5 Best Hiit Shoes in 2023

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
5 Best Hiit Shoes in 2023
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High-intensity interval training isn't for the faint-hearted. It's truly high-intensity, and you will surely sweat it out. To do well in this program, you need the support of good training shoes that are attuned to the unique demands of HIIT. 

Of course, brands like Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and Under Armour would like you to believe that their offers are versatile enough to support the many types of exercises in an HIIT program. They may be telling the truth. But we want you to be sure, so we present our top HIIT shoe picks.

How we test hiit shoes

An HIIT program is composed of different types of exercises. We really have to go through it in order to fully assess the versatility and durability of each shoe that we review. You can rest assured that our claims are all based on actual experience in the gym.

Aside from making sure that we test the shoe in actual HIIT workouts, we also do the following to ensure the validity and reliability of our reviews:

  • Remain bias-free by buying the shoes using our own funds
  • Strive for comprehensiveness by taking into account the experience of other testers, including those from outside RunRepeat



Best hiit shoes overall

What makes it the best?

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.


  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Unbelievably flexible
  • Solid platform
  • Grippy outsole
  • Highly breathable
  • Durable
  • Unique design


  • Not for wide feet
  • Not suitable for running
  • Expensive
Full review of Nike Free Metcon 4

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Any color
Team Red Bright Crimson Cave Purple (CT3886601)
Red (CT3886600)
Mint Foam Ghost Green Barely Green (CT3886300)
Iron Grey Black Grey Fog White (CT3886011)
Crimson/Grey (CT3886602)
Black White Black Volt (CZ0596010)
Rattan/Thunder Blue-Sandalwood-Green Strike (CT3886234)
Green (CT3886390)
More colors

Best lightweight hiit shoes

What makes it the best?

Belonging to Nike’s cheapest training shoes, the Legend Essential 2 manages to offer that essential comfort and support for moderate gym workouts as well as recreational use. If you take it easy at the gym, you'll make the best out of this superb deal.


  • Insanely cheap
  • Doubles as a casual sneaker
  • Lightweight
  • Breathes well
  • Snug fit
  • Very flexible
  • Reliable grip
  • Looks great


  • Not for wide feet
  • Not the most durable
Full review of Nike Legend Essential 2

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Any color
White (CQ9356002)
Black (CQ9356001)
Black (CQ9356034)
Black (CQ9356005)
Black (CQ9356004)
Old Royal Black Racer Blue Dk Smoke Grey (CQ9356403)
Cargo Khaki Light Bone Safety Orange (CQ9356300)
Iron Grey/White-dk Smoke Grey (CQ9356016)
More colors

Best Nike hiit shoes

What makes it the best?

The SuperRep has got to be Nike’s most flashy training shoe series. The third iteration receives some design tweaks to give you the right balance of cushioning for jumps, flexibility for planks, and support for side-to-side and other movements involved in HIIT. The shoe’s unusual design is not only there for looks, it enhances performance when it comes to high-impact exercises.


  • Perfect for HIIT
  • Light on the foot
  • Bouncy cushioning
  • Great flexibility
  • Stable side support
  • Snug, locked-down fit
  • Breathable


  • Not for wide feet
  • Arc catches debris outdoors
Full review of Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3

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Any color
Black (DC9115001)
White (DC9115109)
Black (DC9115002)
Cool Grey Metallic Silver 004 (DC9115004)
Cargo Khaki/Alligator (DC9115300)
White/Metallic Silver/Volt/Bla (DC9115107)
Pro Green Multi Color Washed Teal Black (DC9115393)
Light Orewood Brown (DQ5357181)

Best New Balance hiit shoes

What makes it the best?

The New Balance TRNR is an excellent-value training shoe with high-end features at a very reasonable price. It has excellent cushioning and is exceptionally stable and supportive. This training shoe has a nice contemporary design that appeals to everyday athletes or seasoned gym rats.


  • Exceptionally stable and supportive
  • Secure foothold
  • Fits true to size
  • Excellent cushioning
  • Minimal break-in period
  • Durable
  • Very breathable
  • Exceptional grip
  • Contemporary style
  • Great deal


  • Not wide feet friendly
  • Not ideal for running
Full review of New Balance TRNR

Today's best price

Any color
Navy/White (MXTRNRCN)
Light Cyclone/Team Royal (MXTRNRCR)
Black/Team Red (MXTRNRMV)
Grey/Neo Flame (MXTRNRCG)
Black/Gum (MXTRNRLK)
Black/Gold Metallic (MXTRNRCK)

Best value hiit shoes

Nike MC Trainer

What makes it the best?

The Nike MC Trainer brings the high-quality standard for a wallet-friendly shoe that will perform exactly how you need it to. Comfortable, functional, and sharp-looking, the MC trainer rises to meet the standard instead of feeling like a cheap, low-quality alternative.


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


  • Narrow
  • Not extremely flexible
  • Poor ventilation
Full review of Nike MC Trainer

Today's best price

Any color
Cave Purple Hyper Pink Black White (CU3584500)
Smoke Grey White Dk Smoke Grey Lime (CU3580007)
Black (CU3584004)
Gray (CU3580011)
Black (CU3580003)
Black/ White (CU3580005)

Comparison of the 5 best hiit shoes

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High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is a workout protocol that involves alternating between short bursts of intense work with brief recovery periods. The actual exercise you’re doing can vary from running on a treadmill to doing burpees or even lifting weights. That variety makes getting a pair of shoes to meet every possible HIIT workout quite a challenge.

There are, however, some key attributes that all HIIT workouts share, and that a HIIT shoe needs to cater for:

  • They involve intense, short bursts of energy
  • They are high impact
  • They involve multiple rounds of the same movement
  • They will have you working at your upper limit of aerobic capacity

Here are six things to look for when shopping for a HIIT workout shoe:


1. Cross-training functionality

2. Shock absorbency

3. Traction

4. Stability

5. Responsive midsole

6. Breathable upper


Cross-training functionality

Your HIIT workouts from day to day might look very different. On one day, you could be doing a Tabata sprint HIIT session on the treadmill, while the next day sees you alternating sets of burpees and then, on the third day doing a circuit weights session.

Within a single HIIT workout, you might also find yourself switching from running to plyometrics and weight training.

Your shoes need to be able to handle all of that variety. If you turn up to the gym in a pair of running shoes, you’re not going to have the stability you need when lifting, while a workout shoe is going to lack the cushioning required for those intense sprint sessions.

The high stacks and plush foams of running shoes are never a good idea for HIIT.

Most shoe manufacturers do not have a separate HIIT shoe category. But they will have a cross-training shoe category. Cross-training shoes are designed to meet that middle ground between a weight training shoe and a running shoe to meet the versatile needs of the average gymgoer.

To meet the diverse needs of the average gym goer a cross-training shoe is designed to promote:

  • Versatility
  • Responsiveness
  • Stability
  • Shock absorption

Shock absorbency

The intensity of HIIT training means that you’re putting a lot of stress on the lower body joints. Whether you are sprinting on a treadmill, doing box jumps, or repping out with burpees, your ankles, knees, and hips are going to take a beating. To minimize that impact you need a pair of shoes with a good level of shock absorbency.

A shoe with high shock absorbency will dissipate the amount of kinetic energy that transfers from the ground to your foot as you land. Shock-absorbing shoes typically have added foam, gel, or air bubbles in the areas where the highest impact occurs.


Nike SupreRep 3 uses a pair of bouncy Zoom Air units under the ball of the foot. It protects the wearer's legs without making the platform too plush or unstable. 

When it comes to shock absorbency, don’t go for a shoe with too much padding, especially in the heel. Some running shoes have so much heel padding that it feels as if you’re standing on a pillow. That will rob you of the stability you need and cause energy and power leaks that will prevent you from performing at your best.


Traction refers to the friction between the sole of your shoe and the ground that allows you to move with agility and prevents you from sliding or otherwise losing momentum.

If your HIIT workout involves jumping to the sides, such as when doing lateral jumping lunges, the traction of your sole is going to determine whether you perform the action fluidly or whether you end up sliding, and potentially twisting an ankle.

You want a shoe that has plenty of rubber traction in the forefoot and the heel. Basically, the more rubber underfoot, the greater your sole traction will be.


Rubber outsole on the popular Reebok Nano X1


With HIIT training, you are going to be pushing yourself to the limit. When you’re working at that level, you can’t afford to be unstable on your feet. A key factor when it comes to stability is the amount of heel-to-toe drop.

Heel drop is the distance between the height of the heel and the height of the toe. The baseline heel drop would be if you were working out in bare feet. In that case, your heel drop would be zero as the heel and the toes are the same distance from the floor. Most running shoes have a heel drop of around 10 mm. This higher heel position allows for cushioning under the heel and encourages a heel-to-toe strike running action.


Running shoe with a 12-mm drop

Weight training shoes, especially those designed for squats, have a much higher heel-to-toe drop than a running shoe. A typical weightlifting shoe drop is 17 mm. A higher heel supports an upright torso position, helps prevent back bending, and allows for a greater range of motion when squatting.


When you’re doing a HIIT workout, you do not want as much heel-to-toe drop as a weightlifting, or even a running, shoe. The forward angle will instantly detract from your stability. To ensure that your weight remains centered and your foot stable, look for a shoe with a heel-to-toe drop of around 4-6 mm (but no more than 8 mm). 


HIIT training shoe with a 6-mm drop

Responsive midsole


A responsive midsole is a key requirement for a functional HIIT shoe. While you need a stable shoe, you also don’t want your foot to feel trapped and uncomfortable. The midsole, then, needs to be able to find a balance between stability and responsiveness.

Each manufacturer uses its own unique technology to provide midsole responsiveness. The vast majority of midsoles are constructed of some type of foam. The variable elements of foam are softness, responsiveness, durability, and lightness.

Breathable upper

By their very nature, HIIT workouts are short and intense. If you aren’t dripping buckets of sweat at the end of it, you’re probably not pushing hard enough. That means that your feet are going to get very hot, wet, and sticky at the end of a decent HIIT session. The more breathable and lightweight the upper material of the shoe is, the more comfortable your workout will be.

The more breathable the upper material of your shoe, the lighter the shoe will be. This creates less resistance and promotes workout efficiency. The best upper materials to look out for to promote breathability are mesh and knit.

What is HIIT and Why do it?

High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) was ‘invented’ by Japanese Olympic Speed Skating Coach Azumi Tabata in the mid-2000s. Tabata had his athletes perform eight rounds of a workout that involved twenty seconds of sprint work followed by a ten-second recovery on a stationary cycle. When the athletes were tested after 8 weeks on this program, it was found that all of their health parameters had significantly improved. Take a look at the key findings:

  • Using HIIT workouts, athletes were able to burn more calories in 4 minutes than they had previously been doing in 30 minutes.
  • Athletes were training close to their VO2 max during high-intensity periods.
  • The participants increased their VO2 max, a great measure of cardiovascular fitness, by 28% - that is a huge increase, especially in top athletes.
  • The HIIT workout plan turned on an ‘afterburn effect’, which increased athletes’ post-training metabolism. This allowed them to burn more calories for the next 24 hours.
  • Overall aerobic fitness improved by 28%.


When these findings were published, trainers all over the world began to take notice. Over the last decade, there has been an explosion of interest in HIIT workout training. The promise of a more efficient and effective way to meet one’s fitness goals is very attractive.

Tabata’s original protocol has morphed in many directions. Yet, at its core, the HIIT program involves alternating short periods of high-intensity, all-out exercise with short intervals of rest or active recovery.

Who is HIIT for?

HIIT will help anyone to lose body fat and improve their aerobic fitness. But that doesn’t mean that it should be used by everyone. As you may have already deduced, HIIT is hard work. It is an intense, demanding fitness protocol that is not suitable for some people.

If you have a history of cardiovascular issues, suffer from joint problems, or are prone to lower back pain, HIIT may be too intense for you. If you’re over 50, we suggest consulting your doctor before beginning a HIIT program.


Frequently asked questions about HIIT shoes

Can I wear running shoes for my HIIT workouts?

Yes, you can do your HIIT workout in a running shoe, However, depending on the type of HIIT training you’re doing, it may not be a good idea. If you’re doing a high-intensity sprint workout, either on a treadmill or a running track, running shoes are the obvious choice. However, wearing running shoes for a HIIT session that involves lateral movement will not provide the agility and responsiveness that you need.

Running shoes may also provide too much cushioning so that you don’t get the stability that you need during your HIIT workout. Running shoes may also have a heel-to-toe drop that is too high for optimum foot stability and center of gravity.

Cushioning on a running shoe

Cushioning on an HIIT shoe

Should I choose a cross-training shoe for my HIIT workouts?

Yes, you should choose a cross-training shoe for your HIIT workouts. Cross-training shoes are a hybrid of a running shoe and a weightlifting shoe, They are designed for general-purpose gym workouts that range from running to jumping and lifting weights.

In comparison to running shoes, cross trainers tend to have less cushioning in the heel and more in the midsole region. The toe box in a cross-training shoe is roomier than in a running shoe. Cross trainers also have a lower heel-to-toe drop than either a running or a weightlifting shoe.

Average heel-to-toe drop
Road running shoes Weightlifting shoes Cross-training shoes
9 mm 17 mm 5 mm

Should HIIT shoes fit tightly?

Yes, you want a relatively tight-fitting HIIT shoe. A tight fit will prevent your heel lifting when you’re doing plyometric jumping movements. However, there should be a few millimeters of clearance between the tips of your toes and the upper material to allow for natural toe splay when you are pressing into the floor.

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.