10 Best Workout Shoes (Buyer's Guide)

Author: Nicholas Rizzo. Updated: .

A workout shoe is a type of footwear that is engineered to accommodate a wide range of training activities. This guide will present the best workout shoes on the market and what to look for when buying a pair of workout shoes.


How we singe out the best workout shoes 

  1. We gather and read reviews. In this case, it’s reviews from 134 experts and 145,951 users
  2. We aggregate them, eliminate spam, add extra weight to the reviews of proven experts
  3. Rank shoes on a 1-100 scale
  4. We do all that thanks to our CoreScore system, which also allows us to 
  5. Create a database of more than 200 workout shoes 

This collection of workout shoes can be sorted and filtered according to your personal preferences (discount, price, popularity, ratings,...). 

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
51 most popular shoes

Features of workout shoes 

Be it a cross-training session, a circuit training, or a fitness routine, workout shoes are meant to keep the foot supported for multi-directional movements and protected during high-impact activities. Because of their versatile nature, they are also referred to as “cross-training shoes” or “cross-trainers”.

When buying workout shoes, you should look for these features: 

  1. Lightweight 
  2. Breathable
  3. Firm midsole
  4. Grippy outsole 

However, it’s more relevant to show these features in comparison to other shoes that are usually used in the gym.


Short runs (< 5km) HIIT & Agility training Weightlifting
moderate heavy

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

non-compressible platform

elevated heel (15 - 25 mm)

heavy (~400 - 500 grams/shoe)

Cross-training/CrossFit shoes


Best for: intermediate to advanced gym sessions

flat and firm sole

more durable than workout shoes

better ground feel

low drop (0 - 4 mm)

protection for rope climbs


Workout shoes also have a variety of tread constructions, textures, and patterns to facilitate natural movements while still maintaining a firm grip on the ground. An example of this is the pivot point, which enables easy turning and twisting during aerobics classes and tennis matches.


Workout-specific features to look for 

  • For those whose training regimens involve a lot of high-impact movements such as jumping, sprinting, and calisthenics, they would fare well with midsoles that have responsive and shock-absorbing attributes, foot-conforming uppers, a secure lacing system, and flex grooves.
  • Those who lift weights should look for workout shoes that have flat and dense heels and low and firm heel counters.


What are workout shoes used for? 

The versatility of cross-trainers makes them a good match for a wide variety of fitness exercises. Below are some of the most common activities that can be handled by these shoes. 

Cross training

Workout shoes are often referred to as cross-training shoes due to their capability to accommodate short-distance running, plyometrics, weight training, cycling and other types of exercises. With their moderate cushioning, lateral support, breathability, and flexibility, they serve as “Jacks-of-all-trades” for daily workout routines. However, not all workout shoes are capable of withstanding the rigors of a CrossFit workout. So, if you’re getting serious about doing WODs, you might want to take a look at more specialized CrossFit shoes.

Gym sessions

The platform of a workout shoe is often made firm enough to keep the heel steady when it comes to lifting light and medium weights. However, it is advisable to consider weightlifting shoes if your regimen includes some serious powerlifting or Olympic lifting exercises or shoes that were made specifically for gym sessions

High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

The flex grooves and the outsole’s textured tread provides the flexibility and traction required for multi-directional movements such as rapid transitions, jumping, and cutting. The upper of a workout shoe often features a synthetic saddle or overlays or other reinforcements to keep the foot in place during lateral movements. Check our collection of best HIIT shoes

Studio fitness classes

Some workout shoes are created for indoor or studio use only. They employ a smooth rubber outsole with minimal or no treads and often a pivot point. This construction allows for easier twists and turns that are often part of a dance, cardio or aerobics class.


Workout 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:


Workout shoes

Running shoes

support multi-directional movements

only support linear forward motion

firmer midsole provides a stable base for side-to-side movements and weight training

cushioned sole compresses easily under heavy loads which results in wobbling

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 short runs & sprints, casual walking, dancing, work (spending work time on your feet)

mostly appropriate only for running, walking, and athleisure

The best workout shoes in every category

Which workout shoes brand has better reviews?

Which brand is cheaper?

Now, are you ready to buy workout shoes?

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.