NFL star J.J. Watt is an animal in the gym. His relentless preparation ahead of game day is why he’s able to dominate on the gridiron.
Now, I don’t have to train like pro football’s fiercest competitor to sit at my desk and write stories all day long. But I like to challenge myself in the gym, and since Reebok released Watt’s second signature training sneaker in July, the JJ II, I’ve wanted to see if I could survive one of his grueling workouts.
Before the NFL Week 3 matchup of Watt’s Houston Texans and the New England Patriots, I hit the gym in the Reebok JJ II to perform some of the defensive standout’s favorite lifts and see how it felt to train in the sneakers.
I focused on some of the more explosive movements he’s been known to do (box squats — demonstrated here, kettlebell jump squats) as well as several strength-building movements (trap bar deadlifts, reverse lunges, weighted sled push).
What impressed me the most about these sneakers was the midsole versatility. There was enough cushioning underfoot from the brand’s LiquidFoam material to land after jumping comfortably, but it’s not overly plush, and it still provides the firm base needed to push your body upward from a squat position.
The traction pattern, which differs greatly from other training shoes I’ve worked out in, is also worth noting. The surface I used to push the sled on was slick, and yet I didn’t slide around, even as I increased the weight on the sled and exerted more force to move it.
Also, this workout was a change in routine for me, and I worked up more of a sweat than usual — but my feet didn’t. A lot of training sneakers I’ve used in the past weren’t as breathable as I would have liked. But the Lenoweave upper on the JJ II ensured my feet didn’t overheat.
Another benefit of the upper was flexibility. Play around with the shoe before you put it on and you’ll notice how strong the material it’s made with is, but that ruggedness doesn’t interfere with how your foot flexes.
For anyone buying this sneaker, I would recommend trying on a size down before making your purchase. I’m typically an 11.5, which is the size I wore for the workout, but there was a little room in the toe box, so I probably should have gone with an 11.
The Reebok JJ II is out now and retails for $100 in men’s sizing. It’s also available in boys’ sizes for $75.