The Best Workout Shoes in 2022: Comfort and Support for Every Type of Athlete

Men training in Under Armour Charged Assert 9s


No matter what type of physical activity you partake in, you spend a lot of time on your feet. And the type of shoe you wear can make or break your workout—the wrong shoes can cause more problems than just discomfort. You can develop blisters, strains, or other injuries simply because you have the wrong footwear.

On your search for the best workout shoes, you’ll have to choose between training shoes, weightlifting shoes, and running shoes. To help you sort through options, we rounded up our 10 favorite workout shoes. We'll discuss factors you should consider when looking for workout shoes and highlight which shoes stand above the rest. Let's take a look at our list.

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The Best Workout Shoes - Our Top Picks

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Best Workout Shoes Overall - New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

SPECS

  • Material: HypoKnit
  • Width: Standard and wide available
  • Outsole: Rubber/strong support
  • Cushion: High cushion

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We define the best overall workout shoe as one that’s versatile and can be used for virtually any activity. We're also looking for high-quality, lightweight materials, strong support, and maximum comfort. Ideally, the best workout shoe is one you can be just as comfortable running in as you are weightlifting.

The New Balance Fresh Foam X is a strong combination of all of those traits. The HypoKnit material overlays the mesh upper in key areas to give you support and flexibility. This shoe also has New Balance’s Fresh Foam X midsole that’s wider than other foams and gives your foot a springy surface to absorb impact.

What We Like

  • Lightweight mesh reinforced by HypoKnit
  • Good grip on the soles
  • Snug fit even for wider feet

What We Don't Like

  • Wide option might run long
  • The feel of the wider midsole may take some adjusting to

BUY: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

Best adidas Workout Shoes - adidas Trainer V

adidas Trainer V

SPECS

  • Material: Flexible knit
  • Width: Standard
  • Outsole: Rubber/strong support
  • Cushion: Mid cushion

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No list of the best workout shoes would be complete without the adidas Trainer V. This shoe comes equipped with adidas' lightweight Bounce midsole which is one of the best designs for shock absorption and transferring energy for explosive movements.

Flexible knit material gives the Trainer V a soft, comfortable feel, and there are areas of flexible support built for stability. The Trainer V also has a functional lace closure so you can make sure to get the fit just right.

What We Like

  • Good grip, strong support, and lightweight
  • Stylish design that you can wear out of the gym
  • 50% recycled materials

What We Don't Like

  • Too tight for wide feet
  • Recycled material may feel stiff

BUY: adidas Trainer V

Best Workout Shoes for Women - Reebok HIIT 2 Women's Training Shoes

Reebok HIIT 2 Women's

SPECS

  • Material: Textile
  • Width: Women's standard
  • Outsole: Rubber/strong support
  • Cushion: High cushion

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Too many training shoes are designed for men's sizes, causing women to size down for a decent fit. However, the Reebok HIIT 2 Women's training shoe is a comfortable, flexible, and lightweight shoe that should solve this problem.

The HIIT 2 is made with textile synthetics—basically a mix of fabrics for strength and durability—and has a snug heel construction to keep your foot locked in place during intense training. The shoe stays flexible though with a grooved design on the front of the foot.

What We Like

  • Heel design keeps the foot locked in
  • Flexible grooves on the front of the foot
  • Strong outsole with good grip

What We Don't Like

  • Liner might make it difficult to put the shoe on
  • Can’t replace the liner if it tears

BUY: Reebok HIIT 2 Women's Training Shoes

Best Workout Shoes for Men - Reebok Nano X2 Men's Training Shoes

Reebok Nano X2 Men's

SPECS

  • Material: Flexweave textile
  • Width: Standard
  • Outsole: Rubber/strong support
  • Cushion: High cushion

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The Nano X2 training shoes are a great option for men, especially if you like to vary your workouts with cross-training exercises. The Flexweave material is strong but flexible, plus there’s a heel clip to keep your foot locked in.

The Floatride energy foam is very comfortable and the rubber outsole has a lug pattern for maximum grip on almost any surface. The midfoot also has Reebok's ROPEPRO grooves to give you an extra boost if you're doing any sort of climbing.

What We Like

  • Strong grip
  • Very comfortable fit
  • Heel clip and snug lace closure

What We Don't Like

  • Energy foam is exposed and can be damaged
  • Molding protecting the toe doesn't cover as much of the toe as other shoes

BUY: Reebok Nano X2 Men's Training Shoes

Best Nike Workout Shoes - Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

SPECS

  • Material: Synthetic mesh, polyester
  • Width: Standard
  • Outsole: Rubber/strong support
  • Cushion: Very high cushioning

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Nike is known for making the best workout shoes. But, the Air Zoom Pegasus 38 in particular rises above the others because of its design and comfortable feel. The synthetic mesh material is soft and breathable, and the React foam offers support without sacrificing comfort. We also like the web design on the mid-foot that tightens around your foot for security.

What we really love about the Pegasus 38 is the outsole design. There are crashrails that absorb impact and give you smooth transitions on lateral movements. Plus, the “waffle pistons” give you great traction on all sorts of surfaces to go along with the extra cushioning the shoe provides.

What We Like

  • Very comfortable shoes
  • Outer elements designed for support and performance
  • Curved, plush collars reduce irritation

What We Don't Like

  • Wider toe box may be uncomfortable for some users

BUY: Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38

Best Workout Shoes for Flat Feet - New Balance Fresh Foam Roav

New Balance Fresh Foam Roav

SPECS

  • Material: Synthetic mesh
  • Width: Standard and wide available
  • Outsole: Foam/rubber
  • Cushion: Very high cushion

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New Balance has made an extra effort to accommodate a variety of foot sizes and needs. They typically offer every shoe in a wide and standard version, and they put thought into the designs to make sure you're comfortable if you have other needs like flat feet.

The Fresh Foam Roav keeps that tradition going. The shoe is made from breathable mesh with tee shirt material on the laces for a secure tie. And the outsole is relatively flat but has a strategic shape to accommodate flat feet. The Ultra Heel also adapts to the shape of your foot over time so the more you wear the shoes the more comfortable they become.

What We Like

  • Lightweight and comfortable
  • Adaptable material on the heel to fit your foot
  • Good support

What We Don't Like

  • Mesh material isn't reinforced so it’s not as durable as other shoes 
  • Foam is exposed with no protection

BUY: New Balance Fresh Foam Roav

Best Workout Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis - Hoka Mach 5

Hoka Mach 5

SPECS

  • Material: Creel jacquard engineered mesh
  • Width: Standard and wide available
  • Outsole: Rubberized EVA
  • Cushion: Low/Responsive Cushion

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Hoka is a brand of shoe that most runners are familiar with thanks to their commitment to high-quality footwear. But, you might be wondering—what does that have to do with plantar fasciitis? A lot, actually, because Hokas are well-constructed for support and spreading out the pressure of impact.

The Hoka Mach 5 has an exaggerated heel collar to lock your foot in and give you extra support. The PROFLY+ midsole is a dual-layered support system that will give you support and comfort while absorbing impact to keep the pressure off your heel. We recommend trying the Mach 5 if you're experiencing pain from plantar fasciitis.

What We Like

  • PROFLY+ midsole absorbs shock and transfers energy
  • Strong support for the heel and throughout the shoe
  • Creel jacquard mesh is much more durable than other mesh materials

What We Don't Like

  • Soft foam wears out quicker than other materials
  • Curve of the shoe is designed to transfer energy but can take time to get used to

BUY: Hoka Mach 5

Best Workout Shoes for Wide Feet - Hoka Clifton 8 Max Cushion

Hoka Clifton 8 Max Cushioned

SPECS

  • Material: Mesh
  • Width: Standard and wide available
  • Outsole: High abrasion rubber
  • Cushion: Very high cushion

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We've already noted that there are few brands that make it a priority to carry their shoes in standard and wide widths, but Hoka is one that consistently offers both sizing options. The Clifton 8 Max cushion has an option designed for wide feet and is one of the most cushioned shoes out there.

The Clifton 8 is equipped with a pull tab to make sure you can comfortably get your foot in while keeping the fit snug so you don't have too much movement during your workout. These shoes also have a high abrasion rubber outsole that is very durable, and a midsole that’s plush and lightweight.

What We Like

  • Very durable
  • Relatively flat outsole design
  • Wide toe box

What We Don't Like

  • Level of arch support might be uncomfortable if you have flat feet

BUY: Hoka Clifton 8 Max Cushioned

Best Budget Workout Shoes - Under Armour Charged Assert 9

Under Armour Charged Assert 9

SPECS

  • Material: Lightweight mesh, leather overlays
  • Width: Standard
  • Outsole: Rubber/strong support
  • Cushion: High cushion

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If you're looking for a workout shoe that has all of the basics you need for a low price point then you should definitely check out the Under Armour Charged Assert 9. These shoes are lightweight and breathable with a mesh exterior that’s reinforced with leather overlays in certain places to give it durability.

There’s also a sock liner inside the shoe for extra support, and the Charged foam midsole offers support while transferring energy from absorbed shock. But, if you’re wondering what you lose by buying a “budget option” workout shoe, the answer is it depends. The quality of materials is slightly less for cheaper shoes but if you take care of them well then you should get plenty of use.

What We Like

  • Budget-friendly
  • Neutral style gives them a versatile style
  • All of the basic supports of more expensive workout shoes

What We Don't Like

  • Runs large so sizing could be an issue
  • Collars are not very plush so could cause irritation

BUY: Under Armour Charged Assert 9

Best Workout Shoes for Weightlifting - GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

GoRuck Ballistic Trainers

SPECS

  • Material: Engineered knit/CORDURA
  • Width: Standard
  • Outsole: Rubber/very strong support
  • Cushion: High or low cushion inserts available

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Many of the shoes on our list are designed for versatility. But, if you know you're going to be training with weights and won't necessarily need dynamic, flexible support then the GoRuck Ballistic trainers are an excellent choice.

These shoes aren't as flexible, but they have very strong support in all areas. The CORDURA material is where the "ballistic" in the name comes from. And you shouldn’t have to worry about abrasions and tears—the nylon material is extremely durable because it was originally designed for military use. The rubber outsole is triple-enforced for maximum strength, and the inserts are customizable to your comfort level.

What We Like

  • Strong support in all parts of the shoe
  • Very durable
  • Customizable cushioning

What We Don't Like

  • Not very flexible
  • Midfoot outsole is hardened rubber and could be uncomfortable for some users

BUY: GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

What to Look for in Workout Shoes


Type

There are a variety of workout shoes out there that can suit just about any sport or type of training. Weightlifting shoes are typically flat for better stability for lifting, while running shoes are typically more flexible and offer dynamic support for the movement. There are also cross-training shoes that are a hybrid of both.

When looking for the best workout shoes, make sure you consider what type of workout you'll be doing. If you're going to be doing mostly powerlifting movements that require stability, then weightlifting shoes may be a good investment. Otherwise, a more versatile shoe can suit you just fine.

Support and Comfort

When working out, it’s important that your shoes offer a balance of support and comfort. Running shoes tend to offer more cushioning than weightlifting shoes or cross trainers, but the others tend to offer more support. Finding the right shoe that balances the needs of both is key.

Outsole and Grip

There are two things about the outsole that you need to consider: shape and grip. Running shoes tend to be curved, while weightlifting shoes tend to be flat. Workout shoes come in a variety of grip styles, so knowing what surfaces you'll be working out on most will be the deciding factor.

FAQs About Workout Shoes


Is it better to workout in flat shoes?

Flat shoes are better for certain workouts than other shoes because they provide you a more stable, balanced, and neutral position for weightlifting. However, if you need dynamic support because you'll be doing complex, high-impact movements (like running or jumping), flat shoes may not be your best option.

Can I use running shoes for the gym?

Running shoes are designed for flexible support and dynamic movements while maintaining comfort. So, yes, you can use running shoes for the gym. The average person won't necessarily need the specific function of flat workout shoes, but if your training centers around weightlifting then you may benefit from workout shoes made specifically for lifting weights.

Are flat shoes better for weight lifting?

Flat shoes are a much better option than running shoes or other types of workout shoes when it comes to lifting. Powerlifting movements like the deadlift, squat, and other similar movements require that you have a solid, balanced base which is why flat shoes are the best option. However, if you're strictly weightlifting then flat shoes might not be necessary.

About the Author

Cory Kessler, CPT, FNC

Cory is a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. After spending six years as an educator and coach, Cory joined the ACTIVE team as a staff writer turning his passion for education toward helping ACTIVE readers live their best, healthiest lives.

See More from Cory

Cory is a certified personal trainer and fitness nutrition coach. After spending six years as an educator and coach, Cory joined the ACTIVE team as a staff writer turning his passion for education toward helping ACTIVE readers live their best, healthiest lives.

See More from Cory

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