The 5 Best Elliptical Shoes of 2022, According to a Trainer

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Asics GEL-Venture 8
Nike Free 5.0+
Reebok Print Run 3.0
Merrell Cloud Knit
Merrell Cloud Knit
UA Charged Assert 9
collage of three of the best elliptical shoes isolated on a blue and gray colorblock background
Sportswear companies don't make specific elliptical shoes, but the best sneakers for elliptical workouts have a few important things in common.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com

If the elliptical is your go-to cardio machine, you may have noticed that there aren't really sneakers designed specifically for it. Bummer. But the truth is that not just any workout shoe makes for a good elliptical shoe.

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Experts typically recommend wearing a lightweight running sneaker or cross-training shoe when working out on the elliptical machine. The right sneaker is a must "not only to avoid injuries, but also to enhance and support performance," Karisa Karmali, CPT, a certified personal trainer, tells LIVESTRONG.com.

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Fortunately, there are plenty of high-quality options. Here are five of the best shoes for elliptical workouts, plus more tips on what to look for when shopping for your perfect pair.

How We Chose

To find the best elliptical shoes on the market, we spoke with Karmali, an elliptical-loving trainer, about what to look for and her favorite picks. Our selections are based on criteria including:

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  • Comfort
  • Traction
  • Breathability
  • Flexibility

Tip

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. Best Budget: Asics GEL-Venture 8

  • Cushion: ​Regular
  • Support: ​Neutral
  • Feature: ​Durable traction sole

If your feet often slide around on the elliptical pedals, you need this lightweight and breathable sneaker. Because it's designed for trail runs, it has a durable traction pattern and outsole lugs that help hold your feet in place while you pedal up and down on.

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The gel technology provides a good layer of cushion between your feet and the pedals, while the mesh upper keeps your feet cool — making it one of the best sneakers for the elliptical machine.

Buy it:Zappos.com (men's); Zappos.com (women's); ​Price:​ Starting at $49.95

2. Best for Style: Best Nike Free 5.0+

  • Cushion:​ Light
  • Support:​ Neutral
  • Feature:​ Flexible, breathable knit upper

Made with a knit upper and sturdy rubber outsole, these lightweight sneakers have just enough cushion and are breathable — making them a great pick for sweating it out on the elliptical. They also have an undeniably cool design, great for anyone looking to make a statement in the gym.

The sock-like upper and laser-cut sole grooves give flexibility across your entire foot, allowing the shoe to move with you while you pedal instead of resisting the natural bending of your foot and causing discomfort, blisters and injuries, Karmali says.

Buy it:Nike.com (men's); Nike.com (women's); ​Price:​ $100

3. Best for Heel Support: Reebok Print Run 3.0

  • Cushion: ​Regular
  • Support: ​Neutral
  • Feature: ​Carbon rubber trim for extra traction

The outsole of this sneaker boasts a carbon rubber trim that adds some extra traction to ensure your feet stay put on the elliptical. The precise cushioning in the foot-shaped center of the shoe offers enough support to keep you comfortable the elliptical and other exercise machines.

The four-way stretch material in the forefoot is nice and roomy, too — which allows your toes to spread naturally while you're pedaling. In the back, an extra-high cushioned tab provides support for the back of your heel and Achilles.

Buy it:Amazon.com (men's); Amazon.com (women's); ​Price:​ $70

4. Best Eco-Friendly: Merrell Cloud Knit

  • Cushion: ​Light
  • Support: ​Neutral
  • Feature: ​FloatEco foam midsole for long-lasting comfort

This casual sneaker offers enough cushioning to keep you comfortably supported, but not so much that the shoe feels clunky or heavy. The stretchable, breathable mesh upper helps keep foot sweat at bay, and sock-like construction helps your feet stay snug.

Bonus: Much of this shoe is made out of recycled materials.

Buy it:Merrell.com (men's); Merrell.com (women's); ​Price:​ $62.95

5. Best for Cushioning: UA Charged Assert 9

  • Cushion: ​Medium
  • Support: ​Neutral
  • Feature: ​Charged Cushioning midsole for maximum responsiveness

A favorite of Karmali's, these running shoes are durable, well-built and have a flexible outsole — all features that make them a solid pick for elliptical shoes.

The rubber on the bottom gives you the traction you need without adding too much weight, while the foam in the midsole is cushy-yet-springy. The upper has mesh material for ventilation and some strategically placed leather, which help lock your feet in so that they stay secure as you pedal.

Buy it:UnderArmour.com (men's); UnderArmour.com (women's); ​Price: ​$70

6 Things to Look for in the Best Elliptical Shoes

1. Fit

No matter if you're walking, running or using the elliptical, sneakers should be snug but not tight. You should have some room around the balls of your feet, and the heels should stay secure while you glide your legs back and forth on the elliptical. (No slipping up and down!)

If the ball of your foot in particular feels squeezed or compressed, consider looking for a wider width, recommends Harvard Health Publishing.

2. Traction

It's the number-one feature you're looking for in an elliptical shoe, Karmali says. "The texture of the elliptical footbed is not flat, so a good amount of traction is needed to ensure safety and prevent slipping."

Hiking or trail running shoes are often a good bet here, since the soles of theses shoes are designed for running over dirt and rocks. Some of the best shoes for elliptical training can be lightweight cross-trainers, provided they have a solid rubber outsole with plenty of grip.

3. Weight

Consider the weight of your sneaker, too. You don't need anything clunky or heavy for an elliptical workout, Karmali points out. Ultralight sneakers aren't the best choice either, since they usually lack support and extra traction. That's helpful if you're trying to be speedy on a run, but on an elliptical, you want comfort, traction and stability over everything else.

Something in the middle — medium to lightweight but sturdy — is ideal, Karmali says. When shopping, look for shoes that have some cushion and good traction on the soles. Avoid shoes marketed as "barely there" or, the other extreme, ones that have high levels of dense cushioning.

4. Breathability

You don't need to worry about keeping your feet warm when you're exercising indoors on the elliptical. It's more important, in this case, to find shoes that let your feet breathe.

A mesh upper will offer maximum breathability to keep your feet cool and prevent sweat build-up that can cause blisters and discomfort, says Karmali.

5. Flexibility

A flexible sole is important for keeping your feet comfortable as you pedal. "If the outsole isn't flexible and doesn't move with you, it can cause blisters and other potential injuries as the foot is not supported and rubbing against the shoe," Karmali explains.

The best shoes for the elliptical trainer have both a flexible sole and a mesh or knit material on the top of the shoe, to fully allow your foot to flex and bend where you need it to.

6. Stability

Stability may not seem that important, since your foot is staying stationary on the elliptical the entire workout and not pounding the pavement over and over. But even when your foot is in contact with the elliptical foot pedals, your feet and ankles need to be stable in your shoe to keep your feet in a flat position and avoid rolling into your arches or the outside of your foot.

It can also help support your ankles. Shoes with an extra shoelace hole at the top can help you customize your fit and get a little more support higher up if you feel you need it, Karmali says.

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