10 Best Training Shoes (Buyer's Guide)

Author: Nicholas Rizzo. Updated: .

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

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Everyday workout shoes

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

- cushioned sole

- high impact protection

- lightweight (~200 - 300 grams/shoe)

Weightlifting shoes

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Best for: Olympic weightlifting

- very durable

- heavy (~400 - 500 grams/shoe)

- elevated heel (15 - 25 mm)

- non-compressible platform

Cross-training/CrossFit shoes

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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

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.

Popular training shoes aren't the better rated ones

74 76 78 80 82 84 86 88 90 92 94 96 98 100
High Popularity Low
10 best shoes
92 most popular shoes

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

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Running shoes

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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

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

 

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 

Shoes with non-marking soles will also come handy if you are worried about leaving black streaks on the studio floor.

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

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.

The best training shoes in every category

Which training shoes brand has better reviews?

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Which brand is cheaper?

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Now, are you ready to buy training shoes?

Author
Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo

Nick is a powerlifter who believes cardio comes in the form of more heavy ass squats. Based on over 1.5 million lifts done at competitions, his PRs place him as an elite level powerlifter. 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 Forbes, Bodybuilding.com, Elite Daily and the like. Collaborating along the way with industry leaders like Michael Yessis, Mark Rippetoe, Carlo Buzzichelli, Dave Tate, Ray Williams, and Joel Seedman.

nick@runrepeat.com