4. Athletic Propulsion Labs Ascend
APL puts out some high-quality and high-performing shoes, so when I slipped these on for leg day, I was hoping for a knockout. But while they’re billed as a great all-around trainer, they’re probably better suited to a conventional basketball-style workout than a CrossFit-style routine of deadlifts and box jumps. They’re the second-heftiest shoe in this roundup, and the outsole is fairly cushiony, which is great if you want more of a shock absorber than a concrete slab.
(One thing I noticed: The rubbery uppers that help hold the laces rubbed on my ankle while lifting, which was not a good feeling. I let a friend who wears the same size try them out, though, and he didn’t have that same problem, so that could just be due to my own wonky anatomy.)
That said, the APL is a superbly built shoe, and the one-piece TechLoom upper is light, breathable, and undeniably stylish. My heel definitely felt locked in during heavy lifts, thanks to the external “heel counter” that helps keep your heel snug and supported. Overall—besides a few weird quirks—they wore well. But they may be more ideal for a guy who wants to shoot a few hoops and hit the gym in the same shoe.
Sizing: True to size
Drop from heel to forefoot: 8 mm
Weight: 281 grams
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