25 best Nike training shoes

Updated May 2018

Based on 5,067 reviews

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The Nike brand name and the Swoosh logo are well-known the world over. Though the name has only been around since the 1970s, the company itself was established a few years before that.

Nike is on the list of the Top 20 Most Valuable Brands in the world with a revenue of about $30 billion per annum. It is the parent company of other popular shoe and apparel brands such as Jordan, Hurley, and Converse.

What to expect from the best Nike training shoes

Nike got its start selling running shoes but has since broadened its scope. It sells different types of footwear ranging from casual or lifestyle sneakers, sports footwear, gym and training footgear, sandals and flip-flops, as well as athletic and workout apparel for men, women, and kids.

The brand prides itself on creating merchandise that delivers what the wearer needs to be on top of their game. Just like in its other footgear, Nike training shoes are designed specifically for the type of activity the user wants to focus on. These trainers are best described as fast, dynamic, and strong.

Fast

The Nike training shoes that fall under this category are suited for quick cuts and sprints. They use a supportive upper, a grippy outsole and a responsive midsole. The upper may use a combination of lightweight materials, such as mesh and Flyknit, to allow movement while still offering support. The midsole has a high energy return that facilitates quick movements. As for the grippy outsole, it assists in the fast direction changes while preventing the foot from slipping.

Examples: Nike Zoom Speed Trainer, Nike Lunar Fingertrap TR, Nike Varsity Complete Trainer

Dynamic

Dynamic Nike training shoes are designed to be used in the gym, for running and even boot camps. The upper is usually made of Flyknit, a lightweight knitted material that conforms to the shape of the foot for better support. The Flywire technology enhances the lateral support of the material. The midsole is responsive and designed to deliver cushioning during high-impact movements. The outsole has sipings which allow the sole unit to expand in multiple directions during high-powered moves. The Nike Free Train Virtue falls into this category.

Examples: Nike Free Train Virtue, Nike Train Ultrafast Flyknit, Nike Free Train Force Flyknit

Strong

Nike training shoes in this section often sport a relatively flat sole unit. They are equipped with certain technologies that allow them to perform better during specific workouts such as weight training, CrossFit, or Les Mills. The upper is usually made of mesh with a higher percentage of synthetic overlays to strengthen the top of the material and protect it from extreme abrasion. The midsole is engineered with a low-profile and less bouncy characteristic to deliver a stable platform. There are also unique structures added to support certain workouts such as rope climbing and handstand pushups.

Examples: Nike Metcon 3, Nike Romaleos 3, Nike Zoom Train Command

Types of Nike training shoes

There are different types of Nike training shoes available on the market. Some are designed specifically for weightlifting, others are made for high-intensity workouts like CrossFit and Les Mills. There are also more versatile shoes which can perform well for most types of outdoor and indoor exercises.

How to find the perfect Nike training shoes

For people to perform their best or achieve a new personal record, they should wear a footgear that won’t cause any discomfort or injuries during workouts. Choosing one seems a pretty easy task, but there are so many options that it begs the question, which pair of Nike training shoes should you get?

Activity

Are you going to be weight training? Doing CrossFit? Or are you just starting out with your fitness regimen and want to try different things to see what sticks? If your sole focus is building muscle by lifting weights, then your best investment is a dedicated weightlifting shoe such as the Nike Romaleos 3. Though the trainer is marketed for people who cross-train, it is designed primarily for weight training. Users could sport it for cardio, but because of insufficient cushioning, they might experience foot fatigue quickly. Weightlifting shoes are usually made of stiffer materials and are not meant to be used for running or walking for extended periods. CrossFit shoes, such as the Nike Metcon 4, are designed to be useful for various types of gym workouts. They also have special structures that help during rope climbing, sled pushes, and handstand pushups. They are pricier than regular workout shoes. If you’re a beginner, there are Nike training shoes that are reasonably priced and work efficiently for most types of exercises.

Pricing of Nike training shoes

Aside from the brand name, the quality of the footwear, and user reviews, another driving factor that influences a person’s choice is the price. The cost of Nike training shoes ranges from $65 to $200. During a sale, rates can be reduced by as much as $50.

  • Low- to average- priced training shoes (Below $100)
  • Reasonably-priced to slightly expensive training shoes ($100 - $150)
    • Nike training shoes that fall into this category sport a more stylish flair. The upper used in these models often has the proprietary Flyknit material that is reinforced by the Flywire technology. Consumers can even customize some trainers in this price range.
    • Examples: Nike Metcon 4, Nike Metcon DSX Flyknit 2, Nike Zoom Train Command
  • Premium ($150 and above)
    • Nike training shoes in this price group are made with top of the line materials. This footgear is also created for specific activities. Limited release models also tend to be more expensive.

Examples: Nike Romaleos 3

Fit and sizing

Nike training shoes cater to both men and women. The size availability depends on the model of the trainer, but generally, men’s footwear ranges from US size 6 to 18 while the women’s versions are available from US size 5 to 15. Half sizes are also available for both genders. As for the width, Nike training shoes are generally offered in a medium profile.

Special technologies used in Nike training shoes

3D printing

Instead of traditional overlays, some Nike training shoes employ 3D printed overlays to reinforce the upper. They enhance the durability of the underlying material without adding weight to the footwear.

Flyknit

This knitted material was developed by Nike for runners but has also been utilized in Nike training shoes because of the dynamic support it provides. This fabric is breathable, lightweight, and conforms to the shape of the foot.

Flywire

It is a thin yet strong filament that integrates with the laces. Some Nike training shoes utilize the Flywire to enhance lateral support and make the upper material hug the foot, which is needed during explosive workouts.

Tri-star tread pattern

The tri-star tread pattern on some Nike training shoes provides multi-directional traction. It allows the wearers to make quick cuts or turns without slipping off the floor.

Zoom Air

This cushioning technology combines the use of pressurized air and tensile fibers to deliver a bouncy experience. Nike training shoes fitted with this component have a high-energy return.

Popular Nike training shoes

Nike Metcon 3

The Nike Metcon 3 is designed for high-intensity workouts such as CrossFit and Les Mills. It uses mesh for the upper while the high-wear areas are reinforced with embroidered textile. The outsole on this pair of Nike training shoes is made of sticky rubber that provides excellent traction, especially on gym floors. The textured rubber extends upward at the medial and lateral midfoot to enhance lateral support. It uses a drop-in midsole to provide a comfortable footbed that protects the foot from impact.

Nike Free Trainer v7

Another widely searched for Nike training shoe is the Nike Free Trainer v7. This model is made of lightweight but durable mesh upper which ensures that the foot chamber is well-ventilated. It uses a full-length foam midsole that absorbs shock to prevent discomfort or injuries during training. It also features the Nike Free sole technology which expands in multiple directions to support quick cuts and turns.

Nike Romaleos 3

The Nike Romaleos 3 caters to those who incorporate a lot of weightlifting into their training routine. The upper is made from a combination of mesh and synthetic leather to deliver a breathable yet supportive construction. It has a single midfoot strap that locks the foot down. Durable rubber is used for the outsole on this pair of Nike training shoes. It sports a virtually flat profile to keep the foot planted to the ground. The shoe also features an elevated heel that allows wearers to squat deeper or perform better deadlifts. It comes with two interchangeable insoles, a soft and a firm option, to suit the wearer’s needs.

History

The starting line

The Nike brand name did not make an appearance until 1971, but the company has been around since 1964.

Philip Knight was a middle-distance runner at the University of Oregon. He was coached by Bill Bowerman, who was one of the top running coaches in the U.S. at the time. Bowerman was also known for tinkering with running shoes to make them lighter and absorb shock better.

After getting his Master of Business Administration degree from the Stanford University, Knight went to Japan and reached out to Onitsuka Tiger Co. Ltd, one of the most popular running shoemakers back then, and convinced them that there was a massive market for their running shoes back in the U.S.

In 1963, Knight received the first shipment of the Onitsuka Tiger trainers. A year later, Bowerman and Knight invested $500 each in building the Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS) company.

Their partnership with Onitsuka Tiger ended when the Japanese company was accused of breach of contract by looking for other U.S. distributors in the U.S. Another case was filed for trademark infringement because they were allegedly selling eight models that BRS registered in the U.S.

The birth of Nike

Knight wanted to reinvent BRS, so he commissioned Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at the Portland State University where he was teaching an accounting class. She presented him with four options, one of which was the now-famous Swoosh logo. Because of production deadlines, Knight had to choose from the four designs and settled on the Swoosh. Davidson recalled Knight stating that he was not fond of the logo but felt that maybe it would grow on him.

The next step was changing the company’s name. Knight wanted to rename BRS as Dimension Six, but he was the only fan of the name. So, Bob Woodell, the company's first president, made a call to Jeff Johnson, BRS’ first employee, telling him that Knight wanted to change the company name and they needed to come up with one by 9 a.m. the following day.

By happenstance, Johnson had previously come across an article in an in-flight magazine that focused on what makes brand names iconic. There were two critical elements that he remembered:

  • most popular company names only have two syllables;
  • they sound exotic or have the letter Z, X or K in the title.

Johnson woke up with a name in mind, Nike. It was the name of the winged Greek goddess of victory.

Knight was presented with the names Peregrine, Bengal, and Nike. Just like with the logo, Knight was not a fan, but because of manufacturing deadlines, he picked Nike stating that it was the best of the bunch.

Changing the game

In the 1960s, running led the physical fitness revolution. But in the 1980s, fitness enthusiasts realized that aside from running, there were other workout options. They could engage in casual sports or go to the gym for some cardio or weight training.

Nike designer Tinker Hatfield dabbled with different types of gym activities at that time too. But the problem he encountered was that he needed to bring multiple pairs of shoes for each training activity. This inconvenience inspired him to design the Nike Air Trainer 1, the brand’s first ever cross-training shoes. What made this Nike training shoe different from other workout footwear was that it could be used for cardio workouts, weight training, and even basketball. The ultimate training shoe.

The Nike Air Trainer 1 featured a high-cut design that aims to support the ankle. The outsole formed outriggers at the lateral and medial sides of the midfoot section which added stability to the sole unit. Aside from the lace-up closure, it was also outfitted with a single strap at the midfoot for a more locked down feel.

The most notable difference the Nike training shoes had compared to basketball and running footwear was the heel. Running trainers have higher heel height to cushion the footstrike while basketball sneakers have a relatively low heel. The Nike training shoes’ heels fall in between. They are high enough to absorb the shock effectively when used for running but are also adequately low to provide stability during gym workouts or even playing basketball.

Shot to fame

John McEnroe, one of the most iconic tennis players in the world, was coming back after a 6-month hiatus. He contacted Nike about his return and wanted a shoe that would suit his unique playing style. Nike sent a bunch of prototypes to McEnroe, which, unbeknownst to Hatfield, included the Air Trainer 1.

Just like Nike’s name and logo, the least likely contender was the one that clicked. According to McEnroe, the moment he tried the pair of Nike training shoes on, he knew it was the perfect fit. The high-cut design provided support for his ankles while the cushioning platform delivered the necessary bounce to keep him moving on the court. He was instructed to only use the Nike training shoes prototype during the practice. But McEnroe was not one to do as he was told. He wore the Nike training shoes during his comeback, won that game and the next two tournaments. McEnroe is an exceptional player, to begin with. However, the footgear might have helped him concentrate on his game more because he didn’t have to think about his feet.

He refused to return the Nike training shoes and demanded more, which Nike obliged to. The brand provided McEnroe with two more versions that were fitted with court-specific outsoles.

The Nike Air Trainer 1 was officially released to the public in 1987. It is one of Nike’s most iconic training shoes. Since then, it has been refreshed numerous times and sported different combinations of materials, colors, and prints.

FAQS

How do I know if my Nike training shoes are original?

  • Bend them - The sole unit of Nike training shoes does not easily lose its form. If in doubt about the authenticity, simply bending it can give consumers an idea if the trainer is legit or not. The footwear should quickly return to its original state after being bent or twisted.
  • Tag - Inside the tongue of a Nike training shoe is a label that indicates the size, stock keeping unit (SKU), where it was made, when it was made, and some of the details that could tell you more about the shoe. In some Nike training shoes, the label is stitched on the tongue; others appear as overlays. If the tag looks like a sticker that can easily be removed, then it’s a fake. The tags should not be quickly peeled off from the shoe.
  • Stitches, seams, and overlays - Nike training shoes differ in construction. Some use stitched overlays, others employ fused ones; some models feature a one-piece construction while others have seams because different parts are connected. No matter how the façade is made, seams should not have any gaps, the fabric should not be frayed, and stitches should not be unraveling especially when it hasn’t even been used yet. Also, fused overlays should not be peeling off of the upper.
  • Check the SKU - The SKU on the shoe tag and the one on the box should match. It is often seen as a barcode and is used to keep track of the inventory.
  • Symmetry - Each pair of Nike training shoes are mirror images of each other. They should have the same length and width. The design and style should also be symmetrical.

How do I clean my Nike training shoes?

Nike training shoes can get dirty fast, especially when used outdoors. Nike recommends cleaning the dirt off immediately to prevent staining or caking in as that could deteriorate the material of the trainer. To clean Nike training shoes, first, you must remove the dried dirt using a soft brush or toothbrush. Then, prepare a small amount of soap or mild detergent and warm water to make a cleaning solution. Dip a clean cloth, sponge or brush in the solution and gently scrub the dirt off. Use another clean cloth, sponge or toothbrush and warm water to remove the soapy solution off of the shoe. Dry the Nike training shoes at room temperature. Nike does not recommend machine washing or drying any of its footgear to prevent degradation.

Can Nike training shoes be customized?

Yes, some Nike training shoes can be customized. On the Nike website, hover above the Customize tab and choose the NikeiD from the dropdown menu. There, you will be presented with blank canvases of the different models that allow customization. Choose which pair of Nike training shoes you want to personalize, then start creating your one-of-a-kind footgear. You can select the type of material used in the upper, the color, and the technologies you want to be used on it.

When should I replace my Nike training shoes?

As a general rule, Nike training shoes should be replaced every six months. But how often it is used, what it is used for, and where it is used are also important factors to consider when replacing shoes. If you use your pair of Nike training shoe on a daily basis, on the pavement, during high-intensity workouts, then it might not even last a full six months. If it is only used a couple of times a week, in the gym, doing moderate exercises, then the trainer might last longer than six months. The thing to remember is if the midsole no longer absorbs shock, the outsole is peeling off or doesn’t provide any traction, the upper has holes in it or no longer supports the foot, then it’s time to replace the shoe, regardless of how long it has been used.

Can I use Nike training shoes for running?

Yes, you can use Nike training shoes for running, but these trainers do not have the same amount of cushioning as running shoes. Nike training shoes are good for short runs or sprints, but users may feel pain or discomfort when using them for long runs. Training shoes also lack heel-to-toe support.

What are Nike training shoes used for?

Nike training shoes can be used for different types of workouts such as cross-training, weightlifting, and high-intensity sessions such as CrossFit and Les Mills. Though Nike training shoes are made to be versatile, there are dedicated training shoes for weight training and metcon that assist users in reaching their personal best.

This shoe has recently been added to RunRepeat. There are still not enough reviews for us to assign it a Corescore.
Corescore
A score from 1 to 100 that summarizes opinions from users and experts. The average Corescore is 78. More...