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If you’re using the next few months to super-charge your fitness routine, then you have to have the right training shoes.
Whether you’re weightlifting, running, doing CrossFit, HITT or training for a sport — there’s a training shoe for you. In fact, there are probably several!
As professional athletes and active people alike know, the right pair of shoes for the right occasion can offer plenty of benefits. And that includes protecting your feet, legs, joints and every other part of your body.
With so many kinds of workout shoes to pick from, how can you be sure you’re making the best choice for your performance and your health? To help, we’ve rounded up the best training shoes on the market in 2022! Keep reading to learn which pair of shoes are the perfect “fit” for your training.
Our picks for the best training shoes:
- Best Overall Shoe: Adidas Ultraboost 21 Training Shoes
- Runner-Up: Reebok Nano X1 Training Shoes
- Best Training Shoes for Every Day: New Balance CT302 Lifestyle Shoes
- Best Training Shoes for Weightlifting: Nike Metcon 7
- Best Cross-Training Shoes: NOBULL Trainer
- Best HIIT Training Shoes: Under Armour Project Rock
- Best Training Shoes for Walking: Salomon INDEX .01 Shoes
- Best Affordable Training Shoes: Under Armour Charged Commit 3 Training Shoes
- Best Training Shoes for Running: Puma Liberate NITRO
Of all the options on this list, the Adidas Ultraboost 21 earned the top spot because of their incredible versatility and durability. These are the de facto training shoes for anyone who wants footwear that can outlast comparable models, whether you’re a long-distance runner or gym-lover. The Ultraboost 21s are more durable than other running shoes we’ve tested. While their durable construction adds a bit to the shoes’ build (each one weighs just under 12 ounces), what you get in return more than makes up for it. Their sock-like fit keeps your foot firmly in place, remains highly supportive and prevents bothersome heel movement.
Perfect for just about any kind of cardio or strength training, the Adidas Ultraboost 21 provides the type of versatility simply not found in most other training shoes. That said, just remember these are training shoes, not running shoes. While they are surprisingly adept at providing great running performance, they are the best choice for someone who does a little bit of everything at the gym.
It was close, but the Reebok Nano X1 training shoes finished second to the Adidas Ultraboost 21s. Still, we’d be remiss for not including them as the runner-up. These are sturdy and reliable workout shoes, which is especially noteworthy given the $130 price. The Nano X1s are designed for people serious about working out. In fact, Reebok notes on its website that the Nano X1s were designed by elite athletes.
The textile they are made from is reinforced for extra durability, yet they are still breathable. So they take the harshest workout conditions you throw at them and continue to support your feet and body, even during a range of intense, rapid movements. That’s in part due to the special foam cushioning in their forefoot, which gives them a high level of responsiveness. This special foam is the same material that is used in Reebok’s running and HIiT shoes, and makes them feel much more supported and less flat than some of the other training shoes we’ve tested. And their heel clip provides great rearfoot stability. If you’re someone who does a bit of everything at the gym, shoes don’t get much more versatile than the Reebok Nano X1s.
If you want the shoes you wear to the gym to also look fashionable while you’re running errands, then check out the New Balance CT302 lifestyle shoes. They combine the athletic performance of classic tennis sneakers with a more modern design. They also feature a chunky outsole with an extending rubber wrap around the toe box. Plus, their leather construction adds durability and gives them easy wear. You may want to think twice before hopping on the treadmill with the New Balance CT302s, but they won’t let you down when squeezing in a quick run in your home gym.
The Nike Metcon 7 training shoes offer the heel-to-toe support and structure weightlifters can rely on. Their wide, flat heel features an inner plate that does a great job of distributing your weight evenly across each shoe’s edges when working out and provides the kind of stability you want when powerlifting. And if you’re bouncing between strength training and cardio in the same workout session, the Metcon 7s feature a responsive foam-cushioned base that gives them a lightweight feel and puts a little spring into your step.
No matter how much you mix up your exercise during the same workout, the rubber wraps in the Metcon 7s’ arch provide a strong surface grip, while their rubber tread offers plenty of traction for any indoor and outdoor environment. They would even work for other exercises like rope climbs or using smart gym equipment like the Tonal.
When it comes to heavy lifting, the NOBULL training shoes don’t mess around. That’s because their flat-sole design and heel-to-toe drop serve up the perfect stability needed for a range of weight training exercises, including deadlifts and heavy squats. The design of the NOBULL trainers are minimalist, so they don't offer much of a fashion pop. But what they lack in style they make up for in breathability and durability.
That being said, they aren’t garish like some other weightlifting shoes, so you can wear them out and about without any fashion violations. Just avoid any kind of running or even prolonged walking in the NOBULL trainers; what they offer in stability for weightlifters they lack in support for runners. Because they are designed for weight distribution and balance, they don’t have the kind of insole cushion support you need for cardio.
Believe it or not, the shoes in this collection are approved by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Well, who are we to disagree? High-intensity interval training (HIIT) pushes you out of your cardio comfort zone and you’ll need a reliable pair of training shoes to bring along for the ride. Enter the Under Armour Project Rocks; they’re a versatile shoe that offers support whether you’re running, walking, box jumping, doing burpees sprinting, cycling or rowing. The shoes’ cushioned soles are responsive to your movements and they reduce impact as you pound the pavement, returning vital energy to your step that your knees and joints would otherwise absorb.
The second you transition from a cool-down period to a 30-second cardio burst, Project Rock’s full rubber outsoles prevent slipping while their lacing structure keeps the shoes firmly conformed to your feet. Another important element of these shoes for HIIT workouts is comfort. The upper lip fits snug without squeezing and the shoes’ external heel counter to keep you standing and stable. If you’re into CrossFit, you should seriously consider these shoes.
Looking for a shoe that enables you to walk your way to fitness while feeling good about the impact you’re making on the environment? The Salomon INDEX .01 walking shoes are constructed using materials from recycled products. You can even recycle them once you’ve logged your last lap (which shouldn’t be for a while, since they’re built with abrasion-resistant material.)
As for walking, the Salomon INDEX .01s feature a unique foam cushion infused with nitrogen, which the brand says helps with prolonged comfort and arch support. And while their curved midsole geometry distributes your weight through your stride to lessen impact, their flat laces reduce pressure points that could otherwise result in pain and discomfort. So you can keep walking for miles at a time without worrying about paying for it later.
The Under Armour Charged Commit 3 training shoes are the perfect option for anyone who wants the performance-boosting features without any of the extra fuss. Still, Under Armour managed to pack a lot into these shoes for $80. Their lightweight mesh is surprisingly breathable, so your feet won’t suffer when you’re in the throes of an intense session. Other shoes at this price point tend to have a textile mesh that is either too porous (implying cheap material) or not porous enough (suggesting poor design consideration). There’s even a cushioned sock liner that molds to your foot to reduce slip. The Under Armour Charged Commit 3s were also designed for versatility, with full rubber outsoles that offer reliable traction and flexibility on a variety of surfaces.
The Puma Liberate NITRO are shoes unapologetically all about running. They boast a sturdy mono-mesh design that helps to keep their weight to a trim 6.3 ounces each. While their full lace closure ensures a secure, conforming fit, while their single-piece midsole cushions your strike and responds quickly to adjustments in tempo. Puma’s special rubber compound on the full-length, zoned soles give you traction for any surface and the shoes’ reflectors are thoughtfully placed to catch and reflect light in areas with low light.
Why Buy Training Shoes?
“A good pair of training shoes is an important complement to your workout routine,” says Kate Meier, head of content at Garage Gym Reviews. “Making sure you have the right pair of shoes for the fitness activity you’re doing can help improve your performance and prevent strains or injury.”
For example, training shoes made for weightlifting lack cushion relative to running shoes because this helps to prevent injury. If you deadlift a heavy weight and your soles have too much cushion, you’re more likely to lose your balance and stumble. Likewise, running shoes provide more cushion to account for the impact your body absorbs when on a trail, treadmill, pavement or sidewalk.
What Type of Training Shoes Should You Buy?
The answer to this question hinges on what workouts you’re doing or plan to do. There are general “all-purpose” training shoes that are designed for someone who plans to do a little bit of everything. And these general training shoes are ones that rank in the middle across the board (cushion, traction, ankle support, responsiveness, etc.) with several models on the market that are fine for casual exercise. But if you’re serious about your fitness and exercise, you should look for training shoes specially designed for your type of workout.
Also, take into consideration your personal needs. Some shoes run narrow at the toe box, so a design with a wide toe box would be the way to go if you have wide feet. If you run in or after the rain, then look for a shoe with grippy tread.
Different Types of Training
For HIIT training, look for shoes with plenty of cushion for high impact running and jumping, like the Under Armour Project Rock trainers. You’ll want stability and responsiveness in your shoes as well since you’ll rapidly switch between intense sprints and brief cool-down periods. You can find this kind of stability in the form of rubber soles and lacing structures that keep the shoes firmly against your feet without being overly restrictive.
Training shoes for weightlifting will typically have an elevated heel relative to other models. That’s because the higher your ankle can move the better, which is critical when lifting weight. You want your feet firmly planted on the ground and your ankles working with your knees. They’ll also have a wider base for stability and balance.
Cardio (or, training shoes vs. running shoes)
Training shoes are different from running shoes. Running shoes worth their salt are designed to be lightweight and offer heel-to-toe movement to distribute impact across the sole with each stride. They also have a higher heel drop and greater midfoot support than other types of shoes to give the runner much needed cushion, especially if you’re doing any kind of road running. Conversely, training shoes are primarily designed for side-to-side movement. This means training shoes tend to be flatter than running shoes, making them more responsive for a wider range of movements and better for balance and stability. Think of it like this: training shoes are meant for the gym and running shoes are meant for doing laps around the track.
Cross-training is a term to describe when an athlete branches out into different types of sports and workouts, like if a cyclist took up tennis or if a basketball player started jogging to build stamina and strengthen lung capacity. If the cross-training incorporates a range of unique workouts, this is where the more general “all-around” training shoes can come in handy. Still, it’s important to always consider safety and the effects on your body. If you’re a runner and you plan to get into weightlifting, that’s technically cross-training. But you’d be well advised to look for training shoes designed for lifters. If you’re a weightlifter taking up walking to burn a few extra calories, then training shoes might just be the perfect fit.
Prices are accurate and items in stock at time of publishing.