The best workout shoes will make you look good in the gym and offer improved grip and support, so you can work out safely and with greater effectiveness. Wearing specialised footwear for HIIT workouts, heavy lifting or cardio classes can support and help you achieve your fitness goals faster and more safely. That's right; you can get fit for 2023 faster by wearing the right workout shoes!
As much as we love them, even the best running shoes aren't fit for gym workouts – unless you spend most of your time on the treadmill, that is. For any other workouts, you need dedicated trainers tailored to the type of exercise you do. We tirelessly tested, reviewed and ranked shoes from every major workout shoe brand, including Under Armour, Inov-8, Nike, Reebok, Adidas and more, so you can choose one that fits your workout style the most.
If you need workout shoes for cross-training, check out T3's best cross-training shoe guide instead. For other gym accessories, please have a look at T3's best fitness watch and best gym headphones guides. If you need lifting gear, the best gym gloves and best weight lifting belt guides might help.
Best workout shoes to buy right now
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The Nike Metcon 7 won in the Best Workout Shoes category at the T3 Awards 2022
We weren't particularly blown away by the Metcon 6 as it was more of a slight update than a revolution of the otherwise excellent Metcon 5. On the other hand, the Nike Metcon 7 brought along significant updates and managed to improve the shoes tremendously. For example, the Nike Metcon 7 uses React, the brand's most resilient foam, making the shoes better suited for sprinting and general cardio.
The thick rubber sole provides extremely stable footing, ideal for heavy and Olympic lifts, while the grooves at the front of the sole allow the Metcon 7 to bend; basically, you get the best of both worlds. The upper has also been revamped and is said to be tougher than ever. Additionally, the tongues feature a lock tab under which you can hide the laces if you prefer them to be tucked away.
Read our full Nike Metcon 7 review
Browse our Nike discount codes to snap up some savings.
The Reebok Nano X2 are brilliantly-versatile workout shoes for people who prefer wearing their cross-trainers both inside and outside the gym. They might not be as stylish as some sneakers or as competent as dedicated workout shoes, but the Nano X2 makes up for these shortcomings by offering the best of both worlds with as little compromise as possible.
The updated FlexWeave Knit upper, combined with the wider forefoot platform and more spacious toe box, makes the shoes an ideal choice for people with wide feet. The updated heel design adds to the stability and keeps your feet securely in place when you need it the most – during heavy lifts and jumps.
Read our full Reebok Nano X2 review
The Lululemon Chargefeel could have been at risk of being a ‘jack of all trades and master of none’. Instead, it’s a multi-tasking workhorse that lets you jump, skip, kick, lift, HIIT, lunge, box and sprint your way to fitness.
Best of all, it’s housed in a very stylish package, so it’s easy to understand why the Chargefeel has now become the workout shoe of choice for female fitness editors everywhere who want to look good in the office but also require the ability to attend any kind of workout or running event at a moment’s notice, without having to lug around extra pairs of running and gym shoes in their gym bag.
It won’t suit dedicated runners or devoted weightlifters, but it’s not meant to. It will, however, work extremely well for women who enjoy a variety of workouts and classes, and don’t want the expense of buying lots of different shoes. A great one-stop shop that really does do it all.
Read our full Lululemon Chargefeel review
The Under Armour TriBase Reign 3 won in the 'Best Workout Shoes' category at the T3 Awards 2021.
Under Armour didn't switch things up too much with the TriBase Reign 3, but that's completely understandable, as these shoes were already the best workout shoes on the market as is. Nevertheless, the new TriBase Reign 3 offers more breathability and better grip than its predecessor.
The Reign 3 inherits most of the best qualities of its predecessor and improves on some to make it even more appealing than ever before. Although these shoes are not the most aesthetically pleasing, they are comfortable to wear, provide plenty of traction and get the job done pretty much perfectly.
At the end of the day, you'll need workout shoes to enable you to perform better in the gym and won't fall apart after a more intense workout session, and the Under Armour TriBase Reign 3 does just that. It's robust, comfortable and damn resilient: just buy them already.
Read our full Under Armour TriBase Reign 3 review
Not everyone needs cutting-edge technology in their workout shoes. The majority of people need cheap, reliable gym shoes that can be worn on the gym floor and on the road, too. The New Balance MXTRNRV1 are designed to perform on any surface, for any sport, anytime.
And although these shoes don't excel in any sport, the responsive and plush Dynasoft midsole will help you move forward nevertheless, whether you're on a treadmill or doing a HIIT class. The MXTRNRV1 comes in two colourways, navy with white and grey with neo flame, and these look... fine. No one's going to stop you on the street to compliment your shoes, but that's okay. You don't have to stand out all the time.
We fell in love with the Inov-8 BARE-XF 210 V3 while testing them; our 5-star Inov-8 BARE-XF 210 V3 review is proof of that. They are great for strength workouts; however, for jumpy HIIT sessions, use the Under Armour UA TriBase Reign 2 instead, which is a great all-around workout shoe.
Is the Inov-8 BARE-XF 210 V3 for everyone? We wouldn't think so. It's great for workouts that don't involve a lot of moving around (e.g. running/jogging) and/or jumping around. If you aren't used to barefoot shoes, running or even just jogging might take some time to get used to.
Read our full Inov-8 BARE-XF 210 V3 review
We weren't sure what to expect of the Goruck Ballistic Trainers (opens in new tab) (retailer link) before we gave them a try. They look robust – rigid, even – and we were slightly concerned about the shoes not being flexible enough. Mid-top, non-flexible CrossFit shoes might be great for specific exercises (primarily heavy lifts), but they won't be great for running or cycling.
To our relief, the Ballistic Mid-Top Trainers are flexible and comfortable to wear for workouts. Goruck claims the updated design provides three times the support and stability in the three arches of the foot (the medial longitudinal arch, the lateral longitudinal arch and the anterior transverse arch).
And indeed, the Ballistic Trainers feel supportive – sometimes a little too much. Especially in the heel area, some might find the TPU heel counter's guidance obtrusive. Weirdly enough, though, we wouldn't call it uncomfortable – you're just strangely aware that the heels are being cupped by the heel counters almost all the time.
That said, we didn't experience chafing in the shoes, even when we wore them all day to test out the heel counter. The upper is comfortable enough, and the Cordura panels lend a sense of durability without making the shoes too rigid. The toe box, in particular, feels generous, even for people with wide feet.
If you need rugged, military-style workout shoes for CrossFit and hybrid workouts, consider the Goruck Ballistic Mid-Top Trainers!
Building off the design of the mega-popular Reebok Nano X1, the Nano X1 Adventure Shoe was designed specifically for outdoor use. Imagine a proper CrossFit workout shoe but with a lot more padding and weather-proofing and bags more style.
As Tal Short, Senior Product Manager at Reebok, explains, “More than ever, we’re seeing a huge surge in outdoor fitness and exploration from consumers of all ages and fitness levels." This is probably because, for a year, one of the few reasons people could get outside their homes was to exercise.
It seems the habit of outdoor exercising is here to stay, so understandably, sports apparel manufacturers are trying to fill the gap in the market with their products. The Nano X1 Adventure is Reebok's take on this, and it's a good one.
So, what's new in the Nano X1 Adventure compared to the X1 Nano? The former has an updated rubber lug outsole to help maximum traction outdoors. The flat, less lugged outsole of indoor workout shoes might not perform all that well on grass or gravel, unlike the Nano X1 Adventure, which enjoys quite much on those terrains.
The upper is different, too: it's made of a stretch ripstop material to protect your feet from the elements better. It's also well-padded and provides plush cushioning but can get warm after a while when the weather is hot. On the plus side, the toe box is roomy and allows the foot to expand.
I personally found the laces too long, but you can easily tuck them under so they aren't in the way. Also, despite what Reebok is trying to claim, the Nano X1 Adventure is not a running shoe, so the lengthier laces won't be too much trouble for most. Just make sure you tuck them in before you do your box jumps.
And now for something a little different... where most of the other trainers on this list pile on the features, the Primus Lite III - from eco-friendly brand Vivobarefoot -does the opposite. The third iteration of the Primus Lite is very similar to its predecessor but uses fewer material sources as well as better and more sustainable materials to reduce the impact this footwear has on the planet, without changing the workout experience of the shoes too much (or at all).
Fully vegan-friendly and fashioned from recycled PET plastic waste, they allow for the most natural-feeling workout there is, with the thin, puncture-resistant sole allowing the important nerve endings in the feet to feedback to the brain.
Admittedly, we were sceptical at first, but performing big deadlifts and squats in these is better than going barefoot, or slipping around the gym in socks. The wide shape allows the big toe to stabilise (like it should), while the sole allows the user to make micro-adjustments for the perfect platform during big lifts.
Better still, they are stupidly flexible, so assist in reducing potential toe cramps and discomfort when performing split squats or lunges, where the toes curl with every rep or movement.
Xero Shoes might be less talked about than Vivobarefoot but its shoes are almost equally as capable, if not more in some cases.
The Xero Shoes HFS – "Highly Flexible Shoes" – is a good example of the craftsmanship Xero applies to its shoes. The HFS is very similar to Vivobarefoot's Primus Lite series but has a sportier upbeat look. Despite the funky looks, the HFS uses vegan-friendly materials only.
Although Xero Shoes advertises the HFS as a minimalist road running shoe, I think doesn't serve justice to these shoes. Sure, you can use the HFS for running – I'd recommend taking it slow, though – but you can also use it for a range of different workouts too. As long as the workout doesn't involve any wet surfaces.
You see, the HFS might have a "tyre tread-inspired sole", in practice, it gets rather unstable when you step on wet surfaces, whether it's tarmac or that weird, rubbery stuff they use under playground swings these days.
Another reason why you might want to avoid working out outside in the HFS is the fact that the upper gets stained very easily. I appreciate workout shoes don't need to be kept box-fresh, but the mesh upper of the HFS will attract stains like a magnet. Way to ruin your pretty shoes.
If you're happy to put up with these issues, you will be rewarded with a pair of workout shoes that are super comfortable to wear and allow your feet to expand properly, unlike most trainers.
How we test the best workout shoes
There are as many different types of workouts as stars in the sky – have you heard about Happy Intensifying Interval Training yet? Is it possible for one workout shoe to be perfect for all of them? No, it isn't.
In most cases, manufacturers will tell you which workout their shoes are best suited for, but this doesn't mean those shoes can't be used for other purposes, something we're always keen to find out.
Some of the essential criteria we check are step-in comfort, ergonomics, padding, cushioning, technology involved, design, aesthetics, and, of course, workout performance.
Of course, your feet are shaped differently from ours, so when we say particular shoes feel snug on our wide feet, that doesn't necessarily mean you'll feel the tightness yourself, so bear this in mind when reading our verdicts.
Read more about how we test at T3 by clicking on the link.
How to buy the best workout shoes for you
Generally speaking, a good workout trainer has a relatively flat sole, especially under the heels (where it should also be a bit wider). Unlike running shoes, which tend to feature a curve from heel to toe to help you transition from one step to the other, workout shoes best serve their purpose when they are able to provide a stable platform for lifting weights.
Some models have a wider, reinforced heel area, which copes with the excess pressure when tackling a really heavy deadlift or squat and avoids any ankle rolling. In contrast, others will be more geared towards explosive movements and high-intensity workouts.
Keep in mind what you plan to do, as a shoe that's designed purely for heavyweights probably isn't the most suited to those thinking of incorporating plenty of jumping jacks, box jumps and sprints into their workouts.
However, the most important factor to consider is fit. Most brands differ in terms of the width and snugness of their offerings, so make sure you do your research before you buy a discounted pair online.
What are the best shoes for gym workouts?
Gym workouts, especially heavy lifts, require a stable platform: we strongly advise steering clear away from running shoes – instead, use workout shoes with a flat sole. Most CrossFit-style shoes are great for this purpose, including the Nike Metcon 6 and the Under Armour TriBase Reign 3, but for the more adventurous, we would also recommend the Inov-8 BARE-XF 210 V3 or the Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III minimalist gym shoes.
Can I workout in running shoes?
Depending on the type of workout you do, running shoes might not be the worst idea to wear. We're talking about cardio classes and other activities that don't involve lifting heavy weights. For CrossFit and especially bodybuilding, we recommend shoes with a flatter sole to ensure you stand on a strudier platform for big lifts. The best cross-trainnig shoes strike a good balance between shoes designed for lifting and cardio, generally speaking.
What is the best shoe for cardio workouts?
Cardio workouts come in many shapes and sizes. In fact, any workout that puts some strain on the cardiovascular system can be considered a cardio workout. That said, people usually associate cardio workouts with exercise classes, whether it's sweating on a Peloton or jumping around in a Zumba class.
For anything jumpy, we'd recommend well-cushioned shoes, such as the ASICS Gel-Kayano 29, which is a running shoe but stable enough to provide lateral support for jumping. Most running shoes can be used for treadmill training, although we'd advise against max-cushioned running shoes (e.g. New Balance SuperComp Trainer) as they can be pretty unstable on the belt.
If you're really keen on putting as much effort as possible into cycling workouts, we recommend using dedicated cycling shoes, or if you're riding a Peloton, the best shoes for Peloton. These will help you make the most of each revolution by connecting your feet to the peddles, which cranks up intensity quite a lot.