You may be able to lift or hop on and off boxes in any old pair of sneakers, but believe it or not, there are shoes that are much better suited for time spent working out with weights. Dedicated gym trainers are the perfect footwear for the job when the dumbbells and kettlebells get some garage action, even though gyms are already closed.
Finding a decent pair of gym trainers for such workouts is a worthwhile investment for a variety of reasons, whether you live in the weights section or prefer HIIT. The right gym shoe will provide you with the help you need to get more out of your lifting sessions or to quickly change directions as needed by some intense workouts.
There are gym trainers that specialise in living a zero-cardio lifestyle, as well as plenty of choices that are a great match if you run as well as strength train. With more gym shoes than ever before, we’ve rounded up the best picks and offered some advice before you go shopping.
What activities are my gym trainers the for?
This is the first and most important question you can ask yourself. Do you want something that you can only wear for a lifting session or something that is more versatile?
If you’re looking for a shoe that’s mostly for lifting, look for extra support in the heel to help with squats and other movements. An ankle brace around the laces and a rigid upper can help keep your feet securely in place and provide a stable foundation, while a hard outsole can help you power through deadlifts.
You’ll want something that gives you the extra stability while still giving you more cushioning and the type of cushioning that fits your running style whether you’re mixing in running or HIIT. That’s something you’ll probably find in a cross-training shoe with a nice balance of support and cushioning in the heel and mid-foot.
Consider something lighter or with a flatter sole to allow you to break into those explosive moves quickly while still providing good traction on all surfaces.
The need to knows about gym trainer sizing
Gym trainers, like all shoes, require proper fitting, particularly when you’ll be putting them under a lot of stress during workouts. What works for a running shoe should not work for a cross-training shoe or a dedicated weightlifting shoe.
Don’t go too short, and it’s usually best to go up a size from your standard size to allow your feet to move freely. Consider the width of a shoe, particularly if you’re lifting weights, to ensure you have a wide enough base to lift from.
There’s a hypothesis that lifting weights barefoot activates nerves all over the body, causing extra muscle fibres to activate. Indeed, removing shoes completely alters movement habits in a somewhat different way than wearing weightlifting or cross-training shoes. However, you expose your feet to stress fractures, which are more common in the second metatarsal, which connects your mid-foot to your second toe. Dropping a weight on your toes often puts you at risk of injuring your feet.
Best Gym Trainers Out Now
1. On Cloud X
The Cloud X from Swiss running shoe brand On is designed for running, but it also has plenty of features for those who want to do other things in the gym.
CloudTec sole provides cushioning you required for those bursts of speed, and the “Zero-Gravity” foam means they don’t feel heavy when you’re moving. A dual-density sock lining ensures comfort during long, strenuous sessions, and a knit-weave upper provides additional support while keeping sweat and moisture to a minimum.
The Metcon 5 was almost faultless, but Nike’s most recent Metcon 6 incarnation had big shoes to fill. But, as with any brand that has found a winning formula, there are no major changes on the horizon, only some welcome refinements.
With a roomier toe box and a new mesh layer, the most significant updates to this all-rounder are in the breathability department. It’s a minor improvement, but you’ll note it when you’re pounding the pavement at the Cross Fit box.
Under Armour used the same Hovr foam cushioning device used in its running and basketball shoes for the Apex model, which works well on the gym floor as well. With deep flex grooves that make it particularly well-suited to grass-based workouts in parks and gardens, it’s well-equipped to handle the most vigorous lifting sessions.
The heel structure, like the first version, bulks up support for a notably large fit. Thanks to the mid-foot support from a TriBase plate, they give a slightly higher base than Nike’s Metcon 6 without feeling unstable, further cementing its impenetrable tank-like position in the gym shoe industry.
Nike trainers are hard to go wrong with, and these SuperRep Go training shoes are no exception. At less than £100, this is still a decent shoe for circuit training or HIIT lessons, and it’s more affordable than most of Nike’s ranges.
The lightweight mesh upper helps to improve ventilation and airflow, keeping your feet cool while still holding your foot in place for lateral movement support. Thick foam cushioning can also give you the ease you need to get through harder workouts, reducing the effect on your joints that certain movements can have.
These lifting shoes will provide you with the encouragement and stability you need to start moving your personal bests higher. Reebok’s “Flexcage” technology provides lightweight stability that keeps the foot securely in place when supporting it. The design keeps the ankle and heel secure, while the EVA midsole provides cushioning for added comfort.
To get even more technical, the 1.9cm heel has been carefully measured to provide the best squat position, angling the foot and ankle to promote proper form.
Overall, this is an excellent exercise shoe for someone who spends a significant amount of time in the weight room.
These Nike trainers are a perfect choice if you want to switch up your fitness styles. They’re more of a multipurpose gym shoe that can see you through anything from classes and strength training to treadmill and rowing machine-based workouts.
They have plenty of cushioning thanks to Nike ZoomX foam, while still being lightweight and breathable thanks to the shoe’s mesh upper that promotes airflow. The rubber outsole provides protection and stability for circuit training or HIIT workouts, allowing for multidirectional movement with flexible grooves in the sole to allow for free movement.
The Primus Lite II from Vivobarefoot provides all of the advantages of barefoot training without the small chance of injury. They have a slightly wider shape than normal to help the toes stay stable during heavy lifts, and the versatility and light weight make them ideal for jumping into higher-intensity movement.
They’re also made entirely of recycled PET plastic, making them vegan-friendly.
The second Nike Air Zoom SuperRep builds on the first’s all-rounder appeal with the same “burpee break” construction that splits the sole to allow weight distribution across different sections of the foot, evoking the first’s ready-for-a-moon-landing aesthetics.
Two changes improve the fit of the training shoe: an adjustable, burrito-style tongue and a roomier forefoot, allowing it to return to the most rigorous HIIT lessons, from Barry’s to F45.
The Nano X is the tenth anniversary of the Crossfit-inspired shoe, which should also work well for HIIT and bootcamp. Choose from eleven different colorways, all of which feature the same lightweight EVA foam in the midsole for plenty of cushioning and a foam collar for added support.
The flexible outsole keeps it simple, but it also provides stability while you’re lifting, and the “Flexweave” upper is designed to give you the extra boost of support when you’re on the move. It’s built for flexibility, so it’ll hold up if you’re swinging kettlebells or hopping on and off shelves.
With a triangular base and a wider external heel counter for reinforcement, UA’s Reign 2 addresses the shortcomings of the first version. It has just the right amount of bounce to keep you on your toes, and the sawtoothed outsole offers plenty of stability to keep you grounded when you need it most.
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