Lifestyle

The Best Gym Shoes You Can Buy, Ranked

A complete guide to the best gym shoes, including reviews of Nike, Reebok, Adidas, Puma, NoBull, and more.
By Will Price
April 27, 2023

Our product recommendations are selected by editors, tested first-hand, or expert-approved. We may earn a commission through links on our site.

You can wear whatever shoes you want to the gym. Shoot, lots of people take their shoes off when they get to the gym (please wear socks). But if you’re interested in pushing yourself a little bit harder and getting more out of precious hours at the gym (not to mention doing so comfortably and safely) continue reading. This is a guide to the best gym shoes you can buy—tested, reviewed, compared, and ranked by The Edge team. 

Hone Health staff runs, lifts, and crushes HIIT classes before reviewing and rendering a verdict on any shoe. Every shoe in this guide has been worn extensively.

What We Look for in a Pair of Gym Shoes

Stability 

Generally, training shoes can be put on a stability-responsiveness spectrum. Stability manifests as design that keeps the feet and body in as advantageous and safe of a position as possible during lifting movements—heavy compound movements like a deadlift, as well as balance-focused movements like the pistol squat. 

What does stable design look like? Stable, lifting-focused shoes often have little to no cushion in the heel, rigid ankle support, and very little give from the middle to the back of the shoe. Features like these help you keep your balance concentrated in the right places on your feet.

Responsiveness

Responsiveness is a bit less clear than stability, but it’s also a bit simpler. A responsive shoe is a shoe that has some bounce or spring to it; it’s a shoe that, when jogging, feels like it’s propelling you forward—or at the very least not hindering every stride. 

The most responsive shoes are those designed for distance running. Cushioned rides with springy foams or carbon plates that harness energy and push you where you’re going, faster. Responsive design is important to gym shoes—mid-range cardio, HIIT sessions, some CrossFit work, and other gym workouts are all made more comfortable with some extra oomph—but for most gymgoers, a balance between responsive and stable design will offer the best bang for the buck.

Fit (in the right places)

A shoe fitting a little snug or a touch too big isn’t a real problem when you’re going about your day, but at the gym, it can be. Take your time before you click “checkout”—does the product page mention fit at all? Does it recommend sizing up or down? In testing, we found gym shoes often run a half-size small (closer to a full size in the case of the Puma Fuse). Mercifully, almost all retailers offer free returns for a period after delivery, so it’s not too difficult to go up a size if needed after buying. 

Wearing shoes that are too big or too small while working out can be unsafe, especially if doing so while lifting heavy weights. Don’t ego lift, and don’t risk injury because you really wish you were a size 11. 

Above all, match your fitness goals and routine

One of the shoe testers for this guide runs a couple miles to the gym as a warmup (and a nice way to save money on gas). Another does almost entirely HIIT work, with some lifting sprinkled in. Another almost exclusively lifts and folds in cardio occasionally because it is unfortunately a very healthy activity. Point being, there isn’t necessarily a shoe for everyone and everything—if you don’t run and prefer to lift, get something that supports your routine. If you’re constantly doing agility work, sprints, and box jumps, look for responsive and comfortable shoes to keep your feet happy. It’s important to drop brand loyalties and ego when shopping for performance wear. 

MORE SHOES

How We Tested Gym Shoes

No shoe we will recommend in this guide is here based on reputation—we’ve tested and reviewed every pair on the site. Getting the most out of your time working out—in the gym, on the track, or somewhere in between—and doing so safely are our two guiding principles throughout every review. Does the shoe’s design help you push through an extra rep, or keep you going through an intense HIIT routine? Does it do so while keeping your body in positions that mitigate injury risk? If the answer is yes to both questions and the price is fair, we begin to consider the shoe for recommendation. Have a shoe you’re curious about? Email this guide’s editor, Will Price, and we’ll try it out.

The Best Gym Shoes for Your Money

Best Overall: R.A.D Ones

READ THE FULL REVIEW: Our best overall gym shoe is from a brand you probably haven’t heard of. R.A.D—Rally Against Destruction—is a new footwear brand built by a former CrossFit competitor and gym owner. We ranked them our overall best because they’re the only shoe our team reviewed that didn’t have a performance-based con associated with them.

The upper is a breathable, stretchy, and durable mesh. The foam sole is just the right amount of sticky, extremely stable, and offers a little give in the right places. The aesthetic is clean with just a little modern flair, without falling into the trap of the overbranding we didn’t like from many of the big brands you already know.

The heel is rigid and sturdy enough for heavy squats—our tester ran reps at up to 315 pounds in them—and the sole is cushy enough to run 3 or 4 miles without issue. It’s difficult to describe how unique that is until you’ve tested a pile of gym shoes, so you’ll have to take our word for it.

Pros
  • Supports heavy lifting and cardio equally well
  • Durable construction
  • Supremely comfortable day-to-day
Cons
  • Price is on the higher end
  • "Drop"-based business model

Best for Weightlifting: Nike Metcon 8

READ THE FULL REVIEW: Probably the most popular cross-training shoe available, Nike’s Metcon series didn’t build a massive following out of thin air—this is a serious gym shoe.The fit feels extremely secure. The heel is tight around the foot and mid-foot, but the shoe opens up in the toe box. This is exactly what you need from a lifting shoe—a secure platform to load weight on top of, with room for your feet to naturally spread as you begin lifting. Wearing them during HIIT sessions works as well, so long as you’re on the front foot. Sprints, box jumps, rope climbs, etc. all feel fine, but jogging and cardio in general can be a bit of a pain in them. The rigidity of the mid-foot sole fights you with every stride (especially if you’re a heel-striker). If you mostly get into squats, deadlifts, lunges, sled work, and other similar exercises, though, you’ll dig the Metcon 8.

Pros
  • Exceptional for weightlifting
  • Good for quick sprints
  • Good option for CrossFitters
Cons
  • Lots of excessive logo decals and branding
  • Hurts to jog in them

Best for CrossFit: Reebok Nano x2

READ THE FULL REVIEW: The Nano x2 was probably our silver medalist for the “Best Overall” pick. Reebok’s training shoe leans a bit more toward all-around performance than, say, the Nike Metcon 8, which is largely a lifting and HIIT shoe.

Our Nano x2 tester put a couple miles into the shoes before and after workouts without issue, while still feeling stable and safe through traditional weightlifting movements and WODs. Ultimately, what’s needed for CrossFit is a little of everything, and that’s what the Nano x2 delivers.

That said, our tested did say she likely wouldn’t go beyond 1- or 2-mile runs in them, though, and we rated the looks a bit lower than others on the list, so we gave the “Best Overall” title to the R.A.D Ones instead.

Pros
  • Versatile for lifting, cardio, and everyday use
  • Great for weightlifting
  • Effective for HIIT, CrossFit, and short-distance running
  • Surprisingly stylish
Cons
  • The fit is wide for people with normal or narrow feet
  • Lack specifity to excel as a running or lifting shoe
  • Need breaking in

Best Budget Option: Puma Fuse

READ THE FULL REVIEW: Puma Fuses are the most affordable gym shoe we tested and would recommend. There are cheaper options that, well, feel cheaper.These Pumas offer strong heel support, but achieve it through a very short stack height—the distance between your heel and the ground—which creates the feeling of stability and connection to the ground many lifters enjoy. It’s the same reason you’ll see some folks go barefoot while lifting, or wear Chuck Taylors.Foot-ground connection aside, they do a solid job supporting lateral movements and quick sprints as well. That said, if you plan to jog in your gym shoes we recommend looking elsewhere. They feature no support for running, and tend to fit very tight in the mid-foot zone. We also have questions about the durability of the upper materials, as our reviewer noted signs of wear and tear after a couple months of use.If you’re into the price and function of them, we also recommend sizing at least a half-size up. If your feet are on the wider side, go a full-size up.

Pros
  • Affordable
  • Great stability for lifting
  • Solid support for lateral movement
Cons
  • Not great for run of any significance
  • Tight in the mid-foot area
  • Inconsistent sizing

Best for Flat Feet: NoBull Gum Trainers

READ THE FULL REVIEW: NoBull shoes are designed for and by CrossFit nerds. There is no doubt they will perform through any WOD you wear them through. We liked them because they’re one of the few well-made shoes that accommodate people with lower foot arches, or simply those who prefer a flatter design while weightlifting. Naturally, this means they’re probably not a great pick if you’ve got high arches. They also don’t support any real cardio activity well, and our reviewer said there is a break-in period to get the shoe comfortably pliable.

Pros
  • Perfect for weightlifting
  • Great for CrossFit and agility workouts
  • Minimalist design
Cons
  • No arch support
  • Not good for running
  • Need breaking in

Best Barefoot-Style: Vivobarefoot Primus Lite III

READ THE FULL REVIEW: Barefoot-style gym shoes are probably the most extreme take on flat design without taking shoes out of the equation entirely. When we set out to review a bunch of gym shoes, Vivobarefoot’s Primus Lite shoes were more of a curiosity than they were in serious contention. But after our reviewer wore them through a wide range of workouts, he couldn’t go back to what he was wearing before.If you like the feeling of Chuck Taylors or flat shoes in general, you’ll likely love the Primus Lites. They’re supremely light, they make you feel attached to the gym floor, and they’re not half-bad for some light cardio. That said, they’re pricier than most others on our list, and they’re not great for HIIT work, so they’re not for everyone.

Pros
  • Lightweight and flexible
  • Versatile for lifting, cardio, and everyday use
  • Great for leg day routines
  • Works well for low-impact cardio workouts, like rowing or biking
  • Made from recycled material
Cons
  • At $150 or so, they’re not cheap
  • Niche design not suitable for all lifters
  • Not great for longer runs
  • Not a HIIT shoe