The Best Gym Shoes for Every Workout in 2023 - GUIDE

The Best Gym Shoes for Every Workout in 2023 - GUIDE

As any fitness enthusiast knows, choosing the right shoes for your sport is paramount. Why? Because wearing the appropriate footwear not only enhances your performance but also helps prevent injuries by providing proper support and stability during your workouts.

So, in this article, we'll first dive into the differences between gym shoes and other sports shoes, so you can understand which type is best suited for your specific workout needs. Then, in the second part, we'll share our top workout shoe picks for 2023.

Why Cross Trainers Are The Best Workout Shoes

For better understanding, we need to touch a little on training shoes. Training shoes form a separate category of gym shoes designed to cater to a broad range of activities and daily wear. A typical training shoe will have a thicker midsole and an upper made from materials lacking long-term durability. So, although basic trainers offer support and comfort for general use, they may not be the best choice for more intense training, such as heavy weightlifting or demanding HIIT workouts.

In contrast, cross-training shoes can be considered a more versatile sub-category of training shoes. They are specifically designed to provide stability, durability, cushioning, and responsiveness, making them a perfect fit for athletes who frequently switch up their workout routines, from weightlifting and plyometrics to agility drills and short runs.

So, basically, if you're searching for good workout shoes that can tackle various dynamic workouts, you need cross-training shoes.

How Cross-Training Shoes Compare to Other Designs

Cross-Training Shoes vs. Running Shoes

Running shoes are specifically designed for forward motion and primarily focus on providing cushioning and shock absorption. They also have softer midsoles for better ground feedback. While they excel in this regard, they may not offer the same level of stability and support needed for lateral movements or weightlifting. In contrast, cross-trainers tend to be heavier than running shoes. So, since a heavier construction adds to the fatigue accumulation, they are no good for longer runs.

Cross-Training Shoes vs. Weightlifting Shoes

Weightlifting shoes are designed specifically for heavy lifting, featuring a raised heel to promote proper squatting form and rigid soles for maximum force transfer. However, they lack the flexibility and cushioning needed for other types of workouts.

What Makes Cross-Training Shoes Versatile

  1. Lower Heel-to-Toe Drop: In plain words, heel drop refers to the difference in height between the heel and the toe of a shoe. A lower heel drop promotes stability during various exercises and supports the multi-directional movement. This design aspect allows athletes to easily transition between activities without compromising balance.
  2. Low Stack Height: Stack height refers to the total thickness of a shoe's sole. The lower the stack height is, the more the shoes are stable in lateral movements.
  3. Firmer Midsoles: Dense midsoles in cross-training shoes limit compression when lifting weights, providing a stable platform for the feet during strength training exercises.
  4. Grippy Soles: The outsoles of cross-training shoes are designed to offer excellent traction and stability, ensuring that athletes stay grounded during exercises that require sudden changes in direction or involve slippery surfaces.
  5. Durable Upper Construction: Cross-training shoes are built with durable upper materials that can resist abrasion from the ground and ropes.

Now that you've learned how cross-trainers are built, let's move on with our picks of the best  gym shoes for men and women.

Best Men's & Women's Workout Shoes - 2023

Hoka Kawana

The  Hoka Kawana boasts a range of impressive features designed to provide just the right balance between support and cushioning and enhance your gym and running activities.

First of all, the CMEVA foam delivers a cushioning that is soft but supportive and responsive without feeling pillowy. The early-stage meta-rocker promotes a smooth transition through toe-off, enhancing your overall stride and movement efficiency, and unlike many running designs from Hoka, the Kawana's meta-rocker is less aggressive. Furthermore, the unique Swallowtail heel geometry and extended crash pad design reduce landing impact, enabling a smoother step every time and minimizing the risk of injury.

Now, the Kawana stacks 35 mm under the heel and 30 mm under the forefoot, resulting in a 5mm drop. The drop is ideal for working out, but what about the stack height - isn't it too high for a gym shoe? Well, no, because the Kawana still feels low to the ground due to its wide base.

The upper unit features a super-ventilated jacquard mesh with large openings, allowing for great temperature regulation. It also comes with an anatomical Achilles construction - the heel features a cup that not only reliably locks your foot in but also allows for easy on and off.

Wrapping up, the Kawana are the best shoes for working out, thanks to their smart features that make them super versatile. However, they are not suitable for deadlifts and long runs.

Saucony Freedom Crossport

The Saucony Freedom Crossport is a versatile workout shoe perfect for those who love to mix it up with on-road runs and HIIT sessions. Designed with stability and support in mind, this shoe is all about giving you the confidence to push yourself during your workouts.

One of the standout features of the Freedom Crossport is its use of PWRRUN PB foam cushioning and PWRRUN+ sock liner. These materials not only provide extra support and stability but also sit higher on the foot, allowing you more freedom to flex and move side to side – perfect for dynamic exercises.

Comfort is also a priority with the Freedom Crossport, thanks to its breathable mesh and high-collar design. Your foot will be wrapped in 360 degrees of snug comfort, ensuring a secure fit.

The Saucony Freedom Crossport falls into the neutral category and has a heel drop of 4mm (27mm heel/23mm forefoot).

inov-8 F-Lite G 300

The next shoe on our list is the F-Lite G 300 from  inov-8. It's a game-changer for athletes seeking gym sneakers that deliver versatility.

Unlike the Kawana, the G 300 is ideal for weightlifting and cardio exercises alike. For optimal foot movement and flexibility during high-impact cardio-based workouts, the shoe features unique Meta-Flex technology that decides the outsole in the forefoot. And for safe and efficient weightlifting, the shoe features the Graphene-infused Powerheel. It's a hexagon-shaped block nestled within the midsole directly beneath the heel. Graphene infusion results in a solid, durable, yet lightweight foundation for squatting or lifting movements, while the outer edge of the midsole guarantees that your heel still has shock absorption and cushioning.

Other standout features include the Rope-Tec system, integrated into the midsole and into the protective cage that wraps around the foot, enhances durability and traction during rope climbs, Graphene-enhanced rubber for the world's toughest grip, and a lightweight upper for enhanced breathability.

FILA Volley Zone

Designed specifically for pickleball, the  Fila Volley Zone works great as workout shoes providing ample support, cushioning against impact, and well-designed pivot areas for traction and durability.

Constructed from leather and mesh in the upper, the shoe offers breathability and durability. Inside, you'll find a removable, molded EVA sock liner for added convenience. The forefoot features several circular pivot areas, while the midfoot features a TPU shank for additional stability. The non-marking herringbone rubber outsole and EVA midsole work together to deliver exceptional comfort and support.

Generally, the FILA Volley Zone is designed to encourage energetic motion during play while contributing to your stability, making it an excellent workout shoe.

inov-8 Fastlift 335

Now how about the best shoe for lifts? The original inov-8 Fastlift is back and better than ever, offering unparalleled stability, support, and structure in the heel and mid-foot areas. Why it's better than other lifting shoes? It's thanks to its exceptional flexibility that makes it also suitable for all workouts and WODs, not just lifts. Besides, they are quite lightweight, just 11.8 ounces.

One of the most impressive features of the Fastlift 335 is its exceptional heel support and forefoot flexibility. When trying these shoes during squats, you'll immediately notice the extra stability throughout the entire shoe, thanks to the upper synthetic materials and the external heel cage. This design provides reinforced ankle stability and ensures your heel remains locked in a strong position, offering complete support for both the ankle and Achilles.

The meta-flex design of the forefoot allows your foot to move naturally through a range of motions when performing non-weightlifting exercises such as box jumps and double-unders.

Another standout feature of the Fastlift 335 shoes is their sticky rubber grip, particularly noticeable during rope climbs, as the grip prevents slipping and offers more security than other lifting shoes. When tackling a WOD full of heavy thrusters and rope climbs, you'll be glad to have the Fastlift 335 shoes on your side.


So there you have it, folks! Remember, it's super important to treat your feet right with the perfect pair of gym shoes that give you the support, stability, and comfort you need to crush your workouts.Now, it’s time to swing by RunUnited and check out our awesome selection of running and workout shoes. We've got a little something for everyone, so you're bound to find the perfect pair.


How do I choose the best gym shoes for my workout needs?

Consider your specific fitness activities, required support and stability, comfort, and personal preferences in style and fit when selecting the perfect pair of gym shoes.

Are there gym shoes suitable for both weightlifting and cardio workouts?

Yes, some versatile gym shoes, such as the inov-8 Fastlift 335 and the inov-8 F-Lite G 300, offer the right balance of support, stability, and flexibility, making them suitable for both weightlifting and cardio.

Can I use running shoes for workouts?

While running shoes can be used for some gym workouts, they may not provide the necessary support and stability for activities like weightlifting or high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

What are some key features to look for in the best gym shoes?

Look for adequate heel support, forefoot flexibility, good traction, a stable foundation for lateral movement, and quality materials.

Jun 15th 2023 RunUnited


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