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The Best Training Shoes For Workouts, Podiatrist Says

These cross-training and lifting shoes will keep your feet happy.
FACT CHECKED BY Alexa Mellardo

Lacing up a pair of running shoes to hit the weight room or a boot camp class may seem like it's not a big deal. But spoiler alert: Foot doctors don't recommend it. "It's important to choose the right kind of athletic shoe for each activity to prevent unnecessary injury," says Adam Kaplan, DPM, podiatrist, and CEO of Arcus Custom Orthotics. With Dr. Kaplan's sneaker recommendations on deck, you'll know the absolute best training shoes to shop and wear to your next workout.

"Running shoes are intended for those constantly feeling pressure between the ground and their feet, so they have a lot of cushioning. They also have a high heel drop—a large difference in height between the toe and heel of the shoes. Lifting and cross-training shoes, on the other hand, tend to have a more minimal heel drop, less cushioning, and a wider toe box for stability during lifts," Dr. Kaplan explains.

Now that you're (hopefully) convinced wearing your running shoes to a weight training class isn't the right move, it's time to get a new pair to lift in. Choosing the best training shoes takes trial and error, so it's important to order a few pairs and see how they feel before committing to a specific style, Dr. Kaplan advises. Not sure where to start? Check out Dr. Kaplan's recommendations for the best training shoes, broken down into options for cross-training and lifting. And next, be sure to read The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Cross-training shoes

man running with city in background

Best for: a mix of weightlifting and quick, multidirectional movements (think: sprints and skaters).

Features to look for: minimal heel drop, stable midsole, flexible arch, comfortable toe box, breathable material (like mesh), and if you have issues like plantar fasciitis or back pain, a removable insole so that it can be swapped in for an orthotic.

Related: The 5 Best Walking Shoes, According to Podiatrists

New Balance Minimus TR

New Balance Minimus TR sneaker
New Balance
$130 at New Balance
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These sleek, simple shoes get Dr. Kaplan's stamp of approval because they are lightweight, breathable, and cushioned, which he says is the ideal combo for "ultimate comfort." In terms of function, he also points out that the Minimus TR has excellent traction for speed work, a flexible arch that allows for easy movement during lunges and running, and a minimal heel drop for stability during lifts. Another bonus is the liner, which is soft and comfy enough for sock-free training.

Reebok Nano X1

Reebok Nano X1 Shoes
$130 at Reebok
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This Dr. Kaplan rec is "stable with a minimal drop," yet lightweight enough that it doesn't feel cumbersome to change directions and sprint. A responsive foam forefoot adds to the cushy feeling during bouts of cardio, while the heel clip lends side-to-side support during lateral lunges, shuffles, and skaters. We also love that this sneaker option comes in 17 different colors, so you will find something that really matches your gym vibe.

Lifting shoes

woman doing barbell squat in gym

Best for: weight lifting and weight lifting only.

Features to look for: stiff and supportive heel, moderately flexible arch, comfortable toe box, removable insole (to fit an orthotic, if needed)

Men's Adidas Adipower Weightlifting II Shoes

Men's Adidas Adipower Weightlifting II Shoes
$200 at Adidas
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Made from recycled materials and sold in three different colorways, Dr. Kaplan says [these] weightlifting shoes boast all the features your feet need to perform under heavy loads. The flexible forefoot gives toes the room they need to splay and aid stabilization during challenging exercises, and the firm-yet-comfortable plastic midsole provides the extra support you'll need during heavy deadlifts and squats.

Related: The 6 Best Winter Workout Items to Stay Warm, According to Runners

Rebook Legacy Lifter II Women's Weightlifting Shoes

Reebok Women's Legacy Lifter Ii Cross Trainer
$199 at Amazon
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"The Legacy Lifter is a true weightlifting [pair of shoes] that features a heel clip for side-to-side support and an overall close fit for stability and comfort," Dr. Kaplan tells us. He also points out the shoes' slightly raised heels, which are a helpful feature for anyone who struggles with their lifting mechanics due to tight hips or ankles. These shoes come in seven colors and have a textured upper, aiding airflow. Another noteworthy feature is the grippy rubber sole, which adds traction and support during explosive exercises.

Dana Leigh Smith
Dana has written for Women's Health, Prevention, Reader's Digest, and countless other publications. Read more about Dana Leigh
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