Workout Shoes for Women: The Best Picks for All Kinds of Activities

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Workout clothes for women include shoes you wear on a run, to the gym, or for whatever you do; a good pair of workout shoes should provide enough structure and support for your foot to protect against injuries. Sport- or exercise-specific shoes can also improve performance by providing a stronger base for powerlifting, better grip for quick direction changes during high-intensity interval training, and good impact absorption for heavy footfalls when running.

With so many options on the market, how can you know which workout shoes for women are right for you? The ACTIVE Reviews Team researched several options, keeping in mind key factors such as the type of workout and users' specific needs. Read on to see our recommendations for the best workout shoes for women.

Why Trust Us?'s editorial team relies on the knowledge and experience of fitness and wellness experts including competitive athletes, coaches, physical therapists, nutritionists, and certified trainers. This helps us ensure the products we feature are of the highest standard. Collectively, the team has spent countless hours researching equipment, gear, and recovery tools in order to create the most accurate, authentic content for our readers. Customer satisfaction is also a key part of our review process, which is why we only feature products that are highly rated.

The Best Workout Shoes for Women - Our Top Picks

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Best Overall Workout Shoes for Women - Nike Free Metcon 4

Nike Free Metcon 4


  • Features: Updated chain-link mesh, wide heel base, Nike Free technology
  • Weight: 11.2 oz.
  • Material: Tough mesh uppers, thick rubber sole

CHECK PRICEWhen considering the best workout shoes for women, we set out to find a good all-around workout shoe—one versatile enough to carry you from the gym floor to the treadmill to the pavement and beyond. The Nike Free Metcon 4 checked all the boxes. It combines the stability of the Nike Metcon series with the flexibility and natural foot feel of the Nike Free line.

The team especially liked the updated "chain-link" mesh, which keeps your feet cool while also providing enough flexibility to ease through agility drills. The shoes also provide plenty of support at the midfoot and heel to brace your body for heavy sets on the weight room floor. The thick rubber tread also does a good job of distributing pressure around the midfoot and gripping the pavement so you feel locked in during sudden stops and quick cuts.

What We Like

  • Grippy tread
  • Versatile design makes it a good option for a variety of workouts
  • 60-day return policy

What We Don't Like

  • May fit too snugly for people with wider feet
  • Not a good option for people who need defined arch support

BUY: Nike Free Metcon 4

Best Budget Workout Shoes for Women - adidas QT Racer 3.0

adidas QT Racer 3.0


  • Features: Cloudfoam technology, made with recycled content
  • Weight: 1.9 lbs.
  • Material: Mesh upper with rubber sole


Designed specifically for a woman's foot shape, the adidas QT Racer 3.0 shoes are comfortable, stylish, and affordable. Ringing in at about $70 (or less), these shoes come equipped with Cloudfoam, one of adidas' newest technologies. This layer of foam runs along the midsole through the heel pad adding extra cushioning and impact absorption.

The adidas QT Race 3.0 shoes are inspired by technical runners, but they're not intended for hard or long-distance runs. They're best suited for lighter workouts, such as walking, sightseeing, or a night of dancing. They're also great to wear during jobs that keep you on your feet all day.

What We Like

  • Affordable price
  • Slide-in cushioning for all-day comfort
  • Made with recycled materials

What We Don't Like

  • Heavier-weight shoe
  • Not suitable for serious runners

BUY: adidas QT Racer 3.0

Best Running Workout Shoes for Women - Reebok Floatride Energy 3

Reebok Floatride Energy 3


  • Features: Full-length outsole, wide toe box
  • Weight: 8.5 oz.
  • Material: Loose square knit mesh with rubber sole


A good pair of running shoes can set you back a pretty penny. The Reebok Floatride Energy 3 is a rugged and sturdy neutral trainer with a nice price point. The slightly beveled heel is reminiscent of the Hoka, providing efficient heel-to-toe transitions, which is especially beneficial to runners who are heel-strikers. There's a moderate amount of Reebok's classic Floatride Energy Foam in the midsole to provide consistent shock absorption during training runs but not so much that your foot feels clunky.

The team was also impressed with the substantial indentations in the rubber sole, which offer traction and stability whether you're running on the treadmill, the pavement, or the trails.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and breathable
  • Roomy toe box
  • Modest price point

What We Don't Like

  • Tends to run long
  • May not provide enough cushioning for longer distance runs

BUY: Reebok Floatride Energy 3

Best Walking Workout Shoes for Women - Hoka Bondi 8

Hoka Bondi 8


  • Features: Softer, lighter foam with a new heel geometry
  • Weight: 8.9 oz.
  • Material: Vegan, two-layer mesh made with recycled materials, super thick rubber midsole


Hoka brand upped the athletic shoe game when it introduced its version of running shoes with unprecedentedly thick midsoles more than a decade ago. One side glance tells you that these shoes were designed to propel you forward for a smooth, cushy, and efficient ride.

The Hoka Bondi 8 is a workout shoe for women that's ideal for speed walking, long walks, or even pleasant afternoon strolls. It comes with more amplified core performance features, such as an extended heel, brand-new foam, and a pillowed tongue and collar.

What We Like

  • Meta-rocker sole enhances heel-to-toe stride
  • Ultra-soft cushioning in collar and tongue
  • Made with more sustainable materials

What We Don't Like

  • Higher price tag than comparable brands
  • Not ideal for speed or tempo runs

BUY: Hoka Bondi 8

Best Arch Support Workout Shoes for Women - New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12


  • Features: Fresh Foam X midsole foam, zoned support upper, underfoot cushioning and flex zones informed by pressure mapping data
  • Weight: 8.3 oz.
  • Material: Double-layered knit, engineered mesh upper; blown rubber outsole


Arch support is a key component when shopping for gym shoes for women. The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 is a neutral workout shoe for women with plenty of New Balance's proprietary Fresh Foam X to support arches during long or hard workouts. The foam blends softness with responsiveness, giving your foot a snug but comfortable fit.

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12 is also very accessible, accommodating feet from narrow to extra-wide. It's also a favorite shoe of Megan Jacoby, winner of the 2022 HYROX Women's pro world record.

What We Like

  • Variety of widths, from narrow to extra-wide
  • Comfortable soft mesh upper
  • Made from renewable resources and recyclable content

What We Don't Like

  • Not the best option for those who need a more stable shoe
  • Pricey

BUY: New Balance Fresh Foam X 880v12

Best Overall Workout Shoes for Women with Flat Feet - ASICS Gel-Kayno

ASICS Gel-Kayno


  • Features: New midsole material, updated insole
  • Weight: 9.3 oz.
  • Material: Mesh upper and rubber sole


The ASICS Gel-Kayano is one of ASICS's longest-running shoe series, and it has a lot of loyal followers. Through the years, ASICS has continued to refine the Gel-Kayano's support technology. The latest ideation is a dream come true for athletes with flat feet.

If you have flat feet, you need a workout shoe that has a firm but cushioned insole to support the bottom of your feet. It should be flexible, but not so much that it feels floppy. The ASICS Gel-Kayano is ideal for flat-footed athletes because it combines stability with a healthy dose of cushioning for shock absorption. That stability factor also provides good guidance for overpronators and can help runners who struggle with plantar fasciitis.

What We Like

  • Good stability features
  • Surprising cushioning and flexibility for a stability shoe
  • Variety of widths available from narrow to extra-wide

What We Don't Like

  • Unnecessarily thick ankle collar and tongue
  • High price tag

BUY: ASICS Gel-Kayano

Best HIIT Workout Shoes for Women - Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3 AMP

Nike Air Zoom Superrep 3 AMP


  • Features: Lighter shoe than previous iterations, two "Air Zoom" units under forefoot
  • Weight: 13.35 oz.
  • Material: Mesh upper and rubber sole


The Nike Air Zoom Super Rep 3 AMP is the team's top pick for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The shoes pack plenty of cushioning and flexibility for explosive movements like jumping rope, squat jumps, and alternating lunges. Two of Nike's proprietary Air Zoom pockets under the forefoot absorb impact and return energy to spring you into your next movement.

Another cool factor in this new iteration is a divide in the sole under where the toes naturally bend. This helps the foot bend more easily and is great when doing burpees, planks, and other movements that require foot flexing.

What We Like

  • Plenty of cushioning
  • Well-ventilated upper
  • Great for exercises that require a lot of foot flexing

What We Don't Like

  • Midsole prone to collecting mud and dirt under bridge if worn outdoors
  • Doesn't grip as well on wet pavement

BUY: Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3 AMP

Best Cushioned Workout Shoes for Women - Hoka Clifton 8

Hoka Clifton 8


  • Features: New foam, pillowed tongue, extended-heel geometry
  • Weight: 7.2 oz.
  • Material: Engineered mesh upper, recycled content lining mesh, zoned rubber sole


Hoka's Clifton line of gym shoes for women helped put the company on the map among runners back in 2014. Now, eight versions later, the model still features Hoka's unique meta-rocker profile, but it's dramatically changed. The Clifton 8 features an extended heel crash pad that gives a softer landing, then rolls the runner ahead through the next stride.

For such a lofty shoe, it's surprisingly light. The compression-molded EVA foam runs along the full length of the shoe. The heel and tongue are also much plusher for an all-around comfy feel. The Hoka Clifton 8 is an excellent easy workout or recovery shoe. But because of the extra cushioning, it's not the best pick for speed or tempo runs.

What We Like

  • Plenty of color and style options
  • Lightweight
  • Great arch support

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive price tag
  • Not suitable for speedwork

BUY: Hoka Clifton 8

Best Weightlifting Workout Shoes for Women - adidas Powerlift 5

adidas Powerlift 5


  • Features: Reworked flexible canvas with mesh inserts, wide instep strap and lacing system
  • Weight: 2.76 lbs.
  • Material: Flexible canvas upper with mesh inserts, high-density EVA sole


Weightlifting shoes are not like typical gym shoes. They're specially designed to provide a good base, offer some lumbar support, and improve posture for lifting. The best weightlifting shoes have an inflexible and non-compressible sole, rigid bottom, and an elevated heel. The adidas Powerlift 5 ticks many of the boxes needed whether you're a beginner powerlifter or a serious weightlifter.

The Powerlift 5 is a versatile shoe with a wide instep strap and lacing system to ensure a good midfoot lockdown. It also has a mild wedge for added stability and a grippy rubber sole. The canvas upper has a slight stretch that helps conform to the foot for a more secure fit.

What We Like

  • Stretchy, form-fitting canvas upper
  • Grips well to gym floors
  • Made in part with recycled materials

What We Don't Like

  • Toe box isn't very wide
  • Stiff sole needs breaking in

BUY: adidas Powerlift 5

Best CrossFit Workout Shoes for Women - Reebok Nano X2 Women's Training Shoes

Reebok Nano X2 Women's Training Shoes


  • Features: Reworked upper, Floatride Energy Foam midsole
  • Weight: 8.3 oz.
  • Material: Flexweave woven textile upper, full rubber outsole


To perform at your best during a CrossFit workout, you want a good all-around training shoe that can carry you through recreational lifting, athletic-focused training, HIIT workouts, and short runs. For this, the ACTIVE Reviews Team recommends the Reebok Nano X2.

The Nano X2s contain Reebok's responsive EVA Floatride Energy Foam. Flexibility at the midfoot also makes the Nano X2 supportive without being too stiff. This newer version is also more aesthetically pleasing with fresh colors and textile designs to help you stand out at the gym.

What We Like

  • Wider toe box to accommodate toe splay
  • Responsive fit for high-intensity workouts
  • Several flashy new colors and styles

What We Don't Like

  • Higher price
  • Sole doesn't not perform well during J-wrap rope climbs

BUY: Reebok Nano X2 Women's Training Shoes

Best Cycling Workout Shoes for Women - Shimano RC5 Cycling Shoe

Shimano RC5 Cycling Shoe


  • Features: Boa dial and hook-and-loop strap, Dynalast technology with toe-spring section, 3-bolt cleat with fore and aft cleat adjustment
  • Weight: 1.08 lbs.
  • Material: Synthetic leather uppers with mesh panels and perforations, carbon-reinforced nylon and TPU outsole


When it comes to gym shoes for women, cycling shoes are a breed of their own. They're designed to be stiff, snug, and supportive while stabilizing the foot on the pedal. The Shimano RC5 cycling shoe has a durable synthetic leather upper that holds its shape over time without flexing or stretching. A hook-and-loop strap with a BOA dial helps lock the foot in place.

Shimano throws in its proprietary Dynalast technology with a toe-spring section to provide a smoother and more efficient upstroke, helping propel you forward during long rides. A touch of padding around the Achilles tendon also helps prevent heel slip.

What We Like

  • Comfortable and secure fit with no heel slip
  • Durable—holds shape over time and won't flex or stretch
  • 1-year warranty

What We Don't Like

  • Sole may be too flexible for those who prefer a stiffer cycling shoe
  • Built-in lugs aren't replaceable

BUY: Shimano RC5 Cycling Shoe

Best Climbing Workout Shoes for Women - LaSportiva Katana Lace Climbing Shoe

La Sportiva Katana Lace Climbing Shoe


  • Features: Tubular construction with P3 technology, updated heel pattern with increased rubber coverage
  • Weight: 15.2 oz.
  • Material: Leather and microfiber upper, Vibram XS Edge rubber half-sole


Speaking of odd breeds among workout shoes for women, climbing shoes are among the oddest. They are either designed somewhat flat for slabs and vertical walls, where you are supporting most of your body weight from tiny edges you stand on with your big toes. Or they are downturned in a bird-beaked fashion, to give climbers more sensitivity in the toes during overhanging climbs. The LaSportiva Katana Lace Climbing Shoes fall in the latter category, accommodating more aggressive rock climbing. But they're also great for indoor climbing.

The team tapped the LaSportiva Katana as its top climbing shoe because it's comfortable for all-day climbs. It performs well on slabs, twists effortlessly into thin cracks, and helps you exploit the tiniest edges. The breathable tongue and moisture-wicking lining helps keep your feet cool and dry so you can stay focused on your climb.

What We Like

  • Uppers have a mild stretch for comfortable and secure fit
  • Sticky rubber grip
  • Versatile shoe—good for indoor and outdoor climbs

What We Don't Like

  • Laces takes longer to put on and take off than Velcro models
  • Long break-in period

BUY: LaSportiva Katana Lace Climbing Shoe

What to Look for in Workout Shoes for Women


Workout shoes vary in size by the manufacturer. But size also matters depending on your workout. For example, for running shoes, especially shoes you plan to run long distances in, sizing up can cut down on the direct impact on the tips of your toes and save your toenails. Cyclists benefit from a more snug, truer fitting shoe. And experienced climbers recommend climbing shoes that are two sizes smaller than what you usually buy in footwear.


Many workout shoes come in a variety of sizes, including narrow and wider options (or even extra wide). During workouts, you want your feet to feel comfortable—not squished or too spread out. When it comes to running shoes, blisters between or on top of the toes are a sign your shoes are not wide enough. Blisters on the ball of your foot are a tell-tale sign that your shoes are too wide. If you are powerlifting, you should have sufficient room in the toe box for toe splay.


Workout shoes should provide comfort and support, but that varies depending on your workout. In general, breathable uppers will help keep your feet cool and less sweaty. There should be enough cushioning to absorb impact if you are a runner or cross trainer, but too much can interfere with stability for weightlifting. Rubber soles are better equipped to grip pavement and gym floors while the stiffness and durability of TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) is a better option for cyclists.

FAQs About Workout Shoes for Women

What kind of shoes should I wear for cardio?

Running is one of the best forms of cardio, so running shoes are a great go-to for most cardio exercises. The best workout shoe for women will give you the support and cushioning you need. Some brands of running shoes are better suited for trails or outdoor runs, while others are best for indoor or treadmill runs. If your cardio comes more from gym workouts, you may opt for a shoe specially designed for CrossFit or HIIT workouts, which provide more stability for sudden movements or cushioning for higher-impact activities.

What is the difference between sneakers and gym shoes?

Sneakers, tennis shoes, gym shoes, and other terms for workout shoes for women are often used interchangeably, but they're not the same. Sneakers are more for general purposes while tennis shoes are designed specifically for tennis. The same goes for gym shoes and running shoes. If you enjoy different types of workouts and don't want to spend money on several different pairs of shoes, look for a versatile multi-purpose shoe.

Should I use running shoes for the gym?

Yes, you can use running shoes at the gym, and many people do. But it may not be a good idea. Running shoes are specifically designed to cushion and support the feet while running. Wearing them to the gym, where you will likely be doing other types of movements, can cause the shoes to wear differently and may ultimately impact the quality of your running and lead to injury. It's best to splurge on a separate pair of shoes for the gym, one that caters to the exercises you do while there.

About the Author

Jennifer Walker-Journey

Jennifer began her career as a features writer for daily newspapers before launching a freelance writing business more than a decade ago. Her work has been featured in websites like,,,, AARP,,,, as well as magazines such as Omni, Sea Island Life, and Salamander.

See More from Jennifer

Jennifer began her career as a features writer for daily newspapers before launching a freelance writing business more than a decade ago. Her work has been featured in websites like,,,, AARP,,,, as well as magazines such as Omni, Sea Island Life, and Salamander.

See More from Jennifer

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