The Best Training Shoes for Sports & Working Out Reviewed

There are many factors that go into working out and exercising.  There are hundreds of different fitness regimes that one can use to get into shape.  One of the most popular workout methods is a variety of training.  Cross training, circuit training and the like involve a wide range of exercises to cover the entire body.  Some train for marathons and some train for team sports, the reasons for training are literally endless.  This type of training requires a lot of our bodies and demands a well-fitting shoe.  Not wearing proper shoes when training can damage the foot, ankles, and legs.  Improper shoes can also lead to injury.

When investing your time and effort into training for something long-term it is worth the time and money to research and purchase a great quality training shoe.  When considering which of the thousands of options to purchase, it is important to consider breathability of the upper (the part around your actual foot), the amount of overall support, the amount and height of the arch support, and the traction.

Last Updated: June 16, 2018
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By Himmatpreet Kaur:

The most recent update took a fresh look at all our trainers to ensure that we are always bringing you the best, most current trainers available on the market. We swapped out three of the shoes for more current, better-rated models, updated our criteria section and updated our frequently asked questions section as well.

Featured Recommendations 

New Balance MX608v4
  • New Balance MX608v4
  • 4.9 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Dual-density padded collar
  • Price: See Here
Nike Air Monarch IV
  • Nike Air Monarch IV
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Supportive overlays
  • Price: See Here
ASICS Gel Venture 6
  • ASICS Gel Venture 6
  • 4.7 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Very breathable
  • Price: See Here

All of those considerations need to be weighed against the type of sport or working out you will be doing.  A shoe that is suited for walking will not be sufficient for weightlifting or aerobics.  Below are the top 10 shoes that are the best when training.

 

10 Best Training Shoes

 

1. New Balance MX608v4

Based in the USA, New Balance has been manufacturing top-notch quality shoes for more than 100 years. Having built a strong reputation for amazing footwear, the company strives to ensure total satisfaction with their products. The 608v4 is a firm shoe but yet flexible. It cradles the ankles and foot in such a way to prevent blisters and injury.
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Dual-density collar
By designing the shoe with a dual-density collar it has one layer of foam that is soft for cushioning adjacent to the foot and then a layer of firmer density foam for the support that athletes demand.

Internal Shank
The shank of a shoe is the part that runs through the sole bed. Having an internal shank reinforces the entire sole of the shoe. It provides a firm platform for the rest of the shoe to be built upon.

Cost and Value
These shoes are an incredible value. They start in a very low investment range for an athletic shoe. As well as being high-rated and from a company with a great brand, you can trust these shoes to be of the best quality even at a lower price point.
Pros
  • Accommodates wider feet 
  • Leather 
  • Non-marking rubber outsole 
  • Pull tab at heel 
  • Great arch support 
Cons
  • Laces are slick 
  • Ankle padding wears down 

2. Nike Air Monarch IV

Nike makes excellent athletic wear, there’s just no denying that. The Air Monarch is a fantastic all-around trainer that will do you well in the gym, running, sprinting or doing any other athletic activity that you may be interested in. Those circuits never looked easier.
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Air Sole comfort
Nike came up with the Air pocket technology in athletic shoes. This trainer uses a full-length air-sole fully encapsulated unit to provide both support and comfort to your feet. If it feels like you’re walking on air, well, that’s because you are.

Durable leather upper
This shoe can take a beating with a very durable leather upper. The upper is supportive of your foot while exercising and features perforations in the upper so that your feet can continue to breathe through your most intense workouts.

Cost and Value
These shoes are on the lower end of the price range for this list. That makes them an exceptional value given how functional they are. They will provide good traction wherever you are from the track to the hardwood floors in the gym to the tile in the change rooms. All of this in a comfortable trainer makes them well worth the money.
Pros
  • Good traction
  • Durable leather upper
  • Supportive overlays
  • Perforations for airflow
  • Air-Sole cushioning
Cons
  • Narrow toe box

3. Nike Tanjun

Nike is one of the most recognizable brands in all things athletic. Having built a reputation for high quality and stylish products through many decades, the Tanjun carries on this legacy. Based upon a simple and elegant design, the Tanjun 6 is awesome for working out or every day where. A very comfortable shoe that is made to last like Nike's reputation.
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Lightly padded collar and tongue
Providing a padded collar and tongue for the user means extra support for the wearer. It also helps to stabilize the ankle to help prevent ankle rolls and injury. A padded tongue is for comfort again the top of the foot when bracing the laces.

Foam midsole and outsole
Extra foam being applied to the midsole and outsole gives extra support and cushion. By using foam, it takes the bulk and weight out of the shoe leaving this shoe lightweight and soft for absorption.

Cost and Value
Nike is a the most recognizable brand in athletic shoes but luckily the shoes are not astronomical. In fact, they come in at a price where most other shoes in this category fall. Buyers will confident in purchasing the Tanjun based upon the legacy that Nike has built. Their quality is high-rated and the value of these shoes will last.
Pros
  • Made from mesh 
  • Rounded toe silhouette  
  • Thick synthetic outsole 
  • Full-length Phylon midsole 
  • Shock absorbing 
Cons
  • Weaker side walls 

4. Nike Air Max Torch 4

4. Nike Air Max Torch 4
If you are an avid athlete that is searching for lightweight cushioning, then look no further than the Nike Air Max Torch 4. Support was a key detail that Nike had in mind when putting this show into production. TPU overlays and midsoles phylon throughout increase the stability and support of the nicely represented shoe.
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Rubber waffle outsoles
Whatever workout conditions you are faced with while wearing these shoes, do not worry. They have advanced traction control treads for the toughest runs in the rain all the way to keep you stable on the aerobic benches.

Mesh uppers
Breathability and flexibility are a must for avid runners and for people that work up a sweat some other way. In these shoes the entire upper leather portion is made of a highly breathable mesh material to keep your feet dry all day.

Cost and Value
Nike has built a brand on dependability and quality. The same is true for these shoes. They start in our upper mid-range price selection but with the backing of the company they have and dependability Nike has grown from trust buyers can be confident with their purchase.
Pros
  • Good for wearing every day 
  • Scuff resistant 
  • Shock absorbing/impact resistant 
  • Fits narrow feet 
Cons
  • Runs small and narrow 

5. On Cloud

5. On Cloud
The Cloud brand of shoes is an iconic young company known for its easy-entry speed-lace system. They also stay put while running so no need to stop your workout to retie shoelaces. This shoe, in the final prototype, pushed the sweet spot to the middle of the shoe, a revolutionary idea in this business. It has been well received and furthers gives the shoe a cloud landing but a firm takeoff with every step.
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Redesigned soles
By changing the soles innovations were made that reshaped the previous cloud sole elements. The also increased the grip pads and updated the central channel to make the shoe more suitable for all activities.

Fine sock liners
This shoe has an unmatched step-in feel. The sock liners were updated with a dual-density material to make the shoe even more luxurious. The ON shoe provides a cloudlike feel without the added bulk into the footbed.

Cost and Value
The ON shoe is in the higher price range of the shoes we reviewed. However, the company wants all buyers to be more than 100% satisfied with their purchase. If for any reason you are unhappy they have a liberal exchange policy. The shoes have only been on the market for a few years but are received with great reviews so the durability is fairly certain that the upfront cost will be backed with a great value shoe.
Pros
  • Breathable mesh upper 
  • Easy tie non-slip laces 
  • Lightweight sole 
  • Cloudlike landing 
Cons
  • Too shallow for orthotics 

6. ASICS Gel Venture 6

6. ASICS Gel Venture 6
ASICS company was founded on the hope that health and fitness is the main thing in a person's life that can promote health and happiness. The Venture 5 running shoe was designed with this precise idea in mind. Every engineering feat about the shoe portrays the desire to make this shoe available for everyone, in hopes of getting each individual on their way to health and happiness.
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Removable Sockliner
With this option, so many handicapped people can enjoy the comfort of these shoes. ASICS brings a revolution to a typical athletic shoe. Now handicapped individuals can enjoy working out again by having a top-rated shoe that can accommodate medical orthotics.

Rearfoot Gel Technology Cushioning System
The gel cushion system in this shoe is like walking on air. It is exactly what athletes need when doing their exercise routine. Have the proper cushioning under the heel prevents fatigue and allows the individual to push through for ultimate results.

Cost and Value
This is the absolute best value for this type of shoe. It is in a price range that everyone can afford in order to start their fitness and healthy lifestyle. Not only is this shoe a great purchase for beginners, the value of the shoes is justifiable for advanced athletes as well.
Pros
  • AHAR outsole rubber
  • Great arch support 
  • Very flexible 
  • Lightweight 
  • Reinforced sole 
Cons
  • Shoe creases across toes 

7. PUMA Tazon 6 FM

7. PUMA Tazon 6 FM
PUMA has always set the bar high with not just shoes that are awesome for fitness but they check off function and fashion. The Tazon 6 shoe is absolutely a shoe for fashion conscious people. The Tazon is a very sleek shoe and is comfortable to boot. Quality construction is to be expected with this particular shoe as everything PUMA stands for is stamped with quality and trust.
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Impact absorbing heel
For a shoe to take the brunt of a workout it needs to absorb the impact before it sends shock waves through the person working out. This is especially true for people that do high-endurance workouts as they are moving frequently. These types of athletes need a shoe that can absorb as much impact as possible.

Manmade upper
The importance of having a manmade upper is it alleviates a lot of problems and quality control issues with irregularities. The quality of a shoe that is at least party handmade is higher than those put together on an assembly line.

Cost and Value
The PUMA Tazon 6 comes in at a low price starting point. It is a great investment because the shoe will last a long time. Quality standards guarantee this shoe for durability and longevity. With such a low initial investment, every buyer can be assured with their purchase.
Pros
  • Rubber sole 
  • Midfoot saddle 
  • Synthetic leather upper 
  • Short break in period 
  • Impact absorbing 
Cons
  • Heavy and clunky 
  • Stiffer than others

8. Adidas Ultra Boost 3.0

8. Adidas Ultra Boost 3.0
These Adidas Ultra Boost 3.0 shoes were designed to give you and your workout a little "boost". The more energy you give to the shoe, the more energy it gives back to you. The primeknit upper hugs your foot and it is like wearing a glove on your foot. The neutral shoe was designed to give you flexibility, versatility, and dependability.
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Torsion system
The torsion system on this show was specifically designed to provide for a stable ride. It makes the athlete feel more protected and can allow one to enjoy their workout without fearing a fall or injury as a result of ill-fitting shoes.

Continental rubber outsole
Whether inside working out in a gym or outside with the CrossFit crew, these shoes are made to handle a numerous amount of conditions and surfaces. It provides extraordinary traction in wet or dry conditions.

Cost and Value
The Adidas Ultraboost 3.0 comes in at the higher end of the price range. It is a superior shoe produced by an amazing company that stands behind their products. Buyers should feel confident in their purchase of these shoes; confidence that they will last for years with proper care.
Pros
  • Ultra-responsive cushioning
  • Fit counter molded heal 
  • Supportive cage system 
  • Rubber soles 
Cons
  • Sole comes detached 

9. Hoka One One Bondi 5

9. Hoka One One Bondi 5
The Bondi 5 by Hoka One One is a shoe specifically designed for those that crave to run on the open road. However, the did give enough cushion room on the sole in case the calling of the road leads you off the beaten path for a detour. Don't let the futuristic sole confuse you, it is actually very stable to prevent injuries while running on or off-road.
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3" gap between arch and shaft
The shaft is what provides rigidness to the shoe and the arch being offset 3" translates to a super cushioned run. The 3" is reinforced layers that strive to be the most comfortable innersole area on any competition shoe.

Important aspect 2
Otherwise known as the "rocking chair", this intuitive midsole design has a purpose. It has a low heel to tow differential and sculpted outsoles. Thus, allowing a complete roll through movement and perfected gate with every landing impact to toe-off step.

Cost and Value
These shoes are definitely at the higher price range but an outstanding and thoughtfully designed shoe should be. Engineering attributes have made this shoe so high tech for runners as well as people just wearing them every day. So, if you are walking around your house or preparing for a 10K, this shoe will withstand the work it is put through.
Pros
  • Breathable mesh upper 
  • 3D Puff Print Frame 
  • Compression properties for stability 
  • Zonal rubber 
  • All day comfort
Cons
  • Clunky and heavy 
  • Soles separate easily 

10. Ryka Vida RZX

10. Ryka Vida RZX
The Ryka Vida RZX is a very popular trainer for a reason – it’s comfortable, flexible and it moves well with you. It can handle the beating your workouts will give it without killing your feet. Available in a variety of colors you will look great and feel good about the hard work you’re able to put in.
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RE-ZORB cushioning
The RZX uses Ryka’s RE-ZORB technology to provide high-impact cushion in the heel. The forefoot is also well cushioned and flexible. You’ll return to this shoe again and again throughout your workout life because of the exceptional shock absorption and comfort.

Supportive upper
The upper features a number of overlays over the mesh to ensure that your trainer is supportive of your heel, midfoot and forefoot. A good and stable shoe, the mesh is also breathable so your feet will stay cool and dry.

Cost and Value
These shoes are priced in the lower range in terms of price. This represents a great value given how well the shoes perform across a variety of activities. Go ahead and sign up for that CrossFit class, the shoes can take it.
Pros
  • Rubber sole for traction
  • Breathable, supportive upper
  • Anatomical precise footbed
  • RE-ZORB cushioning
  • Ultra-Flex forefoot
Cons
  • Sizes run small

These 10 shoes were the highest rated and withstood rigorous testing to even be considered for this list.  All of these training shoes were excellent in structure and support, breathability, cushioning at levels to absorb high impact, and traction.  Many of the shoes can be worn as every day shoes as well as for training for sports or working out.

Read more below for the information we used in assessing the shoes that would make the list and those that did not make the cut.  Our criteria section and frequently asked questions will provide all you need to know to choose the best trainer for your needs.

 

Criteria for Evaluating the Best Training Shoes

A myriad of factors come into play when assessing the best shoes for training.  While it is important to have a shoe that is tailored specifically to a sport, for example, basketball, it is also best to have a shoe that is considered cross-genre for working out and training.  A shoe that qualifies as the best training shoe for sports and working out needs to meet a large set of criteria.  Without proper shoes, you risk injury to your feet, legs, or ankles.  Worse yet, if the shoes are ill-fitting, it could cause a fall and a much more serious injury to the back or head.

The overall fit is the most important thing to judge a shoe by. Without it “feeling” good on your particular foot, the rest of the guidelines won’t matter.  From the moment you put the shoe on your foot, if it feels off, then it will never become the best shoe for you.  Once you decide that the shoe has at least a 9 out of 10 on overall fit, you can begin to examine the other categories to make sure you have the shoe that is right for you.  When buying the shoe online it is a great idea to go and have your foot measured by a professional.  That will give you the best idea of what size to purchase when buying online. Remember that a size 7 in one brand will be slightly different than a 7 in another.

When putting a shoe on for the judgment phase, it is best to be wearing an athletic sock that you normally wear when working out or exercising.  A thick sock will alter the feeling of the shoe versus trying it on with a thin sock or no sock at all.

Stiffness

What determines a properly fitting and comfortable shoe? For a shoe to be proper fitting and endure the workouts that you will be putting it through, the shoes must be durable.  For durability it is good to look for some stiffness in the shoe; not so stiff it is like George Washington’s wooden shoes, but not so flimsy that the ankle support is non-existent and collapses instead of supporting the foot.  If a shoe is too rigid and stiff, it can do injury itself to the foot and/or ankles.

Tightness is important to consider as well.  A shoe is too tight when you put it on and it is uncomfortable through the forefoot, heel and the top of the foot.  If it cuts off circulation to the foot, you could damage the foot over the long term from repeatedly wearing shoes that are too tight.  Blisters can also be a result of tightness – where the fabric of the shoe is chaffing the skin.

If a shoe does not feel comfortable right out of the box, do not keep it and think it will break in over time.  Athletic shoes are not made to be “broken in” as that means their performance will have also degraded. What you see or feel is what you get with athletic shoes.

If the shoe is not stiff enough to keep the ankle and foot in place, not only do you risk rolling or spraining an ankle, one can start to suffer from shin splints.  As well, the alignment of the foot, ankle, and leg will be awkward when exercising if the foot is moving inside the shoe from step to step.  Proper form when exercising is essential even if the activity is yoga with little movement to HIIT workouts with lots of movement.

Finally, a shoe that is proper for the types of activities performed while wearing trainer shoes has to have enough flexibility as most exercises require movement of the foot aside from a walking position. 

Sole construction

Training shoes for sport and working out need to have a well-constructed sole.  A good sole for a trainer should be made of a high-quality rubber or foam with strong stitches.  The soles of training shoes wear down pretty quickly because of the work they are exposed to, most of which are high-impact on the sole.  Some of the shoes we reviewed had reinforced layers in the areas of the sole that typically wear the quickest.  It is a great tip to buy a shoe with a reinforced sole if the activity you perform the most or your particular gait puts a lot of impact on specific parts of the sole.

Make sure to purchase a moderately thick sole as it will add to the longevity of the overall shoe.  A thick sole also absorbs and protects the foot, ankles, and legs.  Every impact whether walking or doing squat jumps is a jolt to the body.  The only thing between your body and the floor is going to be the sole of that shoe.

Finally, pick a sole that has good traction.  If using your shoes outside in the rain, for example, they need to provide grip.  Regardless of the environment, no one wants to fall because the soles of the trainer shoes lack traction.  While doing our evaluation of shoes we looked for soles that had a varied tread pattern.  This helps to distribute the weight throughout the shoe and to provide strong traction.

Material and Breathability

It is vitally important to pick a shoe that breathes.  If the shoe cannot breathe, not only will this cause a terrible smell inside the shoe, but it can set up a perfect breeding ground for fungus and germs.  The life of the shoe is cut dramatically short and will need to be replaced sooner.  Also, the fungus can transfer to the skin of the foot and give you a fungal infection.

Moisture inside of the shoe can also cause blisters from water being trapped against the skin.  Blisters can make one’s foot uncomfortable to even walk on and the person will possibly have to forego working out until the blisters heal.  Blisters also open up a chance for infection on the foot if the blister does not heal.

A shoe needs to preferably be made of a mesh or mesh-like material on the upper portion so that it can breathe as much as possible.  Breathing keeps you more comfortable so you can continue to work out longer.  Mesh also allows for a small bit of stretch in the material which can accommodate feet swelling when working out or playing sports.

Arch Support

Picking a shoe with a good and strong arch support is imperative to the protection of your foot.  For some people, this can mean purchasing a shoe that has a removable footbed so they can use a custom orthotic or insert.  Some individuals need to purchase special medical orthotics because their arch requires more support than the shoe provides for.  In this case, one needs to consider a shoe that has a good enough interior height to accommodate the foot as well as special inserts.  Measuring the thickness of the foot and the insert required and comparing it to the room inside the shoe will let you know if it can handle the two without pinching or putting too much pressure on the foot.

Another part of the arch support is the shank.  This is the portion of the shoe that runs from the front to the back and directly underneath the arch. The shank can be made of a few different materials such as steel and reinforced rubber that is compacted.  The arch support will fail if the shank is not made to outlast any other part of the shoe.  Picking the proper material to make the shank is in direct relation to the viability of the arch.

If a particular material that is not strong enough or designed to properly support the arch is used to make certain shoes, it will very much weaken the intrinsic muscles and also increase the likelihood of a “low” or collapsed arch; also known as planos.  Over time and wear of the shoe, this could lead to a reduction in the arch’s ability act as a spring and shock absorber.  It is imperative to select a cross trainer shoe that will fully support the arch.  One should think while choosing the support level of their shoe to avoid any impact on the tarsal and metatarsal bones.  This is the body’s natural shock absorber;  they need proper protection from the correct arch support.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s a trainer shoe?
A:   A trainer shoe is a versatile athletic shoe that can be worn for many different exercises.  It is a good shoe for walking, running, sprints, aerobic activity, CrossFit, and more.  This is the main reason for the popularity of the cross trainer shoe.   

Q: What makes a good cross trainer shoe?
A:  A good cross trainer shoe needs to fit the following criteria:  made of a good breathable material such as mesh, a thick sole for proper shock absorption, a solid tread pattern for stability and resistance from slips, and a strong arch support to prevent injury or collapsed arches.  The shoe also needs to be a good stiffness to support the sides of the foot and the ankles from rolling while exercising.

Q: Is a training shoe good for walking?
A:  While there are shoes specifically designed for only walking, it is better to purchase a cross trainer type shoe if you plan to do anything other than walking in the said shoe. Otherwise, the foot, ankle, legs, etc. will not be properly supported and you risk injury to your body without the proper footwear.

Q: Is a training shoe good for running?
A:  A training shoe is a great option for running if it meets certain criteria. Running shoes are made specifically for running and high-impact.  A good running shoe needs to have a good roll-through flexibility, meaning the ability to follow through with the landing on the heel to the roll through and take off on the ball of the foot.  Most cross trainer shoes will fit this category.

Q: Are cross trainer shoes for good high arches?
A:  Cross trainer shoes are a perfect solution for individuals with high arches as they are generally designed with high cushion inside the insole to cup the arch.  However, depending on the height of your arch, you might need to order additional medical orthotics to make sure the foot arch is entirely cradled.  Then, you must take into account the interior shoe accommodation for an additional insert it if is needed.  You must not get such an insert that the foot will not fit without pressure against the top of the foot.

Q:  What material is best for a great cross trainer shoe?
A:  When selecting a new cross trainer it is important to pick a shoe that has a high breathability.  It is a worst case scenario to purchase a shoe that restricts airflow.  Not only will the shoes stink but they will be trapping moisture against your skin.  That sets up a petri dish for fungus, germs, and blisters.  Usually, mesh is the best material for a cross trainer shoe to be constructed from.

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Sources

  1. Elizabeth E. Miller,Katherine K. Whitcome,Daniel E. Lieberman,Heather L. Norton,Rachael E. Dyer, The Effect of Minimal Shoes on Arch Structure and Intrinsic Foot Muscle Strength, Science Journal, Jun 01, 2014
  2. Danielle Natoni, The Best Training Shoes: What to Look for,


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