7 Best Workout Shoes, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2022

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
7 Best Workout Shoes, 100+ Shoes Tested in 2022

Workout shoes, also called cross-training shoes or cross-trainers, are 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.

Some shoes come with a wider, more stable platform to accommodate weightlifting. Others are much lighter and help you feel more nimble for agility training. Depending on your priorities, you may look for different features in your next gym shoe.

Having tested over 100 workouts shoes, we have selected our top picks in five different categories.

How we test 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,...). 

Best workout shoes overall

Nike Free Metcon 4
Nike Free Metcon 4

CoreScore

88
Great!
4.4 / 5 from 708 users
88 / 100 from 7 experts

Pros

  • Very plush
  • Solid platform
  • Grippy
  • Lightweight
  • Breathable
  • Durable
  • flexible

Cons

  • Not for wide feet
  • Expensive
  • Not suitable for cycling or running
  • Not for shallow arches

Verdict

A champ at everything, choosing the Nike Free Metcon 4 as our best pick for workout shoes is a piece cake! It’s a generalist that does everything excellently! 

Whether you’re in the gym to lift, carry out dynamic workouts, or do light jogs, this is THE training shoe! 

If we had to pin-point the most notable feature of this shoe it’s the all-around comfort it offers! From top to bottom, it just screams plush! 

But don’t get us wrong, it’s not sink-in soft that’s going to punish you during squats and lifts. Nope. On the contrary, the wide heel and the narrow forefoot just creates a solid foundation to keep your weight grounded. 

In other words, it’s SUPERBLY stable! 

Add in the shoe’s form-fitting upper and effective lacing system, lockdown can’t get better than this! 

We really like to stretch out our shoe’s abilities and this was no exception. We did everything we could in it - strength training, box jumps, sled pushes, running stairs, and more. And this shoe smashed everything! 

Not only does it keep the feet and legs feeling fresh, it also makes every workout feel like a breeze! 

During some runs, the constant sensation this shoe provided was surefooted! Thanks to its high-traction outsole, we never experienced any slips or wobbling.

Even better, it’s built to last! 

At $120, the Nike Free Metcon is nowhere near cheap. But with all its qualities, it’s a premium price worthy of all the bucks spent!

Nike Free Metcon 4 full review

Best workout shoes for weightlifting

Under Armour Project Rock 3
Under Armour Project Rock 3

CoreScore

89
Superb!
4.4 / 5 from 217 users
92 / 100 from 10 experts

Pros

  • Comfortable
  • Stable
  • No break-in needed
  • No heel slip
  • Good for short runs
  • Durable
  • Breathable
  • Feels lighter

Cons

  • Runs small
  • Narrow fit

Verdict

Comfort may reign supreme in the Under Armour Project Rock 3, but it sure didn’t disappoint us in stability! 

It’s a certified killer when it comes to support - the reason why it sits on top of this list! The shoe’s heel is very wide, allowing a very planted squat and stance during lifts! 

Even more, the midsole only makes things better! It’s got a great mix of stiffness and softness to create a well-supported yet comfy feel. Add in the midfoot cage, the feet are just locked nicely in place! 

No excess movements, no wobbling.  

These are not the only reasons why this workout shoe is a total standout. In this shoe, comfort is king! It’s super plush, it can’t get cozier than this! 

And this trainer only gets better and better! It might be HUGE on comfort, but it also doesn’t hold back on energy return! In agile workouts, this made us efficient. During jump ropes, this made us leap higher. And when it was time to do some runs, it paced us! 

Seriously, it’s a darn solid shoe! And it’s a rockstar in the style department! 

The Under Armour Project Rock 3 is not a budget-friendly shoe. But if you’re looking to improve your lifting form and get one hell of a stable shoe, this is THE shoe!

Under Armour Project Rock 3 full review

Best workout shoes for HIIT

Nike SuperRep Go
Nike SuperRep Go

CoreScore

75
Decent!
3.6 / 5 from 1,767 users
93 / 100 from 4 experts

Pros

  • True to size
  • Breathable
  • Bouncy
  • Flexible
  • Heel support
  • Stable for lateral movements
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Narrow fit
  • Difficult to put on
  • Tight laces

Verdict

HIIT is everything challenging, but with the Nike SuperRep Go, we were unfazed throughout the paces! 

First, this shoe is an A-lister when it comes to impact protection. Despite all the repetitive jumps we performed, the shoe just swallowed everything! There’s ZERO feeling of strain or pain. 

Even better, the midsole is bouncy and springy, it’s easy to get into the next step! And if you want to be efficient, this shoe won’t disappoint! 

When it was time to do some mountain climbers, burpees, and planks, we were awestruck with the shoe’s grip! It kept us steady, we only had our minds focused on the workout itself! 

It’s plenty stable too! The lateral support it provides is just chef’s kiss. Through all the side-to-side movements we executed, we had ZERO issues with slips and wobbling! 

Yes, it’s got the makings of an agile trainer, but it only gets better with its weight. It almost has none, making fast workouts, well fast and easy! 

And don’t worry about comfort. This shoe is not only cushy, but it’s also very breathable! Despite the grueling HIIT exercises we put it through, our feet felt fresh and sweat-free! 

If we had one issue with the Nike SuperRep Go, its deficiency of strength! But with that aside, it’s a great HIIT workout shoe that will keep the feet safe and protected!

Nike SuperRep Go full review

Best Nike workout shoes

Nike MC Trainer
Nike MC Trainer

CoreScore

84
Great!
4.3 / 5 from 653 users
88 / 100 from 1 expert

Pros

  • Very plush
  • Good solid foundation
  • Grippy
  • Lightweight
  • Durable
  • Budget-friendly

Cons

  • Narrow
  • Not extremely flexible
  • Poor ventilation

Verdict

The Nike Free Metcon 4 is a great shoe for an all-around application. If you want to buy one shoe to do most of your exercise needs, I don’t think you would regret the Nike Free Metcon 4. They are not running shoes, but they will get it done in a pinch if you need to pump out a mile or two at the end of your routine.
Nike MC Trainer full review

Best workout shoes for agility

Nike React Metcon Turbo
Nike React Metcon Turbo

CoreScore

82
Good!
4.2 / 5 from 42 users
93 / 100 from 7 experts

Pros

  • Excellent for agility workouts
  • Lighter than other Metcons
  • Cushioned for jumps and short runs
  • Stable for moderate lifting
  • Secure lockdown
  • Breathable
  • Appealing design

Cons

  • Horrible for rope climbs
  • Not for heavy lifting
  • Narrow for wide feet

Verdict

After testings tens of workout shoes, we didn’t want to pass up on the Nike React Metcon Turbo! And hands down, this is the best agility trainer we’ve ever put our hands (or feet) on! 

If there was a standout in this shoe, it’s easily the React Foam! It’s soft and cushy, it’s great at keeping the feet cozy and at home. But on the one hand, it’s also got loads of energy and spring! 

What does this mean? It’s one heck of an efficient shoe! 

It’s clear as day that it’s everything fast. The snappy midsole is not the only culprit here. We got to blame it on the weight too (or the lack thereof!) 

It’s CRAZY light, we didn’t feel like it was dragging us down! We have been long-time Metcon loyalists, and this version is the lightest among its siblings (which are already featherlight training shoes!) 

Even better, it also doesn’t save on stability! During speed-oriented lateral movements, squats, and lifts, this shoe was an all-star! It kept us anchored and steady, we didn’t have to worry about slips or rolling ankles! 

And don’t worry about foot jamming and sweaty feet in this shoe. This is a shoe that breathes! As in, it doesn’t get hot! 

Metcons are generally pricey workout shoes, and the Metcon Turbo is no exception. So, we don’t really have to punish it too much on that. 

But we do see some flaws in it though. And one that really boggles our mind is its lack of traction, making it inferior in rope climbs. 

Ultimately, if it’s fast that you want, you can’t get faster in the Metcon Turbo - whether it be in your speed workout or in your runs! 

Nike React Metcon Turbo full review

Best value workout shoes

Reebok Speed TR
Reebok Speed TR

CoreScore

87
Great!
4.3 / 5 from 2,078 users
87 / 100 from 8 experts

Pros

  • True to size
  • Snug fit
  • Superb comfort
  • Breathable
  • Very lightweight
  • Great ground contact
  • Versatile for various activities
  • Durable

Cons

  • Not for wide feet
  • Break-in period
  • Lace bite

Verdict

For such an affordable price, we weren’t expecting the Reebok Speed TR to be this good of a versatile workout shoe. 

When we say versatile, we mean “hit every station in the gym, and this shoe will deliver!” Yep, we mean it that way. 

From climbers, presses, treadmills, squat rack, rowers, and cycles, it’s not merely as jack-of-all-trades. It’s a master of all! 

It’s even got what it takes to go against the more expensive workout trainers on the market! To back this, we just have to tell you how much performance-ready features this shoe has! 

To start, it’s got a TERRIFICALLY supportive upper! It’s got solid wrap around the contours of the foot, at no point did we have to worry about rolling ankles and wobbly feet! 

If we had to pick one great-value trainer, this is it! Even outside the gym, this shoe is just brilliant! It packs so much comfort for 5K runs and brisk walks! 

And it’s just as great in the gym! Through our jump rope hops, this shoe kept us on our toes, and made us leap higher!

At 8.5 oz, it’s unbelievably light! On average cross-training shoes are 10.4 oz. More importantly, this is something we felt during our workouts. 

The shoe didn’t burden our feet at all! If anything, it kept us fast in our agility-oriented exercises. 

And for so little price, the Reebok Speed TR is surprisingly tough! We put it to the test, and by test we mean serious hammering inside and outside the gym. And like a true champ, it came out unscathed!

Reebok Speed TR full review

What to look for in workout shoes 

Workout shoes are meant to keep the foot supported for multi-directional movements and protected during high-impact activities. Features to look for depend on the type of exercise. 

In general, workout shoes should be: 

  1. Lightweight 
  2. Breathable
  3. Have a firm midsole
  4. Have a grippy outsole 

However, it’s more relevant to show these features in comparison to other shoes that are usually used in the gym. This way, you’ll know what to look for based on the main exercise of your choice.

Short runs
(< 5km)

HIIT & Agility training Weightlifting
moderate heavy
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

non-compressible platform

elevated heel (15 - 25 mm)

heavy (~400 - 500 grams/shoe)

Cross-training/CrossFit shoes

CrossFit-shoes.png

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 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

workout-shoes-illustration.png

Running shoes

running-shoes-illustration.png

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

FAQ about workout shoes 

Are shoes necessary for working out? 

Depends on the type of the workout. Some people enjoy exercising barefoot or in socks. It certainly helps with building foot and toe strength and with proprioception. However, depending on the type of exercise, people look for certain stability and support features.

And sometimes it’s dangerous to workout barefoot - the risk of injury is high when it’s crowded (someone can step on your feet), people drop the weights when lifting, etc.

If you’re looking for a barefoot experience, you can try shoes that offer barefoot features - minimal or zero heel drop, minimal cushioning (flat soles), minimal support and stability features. Protection-wise, they might come in handy, especially for planks, rope jumps, rope climbs. 

Why do people workout in All-Stars? 

It’s usually the weightlifters that do so. They look for a flat surface (zero heel drop) and full contact with it for better weight distribution throughout the feet and no fancy cushioning: rubber offers stability, unlike wiggly foams. However, when you look at them competing, most will ditch the Chucks and get in the lifting shoes

Are Vans/Converse/(any_brand) shoes good gym shoes? 

The shoe is good for your chosen exercise if it’s comfortable and if it has a set of features needed for you to optimally train. This means shoes should help you perform certain activities more accurately/freely/stable/safely and lessen injury risk. “What to look for in workout shoes” section will help you get started. If you want to start shopping, our selection of gym shoes is the way to go.

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.