7 Best Nike Gym Shoes in 2024

Nicholas Rizzo
Nicholas Rizzo on
7 Best Nike Gym Shoes in 2024
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Having the right gym shoes is a key foundation to achieve your fitness goals. Whether you’re building muscles with weightlifting routines or executing a CrossFit workout of the day, the ideal footwear will provide the support, comfort, and stability you need for a range of movements.

To help you find the perfect pair, we present our highly recommended Nike training shoes for different types of workouts. Whatever style and specific training needs you have, there’s a pair of Nike gym shoes that are suitable for the way you like to train.

It’s important for us that you choose your gym shoe well. To help you do that, we’ve purchased and scrutinised many of the Nike gym shoes out there. After testing them all, we’ve picked our top recommendations in different categories.

How we test training shoes

Ranking all the Nike gym shoes in the database requires serious hours of performance tests. We put in the work in the gym to see how each model performs in the real world. We carefully examine the essential parameters of the shoes before coming up with our assessments.

To ensure the objectivity of our reviews, we do the following:

  • Purchase the Nike gym shoes for our wear tests. We spend our own money on this to avoid any brand loyalty.
  • Go to the gym for a broad range of fitness activities, from high-intensity workouts, lifting weights, deep stretches, burpees, or 30 minutes on the treadmill.
  • Dive deeper into each of the shoes by slicing them up. We measure 30+ parameters of the shoes and analyse the results by correlating to our own experience plus comparing them to average values. We write our 100% honest reviews based on the gathered data from both wear and lab test sessions.

Best Nike gym shoes overall

What makes it the best?

The Nike Free Metcon 5 is a beast when it comes to ankle support, balanced cushioning, and being lightweight. It just so happens that these are the very same benefits that we look for in a gym shoe. Ergo, we consider the Free Metcon 5 as the best gym shoe from Nike.

Keeping the ankle and the whole rearfoot securely locked down was not a problem with this shoe. This Free Metcon 5’s well-padded collar clasped the back of the foot well. The secure hold of this feature on the ankle was further complemented by the fully gusseted tongue, which ensured a snug fit.

Under the heel, the cushion felt really soft. We learned through our HA durometer measurements in the lab that this part has a softness score of 17.4, which is far lower (therefore softer) than the 27.0 average. It’s another story at the forefoot. The HA durometer measured its softness to be 25.9, so its contrast with the heel is quite pronounced. These figures resulted in a balanced midsole that offered softness and impact protection in the heel and firmness and ground feel in the forefoot.

A typical gym shoe is expected to be light. Yet, the Nike Free Metcon 5 still managed to be lighter than the average, 10.5 oz (298g) against 11.2 oz (317g). The lightweight structure of the shoe allowed us to run faster, jump a bit higher, and just to move more freely overall.

We regret to share that there is one thing in this shoe that really needs improvement. The upper is not really the most durable. We saw significant damage after just 12 seconds of Dremel drilling.

Pros

  • Impressively stable
  • Noteworthy ankle support
  • Awesomely close-fitting
  • Roomy toebox
  • Nice and airy upper
  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Quite cushiony
  • Notably lightweight
  • Exceptionally flexible
  • Stylish design and overall look

Cons

  • Not for long runs (2-3 miles max)
  • Upper lacks durability
Full review of Nike Free Metcon 5

Best Nike gym shoes for weightlifting

Nike Romaleos 4
91
Superb!

What makes it the best?

The lifters among us were most enamoured by the Romaleos 4 out of all Nike gym shoes. Its firm and twist-resistant structure left quite a mark since it helped us focus more on our lifting workouts. The firm midsole and lifting-appropriate drop were also noteworthy qualities that helped smoothen out our lifting experience.

When we bent the Romaleos 4 up to 90 degrees, we found through the readings on our digital gauge that we needed to exert 40.4N of force to do so successfully. This force requirement is much higher than the 26.0 average. The amount of resistance ensured that we were protected from twists and other forms of instability.

Speaking of stability, the firm midsole also helped in getting rid of wobbliness. Our HA durometer pegged this shoe’s midsole softness score at 97.0, which is far higher, therefore firmer, than the 75.0 average. 

The Romaleos 4’s tech specs say that it has a drop of 19.05 mm. At 20.5 mm, the actual drop of this shoe didn’t deviate so much from the specified number. This elevation in the heel helped keep our postures upright, which was quite helpful in keeping our overhead lifts and deadlifts stable and safe.

We wanted to use this shoe for a long time, but it appeared that the durability of the upper just wouldn’t allow us to. After only twelve seconds of high-pressure Dremel drilling, a see-through hole already appeared on the upper. We give this shoe a 2 out of 5 for durability.

Pros

  • Phenomenal stability
  • Sturdy platform and sole
  • Better lockdown with two straps
  • Comfortable for a lifting shoe
  • True to size
  • Efficient traction
  • Appealing looks

Cons

  • Upper lacks durability
  • Not for narrow ankles
  • Not breathable
Full review of Nike Romaleos 4

Best Nike gym shoes for HIIT

What makes it the best?

Backed up by our lab findings and countless workouts, we claim Air Zoom TR 1 as the #1 HIIT Nike gym shoe. This decision is based on three things: (1) the shoe’s unmatched energy return, (2) soft and protective cushioning, and (3) a stable ride.

In the depths of the midsole lies an Air Zoom unit that launches us back with every stride. This makes efficient use of our power and comes to life during jumping exercises. With every toe-off, we’re caught by a soft midsole that absorbs landing impact. Our durometer confirms its plush nature, measuring 24.6% less dense than average.

To ensure we don’t move uncontrollably and remain centred, Air Zoom TR 1 keeps its outsole grippy to enhance surefootedness. We were able to activate the right muscle groups as we performed planks and burpees since the outsole stayed still even on slippery floors. Our durometer confirms it’s 10.0% softer than average.

Because of Air Zoom TR 1’s softer rubber in the outsole, it’s best to stay indoors when working out with this shoe to avoid its early retirement.

Pros

  • Dependable bite on gym floors
  • Pretty durable toebox
  • Good impact protection
  • Nice lateral stability
  • Secure heel hold
  • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions
  • OK for occasional outdoor use

Cons

  • Not breathable at all
  • Not for wide-footers
  • Not for heavy lifting
Full review of Nike Air Zoom TR 1

Best Nike gym shoes for speed

What makes it the best?

When it comes to being fast, nothing comes close to the Zoom Metcon Turbo 2. All the other Nike gym shoes just couldn’t replicate its thin midsole and Zoom Air combo. Besides speed, this shoe also delivered a good deal of flexibility and perfect breathability.

Through our calliper measurements, we learned that the midsole is on the thinner side. The heel is only 22.9 mm (the average is 24.6 mm) thick while the forefoot’s 15.2 mm (ave 18.3 mm). This configuration allowed us to feel the court so well, effectively enhancing our control over our movements. The Zoom Air in the forefoot also contributed a lot of energy return, making our steps a lot more efficient.

The Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2  is also noteworthy when it comes to its flexibility. In our flexibility assessment in the lab, we uncovered that this Nike shoe only needed 16.5N of force to bend at 90 degrees. The typical gym trainer would need 20.6N. This shoe’s flexibility effectively widened our range of motion, allowing us to perform a greater number of exercises with much ease.

Breathability is also another strength of this Nike trainer. After conducting both smoke and light tests on it, we concluded that it is a perfect 5 when it comes to ventilation. Both smoke and light were able to pass through the material with much ease. As if these results aren’t enough, the ultimately dryness of our socks after every workout session completes our five-star review of this shoe’s breathability.

It’s just a little too messy that the base isn’t as rigid as we would have wanted. It only got a 1 out of 5 for torsional rigidity after giving it a good twist in the lab. We would never use this shoe to lift heavy.

Pros

  • Bouncy Zoom Air in the forefoot
  • Good for short runs
  • Perfect for jumps and aerobics
  • Stable for moderate lifting
  • Excellent flexibility
  • Amazingly breathable
  • Durable outsole

Cons

  • Upper is not durable rope climbing
  • Heavy for a "speed-oriented" trainer
Full review of Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2

Best minimalist Nike gym shoes

What makes it the best?

The Nike Flex Control 4 did more than just contour to the shape of our feet; it was flexible enough to follow the natural feet flexions, no matter how peculiar they are. We also appreciated its lightness and the responsiveness of its midsole. All these benefits come together to form what we now consider the best minimalist gym shoe from Nike.

The moment we put this shoe on, we already felt the flexibility of its heel counter and base. We manually assessed these features in the lab, and both got a 3 out of 5 for rigidity. 

The Nike Flex Control 4 is surely a lightweight shoe. At 9.8 ounces or 277 grammes, it is definitely lighter than average, which weighs 11.2 ounces or 317 grammes. It is this very lightness that allowed us to throw ourselves higher when we did box jumps and other plyometric exercises.

We also felt the midsole to be quite firm. This observation was confirmed in the lab when our HA durometer pegged the cushion’s softness at 32.0 when the average is only 27.0. Aside from helping with stability, the firm midsole also gave us more leverage when we jumped and sprinted.

It’s just too bad that the Flex Control 4 couldn’t go beyond moderate lifting. We felt our foot being forced forward, causing not only wobbliness but also a bit of discomfort to our toes.

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

Best budget Nike gym shoes

What makes it the best?

Being light and protective from impact are perhaps the two most important benefits that a good training shoe must give. The Nike Legend Essential 3 excellently delivered these two without adding so much to its price. Hence, we consider it as the best Nike gym shoe we ever had the honour of trying.

This Nike shoe weighs only 8.78 oz or 249g, which is way lower than the 11.18 oz or 317g average. This trainer truly felt so light on foot that we at times forgot that we actually had shoes on. Box jumps, jump ropes, and other vertical exercises benefited so much from this lightness.

The just-enough impact protection that we enjoyed was because of the softness of the midsole. Our HA durometer in the lab measured the midsole to be 26.3 (the average is 27.0). The balanced softness of this setup allowed us to persist in our workouts, even if it involved a lot of jumping.

When it comes to the price, the £70 price tag of the Legend Essential 3 is far lower than the £110 average for Nike gym shoes. This is of course very good news, especially given the benefits that we get.

The low price of this shoe came with a considerable sacrifice. When we manually squeezed the heel counter in the lab, we could only give it a score of 2 out of 5 for firmness. With this rating, we cannot recommend this shoe for gym rats who want to take on more serious weightlifting.

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 Nike gym shoes for Crossfit

Nike Metcon 9
80
Good!

What makes it the best?

We hit the gym with 40+ pairs of Nike trainers and found Metcon 9 most suitable for CrossFit. Our lab results confirm it offers undeniable support, reliable traction, awesome lockdown, and an adaptive midsole. It’s versatile enough for all types of WOD and excels most in weightlifting.

We didn’t need an elevated shoe during our heavy squats and deadlifts. With its wide and sturdy base, we remain well-planted to the ground. Upon checking with our calliper, it's 116.9/95.0 forefoot and heel sits well above the average trainer (110.0/87.3 mm). For heavier loads, the sturdy Hyperlift plastic under the heel ensures we don’t lose our stance. Establishing a firm foothold for better balance are the elevated sidewalls and protective upper of the shoe.

Metcon 9 delivers the stability and traction we need for intense WOD workouts — from burpees to wall climbs and other plyometrics. The outsole bites through the floor mats, while the sidewalls assist us in our rope climbs. Metcon 9 allows us to focus on our form instead of worrying about slipping. It provides flex for other exercises, as confirmed by our bend test when it emerged 15.0% more bendable than average.

We found Metcon 9 less suited for repetitive rope jumps and aerobic workouts. We recommend a more cushioned pair for these types of workouts to protect the legs from landing impact.

Pros

  • Exceptionally stable for weightlifting
  • One of the most durable cross-trainers
  • The best shoe for rope climbs
  • Reliable foot containment
  • Very comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Nice grip on gym floors
  • Accommodates wide feet (finally!)
  • Surprisingly flexible

Cons

  • Heavier than average (and previous Metcons)
  • Not great for cardio workouts and rope jumps
  • So-so breathability
Full review of Nike Metcon 9

How to find the best Nike gym shoes

Nike shoes regularly top gym shoe popularity polls. Their widespread appeal is due to a number of factors, including their strong brand image, marketing campaigns, proprietary technology, variety of styles, comfort, and durability. Let’s dig a little deeper to help you find the best Nike shoe to meet your unique gym training needs.

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Picking the right gym shoe is crucial for maximum performance and injury prevention.

Nike gym shoes at a glance

Your type of workout determines what Nike shoe will suit you the best. Here are the most popular Nike gym shoes and what they are intended  for:

Nike Metcon The Nike Metcon is an adaptable training shoe created for a variety of exercises, such as lifting, jogging, and jumping. It has a sturdy upper that offers support during vigorous exercise and a flat, firm outsole for stability.
Nike Free Metcon The Nike Free is a flexible, lightweight running shoe that's meant to simulate training barefoot. A flexible outsole and simplistic design enable natural movement and a variety of exercises.
Nike Metcon Turbo This shoe blends the cushioning and responsiveness of Nike React foam with the stability of the Metcon. With the added Zoom Air unit in the forefoot, it is more suitable for fast-paced and agile workouts.
Nike Air Zoom SuperRep With a lightweight, breathable upper and a supportive, solid outsole, the Nike Air Zoom SuperRep is specifically made for high-intensity exercise. The split sole design on this shoe promotes flexible, natural movement.
Nike Romaleos The Nike Romaleos is a weightlifting shoe that offers a secure foundation for difficult lifts. It has a flat, durable outsole and a supportive top in order to hold the foot in position when performing squats and other lifts.

Choosing the right cushioning in Nike gym shoes

When performing high-impact exercises like plyometrics, shoes with good cushioning can help absorb shock and lessen the strain on your joints. Yet, too much cushioning can also compromise stability when performing workouts like weightlifting or other ones that need a solid foundation.

Thickness

The amount of shock absorption and impact protection might vary depending on the cushioning's thickness. Shoes with thinner cushioning are better for weightlifting or other exercises that call for a stable base, while shoes with more cushioning are frequently more comfortable for high-impact exercises.

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Heel height: 21.8 mm

nike-air-zoom-superrep-3-inside.JPG

Heel height: 31.7 mm

Type of cushioning

Nike offers a variety of cushioning options in its athletic footwear. Here is a brief overview:

  • Nike React is the most common foam in the brand's training shoes. Firm and supportive, it provides a fine balance between cushioning and stability for all types of workouts.

  • Zoom Air is a high-rebound unit added under the balls of the foot for extra bounce. Perfect for HIIT, cardio, and other fast-paced workouts with a lot of jumps.

Consider the weight

Heavy cushioning can make shoes heavier, which might have an impact on performance. A shoe with a thin sole is ideal for speed or agility training where you need minimum weight. The lightest gym shoes from Nike are the Free Metcons.

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Durability is very important

A quality gym shoe ought to be able to handle repeated workouts without losing its integrity. Look for footwear that is made of sturdy materials.

We use a Dremel to test each Nike shoe's abrasion resistance in the toebox, in the heel padding, and in the outsole.

Here is a comparison of the flagship Nike Metcon 8 (left) and the budget-friendly Nike Flex Control 4 (right) after the same durability test. The Dremel was applied for 12 seconds at the same force and speed to both shoes.

nike-metcon-8-vs-nike-flex-control-4-dremel-durability-comparison.jpg

We put a piece of white material inside the shoe to make the contrast more visible.

Choose the best fit

A good workout shoe should be snug but not too tight. It should have enough room for your feet to gradually enlarge while you work out and allow your toes to move around freely.

To achieve a decent fit, make sure to try on your shoes while wearing the socks you want to use during your workout.

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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.