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The Best Men’s Gym Shoes for Every Kind of Workout

Best Gym Shoes 0 Hero

Just like the proper accouterments are essential to any given sport, the correct footwear at the gym is crucial to maximizing performance. However, your chosen sneakers will largely depend on what your regimen consists of. For instance, if you prefer to go hard on the treadmill, you’ll want to equip yourself with much different shoes than if you’re doing CrossFit. Likewise, your efforts on the basketball court can result in injury if you’re equipped with running shoes. On the other hand, you won’t need to spend so much effort deliberating if you prefer the elliptical or stationary bike. To make this complicated matter much simpler, we’ve assembled a guide to get you through five major areas of indoor exercise. Here are the best men’s gym shoes for every workout.

Best Gym Shoes for Every Occasion

What to Look For in Each Type of Shoe

Running & Cardio: As you may have guessed, the specs on indoor running shoes are going to be a little different than the ones used on pavement. Aside from the materials of the uppers, which can lean more towards style than durability, the midsole and outsole will see a 180-shift in functionality. Since the surfaces you’ll be running on inside a gym will be more padded than concrete, you won’t need as much cushioning or support. Likewise, since the terrain is consistent and made for better traction, the lug height can be less aggressive to ensure better balance.

Weightlifting: Much like there are different types of gym rats, there are different types of weightlifters as well. You have the standard lifters, the powerlifters, the leg lunks, and everything in between. Likewise, if you’re working out for a particular sport, your routine will look vastly different than someone training for another sport entirely. To help draw some common ground, weightlifting shoes should provide support, a smaller heel drop than running shoes, and an accommodating toe box, depending on what type of feet you have (wide or narrow).

CrossFit: The best of both worlds, a quintessential CrossFit shoe balances support and cushion for both lifting and running, all while building a durable skin and outsole so that you can keep your focus on the tasks at hand rather than protecting your sneakers.

All-Around Training: If you like to play the field while at the gym, you might wonder which one of these above categories is right for you. We’re here to solve your dilemma. Similar to CrossFit shoes, all-around training shoes will provide you with the proper amount of support and cushioning for any routine, but without needing to be as meticulously designed — thus making them slightly less specialized and, thus, more affordable for many. 

Basketball: There are some who buy a monthly gym membership just to use the basketball facilities. If that’s you, you’ll likely want to upgrade your shoes to give yourself the best chance of running the courts. Whether you like high tops or lows, your optimal sneaker for shooting hoops should be fairly grippy, supportive, flexible, and springy.

HOKA Mach 5

  • Really comfortable
  • Smooth transitions
  • Lightweight
  • Responsive
  • Outsole could be more durable

Best Overall Running/Cardio Shoe: Updating the Mach 4 just enough to retain its place as a favorite for runners, the Mach 5 from HOKA is the neutral shoe that gives just the right amount of cushion for treadmill sprinting or jogging along an indoor track, all while locking your foot into place like few other brands can do. The lightweight PROFLY+ midsole gives the shoes a boost of comfort without losing their responsiveness in the process. Other features include an EVA sockliner, rubberized EVA outsole, creel jacquard mesh upper, and a lay-flat gusseted tongue.

Uppers: Creel jacquard mesh
Midsole: PROFLY+ with EVA sockliner
Outsole: Rubberized EVA

Brooks Ghost 15

  • Great neutral trainer
  • Really smooth ride
  • Good for going fast
  • No gusseted tongue
  • Heavier than previous iteration

Best Runner-Up Running/Cardio Shoe: Brooks’ flagship neutral daily trainer debuted 15 years ago and has been a favorite ever since. With the Segmented Crash Pad creating the perfect cushion balance to handle a repetitive run on a repetitive surface, the latest Ghost iteration also features the newest DNA LOFT midsole for a softer ride and an updated upper that’s even more breathable than before, with a handful of color scheme options to boot. Suitable for both indoor and road, the versatility of the Ghost is both its strength and weakness. However, for runners who like to warm up indoors while finishing on the road, this is the best option for you.

Uppers: Air mesh with 3D Fit Print
Midsole: DNA LOFT v2 made of air, rubber, and foam
Outsole: Rubber

Nike Romaleos 4

  • Unique outsole shape to favor balance and stability
  • 20mm heel drop for more explosiveness
  • Straps around your foot give you extra support
  • Not as good for wide feet

Best Overall Weightlifting Shoe: To understand what makes the Romaleos so unique, just take a gander at the side and bottom of these shoes. Built with standard weightlifting ergonomics in mind, the fourth iteration of Nike’s flagship strength-focused sneakers props up the heel for more explosiveness while widening it for better support. Likewise, the straps around the center of your foot give you an extra level of support to pair with the bolstered midsole for certain workouts. While these will suit the traditional powerlifter perfectly, the Romaleos will also give you better balance on cables and machines as well.

Uppers: Ripstop woven fabric
Midsole: TPU
Outsole: Rubber

Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes

  • Two straps for support
  • Designed for narrow feet
  • Budget-friendly
  • Inconsistent sizing

Best Runner-Up Weightlifting Shoe: The only thing preventing the Do-Win Weightlifting Shoes from claiming the top spot is they’re not particularly designed for those with narrow feet or those who want to transition to CrossFit. That said, there’s nothing else bad to say about these sneakers. Tailor-made for lifters who favor Olympic or strongman styles of training, the Do-Win features two reinforcement straps at the top of your foot for particularly challenging snatches, leather and nylon mesh uppers for support and breathability, and an Olympic-standard 0.75” hard plastic heel. And for around $100, you’re getting some of the best value available.

Uppers: Synthetic leather and nylon mesh
Midsole: TPU
Outsole: Nylon and rubber

Reebok Nano X3

  • Comfortable
  • Midsole performs differently depending on the exercise
  • Very sturdy underfoot for lifting
  • Takes a bit to break in

Best Overall CrossFit Shoe: A staple in the CrossFit community, Reebok’s Nano just got an upgrade with the X3, which revamps the midsole so that it performs differently depending on which exercise you’re doing. For instance, when you’re lifting weights, you’ll get the proper amount of sturdiness underfoot, but when you’re doing more kinetic movements like running and jumping, the heel will soften for more cushion with the help of Floatride Energy Foam. The uppers here are made of Flexweave woven textile which maps its support levels around your foot.

Uppers: Flexweave woven textile
Midsole: Floatride Energy Foam
Outsole: All-surface rubber

Inov-8 F-Lite 300 G

inov8 F Lite
  • Durable; billed as the world’s toughest training shoe
  • Lightweight
  • Protection for climbs
  • Bootie-style construction won’t be for everyone

Best Runner-Up CrossFit Shoe: The F-Lite 300 G is a workhorse of a CrossFit shoe, balancing cushion and support with its EVA midsole and extensive use of graphene, which inov-8 opts for with a lot of its soles due to the material’s incredible strength and grip. Billed as the “world’s toughest training shoe,” these F-Lite 300s still barely tip the scales at 10.5oz apiece thanks to its TPU uppers. Other features include Rope-Tec protection for climbs, a wrap-around cage to lock in your foot, and some extra graphene in the powerheel for good measure.

Uppers: TPU
Midsole: EVA
Outsole: Graphene-enhanced rubber

Nike Metcon 8

Nike Metcon 8
  • Incredibly versatile
  • Flexible yet sturdy
  • Breathable
  • Attractive
  • Only caveat is when running for longer distances

Best Overall Shoe for All-Around Training: The Metcons are not designed to be weightlifting shoes, per se, but that’s not to say they won’t outfit you perfectly if you’re looking for an all-around gym sneaker. Whether you’re just starting out lifting weights or like to bounce between the treadmill and the squat rack, these Nike training sneakers are incredibly responsive, thanks to the React foam, and flexible enough for running. Meanwhile, the wide, sturdy bed allows for nice stability and weight distribution when you need it most. This eighth Metcon iteration is just a nice shoe in general, with breathable mesh uppers for longer gym stints and a variety of attractive colorways so you’ll look good in the process.

Uppers: Mesh
Midsole: React foam
Outsole: Rubber

Under Armour TriBase Reign 5

  • Small heel drop help with versatility
  • Very comfortable
  • Stable and flexible for HIIT and CrossFit
  • Not great for really wide feet
  • Not as great with long distnace running

Best Runner-Up Shoe for All-Around Training: The updated TriBase Reign sneakers from Under Armour should easily accomplish any task you ask of them at the gym. With a mere 2mm heel drop, the sneakers sport a proprietary TriBase triangular-patterned outsole for a lower feel to the ground, which helps with versatility in your routine. However, the Micro G foam midsole and internal heel counter help with cushioning and stability for lifting, while the UA WARP uppers let you embark on just about anything without compromising the exterior of your sneakers.

Uppers: UA WARP
Midsole: Micro G foam
Outsole: Rubber

New Balance TWO WXY v3

New Balance TWO WXY v3
  • Solid ankle support without restricting movement
  • Comfortable
  • Great for stopping and changing direction quickly
  • Attractive retro aesthetic
  • Not good for outdoors

Best Overall Basketball Shoe: If you told hoopsters 20 years ago that New Balance would be a force in the basketball shoe game, they would’ve laughed you out of the gym. Known for day-to-day comfort with its iconic 574 model, the brand’s sneakers were dubbed “dad shoes,” even though New Balance did make a run at the basketball market in ‘89 with its 550 silhouette. However, the model’s lack of innovation prevented it from breaking through. Today, however, the brand is in the middle of a renaissance with a signature athlete in Kawhi Leonard and a range of court-ready sneakers to rival the best of them. In terms of comfort and value, the TWO WXY is the best around, made specifically for the full spectrum of activity on a basketball floor, from running to jumping (and landing) to stopping on a dime — all while protecting your ankle without restricting movement.

Uppers: Molded textile
Midsole: FuelCell with ABZORB cushioning
Outsole: Rubber

adidas Dame 8

adidas Dame 8
  • Good for speed on the court
  • Bouncy midsole
  • Grippy outsoles
  • Comfortable
  • Appearance won’t be for everyone

Best Runner-Up Basketball Shoe: If you want optimal performance on the court, you shouldn’t have to break the bank. Damian Lillard’s signature shoe from adidas is a case in point. Partially made from recycled materials, the sneakers might be best suited for the quick guard than they are the leaper — although they work perfectly fine for both — featuring a Bounce Pro midsole that provides the cushion of a running shoe and enough support for someone who needs to change direction at will. Likewise, the grippy outsole ensures that you can make the right decision when the competition heats up.

Uppers: Air mesh
Midsole: Bounce Pro
Outsole: Rubber

The Best Smart Home Gyms

Best Smart Home Gyms 0 Hero
Photo: Peloton Tread+

If you love to get in your reps in the privacy of your own home, head over to our guide to the best home gyms to buy right now.