7 Best Training Shoes in 2023

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
7 Best Training Shoes in 2023
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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, and 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 we have selected our top picks in different categories.

Best training shoes overall

What makes it the best?

We crown the Nike Free Metcon 5 as the best training shoe on record because it is insanely serious about support and lockdown. Additionally, this shoe also delivers a lot of plushness and underfoot comfort. Finally, it is amazingly lightweight. 

This shoe surely provided great foot containment, and we have its well-padded collar and fully gusseted tongue to thank for that. The thickness of the collar padding closed off any space between the foot and the shoe, effectively enhancing the fit. The gusseted tongue also stayed in its place and effectively held down our feet even if our movements became a bit aggressive.

The moment we stepped into the Nike Free Metcon 5, we immediately noticed the cloud-like feel of its cushioning system. In the lab, our HA durometer measurements confirmed that it’s a lot softer than average, 17.4 against 27.0.

At 11.2 oz or 317g, the average weight of training shoes is already on the lower end of the scale. But the Free Metcon 5 is still lighter at 10.5 oz or 298g. No wonder we never felt weighed down during our runs, leaps, and jumps.

We were just a little disappointed with the upper. After a 12-second Dremel test in our lab, we already observed considerable damage in it. Those who are looking for a shoe that lasts long may want to look for something else.


  • 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 training shoes for weightlifting

Nike Romaleos 4

What makes it the best?

When it comes to lifting, the Nike Romaleos 4 easily rose above other training shoes because of its amazingly firm midsole, impressively wide base, and totally firm structure. Our feet were surely kept in place no matter how heavy we were hoisting above our heads.

We learned through our HA durometer measurements in the lab that the midsole is a lot firmer than average. While the average HA durometer rating is 75.0, the Romaleos 4’s score was as high as 97.0! There really was no wobbliness because of this much firmness.

The wide midsole platform contributed a lot to the shoe’s overall stability. Our caliper measurements revealed that the platform is 111.5 mm (average is 107.1 mm) wide at the forefoot while it’s 91.3 mm (average is 87.1 mm) wide at the heel.

The shoe’s minimal flexibility also did so much in keeping our feet in place and ensuring that we got the support that we needed. Using a digital force gauge, we uncovered that we needed to exert 40.4N of force to bend this shoe at 90 degrees. The typical trainer would need only 26.0N.

We just didn’t like that our feet were sweating a lot when inside this shoe. There was not much ventilation! True enough, this shoe only got a 2 out of 5 when we subjected this shoe to our smoke breathability test in the lab.


  • Phenomenal stability
  • Sturdy platform and sole
  • Better lockdown with two straps
  • Comfortable for a lifting shoe
  • True to size
  • Efficient traction
  • Appealing looks


  • Upper lacks durability
  • Not for narrow ankles
  • Not breathable
Full review of Nike Romaleos 4

Training shoes with the best comfort

Reebok Nano X3

What makes it the best?

It’s not surprising that the Reebok Nano X3 is the most comfortable out of all the training shoes that we tried. This shoe offered pampering from all directions. Its cushioning is plush so impact protection was always there. Aside from having a breathable upper, it also has an inner sleeve that truly felt great. Finally, its tongue is slightly more padded than average which translated to no lace bite no matter how hard we tied the laces! 

After measuring its softness using a caliper, we learned that the midsole at the heel of the Nano X3 has a softness score of 20.5. This number is significantly lower than the 27.0 average. This setup kept our sprints pain-free.

After conducting a breathability test in the lab, the upper got a score of 4 out 5. This means that it allowed air (we used smoke during the test for more visibility) to go out of the shoe quickly. Indeed, it kept our feet dry and comfortable.

The tongue, which felt full to the touch, not only improved the fit but also added to the overall experience of comfort. When assessed using a caliper, we learned that it’s actually slightly thicker than average, 6.6 mm vs 5.8 mm.

We just don’t like the fact that the Nano X3 couldn’t accommodate the wide-footers among us. At its widest point, the toe box is 100.2 mm while the average is 100.5 mm.


  • Awesome fit
  • Extremely comfortable upper
  • Cloud-like cushioning
  • Good stability for moderate lifting
  • Nice bounce for jumps
  • Great for rope climbing
  • Scene-stealing appearance


  • Break-in needed
  • Heavier than average
  • Not for heavier weightlifting
Full review of Reebok Nano X3

Best training shoes for speed

What makes it the best?

In terms of training shoes for speed, the Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 is at the very top thanks to its super-responsive midsole, awesome flexibility, and secure fit.

The Metcon Turbo 2 delivers a distinct bounce that we just haven't felt from other training shoes. That's due to the responsive React foam, which we measured to be 17% softer than the average trainer. The foam feels nice and bouncy but does not bottom out. Meanwhile, the Zoom Air unit in the forefoot adds a pop of energy that helps us go quicker in short bursts.

We are impressed with how the Metcon Turbo 2 just feels so secure on our feet no matter how fast we push the pace. The fully gusseted tongue definitely does its job of providing a great lockdown.

The shoe also does an amazing job of keeping our feet cool amid demanding speed training. It scored a perfect 5 out of 5 in our breathability lab test as the smoke we pumped in simply passed through the upper without much resistance.

But as good as the Metcon Turbo 2 is for speed training, it might be even better if it weren't quite so heavy. We weighed it at 12.1 oz (342g), which is 1 oz (27g) heavier than the average training shoe.


  • 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 outdoor training shoes

What makes it the best?

After working out in it for many sessions, we have come to conclude that the Reebok Nano X2 TR Adventure is the most suitable for outdoor use. Aside from having a firm midsole, it also delivered a stiff and largely supportive structure. The really durable upper was also an important part of our great outdoor experience with this training shoe. 

Using an HA durometer, we realize just how much firmer the midsole of the Nano X2 TR Adventure is than that of the typical trainer. Its midsole registered a rating of 32.0 while the average is only 27.0. The firmer cushion gave us much more spring back to fuel our sprints and other agile movements.

To test just how unrelenting this shoe is, we did manual maneuvers on it in the lab. We gave the heel counter a good squeeze while we bent and twisted the whole shoe to target its base. Both the counter and base got a 3 out of 5 for rigidity, making them firmer than the average trainer which gets 2.6 and 2.3, respectively. Because of the firmness that these shoe parts bring, we felt that our feet got the support and lockdown that they needed.

We were so impressed with how durable the upper was. After twelve seconds of high-pressure Dremel drilling, only a scratch was seen. We never had doubts that this shoe would last long even when used regularly outdoors.

We were just not big fans of the shoe’s weight. At 12.2 oz or 345g, it is an ounce or 28g heavier than the average training shoe.


  • Extremely durable for the outdoors
  • Dependable outdoor traction
  • Comfortable upper
  • Reliably protective
  • Functional versatility
  • Great support
  • True-to-size fit
  • Has reflective components


  • Not for niche exercises
  • Clunky and heavy
Full review of Reebok Nano X2 TR Adventure

Best budget training shoes

What makes it the best?

We got the Nike Legend Essential 3 for only $65 when the average price of training shoes is $91. It sure is cheap, but it definitely gave us more than what we paid for as it’s also uber grippy and amazingly supportive. Hence, we consider it the most valuable buy among all training shoes that we ever got our hands on.

When we executed some side-to-side movements, the shoe’s grip on the floor surely helped stabilize our feet. Our HC durometer showed that the outsole is softer (80.5) than average (84.4). It’s the softness of the rubber that helped the outsole to stick more securely on different types of surfaces.

Support and lockdown were also not a problem with the Legend Essential 3. We enjoyed its snug fit especially when our programs became a little intense. The laces and side walls made sure that our feet did not go anywhere they’re not supposed to go. This shoe also had a thicker insole that registered 4.5 mm vs the 3.9 mm average on the caliper. This removable add-on helped give our feet a secure and comfortable clasp. 

This trainer, however, is not for those who want shoes that last. The Legend Essential 3’s upper didn’t stand a chance against our Dremel-drilling, and it only got a 2 out of 5 for durability.


  • 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 training shoes for Crossfit

Nike Metcon 9

What makes it the best?

Among all the training shoes we worked out in, the Nike Metcon 9 is undoubtedly the best for Crossfit. With its sturdy base, amazing foothold and grip, and high levels of comfort, it performs any WOD exceptionally and shines best in lifting.

We did heavy squats, snatches, and deadlifts and the Metcon’s base assisted us very well even if it didn’t have a raised heel. It offers superb lockdown thanks to its supportive upper and raised sidewalls.

Since Crossfit isn’t all about lifting, we tested Metcon 9 against box jumps, burpees, rope climbing, and lunges. It proved itself versatile in most CrossFit activities, providing excellent stability and grip on the gym floor. This boosted our confidence, making us enjoy the WOD even more.

We appreciate the upper that provides ample padding for comfort and lots of ventilation for sweaty indoor sessions.

Through our workouts, we discovered this shoe isn’t the ideal choice for cardio or aerobic activities. A more flexible shoe will deliver in these types of exercises.


  • 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 training shoes

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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


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


Everyday workout shoes


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

cushioned sole

high impact protection

lightweight (~200 - 300 grams/shoe)

Weightlifting shoes


Best for: Olympic weightlifting

very durable

heavy (~400 - 500 grams/shoe)

elevated heel (15 - 25 mm)

non-compressible platform

Cross-training/CrossFit shoes


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


Running shoes


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 help 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, and 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


Cross-training/CrossFit shoes


Weightlifting shoes


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:

  • Nike Free Metcon
  • Nike Free Train
  • Reebok Nano
  • Reebok Flexagon

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 , 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.

How we test training shoes

At RunRepeat, we are very eager to deliver elaborate scrutinization of training shoes. Due to this, the following are the things that we prioritize:

  • Fairness. We believe that to be able to share pure facts about the shoes, it is important to avoid any sponsorships or donations, especially from brands. So, we buy all the shoes using our funds.
  • Personal shoe impressions. We wear-test these training shoes. From strength and endurance training to core and balance, we do all sorts of fitness and training to get a complete review of the shoes. Plus, we move in them in multi-directions with agility. 
  • Lab testing. We conduct different tests and split the shoes in half so we can identify the factors and features that characterize them. 
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.