The 35 Best Workout Shoes for Every Type of Fitness Exercise

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If you’re doing it right, nothing needs to make working out harder than it already is. Maxing out your lungs and pushing muscles to failure? Fine. Skipping a sprint because your shoes are giving you blisters? No need.

There are one million types of workouts to do and just as many workout shoes to do them in. “If you use the improper shoe or it’s not fitted properly, you’ll start getting blisters and infections and you can lose your toenails,” says Mark Mendeszoon, a podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon based in Ohio. It’s important to get gym shoes that are meant to handle the type of force you’re putting on them.

“Different types of movements put different kinds of strain on your body,” he says. “Running sneakers, for example, don’t make for great weightlifting shoes.” These workout shoes are designed for different types of impact. Running shoes are more reactive when they hit the ground, where weightlifting shoes are meant to keep you stable and secure on the ground.

What to look for in the best workout shoes

When shopping for the best workout shoes, consider whether you have any concerns like high arches, wide feet or bad knees. Although any shoe is not a panacea, the right shoe can help minimize pain. There’s also a ton of anecdotal experience out there on the best gym shoes from top brands, like Nike’s top running shoes and Adidas’ best running shoes for marathon training. Tried and true is the way to go here.

If you have flat feet, go for a wider-lasted workout shoe, which will give your foot room to move instead of feeling pinched, says pedorthist Michael Fishkin of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. And anyone with bunions should look for gym shoes that have arch support and plenty of stability, says Dr. Glenn Davison, owner of Advanced Podiatry in New York City and New Jersey and a fellow in the American College of Foot and Ankle Surgeons.

For ankle support, look for high-top shoes with extra stability. If you’re trying to be gentle to your feet, choose orthopedic sneakers with firm, stable cushioning — these can be some of the most comfortable sneakers for women and most comfortable shoes for men around, too.

Supporting your feet also means supporting your health. For those who need them, there are shoes for diabetics that promote circulation and prevent irritation. And if you’re searching for the best walking or running shoes for plantar fasciitis, you’ll find no shortage of styles with supportive arches and that keep your foot in a neutral position.

The best way to find your fit, says Mendeszoon, is to go to a local shoe store. Not only can you get a second opinion on different levels of support or stability details, but you can also try on the gym shoe and see how your foot feels in it first. If you’re not comfortable in your shoe, it’s not the shoe for you.

Another must for reducing and preventing foot pain is replacing your sneakers. “Shoes are only good for about 500 miles,” says Mendeszoon. “I often recommend the taco test: Take your workout shoe and try to fold it. If it folds up like a taco, it’s dead.” A shoe that’s worn down won’t give your foot support and is a recipe for overuse injury.

Maybe you’re looking for gym shoes that are less about treating pain and more about preventing any. That works, too. For CrossFit and other forms of cross-training — the preferred form of fitness for Dillon Caswell, DPT and writer and content creator at The Prehab Guys — you want shoes that can distribute force differently and provide support for different muscle groups. If you’re looking only for weightlifting shoes, for example, and not ones that you also might sprint in, you’ll want shoes that have a bit of a heel lift for optimal form. That’s different from, say, tennis shoes, where you might focus more on how grippy the sole is and how well you can move on clay in them.

There’s not one sneaker that can do everything, and there’s not one sneaker that works for everyone, says Caswell. It really comes down to how your foot feels in the shoe during movement. But whether you’re shopping for yourself or a fitness gift for your loved one, we can help by telling you what to look for in the best workout shoes for men and women and which gym shoe styles deserve your attention. Depending on your lifestyle and/or profession, these also make some of the best shoes for standing all day, too.

Asics Gel Kayano 28 Running Shoes

Best Stability Shoes 

Asics’ Gel Kayano 28 is one of the most popular running shoes around for amateurs and running vets alike. (Peep the footwear the next time you see a marathon happening. We’ll bet you run into a few pairs of these.) They’re super stable, expertly cushioned and designed for runners who tend to overpronate.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Asics

Nike Metcon 7 Training Shoes

Best Workout Shoes for Crossfit

Metcons are truly one of the best workout shoes Nike has ever made. They’re also Caswell’s shoe of choice for CrossFit workouts. “You need a shoe that you can run, jump, lift and climb in,” he says. “I tend to have a higher arch and narrow foot, and these are perfect for that.” You don’t need to start CrossFit to wear them, though. Any workout where you’re doing more than one type of movement works.

Nike Metcon 7 Training Shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

Nike Free Metcon 4 Training Shoes

Best Gym Shoes for HIIT

If that workout is heavy on quick movements, Nike’s Metcon 4 is one of the best shoes for HIIT exercises. These have a bit more cushioning for running but still have the lateral support for jumping or side-to-side movements. “The support is designed to take on this type of stress to the body,” says Medeszoon.

Nike Free Metcon 4
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

Nike Zoom Pegasus Running Shoes

Best Running Shoes for Narrow Feet

Nike’s Zoom Pegasus is one of the best running shoes for medium-to-long distance runs. They’re responsive but don’t feel too bouncy. These are especially good for folks with narrow feet. They have a bit of a snugger fit throughout, which helps secure your foot as you move, but might feel constricting to a naturally wider foot.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

Adidas Ultraboost 22 Running Shoes

Best Gym for Walking and Running

There’s no one shoe that scientifically speaking makes the best gym or workout shoe. However, if we’re talking about anecdotal evidence, Adidas Ultraboosts are hands-down one of the most beloved Adidas sneakers of all time. They feel as light as a pair of socks and are perfectly supportive. The latest model in the series, the Ultraboost 22 works in the gym but is a solid go-to walking shoe for men and women as it’s one of the best Adidas walking shoes you can buy.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Adidas

York Athletics All-Terrain Shoes

Best for Hiking

When you’re hiking, your everyday running sneaker is not going to cut it. As with the best hiking boots for men and women, look for something that has a durable sole that’s heavy on traction abilities, like this style from York Athletics. This will stop you from slipping or sliding somewhere you really don’t want to be.

York Athletics All-Terrain
CREDIT: Courtesy of York Athletics

Nike Wildhorse 7 Trail Running Shoes

Best Trail Running Shoes

And trail running, specifically, is the kind of activity that requires shoes with extra grippy soles and responsive support. Nike’s Wildhorse sneakers have both of those, as well as notable ankle support and an outdoor-friendly upper that makes them one of best Nike walking shoes, too. The overlays are welded shut to keep dirt and debris out.

Nike Wildhorse 7 Trail Running Shoe
CREDIT: Courtesy of Backcountry

Hoka One One Clifton Edge Running Shoes

Best Plush Workout Shoes 

Hoka One One shoes are part of the “maximalist” shoe category, meaning they offer a ton of support and cushioning. Many love to wear them for cardio — especially those dealing with back and knee pain. The cushioning diverts some of the impact away from those painful spots to the rest of your body. They take a bit of getting used too, though, as they sit a bit higher than your standard running shoe.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Hoka One One

Adidas 4DFWD Pulse Shoes

Best Tech-Driven Workout Shoes

Adidas’s 4DFWD shoes are a feat of engineering and one of the best Adidas gym sneakers to date. The cool lattice structure on the sole is not just for show: its 3D-printed design is made specifically to push movement forward despite downward impact. This makes them great for quick runs and any workouts that involve jumping or quick reaction times.

Adidas 4DFWD Pulse Sneakers
CREDIT: Courtesy of Adidas

Under Armour Project Rock Training Shoes

Best Gym Shoes for Weightlifting 

When it comes to the best workout shoes for weight training and cardio, Dwayne The Rock Johnson has you covered. Johnson’s Project Rock collaboration with Under Armour is optimal for in-gym training. The shoes are made to keep your feet secure and stable and offer plenty of traction to prevent slippage.

Under Armour Project Rock
CREDIT: Courtesy of Under Armour

Reebok Legacy Lifter 2 Weightlifting Shoes

Also Consider for Weightlifting 

Weightlifting shoes are made for lifting heavy and not for any activities that are bouncy. “Lifts in weightlifting shoes are really helpful when you’re trying to reach a certain level of depth,” says Caswell. Like with the Reebok Legacy Lifter 2, the heel is raised, which means they do some stability work for you. But like any shoe, don’t over-rely on these pairs to give you proper form. “You want to make sure you’re squatting through a full range of motion outside of those shoes, too,” he says. “They can be super helpful for training but they shouldn’t be a crutch.”

Reebok Weightlifting Shoe
CREDIT: Courtesy of Reebok

Altra Escalante Running Shoes

Best Workout Shoes for Wide Feet

If you ever thought your feet might be swelling during a workout, you’re not wrong. This is often why you might hear people recommend a shoe that’s roomy or has a wide toe box. Altra sneakers are a favorite for the latter. There’s extra room around your toes so they can stay in a neutral position for as long as you run.

Altra Escalante
CREDIT: Courtesy of Zappos

Mizuno TF-01 Cross-Training Shoes

Best Gym Shoes for Speed and Agility Work

The best sneaker for speed and agility work is something lightweight that won’t pull you down as you move. Mizuno’s trainers are made to keep you feeling light on your feet, with some built-in support for preventing rolled ankles. These don’t have a ton of cushioning you might crave for a run, but they’re great to wear for strength training activities.

Mizuno TF-01
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III Shoes

Best Minimalist Workout Shoes 

In contrast to maximalist shoes are barefoot, minimalist styles. “Minimalist shoes are going to distribute force differently,” says Caswell. “They will place more force on the foot and ankle.” If you’re used to working out in a more cushioned shoe, take some time to prep for wearing a pair like the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III. Start slowly and build capacity, Caswell says. It’s easy to go too hard too fast in a shoe with minimal support — but they also bring you back to the natural pattern your foot moves in.

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III
CREDIT: Courtesy of Vivobarefoot

On Cloud X Training Shoes

Also Consider for HIIT workouts

On Cloud’s shoes are most noted for their signature foam outsoles, which are meant to provide a responsive feel through any range of motion — up and down, side to side, forward and backward. They’re super lightweight and generally easy to wear. If you’re stocking up on shoes that are good for HIIT workouts and other forms of strength training, we suggest adding this one into your rotation.

On Cloud X
CREDIT: Courtesy of Backcountry

New Balance 796 V2 Hard Court Tennis Shoes

Best Tennis Shoes

Not all forms of fitness happen inside a gym, and sneakers work double time here. Tennis sneakers, for example, minimize risk of injury and maximize performance by supporting tennis-specific movements. With these types of footwear, like the New Balance 796 V2, it’s all about lightweight cushioning underfoot — which absorbs some force but allows you to cut back from a sprint quickly, too. You’re not going to get this kind of specific force support in any old standard workout shoe.

New Balance 796 V2 Hard Court Tennis Shoe
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Converse Chuck Taylor Sneakers

For heavy lifting, Mendeszoon points to shoes that are as flat as possible. This is because when you’re lifting something heavy, you want stable contact with the ground. One favorite for big-time lifters: Chuck Taylors. They’re as flat as possible and at $55, they’re one of the more affordable shoes you can buy.

Converse Chuck Taylors
CREDIT: Courtesy of DSW

Reebok Nano X1 Training Shoes

Reebok has done a lot of work in perfecting its multifunctional shoe collection, and it shows in the Nano series, including the latest X1. It’s perfect for HIIT workouts and circuit training where you want to move comfortably in all directions. In those workouts, heel clips are important. They make sure your foot stays stable in the shoe and doesn’t slip and crease the heel.

Reebok Nano X1 Training Shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of Reebok

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 Shoes

Also Consider for Wide Feet

If you have wider feet, Brooks are one of the easiest shoes to shop. The brand makes one of its core shoes, the Adrenaline GTS 21, in a wide-fit option. As a bonus, these have earned the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance, which means podiatrists have worn, tested and confirmed these shoes promote good foot health.

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Adidas Hog 3 Boxing Shoes

Best for Boxing

You can get away with some light boxing training in your go-to gym shoe, but once you start training more seriously, you’ll want something made to do the job. The number one consideration here for proper boxing shoes is ankle support. It’s as important as it is in basketball sneakers, however boxing doesn’t put the same kind of downward force on your joints as occurs when shooting hoops or running the court. Instead of feeling clunky with ankle support, Adidas’ Hog 3 is light as air.

Adidas Boxing Hog 3 Shoe
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

APL TechLoom Breeze Sneakers

Don’t sleep on workout shoes for things other than working out, especially if you’re prone to foot pain. “I’m a fan of running shoes for this,” says Mendeszoon. “We could put almost anyone with some foot pain into a running shoe just for walking, and they’ll start feeling better.” The APL TechLoom Breeze might be better than shoes marketed as walking shoes, he points out. That’s because unlike most walking shoes, these aren’t made of leather, aren’t cut narrow and don’t stretch out over time.

APL TechLoom Breeze
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nordstrom

Saucony Guide 14 Running Shoes

Best Workout Shoes for Flat Feet

For someone who tends to have a flatter foot, Mendeszoon recommends looking for gym shoes with motion control and durability. These Saucony sneakers are made to do just that: support your foot through a healthier range of motion than your naturally flat foot might allow. Wear them for all types of cardio —running, elliptical work and jumping rope.

Saucony Guide 14
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Adidas Fluidflow Running Shoes

Best Budget Workout Shoes 

This Adidas sneaker is a top-rated choice on Amazon with next-level reviews to match. The upper is lightweight and breathable so you can wear them all day long without getting too hot. Priced at under $100, this no-frills style is perfect for those who don’t need all the bells and whistles but require a shoe that will get the job done.

Adidas Fluidflow Sneaker
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Under Armour Hovr Rise 2 Cross-Training Shoes

Best Gym Shoes for Cross-Training

These Under Under cross-trainers are maybe one of the best shoes for hitting the gym and feeling bouncy. They’re incredibly lightweight, making cross-training feel as minimally painful as possible — resulting in no extra weight during jumping lunges or while bear crawling across the gym. They don’t have a ton of the cushioning you might want for longer runs, but they are great for quick ones.

Under Armour HOVR Rise 2 Cross Trainer
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Asics Gel-Excite 7 Running Shoes

You can bet on Asics to make a good running shoe, and in keeping Caswell’s advice on emphasizing variability, this is one place to do just that. The Asics Gel-Excite 7 is the perfect shoe for jogs and medium-length runs. It’s responsive and supportive but not so cushioned that you feel weighed down.

Asics Gel-Excite 7 
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Akk Athletic Walking Shoes

Best Gym for Foot Pain

These Akk Walking shoes are a crowd favorite, and come highly recommended for knee and plantar fasciitis pain from Amazon reviewers. They’re lightweight and deflect force away from those pain points without making you feel like you’re wearing heavy orthotics. These are great buys for traveling, too. They fit easily in your suitcase and are just as useful for walking tours as they are for working out in your hotel gym.

Akk Athletic Walking Shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Adidas Women’s Edge Lux Running Shoes

Best Woman-Specific Workout Shoe

Sometimes, the best workout shoes are ones that have a low barrier to entry. Adidas’ Edge Lux is affordable, easy to put on and easy to slip off. It’s a great basic gym shoe and one of the coolest-looking shoes on the market, so you won’t feel goofy getting your pain-free steps in.

Adidas Women's Edge Lux
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 2 HIIT Class Shoes

Nike’s Superrep sneakers are designed specifically for HIIT workouts and circuit training. You can see the bounce ability just in the structure of the shoe — that high heel gives you exactly the kind of rebound you’d hope it would. The arc on the side of the shoe also provides the lateral support you need in side-to-side movements while also ensuring your feet don’t feel weighed down.

Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 2
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

NoBull Mid Training Shoes

Best Indoor Workout Shoes

NoBull designed a shoe that’s meant to keep you feeling grounded. These trainers are super lightweight and easy to wear, making them one of the best indoor workout shoes you can get. The mid height here is helpful if you like the feeling of more security around your ankles, which can also help you focus more on your workout.

NoBull Mid Trainers
CREDIT: Courtesy of Nobull

Nike Crater Impact Shoes

Nike Crater Impact shoes are noticeable for their, well, crater-looking midsoles. But they’re not just a style move; they’re also made from at least 25% recycled materials. They’re light on your feet and light on earthly impact. It’s a pretty lightweight shoe, best for low-impact workouts or long walks.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

Vans SK8-Hi Shoes

Similar to Converse, Vans SK8-His are a great bet for inexpensive, super-flat shoes. Mendeszoon points to shoes that get your feet as close to the ground as you can for the most natural stance while lifting. They won’t hinder your form but they still offer more protection than lifting barefoot would.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Vans

Nike Quest 4 Running Shoes

Nike’s Quest 4 is a great sneaker to have around in your car or at the office for when the last-minute workout mood strikes. They have a bit of comfy cushioning but the materials aren’t quite as durable as some of the other Nikes are. Keep them for quick runs or HIIT sessions.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Nike

Adidas Terrex Hiking Shoes

Adidas’ Terrex hiking shoes were made for getting outdoors and staying there. Comfortably, of course. Not only do they have a ton of traction from the all-terrain outsole, but they’re also a sure bet for those looking for added ankle support. Dr. Dan Geller recommends high-tops to keep ankles nice and stable.

Adidas Terrex Hiking Shoes
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

Vionic Walker Classic Shoes

Vionic Walker Classics, like all Vionic shoes, were designed with the knowledge of foot experts. Podiatrists helped develop the biomechanical insole (which is removable and replaceable) for the most supportive, neutral foot positioning possible. Wear these all day long, as gym shoes and not.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Vionic

Reebok Flexagon Force 3 Cross-Training Shoes

Reebok’s Flexagon Force 3 are super lightweight and give you the kind of freedom that working out barefoot does, without all the risk of stubbing your toes. Those grooves you can see in the forefront help make the shoe move flexible without getting in your way. The ankle comes up just a bit higher than a low-top (although not quite a mid) if you like the feeling of a little more stability.

Reebok Flexagon Force 3
CREDIT: Courtesy of Amazon

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