Best cross training shoes for HIIT, gym sessions and more

The best cross training shoes are suitable for a variety of workouts, exercise classes, and sports. Here are our top picks to get you started.

Included in this guide:

A woman wearing a pair of cross training shoes carries a pair of kettlebells
(Image credit: Getty Images)

The best cross training shoes will make you feel supported, whether you're lifting weights, doing circuit training, running sprints, or joining an exercise class. The all-purpose footwear is suitable for a wide range of activities and will help you get the most from your workout. 

Cross training shoes - otherwise known as 'gym shoes' - are multi-functional, just as supportive for HIIT as they are for a free weights session or sports like basketball and tennis. While you certainly can use them for CrossFit, you don't have to be into that exercise program to wear the best cross training shoes. 

If you're wondering why you'd buy cross training shoes rather than running-specific options, there are a few key differences. Cross training shoes are typically more durable, especially around the top of the shoe and ankle, but are also less cushioned and flatter.

This makes them great for all-round fitness use, but less suited to distance running. If you enjoy clocking up the miles, or if you regularly run on concrete, you'll want a pair of the best running shoes for men or the best running shoes for women.

With so many options out there, we've rounded up some of the best gym shoes on the market right now to get you started. For our top pick, we'd definitely recommend the Nike Metcon 5 shoes. They are lightweight, well-constructed for overall foot support, and durable, so you'll get a lot of use out of them. 

The best cross training shoes you can buy right now

Nike Metcon 5: one of the best cross training shoes

(Image credit: Nike)

1. Nike MetCon 5

The best cross training shoe for most people

Specifications
Weight: 360g
Workout type: Fitness training
Stability: Neutral
Heel to toe drop: 4mm (with removable 8mm insert)
Reasons to buy
+Added heel stability for lifting +Roomy fit 
Reasons to avoid
-Unsuitable for long runs

Metcon is an abbreviation of 'metabolic conditioning', a the combination of strength and cardio training. Made popular by CrossFit and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), metcon workouts burn loads of calories in short, intense blasts and keep your metabolism ticking over at an elevated rate for hours thereafter. 

The headline feature in this shoe is the additional stability in the heel that can assist with squats, deadlifts, box jumps and kettlebell exercises that require a solid base. The 3D-printed upper is highly breathable and roomy, while the raised carbon rubber sole material will offer some additional grip on rope climbs. 

For those who like to focus on lifting, there’s a Hyperlift insert that that adds a little heel lift too. They wouldn’t be our choice for long runs, but they’re perfectly comfortable for those short bursts required of HIIT and CrossFit workouts - and a worthy top pick in our list of the best shoes for cross training.

NoBull Training shoes: one of the best cross training shoes

(Image credit: NoBull)

2. NoBull Training Shoes

The best premium cross training shoe

Specifications
Weight: 283g
Heel to toe drop: 4mm
Reasons to buy
+Very light +Suitable for an array of workouts
Reasons to avoid
-Run a little small

The NoBull Trainer shoe has emerged from the all-star pack thanks largely to their versatility. They’re a simplistic (hence the name) yet fantastic do-it-all shoe for those whose workouts are wide and varied. They can handle cardio, lifting, jumping, climbing and everything in between. 

These gym shoes have built a loyal following among big HIIT-ers and CrossFitters because they offer the flat sole required for lifting stability, but are able to handle cardio elements of the workouts comfortably. They’re lightweight, breathable and, most importantly, very durable. 

With the understated design that stands apart from statement shoes like the Nanos and Metcons, you’ll struggle to find a more stylish cross trainer shoe that's suitable for everyday wear, either. 

Under Armour HOVR Rise 2: one of the best cross training shoesFit&Well approved buy

(Image credit: UnderArmour)

Best budget cross training shoe

Specifications
Weight: 312g
Heel to toe drop: 8mm
Reasons to buy
+HOVR midsole foam provides comfort and cushion +More versatile than other cross trainers 
Reasons to avoid
-UA Apex shoe is more advanced

The latest cross trainer from UA is one of those do-it-all gym shoes that’ll suit the vast majority of gym, CrossFit or HIIT workouts. The headline feature is the HOVR ‘zero gravity’ foam within the midsole, which offers more cushion than our other selections and will do a little more to protect the joints when engaging in agility-based exercises like box jumps, while providing some energy return for explosive actions like burpees and cardio-based elements of the workout. 

There’s also a full rubber outsole to give you stability in weight-bearing exercises, while remaining lightweight enough to accompany you on walks, jogs and during everyday wear. It’s a classic looking cross-trainer and offers much better value than UA’s flagship HOVR Apex cross trainer.

Reebok Nano 9: one of the best cross training shoes

(Image credit: Reebok)

4. Reebok NANO 9

The classic CrossFit shoe, still going strong

Specifications
Weight: 343g
Heel to toe drop: 4mm
Reasons to buy
+New breathable upper +Excellent stability for weight training 
Reasons to avoid
-Not too grippy

Until the Nike Metcon showed up, the Reebok Nano reigned supreme in the CrossFit realm and continues to bear official CrossFit branding to this day, although not for much longer as Reebok has severed ties with the brand.

The shoe’s ninth edition brought plenty of improvements, including even greater heel stability courtesy of a wider, flatter outsole. The midsole is firmer than previous models, which provides excellent support for lifts, but means that landings can be a little less forgiving. Experienced testers say this model is still more suited to running then the Metcon range too. 

On this model Reebok added FlexWeave material for the upper, which adds a little more manoeuvrability in the forefoot, while an additional layer of material will protect the toes when performing exercises like burpees. Durability is a signature feature again, enabling the shoe to withstand as many rope climbs as you can handle. 

And since the launch of the shoe's latest incarnation, the Reebok Nano X1, in February 2021, the Nano 9 can be nabbed for a bargain price - check out our price widget above for today's best deals.

Best cross training shoes: On Cloud X

(Image credit: On Running)

5. On Cloud X

Another great premium cross training shoe

Specifications
Weight: 226g
Heel to toe drop: 6mm
Reasons to buy
+Lightweight but strong +Outsole adds comfort Design is an acquired taste
Reasons to avoid
-Design not to everyone’s tastes

On usually focuses on shoes made for runners, but Cloud X is a surprising exception in the company's ever-growing line-up of shoes. 

Using the same tech found in On’s race shoes and putting it to work in a workout shoe, these kicks are geared more towards general training. They can handle everything from weightlifting and HIIT to CrossFit and short sprints.

The other great thing is that they still have that super lightweight construction that On is known for, thanks to a knit-weave upper. Light and breathable, they maintain a good level of cushioning on the outsole, not only making them highly comfortable, but well placed to handle high impact training moves such as box jumps.

Inov-8 F-Lite 35 V3: : one of the best cross training shoes

(Image credit: Inov-8)

6. Inov-8 F-Lite 235 V3

The best cross training shoe for runners

Specifications
Weight: 236g
Heel to toe drop: 4mm
Reasons to buy
+A more dynamic cross training shoe +Super lightweight, but durable
Reasons to avoid
-Not the most stable for advanced lifters

Yes, we know we said that cross training shoes definitely weren't suitable for running - but this Inov-8 model is the exception that proves the rule.

This typically lightweight and breathable shoe is suited to the more dynamic cross trainer, rather than those stationary athletes who excel at lifts, squats and kettlebell workouts. 

The F235 V3 includes a dynamic fascia band within the G-Grip outsole that makes it the most natural-feeling cross trainer out there. The innovation seeks to mimic the “anatomical position of the plantar fascia ligament” and Inov-8 attests that when your heel leaves the floor, the tech helps to prevent elongation of the medial arch and supports the entire body weight as you propel forward. 

The company is keen to defy the lightweight construction by making this shoe as durable as the other hard-hitting cross trainers in our list. The RopeTec coating on the upper can handle rope climbs without disintegration, while the rubber toe bumper means you won’t be stubbing those tarsals when jumping back for burpees or while climbing ladders.

Best workout shoes

(Image credit: UnderArmour)

7. Under Armour HOVR Apex

Multi-discipline workout shoe with an added bounce to its step

Specifications
Weight: 370g
Heel to toe drop: 8mm
Reasons to buy
+Layered support for softer landings +Bounce back energy
Reasons to avoid
-A touch bulky

The HOVR Apex is the second offering from Under Armour to make our best gym shoes list, but it's a worthy entry.

What stands out about this multidisciplinary workout shoe is that it's exceptionally cushioned, which will suit you well if you love explosive workouts. While they do feel bulky thanks to that chunky outsole, these gym shoes will soften hard landings and on the flip side, boost your energy return thanks to the HOVR foam, which helps eliminate impact. 

This makes them especially useful for jumping exercises or quick sprints. The Apex also features Under Armour’s Tribase tech in the outsole, which maximises ground contact for the foot, allowing for a better grip during lifts.

How to choose the best cross training shoes for you

Most sports shoes are designed with a specific pastime in mind. Running shoes, for example, are light, tend to have less cushioning, and often elevate your heel for added support while running longer distances. On the other hand, cross training shoes are not designed for a single sport and are flexible enough for many kinds of workouts.

Despite this, your choice of footwear will depend on your preferred sports, exercise classes, and fitness routines. Some shoes have additional cushioning, a tighter fit, or use different materials. Before you invest in a new pair of workout shoes, there are some things to keep in mind to choose the best cross training shoes for your needs. 

Fabrics and materials

One of the crucial areas of any gym shoes is the upper, the fabric area on the top part of the shoe. For cross training shoes specifically, the upper is made of durable but lightweight fabrics with additional support around the ankle for weights-based workouts. 

It is often more substantial than you'd find on running shoes to accommodate all the different workouts you can do while wearing the shoe. However, it doesn't add much weight and is usually designed to be breathable, so you shouldn't get overly sweaty feet. 

Sole construction and cushioning

The sole is divided into three parts; insole, midsole, and outsole. When you slip your foot into the shoe, it'll be in physical contact with the insole. The midsole is where most of the cushioning is, and this is often made of foam-based materials. Although cross training shoes are suitable for almost everything, some pairs may have modifications to the midsole for better performance in certain areas, such as HITT or CrossFit. 

The outsole is the part of the shoe that comes in direct contact with the ground. Similarly, different designs are better for specific uses. If you're mainly going to be doing weightlifting, a flatter outsole might be best. However, for activities that require fast movements, like HITT or basketball, you can find the best cross training shoe for the job by choosing an outsole with enhanced grip, often made of carbon rubber.

Price

Prices vary, but you should be able to pick up a good set of workout shoes for around $100/£75. High-performance options, or those with fancy materials like innovative foam cushioning or carbon rubber outsoles, may be more expensive.

Of course, you can also find lower-cost pairs if you're working within a budget. We’ve made sure that our list is as inclusive as possible, and our shopping technology will always find the best prices for each item, so you don’t have to break the bank to get a great pair of shoes.

Footwear brands often release new models of their most popular shoes each year. The changes are usually only incremental, allowing you to pick up an almost identical older shoe for less. While the Nike Metcon 6 have been out for a while now, we still consider the Metcon 5 to be excellent value and among the best workout shoes.