Hoka / Nike / New Balance

Finding the right shoe for the gym is no easy task, because the best gym shoe for you really depends on what you're actually doing at the gym. If you spend most of your time by the free weights and your idea of cross-training is alternating between upper body and lower body exercises, the shoe you need will look very different from someone who spends most of their time on a treadmill.

Whether your workouts consist mostly of strength training, cardio or a blend of both, you need a shoe that offers the right balance of stability, support and flexibility to fit the way you move.

From a versatile Hoka to a deadlift-proof Nike to a barefoot-like New Balance, each of these gym shoes on our list is uniquely crafted to meet the needs of just about every kind of gym rat.

Best overall gym shoe: Hoka Clifton 8


When you need a versatile shoe that can go from treadmill to leg press to your Zumba class, the Hoka Clifton 8 is one of your best choices. It features the signature Hoka cushioning but with a lighter, more responsive midsole so you get a bit more lift from every step during cardio or dynamic exercise.

When you're weightlifting or doing lower body exercises, the extended heel crash pad provides added shock absorption and a more stable base for your heel without added weight. Meanwhile, the wide toe box gives your feet room to spread for a more stable stance. If the toe box on the regular still doesn't feel wide enough for you, the Clifton 8 also comes in wide sizes.

Overall, it's not as bulky as some of the brand's other designs but still gives you the support and comfort you're looking for in a Hoka.

The versatile and balanced shoe is on sale at Hoka. Both women's and men's sizes start at $112 (reduced from $140). But these shoes are flying off the shelves so act fast to make sure you can get a pair in your size.

Top features of the Hoka Clifton 8:

  • A 5-millimeter heel to toe drop provides cushy support for dynamic movements and cardio, but is still low enough for weightlifting on your cross training days.
  • The traction on the outsole is great for HIIT sessions with lots of dynamic movements like lunges, squat jumps, and burpees.
  • The wider toe box gives room for your toes to spread during weightlifting or squatting.
$112 at Hoka

Best gym shoe for HIIT: Nike Metcon 9


Nike might be known for its running shoes, but the brand also makes a great selection of gym trainers. The Nike Metcon 9, in particular, is one of the most popular gym shoes on the market. Built for deadlifts and other high intensity weightlifting, the shoes feature a wide Hyperlift plate in the heel to provide stability and support under heavy loads.

Meanwhile, the toebox is designed with a stretchy, breathable fabric that molds to your toes while still providing enough stretch to let your toes spread out while doing squats or deadlifts. That way, you get the secure fit you need to train safely without restricting your feet when you need that extra movement.

This makes it a great choice for someone who does a lot of HIIT workouts that combine a mix of dynamic exercises and strength training.

Get a pair of Nike Metcon 9 trainers for $150.

Top features of the Nike Metcon 9:

  • The breathable and flexible chain-link mesh stretches just enough to let your foot and ankle move naturally.
  • The rubber sidewalls and support braces in the heel and midfoot keep you stable while you're lifting.
  • The rubber tread on the outsole offers traction for stability during dynamic exercises like lunges or mountain climbers.
  • A 4 mm. heel to toe drop is low enough to feel stable without completely losing the support of a standard training shoe.
$150 at Nike

Best zero drop gym shoe for serious lifting: New Balance Minimus TR


For weightlifting, squatting and other workouts where your feet are planted, a zero drop or flat sole shoe like the New Balance Minimus TR can be a game changer. The higher heel to toe drop on many athletic shoes can impact your form and make your stance less stable because it shifts your weight toward the ball of your foot rather than your heels. Since you wouldn't do a dead lift while standing on your tippy toes, the idea is that a zero drop shoe allows you to keep that weight over your heels.

The New Balance Minimum TR BOA gives you that zero drop stability along with a firmer foam that provides cushion but doesn't compress so much that it impacts your form.

It's also a lightweight and flexible shoe, with a breathable upper that fits more like a glove than a shoe. That means you could use these for runs or other cardio, though it might take some getting used to run in zero drop shoes if you've never done it before.

Get the minimalist gym shoe at Zappos for just $82 (reduced from $140).

Top features of the New Balance Minimus TR:

  • The zero-millimeter heel to drop is the best choice for achieving a solid, stable form while lifting.
  • The flexible, breathable upper provides a snug yet stretchy fit -- more like a glove than a shoe.
  • The lightweight, minimalist shoe gives you a barefoot feel that's great for people who find other gym shoes too stiff or constricting.
$82 at Zappos

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