4 Best Cheap Gym Shoes

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
4 Best Cheap Gym Shoes
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Whatever fave way you like to sweat, there’s no need to spend a fortune on a new pair of gym shoes. In fact, if you’re on a tight budget, you can still score good quality workout kicks from popular brands like Adidas, Nike, and Reebok.

Let’s get this out of the way though: you can’t expect a £50 pair of shoes to be loaded up with the latest innovation in gym shoe technology. But what you will get is still a solid quality product from trusted labels that offer stylish design, ample cushioning, and support to keep you comfortable in the gym.

To help you choose the perfect fit, we tested and cut in half best cheap gym shoes out there priced at £70 and below. We’ve tested each very thoroughly and picked our top favourites in specific categories.

How we test training shoes

Identifying our best picks in the budget-friendly category requires meticulously testing. As fitness enthusiasts ourselves, we’ve got a fair share of extensive experience wearing many of the pairs on this list. We only make sure that the other ones are also put to the wringer before giving our verdict.

Here’s our process:

  • We purchase affordable gym shoes across different brands. We use our own money for this to avoid bias.
  • We use the shoes to their full potential before coming up with our final assessments. That means wear testing the shoes in a variety of training regimens and cardio exercises. We take note of the shoes’ real-life feel, performance, breathability, and many more.
  • We anchor all our in-depth reviews on our personal experiences wearing the shoes for workouts in the gym.
  • We get down to lab testing and measure the properties of each shoe. We even go as far as cutting the shoes into pieces just to have a full perspective of the shoe's interior. 

One of the aspects we look over is the shoe's stability. To gauge this, we measure its overall flexibility using our digital force gauge. Not only that but we also assess its torsional and longitudinal flexibility subjectively by bending and twisting the shoe using our own hands. Another factor for stability is the platform's width, which we measure with our calliper. The midsole's thickness and hardness could also be contributing factors. 

Best cheap gym shoes overall

What makes it the best?

The Nike Air Max Alpha Trainer 5 is our top overall cheap workout shoe thanks to its strong stability, particularly for casual lifting, as well as terrific impact protection and outstanding durability. The shoe delivers all that for just £90, which falls way below the £110 average price for training shoes.

We have no concerns about using the Alpha Trainer 5 for lifting workouts with light to moderate weights, as it has more than enough stability for the task. We rated its torsional stability a 4 out of 5, with 5 being the stiffest, as we had to try quite hard to get the shoe to twist.

The shoe's thick midsole, which includes the Max Air unit in the heel, offers outstanding protection, especially while performing high-impact exercises like burpees, jump ropes, and box jumps. Our measurements found the shoe’s forefoot and heel stack height to be 5.6 mm and 11.1 mm taller than average, respectively.

Meanwhile, the outsole is made to last quite a long time. It got a hardness reading of 90.1 HC from our durometer, which is 6.7% harder than the average training shoe. Moreover, it is 0.3 mm thicker than average.

However, the shoe's upper, particularly the toebox, is not nearly as durable. It only took a second for our Dremel to drill a huge hole in the toebox, which is why we gave the shoe the lowest score of 1 out of 5 on our durability test.

Pros

  • Excellent value for money
  • Stable for easy weightlifting
  • Smooth heel-to-toes
  • True to size
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Durable outsole
  • Very good looks

Cons

  • Not breathable
  • Toebox lacks durability
  • Not for advanced workouts
Full review of Nike Air Max Alpha Trainer 5

Best cheap gym shoes for beginners

What makes it the best?

The Nike Legend Essential 3 is the best for beginners not only because of its low price (£70, the average price of a pair of trainers is £100) but also because of a series of superlatives that it delivers. First of all, it is super lightweight that we tend to forget that we still have something on. Also, it ensured a good deal of stability and lockdown, making us feel more confident with each step.

In the lab, we learned that the Nike Legend Essential 3 weighs only 8.78 oz or 249g. Compared to the average (11.18 oz or 317g), this figure represents an amazing 21% drop in weight! This shoe just felt so light that we didn’t want to take it off even after the workout was over.

Support was thankfully not a problem with this shoe. Its snug fit helped keep our feet in place even during the most intense plays and exercises. The sidewalls, laces, and even the slightly thicker insole (4.5 mm vs the 3.9 mm average) all helped in giving the foot a secure clasp.

Stability was also a function of the shoe’s wide platform. Based on our calliper measurements, the forefoot and heel areas of the platform are 112.2 mm and 90.7 mm wide respectively. These figures are higher than the 109.6 mm and 87.0 mm averages. 

It’s just quite regrettable that we cannot recommend the Nike Legend Essential 3 to those who want shoes that last. Twelve seconds of Dremel-drilling already resulted in a hole, and we were forced to give this shoe only a 2 out of 5 for durability.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Super lightweight
  • Breathable upper
  • Enough cushioning for jumps
  • Wide platform
  • Flexible
  • Good grip

Cons

  • Lacks durability
  • Not for heavy lifting
Full review of Nike Legend Essential 3

Best cheap minimalist gym shoes

What makes it the best?

We hail the Flex Control 4 from Nike as the best minimalist offer among cheap trainers because it excellently lives up to its name. First of all, it deserves to be described as cheap because, at £70, it’s much more affordable than the typical trainer, which is priced at £100. It deserves to be called “Flex” simply because it was truly very flexible, allowing us to bend our feet without much resistance. The “Control” in its name is also warranted. Its midsole was firm, and it allowed us to get a pronounced feeling of the floor, giving us more control over our movements no matter how fine they were.

Straight out of the box, we immediately appreciated the lightness of this shoe. We were not anymore surprised when our weighing scale in the lab reported that this shoe weighs only 9.8 oz or 277g, which is a lot lighter than the 11.2 oz or 317g average.

The flexibility of the shoe was a total dealmaker. Both the heel counter and the shoe’s base got a score of 2 out of 5 for rigidity, which means that they could easily go with the natural flexes of our feet during our sessions.

The firm midsole was appreciated a lot by the more quick-footed among us. Readings from our HA durometer revealed that this shoe is 19% firmer than the typical trainer. How easy it was to ace agility ladder workouts when we had the Flex Control 4 on our feet! 

Too bad this shoe was not really built as the tanker we thought it was. Some parts of the upper already showed signs of wear and tear, and we have not even subjected it to the Dremel test yet!

Pros

  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Lighter than average
  • Very flexible
  • Foot feels planted
  • Budget-friendly
  • Good grip
  • Simple aesthetics
  • True to size

Cons

  • Durability issues
  • Not for serious workouts
Full review of Nike Flex Control 4

Cheap gym shoes with the best stability

What makes it the best?

The New Balance DynaSoft TRNR v2 offered the best stability among all the cheap gym shoes that we worked out in. For only £80 (vs £100 average), we already got a trainer with a very accommodating platform. This New Balance gym shoe also did not pale in comparison to pricier alternatives when it came to breathability and grip on any floor type.

The amazingly wide platform had the following measurements: 117.3 mm at the forefoot and 91.6 mm at the heel. These numbers are both higher than the recorded averages, which are 109.5 mm and 86.6 mm, respectively. Given the platform’s width, there was no way our feet would still slide off the footbed.

Our feet didn’t have to suffer from excessive heat because the upper was pretty well-ventilated. We pumped smoke into the shoe in the lab, and we watched in awe as smoke permeated the upper quite easily. We gave the DynaSoft TRNR v2 a well-deserved 4 out of 5.

We were spared from accidental slips and falls because the shoe had quite a bite on any floor type that we worked out in. The traction pattern etched in the outsole did what it had to do, and we couldn’t ask for more.

Speaking of asking for more, the shoe’s durability left a lot to be desired. Our Dremel had a heyday poking holes through the toe box and the heel padding. The New Balance DynaSoft TRNR v2 got a disappointing 1 over 5 across the board for durability.

Pros

  • Highly breathable
  • Lighter than average
  • Wide and steady platform
  • Hard-wearing outsole
  • Solid grip on gym floors
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Can be worn casually

Cons

  • Upper fabric tears easily
  • Cheap and frail laces
Full review of New Balance DynaSoft TRNR v2

Buyer's guide on the best cheap gym shoes

You should seriously research your options before buying cheap gym shoes. If you don’t, you might end up with a pair of shoes that won't function well on the gym floor if you don't know what to look for. Even worse, you might end up injured!

nike-flex-control-4-price.JPG

Let's drill down on the details of what to look for in a cheap gym shoe to help you get a great deal without compromising performance.

What are the compromises when buying cheap gym shoes?

There are several possible compromises you may need to take into account when purchasing inexpensive gym trainers, including:

Inferior Materials

Cheap gym shoes could be composed of inferior materials, which could lead to decreased durability, less support, and a higher risk of injury.

We thoroughly check every single training shoe that gets to our lab. We use a Dremel to test the wear resistance of various shoe components (toebox, heel padding, outsole, etc.).

We found that sometimes a more expensive shoe doesn't mean better durability. But in some cases, it is worth investing in a longer shoe life.

Nike Legend Essential 3 Toebox durability comparison
Budget shoe (£70) vs. Premium shoe (£140)

Lack of Technologies

Cheap gym shoes could not include the technology and features found in higher-end versions, such as specific support systems or cutting-edge cushioning foams.

Jumping on a basic EVA foam like this...

...is going to feel different from jumping on a Zoom Air unit like this:

Lower Brand Reputation

Cheap gym shoes could be associated with lesser-known or worse-reputation brands, which might not provide the same level of quality, support, or customer care as more well-known brands.

What to look for when buying a cheap workout shoe

Finding inexpensive gym shoes that are safe and useful can be challenging, but there are a few considerations to bear in mind when shopping for low-cost options:

Check for Quality: Even if you're shopping for a cheap pair of shoes, you should still check sure they're built of durable materials.

Search for Sales and Discounts: During discounts, clearance events, or while using coupons, you can frequently find high-quality shoes at reduced costs.

Read Reviews: To learn how other customers felt about the shoes, read their reviews. You should take into account any safety or efficacy concerns they may have raised.

Choose a Reliable Brand: Although you might not be able to buy the most costly brands, there are many trustworthy brands that provide affordable solutions. A quality shoe can be obtained by selecting a brand with a solid reputation.

nike-legend-essential-2-price.JPG

Match to your Workout: The goal is to select footwear that is appropriate for the type of exercise you plan to perform. For instance, you might not want to lift weights in a cheap running shoe.

Check the Fit: Ensure sure the shoe fits comfortably and correctly. Injury might occur from wearing shoes that don't fit properly.

Return Policy: Verify the return policy to see if you may send the shoe back if it isn't the right fit for you.

nike-flex-control-4-toebox.JPG

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.