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Home » Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Review | High-Performing Barefoot Shoe for Lifting?

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Review | High-Performing Barefoot Shoe for Lifting?

The Xero Shoes Forza Trainer is a barefoot shoe designed specifically for working out and lifting. As someone who regularly uses Xero Shoes for working out, I was super excited to put the Forza Trainer to the test.

To be honest, I was most interested in how this shoe would stack up to some of the market’s best barefoot shoes for lifting. Across the board, I’ve been a fan of the Forza Trainer’s performance in the gym and for my strength sessions.

I like that this shoe delivers what I would call a “traditional” training shoe feel mixed with a barefoot shoe construction. There are a few things that I’m not a big fan of with this shoe, though, and I’ll discuss those in my cons below.

In this Xero Shoes Forza Trainer review, I’ll cover multiple topics to help you decide if this shoe is a good barefoot shoe for your wants and needs.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Barefoot Shoes Review

On the market looking into new barefoot shoes? Check out my best barefoot shoes round-up. This article features some of my favorite barefoot shoes picks for a variety of categories.

Who Should Invest In the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer?

The Xero Shoes Forza Trainer is a good barefoot shoe for anyone wanting a model primarily for lifting. This shoe delivers a strong performance for both static strength work and it works well for dynamic exercises like cleans and lunges.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Performance Review

Compared to other barefoot shoes and Xero Shoes, this model also has a more “traditional” sole construction regarding its feel, which I think will resonate with those that love the feeling of training shoes but want a barefoot shoe for working out.

In addition, this shoe has a nice level of articulation and it gives you a nice close-to-the-ground feeling, so for deadlifts and heavy strength work, this shoe performs well. I could see this being a good model for general lifters and strength athletes.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Review

Outside of lifting, this shoe also performed well for some versatile training and short runs, so it can be a good “all-in-one” style barefoot shoe for anyone that wants a model that can do everything but is built with a bias towards lifting.

Overall, the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer delivers a strong performance in the gym. That being said, I think if you have a low-volume foot, then you may want to explore other models because I’m not convinced the strap on this shoe will work well for you.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer

$129.99

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Product Shot
4.3
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.1
Durability
4.2

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Versatile Training
  • Outdoor Workouts
  • HIIT/Short Runs

Falls Short

  • For Strap Construction

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Pros

Over the course of my review process and multiple lifting sessions, I found a few things to really like and enjoy with the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer.

  1. Strong Barefoot Shoe for Lifting
  2. Can Be a Great Model for Beginners
  3. The Outsole Has Good Traction

The first thing to like about the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer is its performance for lifting. It can be tough at times to find really great barefoot shoes for lifting and this model fills that ask really well.

Review Xero Shoes Forza Trainer

I really enjoyed the Forza Trainer’s performance for my heavy deadlift days where I was working well over 400 lbs and for my leg days where I was focused on strength and power. The stability and this shoe’s sole construction worked well for these contexts.

Compared to other lifting-friendly minimalist shoes like the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III, the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer feels a little more built and like a traditional training shoe.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Try On

In some ways, this shoe feels like a hybrid between a cross-training shoe and a barefoot shoe, which I really like. I think as a dedicated barefoot shoe for lifting, whether it be for recreational training or even competitive powerlifting, the Forza Trainer works well.

Another thing to like about the Forza Trainer is that I think it can be a really good barefoot shoe for beginners, especially for beginners who want barefoot shoes for working out and training.

using the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for weight training

Compared to other barefoot shoes and even other Xero Shoes models, this model’s sole feels like it runs a little thicker and it has a foam removable insole. The combination of these two features gives this shoe a more “cushioned” ride, relatively speaking.

I think for someone who’s acclimating to barefoot shoes and the demands that come along with using them for lifting and training, this shoe is one of the better options on the market.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Removable Insole

You can leave the insole in for a bit more cushion or take it out to get closer to the ground and bring down the stack height of this shoe slightly. I like that the internal construction is finished in this and it should help prolong the durability of this model.

The last thing to like about the Forze Trainer is its outsole construction. This model has a nice level of tread and I think it’s a good barefoot shoe for training in different contexts.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Outsole Construction

Whether you’re training on rubber gym floors and wooden platforms or using these for competing in powerlifting on the carpeted platforms, I don’t think you’ll experience traction or slip issues in this model whatsoever.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Cons

For the most part, the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer has delivered a strong performance. However, there are a few cons with this shoe that I think could be improved.

  1. Strap and Laces Could Be Better
  2. Upper Could Be More Breathable

The first drawback to the Forza Trainer is its midfoot strap and laces. While I like the idea behind the midfoot strap for promoting more upper security, I don’t think it fully delivers on that promise.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Midfoot Strap

More specifically, the velcro and construction of the strap are a little awkward. There isn’t a ton of velcro on the base of the strap, which then limits how secure you can get the strap and it almost makes it useless in some cases.

For example, if you have low-volume feet or just like your shoes really tight for training, then I think this will be a feature that bothers you. In future iterations of the Forza Trainer, I hope Xero Shoes elongates the velcro to give it more security.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Laces and Midfoot

On top of the strap, I’m also not the biggest fan of the laces in the Forza Trainer. The laces in this shoe are super skinny and while they work fine, I think a thicker lace will fare better for long-term durability and midfoot security.

Another drawback with the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer is this shoe isn’t the most breathable. I found the upper to run pretty warmly in this shoe and if I wore them barefoot, then I noticed this shoe held sweat for quite a while post-wearing them.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Upper Construction

I think if you’re wanting a shoe with a high level of breathability, then you’ll likely want to pass on the Forza Trainer. This model runs pretty warmly and its materials don’t breathe the best.

Performance

To discuss the performance of the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer, I’ll cover how this works in a variety of training contexts. I’ll discuss this model’s performance for lifting, versatile training, short runs, and daily wear.

Since this model is a little more expensive than other Xero Shoes that can also work for a wide range of training contexts, it’s important to make sure this shoe resonates with your individual training wants and needs.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Performance Breakdown

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for Lifting

For lifting, I really enjoyed the performance of the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer. This model offers plenty of stability for heavy sessions and has a nice level of articulation for different types of lifting sessions.

For heavy deadlifts and strength sessions, I like the limited stack height in this model and that you can take the insole out to get closer to the ground. This is a nice feature that gives you more variety with the feel that you get with this shoe for lifting.

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for Lifting Weights

Another area where this shoe excels for lifting is with its outsole construction. The outsole tread works well for various surfaces and I don’t think you’ll experience slip issues with this model when lifting and training on rubber gym floors, wooden platforms, and machines.

The toe box width is also a nice perk of this shoe for lifting and I think most will find that they have more than enough room to splay the toes in this shoe and grip the floor. This shoe’s toe box width is similar to models like the Xero Shoes Prio.

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for Lifting

While the midfoot strap is good in theory, I actually don’t think it does much for the Forza Trainer’s overall performance due to its limited velcro. I think future iterations should rework this feature to make it more useful for boosting upper security.

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for Versatile Training

For versatile training, the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer did a pretty good job. I think if you’re wanting this shoe primarily for lifting, but like to add in HIIT, plyometrics, and athletic-style sessions here and there this shoe will work fine.

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for Versatile Training

This model’s bootie-style construction gives them a nice “athletic” feel and their upper security is good enough for this style of training. I also like the synthetic layer around the toe box and the additional materials around the midfoot.

For lateral work and multi-directional work, these features help give this shoe a stronger performance. Compared to other barefoot shoes, this model’s sole is a little thicker and with the insole, you get a bit more cushion in this shoe.

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for HIIT

I think if you’re a beginner with barefoot shoes and want to ease into versatile training with this style of footwear, then the Forza Trainer could be a good option to explore as it will be a little more forgiving to the demands of this style of training.

While this shoe isn’t as strong as some of the more hybrid-friendly Xero Shoes like the Zelen and HFS, I think it does a decent job of blending multiple training styles together.

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for athletic workouts

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for Short Runs and Daily Wear

For short runs, I like the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer’s performance for the most part. I think if you’re tackling a mile or two pre or post-workout, then the Forza Trainer will work well.

I also like the thicker sole of this shoe as it’s a little more comfortable for running and it feels more forgiving. My only gripe with this shoe for running is that it can run pretty hot and if you’re running indoor or in hot climates, you may want to reach for different shoes.

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for running

If you’re wanting a barefoot shoe for long-distance runs or if running makes up the brunt of your weekly training, then I’d suggest looking into the Xero Shoes HFS or Vivobarefoot Geo Racer Knit.

For daily wear, the Forza Trainer works fine, but it’s not my favorite barefoot shoe for daily wear. In my opinion, the appearance of this shoe is just okay, and the huarache-inspired design looks a little dated at times.

Testing the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer for daily wear

On top of this, the upper in this model can run a little hot and I noticed for all-day wear, this shoe didn’t breathe the best. On multiple occasions, I noticed that this shoe held sweat pretty noticeably which is a knock on this shoe’s daily wear performance.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Sizing

For the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer, most athletes and lifters should be safe going true to size in this model. The length of this shoe runs true and they have a nice width to them to accommodate most foot anatomies.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Sizing Review

On Xero Shoes’ site, they also recommend sizing this model true and consistent with your normal shoe size. I found this shoe to fit similarly to the Prio and Xero Shoes 360, so if you wear those models, go with the same size for the Forza Trainer.

The only sizing concern that I have with the Forza Trainer involves its midfoot strap. I think if you have a low foot volume or narrow feet, then you may want to pass on this shoe as the strap may not work for your anatomy or give you enough security.

  • Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Sizing Thoughts: Go true to size.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Sizing and Fit

If you have additional sizing and fit questions about the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer, drop a comment below, and I can help you out accordingly.

Price Breakdown

For the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer, you can expect to pay $129.99 USD. Compared to other Xero Shoes, this model is a bit more pricey and priced similarly to models like the Zelen.

Overall, I think the price is worth it for this model, especially if you’re wanting this shoe primarily for lifting. In the context of weight training, this shoe performs exceptionally well.

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Flexibility

Also, with its thicker sole construction and removable insole, I could see the Forza Trainer being a good beginner-friendly barefoot shoe for lifting, which could also make the price more justifiable for this population.

If you’re wanting to spend $100 USD or less, you can look into shoes like the Xero Shoes Prio which costs $89.99 USD and performs fairly well for most activities. 

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer

$129.99

Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Product Shot
4.3
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.1
Durability
4.2

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Versatile Training
  • Outdoor Workouts
  • HIIT/Short Runs

Falls Short

  • For Strap Construction

Construction Details

The Xero Shoes Forza Trainer is pretty simplistic in nature regarding its construction. Below are some of the key construction details to note about this shoe that can influence its performance and durability.

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 0mm
  • Weight: 9.40 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Layered Mesh Upper
  • Bootie-Style Construction
  • Huarache-Inspired Straps
  • Midfoot Velcro Strap
  • Full Rubber Outsole
  • External Heel and Tongue Tabs
  • 4 Core Eyelets

If you have additional construction questions about the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer, drop a comment below. Honestly, I wish Xero Shoes provided more construction specs for this model on their product page.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
Are the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer true to size?

A:
For most lifters and athletes, the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer should fit true to size. This model's length runs true and they have adequate width through their forefoot and midfoot.

Q:
Are the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer good for lifting?

A:
The Xero Shoes Forza Trainer excels with weight training. This shoe's outsole provides an excellent level of traction on different surfaces and the sole has a good level of stability for heavier strength work.

Q:
Can you run in the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer?

A:
For short runs, the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer should work just fine. This upper in the Forza Trainer does run a little heavier than other barefoot running shoes from Xero Shoes, so if you prioritize a minimalist upper, then you'll want to consider this.

Takeaway Thoughts

The Xero Shoes Forza Trainer has quickly become one of my favorite barefoot shoes for lifting. In my opinion, this shoe is one of the stronger performance-focused shoes from Xero Shoes for dedicated weight training.

I like the sole construction of this shoe and I enjoy that it has a “traditional” fit and feel to it while also giving you a nice barefoot shoe feel and performance.

That being said, this shoe isn’t perfect and there are little things that could be tweaked on this shoe to make it a better model like its midfoot strap and laces.

If you have additional questions about the Xero Shoes Forza Trainer, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

I personally test every product featured on That Fit Friend using a regimen of training tests that I’ve developed over years of testing training gear. I buy the gear I test and may earn commissions on sales made through links on my site.

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Jake Boly

I've been in the fitness and strength training industry for nearly a decade. In that time, I've trained hundreds of clients, written thousands of articles, reviewed over 100+ pairs of training shoes, and have produced a large list of training videos. I live and breathe fitness and training gear, and I think it's important that reviewers walk the walk with the gear they're testing. As for my educational background, I have my Masters in Sports Science, Bachelors in Exercise Science, and have my CSCS.

3 thoughts on “Xero Shoes Forza Trainer Review | High-Performing Barefoot Shoe for Lifting?”

  1. Hi Jake,
    First of all, I really like your content. Your reviews are really precise and useful!
    I’m on the market for my first barefoot shoes and I would primarily use them for weightlifting (powerlifting mostly). I was pretty sold on the Primus Lite III until I saw the Forza Trainer, now I’m quite uncertain. I feel like the Forza trainer might be a better point of entry to barefoot shoes since I would almost only use it in the gym but the Primus Lite have a better overall grade on your website. What would you recommend in my case? Just as a side note, I live in France so all the shoes you reviewed (the Tolos for example) are not an option for me.
    Thanks for your reply!

    1. Hey! Thank you so much for checking out the content. IMO, you’re on the money — the Primus Lite III is the stronger shoe, but in your context, the Forza could be a great entry option especially if it helps save you money. Then as you acclimate you can always invest in a more expensive shoe if you really love barefoot shoe use for lifting!

      1. Thanks a lot for replying! The thing is the Forza Trainer and the Vivo Primus Lite 3 are both around the same price in France so it’s not really a criterion for me. Do you think the Primus are a better overall shoe? In this case, I would skip a step and start off directly with those.
        Thanks again
        Yohan

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