the end of my toe box.

Construction Overview

Upper Construction

PUMA PWR Nitro Squared Upper

  • Utilizes a mix of synthetic and textile materials for a lightweight and breathable upper.
  • Features synthetic overlays around the toe box for added durability.
  • Incorporates PUMA’s power tape on the lateral side for enhanced structural support.
  • Boasts a neoprene-esque booty construction at the back, offering a snug fit and comfortable ankle support.
  • Includes an external heel tab and additional rubber/TPU material at the back for extra support and easy wearing.

Midsole

PUMA PWR Nitro Squared Midsole

  • The Nitro foam midsole, infused with nitrogen, provides a lightweight, responsive feel.
  • Designed with a higher stack height for increased cushioning and support.
  • Midsole wraps up on the lateral and medial sides, offering stability and support for lateral movements.
  • Features a structured design that accommodates arch support, catering to those who prefer more foot support during their workouts.

Outsole

PUMA PWR Nitro Squared Outsole

  • Equipped with a full rubber outsole for durability and traction.
  • Utilizes PUMA’s grip material to enhance grip on various surfaces.
  • The design includes a distinct separation in the midfoot area, contributing to the shoe’s flexibility and movement dynamics.

Additional Features

  • The shoe’s construction incorporates a balance of support, flexibility, and breathability, aiming to cater to a wide range of training activities.
  • Despite its robust feature set, the shoe maintains a relatively lightweight profile, attributed to the thoughtful material selection and design approaches.

PUMA PWR Nitro Squared Boot

Weight and Insole

  • For a size 10 shoe, the weight is listed at 12 ounces, striking a balance between providing substantial support and maintaining a level of agility and comfort suitable for a range of exercises.
  • Comes with a thin foam insole that is removable, offering a layer of cushioning that can be adjusted or replaced by the wearer depending on personal preference or the need for additional support.

Final Verdict

If you need a training shoe for versatile workouts and you like a little more structure to your shoes, then the PWR Nitro Squared can be a good option to go with. This model is responsive for HIIT and its upper has a good degree of security.

Once this shoe breaks in, you’ll find they hit their stride. For me, it took about five tough workouts to really feel at home with this shoe, so if they feel stiff out of the box for you, be patient with them.

If you have additional questions about the PWR Nitro Squared, drop a comment below or reach out to me via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend)!

 
Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

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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