10 Best Training Shoes in 2021

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
10 Best Training Shoes in 2021

Training shoes must be some of the most versatile athletic footwear. They are meant for every imaginable activity at the gym, including jumping, lifting, treadmill running, rowing, among other exercises.

Some trainers are more geared towards a certain type of activity. For example, weightlifting shoes have a wide sturdy base with a raised heel, while HIIT shoes have plenty of cushioning for non-stop jumping.

We have reviewed over 100 various training shoes to help you choose the best. Depending on your type of training, you may prefer one feature above others. That’s why ew have selected our top picks in five different categories.

How we review training shoes

At RunRepeat, we monitor the market of training footwear on a daily basis to provide you with the most up-to-date recommendations. Our ratings are regularly revised, taking into account the newest reviews and shoe releases.

  • We have researched and compared more than 300 training shoes to choose the best.
  • Over 250,000 user and expert reviews were analyzed to list the pros and cons of each shoe.

Our verdict for each shoe is represented by the CoreScore, a number from 1-100. It reflects the summarized users’ opinions on the trainer.

Best overall

We have tested older Metcon models, but to date, nothing comes close to the Nike Metcon 7. It’s THE Metcon. Even better, it’s the best training shoe on our roster! 

Why, you ask? Simple. It’s a big shot in the stability arena. It has a wider heel than all other Metcons, meaning it kept us surefooted throughout our workouts! 

Weight lifts? Easy breezy. Not only were we supported during our squat, this trainer also kept our feet locked securely in place! 

And of course, we wouldn’t look past the shoe’s React foam now, would we? It’s a star that makes this shoe a total standout! 

When we put our feet in this shoe, our instant reaction was “Wow!” The comfort it provided us was just god-tier. Even more, it made us efficient during our runs, burpees, and double-unders. It’s bouncy and springy, it’s hard not to love its midsole! 

Rope climbs were an easy feat with this shoe too. It just held onto the rope, and even better, it gave our feet all the security and protection they needed! 

And what blew our minds was how light this cross-training shoe actually is! For something that packs so much, we were just mesmerized. At 12.5 oz, we didn’t feel it weighing us down. If anything, this is a shoe that made us efficient.

The Metcon 7 is truly a gem from Nike! It’s the BEST trainer we’ve ever put on, and we’re sure you’ll love it as much!

See our full review and facts

If it’s a GREAT value for money that you’re after, you won’t regret buying the Reebok Nano X1. It’s the most versatile training shoe we’ve ever worn! 

Whether it’s home WODS or training like cardio, strength training, and running, you won’t go wrong in this shoe! We tested it through all types of workout imaginable, and it goes above and beyond! 

Let’s start with the winning feature of this trainer - comfort. Nothing beats it in this department, no cap. The midsole is very cushy, we don’t mind running in it for hours and end! Even after multiple miles, our feet and legs felt fresh. 

Upping comfort even more is the shoe’s flexibility. During burpees and planks, we were just awestruck! The pliable foam gave our feet more room to move, which is always a huge plus.

Speaking of room, we appreciated this shoe’s very spacious toe box. Not only did it provide room for wriggling, it also gave our feet enough space to swell. 

In terms of fit, this is surely built for performance! It’s roomy up front, and it’s a nice solid lockdown from the heel to the midfoot. As in, zero wobbling in this shoe! 

And for such a lightweight shoe (even lighter than the Metcon), it doesn’t skimp on traction! 

If we were honest, picking between the Nano X1 and the Metcon 7 was a real challenge. They’re both well-rounded training shoes, but what makes the Nano secondary to the Metcon is its lack of stability. 

For weightlifting, it’s a big no-no for us!

See our full review and facts

Best for weightlifting

Apparent through its name, the Adidas Powerlift 4 is a surefire killer in weightlifting, and we couldn’t disagree! 

It made our squats stable, and more importantly, it improved our lifting form and weight load. That’s the magic of the Adidas Powerlift! 

Having tried out many weightlifting trainers, nothing beats this shoe! Its heel is very sturdy, it’s practically incompressible, which is always a big YES when it comes to stabilizing the foot. 

This also doesn’t render the shoe uncomfortable. As a matter of fact, we were head over heels in love with this shoe’s comfort. It’s soft underfoot, but it’s not a sink-in kind of soft that gives away support. Nope. If anything, it’s a very balanced midsole. 

To really take stability up a notch, the upper really locks the feet in place! It’s snug, but it’s not constricting. It’s very secure, we literally had ZERO issues with slippage. 

And to really seal the deal, it can’t get more durable than the Adidas Powerlift 4. Yes, we said it. It’s the best of the best in terms of strength! After hammering it with several workouts, this shoe just proved itself a tank! 

With no ifs and buts, hands down, the king among weightlifting shoes!

See our full review and facts

The Reebok Legacy Lifter II ticks all the boxes in our weightlifting essentials. It’s plenty stable and sure did improve our squats and lifts! 

For such a supportive shoe, especially in the heel, we weren’t expecting much in the comfort arena. Well, for weightlifting shoes in general, we don’t expect much. But this trainer just made us swoon over its soft underfoot feel! 

And this shoe also doesn’t shy on grip. It gave us confidence and steady steps. It just bit into everything we threw at it! 

Durability? It’s top-notch! We beat up all the shoes we test, and the Legacy Lifter is no exception. Boy did we knock this trainer around! 

And like a true champ, it didn’t back down. It’s got itself locked and loaded to eat up everything and anything you put it through! 

And for such a stud, this gym shoe is a certified sweetheart in the looks department. It’s sleek and stylish, it’s unlike any other! 

Where it lags behind, though, is in lockdown. Unlike the Powerlift 4 from Adidas, we experienced some heel slips in this weightlifting trainer. But worry not, this doesn’t make it less worthy. 

Overall, if you’re looking to buy a bang-for-the-buck trainer, you won’t go wrong with the Reebok Legacy Lifter II!

See our full review and facts

Best for agility

Nike’s Metcons sure have a habit of winning over gym goers, and we just had to see for ourselves how the Nike React Metcon Turbo stacks up against other Metcons and training shoes, in general. 

Several rigorous tests after, we just had to bow down and give the Metcon Turbo its throne! 

First off, gosh! Comfort can’t get better than this! It’s cushy, and hella responsive, it paced our short runs and made us efficient in agility-focused workouts. Kudos, Nike! This shoe is really something else. 

And the breathability this shoe offers just brings us to a whole new world of comfort! After long sessions in the gym, we weren’t having concerns with sweaty feet nor hotspots. They were as fresh as ever! 

Having been long-time Metcon loyalists, this is by far the lightest Metcon we’ve ever put our feet in. It’s so light, we didn’t feel like we were wearing anything at all. It’s as light as air! 

And how can we forget this crossfit shoe’s unrivalled stability? Whether it be for squats or fast-paced lateral movements, it’s got all the support you’d ever dream of. So much so we were just as confident in lifting weights! 

Make no mistake, it’s NOT for heavy lifts. And it can do almost anything, except for rope climbing activities. It just doesn’t have sufficient traction to really latch onto the rope. 

But ultimately, the Nike React Metcon Turbo is true to its Metcon roots - it delivers excellently!

See our full review and facts

It’s comfortable and it’s fast, we just can’t get enough of the Inov-8 F-Lite 235 v3! 

Among all the trainers we’ve tested, it’s among the lightest. It’s so light, it felt like we had nothing on! For agility-oriented workouts, this is of course, a big YAY. The less weight, the more efficient the performance, which is exactly what we got the the F-Lite 235! 

And for so little weight, it sure doesn’t skimp on comfort. It’s not only reserved in the shoe’s well-padded midsole, it’s also heavily influenced by the plush-fitting upper! 

During high-impact workouts, the shoe proved itself a rockstar! The midsole not only cushioned the feet, it also effectively dampened shock during impact, keeping our feet strain-free! 

Flexibility is also its forte. Easily, it’s among the most flexible training shoes we’ve ever come across! 

Conquering rope climbs is not a challenge to this shoe. As a matter of fact, nothing draws near to the protection and grip we got from this trainer! And during deadlifts and squats, the stability we got was a solid A1! 

Even better, it’s a HIGHLY durable shoe that will withstand all types of workouts. 

The Inov-8 F-Lite 235 v3 is a great all-rounder as long as you're not looking for a shoe for heavy weightlifting. It’s anything but that.

See our full review and facts

Best for all-day wear

In the Under Armour Project Rock 3, comfort is king! Our feet felt like they were wrapped in spa-day goodness! 

The upper has a glove-like fit, molding to the contours and shape of the feet. Add in its very breathable design, we had NO issues with sweaty feet. From the moment we put it on to the moment we took it off, our feet felt F-R-E-S-H! 

What’s fantastic about this shoe is that it doesn’t forgo performance in favor of comfort. Nope, it’s a solid shoe that shines in both! 

It sure is a stunner with its superbly stable heel design. When we took the shoe for some weight training sessions, it smashed it! 

Add in the shoe’s supportive fit, we were just as locked in during agility workouts as we were in weightlifting! 

What took us by surprise is the shoe’s impressive responsiveness and energy return! It’s bouncy, it even made our jumps higher and speed workouts more efficient. 

To top it all off, it’s a looker! It’s stylish, and if you want to up your workout fashion, you can do so with the Under Armour Project 3. 

At $140, it’s an expensive shoe, but for all the perks it comes with, it’s a price we’d happily pay! 

See our full review and facts

It’s got style and it’s got comfort! It’s hard not to love the Reebok JJ IV. 

This cross-training shoe is something we’d take out from our closet if we want to turn some heads in the gym. Seriously, it’s SO good-looking! 

Even better, it’s got some serious focus on comfort too. It’s cushy, it’s like we’re walking on pillows! And if you think it’s the mushy kind of soft, we tell you, it’s anything but that. 

In fact, it’s got a good mix between cush and rigidity, allowing a comfortable sensation while securing surefootedness! Because of this, we were unfazed during our squats and lifts. 

This is also the same reason why it’s a great choice for agile workouts. Its balanced cushioning creates efficient strides. Add in its featherlight build, you have all the makings of a training shoe that will make you go fast! 

And it doesn’t cut corners on sturdiness too! For such a pocket-friendly price, we weren’t expecting it to be this tough. But hey, it’s a shoe full of surprises. Safe to say, the Reebok JJ IV surely has got some tricks up its sleeve!

See our full review and facts

Best budget shoe

The Reebok Speed TR is truly the most versatile training shoe we’ve tested! It’s a shoe that will work in all gym stations! From climbers to presses, squat rack, treadmill, rowers, and cycles, it’s got you covered! 

What makes it our top pick is that for a budget all-rounder, it’s everything all do-it-all-shoes aren’t - it’s not just good at everything and great at nothing, it EXCELS at everything! 

Even in non-gym activities like walking and 5k running, this shoe swallows them! So if you want a great generalist and a great-value cross-training shoe, this is THE shoe. 

To give you a peek into what makes it the it shoe of its kind, let’s start with the glove-like upper. It’s supportive in all the right places, and it’s light on foot. A combo that’s a must if you want a solid training shoe! 

Taking things up a notch, the comfort we experienced from this shoe was just out of this world. In mid-distance runs, bikes, and some brisk walking, we didn’t want to take this shoe off. It’s that good! 

Cross training shoes, on average, are at 10.4 oz, but this shoe only weighs in at 8.5 oz! Now, that’s INSANELY light! Agility workouts are an easy feat. Even during jump ropes, this shoe kept us up on our toes! 

Despite its minimal build, it’s got what it takes to last. After several gym sessions, running, and everything we could test it out on really, this shoe has not shown signs of wear and tear.

See our full review and facts

It’s durable and it’s made affordable. And some workouts and miles later, we are more than pleased with the Nike Legend Essential 2! 

If there’s a standout to this cross-training shoe it's the unmatched comfort it generates. It’s plush underfoot, but it’s not overly fluffy that it sacrifices stability, no. 

During lifts and squats, this shoe made us confident and laidback! 

Even better it also doesn’t forgo flexibility as a tradeoff to support. It strikes a great balance of everything! It’s pliable, allowing foot motions, which in turn, amps up comfort even more! 

And if you’re looking for a fashion-forward gym shoe that won’t break the bank, this trainer won’t let you down! It’s a verified eye candy that can elevate your workout style. 

Looking to perform with efficiency? Don’t worry, it’s got you covered! It has a springy and peppy midsole that will push you to your next step. 

Climbing ropes and running some miles were no challenge in the Legend Essential too! It has solid prowess when it comes to grip! No feeling of instability at all! 

The only thing that’s cheap about this shoe is its price. Everything else screams performance and value for money. For such a low price, we were taken aback by the durability this shoe delivered. It can certainly take a beating!

See our full review and facts

What are training shoes?

Training shoes are used for training (duh). They are constructed differently from running shoes as they target exercises which are performed in the gym:

  • aerobic/anaerobic conditioning: jumping, lunging, speed and agility training, HIIT, etc.
  • strength training/weightlifting: squats, deadlifts, cleans, jerks, bench presses, etc.

Depending on a specific set of activities they accommodate, training shoes are also divided into several categories:

Short runs

(< 5km)

HIIT & Agility training Weightlifting
    moderate

heavy

(using weight that you can only lift for 1-5 reps)

Comfort-stability-meter.png

Everyday workout shoes

Everyday-workout-shoes.png

Best for: moderate gym workouts; can double as casual wear

cushioned sole

high impact protection

lightweight (~200 - 300 grams/shoe)

Weightlifting shoes

Weightlifting-shoes.png

Best for: Olympic weightlifting

very durable

heavy (~400 - 500 grams/shoe)

elevated heel (15 - 25 mm)

non-compressible platform

Cross-training/CrossFit shoes

CrossFit-shoes.png

Best for: intermediate to advanced gym sessions

flat and firm sole

more durable

better side support

better ground feel

low drop (0 - 4 mm)

has protection for rope climbs

Training shoes vs. running shoes

Generally, you should NOT use a pair of running shoes for a gym session. But if your workout primarily consists of running on a treadmill and doing some light bodyweight exercises, then it’s okay to use runners.

Here are a few reasons why dedicated trainers are a better option for gym use:

Training shoes

Training-shoes.png

Running shoes

Running-shoes.png

support multi-directional movements

only support linear forward motion

firmer midsole provides stability for weightlifting*

cushioned sole compresses easily under heavy loads which results in wobbling

have extra protection on the sides for rope climbing

soft materials get torn and burned by the rope at the very first climb

thinner sole and lower heel-to-toe drop helps to feel the floor better and allow for better control of foot movement

thicker cushioned midsole and higher drop can get in the way of foot sensitivity

generally have a wider platform, especially in the heel and forefoot, to keep the wearer sure-footed

foot has a higher chance of rolling over the edge of the platform if moves laterally

due to their versatile design, they can be used for more activities, including racquet sports, basketball, handball.

mostly appropriate only for running, walking, and athleisure

*If you are particularly interested in how different types of shoes perform for weightlifting, check out our in-depth science-backed guide to lifting shoes.

Frequently asked questions

Can you run in a training shoe?

The same points that make gym shoes excellent for training fail them when it comes to running. However, their performance varies depending on the shoe type:

Cushioned workout shoes

Everyday-workout-shoes.png

Cross-training/CrossFit shoes

CrossFit-shoes.png

Weightlifting shoes

Weightlifting-shoes.png

can accommodate distances of 1 to 5 miles

not the same level of comfort as in running shoes

not equipped with arch support

not appropriate for running

some workout shoes have thicker, more cushioned soles and a higher heel drop, which makes them a bit more comfortable for running

have a similar feel to minimalist running shoes

take some time and training to get used to

excessive use for running may cause injury

Here are some of the best-rated training shoes that are geared towards running:

What kind of training shoes do I need for studio workouts?

For sessions like Aerobics, Zumba, Jazzercise, and similar, choose lightweight workout trainers. In addition to feeling light on the foot, they are:

  • breathable
  • cushioned and shock-absorbent
  • support multi-directional movements, twists, and turns

Some of the acclaimed collections for these activities include Nike SuperRep, New Balance NERGIZE, among other HIIT shoes

What are minimalist training shoes?

This niche of trainers is designed for people who want to go back to the essentials and shift away from external support in favor of acquiring natural strength.

While there are no strict criteria on what is considered a minimalist trainer, it is commonly agreed that such shoes:

  • do not interfere with the natural biomechanics of the foot
  • provide a barefoot-like experience

Compared to a standard workout shoe, minimalist footwear:

  • is more flexible
  • is more lightweight
  • has little or no cushioning
  • has low or zero heel-to-toe drop
  • has a low stack height (a thin sole)
  • lacks arch support

If this is something that resonates with your needs, consider Inov-8 F-Lite or New Balance Minimus.

Can I play basketball in training shoes?

Yes, you can wear training shoes for a game once in a while. But you may not feel enough support and cushion for the best performance.

Dedicated basketball shoes provide the right cushioning to absorb impact from jump shots and runs. They are also equipped with a special kind of traction that’s best for indoor courts.

Author
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.