Best Workout Shoes for Different Exercise Routines

by jacky chou
Updated on

The best workout shoes are designed to offer comfort and stability in rapid multi-directional movements and landing impact as you exercise. There are different workout shoes for different exercises such as weightlifting, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and short runs.

When looking for the best exercise shoes, consider the surface you will exercise on and the duration of your workouts. The two factors will help you get the best cross-training shoe to last you a long time.

If you have researched online and are not sure which is the best pair of workout shoes for you, worry no more as we have compiled a list of five pairs for different workout environments. Read on to find your best match or an idea of which kind of training shoe you need to buy.

1. Best Gym Shoes: Puma Tazon 6 Fracture

For men:

PUMA Men's Tazon 6 FM Puma White/ Puma Black/ Puma Silver Running Shoe - 7 D(M) US
  • CONTEMPORARY DESIGN: Seasonal fracture graphic on this Tazon Cross-Trainer for a modern look.
  • RELIABLE PADDING: Stable cushioning for running and training needs.
  • SMOOTH AND SNUG: Sleek, streamlined silhouette with synthetic leather upper and midfoot saddle for maximum fit and comfort.
  • SHOCK ABSORPTION: EVA in the heel absorbs impact for added support and comfort.

For women:

PUMA Women's Tazon 6 WN's fm Cross-Trainer Shoe Black Silver/Beetroot Purple, 10 M US
  • Midfoot saddle for maximum fit and comfort
  • EVA in the heel absobs impact. TPU shank for increased stability
  • Breathable EcoOrthoLite sockliner for optimum fit and comfort

This pair of Puma workout shoes is your best buy if you need a durable gym workout shoe. It comes with a leather upper that features small holes for breathability. It also comes in a lace-up design with a softly padded ankle collar and tongue for comfort.

Available in different colors and sizes for men and women, the Tazon 6 sports a rubber sole with aggressive lugs, so you are guaranteed stability on gym floors. Additionally, the shoe also comes with a midfoot saddle that improves your fit and comfort.

The EVA heel is best for absorbing high-impact landing shock; thus, you can use the shoe for various gym activities like squats, boxing, and various HIIT workouts. The workout shoes are best for you if you overpronate, and they are also lightweight, so you won't have your feet cramping after long workout sessions.

  • Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Made with leather, this water-resistant for a while
  • Best for overpronators, excellent arch support
  • The shoe is available in different colors
  • Will double as great fashion sneakers for casual occasions
  • True-to-fit
  • Easy to clean and wear
  • Best for gym workouts
  • Cons
  • Not the best running shoes
  • The shoes may require some breaking in

2. Best Strength Training Shoes: New Balance Minimus 20 V7

Form men:

For women:

Your best shoes need to be well-cushioned and very sturdy, so you can use them on cardio workout machines and also run in them if need be. These New Balance Minimus 20 V7 shoes are designed for strength training, coming with a rubber sole and a supportive upper made with a flexible nylon-infused yarn knit.

The upper will provide the best natural stability for all lateral movements, while the one-piece Vibram outsole will provide the necessary grip on the floor when you are swinging kettlebells, doing burpees, or squatting and deadlifting, and other hybrid-training activities.

The rubber sole features a REVlite midsole for lightweight properties; you do not want your shoes dragging your feet down as you workout. In addition, the molded foam asymmetrical collar offers a naturally comfortable fit that eliminates the risk of blisters and friction.

These best workout shoes come in a lace-up design, in different colors, and a true-to-fit size. In addition, they come with a 4mm heel-to-toe drop and a wide toe box for more comfort.

  • Pros
  • Low heel to toe drop for stability when training
  • Vibram outsole to keep your feet grounded
  • Breathable mesh upper for a snug fit
  • Lightweight gym shoe
  • Good shoes for running on the treadmill
  • Available n different colors and sizes
  • Affordable price
  • Excellent arch support
  • Best for wide feet
  • Cons
  • None

3. Best for Shock Absorption: Nike Air Zoom SuperRep

For men:

For Women:

This Nike pair of shoes is your best buy for different workout styles, from running, jumping, HIIT, and all fast-paced exercises you can come up with. It comes with great cushioning that you need, especially if you struggle with conditions such as arthritis, plantar fasciitis, and more.

The shoe is one of the most flexible options because of the specially designed sole. It is a split sole and comes with a big arc that acts like brakes when you move laterally. This synthetic sole will make it easier to perform your burpees, kettlebell swings, press-ups, and squats. The sole also has Cushlon foam at the heel, which arrests impact when you land.

The upper comes with a breathable mesh with a higher ankle for extra support. The shoe comes with a simple slip-on design. It is a true-to-fit shoe and comes in different colors for men and women.

  • Pros
  • Split-sole design for flexibility and a big arc for braking
  • Cushioned sole to arrest impact
  • An ideal shoe for fast-paced workouts
  • Best for people struggling with joint pain
  • Comes with a mesh upper material for breathability and a higher ankle to offer a snug-like fit
  • Available in different colors
  • True to fit size
  • Cons
  • Looks bulky

4. Best for High-Intensity Interval Training: Reebok HIIT Tr Cross Trainer

For men:

Reebok Men's HIIT TR Cross Trainer, Black/White/Radiant Red, 10.5 M US
  • Mesh upper
  • Designed for: HIIT workouts
  • Comfortable, supportive feel
  • Lightweight EVA foam cushioning
  • Tongue pull for easy pull-on

For Women:

Reebok Women's HIIT Training Shoe Cross Trainer, porcelain/white/vector Navy, 8.5 M US
  • Mesh upper
  • Designed for: HIIT workouts
  • Comfortable, supportive feel
  • Lightweight EVA foam cushioning
  • Tongue pull for easy pull-on

If your workouts require you to burn fat at very high rates, you need a reliable pair of workout shoes to accompany you to the gym. These Reeboks are your best workout shoes for HIIT, cross-fit, and polymetric workouts.

The workout shoes come with a rubber sole that features mixed outsole patterns for stability on the ground in every direction and interval. The EVA midsole also offers ample cushioning to last you a long time while preventing muscle and joint injury.

It is a slip-on shoe with a breathable upper and a pillow around the collar for a natural, comfortable, and secure fit. The shoe is available in different colors with a true-to-fit size for men and women.

  • Pros
  • Lightweight
  • Flexible rubber sole with EVA midsole for extra cushioning to absorb landing impact
  • True-to-fit
  • Best workout shoes for HIIT workouts and other high-intensity workouts
  • Comes in a slip-on design
  • Features a breathable upper that also features a pillow around the collar for a better fit
  • Mixed tread patterns for better traction
  • Available in different colors former and women
  • Cons
  • Tough to find the right size for wide feet

5. Best for Lifting Weights: Adidas Powerlift 4

For men:

adidas Men's Powerlift 4 Cross Trainer, Black/Black/Solar Gold, 12
  • adidas male cross trainer
  • The adidas brand has a long history and deep-rooted Connection with sport. Everything we do is rooted in sport
  • Driven by a relentless pursuit of innovation as well as decades of accumulating sports science expertise, we cater for all, from elite professional athletes and teams to any individual who wants to...

For Women:

adidas Women's Powerlift 4 Cross Trainer, Dark Green/Dark Green/Dark Green, 8 M US
  • Narrow fit
  • Lace closure with hook and loop strap
  • Strong canvas upper
  • Anti slip rubber outsole, Textile lining, Reinforced heel counter

If you do a lot of weight lifting during your workouts, you will need a shoe that offers stability and a better feel of the ground. Mobility plays a big role when lifting weights and also incorporating several fast-paced movements in your routine.

This pair of shoes from Adidas is one of the best weightlifting shoes you can find and much better if you need to perform squats with the workout. It comes with a grippy rubber sole that improves torque for better mobility.

The shoe features a 15mm heel made using EVA foam for soft cushioning and stability. The shoe upper is made with durable canvas and features a mid-foot strap that helps generate torque as you lift. In addition, the shoe comes with a flexible forefoot so your toes can wiggle freely as you work out.

You can find this lace-up shoe in different colors and sizes, but you may struggle with it if you have wide feet.

  • Pros
  • Made with durable canvas
  • Rubber sole for grip and torque
  • Lace-up design with a velcro strap for the most secure fit
  • EVA heel for stability
  • Best workout shoes for squats and lifting
  • Affordable
  • Available in different colors and sizes for men and women
  • Cons
  • Not ideal for wide feet

How to Buy the Best Workout Shoes

Workout shoes are also known as cross-trainers or cross-training shoes. They are specially engineered to provide safety, stability, and comfort while you make fast-paced multi-directional movements when exercising.

It would help if you had workout shoes when you hit the gym unless you intend to run on the treadmill, in which case a pair of running shoes should suffice. Here are some important reasons you need to invest in the best workout shoes for sessions with your personal trainer and why you should not use your running shoes for the workouts.

  1. Cross-training shoes offer support for multi-directional movements, while your running shoe will only support a linear movement. The support is dictated by the shoe upper design as well as tread patterns.
  2. The best shoes for the gym have firmer midsoles for better stability when performing different exercises like weightlifting, box jumps, and more. A running shoe has a softer sole that could wobble to cause injury.
  3. Workout shoes have thinner soles and a low heel-to-toe drop so you can feel the ground beneath you for better movement control. Running shoes come with a higher drop and thick midsoles, thus not ideal when you need to control your movements.
  4. A workout shoe is best for more exercises, including short runs, sprinting, dancing, walking, and even wearing to work. Running shoes are most appropriate for running and fashion wear only.

General Features of the Best Workout Shoes

While you need to determine the exact workout routines you need the shoes for, it is best to ensure that any pair of workout shoes has the following features.

a) Lightweight

The best workout shoe needs to be lightweight for the exercises you need to perform. Consider the weight of the sole; if it has a thick midsole, this will increase the weight of the shoe.

Additionally, a mesh upper will be the most lightweight upper material, and it will also encourage breathability and flexibility.

b) Breathable

A breathable shoe comes with an upper material that allows maximum air circulation to keep your feet dry and comfortable even when worn with socks. The best breathable uppers use a mesh material.

On the other hand, a training shoe upper can be made of leather but feature tiny holes that let in air. In some cases, you can find an upper made of a durable canvas material that will also be very breathable.

c) Firm midsole

Most workout shoes need to provide stability and comfort. As such, one area to pay close attention to is the midsole, which needs to be thin but firm. A firm midsole reduces the height of the sole and thus, gives you a better feel of the ground so you can control your movements.

Most shoes will come with an EVA or REVlite midsole. Both materials are lightweight and pave the way for a flatter sole, so you won't wobble to hurt your ankles when working out.

d) Firm grip

Workout shoes are best for fast-paced exercises. However, in the course of these workouts, you can easily lose control of your foot or landing speed, leading to a serious fall and injury. Therefore, it would be best to look for an outsole that holds on to the ground firmly so you won't slide to reduce this risk.

Most shoes will come with a rubber or synthetic sole for traction. Additionally, the sole should come with a suitable tread pattern to support different lateral movements while improving grip.

Shoe Features for Different Workout Routines

a) A shoe for gym workouts

Your gym workout shoe is an everyday sneaker you can wear to perform various exercises inside a gym setting. For example, you can use them to run on the treadmill, HIIT workouts, and polymetric exercise. The following features will be better for your fitness goals.

  1. A cushioned sole for stability and high impact protection
  2. A firm-grip outsole to prevent sliding
  3. A breathable upper material so you can exercise without sweating
  4. The shoe should be lightweight so it won't drag your feet down to impede your exercises
  5. A softly padded ankle collar to prevent blisters
  6. A wide toe box to prevent friction

b) A shoe for lifting heavy weights

If you perform Olympic weightlifting, you need a durable shoe with the following features.

  1. Sturdy upper material with enough ventilation
  2. A treaded sole for maximum grip on the ground
  3. An elevated heel for torque
  4. The shoe will need to weigh a little more than basic workout shoes
  5. The steadiest fit features including a lace-up design and a midfoot strap

c) A shoe for HIIT or Cross-fit training

When your workout depends on different rapid movements for effectiveness, you need a shoe with features that provide stability, safety, comfort and help you advance to the next exercise with ease. These are the most important features of a cross-fit shoe.

  1. Needs a firm and flat sole for a better ground feel
  2. A low heel-to-toe drop
  3. A breathable and flexible upper material
  4. A wide toe box
  5. Soft padding on the ankle collar and tongue
  6. A patterned tread for extra grip
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jacky chou


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