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Shoe selection is crucial in the gym, but a shocking amount of gym-goers don’t invest in the right footwear. Running shoes and everyday sneakers are commonplace in many gyms, and, even if they feel fine initially, these types of shoes can hinder your performance and even cause injuries.
Purpose-built training shoes, on the other hand, lend the support and versatility needed for lifting, CrossFit, HIIT routines, and any other gym workouts. The best gym shoes are leaner and more agile than running shoes, which allows for explosive, multi-directional training. Others are geared more towards lifting with an elevated heel and planted toebox, which encourages proper alignment through your ankles and knees when performing movements like squatting and deadlifting.
And if your gym routine involves a little bit of everything, you can find also find some fantastic crosstraining shoes too. In short, if you’re hitting the gym, we highly recommend getting the right footwear for the job.
The Best Gym Shoes for Men
Below are some of the best gym shoes — whether you’re crosstraining, lifting, or doing a bit of everything. We’ve sourced options from top brands like Nike and Adidas, and included picks for people with flat feet and gymgoers shopping on a budget.
Best Overall: Nike Metcon 8 Training Shoe
Best for Lifting: Adidas Adipower 5
Best for Flat Feet: Nobull Trainer+
Best Budget Gym Shoes: Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Best for Running: Vibram Five Fingers KSO EVO
Best for CrossFit: Inov-8 Men’s F-Lite G 230
1. Nike Metcon 8 Training Shoe
Nike’s Metcon line has become a benchmark for gym shoes, always delivering a balance of responsiveness, minimal cushioning, and support. As the latest and greatest, the Metcon 8 continues that tradition with a lightweight build and a slim silhouette. Grip is excellent (even in rope climbs thanks to a traction wrap on the arch) but the outsole is low-profile for better agility. The heel also features an inner plate that improves stability and distributes weight during heavy lifts but flexes for movements like sprints or jumps.
Buy Nike Metcon 8 $130
2. Adidas Powerlift 5
If your gym sessions mainly consist of lifting, pick up these Adidas Powerlift 5s. As is standard on weightlifting shoes, the heel is elevated for better alignment, and stability is given top priority via a high-density sole. These have a slightly lower heel than some lifting shoes, making them a good pick for beginner to intermediate lifters. The mesh upper is also very breathable, ensuring less sweat (and fewer blisters) at the end of your workout.
Buy Adidas Powerlift 5 $110.02
3. Nobull Trainer+
Nobull makes some of the best crosstraining shoes on the market — especially if you’re someone with flat feet, as this Trianer+ has a slightly wider toebox than the big brands. Thanks to a sturdy sole and a lightweight, flexible single-piece upper, the shoes can be a base for heavy lifting or a minimal cushion for high-intensity workouts. Plus, we think they’re some of the best-looking gym shoes around.
4. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star
Converse Chuck Taylors are an iconic sneaker, but they’re also quietly a favorite among fitness geeks. If you’ve worn Chuck Taylors, you’ll know that the classic kicks are uniquely fitted and feature a slim, firm sole. This works very well for lifting, as you’ll get more stability and a better ground feel than you do with most sneakers. They can even work for HIIT exercises (we’ve used them for boxing workouts) and, better yet, they’re more affordable than most gym shoes.
Buy Converse Chuck Taylor All Star $62.31
5. Vibram Five Fingers KSO EVO
If you hop on the treadmill as part of your gym routine — maybe sprints or jogging at the end — Vibram’s Five Fingers KSO EVOs are a great pick. Yes, the barefoot design looks odd, but it’s really the only type of shoe that works well for running and lifting or training. Every runner we’ve talked to who uses the Five Fingers shoes says they improved speed over time, as they force your legs to engage more muscles and avoid harmful stomping gaits. And when it’s time to lift, you’ll have a full, flat-footed feel and no cushion to get in the way of energy transfer from the floor.
Buy Vibram Five Fingers KSO EVO $104.95
6. Inov-8 F-Lite G 230
For CrossFit workouts, consider these F-Lite G 230s from Inov-8. They feature a barefoot feel and a minimal style that keeps your feet low and planted, while a graphene outsole offers exceptional grip. The mesh upper is also extremely breathable, and a toe guard gives some added protection.
Buy Inov-8 F-Lite G 230 $108.35
Gym Shoes Buying Guide
Before buying new gym shoes, consider your typical workout. Whether you focus on weightlifting, crosstraining, boxing, sprints, or a combination, you’ll want to purchase shoes accordingly. Here’s what to consider when choosing the right pair:
Support: All the best gym shoes feature a supportive design, but that changes depending on what you’re doing. Weightlifting shoes, for example, typically have an elevated heel that encourages better form. CrossFit shoes, on the other hand, often have ankle support for protection during fast, agile movements.
Traction: More grip is always better — whether you’re lifting or crosstraining — but you don’t want the kind of knobby sole you find on trail running shoes. Look for gym shoes with purpose-built soles designed to grip flat, smooth surfaces like rubber or concrete.
Cushioning: Overall, gym shoes should actually have minimal cushioning (hence the suggestion that you don’t wear running shoes). This will give you floor feel and more efficient energy transfer in power movements like squats, as there’s less cushion to absorb downward energy. Still, you do want a sliver of cushioning on crosstraining shoes if you’re doing high-impact activities.
How We Chose the Best Gym Shoes
In our search for the best gym shoes, we tested pairs ourselves and spoke to fellow enthusiasts about what they use. We looked for shoes that not only make us perform better at the gym but also feel better after a tough workout (i.e. no unnecessary fatigue or pains). We stuck to well-known brands with a track record of putting out the best gym shoes, and also factored in online user reviews (all of our picks have a 4/5-star rating or higher).