Best cross training shoes 2022: supportive, comfortable shoes for HIIT, weight training, and more

Lace up a set of the best cross training shoes to get the most from your workouts and hit your fitness goals

Under Armour TriBase™ Reign 4 shoes resting against a wall.
(Image credit: Becks Shepherd)

The best cross training shoes offer a comfortable, supportive base for your workouts. These shoes are designed to be flexible for a variety of exercises but also help you avoid injury and get the most from your training.

They might look a lot like the best running shoes for men or the best running shoes for women, but the soles are typically flatter and have less cushioning around the heel to support you in a greater range of movements.

That's why cross training shoes are ideal for high-intensity training, short cardio routines, and exercise machine workouts. Similarly, the flatter soles offer you stability and support for weightlifting and other resistance training moves.

If you enjoy variety in your routine—and there's good reason to, as a study in PLOS ONE found that varying your workouts helps you stay motivated and build muscle—then it's worth investing in a set of the best crossing training shoes.

There's a lot of variety out there, so whether you're after the best gym shoes or the best shoes for HIIT workouts, we can help. We've rounded up the top options available today for various styles, uses, and budgets.

The best cross training shoes you can buy right now

Under Armour TriBase™ Reign 4 shoes.Fit&Well Best Buy

(Image credit: Becks Shepherd)
Best cross training shoes overall

Specifications

Best for: Weightlifting, gym workouts
Available for men and women: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Low drop
+
Breathable materials 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much cushioning
-
Limited styles 

The Under Armour TriBase™ Reign 4 cross training shoes are made with heavy lifting in mind. If you enjoy working with weights, then we found that these help build a stable base for your workouts. This is thanks to Under Armour's TriBase design, which helps you stay close to the ground, maintain good posture, and produce more force during lifts.

Like many of the best gym shoes, the TriBase™ Reign 4 have quite a flat sole, and little cushioning, which is what we found makes them so effective for resistance training. But that's also why you're better off looking for a pair like the Reebok Nano X1 if you enjoy some high-intensity cardio workouts or need something a little more flexible.

The lightweight, breathable mesh fabric keeps your feet cool, and the large tongue sits comfortably over the top of your foot. Meanwhile, we found that the grippy soles, along with the internal and external heel clips, meant that you had a solid base for lifting weights, making them some of the best cross training shoes for resistance training.

What the users say

Reviewers have awarded the Under Armour TriBase Reign 4 an impressed 4.8 out of five. Wearers have been particularly impressed with the sneakers' comfort and stability, especially when working with weights.

Although most people find them a great workout companion, some were left disappointed with the aesthetic design and limited range of colors. 


Woman wearing the Reebok Nano X1 cross training shoes, angledFit&Well Awards: Editor's Choice

(Image credit: Lucy Gornall)
Best all-purpose cross training shoes

Specifications

Best for: Gym workouts, HIIT, weightlifting
Available for men and women: Yes,

Reasons to buy

+
Supportive
+
Slightly raised heel for weightlifting
+
Stylish 

Reasons to avoid

-
High price point
-
Toe area quite wide 

When we tested a pair of the Reebok Nano X1, we thought they were excellent, durable, all-purpose training shoes. They're designed for explosive cardio workouts and more static resistance training, so we put them through their paces with gym workouts, HIIT classes, biking, and boxing. They were supportive throughout and stayed cool, even during intense exercise.

The rubber outsole extends slightly over your toes, offering stability and grip during high-movement exercises like burpees and mountain climbers. Similarly, the integrated heel clip provides some support when lifting weights. We tested it out with some barbell squats, and the shoes never collapsed inwards during heavy lifts.

The design is also quite subtle, so you won't need to change into another pair of shoes for your post-workout activities. This is in contrast to other louder shoes like the Under Armour HOVR Apex 3, for example. We did find that the toe area was quite wide, though this can be an advantage when working with weights as you have more space to press your toes into the ground.

What the users say

The Reebok Nano X1 has an average rating of 4.5 out of five for the men's shoes and 4.3 out of five for the women's on Amazon. Wearers were impressed with the versatility of the training shoes and liked that they stayed cool during intense workouts.

Some reviewers noted that the heel area was a bit tough, leading to chafing when wearing no-show socks. Fortunately, they found that switching to ankle socks prevents soreness. 


Nike Metcon 7Fit&Well Awards: Editor's Choice

(Image credit: Matt Kollat)
Best cross training shoes for high-intensity cardio workouts

Specifications

Best for: Cardio workouts, CrossFit, HIIT
Available for men and women: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Wide fit
+
Supportive for weights and explosive exercise
+
Comfortable 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for long cardio workouts
-
Heavier than many cross training shoes 

The Nike Metcon 7 are the latest iteration of Nike's successful and popular Metcon range of cross training shoes. It's clear that the company has designed these for multi-exercise workouts—the Metcon name comes from a training style known as metabolic conditioning, which combines strength-focused moves with intense cardio.

During testing, we found that they lived up to their name. We wore them for heavy lifting, jumping, and circuit training, and they offered a firm, comfortable, supportive base for our workouts, especially during explosive movements. Like other cross training shoes, they aren't going to replace your running shoes, but they can handle pretty much everything else. 

While they were comfortable for the most part, with a wide platform under the feel for stability, we did find that the heel design wasn't firm enough always to keep our heels in place, so they did slip up and down during some exercises. Still, the rubber outer soles and wraps keep your feet supported during heavy lifting and HIIT, making them an ideal all-purpose gym shoe.

What the users say

The Nike Metcon 7 shoes currently score 4.5 out of five on Nike's online store. Most reviewers have been long-time Metcon wearers and particularly liked the updated design compared to previous editions.

Many Metcon 7 owners commented on their support during workouts, but some reported holes and other material wear after only a few months of use. 


New Balance Minimus TRFit&Well Approved

(Image credit: New Balance)

4. New Balance Minimus TR

Best cross training shoes for comfort

Specifications

Best for: Gym workouts, weightlifting
Available for men and women: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight design
+
Internal liner means you don't need socks
+
Breathable materials 

Reasons to avoid

-
Stiff tongue makes them challenging to put on
-
Not ideal for high-intensity workouts 

The New Balance Minimum TR are designed to support you in your workouts, but they also focus on comfort. There's only a limited range of colors, but the shoes are available in men's and women's editions with standard or wide options to help you get the best fit. The internal liner also means that you don't need to wear socks during training either.

Thanks to the minimal design, they also don't look like workout shoes, so they'll suit the gym and won't look out of place if you wear them out during the day. The mid-sole rubber design helps maintain grip and stability, while the front and rear portions of the shoe are flexible for fast-paced movements, like those you'd typically find in a HIIT or CrossFit session.

The relatively flat sole helps to maintain good posture and correct form when lifting weights, but the lack of cushioning and raised heels means that they will not be suitable for running. However, they're on the lighter end of the scale for cross training shoes—weighing just 0.5lbs/228g—making them ideal for quick movements.

What the users say

The New Balance Minimum TR cross training shoes currently have a 3.3-star rating on Google Reviews from 188 reviews. Many of the lower-scoring reviews compare them negatively to earlier editions of the Minimus trainers, noting that the materials are less durable.

But not everyone was critical. They are highly rated for CrossFit, weightlifting, and HIIT, with many reviewers praising the comfortable fit and breathable materials. 


On Cloud X shoe review: our tester Lee Bell puts the shoes through their pacesFit&Well approved buy

(Image credit: Lee Bell)
Best cross training shoes for versatility

Specifications

Best for: Weightlifting, HIIT, sprints, CrossFit
Available for men and women: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Durable upper mesh
+
Lightweight design 

Reasons to avoid

-
Design won't be to everyone's taste
-
Cushioning takes some getting used to 

The On Cloud X are some of the lightest cross training shoes around. They weigh just 0.5lbs/240g—compared to the rather hefty Nike Metcon 7, which are 0.84lbs/380g—thanks to the company's CloudTec sole, made of a durable lightweight foam. We never felt like this put the On Cloud X at a disadvantage, though, as it meant that it was easier and quicker to switch between exercises.

The knit-weave upper portion keeps the shoes on the lighter side and makes them breathable so that you won't end up with overly sweaty feet at the end of a hard workout. We found that the foam padding around the collar meant they were particularly well-suited to high-impact moves like box jumps.

While they were comfortable even during longer testing sessions, the heel cup area wasn't as sturdy as other trainers, so the On Cloud X might not offer the ankle support you need if you're hoping to wear them for weightlifting workouts. However, if you're after a versatile, lightweight shoe for high-intensity cardio routines, the On Cloud X fit the bill.

What the users say

The On Cloud X shoes achieved an impressive 4.6 out of five on Google Reviews from 2,172 reviewers. They get high praise for comfort, and people appreciate the lightweight design for intense exercise.

One reviewer even noted, "I am a fitness class instructor and use these for circuit and studio classes, including group cycling classes." Not everyone was sold on the reasonably minimal design, though. 


Converse Chuck Taylor All StarFit&Well Approved

(Image credit: Converse)

6. Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High-Top Sneaker

Best cross training shoes for weightlifting

Specifications

Best for: Weightlifting, gym workouts
Available for men and women: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
High-top design for ankle support
+
Ideal for workouts and leisure

Reasons to avoid

-
Flat sole not great for running or jumping
-
No cushioning

Before Converse trainers became a fashion shoe, the Chuck Taylor All Stars were designed with exercise in mind. These classic trainers, best known for their links to alternative music and popular culture, quickly became one of the most popular basketball shoes in the early 20th century thanks to their flat rubber soles and lightweight canvas upper.

Basketball, like HIIT, requires a lot of direction changing and fast-paced movements, which makes them one of the best gym shoes around. You won't want to run in these, as the flat sole doesn't cushion the impact as your foot hits the ground, but this design does make them an excellent choice for weightlifting.

You can buy low-top versions of the All Stars, but as the laces run up to just above your ankle, the high-top editions offer the most ankle support. Because the canvas material is so flexible, it also provides a greater range of motion to maintain correct posture without feeling constricted. The uncomplicated design makes them extremely durable too.

What the users say

As they double as everyday sneakers, it's not surprising that the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star High-Top sneakers achieve a 4.7 rating out of five on Google Reviews from over 30,000 reviews.

For training experiences, it's best to turn to the Reddit community, where people rate the All Stars highly for lifting, with one user commenting that "it feels good to lift heavier than the person next to you that paid 10x the price for their shoes." 


Under Armour HOVR Apex 3Fit&Well approved buy

(Image credit: Lee Bell)
Best cross training shoes for HIIT

Specifications

Best for: Gym workouts, weightlifting, HIIT
Available for men and women: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Great for explosive movements
+
Cushioning for comfort 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive
-
Design won't appeal to everyone 

The best gym shoes don't need to be stylish; they just need to be supportive and comfortable. The Under Armour HOVR Apex 3 have a relatively unique and possibly polarizing design, but we found that they offer a stable base for weightlifting and general gym workouts. The grey and white fabric body is accented with neon-colored 3D-print wraps for added support.

During testing, we noticed that the heavily padded tongue complements the rear ankle support, keeping your foot firmly but comfortably in place without feeling overly tight. They are slightly wider than most cross training shoes, but not in a bad way. However, if you have narrow feet, you might find that these slip around a bit during fast-paced workouts.

We wore the Apex 3 for a range of exercises and think they are best suited to functional training like weightlifting, jumping, and powerful movements. We found the rubber midsole and heel meant that they were too stiff for running or fast-paced activities where flexibility is key—however, the HOVR Apex 3 shine as a durable, stable workout shoe.

What the users say

The Under Armour HOVR Apex 3 shoes have a 4.6 rating out of five on Google Reviews. Wearers rate them for comfort and workout stability, while some mention that the fit can be quite snug. 

Notably, a few reviewers noted that the soles don't offer much grip when wet, so they don't make a great choice for outdoor workouts. 


HOKA Kawana reviewFit&Well Approved

(Image credit: Future)
Best cross training shoes for runners

Specifications

Best for: Gym workouts, short runs
Available for men and women: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Suitable for short runs
+
Secure fit 

Reasons to avoid

-
Stiff design
-
Not ideal for explosive exercise 

Although it's best to have a set of running shoes and a separate pair of cross training shoes, the HOKA Kawana offer the best of both worlds for runners. If you're a regular runner who enjoys a few casual gym sessions, these flexible shoes might be right for you. We didn't find them suitable for longer runs, but they're lightweight, supportive, and comfortable enough for a 7-mile run.

We found that the upper design was a real highlight, as the durable mesh material keeps your feet cool and is made of recycled materials. The padded tongue means that you shouldn't get any discomfort on the top of your foot as you run. HOKA shoes generally keep you quite high off the ground, and the Kawana are no different, so this might not be to everyone's preference.

However, because the soles offer a lot of stability, we tried wearing them to the gym. If you like to keep your workouts cardio-focused with HIIT CrossFit or other high-intensity training, then these shoes offer a flexible, sweat-free base for your exercise. The raised heel means that they're not suitable for weightlifting, but the HOKA Kawana are a great cross training shoe for runners. 

What the users say

The HOKA Kawana have a 4.4 rating out of five on Google Reviews from 65 reviews. Most wearers rate the shoes a perfect five out of five, but the rating is skewed by a handful of one-star reviews related to comfort, fit, and delivery issues.

The shoes get a lot of praise for their versatility, with many reviewers saying that they wear them during the day, at the gym, and out on a run. 


How to choose the best cross training shoes

Cross training is a broad, catch-all term that encompasses high-energy HIIT sessions, intense cardio routines, gym workouts, and weights-based resistance training. These all move your body in different ways, so you'll need an adaptable shoe for support.

As personal trainer Rachel Penrose of F45 Training says, finding a shoe that can "cross over between a strength workout to a cardio workout, all the while supporting your foot correctly, benefits your body enormously."

But the best cross training shoe for you will depend on which types of training you'll do most. So whether you're into building muscle with weights or raising your heart rate with HIIT, there are several vital points you need to look out for.

Drop

When looking into cross training shoes, many brands reference the drop—the difference in height between the heel and the toe. As a guide, a 4mm drop means the shoe is relatively flat, while an 8mm drop would imply the heel is raised.

Running shoes tend to have a higher drop, while cross training shoes often show up on the flatter end of the scale. This reflects the fact that you need cushioning in the heel for running and a more level shoe for HIIT, gym workouts, and weight training.

But a lower drop doesn't mean that you'll feel like your feet are hitting the ground with every step. Most cross training shoes come with lightweight cushioning and are designed to give you a stable base for your workouts.

Fabrics and materials

Cross training shoes need to be flexible, and a large part of that is down to the materials. The shoe upper is usually made of a lightweight, breathable fabric that'll keep your foot in place and help you stay cool during exercise.

The shoes often have supportive elements around your ankles, which you'll need if you're quickly hopping between exercise in a HIIT session or want to lift weights. This could be extra cushioned material, but it isn't always.

Instead, some shoes have wrap-around designs with rubberized or plastic inserts to add extra support. These are particularly common around the heel area to improve stability, too.

To keep a seam-free construction so that the shoe is supportive all around your foot, the sole is often glued to the upper fabric portion. Historically, shoe manufacturers have used glues which have animal-derived products, although this is less common now. 

Many brands have moved to vegan-friendly glues, and stopped using as many animal materials. Some trainers are made of leather, but modern cross training shoes are designed with mesh, breathable fabrics, rubber, and plastics. 

These animal-free materials mean that you can find vegan-friendly cross training shoes from smaller brands and major manufacturers. Some companies make specific vegan editions, while others have committed to vegan-friendly manufacturing for all their products. 

Sole construction

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.

As Lucy Arnold, a personal trainer and founder of Lucy Locket Loves, says, "cushioning in the heel and forefoot is important to enable you to spread your weight evenly when lifting weights and for extra balance."

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 HIIT 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.

Can you wear running shoes for cross training?

Generally, it's best to have a set of running shoes and a separate pair of cross training shoes. Running requires very specific movements, and running shoes are designed to help support and propel you forwards.

Running shoes typically have more cushioning and a higher heel to accommodate how your foot lands on the floor, which protects your joints from this high-impact exercise.

Meanwhile, cross training shoes tend to have a flatter sole and a more level heel. This keeps you closer to the ground for resistance training but would be highly uncomfortable for running and may even lead to injury.

Ultimately, the two types of workout shoe are designed for different activities. If you aren't a big runner or tend to use short sprints for cardio exercise, then a pair of cross training shoes might do. But regular runners will need both pairs of shoes.

James Frew
James Frew

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2014 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.