When your workouts include a little bit of everything — sprints, jumps, lifts, rope climbs and more — you need footwear that can keep up.
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Enter: cross-training shoes.
Unlike running shoes, cycling shoes, hiking boots or any other kicks in your closet, cross-training shoes are multi-purpose. These workhorses can take you from tire flips and sprints in the parking lot to box jumps and heavy squats in the gym.
As with any shoe, you can't just pluck a random pair of cross-trainers off the shelf and expect them to work. You have to do some digging to find the right pair.
Start with our roundup of the best cross-training shoes of 2022.
How We Chose
We chatted with several personal trainers to find out which cross-training shoes they reach for when they work out. Then, we selected the following pairs based on criteria including:
- Ankle stability
We make deliberate choices about the language we use, but most manufacturers typically market shoes according to gender, so we have listed both women's and men's picks below. However, the main difference between most men's and women's shoes lies in the shoe width and size. In some cases, men's shoes are built to support greater weights. So people with bigger bodies may want to opt for men's versions, whereas people with smaller bodies may prefer women's versions.
1. Most Versatile Cross-Training Shoes: NOBULL Trainers
Sizes: Varies according to shoe material
It's easy to understand why NOBULL trainers are the official footwear of CrossFit. "They have a lightweight feel and tight hold on your foot but are flexible enough to handle sprints and other intense bursts of cardiovascular activity," ACE-certified personal trainer Makena Romagnano, CPT, tells LIVESTRONG.com.
These trainers have a flat sole that's perfect for the lifting platform. The sidewalls also feature durable carbon plates for added stability. Choose from many colors, patterns, fabrics and ankle heights.
2. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Shock Absorption: Inov-8 F-Lite G300
Sizes: 7 to 14 (men’s); 6.5 to 11 (women’s)
Billed as the brand's "toughest and most versatile cross-training and fitness shoe to date," these kicks were built for high-impact movements.
Their outsole and midsole are infused with Graphene — a durable, high-tech material that provides maximum support, stability and grip. Responsive cushioning equals comfort for jumping and other explosive drills, while a lightweight design ensures you stay quick on your feet.
3. Best Minimalist Cross-Training Shoes: VivoBarefoot Primus Lite III
Sizes: 7 to 15 (men’s); 5.5 to 11.5 (women’s)
If you prefer cross-trainers that offer a barefoot feel, these are for you. A wide toe box gives your toes room to spread, while a thin, flexible sole enables you to feel the ground beneath you — ideal for heavy deadlifts.
"These are my favorite all-around cross-trainers," FightCamp trainer Aaron Swenson, CPT, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "They are comfortable and allow me to move freely as I kickbox and head out straight to the street for some [running] roadwork."
Bonus: These shoes are made with more sustainable materials to reduce their environmental impact.
4. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Women: Under Armour Charged Aurora 2 Training Shoes
Sizes: 5 to 12
According to the manufacturer, these shoes were built for the female athlete. They offer a streamlined fit that's ideal for narrower feet. Plus, they have mid-foot reinforcement to lock in and stabilize your foot in every direction, Charged Cushioning® foam for a responsive feel and a breathable upper to keep your feet cool and dry.
Buy it: UnderArmour.com; Price: $70
5. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Men: Nike Free Metcon 4
Sizes: 3.5 to 22
These highly-rated kicks combine flexibility with stability for ultimate versatility. The breathable chain-link mesh across the upper flexes while moving air to keep your feet cool during all-out cardio bursts.
The shoe also features internal webbing around your midfoot to keep you locked in during sudden stops and changes in direction. Meanwhile, heel braces and a firm outer layer create stability for heavy lifting sessions. One reviewer likes that the heel offers a little lift, which is helpful for squats.
Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $120
6. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Weightlifting: Adidas Adipower Weightlifting II Shoes
Sizes: 3.5 to 16 (men’s); 5 to 13.5 (women’s)
If lifting weights is your jam, you can't go wrong with this pair. They're durable with a raised and supported heel — key features to look for in any weightlifting shoe, says Alan Morton, a sports conditioning coach and tutor with personal training education platform TRAINFITNESS.
These foot-hugging shoes also boast a reinforced upper and a firm midsole to give you a stable platform for lifting. The laces and midfoot strap ensure your feet stay put, while a flexible forefoot gives your toes room to splay.
7. Best Budget Cross-Training Shoes: Reebok Nanoflex TR Training Shoes
Sizes: 9 to 14 (men’s); 5 to 11 (women’s)
At less than $100 a pop, these cross-trainers are ideal for budget-conscious athletes who don't want to sacrifice quality.
"They're great for everyday wear and good for most workout styles," ACE-certified personal trainer Amanda Capritto, CPT, tells LIVESTRONG.com. "I also found them to be especially great during HIIT workouts because of the foam midsole, which made plyometric movements seamless."
8. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Ankle Support: Under Armour HOVR Apex 3 Training Shoes
Sizes: 7 to 15 (men’s); 5 to 12 (women’s)
Morton recommends these cross-trainers for those who need ankle support. They're lightweight, and yet they offer a good balance of support and cushioning in the heel and foot.
Plus, the shoe's strap construction locks in the heel and ankle while still allowing your forefoot to move. The result: plenty of ankle stability for forward, backward and side-to-side movements.
9. Best Cross-Training Shoes for the Gym: Nike Air ZoomX SuperRep Surge
Sizes: 6 to 15 (men’s); 5 to 15 (women’s)
From the treadmill to the rowing machine to the gym floor, the grippy rubber tread of this shoe will keep you grounded. Responsive foam cushioning returns energy to put a spring in every step, no matter your activity or pace.
Plus, an integrated rower clip at the heel makes it easy to hop on and off a rowing machine, and the mesh across the top is even reinforced to hold up against the machine's foot straps. And, side arc support helps brace your foot when you're ready to strength train.
10. Best Luxury Cross-Training Shoes: Adidas Y-3 Idoso Boost Shoes
Sizes: 6 to 12 (men’s); 7 to 13 (women’s)
By far the most expensive pair of cross-trainers on our list, these shoes blend the high-fashion style of designer Yohji Yamamoto with performance technology.
This pair features a stylish textile and leather upper with suede and mesh accents. The midsole and heel offer the brand's signature cushioning for maximum comfort and performance.
Buy it: Adidas.com (men’s and women’s); Price: $400
11. Best Lightweight Cross-Training Shoes: Nike Metcon 7
Sizes: 3.5 to 22 (men’s); 5 to 15 (women’s)
While lightweight, these shoes "tick all the boxes when it comes to cross-training," Romagnano says.
An inner plate in the heel helps distribute your weight more evenly, creating a more stable base for weightlifting. These shoes also feature foam cushioning for comfort during high-intensity cardio, but not so much cushioning that it compromises the ankle stability you need for lifting, Romagnano says. Plus, the rubber tread offers more grip for rope climbs.
12. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Heel Support: On Cloud X Training Shoes
Sizes: 7 to 14 (men’s); 5 to 11 (women’s)
If you crave heel support, reach for these cross-trainers. They feature a precision-molded heel cap for added security.
What's more, these lightweight shoes contain superfoam made specifically for explosive movements in all directions and raised sidewalls boost stability for agility and plyometric drills. They're built to handle mixed-sport workouts, whether that means heading to the track, the gym or the field.
As one reviewer notes, "I really love this pair. I wear them six times per week to work out. I do mixed sports and the jumping feels better in my knees with these ones."
13. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Wide Feet: Reebok Nano X2
Sizes: 7 to 14 (men’s); 6.5 to 11 (women’s)
These cross-trainers make regular appearances in the "best for wide feet" category, and many reviewers appreciate the roomy toe box. As an all-purpose shoe, they'll carry any wide-footed athlete through plyometrics, strength training and sprints.
They incorporate Floatride Energy Foam for a responsive feel in the midsole, which boosts stability for your jumps. The outsole midfoot also features "teeth" for added traction for rope climbing.
14. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Running: NOBULL Runners
Sizes: Varies according to shoe material
These lightweight running shoes are incredibly versatile. They can easily transition from running to outdoor and indoor training. One reviewer writes: "Love these for running! Not bad for a CrossFit workout either."
This pair of running shoes has a grippy lug pattern on the sole to boost traction and support, a firm midsole for greater foot control and a removable sock liner that provides a snug fit.
Like the brand's trainers, the runners also come in various materials, colors, patterns and ankle heights.
15. Best Cross-Training Shoes for Outdoor Workouts: Reebok Nano X1 Adventure Shoes
Sizes: 6 to 14 (men’s); 5 to 11 (women’s)
These cross-trainers were designed for indoor and outdoor workouts. They have a rugged sole that helps you keep your grip on any surface, along with energy foam in the forefoot for a lightweight feel and responsive ride.
Slip them on for bootcamp workouts in the gym or bodyweight exercises at the campground. As one reviewer writes: "They are great for the outdoors! Just took them camping and was able to hike all day and stay comfortable!"
5 Things to Consider When Shopping for Cross-Training Shoes
There are some universalities when it comes to shoe fit:You don't want them to pinch, slip, rub or restrict. Beyond that, the perfect fit depends both on personal preference and the types of activities you're doing (more on that later). "Runners typically prefer their shoes to hug their feet a bit tighter, while weightlifters might want more room to drive their feet into the ground," Capritto says.
Cross-training shoes come in many shapes, such as minimalist, slip-on or extra-chunky. The style you choose will depend on which look you prefer and which features you need. Clunky shoes generally offer more cushioning and support, whereas low-profile trainers will be your best bet for a more natural feel.
"To avoid having to purchase multiple shoes a year, you want to make sure you find something that will last," Capritto says.
Avoid shoes with materials that feel soft and cheap, because they will tear. For added durability, look for shoes that have a thick outer, rubber sole, reinforced midsole and support in the heel and ankle.
Comfort is relative. What's comfy for you may not work so well for someone else. Test several pairs of cross-trainers and pay attention to how you feel in different levels of cushioning, shoe shapes and support features. Choose the pair that suits your preferences.
5. Type of Activity
The features you need in a cross-trainer will vary depending on what activities you're planning to do.
Take cushioning, for example. "Oftentimes, runners prefer more cushion to absorb the impact running has on their feet, while weightlifters prefer less cushioning so they can have more contact with the ground for stability," Capritto says. If your workouts involve more running than lifting, you may want to opt for more cushioning, and vice-versa.
Jumping- and agility-focused workouts, on the other hand, may call for features like reinforced sidewalls and midfoot straps for added stability when landing, stopping and cutting.