The Best Gym Shoes for Working Out

Want to get down in the gym? Here's what you need on your feet.

Athletic sneaker with mesh upper and thick rubber sole, displayed against an abstract background for a sneaker article
RAD
Athletic sneaker with mesh upper and thick rubber sole, displayed against an abstract background for a sneaker article

Few things in this world are more important than your health. No matter what, you should try to prioritize some sort of fitness. Whether it’s going for a walk, hitting the local globo gym for a quick sweat, or serious strength and cardio training, get something in. But also wear the right shoes in the process. Don’t be the person squatting in running shoes or running in Sambas. Please, don’t do it. There are plenty of shoes out there built for functional fitness or cross-training. They’re shoes you can run in but also lift weights in. Whether it’s a Reebok Nano, Nike Metcon, or the R.A.D One Globals, a good pair of gym shoes might not make you squat 315 or bench 225, or hit a PR mile time. But they’ll have you prepared for what you need to do. So here are the best ones to buy right now

R.A.D. One Trainers

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Price: $150

You’re simply the best, better than all the rest. The R.A.D One is my go-to training shoe. And it has been for almost two years now. It’s the perfect balance of everything you’d want: firm enough for squatting and lifting heavy, soft enough for plyometrics, jump rope, and running. And it doesn’t have an awkward heel like Nike Metcons that makes it less versatile. It’s also durable as heck for rope climbs and hard to beat from the ground. It looks cool, too, as it was designed by a former Nike designer Tom Berend and released in limited colorways for special occasions. Get your hands on a pair if you can—you won’t regret it. R.A.D has also released a running shoe that’s gotten attention recently.

Strike Movement Haze Trainer

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Price: $150

The Strike Movement Haze have a minimal mesh upper and a sole that’s thick enough but provides more foot feel. They have a 4mm drop. They weigh in at 11.4 oz for a size 10, so they’re light. “They have everything you’d need in a training shoe, without any kind of fluff,” says Joel Te, who runs the YouTube channel As Many Reviews As Possible. They’re good for short runs, good for plyometrics, and flat enough to squat, deadlift, and lift in—everything an average gym goer will do and should be doing anyway. There are also basic and “cooler” versions as well.

Reebok Nano Froning X3

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Price: $150

If you do any sort of fitness, you should learn about Rich Froning, a 10-time CrossFit Games champion, father, and all-around good dude. If Froning puts his co-sign to a pair of sneakers, then you know they’re good. His latest shoe, the Nano X3 Froning, takes the sole unit from the Reebok Nano X3, the brand’s top fitness shoe, and adds his twist to it. It has a slip-on upper, as Froning notoriously hates to tie his shoes, and the upper is inspired by the Reebok Arsenal Mid, one of Frank Thomas’ Reeboks. The Floatride midsole, which was the brand’s “Boost” material developed during Reebok’s time with Adidas, is softer than the regular Nano X3, so it can be worn more comfortably in a lifestyle setting. Froning didn’t wear his last sneaker, the X2, so the fact that he’s been wearing the latest version is a good sign.

Reebok Nano X4

Side profile of a Reebok sneaker featuring contrast design with the brand's logo

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Price: $140

The Reebok Nano line is the alpha and the omega of CrossFit and training shoes. The line has been going for over a decade now, and every year people have something good (or bad) to say about the shoes. The past few years have been hit or miss for the Nanos, but Reebok has finally found its way back to the hearts and feet of fitness enthusiasts with the Nano X4. The sneaker is rugged but flexible. Stable but good enough for plyometrics and short runs. It’s a shoe that can seriously throw down in the gym. And it comes in plenty of colorways. It's also the shoe that Reebok used to launch a war with the Nike Metcon 9 (which isn't on this list because it's not a great shoe).

Saucony Freedom Crossport

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Price: $150

One of the biggest conundrums for a gym shoe is if the sneaker can be used to lift weights and run in. A pair of Chuck Taylors are great to deadlift in and impossible to run in. You’d be foolish to squat in a pair of Nike Alphaflys. But what about a pair of sneakers that can actually handle both? No, not just the typical pair of CrossFit shoes that you can run in, but don’t prefer for distance, but an actual running shoe that doesn’t feel uneven when performing anything other than a running gait. The Saucony Freedom Crossport is the real deal. It’s a running sneaker that you can put 8–10 miles in. But it has a flat-ish heel on it that allows it to be used for kettlebell swings, dumbbell work, and a light barbell. I’ve done a handful of workouts in them, and they’re legit.

Nike Free Metcon 5

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Price: $120

The Nike Metcon line has long been one of the most popular in terms of training shoes. Year after year, people are either crazy or eh about the shoes. Recently the 7, 8, and now 9 have been kinda cheeks unless you’re strictly lifting or doing in-the-box metcon workouts. The plastic heel and overbearing rope climb guard have made people feel they’re clunky and not the choice shoe they used to be—especially if you’re not doing CrossFit. The Nike Free Metcon, however, has become more and more popular, mainly because it’s a middle-of-the-road shoe that’s not great at any one thing, but OK for someone who wants to go to the gym to jog on the treadmill, hit a few squats, and maybe do some box jumps or agility drills. 

TYR Techknit RNR-1

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Price: $135

If you haven’t been paying attention to TYR in the fitness space, then you’re doing it wrong. For starters it’s not T.Y.R.—it’s pronounced “tear,” as in Tyr, the Norse god of war. It’s also a swimming brand with a serious competitive tradition and the current sponsor of the US swim team. And was also used in Baywatch. Started in 1985, the brand waited until 2022 to get into footwear. The CXT-1 is the most popular TYR model right now, being the all-around functional fitness shoe. But the Techknit RNR-1 might be the best bet for the casual gym goer. It’s a running shoe with a solid heel that makes it a good balance between cardio and strength training. I might have gotten roasted by Brendan Dunne for wearing them on our Malaysia trip, but I had the last laugh, as they slipped on and off during the flight with ease and he was stuck laboring to get into his Footscapes.

Vans UltraRange EXO

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Price: $100

Vans Old Skools have long been a choice shoe for powerlifters. They’re flat, so they’re good for deadlifting and squatting (if you don’t prefer a bit of drop to give you more mobility). But what people have realized is that fitness enthusiasts have gotten into Vans’ Ultra line. They’re similar to the older models from the brand, but with added cushion and more of a drop. They’re not too far off from the functional fitness from the brands that operate in that space. Seeing a lot of serious athletes train in these shoes is all you need to know about how good they are right now.

Nike Zoom TR1

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I feel like Nike has made five different sneakers called the Zoom TR 1 in the past. Maybe it’s a running joke that this is the 1. Well, they’re back at it again. This time with a HIIT-ready shoe that’s had people talking. It’s a far cry from the Nike Metcon line. It’s not for those looking to snatch or clean and jerk a barbell—although I’m guessing you could do that in these if you wanted to. But it’s more so just something for someone who wants to go to the gym, warm up on the treadmill, do a few dumbbell curls, maybe hit some high knees, and work in some agility. 

GORUCK Ballistic Trainer

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Price: $140

Some people want a shoe they can beat the heck out of. If there’s one sneaker on this list that fits that bill, it’s Goruck’s Ballistic Trainer. Many know Goruck for its, well, ruck bags that are made to withstand anything. The Goruck training shoe needed to be able to take the same punishment. Designed by Paul Litchfield, the man behind the original Reebok Pump, the trainer has one of the toughest uppers and a midsole that can go from gym to trail. They’re not flashy, but that’s not the point here.