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The 10 Cross-Training Shoes You Should Consider and Buy In 2024

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It’s 2024, and we have more cross-training shoe options than ever before. Even as a reviewer, I get overwhelmed by the endless amount of shoe choices on the market — the classic paradox of choice.

After seven years of formally reviewing training shoes, I’ve built a strong system for identifying which training shoes will perform well in various categories. My coaching and Exercise Science background also plays a role in this system.

Every shoe featured below has been hand-tested by me across multiple workouts. As I review new shoes, I cross-reference their performance to other top models.

For example, let’s say I’m testing the Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 for heavy deadlifts. While doing so, I consider how its midsole stability and ground feel fair compared to other top models like the Nike Metcon 9 and Born Primitive Savage 1.

Shoes That Made the Cut

Author’s Note: I try to update this list once or twice a quarter based on new shoe releases that outperform old or different models.

My Cross-Training Shoe Review Process

Every cross-training shoe featured in this article has been personally reviewed by me and tested in a similar format. By testing models in a similar format, I can then draw more context between shoes and where they’ll be the most appropriate.

  • Versatility Tests: To properly assess a shoe’s versatility, I’m paying attention to how a shoe’s outsole promotes traction and how a midsole interacts with my feet and the floor during various workouts. Is it comfortable for HIIT, short runs, and lifting.
  • Stability Tests: My stability tests all revolve around pushing heavy lifting sessions in various shoes. At what weight threshold does a shoe lose its stability and become too soft or compress, and are there surfaces in which shoes don’t work for lifting?
parts of a cross training shoe
Parts of a cross training shoe, going the extra mile for review assessments.
  • Specificity Tests: If I have a cross-training shoe designed specifically for CrossFit and a cross-training shoe designed specifically for HIIT workouts, I’ll test each model with my standard review format and create additional testing biases accordingly.
  • Durability Tests: Does a shoe’s price match the quality of its construction? Are there workouts where a shoe breaks down faster, resulting in a decrease in value for you as a consumer?
  • Comfort Tests: My comfort tests revolve around wearing shoes for long durations of time. Can you walk long distances in a pair of shoes or stand all day and travel without them beating your feet up?

If you have additional questions about my cross-training shoe testing protocol, I’d highly suggest dropping a comment below or check out my video reviews on my YouTube channel!

Best for Lifting: Adidas Dropset Trainer 2

Adidas Dropset Trainer 2

$130

Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 Product Shot
4.7
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.8
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.6

Best For

  • Cross-Training
  • CrossFit Workouts
  • Heavier Strength Training
  • Athletic Focused Sessions
  • Wider Feet

Falls Short

  • For Running

Testing the Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 for Deadlifts

Show Me the Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Fantastic training shoe for lifting due to its stability and it's well-rounded.
  • Good breathability for hotter gym climates.
  • Ample room in the toe box for toe splay for most foot anatomies.

Cons

  • Not the best shoe on the market for running and hybrid workouts.
  • Arch can feel a little uncomfortable for flat feet.
  • Ventilation in midsole isn't the best for walking in wet climates.

Why It’s Great for Lifting

The Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 cross-training shoes are my favorite shoes for overall lifting and gym sessions. This model has received multiple updates that have made it awesome for heavy lifting sessions, specifically.

This shoe features a dual-density midsole that gives you more flexibility in the forefoot and stability in the heel. The blend of these two densities gives this model a stable feel in different exercises when under different loads.

Testing the Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 for Daily Wear

Another perk for lifting with the Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 is that they have a wider toe box which is awesome for accommodating toe splay when tackling heavy leg days and lower body accessories.

The Dropset Trainer 2s features a 6mm heel-to-toe drop. I like this heel-to-toe drop for lifting, and I think it’s a nice in-between drop for most lifters who don’t want to train with a flat foot or overly elevated heel.

Best for Men: UA TriBase Reign 6

UA TriBase Reign 6

$130

UA TriBase Reign 6 Product Image
4.7
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.7

Best For

  • Strength Training
  • Athletic Workouts
  • Cross-Training and HIIT
  • CrossFit
  • Sprints and Ploymetrics

Falls Short

  • For Exceptionally Wide Feet (<EE-width)
  • For Runs Over a Mile

Under Armour TriBase Reign 6 Stability Testing

Show Me the Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • The drop-in midsole has given this shoe a much more flexible feeling compared to the thicker Micro G Foam midsoles used in the last five models. If you're feeling spicy, swap the drop-in midsole out for a thinner insole for a super minimal feel.
  • This shoe's upper feels more "athletic" on the foot because it hugs the foot well and feels seamless after the first wear. The internal heel counter helps contribute to the security that you get with this shoe, too.
  • The outsole's tread is awesome and does a phenomenal job of gripping different surfaces. This shoe has been fun to use on turf, rubber gym floors, and wooden platforms. You shouldn't have slip issues in this model.

Cons

  • While I like the drop-in midsole, I'd be remiss to not disclose that drop-in midsoles are an acquired taste. For example, if you don't love models like the PUMA Fuse and Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 then you may not like the Reign 6.
  • If you have high-volume feet and you don't want to swap out the drop-in midsole then you may find that this shoe's fit feels snug on your foot. Thick feet be warned, this shoe may feel snug out of the box.
  • For hybrid workouts, this shoe works for runs under 800 meters but it's not going to be your best bet for tackling workouts where you're running over a mile in a single bout.

Why I Chose the TriBase Reign 6

The UA TriBase Reign 6 is a great option for men who love to go hard with their gym sessions. This model is a good versatile cross-training shoe that can do a little bit of everything well, and low-key, it’s the best Reign model to date — by a long shot.

The drop-in midsole in this model provides a nice level of stability for heavier sessions yet is also responsive for power-focused training sessions. The TriBase tech on this model’s outsole is also a nice perk for stability and balance.

TriBase Reign 6 On Feet

I think if you want a cross-training shoe that performs well for recreational lifting, CrossFit workouts, and HIIT sessions, in addition to having a lower heel-to-toe drop, then you’ll enjoy this model. With its 2mm heel-to-toe drop, this is one of the “flatter” cross-training shoes on the market.

One of the perks of the UA TriBase Reign 6 is that it breaks in quickly and feels great on the feet at a fast rate. After a few sessions, the flexible nature of this shoe gives it a nice athletic and seamless fit, which helps expedite this shoe’s natural feeling on the feet.

Best for Women: Nike Metcon 9

Nike Metcon 9

$150

Nike Metcon 9 Product Shot
4.0
Stability
4.1
Versatility
4.0
Durability
4.0
Quality
3.8

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • Cross-Training
  • CrossFit
  • Athletic Focused Training

Falls Short

  • For Running
  • For Overpronators

Me Testing the Nike Metcon 9 Flexibility

Show Me the Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Dual-density midsole is great for heavy lifting
  • Wider toe box is awesome for toe splay
  • Upper promotes durability in CrossFit workouts

Cons

  • TPU heel can still feel clunky
  • Not great for running and HIIT
  • Lacks breathability and rope guards can feel bulky

Rationale Behind the Metcon 9

For blending versatility, durability, and stability, the Nike Metcon 9 does a good job. The dual-density foam midsole in this model gives this shoe a nice bounce for classes and HIIT workouts where you’ll be on your toes a lot.

Then the Hyperlift insert in the heel adds a nice level of stability for different types of lifting and stability shouldn’t be an issue in this model. I also like that the Metcon 9’s upper has been improved and is a bit more durable than the Nike Metcon 8.

Nike Metcon 9 That Fit Friend

The Metcon 9 does a good job for the athlete who likes to tackle a blend of training styles every week. Compared to the Metcon 8, the 9 does feel to have a little more versatility in its construction.

One of the main complaints you’ll see against the Nike Metcon 9, is that while the Hyperlift insert does a good job with lifting, it can feel clunky at times. This feature feels better than the 8, but it’s still not the best feature for versatility.

Best for CrossFit: RAD ONE

  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 12.7 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: R.A.D recommends going up a half size, I went true and they fit fine (more on that in my review article)
  • Read My Review: R.A.D ONE Review
  • Runner-Up: Born Primitive Savage 1 Review

R.A.D ONE

$150

RAD ONE Training Shoes
4.6
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.8
Durability
4.2
Quality
4.5

Best For

  • Heavy Lifting
  • CrossFit Workouts
  • Recreational Lifting
  • HIIT Training
  • Athletic-Focused Training

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Wider Feet

R.A.D ONE Training Shoes midsole and outsole

RAD ONE Pros and Cons

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Pros

  • If you like training shoes with a more bouncy and responsive midsole, you'll enjoy the SwellFoam midsole in this model.
  • This shoe delivers a well-rounded performance with a bias towards CrossFit. If you want a shoe for CrossFit and a bit of everything the RAD ONE works well.
  • The RAD ONE can be a great travel-friendly shoe. They're comfortable for walking and have a classic streetwear look to them.

Cons

  • These can run a little narrow at times through the toe box and if you have a wide foot then you may want to pass on these.
  • The upper can be a little problematic for outdoor-focused workouts where you could run into abrasion with concrete. If you train outside, keep this in mind.
  • If you love shoes that feel more minimalist then these may not be the best pick for you. They're not as low-profile as other CrossFit shoes.

Why I Chose the RAD ONE for CrossFit

The R.A.D ONE has become a favorite model for countless athletes, and it’s a stellar model for CrossFit across the board. This shoe features a midsole and outsole that when blended together walk a really good line between being versatile and stable.

Whether you’re new to CrossFit or maxing out your lifts, this shoe will support your needs really well. The midsole has been stable enough for my lifts up to 500 lbs and comfortable enough for more athletic-focused training sessions.

Testing the RAD ONE for CrossFit

In regard to durability for CrossFit workouts, this shoe’s rubber outsole wraps over the midsole which is awesome for both traction and additional durability for things like rope climbs where abrasion can tear up the midfoot.

The upper on this model has strategic layers to prolong durability around the toe and midfoot, which are both areas that can break down quickly with this style of training. For a newer model, I’m impressed with the R.A.D ONE’s performance for CrossFit workouts. 

Best for Flat and Wide Feet: Born Primitive Savage 1

Born Primitive Savage 1

$130

Born Primitive Savage 1 Product Shot
4.8
Stability
4.8
Versatility
4.7
Durability
4.8
Quality
4.8

Best For

  • Strength Training
  • CrossFit
  • Cross-Training
  • “Minimalist” Trainer Lovers
  • Wide(r) Feet

Falls Short

  • For Running

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Leg Day

Show Me the Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Good durability for CrossFit WODs
  • Wide Toe Box Is Great for Toe Splay
  • Dense Midsole and Lower Stack Height

Cons

  • Not the Best for Running
  • May Be Too Wide for Narrow Feet
  • Lower Material At Midfoot Folds At Times

Why I Picked the Savage 1

The Born Primitive Savage 1 is earning my top pick as the best option for flat and wide feet. This shoe is built with an anatomical toe box, and its midfoot isn’t aggressively tapered.

If you like shoes that don’t have a ton of arch and feel flatter throughout, this shoe is a good option. I have an E-width foot, and I find that I have plenty of room in this model for toe splay and letting my arch do its thing.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Deadlifts

In the context of performance, this shoe will resonate best with athletes who like more “minimalist” feeling training shoes. This model has a lower stack height and a dual-density midsole, which is great for giving you responsibility and stability.

I also like this shoe’s performance for CrossFit, and if you’re someone who needs a stable and wide cross-training shoe that can do it all, then the Born Primitive Savage 1 is a great option to explore.

Best for Classes/HIIT: Nike Free Metcon 5

Nike Free Metcon 5

$120

Nike Free Metcon 5 Product Shot
4.5
Stability
4.3
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.6

Best For

  • HIIT
  • Class Workouts
  • Light to Moderate Strength Training
  • Short Runs (3 miles)

Falls Short

  • For Heavy Lifting (225+ lbs)
  • For CrossFit

Nike Free Metcon 5 Hands On Review

Show Me the Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • The reworked upper and tongue give this shoe a more spacious fit and they're easier to get on than the FM4.
  • If you want a shoe for mostly HIIT/class-style workouts with some strength blended in, then you'll enjoy this shoe.
  • The Nike Free midsole is flexible in the forefoot while the heel is a little more stable. This shoe should be stable enough for most light to moderate-weight training contexts.

Cons

  • The heel can feel a little clunky and blocky at times and if you like lower-profile shoes, then you'll want to consider this.
  • The exposed midsole foam in the midfoot can hinder this shoe's long-term durability for daily wear and outdoor workouts.
  • For heavy strength sessions, I'd pass on this shoe. This shoe's midsole started to compress when I was lifting anything over 225 lbs.

Why I Chose the Free Metcon 5

The Nike Free Metcon 5 can be a strong, well-rounded shoe for HIIT workouts and classes. This model is a strong performer for HIIT workouts and a variety of different classes for three key reasons.

I like how the Nike Free technology in this shoe gives it a very mobile and maneuverable feel, and I have enjoyed training in them. It’s easy to get up on the forefoot when jumping in this shoe, and this shoe articulates pretty well with the foot for multi-directional work.

Me testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for jump rope

I also like the reworked bootie-style construction of this model because it has a little more upper volume than the Free Metcon 4. Plus, there’s a reworked “tongue” on this shoe, which makes it a lot easier to get on and off, which is great for casual use.

This shoe blends moderate stability and versatility together pretty well. For lifting, I’d suggest capping your loading to about 315 lbs as this is when you’ll start to notice a little compression in this shoe, so if you’re casual with your strength work with HIIT, this shoe works well.

Best Minimalist Feeling Shoes: STR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer

STR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer

$150

STRIKE MVMNT Haze Trainer
4.4
Stability
4.7
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.0
Quality
4.5

Best For

  • Heavy Lifting
  • Cross-Training Workouts
  • Athletic-Focused Sessions
  • Shorter Runs (<3 miles)

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency
  • For Custom Orthotics
  • For Thicker Feet

Testing the Haze Trainer for Jump Rope

Show Me the Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Great for those who love minimalist-feeling trainers.
  • Casual look and vibe are great for daily wear.
  • Upper breathes well and promotes security while training.

Cons

  • Toe box can rip from tough abrasion.
  • Outsole can fade with high-volume concrete use.
  • High insteps may find these tight.

Why I Chose the Haze Trainer

The STR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer is often what I describe as a good “bridge” training shoe for lifters who love barefoot shoes and traditional cross-training shoes.

The Haze Trainer has a high degree of sole flexibility, which is awesome for those who love shoes that move well when doing exercises like split squats, lunges, plyometrics, and agility workouts.

Testing the Haze Trainer for Weight Training

I also like how versatile the Haze Trainer is and how it can work for lifting, CrossFit, athletic-style sessions, and daily wear. In fact, the Haze Trainer is typically my go-to travel shoe when I can only bring one model with me.

The Cush50 midsole does run a little more on the dense side so while it works great for lifting it may not be the most plush for running, however, if you want a “minimalist-feeling” shoe then this should be a non-issue for you.

Best for Jump Rope: Reebok Nano X4

Reebok Nano X4

$140

Reebok Nano X4 Product Image
4.4
Stability
4.4
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.4
Quality
4.2

Best For

  • Strength Training
  • HIIT and Versatile Workouts
  • Sprints and Short Runs (<2 miles)
  • CrossFit and Functional Fitness

Falls Short

  • For Feet Wider Than EEE-Widths
  • For Runs Longer than 2-3 Miles
  • For Minimalist Lovers

Skater Strides In the Reebok Nano X4

Show Me the Pros & Cons

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Pros

  • Great option for doing a little bit of everything
  • Floatride Energy Foam midsole is stable and responsive
  • Good shoef for short runs/HYROX-style workouts

Cons

  • Can feel bulky for minimalist lovers
  • Arch can feel uncomfortable for flat feet
  • Toe box isn't as wide as older Nano models

Why I Chose the Nano X4

The Reebok Nano X4 is a good “jack-of-all-trades” style training shoe and it can excel for jump rope. This shoe’s Floatride Energy Foam midsole has a good blend of stability and responsiveness for different types of training.

For example, a lot of lifters and athletes will use this shoe for functional fitness, which entails a high volume of jumping rope and, more specifically, double-unders. This shoe’s reworked upper has a good fit and security, which is a nice update compared to the Nano X3.

Cross Training In the Reebok Nano X4

The Lift and Run Chassis System is also a nice perk of this shoe, and it helps add to this model’s overall versatility. This feature helps stabilize this shoe’s heel for lifting while promoting responsiveness for running.

I think if you’re someone who likes to lift, do functional fitness and short runs, do some HIIT here and there, and want a shoe that can hold its own for jumping rope, then the Reebok Nano X4 can be a good safe bet.

Best for Short Runs: On Cloud X 3

On Cloud X 3

$149.99

On Cloud X 3 Product Shot
4.3
Stability
3.9
Versatility
4.5
Durability
4.2

Best For

  • Light Strength Training
  • Versatile Training
  • Classes/HIIT
  • Short Runs (1-5 miles)
  • Daily Wear

Falls Short

  • For Outdoor Workouts
  • For Heavy Training
  • For Wide Feet

Using On Cloud X 3 for explosive training

Cloud X 3 Pros and Cons

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Pros

  • Comfortable for walking and all-day wear
  • Good pick for cross-training and moderate lifting
  • Works great for runs up to 3-5 miles

Cons

  • Midsole isn't great for heavy lifting
  • Arch can feel uncomfortable for flat feet
  • Midsole durability isn't the best on concrete

Why I Chose the On Cloud X3

The Cloud X 3 training shoes are a fantastic option for the lifter who wants to tackle runs regularly and doesn’t plan to train super heavy. Concerning hybrid performance, I have three things that I like about the On Cloud X 3.

First, this is one of the few cross-training shoes that you can lift with that feel comfortable and responsive for running. The CloudTec midsole is responsive and forgiving for runs ranging from 1-4ish miles.

Testing the On Cloud X 3 for HIIT Workouts

Hybrid-Focused Lifters and Athletes: Are you in the market for a gym shoe that excels at running and lifting? I have a built-out hybrid training shoe list with six of my favorite picks for tackling this training vertical.

Second, this is a good model for those who want a shoe for lighter lifting and class-style sessions. This shoe’s stability is pretty good up to about 275 lbs, so if you’re lifting lighter than that, then you should enjoy the level of stability this shoe delivers.

Third and lastly, the On Cloud X 3 can double as a daily wear shoe on top of being a strong hybrid performer. Of all the cross-training shoes up here, the On Cloud X 3 is the model to go for if you like blending running and lifting together every week and want a shoe for daily wear.

Best Budget Training Shoes: Reebok Nanoflex TR 2

Reebok Nanoflex V2

Reebok Nanoflex V2 Product Shot
4.5
Stability
4.4
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Recreational Lifting
  • CrossFit (for those on a budget!)
  • Cross-Training
  • Versatile Training
  • Budget-Friendly Shoppers

Falls Short

  • For Serious Barbell Training

Testing the Reebok Nanoflex V2 for weight training

Nanoflex V2 Pros and Cons

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Pros

  • Exceptionally well-rounded performance for lifting, cross-training, and CrossFit for a fair price.
  • The medium-density foam midsole is stable for heavy training and responsive for things like short runs and box jumps.
  • This model's forefoot width should accommodate most foot anatomies pretty well, especially narrow, medium, and slightly wider feet.

Cons

  • Flat feet may want to steer clear of this shoe as it does have a little arch which can feel uncomfortable.
  • For longer runs, this shoe can feel a little heavy and clunky at times so you'll want to cap your distances in this shoe.
  • The lateral toe box could use a little more support for explosive lateral training.

Why I Chose the Nanoflex V2

The Reebok Nanoflex TR 2 is earning my top pick for under $100. When it comes to well-rounded performance at a budget-friendly price, it’s tough to fault the Reebok Nanoflex TR 2’s $90 price point.

This model features multiple construction updates that make it better than the original Reebok Nanoflex TR, which had a less-than-stellar fit through the midfoot. The Nanoflex TR 2’s last has been widened, and it should work for most foot anatomies.

Reebok Nanoflex V2 Lifting Performance and Review

The medium-density foam midsole in this model also gives this shoe a nice blend of stability for lifting and versatility for HIIT and athletic-style training. You can lift fairly heavy in these shoes and use them for classes and they work well.

The RopePro tech on the midfoot is also an underappreciated feature on this model, and I like the Nanoflex TR 2’s performance for CrossFit workouts here and there. If you’re on a budget or are a beginner/intermediate, the Reebok Nanoflex TR 2 does a great job.

My Issue With Most “Best Cross-Training Shoe” Lists

If you look around the cross-training shoe review space, you’ll see a lot of “best” lists claiming to have the top picks for various performance categories.

Yet, when you look at these lists, they don’t include any media (photos and videos) of them actually testing and using the product, and that’s not to mention the use of vague language to describe shoes.

For example, I constantly see phrasing like, “This shoe is stable,” with no follow-up context. Okay, that tells us nothing — the audacity of these media companies, man.

How about you describe what you mean by stability and show us images of the shoe in action creating stability, or at least give us training and testing thresholds in which you’re referencing stability? Put some skin in the game.

STRKE MVMNT Transit Street Trainer for Deadlifts

Every Shoe Featured In My List Has Its Own Review

On That Fit Friend, I’m diligent in ensuring that every shoe featured in my best cross-training shoe list has an in-depth individual written and YouTube video review.

I spend countless hours testing shoes and building individual reviews before considering including them in my best lists.

In individual reviews, that’s where you get the nuance and the context to add layers to “why” shoes made my list for various performance categories. Most review sites don’t even have individual product reviews, which is a major red flag for me as a consumer.

How are they going to include a shoe in a “best” list when they likely haven’t tested it to its fullest extent or worn all of the models included? This is where the Kermit the Frog drinking tea meme would be perfect.

Kermit Cross Training Shoes

That said, as someone who buys every shoe they review and as a small business owner, I’m constantly trying to improve on my craft for the love of the niche.

I’m not building “best” lists solely to rake in affiliate money. I build these lists because I’m a coach, athlete, and someone who’s as obsessed with their gear as you.

My Cross-Training Shoe Buying Tips

Buying Tip 1: Midsole, Outsole, and Upper Are Key

Cross-training shoes and what works best for you can be highly individual. Different last constructions and performance needs give every shoe a unique fit and performance and this is why I hand-test every shoe in this round-up to recognize their nuance.

When looking into new cross-training shoes, I’d suggest assessing a shoe’s midsole, outsole, and upper construction and referencing that with your training. A shoe’s midsole can influence how much stability and responsiveness it has.

The outsole will influence the durability and traction that a shoe will give you on different surfaces, and a shoe’s upper will influence things like breathability and security.

TriBase Reign 6 Try On

Buying Tip 2: Shoes Exist On a Performance Spectrum

Cross-training shoes are designed to provide multi-functionality. Most quality-built cross-training shoes will work for lifting, HIIT, short runs, and athletic-style training sessions.

However, if you’re specific with your training then you’ll want to seek models that have a bias to their construction. For example, if you’re pushing heavier weights than your peers then you’ll want a shoe with higher density to its midsole.

Conversely, if you’re running a lot in your training shoes, you’ll want to look into options that are more plush and responsive. Remember, your shoe’s construction should reflect your training and its hierarchy of needs.

Cross-Training Shoe Benefits, 3 Reasons to Wear Them

Cross-training shoes have surged in popularity over the last decade with the boom of CrossFit and the mass acceptance of more women and men resistance training. By nature, cross-training shoes are designed to tackle a wide variety of needs, wants, and preferences.

If you’re looking into cross-training shoes — especially for the first time — it’s important to understand some of the benefits that come along with this style of footwear. This way you’ll know exactly how to answer, “Why cross-training shoes?”

Benefit 1: Great Versatility

The first benefit of cross-training shoes is their ability to tackle a wide variety of tasks. Whether you’re lifting, tackling plyometrics, HIIT training, or CrossFit workouts, cross-training shoes will usually be able to stand up to the task.

Reviewing the Nike MC Trainer for Lifting

It’s important to note that some cross-training shoes will ebb and flow in regard to their specialties. For example, some shoes will be on the more stable end of the spectrum while others will provide more versatility.

Benefit 2: Firmer Midsoles and Outsoles

A lot of cross-training shoes are designed to support heavy lifting. In general, compared to more general training shoes and running shoes, cross-training shoes will utilize more high-density foams in their midsoles and firmer rubbers in their outsoles.

Nike Metcon 7 Vs Reebok Nano X1 Showdown

The blend of these two construction components helps this style of shoe compress very little under external loads. So, if you’re squatting heavy, cleaning, snatching, or training recreationally, these shoes will help provide you with a more stable base.

Benefit 3: Specialty Construction Features

The cool thing about cross-training shoes is that they all come with their own list of unique features. Some shoes are better at supporting niche activities like rope climbs, while others are better for supporting maximal loads over 500 lbs.

When searching for cross-training shoes, generally, you’ll start to see trends of certain construction traits that correspond to functionality purposes that more general training shoes lack and don’t possess.

How Should Cross-Training Shoes Fit?

A cross-training shoe’s fit will be individual, however, as a general rule of thumb, you’ll likely want between .2-.6″ of room in the toe box.

This will provide enough room to avoid jamming the toes excessively in every workout while also not making them too loose to where you experience heel slip.

how should cross training shoes fit (1)

It’s important to recognize that every shoe will fit slightly differently and this is due to the multiple types of lasts companies can use when creating models. This is why some models feel wider than others, it’s not you, it’s the companies using different last (foot molds) to create their models.

If a cross-training shoe’s fit feels weird on you, then I’d highly suggest looking for models that have molds that work better for your foot’s anatomy. Trial and error will be your best bet as you find your ideal pairs and brands that work well for you.

How to Properly Clean Your Cross-Training Shoes

If you want your cross-training shoes to last, then you’re going to want to clean them somewhat regularly to avoid the build-up of dust, dirt, and other materials that can cause polyurethanes and foams to break down.

I always recommend spot-cleaning cross-training shoes and using a three-pronged approach to do it thoroughly. DO NOT put your cross-training shoes in your washing and drying machines. Instead, follow the four steps below for properly cleaning cross-training shoes.

How to clean training shoes

  • Step 1: Grab your cross-training shoes, a clean washcloth, a soft soap void of harsh dyes and fragrances, and lukewarm water.
  • Step 2: Get your washcloth wet with lukewarm water and dab less than a dime-sized amount of soap on the damp washcloth.
  • Step 3: Remove your cross-training shoe’s insoles and spot clean areas on the shoes that need a little attention. Do not soak your shoes. Repeat this process of dampening your washcloth and rubbing trouble areas until your shoes look noticeably cleaner. If you have bright colorways, rub softly to avoid ruining your shoe’s colorway.
  • Step 4: Once you’re satisfied with the appearance of your shoes, place them by a vent or dry area in your house and remove their insoles until thoroughly dried.

If you do this regularly and take the time to clean your cross-training shoes properly, then you’ll make them last longer, which can be a good thing for prolonging your favorite shoe’s lifespan.

Can You Walk Long-Distance In Cross-Training Shoes?

Answer: When considering the act of walking long distances in cross-training shoes, there are a few questions that I always have to ensure one is making an educated choice per their purchase.

  1. What type of shoes do you wear now?
  2. What does your current training look like?
  3. Are you aware of foot-related performance issues?

If we can define and understand the questions above, then making educated buying choices can get increasingly easier. This is where my nerdy science background comes in. Unlike super plush running shoes, most cross-training shoes will “feel” denser.

This will usually result in “feeling” the ground to a higher extent. For this topic, I will reference more minimalist shoes and walking long distances since there aren’t many studies that have solely focused on cross-training shoes specifically.

Testing the PUMA Fuse 3 Comfort

In the world of research, studies continue to go back and forth on the effectiveness of using minimalist shoes to produce enhanced walking/running mechanics and performance.

Multiple studies suggest that minimalist shoes can improve one’s walking and running economy, limit some running-related injuries, and build intrinsic/extrinsic foot muscles. (1, 2, 3)

However, in the context of opting for cross-training shoes for long-distance walks, we have to assess this information from a greater lens. A consistent suggestion that was present for nearly all of the studies was that minimalist-style shoes and their usage need to be eased into just like most training methodologies and modalities.

Testing the TYR CXT-1 Trainer for Daily Wear

This suggestion basically states that if you’re a newer runner (referencing the study topics) or someone who’s used to wearing thicker running shoes, then you should have a progressive plan to acclimate yourself to more minimal-esque shoes, as the foot muscles will need time to adapt and your biomechanics will need to adjust accordingly.

Now, this is where we get to makeshift a game plan for walking long-distance in cross-training shoes. We could adopt a similar mindset when discussing cross-training shoes and longer walks since most will have a denser feel with more ground feedback.

The construction of cross-training shoes can vary greatly compared to traditional running shoes if that’s what you’re used to wearing. Additionally, comfort should be a consideration as well when making an educated buying choice.

My Coaching Thoughts/Game Plan for Walking In Cross-Training Shoes

  • If you’re brand new to wearing cross-training shoes, then you should ease into wearing them for longer walks and acclimate to their more stable performance aspects.
  • If you’re used to wearing running shoes for longer walks, ease into using cross-training shoes for long walks to acclimate to mechanical changes and overall comfort differences. Most will feel denser compared to running shoes.
  • For those who already wear cross-training shoes for most of their training and day-to-day, you should be fine wearing these models for longer walks as you’re likely already acclimated.

The main takeaway is that footwear matters, and we need to consider the bigger picture of how things like footwear can alter running and walking biomechanics in this context.

Instead of making dramatic shifts with footwear choices when specific goals are the focus, we should think of the bigger picture and how one thing can relate to another (i.e., footwear and locomotion mechanics).

The foot muscles, just like every other muscle on the body, will need time to adjust to different shoes and mechanical patterns that we utilize when walking. Current training levels, strength levels, and footwear typically worn should all play a role in helping one decide if they should walk long distances in cross-training shoes.

Why Trust That Fit Friend’s Shoe Reviews

I’ve been a strength coach for over 12 years, have a Master’s in Sports Science, and have been reviewing training shoes for the last 6+ years. I blend my coaching background with my shoe knowledge when assessing a shoe’s performance.

My educational background is in Sports Science and I’ve been a personal trainer for over a decade. I blend my science brain with my review process to assess how a shoe can also influence things like biomechanics and movement patterns.

Testing the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength JJF for deadlifts

I buy all of the shoes I review and test products independently on my own. Every shoe featured in this article has earned its spot due to its performance during my review process.

Final Thoughts

The cross-training shoe game continues to innovate just like the talent in strength sports and the training methodologies we use. If you want a stellar training shoe for lifting, opt for the Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 or Born Primitive Savage 1.

If you need a shoe that’s more HIIT and running-friendly, then going for a Nike Free Metcon 5 or On Cloud X 3 can be a smart move.

If you ever have any questions at all, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally on Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_fiend), and I’ll gladly help direct you to the ideal shoes for your contextual needs.

References

1.RIDGE, S., OLSEN, M., BRUENING, D., JURGENSMEIER, K., GRIFFIN, D., DAVIS, I., & JOHNSON, A. (2019). Walking in Minimalist Shoes Is Effective for Strengthening Foot Muscles. Medicine & Science In Sports & Exercise51(1), 104-113.

2. Petersen, E., Zech, A., & Hamacher, D. (2020). Walking barefoot vs. with minimalist footwear – influence on gait in younger and older adults. BMC Geriatrics20(1).

3.Gillinov, S., Laux, S., Kuivila, T., Hass, D., & Joy, S. (2015). Effect of Minimalist Footwear on Running Efficiency. Sports Health: A Multidisciplinary Approach7(3), 256-260.

 
Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly, CSCS, MS Sports Science

Jake Boly is the Founder and Editor-In-Chief of That Fit Friend. He's often regarded to as a go-to resource in various performance shoe communities. He’s been formally reviewing shoes and training gear for over 7 years and has hand-tested over 400 pairs of shoes. Jake is known on the internet and YouTube for blending his review process with his educational, strength sports, and personal training background.

Jake has a Masters in Sports Science, a Bachelors in Exercise Science, a CSCS, and he's been personal training for over 10 years helping hundreds of clients get stronger, lose weight, and accomplish their goals. He uses his exercise science brain and personal training background to make curated and thoughtful review content on the fitness gear he's testing.

6 thoughts on “The 10 Cross-Training Shoes You Should Consider and Buy In 2024”

  1. I’ve a flat and wide feet with messed up knees, workout consists of 2/3 mile running. I already have inov-8 f-lite fly g 295, 235 lite v3. Now thinking of getting something better. Torn between born primitive Savage 1, inov-8 lite g300 and haze trainer. What’s your recommendation? Or do you’ve any other recommendation? Keep up your hard work.

    1. I’d go Born Primitive Savage 1, they’ll give you the most width which may feel good for foot asks (flat/wide). G 300’s arch can feel a little aggressive for flat feet and the Haze are decent but I’d start with the BP model then go from there. Thank you for checking out the site!

  2. Hey Jake,

    Thank you so much for this website and all these great reviews. I’ve read bunch of them to decide my very first crossfit shoes. I’ve been on and off recreational crossfitter for two years. I’ve started by wearing an old pair of Converse Chuck-Hi and stuck with them until now! Yet, i feel that it’s time for an upgrade for a real crossfit shoes.

    My problem is that I’m living in Turkey and finding certain models are definitely a problem. Even if I find them, the prices are always too high. So, a friend of mine will bring me a pair when coming back for their visit in Europe. It means that I will buy a shoe without having a chance to try and return in case of discomfort.

    So by consequence, I am down to two choice between Puma Fuse 2.0 and Nike Metcon 8. I know that there is a difference in price. I found size 12 Puma Fuse 2.0 for sale to 50 euros (54 USD) and Nike Metcon 8 for 95 euros (103 USD). I’d like the focus to buy a shoe that won’t dissappoint with me with its comfort, performance and durability since I’m hoping to use them for a long time. Can you help me out make this difficult choice to blind-buy the shoe to stay with me for a long time? Does the price difference between Fuse 2.0 and Metcon 8 worth to go for Metcon 8?

    I’m 6’4 around 210 pounds. I work out 3-4 times per week in crossfit class WODS and sometimes doing olympic liftings sessions on my own.

    Again, thank you for all your work! It’s great to find a source of information as nich and high-quality as yours on internet.

    1. Thank you so much for checking out the content! Hit you back via IG, I believe (if I didn’t and that was someone else, lmk)! Reach out if you have additional Qs, friend.

  3. Thank you so much for this information.. For the Haze trainer’s width comparison you mentioned the Altra Escalante. Which version of the Escalante? I know that some are wider than others. More specifically to my reason for asking is that I currently have the Innov8 G300, which is a bit too narrow for me, how do the haze compare to that?

    1. Hey! I believe they rival it off of the first Escalante model, so in modern days likely close to the 2.5 or 3 (unless Altra has widened them since the OG model). Compared to the G 300, the Haze Trainer’s toe box width is about the same, but it has a wider midfoot.

      IMO, if it’s the midfoot that’s too narrow with the G 300, then you may like the Haze’s fit better. Toe box is similar though, once again. If you want, shoot me a message on Instagram and I can send you a video breakdown comparing the two shoes so you can see their sizing firsthand!

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