10 Best Workout Shoes (Buyer's Guide)

Author: Nicholas Rizzo. Updated: .

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.


How we single 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,...). 

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

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 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

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.

The best workout shoes in every category

Which workout shoes brand has better reviews?

See 3 more

Which brand is cheaper?

See 3 more

Now, are you ready to buy workout shoes?

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.