7 Best Training Shoes in 2024

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
7 Best Training Shoes in 2024
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Training shoes are designed for every imaginable activity at the gym: jumping, lifting, rowing, and more. Some trainers are more geared towards weightlifting (wide sturdy base with a raised heel), while other shoes have plenty of cushioning for non-stop jumping.

We have reviewed numerous training shoes to help you choose the best. We also selected our top picks in different categories for your convenience.

How we test training shoes

At RunRepeat, we aim for the most objective and elaborate shoe reviews. Thus, our process includes the following:

  • Buying shoes with our own money. 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.
  • Personal shoe impressions. We wear-test each training shoe. From strength and endurance training to core and balance, we do all sorts of exercises to get a complete review of the shoes.
  • Lab testing. We perform over 30 different tests and even split the shoes in half to measure parameters like stack height, drop, firmness, etc. 

Best training shoes for HIIT

What makes it the best?

We crown the Nike Free Metcon 5 as the best high-intensity interval training (HIIT) shoe on record because it is insanely serious about support and lockdown. Additionally, this shoe also delivers a lot of plushness and underfoot comfort. Not to mention that it is amazingly lightweight. 

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 whole 55% softer than average at 17.4 HA! We loved the shock absorption it offered for non-stop jumping streaks of our workouts.

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.

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.

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 overall

Reebok Nano X4

What makes it the best?

It’s not surprising that the Reebok Nano X4 is the best 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, it had an outsole that was big on durability.

After measuring its softness using a caliper, we learned that the midsole at the heel of the Nano X4 has a softness score of 30.0. This was just around the 27.3 average. This setup delivered a nice balance of softness and ground feel, which we truly appreciated.

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 outsole, which felt sturdy to the touch, made this shoe truly fit for the outdoors. We rubbed our Dremel against it, and our assault only left 0.5 mm of damage–far from the 1.0 mm that we would have seen in the typical outsole.

We just don’t like the fact that the Nano X4 couldn’t accommodate the wide-footers among us. It did not offer more space than a typical trainer. At its widest point, the toe box is 99.4 mm while the average is 99.9 mm.


  • Fantastic wear resistance
  • Great balance of cushioning and stability
  • Feels grounded and supportive
  • Secure foot lockdown
  • A fully-gusseted tongue (finally)
  • Nice breathability
  • Lighter than the X3
  • Great grip on gym floors


  • Not for heavy lifting
  • Not for wide feet
Full review of Reebok Nano X4

Best training shoes for Crossfit

Nike Metcon 9

What makes it the best?

Among all the training shoes we exercised with and cut open in the lab, Metcon 9 is undoubtedly the best for Crossfit. With its sturdy base, and amazing foothold and grip, 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 without a raised heel. Our caliper measures its below-average heel and forefoot stack at 21.5/16.0 mm, making us more sensitive to ground feedback. 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 climbs, and lunges. It proved itself versatile in most CrossFit activities, with an unresisting midsole that flows with our movements. Upon checking with our bend test, it emerged 15.0% more flexible than average.

Metcon 9 provides excellent stability and grip. This boosted our confidence, making us enjoy the WOD even more. With a caliper in hand, we measured the forefoot and heel to be 6.9/7.7 mm wider than average. Such a large contact area, together with the non-compressible Hyperlift under the heel, helps us stabilize our feet while lifting heavy loads. 

We discovered the forefoot lacks cushion for repetitive rope jumps. We recommend exploring more cushioned shoes for this type of workout.


  • Exceptionally stable for weightlifting
  • One of the most durable cross-trainers
  • The best shoe for rope climbs
  • Reliable foot containment
  • Very comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Nice grip on gym floors
  • Accommodates wide feet (finally!)
  • Surprisingly flexible


  • Heavier than average (and previous Metcons)
  • Not great for cardio workouts and rope jumps
  • So-so breathability
Full review of Nike Metcon 9

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

Best training shoes for cardio

What makes it the best?

Nike Air Zoom TR 1 has an explosive yet supportive midsole that easily makes it our top cardio trainer among lab-tested shoes. In our workouts, its energy return is undeniable allowing us to sustain repetitive jumps with less effort and pain. It offers reliable traction and stability that instills a sense of security as we perform various exercises.

At the forefront is the lively midsole that includes an Air Zoom unit for consistent power and energy. The stack had a good mix of cushioning and ground feel, infused with a bouncy and velvet foam for comfort. Our durometer reveals it’s 24.6% softer than average, ensuring a zero-pain experience even if we extend our workout.

We felt surefooted as we did jump ropes, burpees, planks, and lunges. The outsole bit slippery gym floors impressively, and our durometer reveals why: the rubber is 10% softer, and therefore stickier, than average. Surprisingly, it didn’t sacrifice durability as it performed the same as our current average in our Dremel test.

What also impressively resisted our brutal Dremel is the toebox which scored a flawless 5/5 rating. While most shoes wreak havoc, this Nike only showed an insignificant scratch. Unfortunately, durability was prioritized at the expense of a breathable upper. The lack of airflow adds fuel to the fire of our already-heated workouts. We recommend trying another shoe for summer training.


  • Dependable bite on gym floors
  • Pretty durable toebox
  • Good impact protection
  • Nice lateral stability
  • Secure heel hold
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions
  • OK for occasional outdoor use


  • Not breathable at all
  • Not for wide-footers
  • Not for heavy lifting
Full review of Nike Air Zoom TR 1

Best outdoor training shoes

What makes it the best?

After working out in it for many sessions, we concluded that the Reebok Nano X3 Adventure is the most suitable for outdoor use among all the training shoes we tried. Aside from having a pretty comfortable 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 softer the midsole of the Nano X3 Adventure is than that of the typical trainer. Its midsole registered a rating of 21.9 while the average is only 27.0. The soft cushion gave us much comfort and helped keep pain at bay.

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 2.8 and 2.7, 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. It truly deserved the perfect 5 that we gave it.

We were just not big fans of the shoe’s weight. The Reebok Nano X3 Adventure weighed 12.45 ounces or 353g when the average was only 10.79 ounces or 306 grams.


  • Perfect gym-to-trail shoe
  • Dependable traction
  • Provides good impact protection
  • Offers enough court feel
  • Super durable upper
  • Just enough stability for exercises
  • Feels light
  • Fairly flexible structure


  • Poor breathability
  • Pricey if not used outdoors
Full review of Reebok Nano X3 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

What are training shoes?

Training shoes are used for training (duh). They are constructed differently from running shoes as they target exercises that 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 the specific set of activities they accommodate, training shoes are also divided into several categories:

  • cross-training/workout shoes
  • Crossfit shoes
  • weightlifting shoes

Cross-training/workout shoes

Can be used for most workouts + light/moderate weightlifting

  • a bit more cushioning for cardio and running
  • good balance of flexibility and stability
  • generally lighter than Crossfit shoes


Learn more about cross-training shoes and how to choose the right one for you in our extensive guide.

Crossfit shoes

Can be used for most workouts + moderate/heavy weightlifting

  • lower drop, flatter sole for multi-directional stability
  • firmer midsole, better for lifting
  • more durable (+protection for rope climbs)

Nike Metcon 9 review

What makes Crossfit shoes different from other cross-training shoes? How to know if you need one and how to find the best one? Find answers to these questions in our guide on Crossfit shoes.

Weightlifting shoes

Can be used for weightlifting only

  • elevated heels promote proper squat posture
  • hard, non-compressible platforms provide lifting efficiency
  • sturdy and secure foothold


See our guide on the best weightlifting shoes for more information on how to choose the right one for you. You can also learn more about the benefits of weightlifting shoes and why some people love wearing Chuck Taylor's in our study-backed research on the topic.

Training shoes vs. running shoes

We do NOT recommend using a pair of running shoes for a gym session. Unless your workout primarily consists of running on a treadmill.

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

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

have a flat profile for forward stability

curved and rockered soles push the foot forward compromising stability when training

have extra protection on the sides for rope climbing

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

Lateral stability test in a training shoe

From the ground up, running shoes are designed for repetitive forward motion. They don't have the foothold, support, or stability needed for fast lateral movements. They are also too soft and cushioned for weightlifting.

Lateral stability test in a running shoe

If you do use running shoes for the gym, make sure they have a firm, wide, and torsionally stiff platform. There are a few running shoes that meet these parameters:

On Cloud X 3 Weight

We weigh each training shoe in a men's US size 9 in our lab

Can you run in training shoes?

The same points that make training shoes perfect for the gym fail them when it comes to running.

The amount of cushioning and impact protection is nowhere near running shoes. Not to mention that training shoes are much heavier and clunkier.

Cushioning in a training shoe

Cushioning in a running shoe

But there is some good news too.

Most cross-training and Crossfit shoes can accommodate short warmup runs of up to 3 miles. That includes short runs on a treadmill too. Just make sure that these trainers are light and flexible enough for that.

Can you walk in training shoes?

Most cross-training shoes have enough flexibility in the forefoot to bend along with the foot. But it doesn't mean they are going to feel comfortable for all-day wear.

Luckily, some cross-training shoes are light, comfortable, and flexible enough for casual wear.


Weightlifting shoes, for example, are awful for walking anything more than 10 steps across the gym. Their hard plastic platform feels extremely clunky when walking.

Reebok Legacy Lifter III Heel tab

Crossfit shoes are more foot-friendly and can be worn for hours of coaching at the gym. However, you wouldn't want to wear these expensive, technology-packed trainers outside on the asphalt a lot.

If you need a reliable pair for long hours of walking and standing on your feet, a pair of dedicated walking shoes or walkable running shoes is the best way to go.

What shoes are best for cardio and HIIT workouts?

Fast-paced and dynamic, these workout sessions call for shoes with the following characteristics:

  • lightweight (less than 300g per shoe)
  • cushioned (at least 24 mm of heel stack)
  • flexible (easily bends at the ball of the foot)

New Balance DynaSoft TRNR V2 Heel stack

In our lab, we cut training shoes in half and use a caliper to measure stack heights and drop precisely.

Minimalist training shoes

To enhance their training, some people switch to minimalist shoes. These trainers have very thin soles (less than 20 mm in the heel) and low heel-to-toe drops (less than 5 mm), creating a more intimate ground feel.

The benefits of this footwear include:

  • increased muscle activation and foot strengthening
  • better proprioception and contact with the ground
  • more natural foot movement and biomechanics
  • no added weight to drag you down

Even though the advantages are many, it is important to start slow when you're transitioning to minimalist shoes to avoid injury.

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.