14 Best Workout Shoes for Men—for Every Type of Workout
Experts say workout-specific shoes aren't a waste of money. Here's what podiatrists and trainers recommend looking for when you shop.
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Put your best shoe forward
One of the worst shoe mistakes people make that hurt their feet is wearing the same workout shoes for all different types of exercise.
You may not want to buy another pair of shoes for every single workout. But investing in a few good pairs of the best workout shoes for men could help your feet and your workout.
Why workout-specific shoes are important
“I appreciate the functional purpose for a shoe that’s built for basketball as being very distinct from a sprinting shoe or a weightlifting shoe,” says podiatrist Robert Eckles, DPM, the dean of graduate medical education at the New York College Of Podiatric Medicine.
People should make decisions based on how invested they are in their workout or sport of choice.
“Someone who plays racquetball once every six weeks probably isn’t going to be significantly harmed by not outfitting themselves in the best technical gear,” Dr. Eckles says. (This is what your workout routine says about you.)
Still, wearing the right gear does make a difference. “The shoes that people walk around in that would be ‘running shoes’ just aren’t going to be sufficient or adequate in any way for CrossFit or high-intensity training,” Dr. Eckles says.
What to look for in a men’s workout shoe
Bruce Pinker, DPM, a podiatrist in Westchester and Rockland, New York, and Dr. Eckles agree that shoe fit is the most important thing.
Various brands may fit your foot differently, even if you usually wear the same size across the board. That’s why Dr. Eckles is hesitant to make generalizations about specific brands or recommend one brand’s shoe as perfect.
Dr. Pinker says to look for a snug but not tight width and about 3/8 of an inch from the end of your big toe to the front of the shoe. The midsole should be cushy and the toe box should have material that’s both breathable and protective.
In the heel region, opt for a snug fit as a loose fit could lead to heel blisters. The shoe’s outsole should have treads specifically for the intended activity, too.
The best workout shoes for men
You can run in whatever running shoes you have for both the treadmill and the outdoors unless the shoes have trail features, says Dr. Eckles.
Dr. Pinker especially likes running sneakers from New Balance, Asics, Brooks, and Saucony since they are available in several different widths. Running-specific shoes are essential for anyone who regularly runs more than half a mile, as the cushioning and support in running shoes are best.
New Balance Men’s Fresh Foam Beacon V3 Running Shoe
The New Balance Men’s Fresh Foam Beacon V3 Running Shoe is light and comfortable. There’s enough cushioning for long-distance runners, but it’s also great for people who enjoy speed work, too. If you want a versatile running shoe, this is your pick.
Saucony Endorphin Speed
If you like running short, fast races—or marathons, for that matter—the Saucony Endorphin Speed shoe might be the one for you. These shoes have soft, PEBA-based bouncy foam and a flexible nylon plate to power you through all of your runs.
Weight lifting, strength training, or powerlifting
You might see serious powerlifters or weightlifters deadlifting or squatting in almost-flat shoes (or even shoeless). Dr. Eckles says that weightlifting shoes have that construction and a heel cup that’s quite rigid.
“For obvious reasons, it’s meant to reinforce the vertical lifting and stress that the athlete is experiencing,” Dr. Eckles says.
Running shoes are typically much less resistant and might lead to instability or potentially cause an injury if you wear them during strength training or lifting workouts.
At the very least, lifting weights in running shoes makes the lift much more inefficient and interferes with your training ability, Dr. Eckles says. At the worst, it could lead to potential injury.
That’s why Jim White, a registered dietitian and exercise physiologist, recommends a shoe with a thin heel, wide base, and ankle support. The shoe’s wide base allows for sure grip and room for your toes to spread.
Converse Chuck Taylor
$26-$123 (depending on the size)
The stability of the flat sole of the Chuck Taylor All-Star sneaker is great for weight lifting, plus, they’re an affordable choice, according to White. The heel has minimal cushioning and a wide toe box.
Opt for the high tops if you prefer something with excellent ankle support. Choosing a shoe with ankle support is critical to avoid straining the joint on your heavy lift, White says. Note that the shoes are on the heavy side, so they are one of the best workout shoes for people who purely weight train.
Reebok Legacy Lifter II
Any lifters with slightly wider feet who also feel like they may have limited flexibility may benefit from wearing Reebok Legacy Lifter IIs. They have a wider toe box and an outsole made of TPU (a longer-lasting material that’s resistant to splitting and abrasion).
You can’t go wrong with these as they have a raised heel built to traditional weightlifting specifications. Those who have trouble with deep squats may find that a slightly thicker heel helps achieve a full range of motion without straining the ankles, White notes.
Cardio and weightlifting
If you’re doing cardio and weightlifting in one workout session, you don’t necessarily need to bring two pairs of shoes with you to the gym. Dr. Eckles recommends splitting the difference with a CrossFit or cross-training-type shoe.
These shoes share many of the positive features of running shoes, they are well cushioned, and they tend to be flexible. Yet, they have the heel cup and midsole stability of the dedicated weight lifting shoe, to a point, he says.
Again, White still looks for a shoe with a wide toe box, so the feet have room to spread during your blended workout. He also looks for a medium cushioned heel. A shoe with both ensures you don’t tip forward during lifts, but there is also some padding for your cardio.
Men’s Nike Metcon 5
$60 and up (depending on the size)
The Nike Metcon 5s are supportive enough for both lifting and some cardio, too. The firmness under the heel offers a secure feel, but the softer cushioning in the forefoot is good for high-impact moves.
Plus, they are lighter than traditional weight lifting shoes, yet they still have a wide and stable heel for squats, wall balls, and more.
Nobull Men’s Training Shoes
For workouts blending cardio and strength training, White likes Nobull trainers. “These shoes have a little extra padding, but still provide a flat surface for lifting,” he says.
They also have good ankle support, but they’re significantly lighter than Converse. This makes them a good fit for both lifting and cardio.
Dr. Eckles says people who enjoy high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts need a lot of traction on the outsole.
Nike Air Zoom SuperRep
The Nike SuperRep is specially for HIIT classes, with a thick sole, but a minimal heel-to-toe drop, so you have cushion for jumps, but a flat base for lifts, according to White. “These also have specially designed side ‘brakes’ to ensure grip during intense side-to-side movements.”
Nike Air Max 270
Another solid shoe option for HIIT workouts is the Nike Air Max 270. The bubble-like sole is supportive for explosive moves like jumping and other plyometrics. There’s also mesh for ventilation and an inner sleeve that stretches and has a soft sock-like fit.
The best workout shoes for CrossFit are similar to a cross-training type of shoe with enough cushioning and support as well as lightweight breathable fabric, according to Dr. Pinker.
CrossFit workout shoes need to have an outsole with lots of traction so you can crush your workout, including moves like box jumps and rope climbs.
Reebok Men’s Nano X Cross Trainer
Reebok and CrossFit go hand-in-hand. Back in 2010, Reebok signed on to become the title sponsor for the CrossFit Games. The brand was the exclusive outfitter for CrossFit ending in 2020. So it makes sense that their Nano X Cross Trainers are on this list for the best workout shoes for men.
These cross trainers perfectly balance stability and comfortable cushioning. They have a wide toe box, a raised heel cup, and a rubber sole.
Adidas Powerlift 4
CrossFit athletes perform a variety of movements. So you need a versatile shoe like the Adidas Powerlift 4. These shoes are perfect for moving from barbell work to burpees. The heel height is just enough for mobility without weighing you down during other movements. The strong single strap keeps your foot stable.
Good spin shoes can protect against injury. So any long-time or new members of the indoor cycling fan club should invest in a good pair of cycling shoes.
The best men’s workout shoes for cycling could improve your pedal stroke and, when you wear clip-in shoes, prevent you from slipping on the pedals. Good cycling shoes have a stiff sole, so weight distribution is even.
(Here are the Peloton-compatible shoes you can buy on Amazon.)
Venzo Bicycle Road Cycling Riding Shoes
These cycling shoes from Venzo are sleek and supportive. The shoe’s sole is stiff and tough so that when you’re pedaling to the medal, your weight is evenly distributed.
They come with removable cleats that are compatible with just about every pedal type on the market. It makes sense that these are the No. 1 men’s cycling shoes on Amazon.
Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa Shoe
$180-$200 (depending on size)
If you’re looking for a cycling shoe that you can also wear around the house, look into the Five Ten Kestrel Pro Boa Shoe.
If you have your own exercise bike at home you may want to opt for these shoes since you won’t click-clack across the floor in these walkable stiff-soled shoes. But don’t let the look fool you, these shoes have a secure boa dial-type closure system to ensure you’ll have a sturdy ride.
People don’t understand that the shoe that functions well for walking around isn’t the same when they add their bodyweight under the stress of running or some other exercise, according to Dr. Eckles. So invest in a pair of walking shoes and only use them when you are walking for exercise.
Asics Gel-Contend 5 Walker
Daily walkers will love this pair of sneakers from Asics. The arch support and lightweight cushioning are exactly what your feet need if you walk for exercise.
The breathable material lets sweaty feet air out. Plus, the rubber sole offers a good grip so you won’t slip and slide while getting in your steps.
Vionic Men’s Fulton Tate Sneakers
$70-$129 (depending on size)
One of the highest-rated walking shoes for men on Amazon are these Viconic Men’s Fulton Tate Sneakers. They have all the great aspects of a walking shoe like a durable outsole and a mesh upper, but they also have a podiatrist-designed footbed.
If that’s not convincing enough, this pair of walking shoes have the American Podiatric Medical Association Seal of Acceptance, too.
The bottom line
Workout shoes aren’t always cheap, but they are often worth the cost for people invested in their routine of choice. Wearing the right shoes supports your feet and may help you in your sport, as well.
Now that you know the best workout shoes for men, make sure you’re not making these shoe mistakes that hurt your feet.
- Bruce Pinker, DPM, a podiatrist in Westchester and Rockland, New York
- Robert Eckles, DPM, MPH, Dean of Graduate Medical Education at the New York College Of Podiatric Medicine
- Jim White, RD, ACSM exercise physiologist and personal trainer, Virginia Beach, Virginia