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The 8 Best Gym Shoes In 2024, What to Buy for Your Workout Needs

The Best Gym Shoes 2024

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There are so many bad gym shoes on the market — or, I guess — shoes that don’t live up to their hype or popularity. What you wear in the gym can make or break your performance, and if you’re serious about training then you should have the right shoes on your feet.

As a strength coach who’s worn and reviewed every shoe on this list, I find it frustrating because I’ve spent thousands of hours testing and vetting my picks. In addition to building individual written and video reviews for every shoe below, I’ve also bought every pair myself.

My site is a small business, and I’m an obsessed consumer like you. I want skin in the game, and as a coach, I blend my coaching and educational background to help suggest the ideal picks for your type of training.

My Gym Shoes Buying Guide

Author’s Transparency Note: I update this list every quarter based on new models. These shoes have earned their spot because I genuinely like them as the best performers in their respective categories.

How I Test Shoes

I’ve been reviewing shoes for over seven years, and in that time, I’ve refined how I test and review shoes probably 100 times. As someone who’s overanalytical and obsessed with nuance and details — this is how I am, and here’s how I test.

  • Stability Tests: This entails assessing a shoe’s midsole and its limits for promoting stability when training heavy. How much can I squat, deadlift, and lift in this shoe while feeling safe and balanced?
  • Versatility Tests: This revolves around testing a shoe’s responsiveness, comfort, and breathability. Can I wear this shoe for a HIIT workout, class, and short run and not feel beat up afterward?
  • Durability Tests: To assess durability, I’m purposely trying to beat the heck out of a shoe’s upper and midsole. Is this shoe’s price point worth the money? What’s the investment I’m getting out of this shoe?
  • Value Tests: Inflation is very real in the world of gym shoes. Value tests take everything above and cross-reference a shoe’s performance compared to its peers. Is it worth the money compared to alternatives A, B, and C?

Right now in my career, my system above has proven to work via my community, and I’m constantly fine-tuning tiny details to make my reviews more thorough and digestible. It’s a constant project I’m working on as the game changes and evolves.

What I Wear When I’m Lifting Heavy | Adidas Dropset Trainer 2

  • Price: $130
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 10.45 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

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 Sizing and Fit

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.

The Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 is a really strong shoe for lifting, and this model is an awesome upgrade compared to its predecessor. For lifting specifically, the dual-density midsole and “flatter” feeling sole are both hits in this shoe.

This shoe’s forefoot midsole is a little more responsive, and the heel runs more firm. This is great because it gives this shoe a nice blend of versatility without compromising stability under heavy weight.

I also like that there isn’t a ton of toe spring in this shoe and that the heel has a flatter and more stable feel. For things like heavy deadlifts, lunges, and machine work, this is a nice perk of this shoe.

Testing the Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 for Deadlifts

The final aspect to like about this model is that it has a good range to it outside of lifting. I love to blend lifting with jumping, sprinting, and cross-training into single sessions and if you’re similar but want a shoe that’s stellar for lifting, I think you’ll like the Dropset Trainer 2.

My Community’s Pick for Women | Nike Metcon 9

  • Price: $150
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 12.4 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info Read My Review

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

Nike Metcon 9 That Fit Friend

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

The Nike Metcon 9 is earning the top pick for women. This model is a really strong, well-rounded gym shoe for gym-goers who like to lift, do class workouts here and there, and do athletic-style training.

Compared to the Nike Metcon 8, the Metcon 9 has received a few updates that give it a little more versatility in the gym. For example, this shoe still features a TPU plate in the heel, but it’s been reworked to make it feel better for a wider range of versatile training contexts.

The outsole has a good level of traction when training on different surfaces and the medial and lateral midfoot outsole wraps help this shoe’s durability for CrossFit contexts where you’ll be having more abrasion on the top of the shoe. This shoe’s wider toe box is also a perk.

Nike Metcon 9 Upper

It’s important to note that the TPU insert does take away from the Metcon 9’s running performance, so if you want a training shoe for lifting and running, I’d look at the second and third picks below.

One of My Go-To Picks for Guys | UA TriBase Reign 6

  • Price: $130
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 2mm
  • Weight: 14.25 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

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

TriBase Reign 6 Try On

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.

The Under Armour TriBase Reign 6 is an awesome option for guys. In my opinion, this shoe is a stellar upgrade from the UA TriBase Reign 5. I’m calling it now, but the UA TriBase Reign 6 is going to be one of the top gym shoes in 2024.

I’m taking the UA TriBase Reign 6 as my top pick for men for three key reasons. First, they’re a really good well-rounded gym shoe for lifting, CrossFit, athletic-style training, HIIT workouts, and even sprints or short tempo runs (100-400-meter bouts).

Second, I like the overall width of this shoe. This model fits my E-width feet well and if you have medium to slightly wider feet you’ll enjoy this shoe’s fit. The width increase in this model I think does a better job of feeding into the anatomical needs of men’s feet.

Testing the Under Armour TriBase Reign 6 for Deadlifts

Third and lastly, I like the TriBase tech in this shoe’s outsole, drop-in midsole, and 2mm heel-to-toe drop. The blend of the midsole and outsole give this shoe a nice stable, yet versatile feeling and this can be a good model for gym-goers who like lower heel-to-toe drops.

What I Want Less Arch Support | Born Primitive Savage 1

  • Price: $130
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 12.7 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

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

Born Primitive Savage 1 Sizing and Fit

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

The Born Primitive Savage 1 can be a great option for flat feet. This shoe is built with a wider toe box and midfoot that doesn’t have a super aggressive taper so it can be great for flatter arches and feet.

In the gym, the Born Primitive Savage 1 delivers a well-rounded performance. This model has excelled for my CrossFit WODs, heavier leg days, and athletic-focused sessions.

The dual-density midsole in the Savage 1 has supported my 500 lb deadlifts with no compression issues and the upper on this shoe has held up well to things like rope climbs and burpees. This shoe also has a lower stack height, which gives you more ground feel.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Leg Day

I think if you have flatter feet and enjoy shoes in the gym that feel more “minimalist” and prioritize needing stability and durability with your workout sessions, then the Born Primitive Savage 1 will be a good pick for you.

What I Wear for HIIT | Nike Free Metcon 5

  • Price: $120
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm (per Nike’s support team)
  • Weight: 10.05 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size.
  • For More Info: Read My Review

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.

The Nike Free Metcon 5 can be an awesome pick for HIIT workouts. This shoe has been one of my favorite options for workouts where I’m jumping a lot, doing explosive work, and doing light to moderate strength training.

The Nike Free midsole in this shoe gives this model a nice blend of versatility and comfort. It moves and articulates well and it feels “bouncy” when doing things like jump rope, box jumps, and skater strides.

I also like that this shoe gives you enough stability to add in light to moderate strength work. For example, when deadlifting between 225-275 lbs in this shoe it was stable enough to accommodate these tasks.

Me testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for jump rope

Outside of its bouncy midsole, the upper on the Nike Free Metcon 5 also does a good job with security. I never had spillover issues in this model and I appreciate that Nike gave this shoe a more spacious upper compared to the Free Metcon 4.

What I Recommend for Wide Feet | Born Primitive Savage 1

  • Price: $130
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 12.7 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to size for most.
  • For More Info: Read My Review

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

Born Primitive Savage 1 Toe Box Width

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

The Born Primitive Savage 1 is my favorite gym shoe for wide feet. This model’s toe box rivals some barefoot shoe’s widths which makes it an awesome option for feet that go up to EE-widths and sometimes more.

This model’s wider anatomical toe box blended with its flatter midfoot construction gives it a nice flat feeling when training. The upper of this shoe also does a good job regarding security when moving forward, backward, and laterally.

This shoe has a dense midsole for heavy lifting, and good durability for CrossFit and cross-training workouts. If you like more simplistic training shoes, you’ll resonate with the Savage 1’s construction.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Deadlifts

Whether you need a shoe for 500 lb deadlifts and heavy squats or you want a model for cross-training and CrossFit WODs, the Born Primitive Savage 1 should deliver for all of your training needs.

What I Like for High Arches | Inov-8 F-Lite G 300

  • Price: $150
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 12.3 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

Inov-8 F-Lite G 300

Inov-8 F-Lite G 300
4.6
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.7
Quality
4.5

Best For

  • Versatile Training
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Shorter Runs
  • Plyometrics

Falls Short

  • For Cost-Efficiency

Inov-8 F Lite G 300 for High Arches

F-Lite G 300 Pros and Cons

Logo

Pros

  • Midsole is stable yet responsive delivering a well-rounded performance for lifting, HIIT, and CrossFit.
  • These can be a good option for those who like a little more width in their forefoot for toe splay.
  • Great option for lifters and athletes who like having more arch support in their training shoes.

Cons

  • The TPU midfoot cage can press into the top of the feet if you have a high instep or thick feet.
  • If you have flat feet, pass on this shoe. The tapered midfoot may feel too snug for your foot anatomy.
  • The bootie-style construction isn't for everyone and if you like traditional tongue and lacing systems you'll want to consider this.

The Inov-8 F-Lite G 300 is my favorite gym shoe for high arches. This is a cross-trainer that can excel well in a lot of different contexts and is a good well-rounded gym shoe for high arches.

For example, you can lift heavy in this shoe, use them for CrossFit, and even for HIIT workouts and light runs (<3 miles or less) and they’re an exceptional performer across the board.

They also have a fairly wide forefoot which is great for those with high arches and wider feet in need of a shoe to accommodate these anatomical asks. The Graphene construction on the outsole also adds a nice layer of durability to this shoe.

Inov 8 F Lite G 300 Arch

I think if you need a shoe for doing a little bit of everything that provides a nice level of stability, then the Inov-8 F-Lite G 300 is a good pick for you. If you’re not a fan of bootie-style constructions on gym shoes, I’ve also included a few runner-up picks for high arches below.

My Favorite Pick for Walking | On Cloud X 3

  • Price: $150
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
  • Weight: 9.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • For More Info: Read My Review

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

On Cloud X 3 Try On Review

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

The On Cloud X 3 is earning my top pick for walking. This model has a high level of comfort and in the context of walking long distances both on the treadmill and outdoors, they’re exceptional shoes.

The On CloudTec midsole is what gives the Cloud X 3 its high level of comfort and this midsole maneuvers pretty well. These shoes never feel overly stiff so if you like a more plush and cushioned ride, then you’ll enjoy the On Cloud X for walking.

Outside of walking, the On Cloud X 3 is also a good gym shoe for light to moderate lifting (cap loading to about 315 lbs), HIIT workouts, classes, daily wear, and short to moderate runs (1-6ish miles)

Testing the On Cloud X 3 for Versatile Training

This model will work best for the gym-goer who prioritizes versatility and comfort over stability when training. For example, this shoe will not be the best for heavy lifting, but it will do a good job in versatile training contexts.

How to Get Your Sizing Right

As opposed to running shoes that have a fairly formulaic method for sizing, gym shoes can be a little different. Sizing discrepancies in gym shoes can vary for three key reasons.

How Should Gym Shoes Fit

  1. Different forms of training will require different types of fit. For example, if you’re doing explosive training, you’ll generally want shoes that hug the feet fairly well to prevent sliding around or feeling unstable.
  2. Different foot anatomies will require different spaces in the toe box. For example, if you have wide feet, then you’ll typically want a little more room at the end of your toe box for both comfort and performance reasons.
  3. Different preferences can shift how we want our shoes to fit. Some like their shoes to fit a little looser, while others like snugger shoes.

My Sizing Recommendations

I recommend having anywhere from .2-.6 inches of room at the end of your shoe’s toe box.

If you have wide feet or like more room in your shoe’s toe box, go with a thumb’s width at the end of your longest toe.

Best Cross Training Shoes In 2022 for CrossFit, Running, and More

Keep In Mind

As a rule of thumb (no pun intended) and on the topic of a shoe being too snug, if you have so much room at the end of your toe box that you’re experiencing heel slip when training, then you’ll want to size down and aim for the lower end of the range mentioned above.

Regarding sizing, there’s no “one-size-fits-all” answer (pun intended). Explore different models and find shoes with the last constructions that align with your feet best and allow you to perform your best.

My Gym Shoe Buying Tips

The ideal shoes for you will be dependent on variables like how you train and your foot anatomy. It’s normal to experiment with different shoes as you find what works best for you. I know, it can be tedious but it’s worth spending the time trying different models.

Remember that every company uses different shoe lasts (molds) to construct their shoes, so if one shoe doesn’t fit your feet perfectly, another shoe likely will — don’t lose hope. I spend most of my days answering questions about this exact topic on my YouTube channel and on written reviews.

TriBase Reign 6 Try On

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

Multiple construction features can manipulate a shoe’s performance. A shoe’s midsole, outsole, and upper are three of the big features that can influence stability, responsiveness, security, and durability.

I would suggest assessing these three heaviest when looking for your next gym shoes. These will dictate your shoe’s “feel” when training and how long it lasts in terms of durability.

Buying Tip 2 — Your Workout Specificity Matter

Your shoes should always reflect your training and get more specific to reflect how you train. For example, if you do something specific like CrossFit, then you’ll want to find shoes that are optimal for this context.

The same holds true for HIIT, lifting, and so forth. This is why I include categories in my round-ups. Please ask questions about shoes featured in this list as you have them.

Final Thoughts

When looking into the best gym shoes, I’d suggest exploring three things: your training goals, needs, and wants. If you can nail down the specific training asks that you have from your shoes, then you can make the best investment for your individual goals.

Whether you plan to lift heavy, do HIIT workouts, or take classes here and there, there’s a gym shoe that accommodates your foot’s anatomy and training needs.

If you have additional questions on any of the shoes featured in this article, drop a comment below or reach out to me personally via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend).

 
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.

4 thoughts on “The 8 Best Gym Shoes In 2024, What to Buy for Your Workout Needs”

  1. I purchased the UA Reign 5 (because they were on sale) based on this article. I do general weight lifting – not powerlifting or CrossFit – in these shoes and they are stable and have held up really well. Thanks for the review, Jake.

  2. I loved my OnClouds but felt they didn’t wear well in the toe area. Do you think that’s consistent with all their models? I did not have the one you recommended. Also, if I need more room in toebox area should I be looking at wide models always?

    1. Yeah, On shoes can be super inconsistent with their durability, tbh! I’ve had pairs last a year and I’ve had pairs break down in a few months. I always suggest buying models through companies like REI when possible that way you’ll have a better chance of returning/replacing them. It wouldn’t hurt to try some wider models to see if they align with your anatomy better as that could also be why the toe durability suffered pretty quickly!

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