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Can You Work Out In Jordans? Yep, Here’s Why They Can Be Great

Okay, I know some of you are going to judge me for saying this, but I’ve slept on owning Jordans for most of my life. However, that’s about to change because I’m starting to fall in love with my Jordan 1s.

I get asked questions all of the time on YouTube videos such as, “Can I work out in Jordans? Are Jordans good for exercise? Can I deadlift and squat in a Jordan?”

In this article, I’ll discuss why Jordans can be surprisingly good shoes for working out and exercise and I’ll cover why I like them.

Jordans, much like most basketball shoes, can work exceptionally well for strength training and cross-training. Most Jordans offer good upper security, a nice level of stability, and great traction.

Can you work out in Jordans

The DNA of Jordans

Before discussing the “why” and “if” Jordan shoes can work well in the gym, it’s a good idea to cover what makes up a typical Jordan. In this article, I’ll discuss the Air Jordan 1 as that’s the model most lifters tend to reach for.

I personally went with the Air Jordan 1 Mid because I’m a sucker for high-top shoes for training and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed their simplistic construction.

Below are three key construction details to note in Air Jordan 1s that can influence this shoe’s performance for lifting and working out.

  • Air Jodan 1 Mid
  • Sizing: True to Size
Anatomy of a Jordan 1
Midsole: Foam With Nike Air Tech
Upper: Leather and Synthetic Overlays
Outsole: Fully Rubber Tread
  1. Full Rubber Outsole: Great for cross-training and multi-directional traction.
  2. Foam Midsole and Nike Air Cushioning: Provide a blend of stability and versatility.
  3. Reinforced Leather Upper: Promotes foot security and prevents spillover when doing different exercises.

I think one of the nice things that’s grown on me with the Jordan 1 is that you know exactly what you’re getting when you buy them. So, if you train in them and enjoy them, then they’re an easy shoe to buy another pair without fretting and worrying.

For example, I think of Jordans like Converse in the context that you know exactly what you’re getting and if you like them for lifting, then you don’t have to stress because you know exactly how they’ll perform.

Can You Work Out In Jordans?

In short, yes you can absolutely work out in Jordan shoes, especially the Jordan 1s. Additionally, you can work out in some of the Jordan basketball shoes, however, some of those models will work better for cross-training over dedicated strength training and lifting.

Can you workout in Jordans

The Jordan 1 can be a great option for working out for three reasons and revolves around their stability, traction, and upper security. This model does a good job of locking the foot down when jumping and doing lateral work and it’s stable enough for heavy training.

Reason 1: Jordan 1s Have Good Stability

The Jordan 1s have a foam midsole and Nike air tech, but these two features don’t necessarily take away from the Jordan 1’s ability to be stable under heavy weight. The foam tends to run a little more on the denser side and the air pocket doesn’t hinder stability either.

For example, I’ve deadlifted over 500 lbs in my Jordan 1s and haven’t had major issues with compression and I’ve been with friends who have squatted well over 500 lbs in their Jordan 1s.

are jordans good for lifting weights

I think if you’re wanting to tackle barbell lifts, accessories, and machine work you should be plenty fine in a pair of Jordan 1s regarding their stability for your lifting needs.

Reason 2: Decently Responsive for Cross-Training

Outside of stability, the Jordan 1 can also be a decent option for versatility in contexts like athletic-style training where you’ll be blending plyometrics with your lifting. My pair has worked exceptionally well for things like box jumps and single-leg plyometrics.

are jordans good in the gym

I didn’t find the sole to be so stable to where it was uncomfortable or clunky when jumping and if you enjoy shoes with a little more density for athletic-style training then I think you’ll also enjoy this.

The leather and synthetic upper also support this style of training because they help prevent the foot from spilling over when moving left-to-right or when being explosive forward and backward. The feet shouldn’t slide a ton in Jordans.

Reason 3: Outsole Has Great Traction

The final component that makes Jordan 1s good for working out is their outsole and its construction. In Jordan 1s, and most basketball shoes at that, you’re going to get full rubber outsoles.

Can you exercise in Jordans

Basketball shoes are designed with multi-directional movement in mind so you’ll rarely run into slip issues with basketball shoes, especially in the gym.

For example, when tackling sled pushes and pulls on turf, my Jordan 1s did a great job of promoting traction and I think you’ll enjoy the traction you get with Jordans in the gym regardless of the surface you’re training on.

Are Jordans Good for Deadlifts?

Jordan 1s can work pretty well for deadlifts and if you’re a beginner or recreational lifter then they should be plenty fine for your deadlift needs regarding their stability and performance.

For example, if your deadlift is anywhere from 135-550 lbs then you should be set with Jordan 1s for deadlifts. I compare a Jordan 1 most closely to a Nike Blazer and Converse Chuck Taylor regarding their performance and feel for deadlifts.

Can you deadlift in Jordans

Now that said, if you want to get super specific with your deadlifts and performance, then you may want to look into something like a barefoot shoe or ditch the Jordans and go barefoot for your deadlift workouts.

Despite their stability, Jordan 1s still have a moderate stack height which will bring your feet further from the floor.

In the context of optimizing deadlift mechanics this can be disadvantageous as it will increase the range of motion you need to pull and can change your setup mechanics slightly.

Are Jordans Good for Squats?

For squats, Jordan 1s can do a pretty good job and you’ll see all types of lifters wear them for their squat workouts. In the context of squats, Jordans can work exceptionally well due to their traction and overall stability.

On top of this, if you like additional ankle support in your shoes and like lifting in high-top shoes for example, then Jordan 1s can be a great option for squats, especially the mids.

Squatting in regular shoes

The toe box is fairly medium or neutral in Jordan shoes so for narrow and medium-width feet, Jordans can also feel plenty spacious for accommodating toe splay and giving you enough width to ground the feet for squats.

Similar to deadlifts, as you get more specific with your squats and performance that’s where a Jordan will start to fall short. For example, if you need more heel elevation for squats then you’ll want to explore weightlifting shoes.

Also, if you have notably wide feet then you may also feel a little restricted in a Jordan 1 when squatting and you may want to look into options that have more width in the toe box.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Are Jordans a good gym shoe?

Jordans can be a great shoe for the gym due to their moderate level of stability, good outsole traction, and upper security for multi-directional exercises.

Can you use Jordans at the gym?

You can absolutely use Jordans at the gym. For example, the Jordan 1s can be a great shoe for strength training and athletic-style work. Jordan basketball shoes can be good for cross-training and athletic-style sessions.

Can Jordans be used for running?

If you're working out in Jordan 1s then you may want to avoid running long distances in them. They can work for short distances but will feel heavy and clunky for longer runs and you'll want to find running specific shoes.

Takeaway Thoughts

If you’re thinking about training in your Jordans, especially your Jordan 1s, give them a try. They can be exceptionally good in the gym for strength training and certain forms of cross-training.

Plus, if you like training in high-top shoes then going for Jordan 1 Mids can be a great option for providing you with additional ankle support.

If you have additional questions about working out in Jordans or if you train in Jordans already, drop a comment below or reach out via Instagram (@jake_boly or @that_fit_friend) and let me know!

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.

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