Best Gym Shoes Reviewed & Rated for Performance

So you’re motivated to go the gym! That’s great! Whether you workout in the gym 5 times a week for hours at a time 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. It’s about more than strong muscle, smooth joints, and a healthy heart and lungs. It’s also about the endorphins that a good workout release – easing stress, relaxing you, making sleep easy. It’s about gym friends, living longer and not having to run in the rain.

Last Updated: June 6, 2018
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By Himmatpreet Kaur:

We have improved the product listing by renewing old items with more recent options and we've also added an additional 5 shoes to the list. The update includes updated insight on each product and its features. Additionally, we've updated our criteria to follow while purchasing or looking for the best gym shoes, as well as the FAQ section.

Whether you’re new to the gym 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 gym 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. The shoes on this list are all great general purpose workout shoes for the gym. 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.

Featured Recommendations

New Balance MX608v4
  • New Balance MX608v4
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Bounce back midsole
  • Hugging fit
  • Price: See Here
Nike Revolution 4
  • Nike Revolution 4
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Soft foam insole
  • Multi-surface traction
  • Price: See Here
Tesla Knit Pattern Sport
  • Tesla Knit Pattern Sport
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Multi sport comfort
  • Flex groove sole
  • Price: See Here

We know how great a workout in the gym can make you feel and how tired and a little sore your muscles feel afterward. A great workout will leave your muscles a little spent and sore in that good way, not in a painful way. Your muscles should be sore but your feet should not and they should definitely never be painful. A great shoe helps you keep your feet supported, healthy and strong, never sore.

We’ve collected 15 of the best shoes for a great all-around gym workout. It was no easy task to find the 15 best gym shoes – there are a lot of amazing athletic shoes on the market and a lot to consider but we love a challenge around here. Without further ado, let’s meet the line-up:

 

15 Best Gym Shoes

 

1. New Balance MX608v4

This New Balance 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 shoe 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 shoes and with this MX608v4, it shows.
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Padded comfort
The New Balance MX608v4 comes with a padded collar and tongue which add to the overall comfort of the shoe. For those with high arches, ankle issues or swelling, the added padding is a great feature. The shoe will continue to hug as a good trainer should, without rubbing or aggravating your top foot.

Breathable upper
With all the extra padding and suede or leather upper, you would think your feet would sweat in these shoes. However, the shoes 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.

Cost and Value
These New Balance trainers fall nicely into the lower third of prices on our list. They are a real value for the comfort and support you receive in a sneaker that will take you anywhere you want to be in the gym. Go no holds barred confident that your shoes will support you and protect your feet.
Pros
  • Leather or suede upper
  • Non-marking sole
  • Good traction
  • Lace-up fit
  • Breathable lining
  • IMEVA Midsole
Cons
  • Fits narrow

2. Nike Revolution 4

If, like me, you like a minimalist, lightweight shoe in the gym the Nike Revolution 4 is the way to go. This shoe uses Nike’s athletic wear making experience to create a lightweight but secure fit that is breathable and comfortable. This shoe 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.
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Ultra lightweight
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 shoe that will not fatigue your feet during your workout.

Responsiveness
The soft foam midsole does more than provide comfort, its spring provides for 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!

Cost and Value
This shoe falls well within the lower third of prices on our list. For such a light and responsive shoe, that still provides support and structure to your foot, it is practically a steal. It’s also a very good runner, so if you want a shoe that serves a dual purpose, this is the one to look for.
Pros
  • Rubber sole
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Soft foam midsole
  • Responsive feedback
  • Multi-surface traction
  • Ultra lightweight
Cons
  • Sole is stiffer

3. Adidas Alphabounce

With a name like Alphabounce, you should expect a shoe with exceptional shock absorption and feedback and this is what this Adidas runner delivers. Made for road running, it is also an excellent shoe for the gym. It has a lightweight upper, a second-skin like feel, excellent grip and comfort for any activity.
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Bounce midsole
The Adidas Bounce midsole provide you with energized feedback no matter what sport you are involved in, all day long. The midsole pushes back with each impact giving you response back that is exceptional. Whether you’re running on the treadmill, on the weight machines or in an aerobics class, your feet will not fatigue in this shoe.

Second skin fit
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 not an irritating fit and you also have a molded EVA heel clip for extra support where your foot impacts the most.

Cost and Value
This shoe is in the top third of prices on our list. However, for the investment you get a shoe that is an excellent gripper, fits like a sock, supports your and provides you comfort for long hours in the gym or all day if you wear it as an everyday sneaker.
Pros
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Rubber, grippy sole
  • Bounce midsole
  • Second skin fit
  • Heel clip
  • All day comfort
Cons
  • Narrow toe box

4. Nike Free RN

4. Nike Free RN
The Nike Free RN is designed to be a minimalist running shoe and seconds as a great gym shoe. It allows your foot to move naturally, stay dry and cool and features Nike’s Flywire technology to provide a customized, secure fit. It does have a snugger fit than previous versions in the Free series, so read the sizing chart carefully before buying.
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Flywire support
The Nike Free RN features Flywire cables that work with the laces to increase support as you tighten the laces. The cables have been removed from near the top lace in the Free RN so that you have a less distracting, smoother feel as your feet move and bend.

Lightweight support
This shoe can handle your lighter gym days and short runs while giving you natural movement in a very lightweight, well fitting shoe. Your feet won’t feel fatigued

Cost and Value
This shoe falls near the top of the prices for shoes on the list. Though an investment you are getting Nike’s technology developed for athletes, including natural movement of the foot, breathability for dry, comfortable feet and the fit that their Flywire technology provides. These shoes will provide good traction while allowing you a full range of movement, no matter what you’re doing in the gym.
Pros
  • Great traction
  • Dry, cool breathability
  • Secure fit
  • All day comfort
  • Non-restrictive movement
  • Flywire construction
Cons
  • Sizes run narrow

5. Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0

5. Reebok Crossfit Nano 8.0
This shoe is designed for the Crossfit crew and makes an excellent, durable gym shoe. 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.
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Tough outsole
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 shoes will last through your tougher workouts.

Heel bootie
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 shoe allows for flexibility when you need it.

Cost and Value
These shoes are an investment, the most expensive on our list. However, you are getting a great shoe that will take you from weight training to cross fit with ease and, because of the durable build, will last.
Pros
  • Multi-surface outsole
  • External heel counter
  • NanoWeave upper
  • CMEVA midsole
  • High-abrasion outsole
  • Low-cut flexibility
Cons
  • Sizes run wide

6. Nike Downshifter 6

6. Nike Downshifter 6
The Downshifter 6 is another runner that is great in the gym. It has a very comfortable design that is made for high-impact activity. Its no-sew upper means no seams to irritate your feet. Breathable and smartly designed for good support, the Downshifter 6 is also a great value.
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Seamless design
The upper on this Nike has no seams or sewing on the inside, so you can avoid hot spots and abrasions that come in some seamed shoes. The overlays are designed to provide a custom fit and support without the need for seams.

Flexible sole
The outsole has deep flex grooves that allow you to move naturally and comfortably whether running or getting your kick on in Tae Bo class. This is not a shoe for people who need midfoot stabilizing or those who have flat feet but for everyone else, it will make a great gym shoe.

Cost and Value
This shoe is among the least expensive on our list. For that, you get a solid gym shoe that will not overly restrict your feet for those gym activities that require movement, speed, and flexibility. It is also reasonably lightweight for a supportive shoe and will keep your feet cool and dry. A great bargain for the money.
Pros
  • Upper is breathable
  • Good traction
  • No-sew design
  • Flex grooves
  • Great comfort
Cons
  • Sizes run narrow

7. ASICS Gel Kayano 24

7. ASICS Gel Kayano 24
This is a great gym shoe for the over-pronator or anyone else who wants a little more stability in through the sole. The shoe features a number of technologies that are designed 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 shoes. In the Kayano 24, you get to focus on your form and getting through your burpees, instead of focusing on your shoes.
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Fluid Ride
This ASICS shoe features a Fluid Ride midsole, which provides you with good cushioning and a lighter weight. You also get a good bounce back from this midsole and its design ensures it can take a pounding and last.

Fluid Fit
The Kayano 24 also features a Fluid Fit 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.

Cost and Value
These shoes are at the higher end of the price range but are well worth the investment, especially if you have flat feet and want to avoid the aches and pains of an overly flexible shoe. 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.
Pros
  • Impact Guidance System
  • Good traction
  • Fluid Fit Upper
  • Fluid Ride Midsole
  • Heel stability
  • Great for flat feet
Cons
  • Sizes run narrow

8. Puma Tazon 6

8. Puma Tazon 6
This cross-trainer is a solid gym shoe 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 shoe that fits a little wide and has a lot of room in the toe box.
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Stabilizing shank
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 shoe lighter than other stabilizers so your feet will not become as fatigued.

Breathable sockliner
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.

Cost and Value
This shoe is in the lower range of prices relative to the others on the list. For a reasonable price, you are getting a shoe that gives you stability and security against injury, is very comfortable and will provide you with good shock absorption, so you’ll wear out before your feet do.
Pros
  • Shock absorbing heel
  • Good traction
  • Stabilizing shank
  • EcoOrthoLite sockliner
  • Midfoot saddle
Cons
  • Sizes run small

9. Tesla Knit Pattern Sport

9. Tesla Knit Pattern Sport
This bargain is a stylish athletic shoe that will make a solid gym shoe for its exceptional shock absorption, good cushioning, flexibility, and breathability. This shoe can handle weights, high impact cardio, spin class or whatever else you want to subject it to, on any surface, in any terrain. The shoe fits true to size as well, so you can be confident in ordering your regular shoe size.
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Comfort for any sport
This Tesla sneaker features a polyurethane upper for security on the sides of the feet along with a low-profile design a non-rubbing fit and for balance, leaving your feet comfortably in place. Extra padding at the heel and a well-ventilated upper adds to the comfort of this shoe.

Flex groove sole
The flex groove sole on the Tesla begins with the hydro-grip outsole (so you can run in the rain but why would you when you can run in the gym instead?). 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 gym’s basketball court or getting a spin class in, this shoe will keep up.

Cost and Value
This is the least expensive of the shoes on our list. For an extremely reasonable price, you get a fantastic shoe for the gym 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 shoe significantly.
Pros
  • Heel loop
  • True to size fit
  • Flex grooves for movement
  • Low profile flexibility
  • Breathable knit vamp
  • Good air circulation
Cons
  • Laces are short

10. ASICS Gel Flux 4

10. ASICS Gel Flux 4
This ASICS runner is a well-cushioned shoe for the gym. It provides midfoot support, guides your foot through a natural gait cycle while remaining flexible and shock absorbing for solid movement and support through any gym activity. Although designed as a runner, this shoe can also take the weight of lifting and the speed and movement of an advanced aerobics class. No excuses anymore – time to hit that gym!
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Gel Cushioning
ASICS uses a gel cushioning system in many of their athletic shoes which provide both cushion and shock absorption. In the Gel Flux 4, you have gel throughout the rearfoot and the forefoot. Your foot will remain stable through the gait cycle while still providing for movement from side to side.

Happy midfoot
This shoe, though flexible, also provides guidance for your feet through a natural but efficient gait cycle through the Guidance Trusstic System and Guidance Line Midsole. The midfoot will hold your foot securely while distributing pressure away from the middle while providing extra cushioning in the front.

Cost and Value
This shoe falls in the mid-range of prices for shoes on the list. For a small investment though you are getting a very stable but flexible shoe that is also very durable. Its durability ensures that you get the most life for your money. You’ll also appreciate the extra cushioning that comes with the Gel Flux 4 that allows you to train harder without aches and pains in your feet.
Pros
  • Rear and forefoot cushioning
  • Shock absorbing
  • Bounce back midsole
  • Gait cycle guidance
  • Flex grooves
  • Durable outsole
Cons
  • Heel may rub

11. Nike Air Huarache

11. Nike Air Huarache
This runner hit the market in 1991, changing the look and feel of running shoes forever. It’s been popular ever since and despite it very different appearance, it makes for an excellent gym shoe. The lining of this runner shapes to your foot and ankle for superior comfort and support. The shoe 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.
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Nike Air
All Nike Air shoes have air cushioning, air sole technology that keeps the shoes lightweight and provides for high levels of cushioning and comfort. This shoe can take a lot of high-impact activity while keeping your feet from fatigue, aches, and pains.

Outer cage
The outer cage and elastic heel strap of the Huarache gives it its unique look but also provides for 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.

Cost and Value
This shoe is priced in the upper range and represents an investment. However, for the money, you get a lot of Nike know-how in a runner that has been around for almost 30 years. It’s staying power comes from its comfort and performance which will serve you well in the gym.
Pros
  • Supportive outer cage
  • Secure elastic heel strap
  • Snug inner lining
  • Moisture wicking
  • Air cushioning
Cons
  • Sizes run small

12. Adidas Energy Cloud WTC

12. Adidas Energy Cloud WTC
Many runners tend to double as great gym shoes because of the stability and cushion that they offer and the Energy Cloud WTC is no different. Manufactured by Adidas, experts in athletic gear for more than a century, this shoe comes with Adidas durability, excellent cushion and a supportive cage in a breathable shoe. Dry, comfortable feet that do not ache after a workout – gym goals achieved.
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Count the ways to comfort
First, the mesh upper for breathability keeps your feet dry through your strenuous workout, a cushioned tongue and collar provide comfort on top, the Cloudfoam midsole gives a lot of cushion and the supportive cage prevents strains from weak shoes. You’ll get that extra workout in this week, no worries.

Excellent durability
The Energy Cloud WTC offers a very durable ADIWEAR outsole. The upper is also engineered for light weight and durability. This shoe will be a reliable companion in the gym through workout after workout.

Cost and Value
These runners are at the bottom of the price range and represent an excellent value. To durability of these shoes makes them that much more a bargain. The lightweight and cushioning will serve you well in the gym while the wrap around cage offers you a locking fit.
Pros
  • Breathable mesh upper
  • Cloudfoam midsole
  • Superior cushion
  • Wraparound cage
  • ADIWEAR outsole
  • Durable upper
Cons
  • Sizes run narrow

13. Reebok Royal Trainer XT

13. Reebok Royal Trainer XT
Specifically designed for working out, this is a shoe that can keep up with your gym schedule. You’ll be mobile, agile and comfortable in a shoe that is designed to last. Like its other major competitors, Reebok is focused on athletes and has been around for more than a century because of its commitment to building gear that works for those serious about their athletics. This trainer is an excellent example of that mission.
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Memory tech sockliner
You’ll enjoy the cushioned sockliner and footbed in this shoe, which not only provides a great feel under the foot but conforms to your foot’s unique shape for that step up in comfort. Extra padding in the tongue and along the collar add to the comfort of these trainers.

Low cut flexibility
There are times in the gym when you want your ankle locked down but most of the time, you need the flexibility to move – whether you’re pushing it on an elliptical, working hard on leg day or getting your heart rate up with some intense cardio, the ability to move naturally while maintaining secure footing is important and the Royal will provide that flexible support.

Cost and Value
These shoes land near the bottom of the price list relative to the others. For the price, you really can’t go wrong with these Reeboks. You get a great gym shoe that will last and serve you well through heavy workout routines. Reasonable price, excellent performance.
Pros
  • Good traction
  • Leather upper
  • Low-cut flexibility
  • Memory-tech sockliner
  • Back tab ease
  • High-abrasion outsole
Cons
  • Sizes run small

14. Puma Formlite XT

14. Puma Formlite XT
The ultimate in comfortable trainers, the Puma Formlite XT will make your gym workout less strenuous on your feet. Pound the treadmill hard, lift more than you did last week and sign up for an extra spin class or two – these shoes will stand up to that. You’ll be headed for the showers before the shoes give up and you’ll be headed there with dry, cool, comfortable feet.
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Minimal design
A great gym shoe feels light on your feet and is designed to perform in the least restrictive way possible for your needs and your plan. The Formlite XT has a very minimal design that allows the shoe to be comfortable while maintaining flexibility. This is a shoe that is great for those with high arches because of the minimal design and excellent cushion.

Natural movement
The moveCELL design of this shoe 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 the shoe that much lighter, making your natural movement that much easier.

Cost and Value
This shoe falls within the lower third of prices on our list. For the value, you get a shoe that is flexible and comfortable – one that you will be pleased to take to the gym over and over again. Puma obviously put a lot of thought into this trainer which you can take advantage of at a very reasonable price point.
Pros
  • Lightweight mesh upper
  • Flexible upper & sole
  • Bonded overlays
  • Great comfort
  • Maximizes movement
  • OrthoLite sockliner
Cons
  • Fit is snug

15. Rykä Vida RZX

15. Rykä Vida RZX
Rykä makes shoes specifically for women, with a narrower heel, wider forefoot, increased instep and more secure footbed than many athletic shoes that are designed for men. The RZX is a technology that is meant to reduce pressure on the forefoot during a workout. The shoe also features a shock-absorbing heel, pivot point traction, and an anatomical footbed. Breathable, comfortable and anatomically designed, you won’t go wrong with the Vida RZX.
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Strategic flex grooves
The rubber outsole on the Riva RZX is designed with flex grooves strategically placed and cut to relieve pressure on your forefoot during your workout. The grooves travel through the outsole and midsole to maximize the flexibility of the shoe and direct tension away from the front of your foot.

Pivot Point
The traction on the outsole is designed to allow you to pivot precisely without losing either traction or balance. This shoe makes a great studio or dance shoe because of the ability to pivot accurately, hitting those moves accurately and confidently.

Cost and Value
This shoe is in the mid-range of prices on our list. For the price, you get a shoe designed for a woman’s foot rather than a scaled down version of a man’s shoe. Shock absorbing and designed for high-impact movement, this shoe will suit most gym workouts and will quickly become a favorite in your line up.
Pros
  • RZX platform
  • Re-zorb heel
  • Precision pivot points
  • Breathable underlays
  • Supportive overlays
  • Padded tongue & collar
Cons
  • Lower level of support

The 15 shoes on our list are all great shoes for a gym 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 shoes on the list for those with flat feet and those with high arches, for those that need a little more support 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 shoe that suits while allowing you the flexibility to take advantage of all your gym has to offer.

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Gym Shoes

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Stability and Support

The gym is one of those places where stability makes the difference between an optimal performance and a sloppy, hazardous one. No matter the type of training you’ve undertaken, the gym is not a place for shoes that fail to hold a stable position under tension.

A shoe’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 shoe prevents our feet from assuming unnatural postures or pronating improperly. Support helps our feet to stay in a natural position, but you must also pay attention to your form. A supportive shoe goes a long way but cannot overcome poor form.

Different disciplines call for different amounts 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 shoe, consider their purpose and what you plan to focus on in the gym. If you’re only interested in weight training, for example, check out our list of the best shoes for weight training. If you’re interested in a general workout, each of the shoes above will provide support that varies depending how much support you want or need.

For example, people with flat feet need a stiffer shoe that provides great stability through the sole, while those with high arches need a more cushioned shoe that is flexible and will not rub against the tops of the feet.

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Weight

Generally, footwear manufacturers opt for a lighter design even for casual shoes. There’s a pretty simple reason behind this; the lighter the shoe, the less effort is required to move it. A performance shoe involves much more movement than casual footwear so it’s expected that gym footwear meant for aerobic purposes is lighter.

Now, not all gym shoes are designed for aerobics. Powerlifting shoes, for example, don’t need to be as light as CrossFit shoes. They’re engineered for very specific movements and may not require as much minimalism. Gym shoes meant for aerobic movements must optimize their design 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 cushion.

Too much minimalism will affect the ability of a shoe 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.

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Performance Midsole

Midsoles often define the kind of activity that a shoe is suitable for. In a running or CrossFit shoe, for example, the main function of a midsole is to absorb shock and reduce oscillation of both muscles and bones.

When looking for gym shoes, you must look for a midsole that is suitable for the exercises you’ll perform. You may get away with hitting the gym with running shoes, but this may be a terrible idea both for your performance and the shoes if your focus is weight training, for example.  Your shoes must have a midsole that is able to endure the kind of training you endure. Not only for the sake of performance quality, but also for the durability of your shoes 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 gym workouts. A shoe 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 weight training involves working with significant weight, consider purchasing a pair of weight training shoes for that aspect of your workout.

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Shock Absorption

If you’re planning to do any training at all, whether it’s aerobic or anaerobic, you want gym shoes 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 this type of exercises; 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 gym shoes you should consider both the impact force and impact intensity of the exercise you plan.

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 undergoing 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.

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Comfort

This is possibly the most underestimated feature of all footwear in general, including gym shoes. When it comes to performance shoes, 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 shoe 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 shoes 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 shoes (and any performance shoe 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 shoes. While you may physically be able to slip in the shoes, 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 shoe.

The best gym shoes are those that provide you with the adequate features for the exercise you practice while still being comfortable.  Regardless of your personal preferences, a gym shoe should come with the following comfort features: breathability, cushioning, comforting materials, and flexibility.

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Grip & Traction

A decent grip is something that must be present in any type of shoe, let alone anything related to performance. With gym shoes, the grip can be your best friend just as much as a lack of it can be your worst enemy. A gym shoe that lacks a firm grip is simply not prepared to perform.

The outsole, along with the midsole, is what really determines what activities a pair of shoes can perform optimally. It’s safe to say that the outsole, and the outsole only, is the part of the shoe 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 shoe 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.

If you’re doing box jumps, the last thing you want is to slip backward when landing. Just like the last thing you want when deadlifting or squatting is to start sliding in any direction as you move with the barbell.

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What are the different types of gym shoes?
A: The most common types of gym shoes are aerobic shoes (CrossFit, running), Olympic lifting shoes (for very specific exercises like snatches and jerks), powerlifting, and normal weight training. However, these categories may be sub-divided, just like weight training shoes can be for squats, deadlifts, or just regular weight training.

Q: Are these suitable for running?
A: It really depends on the shoe, but we have included many shoes that are also suitable for running as well as for other similar aerobic exercises. 

Q: Do I have to buy weightlifting shoes separately?
A: If you’re going serious about your weight training, you should consider having weightlifting shoes that are designed specifically for the compression shock that weightlifting entails.

Q: How many pairs of gym shoes should I have?
A: 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 gym shoes.

Q: How much do gym shoes cost?
A: The cost of gym shoes depends on multiple things. For starters, the branding plays a big role, but the specification of the shoe is usually the determining factor. For instance, squatting shoes tend to be more expensive than running shoes (assuming both shoes have the same quality and branding).

Q: Do these shoes work for CrossFit?
A: 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 shoe designed specifically for serious CrossFit sessions would be great for you.

Q: What gym shoe is better for high arches?
A: 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 insole that will fit everyone, especially high arch users. The most efficient solution is to acquire a pair of insoles that are suitable for your feet.

Q: Will deadlifts damage my shoes?
A: If your shoes are not meant to deal with heavy exercises, don’t doubt that a fully-loaded deadlift will damage your shoe. 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 optimal by any means.


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