Best Gym Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance
So you’re motivated to go the gym! That’s great! Whether you work out 5 times a week or you’re just getting back in shape, gym workouts are a great way to get exercise and keep you at your healthiest, happiest self. Whether you’re new to the weights or a workout beast, you want to have a good pair of gym shoes. Two pairs, if your workouts are regular so that you can air them out in between exercise time. A good pair of gym shoes don’t have to be expensive but should be able to handle the type of workout you’re into.
We’ve collected 10 of the best designs for a great all-around workout. They’ll handle some weights, some cardio, some high-intensity (or low, it’s all up to you) classes, some high-impact (or modified) work. Get ready to meet your new favorite pair of gym shoes!
In a Hurry? The test winner after 6 hrs of research
Excellent Lateral Stability
Roomy Toe Box
- Puma Tazon 6
- Asics Gel-Kayano 24
- Nike Revolution 4
- Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0
- Adidas Energy Cloud
- New Balance 608v4
- Nike Air Huarache
- Adidas Alphabounce
- Nike Air Monarch IV
- TESLA Knit Pattern
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
1. Puma Tazon 6
Excellent Lateral Stability
Roomy Toe Box
This cross-trainer is a solid design for those with flat feet, or who need some midfoot stabilization, or for beginners who want a good, stable platform to perform those sudden side-to-side moves that come in classes like HIIT and Zumba. It is a very comfortable and surprisingly light sneaker that fits a little wide and has a lot of room in the toe box.Read more
The stabilizing shank in the sole of the Tazon 6 gives you stability from side to side as well as the heel to toe, keeping your feet planted where you want them when you want them. The shank is made from TPU, keeping the sneaker lighter than other stabilizers so your feet will not become as fatigued.
The sockliner in this cross trainer is made of Puma’s EcoOrthoLite material that will provide a great deal of comfort and optimal fit. The sockliner will also keep your feet dry and cool, which is a bonus if you have sweaty feet.
The Puma Tazon 6 gives you stability and security against injury, is very comfortable and will provide you with good shock absorption, so you’ll feel tired before your feet do.
2. Asics Gel-Kayano 24
Ample Arch Support
Good for Overpronators
Sizes Run Small
Rubber Outsole Falls Apart
The Asics Gel-Kayano 24 is a great choice for the overpronator or anyone else who wants a little more stability through the sole. The design features a number of technologies that are created to ensure a stable, secure fit, keep your foot in place, provide comfort and bounce back, and guide your foot through a natural gait without the need for heavy rocker bottom footwear. In the Gel-Kayano 24, you get to focus on your form and getting through your burpees, instead of focusing on your footwear.Read more
This ASICS sneaker features a FluidRide midsole, which provides you with good cushioning and lighter weight. You also get a good bounce back from this midsole and its design ensures it can take a pounding and last.
The Kayano 24 also features a FluidFit upper. The mesh stretches in multiple directions with reinforcements that will adapt to your foot. The fit is glove like, allows you to move and though designed to be flexible, will provide support throughout your workout.
These sneakers great if you have flat feet and want to avoid the aches and pains of an overly flexible design. ASICS’ Impact Guidance System will lead the foot through a natural gait from the moment your heel touches down until the toes lift off again while still fitting and feeling comfortable.
3. Nike Revolution 4
Soft Foam Midsole
Breathable Mesh Upper
If like me, you are a minimalist, a lightweight option like the Nike Revolution 4 is the way to go. This design uses Nike’s athletic wear making experience to create a lightweight but secure fit that is breathable and comfortable. It is designed as a runner so it also has great traction and responsive feedback – great for your cardio days, and those calorie-burning high-impact classes.Read more
The Revolution 4 features a light, breathable mesh upper that uses underlays to provide structure and support. It also has a soft foam midsole that is responsive but equally lightweight, making for a sneaker that will not tire your feet out during a workout.
The soft foam midsole does more than provide comfort; its spring provides responsiveness on impact. Combined with the molded pods on the outsole, you experience a spring back effect that increases your responsiveness and reduces the work your legs and feet do during high-impact exercise. What are you waiting for? Sign up for that Zumba class!
For such a light and responsive design, which still provides support and structure to your foot, the Nike Revolution 4 is practically a steal. It’s also a very good runner, so if you want a sneaker that serves a dual purpose, this is the one to look for.
4. Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0
External Heel Counter
High-Abrasion Resistant Outsole
The Reebok Crossfit Nano is designed for the Crossfit crew and makes an excellent, durable indoor workout option. The outsole can handle just about anything with ease, and the extra support in the heel means you can get in a high-impact workout and lots of lifting without killing your feet.Read more
The outsole on the Nano 8.0 is abrasion resistant and can grip multiple surfaces so you can climb a rope, do burpees, and lift with confidence that your feet will stay where you need them to be. Abrasion resistance also equals durability so these sneakers will last through your tougher workouts.
The Reebok Nano 8.0 is designed with an external heel counter. This stabilizes the heel and creates a stable platform for lifting weights or any other activity where you want to protect the heel from movement. At the same time, the low cut of the design allows for flexibility when you need it.
When it comes to the Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0, you are getting a great design that will take you from weight training to CrossFit with ease and, because of the durable build, will last for many seasons to come.
5. Adidas Energy Cloud
Wrap-Around Cage for Support
Cushioned Tongue & Collar
Durable ADIWEAR Outsole
Size Runs Small
Many runner designs tend to double as great gym options because of the stability and cushioning that they offer and the Energy Cloud is no different. Manufactured by Adidas, experts in athletic gear for more than a century, this sneaker comes with Adidas durability, excellent cushioning and a supportive cage in a breathable package. Dry, comfortable feet that do not ache after a workout = exercise goals achieved.Read more
First, the mesh upper for breathability keeps your feet dry throughout a strenuous workout; a cushioned tongue and collar provide comfort on top; the Cloudfoam midsole gives a lot of cushioning, and the supportive cage prevents strain that can come from weak footwear. You’ll get that extra workout in this week, no worries.
The Energy Cloud offers a very durable ADIWEAR outsole. The upper is also engineered for light weight and durability. This design will be a reliable companion workout after workout.
When it comes to durability, the Adidas Energy Cloud is unbeatable. Its light weight and cushioning will serve you well in the as you exercise, while the wrap-around cage offers you a locking fit.
6. New Balance 608v4
Leather or Suede Upper
Padded Collar & Tongue
The New Balance 608v4 trainer is perfect for the gym. It can take a beating on a treadmill, in the weight room, and in an aerobics class. It is an extremely comfortable and breathable sneaker with a well-compressed midsole that will give you some bounce back and leave your body, not your feet, feeling well worked out. New Balance has more than a century of experience building athletic footwear and with the 608v4, it definitely shows.Read more
The New Balance 608v4 comes with a padded collar and tongue which add to the overall comfort. For those with high arches, ankle issues or swelling, the added padding is a great feature. The sneaker will continue to hug as a good trainer should, without rubbing or aggravating the top of your foot.
With all the extra padding and suede or leather upper, you would think your feet would sweat in these sneakers. However, they are very breathable and feature a textile lining that is also breathable and moisture wicking. You get solid support and comfort while you keep your feet cool and dry.
These New Balance trainers are a real value for the comfort and support you receive in a sneaker that will take you anywhere you want to be. You can be 100% confident that the 608v4 will support you and protect your feet no matter what your exercise plan is.
7. Nike Air Huarache
Nike Air Cushioning
Outer Cage for Lockdown
Elastic Heel Strap
This runner hit the market in 1991, changing the look and feel of running footwear forever. It’s been popular ever since and despite its retro appearance, it makes for an excellent gym choice. The lining of this runner shapes to your foot and ankle for superior comfort and support. The design is so comfortable and efficient that it soon moved from the roads to basketball courts and finally back to the streets as a fashion icon.Read more
All Nike Air designs have air cushioning, air sole technology that keeps the shoes lightweight and provides for high levels of cushioning and comfort. This sneaker can take a lot of high-impact activity while keeping your feet from fatigue, aches, and pains.
The outer cage and elastic heel strap of the Huarache give it its unique look but also provide support and stability. While the inner lining is meant to mold to the foot for comfort and a fit, the outer cage ensures lateral stability to keep your foot in place where and when it needs to be.
The Nike Huarache has been around for almost 30 years. Its staying power comes from its comfort and performance which will serve you well come workout time. You won’t regret investing in this iconic option!
8. Adidas Alphabounce
Adidas Bounce Midsole
Rubber Grippy Sole
Molded EVA Heel Clip
All Day Comfort
Narrow Toe Box
With a name like Alphabounce, you should expect a design with exceptional shock absorption and feedback and this is exactly what this Adidas runner delivers. Made for road running, it is also an excellent design for indoor exercising. It has a lightweight upper, a second-skin like feel, excellent grip, and comfort for any activity.Read more
The Adidas Bounce midsole provides you with energized feedback no matter what sport you are involved in, all day long. The midsole pushes back with each impact giving you a response that is exceptional. Whether you’re running on the treadmill, on the weight machines or in an aerobics class, your feet will not feel any fatigue.
The mesh upper on the Alphabounce is engineered to be lightweight and breathable and to fit your foot like a sock, providing both comfort and support. A textile lining on the inside ensures that the snug fit is irritating and you also have a molded EVA heel clip for extra support where your foot makes the most impact.
The Adidas Alphabounce is an excellent gripper, fits like a sock, supports your feet and provides you with comfort for long hours of working out or all day if you wear it as an everyday sneaker.
9. Nike Air Monarch IV
Minimal Lightweight Design
Good for High Arches
Varying Width Options
Helps with Stability
Wide Options Not Wide Enough
The ultimate in comfortable trainers, the Nike Air Monarch IV will make your workout less strenuous on the feet. Pound the treadmill hard, lift more than you did last week and sign up for an extra spin class or two – these sneakers will stand up to all of that. You’ll be headed for the showers before the sneakers give up and you’ll get there with dry, cool, comfortable feet.Read more
A great workout design feels light on your feet and is designed to perform in the least restrictive way possible for your needs and your plan. The Monarch IV has a very minimal design that allows it to be comfortable while maintaining flexibility. This is a design that is great for those with high arches because of the minimal design and excellent cushion.
The design of this sneakers offers a very flexible sole that is engineered to maximize your ability to move and to enhance that movement. The overall feel is fairly light and the cutout sole makes it even lighter, making your natural movement that much easier.
With the Nike Air Monarch IV, you get a design that is flexible and comfortable – one that you will be pleased to take to the gym over and over again. Nike obviously put a lot of thought into this trainer which you can take advantage of at a very reasonable price point.
10. TESLA Knit Pattern
Multi-Directional Groove Outsole
No Motion Control
Laces Too Short
The TESLA Knit Pattern is a stylish athletic design that will make a solid option for its exceptional shock absorption, good cushioning, flexibility, and breathability. This sneaker can handle weights, high impact cardio, spin class or whatever else you want to subject it to, on any surface and any terrain. The sneaker fits true to size as well, so you can be confident in ordering your regular size.Read more
This TESLA sneaker features a polyurethane upper for security on the sides of the feet along with a low-profile design and a non-rubbing fit leaving your feet comfortably in place. Extra padding at the heel and a well-ventilated upper adds to the comfort levels.
The flex groove sole on the TESLA begins with the hydro-grip outsole. The grooves are multi-directional, which means that you have the flexibility to move side to side suddenly without losing balance or grip. Whether you’re playing 1 on 1 in the indoor basketball court or getting a spin class in, this sneaker will keep up.
The TESLA Knit Pattern is a fantastic workout sneaker that is stylish enough for everyday wear as well. The pull-on heel loop also prevents crushing of the heel counter, increasing the life of the design significantly.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
The gym is one of those places where stability makes the difference between optimal performance and a sloppy, hazardous one. No matter the type of training you’ve undertaken, you can’t afford footwear that fails to hold a stable position under tension.
A design’s stability depends on a number of factors. For example, adequate support is critical in order to execute the proper form of an exercise while remaining steady. A stable midsole is also important for this purpose.
A supportive option prevents your feet from assuming unnatural positions or overpronating. Of course, it goes without saying that you should definitely be familiar with the exercises you’re performing and watch your form at all times, but sometimes we all need a little extra help in the form of supportive footwear.
Different disciplines call for different levels of support. Weight training may require more support and stability than CrossFit which requires more than light training on weight machines or a stationary bike. When choosing a design, consider its purpose and what you plan to focus on during your workouts. If you’re only interested in weight training, for example, check out our list of the best options for weight training. If you’re interested in a general workout, each of the items we’ve talked about here will provide just the right amount of support that you want or need.
When looking for stability and support, it is also important to consider whether or not you suffer from any foot-related ailments. For example, people with flat feet need a stiffer design which provides great stability through the sole, while those with high arches need a more cushioned option that is flexible and will not rub against the tops of the feet.
It would be wise to answer all of these questions - about the exercise type and the condition of your feet - before you commit to a type of support that will suit you.
Generally, footwear manufacturers opt for a lighter design even for casual options. There’s a pretty simple reason behind this: the lighter the shoe, the less effort is required to move it. A performance design involves much more movement than casual footwear so it’s expected that footwear meant for aerobic purposes is lighter.
Now, not all of the items we’ve talked about are designed for aerobics. Powerlifting footwear, for example, don’t need to be as light as CrossFit options. They’re engineered for very specific movements and may not require as much minimalism. Footwear meant for aerobic movements must have a design optimized to offer the best performance at the lowest weight. However, you should never give up weight if it also means giving up other important performance factors, like safety, protection, stability or cushioning.
Too much minimalism can affect the ability of a design to deal with the tension of heavy weight training, for example, which will result in much quicker deterioration (or even failure during training).
Look for midsoles that are made of lightweight material but can still stand up to the work you intend to use it for. Look for uppers that are also lightweight but have features that improve fit and stability without the bulk. And remember, the more weight and impact you intend the shoe to withstand, the heavier it may need to be.
Midsoles often define the kind of activity a design is suitable for. In a running or CrossFit options, for example, the main function of a midsole is to absorb shock and reduce oscillation of both muscles and bones.
When looking for footwear for indoor workouts, you must look for a midsole that is suitable for the exercises you’ll perform. You may get away with hitting the gym in running sneakers, but this may be a terrible idea both for your performance and the sneakers if your focus is weight training, for example. Your footwear must have a midsole that is able to endure the kind of training you’re enduring. Not only for the sake of performance quality, but also for the durability of your footwear and the health of your feet.
Weightlifting with footwear that lacks a strong midsole is possibly the worst thing you can do when it comes to indoor workouts. An option that is not designed to deal with weight training will fail to control all the force generated by the weight you’re training with. This comes with a number of consequences. If your training involves working with significant weight, consider purchasing a pair of weight training footwear for that aspect of your workout.
If you’re planning to do any training at all, whether it’s aerobic or anaerobic, you want footwear that can deal with the shock. However, aerobic exercises and anaerobic exercises generate different types of shock, and it’s important to know what kind of absorption you need. For the purposes of our list, we’re dealing with both impact shock and lower end compression shock from weight training.
High-impact exercises are those in which your feet consistently strike the surface, applying force against the ground rather than just standing on it. Exercises like jumping jacks, rope jumps, sprints, and box jumps produce a lot of impact energy. There are two key things to consider in these types of exercise; the force of each impact, and the continuity or persistence of it.
Jumping from an elevated surface and landing on your feet will generate a larger amount of force than running. However, running is more consistent; the impact is not as strong, but it happens more frequently. Before buying workout footwear you should consider both the impact force and impact intensity of the exercise you’re planning on performing.
Exercises with weight rarely involve high-impact motions, as motions like jumping, running, or even walking are not normally performed with additional weight. However, this doesn’t mean the midsole is not taking any shock during weightlifting – in fact, weight training demands a midsole that is compressible and can withstand compression types of shock.
For a good general workout, look for a midsole that is both impact shock absorbing and is not so soft and spongy that it cannot withstand moderate amounts of compression shock.
This is possibly the most underestimated feature of all footwear in general, including exercise footwear. When it comes to performance designs, the golden rule is pretty basic; you can’t perform properly when using uncomfortable shoes. It’s as simple as that.
The problem with comfort is that depends on a number of features. However, the absence of one of these features is more than enough to make a design uncomfortable enough to not be suitable for performance.
In some cases, casual footwear with poor comfort can still be wearable, although we don’t recommend wearing uncomfortable designs at all. Aside from simply being annoying, these discomforts often represent a defect of the shoe that may be harming your feet, which is why you should never ignore the comfort of footwear.
You should always keep in mind that gym designs (and any performance sneaker for that matter) are very different from casual footwear in basically all aspects. Unlike casual footwear, you most likely won’t be able to force yourself into uncomfortable performance gear. While you may physically be able to slip into the sneakers, you probably won’t be able to complete your workout routine in them and you may injure yourself trying. Discomfort is a clear sign that something is wrong with the design.
The best options are those that provide you with the adequate features for the exercise you practice while still being comfortable. Regardless of your personal preferences, a design should come with the following comfort features: breathability, cushioning, comfortable materials, and flexibility.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
You've decided to join a gym-congratulations! You're on your way to a healthier, more vibrant you.
When you're just starting out into a workout, ease into activities that your body may not be accustomed to, in order to prevent injury, as well as give your body time to build the strength and muscle memory needed to complete movements.
Weight training is great for torching calories and adding tone, while cardio can help your cardiovascular health and lose weight. Whatever your workout, make sure it's something fun that you'll enjoy, so you'll stick with it!
Ever walk into a gym to use the equipment, and notice you have giant weights to put back before you can use the equipment? Rule of thumb-when you're done on a piece of equipment, put back any weights, and wipe it down for the next person to use it. Besides, putting on those weights and taking them off of barbells burns calories as well!
Other Factors to Consider
A decent grip is something that must be present in any type of design, let alone anything related to performance. With this type of footwear, the grip can be your best friend just as much as a lack of it can be your worst enemy. A sneaker that lacks a firm grip is simply not prepared to perform.
The outsole, along with the midsole, is what really determines what activities a design can perform optimally. It’s safe to say that the outsole, and the outsole only, is the part of the construction responsible for the quality of traction and grip. Keep in mind that external circumstances, like the surface, play a role too – but we’re talking specifically about footwear elements.
The outsole must be able to provide you with a steady performance even if it’s just the forefoot that touches the surface. For this, the outsole would have to feature a certain degree of flexibility too. Additionally, the outsole should be able to engage and disengage the surface quickly with quality traction. Non-performance outsoles may slip when a sudden forceful motion is performed.
No matter how you train, how much weight you use, or what exercise you plan to do, slipping and sliding are not options when you are training – especially if you’re in a gym, where the environment includes a lot of hazardous and heavy objects that will unquestionably cause great harm to your body if you fall on them or they fall on you.
The options on our list are all great for an indoor workout and you are sure to find the one that suits you and your workout plan best. You won’t go wrong with the comfort, design, and traction of any of the choices.
There are options on the list for those with flat feet and those with high arches, for those that need a little more support in the midfoot and those who need flexibility.
Whether you focus on weights or prefer cardio or classes or just love to blow off some steam with a good session with the punching bag, you’ll find a design that suits you while allowing you the flexibility to take advantage of all your gym has to offer.
Frequently Asked Questions
The most common types are aerobic designs (CrossFit, running), Olympic lifting footwear (for very specific exercises like snatches and jerks), powerlifting, and normal weight training. However, these categories may be subdivided, just like weight training footwear can be for squats, deadlifts, or just regular weight training.
It really depends on each individual design, but we have included many options that are also suitable for running as well as for other similar aerobic exercises.
If you’re serious about your weight training, you should consider having weightlifting designs that are created specifically for the compression shock that weightlifting entails.
This is up to you. If you want to approach fitness in a professional manner, then you’ll need professional equipment for each discipline (if you practice more than one). If you’re getting started at the gym, we recommend you get familiarized with the environment and the discipline before you opt for a second pair of trainers.
The cost of this type of footwear depends on multiple things. For starters, the branding plays a big role, but the specification of a design is usually the determining factor. For instance, squatting footwear tends to be more expensive than the running type (assuming both have the same quality and branding).
Multiple items on this list are suitable for CrossFit and aerobic training in general. Furthermore, if you want to incorporate heavy weight training into your CrossFit routine, a trainer designed specifically for serious CrossFit sessions would be great for you.
When we’re talking about symptoms like a high arch or flat foot, the solution does not lie in the type of shoe but rather in the type of outsole. It’s hard for manufacturers to design a single sole that will fit everyone, especially those with high arch. The most efficient solution is to acquire a pair of insoles that are suitable for your feet.
If your trainers are not meant to deal with heavy exercises, don’t doubt that a fully-loaded deadlift will damage your design. However, users who are getting started at deadlifting may get away with using sneakers without breaking them (assuming they’re starting to lift light) – but it’s not ideal by any means.
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