Best Shoes for HIIT Reviewed & Rated

Traditional workouts are no longer either “strictly cardio” or “strictly resistance workouts”; in fact, today’s workouts are now involving a combination of the two to help further maximize results and in turn, helps keep you motivated longer. High-intensity interval training, or HIIT, is the driving principle behind today’s popular workouts such as Tabata, Crossfit, and Beachbody’s Insanity, and is characterized by its cycling between bursts of activity at high intensity and subsequent recovery periods.

Think of Bootcamp-style workouts where you’re sustaining one type of exercise for a good minute or so, working towards your next break. And just when you feel like you’ve only got a good few breaths in, the class instructor is barking out orders to commence the next round, and on it goes, until the class is done. Thus, these workouts hybridize cardiovascular and resistance training together to create a challenging workout that gets you moving in all sorts of ways.

Last Updated: March 6, 2018
By Tenby Lloyd:

This update removed three old shoes and replaced them with three better shoes for your workouts. It also added five great new shoes to the list with detailed reviews to help you pick out the shoe which is best for you. For your convenience, a criteria for selection section has been added to the page to give you some information you can use to make an educated decision and pick out the best shoe for your workouts. A frequently asked questions section has also been added to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the best shoes for HIIT.

Featured Recommendations

ASICS Gel Fit Sana
  • ASICS Gel Fit Sana
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • MONO-SOCK fit system
  • High-abrasion outsole
  • Price: See Here
PUMA Cell Riaze
  • PUMA Cell Riaze
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Cushioned midsole
  • EcoOrthoLite sockliner
  • Price: See Here
PUMA Tazon 6 FM
  • PUMA Tazon 6 FM
  • 4.5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • EcoOrthoLite sockliner
  • EVA heel pod
  • Price: See Here

Unlike a running workout where the motion is perpetually forward, most movements in HIIT workouts are lateral, forward, backward, up, and down. Just from the difference in movement between the two, it’s obvious that a running shoe will not fit the bill for blasting through your favorite class. Where running shoes are engineered with extra cushioning in the soles for endurance runs and for arch support, that extra padding can actually hinder your responsive movement during quick changes in direction during a workout.

Looking for a pair of cross-trainers ideally suited for your workouts should have the following factors considered:

  1. Stability
  2. The right fit
  3. Breathability
  4. Traction
  5. Longevity

With the above in mind, you’re equipped with the essentials needed in your HIIT workout shoes.

From burpees and sprints to box jumps and quick turns, your cross-trainers should measure up against the beating you put them through. Reading on, you will find our top fifteen shoes meant to withstand the rigors of  training in this list. Just as you would wear a work outfit specific to the job you are performing, so would you wear workout shoes that are exercise specific and that help you perform well with minimal risk and injury.

 

15 Best Shoes for HIIT

 

1. ASICS Gel Fit Sana

For a company primarily known for its running shoes, ASICS outperforms in the cross-training department with the Gel Fit Sanas. Your gym workouts will definitely benefit with these supporting your feet, helping you power through your workout.
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Incomparable, Lightweight Structure
The feel of this shoe is as light as air when worn; almost as if you were jumping/running-in-place barefoot. Its flexible upper design lends to close-to-perfection support all around the foot for multi-directional movement. Its stretchable MONO-SOCK fit system lends to the upper’s flexibility so that you get the comfortable hug and feel of a sock rather than the feeling of being encased in a shoe.

Customized Traction
The shoe’s outsole has strategic placing of the company’s patented AHAR Plus technology, arranged in a herringbone tread pattern for extra traction when sprinting across a gym floor. Uneven surfaces will be a surmountable challenge in these shoes so that your ability to switch directions on the fly will not be hampered.

Cost and Value
These shoes are one of the cheaper options on this list, if not the cheapest. You cannot go wrong in choosing this shoe for a wide range of HIIT activities, as you will rave about its all-over cushioning that helps support your feet.
Pros
  • Snug, lightweight fit
  • Comfortable without being too tight
  • Easy to slip on and off, like slippers
  • Great stability and support
Cons
  • Some reports claim they are not supportive enough
  • Not meant for wide feet

2. PUMA Cell Riaze

Puma appeals to the folks who enjoy the athleisure look with this shoe, but without sacrificing functionality with its form. You will enjoy the benefits of wearing this shoe during your workouts, knowing that stability and support are behind this shoe’s look and reputation.
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Cushioning to the Extreme
With this shoe, you will experience all-around cushioning that can be found in its midsole and heel, as well as in its padded tongue and collar. Comfort is clearly the goal here, but you will not feel as though your foot is being swallowed by pillow-y softness. Instead, the cushioning is meant to garner support for where you need it most during your most grueling activity, be it squat jumps or jump knee tucks.

Breathable Upper
If you’re going hard during your HIIT workout and you’ve passed the thirty-minute mark, chances are your feet are sweating as hard as the rest of you. The Cell Riaze’s have a breathable textile upper meant to manage moisture, as is evidenced by its use of the Eco Ortholite sock liner. These shoes work hard to keep your feet cooler, drier, and healthier so that you can work hard at making a higher box jump than last week.

Cost and Value
While being close to one of the more expensive shoes on this list, your money will be well-spent with this shoe. This is a pair of cross-trainers that maintains its reputation as a worthy contender for most supportive and stable shoe for HIIT workouts.
Pros
  • Snug, comfortable fit
  • Breathable
  • Stylish
  • All-over cushioning without the bulk
  • Great for a variety of workout activities
Cons
  • Tight fit reported for some
  • For wider feet, size up by two sizes

3. PUMA Tazon 6 FM

Although categorized as a running shoe, Puma’s Tazon 6s are built to withstand the harsh demands of activities such as weightlifting and plyometrics. As the second Puma instalment on this list, there is much to recommend it as a shoe meant for your hardest HIIT workout.
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Heavier than a Running Shoe
At a shipping weight of about three pounds, this shoe weighs in heavier than the ASICS Gel Fit Sanas. Despite its heft and its construction to look like a running shoe, it maintains a stable fit during your repetitions of clean and snatch. Cushioning is placed where your foot requires maximum shock absorption: through the heel and in the midfoot by way of EVA foam cushioning and use of a midfoot saddle.

Better Load Bearing = Stable Ride
The outsole of the Tazon 6s contains a thermoplastic polyurethane shank, strategically placed between the insole and outsole for stability during load-bearing exercises. Think of how running up an incline increases the load borne upon the feet and calves. This TPU shank helps prevent any overturning of the joints while your feet are working hard at keeping you upright on uneven surfaces. The more stability you have, the stronger and more efficient your muscles become at keeping you upright and balanced.

Cost and Value
As the cheapest shoe on this list, you will find the Puma name upholding its reputation as a leader in global athletic wear. In other words, you get a bigger bang for your buck with the Tazon 6s in terms of value.
Pros
  • Comfortable
  • Incomparable stability
  • Stylishly sharp
  • Its raised heel is beneficial to those with Achilles tendon issues
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Rigid material reported by some
  • Runs narrow

4. Reebok Crossfit Nano 6.0

4. Reebok Crossfit Nano 6.0
Between WODs at your local Crossfit gym and the Crossfit Games on TV, it’s a surety that a Reebok shoe meant for high intensity workouts would make this list. At the midway point on this list, the Nano 6.0s make it here based on its sheer popularity alone among Crossfitters.
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One, Tough Shoe
If you’re looking to build a stronger, tougher you during your workouts, look no further than the fearless Nano 6.0s. Nothing says fearless and confident like a Kevlar-infused shoe, built with Reebok’s RopePro Plus Technology. So, when you’re speedily climbing up that heavy hemp rope to get to the top, it’s absolutely crucial for your shoe to stay strong and steadfast against those heavy, scratchy rope fibers.

Premium Traction
When you’re giving ‘er all you got pushing a rack full of weight plates, you better hope your shoes can measure up to the amount of work you’re putting into them. The Nano 6.0s are more than capable of shouldering the load with its compression-molded midsole, allowing you better cushioning and shock absorption. If there is a slight incline somewhere in your workout, the raised-lug-patterned outsole creates better traction for you so you’re not expending more energy than is necessary.

Cost and Value
This shoe hits the most expensive pair on our list, but every penny spent on this shoe is rewarded back to you by how hard it works for you during your toughest of HIIT workouts.
Pros
  • Roomy toe box
  • Comfortable and very stable
  • Long-lasting wear tested against regular use
  • Great support for intense activities
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • Some have reported that toe box is “too roomy” for sprinting
  • May run small for those with wide feet

5. Reebok Crossfit Speed TR

5. Reebok Crossfit Speed TR
This shoe helps enhance your ability to switch from movement to movement seamlessly. When you start out the gate with a sprint and quickly shift gears to execute your highest box jump yet, Reebok’s Crossfit shoe rendition in the Speed TR will help you perform at your best.
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A Running Shoe Meant for Crossfit WODs
With the word “speed” in its name, this shoe was built lightweight so that you get that extra boost in speed during your short sprints. Its breathable synthetic upper provides a snug fit without choking your feet. Its outsole’s ultra-soft foam absorbs shock so that your feet can continue pounding through a lifting routine just as well as through your speed runs. For improving stability, Reebok implemented METASPLIT flex grooves into the shoe’s outsole which allows for better traction without the feel of flattening to the ground during heavy lifting.

Built Specific for Other Crossfit Activities
Reebok continues to innovate by keeping Crossfitters happy with this shoe. For those who enjoy handstand pushups, a TPU piece is incorporated into the shell to support sliding up against that wall. In addition, for those who have to make it to the top of that rope, ROPEPRO technology prevents your shoe from shredding against those tough rope fibers.

Cost
The Reebok Crossfit Speed TRs are near the top of this list in terms of the most expensive pair, but are beat out of the top spot by the Reebok Crossfit Nano 6.0s. What you get out of this pair is a technologically advanced shoe meant to withstand rigorous training amongst a wide range of activities.
Pros
  • Great lateral support
  • Snug, comfortable fit even for wide-set feet
  • Durable
  • Built well for both running and lifting
  • Lightweight
Cons
  • For those with average foot-width, a half-size down may be necessary
  • Some have reported premature wear and tear with light use

6. ASICS Gel Craze TR 3

6. ASICS Gel Craze TR 3
From the newbie to HIIT workouts getting a feel for this genre, to the seasoned regular at all the workout offerings at the local gym, this shoe is a hit that delivers incomparable functionality and style. As with all its products, ASICS continues to uphold its reputation with its mindset of improvements in innovation and technology as evidenced by this shoe.
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A Cross-Trainer that Looks Like a Running Shoe
Inspired by ASICS’ running collection, the Gel-Craze TR 3s have the look of its running shoe brothers and sisters but is ideally built for cross-training activities. Most running shoes, which help stabilize your feet during a forward motion, are not capable of proper cushioning and support during your Insanity or Tabata workouts. What ASICS has done with this shoe includes a laundry list of technological features that support your feet during your most grueling workouts.

Technologically Advanced Cross-Trainer
These shoes have numerous unique features that speak volumes of ASICS’ commitment to improving athletes’ performance. Its AHAR (ASICS High Abrasion Rubber) outsole is meant to resist the toughest of terrains. The shoe’s midsole implements four of the company’s own patented technology: its ASICS FLUIDRIDE midsole is comprised of SOLYTE and SPEVAFOAM material for proper cushioning of the foot and joints where needed. The shoe’s FLUIDAXIS midsole technology is capable of recognizing, adapting, and responding to changes in load and position so that the wearer is fully supported and comfortable during any activity.

Cost and Value
As the average-priced pair of cross-trainers on this list, this pair provides all the best that ASICS has to offer for a desirable price.
Pros
  • Highly recommended by podiatrists
  • Great cushioning and flexibility
  • Lightweight, less bulk than other cross-trainers
  • Fits true to size
  • Great for activities such as Crossfit, jumping, running, and lifting
Cons
  • Not meant for those with high instep
  • Some have reported too narrow a fit for average-sized feet

7. New Balance Minimus 20v6

7. New Balance Minimus 20v6
Having gotten its start in running shoes, New Balance makes its entry onto this list with a shoe that is primarily used for cross-training activities in the 20v6s. With the conscientious athlete in mind, the 20v6s feature specific attributes that help you perform at your best.
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Natural, Low-to-the-Ground Feel
Keeping feet as close to its natural, barefoot state is the motivation behind this shoe’s construction. With a more natural stance while wearing these shoes, you will be able to train more efficiently during activities such as strength training and running.

Stable and Responsive
In the innovation game, New Balance has created an outsole with Vibram technology, which means you acquire better traction for keeping upright and balanced during multidirectional movement. By keeping the shoe minimal and lightweight, the use of New Balance’s RevLite midsole lets you transition from one movement to another quickly and comfortably. With all of the different ways you move your body by way of changing direction with your feet, you are kept comfortable with a molded foam collar and burrito tongue surrounding you at the ankle.

Cost and Value
As the third cheapest option on this list, the 20v6s provide you with a stable ride that feels as natural as going barefoot.
Pros
  • Extremely lightweight due to its minimal design
  • Lower to the ground for responsiveness
  • Great for weight training
  • Fits true to size
  • Great traction for stability
Cons
  • Some have reported the slight arch support is uncomfortable
  • Not recommended for long-distance runs

8. Nike Free TR Fit 5.0

8. Nike Free TR Fit 5.0
The Nike Free TR Fit 5.0 is an excellent shoe due to its flexible, breathable upper and lightly padded interior. There are small flex grooves in the outsole to allow more flexibility, but the grooves aren’t so deep that they eliminate any supportive qualities the outsole material offers. This shoe also comes in a wide variety of colors!
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Breathable Mesh Upper
When participating in an intense physical activity, it can become pretty hot in your shoes, but breathable uppers allow air to flow through the shoe to cool and dry your feet.

Washing Machine Safe
Shoes will eventually get dirty, no matter how careful you are and how odor-resistant they are. Another great thing is that this shoe is completely washing machine safe for your convenience.

Cost and Value
This stylishly comfortable athletic shoe from Nike can be found in the low-to-upper price range. It’s well worth the investment but shop around for the best deal before you buy.
Pros
  • Breathable Mesh Upper
  • Washing Machine Safe
  • Polyester Upper
  • Windproof
  • Water Resistant
  • Lightly Padded Interior
Cons
  • Poor arch support
  • Only comes in narrow sizes

9. Nike Flex Trainer 5

9. Nike Flex Trainer 5
This stylish athletic shoe is perfect for HIIT thanks to its superb traction, breathability features, and moderately cushioned sole. The outsole is designed to be as flexible as possible without compromising its ability to protect and support your foot. The breathable mesh upper and tongue allow airflow to keep your feet cool and dry, which also prevents odors and blisters.
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Hexagonal Traction Pattern
HIIT requires a lot of sudden changes in direction and you need a shoe that offers great traction. The hexagonal traction pattern in this Nike athletic shoe has great grip.

Forefoot Cables
A properly fitting athletic shoe is essential to a safe workout and the Nike Flex Trainer 5 comes with forefoot cables to provide you with a secure but flexible fit.

Cost and Value
This athletic shoe can be found in the middle-to-upper price range. It provides excellent traction and some great lightweight cushioning, but shop around for the best and most reasonable price.
Pros
  • Hexagonal Traction Pattern
  • Forefoot Cables
  • Breathable Mesh Upper
  • Padded Mesh Tongue
  • Flexible Grip Outsole
  • Injected Unit Sole
Cons
  • Back may be stiff
  • Sizing runs small

10. ASICS GEL-190 TR

10. ASICS GEL-190 TR
This is an excellent athletic shoe due to its supportive nature and excellent traction to aid your feet during sharp direction changes. The SpEVA midsole unit adds an extra layer of shock absorption. The GEL-190 has been designed to be lightweight from its mesh upper to the Trusstic System used in the outsole.
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DuoMax Support System
To reduce overpronation, this uses a firm sponge material in the midsole, which is wedge-shaped to provide you with the support you need to promote normal pronation.

Rearfoot GEL System
This shoe comes with their patented rearfoot GEL system, which is designed to absorb the shock from a hard workout and protect your heel from injury and pain.

Cost and Value
This shoe can be found in the low-to-middle price range, which is quite affordable for a shoe that offers so much support and comfort for your high-intensity interval training workouts.
Pros
  • DuoMax Support System
  • Rearfoot GEL System
  • SpEVA Midsole
  • Trusstic System
  • Supportive Overlays
  • Rubber Sole
Cons
  • Sizing runs narrow
  • Poor forefoot cushioning

11. New Balance WX813GR3

11. New Balance WX813GR3
This New Balance shoe provides excellent support, as the entire upper is a firm synthetic material, but it doesn’t sacrifice all flexibility. The outsole is designed with Ndurance Performance outsole parts, but they are strategically placed to promote needed flexibility. For your comfort, New Balance’s Cardio Comfort technology is utilized in this shoe alongside a thickly padded collar and tongue.
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Cardio Comfort
New Balance’s patented Cardio Comfort technology combines three technologies into one for a comfortable workout. The insert is dual-density foam, the footbed is supportive, and the entire shoe is lightweight.

Ndurance Performance Outsole
The Ndurance Performance outsole used in this version of New Balance’s 813 is carefully designed to reduce wear and increase the durability of the shoe in the high impact areas.

Cost and Value
This cross-training shoe can be found in the middle price range and is very affordable. It provides a plethora of New Balance technologies designed to protect your feet from injury.
Pros
  • Cardio Comfort
  • Ndurance Performance Outsole
  • C-CAP Fine Mold Midsole
  • Removable Insert
  • Padded Collar and Tongue
  • Synthetic
  • 8mm Heel-to-Toe Drop
Cons
  • Sizing runs small
  • Narrow toe box

12. Nike Flex Supreme TR 3

12. Nike Flex Supreme TR 3
The Nike Flex Supreme TR 3 is a stylish and effective high-intensity interval training shoe. This shoe comes in a variety of colors and in wide sizes so they won’t squish your feet. Nike uses their patented Flex Technology alongside a Fitsole insole to promote a comfortable, secure fit without sacrificing flexibility, which is paramount in a HIIT workout.
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Nike Flex Technology
Nike’s Flex Technology provides the Flex Supreme TR 3 athletic shoe with comfortable, responsive, and flexible cushioning to absorb shock and aid you with multi-directional movements, as required by HIIT.

Deep Forefoot Grooves
To further support your lateral and multi-directional movements, Nike uses deep forefoot grooves to provide the Flex Supreme TR 3 with excellent grip and traction. These grooves provide flexibility, too.

Cost and Value
These stylish Nike shoes can be found in the middle price range, which is quite affordable for such a high-profile shoe brand. It gives you ample cushioning, flexibility, and traction.
Pros
  • Nike Flex Technology
  • Deep Forefoot Grooves
  • Breathable Mesh Upper
  • Rubber Sole
  • Rubber Heel and Forefoot Pods
  • Soft Foam Midsole
  • Fitsole Insole
Cons
  • Poor ankle support
  • Can be squeaky

13. Adidas A.T 360.2 Prima

13. Adidas A.T 360.2 Prima
The Performance A. T 360.2 Prima is a flexible athletic shoe that is perfect for HIIT. Its breathability and outsole features help make it comfortable without sacrificing safety. The rubber outsole is perfect for traction and the upper is tucked into the sole for a secure bond. It comes in narrow sizes, but the toe box is still roomy.
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Mesh Upper
The mesh upper is breathable in order to reduce odor development and heat and is seamless, stretchy, and flexible for a comfortable, cool fit.

Outsole Grooves
To prevent injury during intense lateral movement, the outsole has grooves and lateral support built into it. The grooves help you grip the ground and the lateral support stabilizes you.

Cost and Value
This trainer can be found in the upper middle price range. This style of shoe offers support and temperature control for a reasonable price.
Pros
  • Mesh Upper
  • Outsole Grooves
  • Rubber Sole
  • Textile and Synthetic Construction
  • Sole Wraps Onto Upper
Cons
  • Thin sole
  • Inconsistent sizing

14. Reebok Zcut TR

14. Reebok Zcut TR
This comes with a number of amazing features to support, cushion, and stabilize your step. The Metasplit Flex Grooves and heel strap are just two of these great features which provide added support and comfort. The Nanoweb upper is a breathable mesh to provide temperature control while the FitFrame caging provides support and durability to the upper.
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Metasplit Flex Grooves
Reebok’s Zcut TR comes with Metasplit flex grooves, which provide extra flexibility and grip for those high-intensity interval training workouts. They increase the shoe’s potential for traction, as well.

Heel Strap
When you’re making a lot of sharp turns quickly, you need all the support you can get. This shoe also features a heel strap to provide that extra bit of support.

Cost and Value
This Reebok shoe can be found in the upper middle-to-upper price range. It can be an affordable investment for your workouts as it offers shock absorption, stability, and support.
Pros
  • Metasplit Flex Grooves
  • Heel Strap
  • Nanoweb Mesh Upper
  • Smooth Textile Lining
  • Padded Footbed
  • Shock Absorbing Foam Midsole
  • FitFrame Caging
Cons
  • Inconsistent sizing
  • Poor arch support

15. Adidas Adipure 360.3

15. Adidas Adipure 360.3
The Adipure 360.3 by Adidas is an excellent shoe due to its flexible nature and the supportive features built into the midfoot to stabilize your step. This athletic shoe comes in a variety of color schemes which are stylish, which is a great bonus to an athletic shoe that offers so much support, flexibility, and lightweight cushioning.
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Flex Grooves
With flex grooves built into its outsole, this shoe is made more flexible so it will bend with your foot as you go work out.

Stretchy Mesh Upper
Flexibility is important in a shoe used for exercising. This shoe’s stretchy mesh upper will allow your foot to move naturally. This shoe’s upper also promotes airflow during your workout.

Cost and Value
The stylish and flexible shoe can be found in the middle price range. It is quite affordable for such a comfortable and supportive training shoe.
Pros
  • Flex Grooves
  • Stretchy Mesh Upper
  • Padded Tongue and Collar
  • Rubber Sole
  • Supportive Midfoot Panel
  • Midfoot Stabilizer Clip
  • Sculpted EVA Midsole
Cons
  • Only available in standard width
  • Synthetic upper is firm

While trying on a multitude of cross-trainers is time-consuming and not an ideal way to find your perfect pair, this list was created to help narrow your list of choices down to a select few. You just need to look for a shoe that:

  • Allows you to move in all directions while keeping your foot stable.
  • Is somewhat flatter to the ground; in other words, arch support is not as crucial as it would be in a running shoe.
  • Has support at the rear and sides of the shoe for backward and lateral movements.
  • Is only moderately cushioned to support jumping.
  • Fits true to size. A slightly bigger shoe can only promote risk for injury in situations where you are participating in multi-directional activities.

The above recommendations come highly regarded by people like you, looking to get the most out of their workouts with the best shoe possible. As intense as some HIIT workouts can be, you will want a shoe that delivers the right fit, the right amount of cushioning, and the most stability. Choosing a pair of cross-trainers that don’t perform well will only increase your risk of injury and prolong recovery before your next workout. Having a workout shoe that’s activity-appropriate can only maximize the results you want for your body while maintaining safety and protection for you and your overall health. Workouts should be fun and motivating, so why not do them with shoes that keep you going hard until the end, ready for the next workout?

 

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Shoes for HIIT

 

High-Intensity Interval Training is popular and provides a number of health benefits, but if you aren’t prepared with the right footwear, you could seriously injure yourself. Wearing a traditional running shoe or other athletic footwear while you do it could result in knee, hip, and ankle pain. If the shoe isn’t designed for intense lateral movements and sudden shifts in direction, then you could even develop blisters!

We will now cover exactly what features you should look for in a shoe you intend to wear for HIIT so you can make an educated decision for yourself about which shoe will be best for you and your needs. You need to consider safety features, such as stability, support, and traction first before considering weight and flexibility. Make sure you know your exact shoe size for a properly fitting shoe, too. Finally, you need to consider the temperature managing features as well as the cushioning and overall value of the shoe before you make the investment.

Stability and Support

Stability and support features are the most important aspect to consider because the intense movements and shifts in direction can result in a rolled, sprained, or even broken ankle or any number of other injuries to your legs, hips, and back. If you roll an ankle or otherwise lose your balance and fall, you may instinctively throw your hands out to catch yourself, which could result in broken wrists! As such, it’s best to avoid falls altogether by investing in a good pair of supportive shoes for your workout.

  • Supportive Outsoles
    Look for shoes that offer supportive outsoles which are designed to flex with your foot’s movements. There are a number of such supportive outsole technologies from shoe manufacturers that are designed specifically for HIIT and CrossFit activities to allow for your foot to move as necessary in a workout without making you fall.

 

  • Arch and Heel Support
    You need arch and heel support because these supportive features will reduce your risk of a fall or injury from the intense activity. You especially need these support features if you do not have normal pronation, as your over or underpronation makes your feet roll more than they are supposed to. The extra lateral movements and sudden direction changes will intensify any pronation problems you may already have, so you need a shoe that will compensate as needed to give you as close to normal pronation as possible. This can reduce your risk of developing plantar fasciitis and a number of debilitating injuries originating from pronation problems.

 

  • Supportive Uppers
    Flexibility is of great importance, but a plain mesh upper would not provide enough support for high-intensity interval training activities, because meshes are light, flexible, and aren’t designed to offer support. The best shoes have supportive overlays of some form to overlay mesh uppers if they have mesh uppers at all. This provides you with the extra support that you need to prevent an injurious fall. Supportive uppers made with overlays are also more durable than plain mesh uppers, as the breathable mesh is usually thinner and could tear.

Traction

The second most important feature to look at in a shoe is traction. As you will be participating in those sharp, quick movements, you need a shoe that won’t slip under you when you lunge or jump. Slipping and falling during such intense activity could result in injury, so you need to find a shoe with good traction and grip. Shoe manufacturers provide this in a handful of creative ways, but we will discuss the one most commonly found in shoes that are best for HIIT, which is the tread and groove pattern.  

  • Tread and Groove Pattern
    Outsoles which provide the best traction for HIIT do so because they have an efficient tread pattern which allows the shoes to grip the ground well to prevent injury from a fall. The depth and frequency of the grooves in the tread pattern vary from model to model and from manufacturer to manufacturer, but as a rule of thumb, the more grooves, the better the grip, as long as the grooves aren’t too thin and close together. Too many shallow and thin grooves can reduce the traction the shoe offers. As a whole, manufacturers all use different patterns, but they all have sufficiently deep and wide grooves and treads to promote the best grip.

Weight

When doing HIIT activities, you need a lightweight shoe which provides the support, stability, and traction that you need in the amounts that you need. Minimalist shoes are not usually best for this type of workout, so you need to be sure and pick a good shoe that isn’t too heavy but also offers the above-mentioned features. A neutrally cushioned shoe works best, as well, as a shoe with a lot of cushioning can limit your flexibility and be a hindrance to your workout. The lighter your shoe is, the less foot fatigue you will feel at the end of your workout, but be sure not to sacrifice important safety and comfort features to get a lighter shoe; your feet are too important to risk injuring, as they are generally our primary mode of transportation.

Flexibility

 

Even though it’s not in the top three characteristics of importance, flexibility is of paramount importance. If the support the shoe offers results in a firm, unyielding prison for your foot, then you’ll increase your likelihood of getting hurt due to poor shock-absorption and could be more likely to break a bone. You need to temper that firm support with flexibility to allow natural foot movement and there are a few ways that manufacturers do this.

  • Flex Grooves
    One of the most important ways that shoe manufacturers promote flexibility in their shoes is through flex grooves. The flex grooves which are best are neither too deep or too narrow. If the grooves aren’t deep enough, they won’t make a difference in the flexibility of the shoe, but if they are too deep, you risk losing all of the supportive benefits that the outsole offered before the grooves were cut.

 

  • Flexible Uppers
    The most common kind of flexible upper that is found in shoes is a mesh upper. Mesh uppers offer a plethora of benefits, but when you are doing HIIT, you must have supportive overlays of some kind to provide your foot with the extra support it needs. A mesh upper with no supportive overlay is a recipe for disaster.

 

 

Properly Fitting Shoes

Another aspect of paramount importance is less to do with the shoe design and more to do with your foot size and shape. Wearing shoes which are too tight or too loose will result in injuries. Too-tight shoes can lead to serious deformities and other medical conditions in your toes while shoes that are too loose will result in blisters from your foot slipping and sliding in your shoe.

The too-loose shoes are actually more hazardous because there are a lot of sudden changes in speed and direction. Too-loose shoes allow your feet to slide around in them, which results in blisters at best, but can also result in a loss of balance from the shoe slipping or even flying off!

You want a shoe that allows plenty of space in the toe box for your toes to spread out naturally, but one which is narrow enough to limit free space so you don’t have your feet slipping and sliding all the time. Your shoe should not slip off the back of your heel, but your toes should not be pressed against the front of the shoe.

Temperature Management

In an intense workout or athletic activity, you need a shoe that provides the right amount of temperature management to keep your feet cool and dry, but this is especially true of high-intensity interval workouts. Wearing shoes which lack breathability features is a surefire way to turn your shoes into a sweat-drenched swamp of a sauna, which could result in foul odors and painful blisters.

  • Mesh Upper
    The most common way that shoe manufacturers provide temperature management and breathability is by using a mesh upper in the shoe’s design. Mesh uppers allow more airflow in and out of the shoe, which in turn cools and dries your feet. Mesh uppers have the added benefit of being flexible and stretchy, as well, which are also features needed in a good shoe.

 

 

Cushioning

Cushioning is low on this list of features to look for because too much of it will hinder the shoe’s ability to flex and bend with your foot as you go through those intense movements. Cushioning is important, though, for shock-absorption and to prevent painful rubbing, so you will still need to consider it when you are shopping for your new pair of shoes.

  • Padding
    Effective, lightweight padding can make an otherwise firm and supportive shoe comfortable to wear when it would otherwise be an uncomfortable environment for your feet. Look for shoes which offer light padding on the interior of the shoe, as well as on the tongue and collar. Be careful to find a shoe which promotes breathability through the padding, though, or you’ll have a new problem on your hands.

 

  • Insoles
    The insoles of your shoe need to be cushioned enough to absorb the shock from the hard impacts that result from intense activities, but thin and lightweight enough to not hinder the shoe’s ability to flex with your foot.

 

  • Midsoles
    Midsole units can compensate for extra thin insoles by providing an extra interior layer of cushioning and support at the same time. Shoes which don’t have a midsole or have a midsole which does not meet your support and cushioning needs are not good.

 

  • Outsoles
    The outsole cushions your feet more than you may think. The outsole is your foot’s first line of defense against painful bumps and environmental hazards. The shoes which are best have rubber or synthetic outsoles and do not have crepe or leather outsoles. The outsole should be flexible and supportive, but it should also be cushioned enough to provide shock absorption to counter the hard impacts characterized by HIIT workouts.

Value

You want to get the most value out of your dollar, so you want your shoes to be durable, convenient, easy to use, and easy to maintain. If your shoes fall apart after wearing them for a month or two, then you’ll probably feel like you lost money on your investment into the shoes you just purchased. So to make sure that you find a good shoe that you’ll be satisfied with, check the reviews of the shoe in question and do some research into the model of the shoe you’re looking into. If the brand is using some of their patented shoe technologies in the shoe, learn exactly what those technologies do and how they are helpful. Then, decide which features are the most valuable to you.

  • Durable
    You want a shoe that will last you awhile, so look for shoes with durable rubber outsoles and synthetic or leather overlays which protect the more fragile parts of the upper in your shoe, such as a mesh upper. Shoes which have crepe outsoles are the least durable, so it’s for the best that you avoid them. Rubber and synthetic outsoles are generally water resistant and the most durable outsole materials. Leather or synthetic overlays on your shoes upper can increase both the durability and the supportiveness of your shoe.

 

  • Convenience & Ease of Use
    Shoes which are easy and convenient to use are worth more just the same way that fast food and food at a restaurant are worth paying more than cooking food at home. So, look for shoes which offer removable inserts for your convenience to increase the longevity of your shoes. If you can replace the insoles, then you can get twice the life out of your HIIT shoes, but that doesn’t mean that shoes without removable inserts are not good. It’s just a bonus to be able to remove a worn-out insole.

 

  • Maintenance
    Shoes which are hard to clean and require a lot of timely maintenance are a pain. You buy a shoe so you can workout and be healthier, not so you can spend more of your free time cleaning, treating, and otherwise maintaining your shoes. To get the most value out of your shoes with maintenance in mind, it’s best to avoid shoes with leather overlays unless the overlays are pretreated and water resistant, as water can damage leather.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

 

Q: Are Nike, ASICS, PUMA, Adidas, New Balance and Reebok the only shoe manufacturers that make good shoes for HIIT?

A: No! Nike, ASICS, PUMA, Adidas, New Balance and Reebok offer the top ten best shoes, but there are plenty of other shoes from other brands which provide everything you need for high-intensity interval training.

Q: Can I use my HIIT shoes for running and other athletic endeavors?

A: Technically, you can. However, it is not recommended for two important reasons. First of all, HIIT shoes are specifically designed for intense lateral movements and sudden changes in direction. There are some athletic activities and workouts that these shoes would be good for, but for running and using exercise equipment, you would be better off investing in a good running shoe.

Q: Can I wear my HIIT shoes on a walk?

A: You can, but HIIT shoes were not designed for sustained forward motion, so the supportive features may become painful if you wear them to walk or run for prolonged periods of time. They are also not recommended to wear to the office or a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, as these are purely athletic shoes with a specific purpose in mind.

Q: Can I use running shoes for my workout?

A: You can, but it’s definitely not recommended. Running shoes are designed to be lightweight and minimalistic to make it easier to propel yourself forward. Running shoes are not designed for the intense lateral movements and sudden changes in direction which characterize these workouts. Choosing to wear running shoes could result in injury.

 

Sources

ASICS, DuoMaxTM

New Balance, Cardio Comfort

Shoes Obsessions, New Balance Technologies, October 14, 2008

Quora, Can you do HIIT training barefoot or with minimal shoes?, October 31, 2008

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