Something For Everyone
The 11 Best Gym Shoes for Every Type of Workout
This guide to the best gym sneakers of 2019 covers the best shoes for weightlifting as well as mixed-use options.
Get the Right Fit
Best for Weight Lifting
- Nike Metcon 5
- Reebok Crossfit Nano 9
- Nobull Clay Trainers
- York The Henry Mesh
- UA TriBase Reign
- Mizuno TC-01 Training Shoe
- APL TechLoom Pro
- Adidas Alphabounce
- Altra HIIT XT 2
- New Balance Minimus 40 Trainer
- Reebok Fast Tempo Flexweave
When it comes down to it, so to speak, shoes can make or break your gym-going experience. And whether you’re trying to get in shape or find that extra edge in the weight room, this list has an option for you. While it can be tempting to use the same pair of sneakers for all your walking, running, jogging and gym-going, it’s ideal to have a pair of shoes that you use just for the gym. Beyond extending the life of your running shoes, swapping out that pair for a gym pair does a lot for your workouts. Shoes designed for that purpose are closer to the ground, lending more support to your muscles and joints, giving you better stability during unilateral (one-sided) moves and providing a reliable platform for lifting heavy weights.
Get the Right Fit
When purchasing true running shoes, people often leave space in the toe box for toe splay. It makes sense and can improve your running form and performance. But in weightlifting shoes, it’s best to avoid unnecessary space in the toe box. You want the sneaker to snugly fit so that there’s support for your feet during unilateral moves. The more space between your toe and the end of the sneaker, the harder your body has to work to balance, which is unnecessary. Go with an exact fit.
Best For Weight Lifting
Nike Metcon 5
The Nike Metcon is always a top contender in the gym space — the fifth iteration of this sneaker is pretty darn close to the perfect weightlifting shoe. If CrossFit is your workout of choice, or you like to hit the gym and only lift weights, this is the shoe for you. The grip is tough and will help you crush sled pushes and pulls without slipping. There’s not much cushioning between your feet and the ground, so there’s more of a stable launch point for tuck jumps and power cleans — and the sneakers are a breeze to tighten with an added sixth lace loop option. The colors are bolder with version 5.0, and if you’re heading to just lift, you can add in a Hyperlift insert under your heel (that comes with each sneaker).
Reebok Crossfit Nano 9
Reebok’s Nano is synonymous with CrossFit. Last year’s update includes a Flexweave material upper that is breathable, stable and durable. This year’s Nano For All asked the CrossFit community what updates they’d like to see and implemented them. You’ll find a CrossFit specific outsole design with MetaSplit grooves for better traction and grip. A wider-than-average toe box gives your feet room to breathe and enough toe spread for improved balance and a stronger base to push off. The unchanged minimal drop outsole keeps you close to the ground.
Nobull Clay Trainers
The speckled outsole adds a bit of a dynamic touch to these otherwise minimalist sneakers. A super-durable upper paired with a perforated microsuede tongue is breathable and comfortable for all-day wear, if you need them to last that long. High-carbon lateral and medial guards add balance support and help during rope climbs and deadlifts. The lighter colors can get dirty very quickly — especially in the weight room — but there are 20 other colors and designs to pick from that likely won’t have the same problem. Similar to the Nike Metcons, these shoes feature a 4mm drop.
York Athletics The Henry Mesh
These unisex sneakers felt light for the amount of support they provided — they weigh in at 8.3 ounces despite having the highest offset with a 9mm drop. Originally designed for fighters, the Henrys feature a mesh upper that is exceptionally breathable whether you’re box jumping, pistol squatting or throwing punches. There’s not much support underfoot, but there is enough to get through sprints and a boot camp class. The high heel pull tab didn’t rub during squats, lunges or mountain climbers. The toe box is large enough to offer room for toe splay to aid in balance, but not so wide it looks disproportionate or bulky. The textured lining is comfortable and minimizes heel slippage. And on sale at $110, this is the most affordable option on the weight lifting list — plus it looks good enough to wear all day long.
Under Armour TriBase Reign
The Under Armour TriBase Reign features a full rubber outsole that wraps around the edge of the shoe to help your grip during rope climbs. The foam midsole is firm and built for lifting, not running. I wouldn’t wear these on the treadmill for even short sprints. The abrasion-resistant upper makes for a durable shoe that’ll hold up to even the toughest of WODs.
Mizuno TC-01 Training Shoe
The TC-01 is Mizuno’s first foray into gym sneakers and they are bold. Our tester found them to be perfect for heavy lifting given the 4 mm drop and 11.8-ounce weight. These are the sneakers to pull out when you’re heading into the weight room to do squats or Olympic lifts. A knit upper and soft midsole feel comfy from the first step.
APL TechLoom Pro
These sneakers are priced more like running shoes, which makes sense since they lean slightly more in that direction. However, I wouldn’t run more than three miles in them, especially if you’re used to a more supportive stability sneaker like a Brooks or Asics model. The dual-layered woven upper is reinforced with a sock liner and has a neoprene-feeling tongue. The tongue is attached, so there’s no easy way to move it around, and the laces tie underneath — a feature introduced with aesthetics in mind — but you can pull them out and re-lace if you prefer a more traditional style. The 8mm drop is slightly more than the other shoes on this list, but there were no performance issues when completing squats, reverse lunges, mountain climbers and even spider planks.
Adidas AlphaBounce Beyond
The cushioning on these sneakers is what sets them apart from the others on the list. They’re comfortable enough to handle miles on the treadmill and are most similar to the Reebok Flexweave Fast in that you can do a variety of activities in them. The grippy Continental rubber outsole means they’ll work just as well in the grass as they will on the mats at the gym. We highly recommend these for HIIT classes like Barry’s Bootcamp, as well as for your day-to-day gym trips.
Altra HIIT XT 2
These training shoes are built to help you tackle compound lifts yet also shine on the basketball court. The dual-purpose sneakers are stable and durable thanks to a foot-friendly toe box and abrasion-resistant mesh upper. All the extra rubber that wraps up the sides helps with lateral action, so whether you’re pivoting or spin-moving past your opponent, your ankles should be safe.
New Balance Minimus 40 Trainer
These cross trainers are run-friendly and work for your everyday weight-lifting challenges — like a HIIT or strength class, or a day on the machines. Easily tackle the TRX or ski erg with these 10.2-ounce breathable sneakers that feel stable and have enough grip on the otherwise thin sole. The synthetic and mesh upper keeps your toes happy — even if you hop on the treadmill between reps and sets.
Reebok Fast Tempo Flexweave
If you’re looking for something less stiff than the Nano 9s, Reebok’s Fast Tempo Flexweave is a stellar sneaker that works for runners and gym goers. The lightweight feel doesn’t rule out how sturdy and stable it feels. Our tester liked the plush tongue and all the compliments fellow weight lifters showered. The flexweave upper won’t rip during intense CrossFit classes and the flexible outsole means you can take these out for a light run without feeling too sore the next day.
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