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The best gym shoes have features specific to certain activities. Running shoes are typically more cushioned to reduce the impact on the joints, while weightlifting shoes aim to hold the knee in a suitable position when a person squats.

This article explores why different workouts may require different gym shoes and lists some gym shoes to consider trying.

We refer to “women,” “men,” or both to align with how companies market their products, but there is no need to stick to one type or the other. A person should choose the product that best suits their needs.

Comfort, safety, and proper fit are important factors to consider when choosing a gym shoe.

In general, people should look for shoes suitable for their chosen activity.

A safe gym shoe features a flat, nonskid sole with heel support and enough space for the toes to move around. It should also provide cushioning for the foot arch.

People with flat feet should research gym shoes particularly carefully, as regular fit shoes may not provide enough arch support.

Additionally, gym shoes will deteriorate over time, so individuals should check them regularly for signs of wear and tear.

Signs that a shoe needs replacing include:

  • having tired aching feet after physical activity
  • a worn-out tread
  • pain in the shins, knees, or hips after activity

Depending on a person’s workout, they may need different gym shoes for different activities.

For example, some gym shoes may be more suited for running, while others are more suitable for weightlifting. Some will be appropriate for various activities, including high-intensity interval training and group fitness classes.

Running

In the past century, sportswear manufacturers have dramatically altered the look and feel of running shoes by trialing new designs and materials.

Running shoes now have technical and engineering elements that provide different characteristics important for running, such as:

  • support
  • cushioning
  • a barefoot feel

Despite these advances, researchers note that running injury levels have remained unchanged for 40 years. However, they state this may be due to changes to the running population and the definition of a running injury.

Learn more about running shoes for flat feet.

Weightlifting

The key characteristics of weightlifting shoes include:

  • raised heels, appropriate for a person’s height
  • solid soles
  • a roomy, secure fit
  • ankle support
  • nonslip outsoles

A 2017 study demonstrated that experienced weightlifters might benefit more from a weightlifting shoe than inexperienced weightlifters.

Although weightlifting shoes have features that running shoes lack, studies cannot confirm their benefits for all people who lift weights.

Notable differences between running shoes and weightlifting shoes include the below.

  • Running shoes focus on cushioning, while weightlifting shoes aim for alignment.
  • Running shoes are flexible, and weightlifting shoes are solid.
  • Running shoes promote rebounding, while weightlifting shoes help absorb force.

Learn more about weightlifting shoes.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Under Armour Project Rock 4 Training Shoes

Best weightlifting shoe

Under Armour is a fitness shoe and apparel company that sells different shoes for a wide range of sports, including baseball, football, and golf. It also makes military and tactical training shoes.

These shoes use the company’s HOVR technology to provide a feeling of zero gravity. According to Under Armour, this patented technology helps people maintain energy return, which reduces the impact on the joints.

However, these weightlifting shoes still provide stability to assist people who lift weights. They are also comfortable and durable.

These shoes are available in men’s and women’s ranges. Color options vary between these ranges and include:

  • black/gray
  • steel/black
  • red/black

The Under Armour Project Rock 4 Training Shoes cost $150.

Under Armour Charged Assert 9 Running Shoes

Best for all-terrain running

The Charged Assert 9 running shoes from Under Armour feature a charged cushioning midsole that reduces impact and is responsive while a person is running.

The solid rubber sole spreads over several high-impact zones, ensuring the shoes have good durability no matter the running surface.

These shoes are suitable for runners who need both flexibility and cushioning, while the mesh upper keeps them breathable.

They are available in men’s and women’s ranges. Color options vary between the ranges and include:

  • black
  • black/white
  • gray/white
  • blue/white
  • pink/gray

The Under Armour Charged Assert 9 Running Shoes cost $70.

Reebok Nano X Shoes

Best for cross-training

Reebok is an established sports brand that sells a range of fitness apparel and sports equipment, from leggings and trainers to treadmills and free weights.

The Reebok Nano X shoe is a crosstraining shoe. Reebok states that some of its features include:

  • Flexweave material that makes the shoe breathable, stable, and durable
  • low profile stability that secures footing
  • enhanced comfort, with a new collar construction that holds the ankle in place
  • a minimal drop outsole

These shoes are available in men’s and women’s ranges. Color options vary between the ranges and include:

  • black/black/white
  • black/white/orange
  • black/gray
  • army green/poplar green
  • white/black/red
  • chalk/navy/sepia
  • pure gray

The Reebok Nano X Shoes cost $130.

Reebok Lavante Terrain Running Shoes

Best indoor/outdoor running shoes

Reebok specifically designed these shoes for outdoor running, though a person can also use them in the gym.

The textured rubber sole maintains grip even when an individual is running through mud and other challenging terrains.

Features of the shoe include:

  • FuelFoam in the midsole to provide a cushioning response
  • a textured rubber sole for increased grip
  • soft and breathable material

They are only available in women’s sizes and one color scheme: midnight shadow/black/cold grey. They cost $70.

Nike Free Metcon 4 Shoes

Best for boot camps and strength training

Nike manufactures fitness shoes and apparel. It is a well-established sports brand, and its fitness products are available globally.

The Nike Free Metcon 4 supports a broad range of activities. With a durable strap, the shoes offer stability during workouts. They are also lightweight, flexible, and breathable and provide a snug, sock-like fit.

According to Nike, these training shoes are suitable for boot camps and strength training.

They are available in men’s and women’s sizes. Color options vary between the ranges and include:

  • black/white
  • gray/white
  • solid black
  • red/white
  • green/yellow
  • pink/white
  • white/green

The Nike Free Metcon 4 Shoes cost $120.

Mizuno Wave Rider 25 Running Shoes

Best treadmill running shoe

This neutral running shoe is well-cushioned, responsive, breathable, and durable.

It has a 12-millimeter heel drop, which may benefit people with Achilles tendon issues.

These shoes are available in men’s and women’s ranges. Color options vary between these ranges and include:

  • imperial blue/vivid blue
  • blackened pearl
  • lake blue/clearwater
  • blackened shade

The Mizuno Wave Rider 25 shoes cost $140.

Nike Tanjun Shoes

Best sustainable gym shoe

This shoe emphasizes simplicity and a lean look while being lightweight with a durable midsole. Users find them comfortable and suitable for all-day wear, walking, and gym use.

They may be more helpful for people with flat feet than those with high arches.

These shoes also comprise a minimum of 20% recycled material by weight.

They are available in men’s and women’s ranges. Color options vary between the ranges and include:

  • black
  • white/black
  • black/white
  • pink/gray
  • gray/white

The Nike Tanjun Shoes cost $65

Tiem Slipstream Shoes

Best cycling shoes

These shoes aim to serve as performance cycling shoes, reimagined for studio cycling classes. They are slip-ons, held in place with a single strap, and have a mesh, breathable toe box. Cleats are available separately.

These shoes are available in women’s sizes, but Tiem states that people seeking men’s sizes can add 1.5 to the usual size. For example, a men’s size 9 is a women’s size 10.5.

There are 15 color options, including:

  • black
  • white
  • coral
  • navy
  • lilac
  • camo

The Tiem Slipstream shoes cost $135.

Rykä Influence Training Shoe

Best shoe for fitness classes and walking

This shoe is suitable for dance fitness and light workouts at home or the gym.

A dual-density foam midsole provides padding for impact and helps the shoe keep its shape. The shoes aim to provide ease of movement, and the insole provides extra arch and heel support.

These shoes are available in women’s sizes, with medium or wide width options.

There are 11 color options, including:

  • black
  • vapor gray
  • iris blue
  • pink rose
  • black/blue

The Rykä Influence Training Shoes cost $89.99.

Athletic shoe manufacturers offer various types of shoes to support people doing specific training. Whether a person runs, lifts weights, or takes part in group classes, they can find a specialized gym shoe to suit their needs.

The best gym shoe for a person provides comfort and safety. The choice of shoe may differ depending on the individual’s preferences and their chosen activity.