7 Best Nike Workout Shoes in 2023

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
7 Best Nike Workout Shoes in 2023
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Whether you need a new pair that can handle your high-impact workouts or all-around gym shoes for studio fitness classes, Nike offers some of the best-rated workout shoes on the market. The Swoosh models come with cutting-edge technologies to ensure smoother forward motions during workouts.

Whatever training style and specific fitness needs you have, there’s an ideal pair of Nike workout shoes that’s fitting for the way you prefer to train. Your great options include the Free Metcon series, Varsity Compete, and budget-friendly options like the Nike MC Trainer.

Here at RunRepeat, we want to help you choose your workout shoes well. To do that, we’ve reviewed 40+ of the best Nike workout shoes that we all have tested. After hours of performance tests, we’ve highlighted our top favorites in different categories.

Best Nike workout shoes overall

What makes it the best?

Among all the Nike workout shoes we tried, the Free Metcon 5 left the best impression on us. Its platform width is just out of this world, especially in the heel area! Our feet never slipped off the footbed, thanks to that much space. Then there’s its uber-plush cushioning, which kept the pain at bay even when our workouts lasted long. Finally, we took note of its heel-to-toe drop, which allowed us to perform a varied array of exercises.

While the average width of the heel part of the platform is 87.0 mm, the caliper measured the Nike Free Metcon 5’s rear part to be 95.1 mm wide. That’s a staggering 8.1 mm of additional surface area! Asking for more would already be downright greedy. 

The noteworthy cushioning system of this shoe was measured by the HA durometer to have a softness score of 17.4, which makes it way more plush than the average trainer which has a score of 27.0. We totally enjoyed a lot of compression, especially when we did sprints.

In the lab, we also learned that the heel-to-toe drop of the Free Metcon 5 is 6.4 mm. This measurement falls within the 4 mm to 8 mm range, which provides the most functional versatility according to our data and experience.

After performing a Dremel test on the upper, we were dismayed with it. Twelve seconds of drilling already did considerable damage. Because of this, we do not recommend it to gymgoers who prioritize durability


  • Impressively stable
  • Noteworthy ankle support
  • Awesomely close-fitting
  • Roomy toebox
  • Nice and airy upper
  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Quite cushiony
  • Notably lightweight
  • Exceptionally flexible
  • Stylish design and overall look


  • Not for long runs (2-3 miles max)
  • Upper lacks durability
Full review of Nike Free Metcon 5

Best Nike workout shoes for HIIT

What makes it the best?

Our experience tells us that a good shoe for HIIT delivers a lot of springback, provides ample cushioning, and offers a good deal of breathability. The Air Zoom SuperRep 3 from Nike excels in all these aspects, so we are confident to name it as the best for HIIT among all of Nike’s shoes.

In the lab, we bent and twisted this shoe using our hands, and we gave this shoe a 5 out of 5 for stiffness. Our digital force gauge also showed that this shoe needed 82.4N of force to reach a 90-degree bend. This makes it a mind-blowing 266% stiffer than average. Experience-wise, this stiffness gave us a springboard effect that helped us be quick on our feet. 

Our caliper shows that this Nike shoe is generously padded. The forefoot and heel have stack heights of 31.7 mm and 27.5 mm, respectively. These figures make these areas 7.1 mm and 9.2 mm thicker than average. According to the readings on the HA durometer, the midsole is indeed on the softer side at 21.0 when the average is 27.0. During our gym tests, we totally appreciated how this well-cushioned shoe kept us pain-free as we performed lunges and even short sprints. 

We tested for breathability by pumping smoke into the shoe to see how fast the smoke rose through the upper material. The mesh upper of the SuperRep 3 did quite well and scored a 4 out of 5. Smoke seeped through the whole upper materials quite easily. We also felt airy while wearing the Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3 during our workouts.

We were a little stressed out when we took this shoe outdoors. While it technically worked, the carved-out arc underneath the foot became a debris-magnet. It was quite distracting!


  • Perfect for HIIT
  • Light on the foot
  • Bouncy cushioning
  • Great flexibility
  • Stable side support
  • Snug, locked-down fit
  • Breathable


  • Not for wide feet
  • Arc catches debris outdoors
Full review of Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3

Best minimalist Nike workout shoes

What makes it the best?

It was such a pleasure to work out in the Nike Flex Control 4 because it just felt so nice on foot because of its immense flexibility and dependable ventilation. This shoe also helped us be quick on our feet. Because of all these benefits, we consider the Flex Control 4 as the best minimalist shoe from Nike.

While working out, we felt this shoe moving quite smoothly with our feet regardless of the angle of our steps and stances. Such flexibility was confirmed when we manually assessed this shoe in the lab. After twisting and squeezing them, both the shoe’s base and heel counter were scored a 2 out of 5 for rigidity.

Breathability was one benefit that we were particularly thankful for. Nobody wants soaking wet socks after every workout, right? In the lab, we dissected the shoe and placed the upper material on top of a light source. The light easily passed through the many ventilation holes all over the upper. We scored this shoe a 3 out of 5 for ventilation.

The midsole tooling is on the firmer side, and we loved how it made us move faster because of its springiness. In the lab, our HA durometer measured the midsole softness to be 32.0, which is higher (therefore firmer) than the 27.0 average.

It’s just regrettable that the Flex Control 4 is not that supportive for more serious weightlifting. We felt our feet being forced forward when we lifted heavier weights. Not only did this create instability, it also made our toes rammed and quite uncomfortable, as well.


  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Lighter than average
  • Very flexible
  • Foot feels planted
  • Budget-friendly
  • Good grip
  • Simple aesthetics
  • True to size


  • Durability issues
  • Not for serious workouts
Full review of Nike Flex Control 4

Best Nike workout shoes for speed

What makes it the best?

We consider the Metcon Turbo 2 the best for speed among all Nike workout shoes because of its totally speed-oriented design. Not only did its midsole deliver more ground feel, its embedded Zoom Air unit also provided much-appreciated bursts of energy. This shoe’s perfect breathability is already the icing on the cake.

Based on our caliper measurements, the midsole of the Nike Metcon Turbo 2 is thinner than average by 1.7 mm at the heel and 3.1 mm at the forefoot. This setup brought us closer to ground, allowing us to gain more control and be more attuned to speeding up. As if this isn’t enough, the Zoom Air embedded in the forefoot reliably delivered the sweet bounce that supported our runs and jumps.

Then there is the shoe’s amazing breathability to complete the excellent experience. We conducted a smoke test on the Turbo 2, and we watched in awe as smoke easily escaped through the porous upper. We were so impressed that it got a 5 out of 5 from us for ventilation.

What we didn’t like about this shoe was the flimsiness of its toebox. Twelve seconds of Dremel drilling was able to carve a hole in it, garnering only the lowest 1 over 5 for durability.


  • Bouncy Zoom Air in the forefoot
  • Good for short runs
  • Perfect for jumps and aerobics
  • Stable for moderate lifting
  • Excellent flexibility
  • Amazingly breathable
  • Durable outsole


  • Upper is not durable rope climbing
  • Heavy for a "speed-oriented" trainer
Full review of Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2

Best Air Max Nike workout shoes

What makes it the best?

The Alpha Trainer 5 is the best Nike workout shoe that makes use of the classic Max Air technology. Aside from the outstanding cushioning that includes the Max Air unit, we also discovered in our gym and lab tests that it also offers excellent stability and comfort during workouts.

The level of cushioning in the Alpha Trainer 5 is off the charts. We measured the forefoot to be 5.6 mm taller and the heel to be a whopping 11.1 mm taller than the average training shoe. The Max Air unit contributes to the overall heft of the heel portion, and it also provides ample impact protection when doing high-impact exercises like burpees and box jumps.

The Alpha Trainer also crushes it in the comfort department. We found its step-in comfort to be superb in large part due to the well-padded heel collar and tongue. Meanwhile, its midsole foam is 8.1% softer than the average training shoe and provides a pleasurable underfoot feeling.

And even though it is limited by its squishy heel, we found that the Alpha Trainer still performs well when lifting moderately heavy weights. That's thanks to its wide platform, which we measured to be 0.3 mm and 1.5 mm wider than average in the forefoot and heel, respectively.

However, the shoe's subpar breathability is a bit of a letdown. It only got a 2 out of 5 on our breathability test, where 5 is the most breathable, as the smoke we pumped into the shoe had a tough time passing through the upper.


  • Excellent value for money
  • Stable for easy weightlifting
  • Smooth heel-to-toes
  • True to size
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Durable outsole
  • Very good looks


  • Not breathable
  • Toebox lacks durability
  • Not for advanced workouts
Full review of Nike Air Max Alpha Trainer 5

Best budget Nike workout shoes

What makes it the best?

Its affordability is surely not the only thing that makes the Nike Legend Essential 3 attractive. It also boasts an amazingly consistent grip and a pretty stable platform. These two performance benefits allowed us to execute more confident and well-sustained workout regimens. Hence, we declare this Nike workout shoe as the one that delivers the greatest value for money.

The average price of Nike workout shoes is $101. Take a whopping 36% off of that and you get the price of the Nike Legend Essential 3. This is how affordable this shoe is! Make no mistake, though; the price cut didn’t come with serious performance setbacks.

The pattern on the outsole really did a great job of giving us multidirectional coverage. We never had to worry about slips even if we were a little aggressive with our runs, jumps, leaps, and other nimble movements. The softness of the rubber also contributed to the amazing bite that this shoe has. Using an HC durometer in the lab, we learned that the rubber has a hardness score of 80.5 (the average is 84.4). 

As per our experience, stability was surely not an issue with the Legend Essential 3. Its platform surely has a lot of space to accommodate our feet and the splays that come with them. Using a caliper we learned that this shoe is 112.2 mm wide at the forefoot and 90.7 mm at the heel. The average numbers are 109.6 mm and 87.0 mm respectively.

While the midsole was enough to cushion our jumps, it was too soft for heavier weightlifting. We learned through our HA durometer measurements that its rating of 26.3 is just around the 27.0 average. Those who lift heavy would have appreciated something firmer.


  • Very affordable
  • Super lightweight
  • Breathable upper
  • Enough cushioning for jumps
  • Wide platform
  • Flexible
  • Good grip


  • Lacks durability
  • Not for heavy lifting
Full review of Nike Legend Essential 3

Best Nike workout shoes for weightlifting

Nike Metcon 9

What makes it the best?

We worked out using Nike trainers and found Metcon 9 to be the most suitable for weightlifting. It has a vast and stable platform geared towards lifting and a grippy and protective outsole for that confidence boost.

While most weightlifting shoes have an elevated heel for assistance, we don’t find the need for it in the Metcon 9. It’s vast and supportive enough to handle various workouts like heavy squats and Olympic lifts. Its wide toebox offers more than enough wiggle room for our toes to splay naturally for better balance.

Furthering stability are the raised sidewalls that keep our feet securely planted. The upper ensures a firm foothold without taking away comfort by providing enough padding and a lot of airflow.

What boosts our confidence to lift even more is the unwavering outsole that promotes safe and steady jumps and jerks. This allows us to focus more on our form rather than diverting our attention to worrying about slips.

We warn caution that it takes a few sessions before Metcon 9 feels at home. We recommend taking a few casual walks first to break it in.


  • Largely suitable for lifting
  • Great stability
  • Reliable foot containment
  • High levels of comfort
  • Nice grip on gym floors
  • Accommodates wide feet
  • Fairly durable structure
  • Easy on-off
  • Stylish modern appearance


  • Is NOT the best for cardio workouts
  • Still has to be broken in
Full review of Nike Metcon 9

Comparison of the 7 best Nike workout shoes

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Nike is a well-respected brand in the workout footwear market and is known for producing shoes that are comfortable, supportive, and performance-focused. Whether you're a seasoned athlete or a beginner, Nike has a workout shoe that is designed to meet your needs and help you perform your best.


Getting the best Nike workout shoe: 6 things to consider

When buying Nike workout shoes, there are several key factors to consider to ensure that you find a pair that is right for you:

1. Type of workout

2. Comfort and fit

3. Support

4. Cushioning

5. Traction/grip

6. Style

Type of workout

Consider the type of workout you'll be doing and look for a pair of Nike shoes that are designed for your specific needs. Nike offers shoes for a variety of different workout types.

There are shoes like the Nike Free Metcon that come with a wide and firm heel to keep you planted when lifting.

Shoes like the Nike SuperRep are more oriented toward high-impact exercises. They feature added cushioning and technologies like Zoom Air bags that keep you bouncy on your toes.

If you are into agility, running, and balance training, you will appreciate shoes like Nike Free and Nike Flex. They are lightweight, low-profile, and super flexible.

Comfort and fit

An ideal fit feels like this:

  • secure heel (no heel slips)
  • snug midfoot (no wobbling side-to-side)
  • spacious toebox (there is enough room for your toes to splay naturally)

Because Nike shoes are built on different lasts than other brands, there is a chance that you won't have the same size as you do in another brand of workout shoes.


We recommend measuring your current foot length accurately and checking with Nike's official size chart to improve your chances of getting the right fit.

TIP: When purchasing online, order from shops with a free return policy. That way you can order one Nike shoe in 2-3 sizes and send the ones that didn't work back at no cost.


Some workout routines involve a lot of agile side-to-side movements. You want to make sure that your future Nike trainer offers enough support on the sides to prevent the foot from spilling over the edge of the sole.


Look for shoes that have reinforced sidewalls made of TPU (hard plastic) or very dense foam.



Choose a pair of Nike shoes that provide good cushioning to help reduce impact during your workout. Especially if you do lots of jumping. Look for shoes that feature technologies like Nike React, Zoom Air, or Air Max.

A shoe like SupreRep comes with two responsive Zoom Air units under the ball of the foot. They help to create a trampoline-like effect as you perform repeated jumps.

Traction and grip

Most workout shoes from Nike don't have a full-length rubber outsole. That's because they are meant to be used indoors and on gym surfaces that aren't very abrasive (like rubber).


You will only see pieces of rubber only in the areas where traction is most needed during a typical workout.


But if you are going to train outdoors a lot, go for a pair of shoes with full-length rubber outsoles. On demanding surfaces like concrete, the Nike Metcon Crossfit shoe is going to be more lasting.


Finally, consider your personal style preferences and choose a pair of Nike shoes that you love the look of and that you'll feel good wearing to the gym. Luckily, Nike has an excellent reputation for their aesthetically pleasing color combinations.

Frequently asked questions about Nike workout shoes

Can I run in my Nike workout shoes?

Yes, you can run in Nike workout shoes. Nike offers a range of athletic footwear that is designed for running, and many of its workout shoes are suitable for running. However, it's important to consider the type of running you'll be doing and choose a pair of Nike shoes that are designed for your specific needs.

For example, if you're a serious runner who covers long distances, you'll want to look for a pair of Nike running shoes that provide good cushioning and support. On the other hand, if you're a casual runner who only runs a few miles at a time, you may be able to get away with wearing a pair of Nike workout shoes that are designed for high-intensity training.

Likewise, Nike's flagship running shoe, the Pegasus, is going to be great for treadmill runs at the gym. However, it is going to be too soft and unstable for any other workout bit (lifting, aerobics, box jumps, etc.)

How we test workout shoes

Picking the best Nike workout kicks on the list requires a meticulous testing process. That means putting in hours in the gym executing a wide range of workouts and cardio exercises, highlighting how each model really performs in the real world. We also double-check the materials used in our shoe lab.

To ensure 100% honesty in all our reviews, we do the following:

  • Buy the Nike workout shoes from our own pocket. This ensures our impartiality when giving our assessments for all the shoes.
  • Use the shoes for a broad range of workout activities, from low-intensity to high-intensity training regimens, weightlifting, deep stretches, or 30+ minutes on the treadmill.
  • We put the shoes under a microscope - we meant figuratively and literally - because we test the shoes inside our lab. This also includes us cutting the shoes into pieces. We then write our reviews based on our collected data from the wear and lab test sessions. 
Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo
Nick combines 10+ years of experience in the health and fitness industry and a background in the sciences in his role as the Fitness Research Director. During his competitive powerlifting years his PRs have him sitting in the top 2% of bench presses (395 lbs), top 3% of squats (485 lbs) and top 6% of deadlifts (515 lbs) for his weight and age. His work has been featured on Bodybuilding.com, LiveStrong, Healthline, WebMD, WashingtonPost, and many more. Along the way, collaborating with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.