Skip to content
Home » Cross Training Shoes

8 Best Shoes for Strength Training of 2023

It can be overwhelming when looking into new shoes for strength training. We all have different strength training goals, levels of strength, and shoe preferences, which can make searching for new strength training shoes even more tedious.

Plus, when considering the best shoes for strength training, we have to consider how wide that range can be. For example, some lifters prefer the tried and true Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star while others prefer a good stable cross-training shoe.

Shoes for Strength Training Buying Tips

Tip 1 — Consider Your Training and My Picks

We all strength train differently and this can be incredibly important to consider when searching your shoes. Different strength training workouts will require different features in shoes.

After countless strength training sessions, I’ve built this list to include a lot of versatile shoes that work well for different training training contexts. I’ve broken my favorite models into different categories.

I independently buy and hand-test everything recommended on That Fit Friend. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission. Read more here.

My Top Shoes for Strength Training Picks

Tip 2 — Stability Is King

Stability should lead the forefront of your search for shoes that are optimized for strength training. When assessing stability, I consider stability from the physical and proprioceptive angles.

The physical angle entails how dense a shoe’s midsole is and how balanced and stable you feel when lifting with it. The proprioceptive angle is how much ground feedback you get with a shoe which is a trait that correlates to stability.

Tip 3 — Traction Is Important and Ask Questions!

Another feature I consider is a shoe’s outsole and its traction. Shoes with full rubber outsoles will always be best for strength training as they’ll provide the most grip on different surfaces.

I’ve hand-tested every shoe featured in this list and if you have additional questions please reach out and I can help direct you to the best models for your needs. I also have some round-ups for more specific training contexts linked below.

Testing the Nike Metcon 9 for Leg Day

Best Overall Shoes for Strength Training

When assessing the shoes for strength training, I’m concerned with a shoe’s stability and how its sole interacts with different strength training contexts. I’m focused on finding which shoe is the best of the best for pure strength workouts.

Top Pick: STR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer

  • Pros: Good midsole stability, highly flexible sole is great for lower body workouts, form-fitting upper
  • Cons: Outsole can fade with high-volume concrete use, low tongue gusset may not work for high-volume feet
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 11.2 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewSTR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up: Adidas Dropset Trainer 2

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

The STR/KE MVMNT Haze Trainer is my top pick for the best shoes for strength training. This model is my top pick for three key reasons. First, the maneuverability of the Haze Trainer’s sole is solid for different types of strength training.

This model takes relatively no time to break in and if you like the sole of your shoes to move and articulate well with the foot, then I think you’ll enjoy the fit and feel of the Haze Trainer. Second, the stability of the Haze Trainer’s midsole is good for heavier strength training.

Testing the Haze Trainer for Lifting

Whether you’re training heavily with free weights or machines, the Haze Trainer’s Cush50 midsole should do a good job of supporting your overall stability. It also provides a nice level of responsiveness for exercises like power cleans and dumbbell snatches.

The third and last reason why I like the Haze Trainer for strength training is its upper construction. The jacquard knit upper locks the foot down and breathes well. Plus, it looks pretty good so you can easily wear this model as a daily wear shoe as well.

Best Men’s Shoes for Strength Training

To test and review the best men’s shoes for strength training, I’m looking at how different models perform for different thresholds and contexts of strength training.

By looking at things like where stability is capped and how mobile a sole is, I can make the best-educated picks for men’s shoes for strength training.

Top Pick: UA TriBase Reign 5

  • Pros: Micro G Foam midsole has good stability, nice for guys that love “flatter” feels in shoes, good versatility
  • Cons: Midsole can feel clunky at times, lower drop may not resonate with taller guys
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 2mm
  • Weight: 12.6 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewUA TriBase Reign 5 Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up: Haze Trainer

UA TriBase Reign 5

$130

Under Armour TriBase Reign 5 Product Shot
4.6
Stability
4.6
Versatility
4.6
Durability
4.5

Best For

  • Recreational Weight Training
  • CrossFit
  • Cross-Training & Athletic Workouts
  • HIIT Workouts
  • Lower Heel-to-Toe Drop Lovers

Falls Short

  • For Wide Feet
  • For Longer Runs

The Under Armour TriBase Reign 5 is my favorite pick for men wanting a solid shoe for strength training. I like the UA TriBase Reign 5 because it can kind of do it all when it comes to strength training.

This shoe’s Micro G foam midsole has been stable enough to support 500+ lb deadlifts and squats up to 405 lbs. I also appreciate that it’s stable for all types of strength work whether you’re using free weights or machines.

Testing the Under Armour TriBase Reign 5 for Squats

This model also features an athletic fit and it has an upper construction that has performed well in pretty much all of my strength training asks. If you like to train like an athlete blending strength work with plyometrics, for example, then you’ll enjoy this model.

The fit of this shoe runs a bit on the wider side as well so if you’re constantly battling width in your cross-training shoes and you have a slightly wider foot width, then you should resonate with the fit of this shoe. 

Best Women’s Shoes for Strength Training

When assessing and reviewing the best women’s shoes for strength training, I’m constantly referring to my girlfriend and my YouTube community for their insights and feedback.

That feedback tied with my personal in-depth analysis and assessment of different shoes for strength training helps me make the best-educated picks.

Top Pick: Nike Metcon 9

  • Pros: Good stability for general strength training, works for CrossFit and cross-training, wider toe box
  • Cons: Heel can feel clunky at times, breathability isn’t the best
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 13.25 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewNike Metcon 9 Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up: Reebok Nano X3 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

The Nike Metcon 9 is the top pick for the best women’s shoes for strength training. This model works great for heavier strength training and versatile training. It’s also a good shoe for those who like doing CrossFit workouts.

In the context of lifting, the Nike Metcon 9 provides a nice level of stability across the board for different strength training settings. The dual-density foam midsole is responsive yet stable and the built-in TPU Hyperlift insert in the heel adds to this shoe’s stability.

Nike Metcon 9 Review

Outside of its stability, the upper durability is also a nice perk with the Nike Metcon 9. This model features overlays to prevent breakdown from abrasion and it’s one of the better cross-training shoes on the market for rope climbs if you regularly program them.

Must Read: 9 Best CrossFit Shoes | Picks for Wide Feet, High Arches, and More

The width and fit of the Nike Metcon 9 also do a fairly good job of aligning with the anatomical needs of women’s feet. This model has more of a form-fitting feel to it and hugs the foot well without feeling too clunky.

Best Shoes for Strength Training and HIIT

When testing and assessing the best shoes for strength training and HIIT workouts, I’m mostly concerned with two key performance aspects. First, I’m concerned about the stability a shoe’s midsole and outsole provide for strength work.

Second, I’m assessing how much “pop” you get from the shoe’s midsole and the level of responsiveness it delivers when tackling different types of HIIT workouts.

Top Pick: Nike Free Metcon 5

  • Pros: Good HIIT and strength hybrid shoe, flexible sole, moderate comfort for short runs, sprints, and walks
  • Cons: It’s not the best for loading over 315 lbs
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 5mm (per Nike’s support team)
  • Weight: 10.05 oz
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size.
  • Read My ReviewNike Free Metcon 5 Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up: Reebok Nano X3 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

The Nike Free Metcon 5 is my top pick as best the shoe for strength training and HIIT. For these training contexts, the Nike Free Metcon 5 delivers a strong construction due to its midsole, outsole, and upper.

The Free Metcon 5’s midsole has a good level of maneuverability and whether you’re jumping, doing classes, or HIIT workouts, this shoe should move well with you. I like the reactivity of this shoe’s forefoot and it feels responsive.

Me Testing the Nike Free Metcon 5 for gym workouts

There’s also a moderate level of stability with this shoe’s midsole, so while it definitely has a HIIT bias to its construction and isn’t the best model for maxing out your barbell lifts, it can work well for lifting up to 275 lbs.

I also appreciate that the fit of this shoe has been updated and that it runs a little more true to size compared to the Nike Free Metcon 4 which has a super snug fit especially through the toe box.

Make sure you try out my TF2 Cross-Training shoes Finder. This calculator takes models that I’ve reviewed and matches you with the best shoes for your training needs.

Best Shoes for Strength Training and Conditioning

When assessing the best shoes for strength training and conditioning I try to back to my days tackling dryland sessions as an ice hockey player. Good shoes for strength training and conditioning need stability, versatility, and durability.

A model needs to be able to support different types of strength training, but also provide enough versatility and durability for tackling the demands of plyometrics and other circuit-style sessions.

Top Pick: Adidas Dropset Trainer 2

  • Pros: Dual-density midsole is highly style, forefoot is flexible and responsive, good “athletic-feeling” shoe
  • Cons: Not great for running
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 6mm
  • Weight: 9.85 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewAdidas Dropset Trainer 2 Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up: Reebok Nano X3

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

The Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 is my top pick as the best shoe for strength and conditioning. This model is what I regularly describe as the “athlete’s shoe” because it performs exceptionally well for my athletic-focused sessions.

The dual-density midsole in this model gives the toe box a nice level of flexibility and maneuverability while also being stable enough for 500+ lb deadlifts and heavy single-leg training.

Testing the Adidas Dropset Trainer 2 for Deadlifts

I also appreciate how lightweight this shoe is and how it’s easy to wear in different training settings. The ventilated midsole is great for keeping your feet cool and its lightweight build is awesome for plyometrics and explosive sessions.

There’s also an anatomical fit in this shoe’s toe box which is great for giving you a little more room to splay the toe when training. If you like to blend lifting, sprinting, jumping, and conditioning work into single sessions then you’ll enjoy this model.

Best Shoes for Strength Training and Running

When it comes to the best shoes for strength training and running it’s important to recognize the contrast between these two activities.

For strength work, you’ll want a stable shoe, and for running, you’ll generally want a more cushioned ride (unless you like barefoot running). That being said, there will always be a give and take for both of these when finding a training shoe that works well for both.

Top Pick: On Cloud X 3

  • Pros: Good option for a true hybrid shoe, CloudTec midsole is comfortable, lightweight and breathable
  • Cons: Limited performance past 275 lbs, not great for flat feet
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 8mm
  • Weight: 9.05 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewOn Cloud X 3 Review
  • Comparable Runner-UpReebok Nano X3

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

The On Cloud X 3 is my favorite shoe for anyone wanting a model for blending strength training and running. It’s important to note that this model will not necessarily be the “best” in either of these categories, but it works well as a hybrid training shoe.

For example, when it comes to lifting, you’ll want to cap your loading around 275-315 lbs in this model. If you go heavier than that, then you may start to notice compression with the CloudTec midsole.

Testing the On Cloud X 3 for Versatile Training

Additionally, for running, this model will work best for distances between 1-6ish miles. I found that this distance tends to be the sweet spot in the On Cloud X 3 for both road and treadmill running.

Must Read: 6 Best Hybrid Training Shoes | Best Models for Running and Lifting

The On Cloud X 3 is a good hybrid training shoe for strength training and running, but it does have its limitations as you get more serious in both directions of running and strength work. That being said, if you fall into the parameters mentioned above, then I think you’ll like the On Cloud X. 3

Best Shoes for Strength Training for Wide Feet

To assess the best shoes for strength training and wide feet, I’m concerned with two key performance and fit criteria. First, the shoe needs to work for different forms and intensities of strength training.

Second, the shoe needs to be wide enough through the forefoot and midfoot to accommodate a variety of foot anatomies.

Top Pick: Born Primitive Savage 1

  • Pros: Dense midsole has awesome stability, good sole flexibility, wide toe box
  • Cons: Tongue can press into the top of the foot
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 7mm
  • Weight: 13.85 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: Narrow feet, size down a half-size. Neutral-width feet, size down a half-size for a snugger fit, and go true for a normal fit. Wide feet, go true to size.
  • Read My Review: Born Primitive Savage 1 Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up: Reebok Nano 2 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

The Born Primitive Savage 1 is a strong training shoe for strength training, especially for those with wider feet. This shoe is built with an anatomical toe box and its midfoot isn’t super aggressive regarding its taper.

I have E-width feet and this shoe gives me plenty of room to splay my toes and grip the floor when training. The dual-density midsole in this model is dense and it can accommodate all types of heavy loading and lifting.

Testing the Born Primitive Savage 1 for Deadlifts

This shoe reminds me a lot of the older school cross-training shoes from Reebok and Nike with its simplistic and refined construction. Performace-wise, I love this because it keeps this shoe relatively no-frills and you know exactly what you’re getting.

The flexibility of this model’s sole is also a perk for lower-body workouts where you’re tackling things like lunges and split squats. All that said, if you have wide feet it’s tough to fault the Savage 1’s lifting performance.

Best Budget Shoes for Strength Training

To assess and test the best budget shoes for strength training shoes need to have two key criteria to make my list. First, they need to have price points under $100.

Second, they need to perform well for different types of strength training. Being a budget-friendly model is great, but if the shoes fall short of strength training, then they’ll be a waste of your money.

Top Pick: PUMA Fuse 2.0

  • Pros: Good “all-arounder” on a budget, lightweight and breathable upper, flexible sole
  • Cons: Drop-in midsole can be hit or miss (go Nanoflex V2 if you don’t like this feature)
  • Heel-to-Toe Drop: 4mm
  • Weight: 13.3 oz (for my size 10 model)
  • Removable Insole: Yes
  • Sizing: True to Size
  • Read My ReviewPUMA FUSE 2.0 Review
  • Comparable Runner-Up: Reebok Nanoflex V2

Puma Fuse 2.0

Puma Fuse 2.0 Product Shot
4.3
Stability
4.4
Versatility
4.5
Durability
4.2
Quality
4.3

Best For

  • Cross-Training
  • Recreational Lifting
  • Casual CrossFit
  • Athletic-Style Training
  • Budget-Conscious Shoppers

Falls Short

  • For Very Wide/Flat Feet

The PUMA Fuse 2.0 is taking my top pick for the best budget shoes for strength training. This model has a price point that sits right at $100 USD but is regularly on sale for less if you shop around.

While this isn’t necessarily the “cheapest” training shoe on the market, I think if you want to spend around $100 or less then you’ll get the most range out of this shoe compared to other budget training shoes.

Puma Fuse 2.0 for Lifting and Weight Training

This shoe’s drop-in midsole does a good job of providing a nice blend of stability and responsiveness for heavier strength work and versatile training. I’ve enjoyed this shoe for sessions where I’m lifting heavy and then doing cross-training.

Must Read: 8 Best Budget Cross-Training Shoes | Picks for Men, Women, and More

I also appreciate the flexibility of this shoe’s sole construction. This model has a good level of flexibility and articulation which is great for multi-directional work and “feeling” the ground when training.

What to Look for In Shoes for Strength Training

When looking into new shoes for strength training, it’s important to define how you primarily like to strength train in the first place. For example, an avid barbell-focused recreational lifter will train slightly differently than a beginner who is just getting into strength training.

Strength training takes a lot of different forms and if you can understand how you plan to use your shoes, then you can pick the best model for your needs.

What makes a good shoe for strength training

Personally, I think there are three primary details to explore and assess when looking into new shoes for strength training. These details will influence a shoe’s overall stability and performance for strength training and they include:

  • Midsole Material/Stability: How stable is the midsole and what is its threshold for different forms of strength training?
  • Outsole Construction: How is the outsole constructed? Is it durable? Does the outsole grip floors and machines well?
  • Upper Durability: Is the upper durable enough to withstand the stress that can come along with strength training? If you’re training heavy, does the upper lock the foot down properly?

These details and how you should assess them will then ebb and flow based on your strength training goals. For example, if you’re planning to train super heavy in your shoes, then you’ll want a model with a firmer midsole.

Testing the NOBULL Court Trainer for CrossFit

Conversely, if you like to blend your strength training with running, then you’ll want a shoe that can perform properly for both of these contexts. So, looking for shoes with responsive midsoles and breathable uppers could be good in this context.

How I Review Shoes for Strength Training

When testing and reviewing shoes for strength training I wear two different hats. On one hand, I wear my reviewer hat and make sure I’m properly comparing each shoe to the hundreds I’ve reviewed before.

On the other hand, I wear my strength coach hat and consider how a shoe influences strength training outcomes. I have my Masters in Sports Science and have been coaching athletes and lifters for over a decade.

Shoes can influence your biomechanics and this is important to keep in mind when strength training. As I built this list, I documented how different shoes influenced my strength sessions. In terms of footwear, three construction features I heavily consider include:

  • Midsole Density: How stable does the shoe feel and what type of ground feedback does the midsole give you?
  • Outsole Tread: How grippy is the outsole? Will it work for different strength training settings?
  • Upper Security: Does the upper lock the foot down? Do I suspect a shoe to have spillover issues while training?
  • Durability for Value: How is the shoe’s overall durability in comparison to its price point? Is it a well-built product?

If you want to learn more about my review process, then I’d recommend checking out my “How I Review Shoes” article. I share more context into my methodologies in this piece.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q:
What are the best shoes for strength training?

A:
The best shoes for strength training will be individual based on your training needs, wants, and preferences. For example, if you're a barbell-focused lifter, then you'll want a model with enough stability to match your strength levels, and if you like blending strength training with running, then you'll want a shoe that can work well for both of those contexts.

Q:
Do you need shoes for strength training?

A:
No, you do not necessarily need to wear shoes for strength training. However, when discussing the topic of something like strength training barefoot versus with shoes on, you need to recognize that different heel-to-toe drops can influence performance and that some gyms will not allow barefoot strength training.

Q:
Can you strength train in running shoes?

A:
If you're serious about your strength training, then you'll want to avoid wearing running for strength-focused sessions. Their midsoles can limit overall stability and their often rounded soles can decrease performance and force output.

Takeaway Thoughts

There are a lot of great shoes for strength training on the market. When searching for the ideal pair of strength training shoes for your training needs, it’s important to identify your core asks from the shoes you’re looking into.

By narrowing down how exactly you plan to use your shoes for strength training, you can invest in the perfect model for your context.

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

Jake Boly

Jake Boly

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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *