The Best Cross-Training Shoes for Women: Options for Powerlifting, HIIT, and More

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Those of us of a certain age remember the iconic "Bo Knows" Nike campaign. These ads featured Bo Jackson, the first athlete to play professional football and Major League Baseball at the same time, wearing a new kind of hybrid shoe—the cross-trainer. These shoes were designed for people who, like Bo, participated in more than one sport or exercise genre at a time.

The Best Cross-Training Shoes for Women - Our Top Picks

And the best cross-trainers for women allow you to transition between intense cardio to heavy lifts. Although you won't see me doing a touchdown dance or hitting a homer like Mr. Jackson did, I am a bit of a CrossFit fanatic. Therefore, since I do know these kinds of shoes, it is my pleasure to break down the best cross-training shoes for women so that you can make an informed purchasing decision.

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Best Overall Cross-Training Shoes for Women - NOBULL Trainer+

NOBULL Trainers+


  • Sizes: 5-11
  • Colors: 20+ (changes often)


If your feet are lacking in the arch department, you will want to find cross trainers with a supportive sole that is flexible without being flimsy or floppy. Given those perimeters, the NOBULL Trainers+ are what you should be lacing up. The thick carbon rubber outsole with a herringbone design provides comfortable support, especially during lifting. Furthermore, these outsoles absorb the impacts of jumping, while also providing great stability.

NOBULL Trainers+ will be with you for the long haul. Simply, these shoes are tough and they can hold up for years even if you do intense workouts. These shoes can feel a little heavy, and they aren't the most agile, but if you want a durable cross trainer, you will want to slip these on.

What We Like

  • Flat foot-friendly
  • Incredibly durable
  • Supportive outsole
  • Stylish enough for casual wear
  • Holds up well during outdoor training

What We Don't Like

  • Heavy
  • Not great for running
  • Can run hot

BUY: NOBULL Trainer+

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Women with Flat Feet - Nike Metcon 8

Nike Metcon 8


  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Colors: 9


Now in the eighth iteration, the Nike Metcon has really hit its cross-training stride. These shoes are narrower than many others on the market. For women with slender feet, this fit provides a level of security and stability not found in trainers with a wider toe box. The Nike Metcon 8s also offer an outsole that is rigid enough for heavy lifts but also provides a good amount of traction for running and landing from jumps.

The uppers of these trainers are plenty durable enough for rope climbs, and they are also breathable for those particularly hot and sweaty workouts. The removable heel inserts that make the Metcon 8s feel more like a traditional lifter is an excellent perk. Additionally, if you're a fan of fun, vibrant colorways, Nike has plenty to offer on that front.

What We Like

  • Tough enough for intense workouts
  • Good fit for narrow feet
  • Removable Hyperlift heel insert included
  • Provides excellent stability
  • Fun colorways

What We Don't Like

  • Fairly expensive
  • May be too narrow for some
  • Can feel stiff when running

BUY: Nike Metcon 8

Best Budget Cross-Training Shoes for Women - Nike Flex Experience

Nike Flex Experience


  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Colors: 8


There are few things that I like more than shoes, but a good bargain is one of them. Therefore, when you combine the two I am absolutely beside myself, and that is exactly what you get with the Nike Flex Experience. These shoes are great for strength training and cardio because the midsoles are just the right combination of rigid and flexible.

Given how much money you'll save on these shoes, you'll have money leftover in your fitness budget for your favorite workout apparel and gear. Additionally, they come in eight different colors so if you, like me, like for your kicks and duds to match, you may be able to swing a couple of pairs. You'll enjoy that comfort and stability are combined in these shoes, much like running and lifting are paired up in a fun cross-training workout.

What We Like

  • Very affordable
  • Durable for the price point
  • Wide-widths available
  • Breathe well

What We Don't Like

  • Can be noisy
  • Laces come untied a lot

BUY: Nike Flex Experience

Best Nike Cross-Training Shoes for Women - Nike AirZoom SuperRep

Nike AirZoom SuperRep


  • Sizes: 5-11.5
  • Colors: 11


Nike was one of the first shoe companies to identify the need for cross-trainers, but they haven't rested on their laurels. The Nike AirZoom SuperRep was brought to life after experts at Nike identified that there was a need for shoes that met the specific demands of HIIT and other functional fitness classes.

These shoes combine the best of AirZoom cushion and support into one funky, cool-looking design. If the chunky sole gives you pause, rest assured that although it gives off some platform and athleisure vibes, this shoe can do work.

What We Like

  • Combination of comfort and support
  • Stable yet flexible
  • Handles a multitude of exercises well
  • Feels light
  • Fun design and colorways

What We Don't Like

  • Not great for wide feet
  • Design may take some getting used to
  • Hard to get in and out of rowing machines or stationary bikes with pedal straps

BUY: Nike AirZoom SuperRep

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Women with Plantar Fasciitis - adidas Ultraboost 22

adidas Ultraboost 22


  • Sizes: 5.5-11
  • Colors: 25


Plantar Fasciitis occurs due to the scarring of the plantar fascia tendon that is located in the bottom of your foot. This can lead to an intense stabbing pain in the sole of your foot, often near the heel. Having a shoe such as the adidas Ultraboost 22 can improve your foot health and decrease your pain.

The adidas Ultraboost 22 boasts an impressive amount of cloudlike cushioning which will provide overall comfort, but it also has a deep heel counter that securely locks your heel into place. This will eliminate any unnecessary movement and provide a stable base for those achy tendons in the bottom of your foot.

What We Like

  • Extensive cushioning
  • Deep heel cup for added security
  • Stability

What We Don't Like

  • Very expensive
  • Sole can feel bulky

BUY: adidas Ultraboost 22

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Women with High Arches - Nike Free Metcon 4

Nike Free Metcon 4


  • Sizes: 5-23
  • Colors: 10


If you have high arches your foot will need more space inside the shoe, and a supportive midsole. The Nike Free Metcon 4 is an ideal fit for this criteria. However, these shoes aren't just great for those with high arches, they are an exemplary cross-training shoe for women.

Your feet will possibly do an involuntary happy dance when you slip your feet into these highly cushioned and incredibly breathable shoes. The deeply ridged soles (aka broken bottom soles) give you exceptional flexibility for short runs and shuttle sprints, while the gripability provides peace of mind for box jumps.

What We Like

  • Supportive midsole
  • Plenty of room for high arches
  • Grips very well
  • Incredibly large range of sizes
  • Plenty of colors

What We Don't Like

  • Could be uncomfortable for those with shallow arches
  • Expensive
  • Not great for longer runs

BUY: Nike Free Metcon 4

Best Women's Cross-Training Shoes for HIIT - Reebok HIIT 2.0 CrossTrainer

Reebok HIIT 2.0 CrossTrainer


  • Sizes: 5-11.5
  • Colors: 3


Reebok put HIIT in the name of these kicks, so it is safe to assume that they will handle the variety of movements that those intense HIIT classes and workouts bring. Reebok used its proprietary Floatride technology in the midsole and this gives the HIIT 2.0 CrossTrainer comfortable cushioning and stabilizing support.

With a cozy foot-hugging fit, you can count on this shoe to hold up to the quick, explosive lateral movements of HIIT classes. Although this shoe would not be ideal for heavy weightlifting sessions, it is certainly stable enough to handle the lighter loads used for high-intensity interval training.

What We Like

  • Great for lateral movements
  • Excellent cushioning
  • Affordable for quality
  • Stable enough for light weightlifting
  • Hugs foot comfortably

What We Don't Like

  • Not as durable as other cross-trainers
  • Hard to put on
  • Laces can cause ankle irritation (lace bite)

BUY: Reebok HIIT 2.0 CrossTrainer

Best Women's Cross-Training Shoes for Stability - adidas Ultraboost 5 DNA

adidas Ultraboost 5.0 DNA


  • Sizes: 5-11
  • Colors: 3


The supportive upper material of the adidas Ultraboost 5 DNA may be the gold star winner when it comes to stability, it is only one of the many features that make this shoe standout amongst cross-training enthusiasts. You'll have a solid base for light weightlifting thanks to a firmer midfoot and heel, while your toes enjoy the flexibility needed for ballistic movements such as jumping.

Additionally, the overall durability and aggressive tread pattern make these shoes a good idea for outdoor workouts. Plus, if you are trucking around outside, these shoes are very breathable so you won't have to worry about your feet overheating.

What We Like

  • Stability
  • Cushioned forefront
  • Good for outdoor workouts

What We Don't Like

  • Can feel stiff
  • Long break in period

BUY: adidas Ultraboost 5 DNA

What to Look for in Cross-Training Shoes for Women

Considering that you will be using cross-training shoes for a variety of activities, there are a few factors that you will want to consider before you bring your new feet whips home.


Cross-training shoes have to show up and show out on many different platforms. Therefore, you will want them to hold up during everything that you'll be throwing at them. When evaluating the durability of particular shoes, check that the uppers are made from materials such as reinforced mesh or thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) or a blend of leather, synthetic materials, and mesh. Many companies have developed their own proprietary materials or overlays that will help protect the upper construction. Although full mesh outers typically have the best breathability. However, if you are going to be participating in a lot of intense workouts, especially those that include exercises such as rope climbs, burpees, and heavy lifts, these may not be the best option due to the wear and tear that you'll be putting on them.


When you're participating in training that includes weightlifting and explosive movements, your shoes need to offer stability. This will not only give you a sense of security by knowing that your shoes are there to support you, but it will also help protect you from injury. One of the easiest ways to identify the level of stability that your cross-trainers will offer is to look for an all-rubber outsole (if they also include TPU—even better). And, if you prefer more stable heels for when you're performing heavy lifts, check to see if there are heel cups and clips and extended rubber outsoles.


The last thing that we want to experience during an intense HIIT, CrossFit, or other type of cross-training workout is additional discomfort. Therefore, you will want to ensure that you have a proper fit. Your feet often swell during workouts so a slightly snug shoe in the warmup can turn to blister-inducing tightness by the cool-down. Check the size of the toe box and the overall width of the shoe. Additionally, take any foot issues that you have into consideration before you make a purchase. Your shoes are one of the most important aspects of your workout gear, but if they make you uncomfortable you're eventually going to stop using them.

What is a Cross-Training Shoe?

Much like your handy Swiss Army knife, a cross-training shoe can do a little bit of everything. As their name indicates, these shoes easily cross across a variety of exercise genres and handle each one well. To be able to handle a smorgasbord of activities that range from cardio to agility and weightlifting, cross-trainers need to be durable, versatile, and stable.

The hybrid nature of these kicks allow you to seamlessly transition through a variety of workouts. Unlike athletic shoes such as lifters or runners that are designed for a specific activity, cross-trainers will support you in hitting a new one rep max on your deadlift and then immediately take off for a 400-meter sprint without having to change shoes.

FAQs About Cross-Training Shoes

What types of shoes are best for cross-training?

There are a large selection of shoes from companies such as Nike, adidas, Reebok, New Balance, and more that make shoes specifically for people who like to participate in cross-training exercises. These shoes perform well across a spectrum of workout categories.

Is it OK to wear running shoes for cross-training?

While you can certainly perform many cross-training exercises in running shoes, they don't offer a stable enough base for moderate to heavy weightlifting and other movements. Therefore, if you will be cross-training often, it is advisable to invest in shoes designed specifically for that.

What is the difference between a running shoe and a cross-training shoe?

Cross-training shoes have a lower heel-to-toe drop, more rigid midsoles, and flatter outsoles than running shoes. Cross-trainers are less flexible than runners because they need to protect your foot by making it strong and stable. Running shoes typically have more cushioning around the heel, as well as lighter, more breathable uppers so that your foot doesn't get too hot on long runs.

About the Author

Sosha Lewis

Sosha is a staff writer for and a CrossFit enthusiast. Her work’s been featured in The Washington Post, Huffington Post, MUTHA Magazine, Charlotte Magazine, and The Charlotte Observer. Her weekly column, Soshally Awkward, is featured on the nationally-syndicated radio show, Bob & Sheri.

See More from Sosha

Sosha is a staff writer for and a CrossFit enthusiast. Her work’s been featured in The Washington Post, Huffington Post, MUTHA Magazine, Charlotte Magazine, and The Charlotte Observer. Her weekly column, Soshally Awkward, is featured on the nationally-syndicated radio show, Bob & Sheri.

See More from Sosha

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