Best cross-training shoes 2022 for intense CrossFit and HIIT workouts

T3's rundown of the best cross-training shoes for functional fitness or high-intensity exercise

Best cross-training shoes: Pictured here, CrossFit GOAT Mat Fraser running outdoors shirtless
(Image credit: Nike / Mat Frazer)

The popularity of the best cross-training shoes has skyrocketed in recent years. Undoubtedly commercialised by the proliferation of functional fitness and CrossFit-style training, cross-training shoes are a hybrid type of athletic trainer designed to allow wearers to move in different directions while offering the support needed to limit injury. And they look pretty dope, too.

Usually, a good pair of cross-training shoes will boast some decent ankle support, a flexible and breathable upper and high levels of comfort to see you through even the most intense exercises. If this is the type of fitness shoe you’re in the market for, read on to find out which we think are the best cross-training shoes money can buy right now.

Speaking of shoes: if there’s one thing the fitness market is saturated with, it’s shoes. There seems to be a pair of trainers for just about every different type of exercise these days, from the best running shoes and best women's shoes to the best workout shoes and even best trail running shoes – you name it, there’s a shoe for it, and if there is, we have a buying guide that can help you choose the right one for your needs.

Best cross-training shoes to buy right now

How to choose the best cross-training shoes for you

Finding the right pair of cross-training shoes is hard enough as it is. But since boutique fitness is all the rage and nobody commits to just one type of exercise anymore, finding the pair that’s perfect for all your workout needs can feel near impossible. The fact of the matter is: it’s probably best to buy a pair of shoes for each fitness discipline that you dedicate yourself to.

For example, you might be bogged down with questions like: “I do a lot of running, but I love the occasional hit class, so what shoes do I go for?”. In this instance, we’d recommend purchasing a pair of cross-training shoes, but only if they’re regular, and - if your budget can stretch to it - buy a pair of trainers specifically for running so that you’re best supported in each discipline. No one shoe is perfect for every occasion.

You’re not going to want the stiff heel support in a running shoe as it could cause injury, and, conversely, you’re not going to want that overly bouncy and flexible design when you’re throwing dumbbells around in the middle of a CrossFit class. This is why cross-training shoes are crucial. They’ll give you the right balance of support and flexibility to ensure you’re comfortable and safe during functional workouts.

Can you run in cross training shoes?

Generally speaking, the best cross-training shoes are okay to use for short bursts of cardio exercise (i.e. running), but they aren't to be used for long-distance running. Premium cross-training shoes have responsive foams, but they are far from being cushioned enough to help you survive a marathon. If you mainly do cardio and the occasional cross-training workout, we recommend choosing running shoes with a durable upper and a thick outsole.

What is the difference between training shoes and cross training shoes?

All cross-training shoes are workout shoes, but not all workout shoes are cross-training shoes. Cross-training are specialised training shoes designed to withstand intense rope climb/wall stand/etc. workouts. Cross-training shoes often have a reinforced upper, a wider heel, a flatter sole and responsive foam than standard gym shoes.

Lee Bell is a freelance journalist & copywriter specialising in technology, health, grooming and how the latest innovations are shaking up the lifestyle space. From national newspapers to specialist-interest magazines and digital titles, Lee has written for some of the world’s most respected publications during his 11 years as a journalist.

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