Evidence Based Research
Evidence Based Research
This article was written by one of our qualified writers, and fact-checked by our experts. The numbers in parentheses (e.g. 1, 2, 3, etc.) throughout the article, are reference links to peer-reviewed studies.
Our team of experts include a board-certified physician, nutritionists, dietitians, certified personal trainers, strength training experts, and exercise specialists.

16 Best Workout Shoes For Better Performance in 2021

Whether you lift heavy, run fast and far, or find yourself yourself in the box, these functional shoes can help you to get the most out of your performances.

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Shoes can make all the difference when it comes to your workouts and physical performance, in general.

If you want to run faster, jump higher, lift heavier, and compete better, we recommend that you check out what we believe to be the 16 best workout shoes for 2021.

Best Workout Shoes Picks

Note: We chose shoes that fit (pun intended) in various categories because working out can mean something different depending on your chosen activity. 

That means we’ve included shoes that are ideal for lifting, running, CrossFit, etc. 

Also, make sure to check the sizing before ordering as several options run small. 

Let’s get into it…

  1. Reebok Men’s Nano X Cross TrainerBuy here Editor’s Choice 
  2. PUMA Fuse Cross TrainerBuy here 
  3. NOBULL Men’s Training ShoeBuy here
  4. Inov-8 Women’s F-Lite 245 Cross-Training ShoeBuy here
  5. Inov-8 Men’s F-Lite 245 Cross Training ShoeBuy here
  6. Hoka One One Rincon 2Buy here
  7. Reebok Women’s Nano 9 Cross Trainer Buy here
  8. Saucony Men’s Endorphin Speed Buy here
  9. WITHIN Men’s Minimalist Cross TrainerBuy here
  10. Adidas Men’s Adipower 2Buy here
  11. Nordic Venja Weightlifting ShoesBuy here
  12. Adidas Men’s Powerlift 4Buy here
  13. Under Armour Tribase Reign 2.0 Cross TrainerBuy here
  14. Nike Metcon 5Buy here
  15. Otomix Women’s MMA Stingray EscapeBuy here
  16. Reebok Women’s Nano 8.0 Flexweave Cross TrainerBuy here
  17. Asics JB Elite IV Wrestling ShoesBuy here

Editor’s Choice – Reebok Men’s Nano X Cross Trainer

Reebok Men S Nano X Cross Trainer Running Shoes
Reebok Men’s Nano X Cross Trainer Running Shoes

Anyone who knows anything about top-notch workout shoes is familiar with Reebok’s Nano line of athletic footwear. 

The Nano X is designed to help you maximize your gym sessions by offering a Flexweave upper and a lightweight EVA midsole for stability and agility. 

The grip is A+ and ideal for workouts and movements that require quick transitions. 

So, you could lift in these and do all of your other functional fitness activities.

Product features

  • Lightweight EVA foam cushioning 
  • Upgraded Flexweave technology
  • Minimal drop outsole 
  • High-density foam collar 
  • Compression-molded midsole

Pros

  • Great multi-activity shoe
  • New upgraded construction
  • Several color options

Cons

  • Runs a bit small
  • May be a little clunky for some people’s taste

Learn more about versatile cross trainer shoes in our review of best CrossFit shoes

Buy at Amazon


PUMA Fuse Cross Trainer

Puma Fuse Cross Trainer
Puma Fuse Cross Trainer

German-based PUMA is a name synonymous with high performance.

They recently came out with a cross-trainer called the PUMA Fuse early in January, 2021 shoe that was designed specifically with the serious lifter/athlete in mind.

PUMA enlisted professional athletes for feedback to ensure it meets high standards, and I was fortunate enough to personally try out the FUSE and have included some details about my experience below.

A quality pair of training shoes can make all the difference (unless you train barefoot) in the weight room or wherever you like to get sweaty.

The Fuse is PUMA’s “most technical strength trainer”

It’s loaded with functional and aesthetic features.

Fuse has a low 4mm drop which is ideal because you don’t want something with too much offset like a dedicated max cushion running shoe when cross-training. This helps tremendously with multi-activity sessions such as cross-training.

It doesn’t have lots of bounce but rather a stable surface for lifting.

The toe box is spacious and this allows for more natural movement and prevents toe cramping.

The outsole is made from PUMAGrip technology and from my experience, it has excellent gripping abilities and is ideal for quick transitions. The TPU heel clip also provides more overall support during physical activity. 

The shock-absorbing midsole maximizes speed and movement while helping to protect the joints. 

See more of the product features listed below. 

Style

I chose the PUMA black-poppy red-gray color and it’s absolutely dope! It has a pink cushioned part by the ankle collar and very aesthetic in my opinion. 

They also have a white w/ gray, Peacoat-Elektro blue (gum sole), and PUMA black. So not a big color selection but you have a few nice colors to choose from nonetheless.

Overall, the Fuse looks awesome and even better when it’s on your feet!

Fit, comfort, and functionality

It’s recommended to order a half size up as the Fuse does run a little small. It also seems to be a little narrow so in my opinion, not ideal for people who have wider feet. 

From my experience, the shoes need a little break-in and are more comfortable after that. It does have a decent amount of cushioning too. The Fuse isn’t the most breathable but it does have a mesh material top that lets some air in. However, you can tell it’s more of a cross-trainer than a runner.

It does feel stable and substantial at the base and midsole for lifting activities, helping you to push off against the weight without sinking down (not good). 

It’s also important to note that the tongue is thin and not bothersome at all. 

Product features

  • Low 4mm drop
  • Wide toe box and sole design
  • Vertical flex lines help with metatarsal toe splay
  • PUMAGrip provides all-purpose traction and durability 
  • Shock-absorbing midsole  
  • TPU heel clip offers more overall support
  • New training silhouette
  • High tensile mesh upper designed for tough workouts/abrasion
  • Thin suede tongue
  • Inverted PUMA Formstripat lateral side
  • PUMA logo on tongue

Pros

  • Aesthetic style/design
  • Roomy toe box helps with natural foot movement and stability
  • Accurate fit with a half size up 
  • Low drop keeps you stable for big lifts

Cons

  • Not ideal for wide feet
  • Not many colors to choose from
  • Need a little breaking 

Buy at Amazon


NOBULL Men’s Training Shoe

Nobull Men S Training Shoes
Nobull Men’s Training Shoes

The following information was taken from our best CrossFit shoes review and we definitely think that this shoe belongs in the best workout shoes category due to its versatility.

NOBULL shoes are used by top CrossFit athletes and really embody the CrossFit lifestyle. They’re super functional, simple, and aesthetic, and the color choices provide lots of options for style too. Not to mention, the flashy NOBULL logo is big, and reflective which comes in handy.  

They’re lightweight and breathable which also makes them an excellent multi-function shoe that works whether you climb, run, or engage in CrossFit activities. The outsole lug pattern design provides superior grip for multi-surface use and the flexible material allows you to move around easily and with optimal comfort.”

Product features

  • High carbon lateral and medial guards for added protection on sidewalls
  • Superguard material enhances breathability, durability and protects against abrasion
  • Bold reflective NOBULL logo for high visibility
  • Outsole lug pattern allows for superior gripping and multi-surface transitioning
  • Medial rope grip
  • Perforated canvas upper

Pros

  • Very aesthetic and several colors to choose from
  • Great all-around shoe

Cons

  • Not the best for maximal lifting

Buy at Amazon


Inov-8 Women’s F-Lite 245 Cross Training Shoe

Inov 8 Womens F Lite 245 Cross Training
Inov 8 Womens F Lite 245 Cross Training

INOV-8 has become increasingly more popular and for good reason. They offer some very capable performance kicks and we like the men’s and women’s versions of the F-Lite 245 cross trainers. 

The brand is runner-focused and a “world leader in grip” which we really like. This model is lightweight, flexible. comfortable, and offers a lot of stability.

It also has a cooperating upper with “met-cradle’ technology that fits snug but still allows for proper room in the toe area. 

Sure it’s a minimal design but make no mistake, you can do various activities in them whether that’s weight training, or running, CrossFit… so very versatile indeed.

The colors and design are also very appealing due to the sleek look so we (and many others) dig these for sure. 

Product features

  • Minimalist design
  • Rubber sole
  • Synthetic and mesh material

Pros 

  • Lightweight 
  • Versatile
  • Flexible
  • Snug-fitting
  • Nice-looking
  • Breathable
  • Useful sizing chart

Cons

  • Some find it to run a little small

Buy at Amazon


Inov-8 Men’s F-Lite 245 Cross Training Shoe

Inov 8 Mens F Lite 245 Cross Training
Inov 8 Mens F Lite 245 Cross Training

We like this shoe so much that we included both the men’s and women’s versions. 

It too is ultra-lightweight and super breathable to provide a comfortable experience, especially during warmer temperatures. 

It’s also minimalist designed and very versatile for all-purpose use. And, of course, you get some variation in color between the men’s and women’s options.

Product features

  • Minimalist design
  • Rubber sole
  • Synthetic and mesh material

Pros 

  • Lightweight 
  • Versatile
  • Flexible
  • Snug-fitting
  • Nice-looking
  • Breathable
  • Useful sizing chart

Cons

  • Some find it to run a little small

Buy at Amazon


Hoka One One Rincon 2

Hoka One One Men S Rincon 2
Hoka One One Men’s Rincon 2

Pronounced “Onay-Onay,” Hoka shoes are a staple in the collections of serious runners around the world. 

They have several great models as do the brands included in our list of best workout shoes, but if you like to run, they have some very specific options. 

Anyhow, the Rincon 2 running shoe has a full-length EVA midsole that’s perfect for optimal shock absorption, stability, and responsiveness.

Hoka shoes are thicker on the outsole too which makes for a perfect road running shoe. 

They’re very supportive and even good for plantar issues according to user experience. Plus, it’s light, overall comfortable, and is made to be worn for long durations. 

Product features

  • Full-length EVA midsole offers function
  • Rubber sole
  • Mesh upper

Pros

  • Designed for running
  • Proven platform
  • Light and comfortable

Cons

  • Some don’t like to appearance

Buy at Amazon


Reebok Women’s Nano 9 Cross Trainer

Reebok Women S Nano 9 Cross
Reebok Women’s Nano 9 Cross

Before the Nano X, the Nano 9 was it and still is a phenomenal choice for working out. 

It also has the flexweave technology that provides stretch and breathability. The Nano 9 had a wider toe box which is ideal for allowing your feet to move naturally and provide you with a stable platform to lift from.

It offers lots of stability and grip for CrossFit and weight-bearing movements.

Product features

  • Wide toe box
  • Low-cut design
  • Flexweave upper
  • Responsive midsole cushioning
  • Gum sole 
  • TPU heel clip adds rearfoot stability
  • Polyurethane NanoShell provides midsole protection and supports big lifts
  • Ergonomic outsole

Pros

  • Designed for running and heavy lifting
  • Improved engineered upper 
  • Tons of color options

Cons

  • Wide toe box could mean sizing issues

Buy at Amazon


Saucony Men’s Endorphin Speed 

Saucony Men S Vizipro
Saucony Men’s Vizipro

Another top of the line running-specific shoe, Saucony Endorphin Speed is a top favorite and a strong contender for best overall running shoe in the past year. 

It’s made with a ‘speedroll” technology that helps to make running more effortless. The shoe is also excellent for quick transitions and speed training because of the flexible material.

Saucony uses a special PEBA-based foam (PWRRUN PB) that they say is their lightest and springiest performance cushion yet.

Not to mention the FORMFIT technology hugs the foot and provides a more tailored experience.

Then you have the XY-900 outsole that grips the toughest surfaces making this not only an amazing running shoe but a versatile option to have in your shoe closet. 

You’ll get a lot of mileage out of the Saucony Endorphin Speed. 

Product features

  • Speedroll technology helps with running
  • Full-length flexible nylon plate helps with natural movement
  • FORMFIT technology hugs the foot
  • Reinforced high-abrasion zones help with traction and durability

Pros

  • Designed for running
  • Lightweight and springy
  • Well-cushioned
  • Very secure design
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Few complaints about construction (very few)

Buy at Amazon


WITHIN Men’s Minimalist Cross Trainer

Whitin Men S Cross Trainer
Whitin Men’s Cross Trainer

WITHIN minimalist, barefoot-style shoes cannot be beaten for what they offer. 

This model is a zero-drop cross trainer with plenty of toe room so that you can feel the surface of your choice and not be constricted. Plus, you remove the sock liner insole to get even closer to mother nature.

Don’t worry though, they are very comfy!

And did we mention the price at under $40 which is a lot cheaper than the other options you’ll find on our list. There are also lots of gnarly color options to choose from. 

Keep in mind though, minimalist shoes aren’t for everyone and you have to be careful if you’re not used to them. Transitioning from high cushion shoes to zero drop shoes does require a period of adjustment.  

Product features

  • Minimalist, barefoot design
  • Wide toe box provided more toe comfort and balance
  • Zero-drop from heel to toe 
  • Thin, flexible sole 
  • Removable sock liner allows for a more minimalist feel

Pros

  • Perfect for minimalists 
  • Good overall value
  • Zero-drop design encourages proper walking gait
  • Loads of color options 
  • Vegan-friendly 

Cons

  • Runs large
  • Not the best construction quality (but very affordable)

Buy at Amazon


Adidas Men’s Adipower 2

Adidas Men S Adipower Weightlifting 2
Adidas Men S Adipower Weightlifting 2

The Adipower was our top pick for weightlifting in our review of best weightlifting shoes. Also, make sure to check out the review for more information on weightlifting shoes and how to choose the right one for you. 

This shoe is the 2.0 version of the Adipower. It has a reinforced forefoot, heel outsole, and TPU midsole that helps to maximally grip the floor and support stable footing during squats and even deadlifts. 

It also has a lacing system with a hook and loop strap, typical for a proper weightlifting shoe. 

The Adidas Adipower is a very good functional weightlifting shoe that’s fitting for different activities. 

Product features

  • Lace closure w/ hook and loop strap
  • Textile/synthetic material
  • Reinforced forefoot and padded rearfoot
  • TPU wedge midsole 

Pros 

  • Designed for heavy lifting
  • Flexible and durable
  • Reinforced for added stability during lifting

Cons

  • Not great for wide feet

Buy at Amazon


Nordic Venja Weightlifting Shoes

Nordic Lifting Weightlifting Shoes Ideal
Nordic Lifting Weightlifting Shoes Ideal

Nordic Lifting makes excellent weightlifting shoes too. The Venja is best for CrossFit and weightlifting but is actually a really good option for anyone who does resistance training of any kind.

They make it a point to note that the shoe is carefully crafted for this purpose.  

The velcro strap secures the foot down for Olympic style lifting and the flexible, stable anti-slip sole helps with maximum gripping. The shoes are also secured with lacing.  

The aesthetics of the shoe aren’t bad either… 

Product features

  • Velcro strap ensures a snug fit
  • Flexible anti-slip sole
  • Reinforced design
  • Open forefoot improves ventilation 

Pros

  • Versatile performance shoe
  • Good for heavy lifting and short runs and high-impact activities
  • Great looking shoe
  • Fits true to size

Cons

  • Limited color options
  • Not ideal for running

Buy at Amazon


Adidas Men’s Powerlift 4

Adidas Powerlift Men S 4 Shoes
Adidas Powerlift Men S 4 Shoes

The Powerlift 4 is one of Adidas best and most popular lifting shoes, excelling at weightlifting and powerlifting movements. 

This is a snugger shoe that’s best for those with narrow feet and with the hook and loop strap system, your feet aren’t going anywhere except for into the ground!

The Adiwear outsole also ensures that your feet stay put, gripping the surface tight and providing much-needed stability for clean and jerk variations, and squats. 

Product features

  • Adiwear outsole 
  • Rubber sole
  • Lightweight canvas upper
  • Hook and loop strap and laces

Pros

  • Designed for lifting
  • Proven platform
  • Secure hook and loop strap w/ laces

Cons

  • Not great for wider feet
  • May be too tight for some

Buy at Amazon


Under Armour Tribase Reign 2.0 Cross Trainer

Under Armour Men S Tribase Reign 2 0
Under Armour Men’s Tribase Reign 2 0

For those of you who prefer Under Armour as your choice of training footwear, we got you covered. 

The brand is a strong competitor with other top brands and they offer good versatile options that perform well at many things. Plus, you can always be sure you’ll look good in them…

Ever feel like you can’t get a good footing during your workout sessions? The Tribase Reign 2.0 is supposed to fix this with its superior “Tribase” outsole that helps you to maximize foot movement upon contact with most training surfaces.

The “Micro G” foam midsole optimizes responsiveness during running and fast-paced activities. Plus, it has a larger external heel counter and collar height that keeps your heel locked in. 

It’s a superior cross trainer and we’re confident in that. 

product features

  • UA Tribase outsole helps to maximize foot movement
  • Larger external heel counter and collar height increase stability and locks in the heel
  • Zonal flex and traction helps to keep forefoot flexible yet grippy 
  • Full-length Micro G foam midsole maximizes responsiveness
  • Supportive construction and medial rope grip

Pros

  • Very secure design
  • Versatile platform 
  • Neat design and flashy colors

Cons

  • Too tight for some/not ideal for wider feet

Buy at Amazon


Nike Metcon 5

Nike Men S Metcon 5
Nike Men’s Metcon 5

Hah… you thought we forgot about the Nike Metcon. But there’s no way we could, seeing as it is one of the most widely used workout shoes. 

Of course, there’ve been iterations of the Metcon but we’ll go with the 5 as it has some great features.

Now, yeah a lot of these shoes have interesting names but if you’re familiar with training terms, then you might have guessed that Metcon stands for metabolic conditioning. Well, you’d be correct.

It’s obvious that this is a popular shoe with CrossFit athletes as the name implies high-intensity workouts. 

The base is flat and wide for proper stability during heavy lifts of all sorts and the grip is suitable for any activity that requires firm footing including rope climbs.

Product features

  • Improved traction is ideal for all various surfaces
  • New cushioning supports movement transition
  • Wide, diamond-shaped heel improves stability

Pros

  • Good for lifting and high-impact training 
  • Great looking shoe
  • Comes with Hyperlift insert for performance versatility
  • Several cool color options

Cons

  • Not great for running
  • May be too narrow for some

Buy at Amazon


Otomix Women’s MMA Stingray Escape

Otomix Women S Stingray Escape
Otomix Women’s Stingray Escape

Working out includes combat sports/wrestling training too. But these shoes from Otomix are also amazing for deadlift and weight training in general. The company has been making excellent shoes for years and this model is no exception. 

It’s a lightweight, cushioned shoe with extra ankle support, a slim sole with very good grip. The material is made from leather and synthetic which is an ideal combination of materials suitable for intense mat training.

If you want premium quality in a versatile shoe then look no further. 

Product features 

  • Made with leather and synthetic material 
  • Thin sole w/ optimal grip surface
  • High collar design

Pros

  • Great MMA/wrestling shoes
  • Versatile design 
  • Cool design options
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Few complaints about sizing

Buy at Amazon


Reebok Women’s Nano 8.0 Flexweave Cross Trainer

Reebok Women S Crossfit Nano 8 0
Reebok Women’s Crossfit Nano 8 0

And yet another shoe from the Nano lineup, you’ll absolutely get your money’s worth with the Nano 8.0 Flexweave cross trainer. 

It’s constructed with the Flexweave upper that is designed to offer a combination of breathability, stability, and functionality. 

Plus, there’s extra cushioning in the forefoot for added comfort during your cardio sessions and the grip is made specifically for CrossFit training activities. 

The Nano 8.0 is an incredible performance shoe and many like them over the Metcons!

Product features

  • Forefoot flex grooves improve flexibility 
  • High-abrasion rubber outsole
  • Midsole has a molded sockliner cushion
  • Toe tection provides protection
  • 4mm drop offers support for different activities

Pros

  • Proven shoe design 
  • Many color options available

Cons

  • Runs small 

Buy at Amazon


Asics JB Elite IV Wrestling Shoes

Asics Men S Jb Elite Iv Wrestling Shoes
Asics Men’s Jb Elite Iv Wrestling Shoes

Lastly, we have a wrestling shoe from the popular Asics brand. They are known for having some of the best running and multi-functional shoes and this actually fits in a few categories.

It’s a wrestling shoe so it obviously shines on the mat but you can also deadlift and weight train in these excellent shoes too.

It’s also a best-selling shoe which says something about the functionality. 

The flat to the ground design and overall quality and attention to detail means whether you’re boxing, wrestling, or hitting new prs, you’re going to feel good moving around and making contact with the ground. 

Not to mention, it’s a durable shoe. So, those long sessions should be no match!

Product features

  • Synthetic leather and suede material 
  • Lightweight design
  • Flat sole

Pros

  • Designed for wrestling and similar activities
  • Supportive but flexible
  • Lightweight and breathable 

Cons

  • Several issues with sizing (runs small)
  • Few complaints about construction quality

Buy at Amazon


How To Pick A Good Workout Shoe For Me

What’s a workout shoe anyway? There’s no one size fits all answer to this. 

You might run, or do CrossFit, or weight lift, power lift, bodybuild… the list can go on and on. That means you have to choose a shoe that has features suitable for your chosen activity.

For example, we included weightlifting-specific shoes such as the Adipower and Venja that have a taller heel and loop strap system with laces. These shoes need to have a solid, stiff midsole and heel. This helps to create a rigid base and not one that sinks into the ground (bad for lifting weights overhead).

The taller heel or offset of the weightlifting shoe is ideal for reducing the mobility needed and keeping the torso more upright during squats and overhead lifts too. 

Again, we recommended checking out our review on the best weightlifting shoes to learn more about their functionality and what to expect. 

In contrast, most running shoes like the Hoka One One Rincon 2 and Saucony Endorphin Speed, have responsive cushioning that helps to absorb the impact and propel you forward during runs and similar activities. 

Check out our review of best running shoes for heavy runners if you want to see our best picks and learn what to look for to protect your feet and joints and maximize performance. 

A good minimalist or zero drop shoe is perfect for deadlifts because it allows you to sit back into the lift and pull maximum poundages. The WITHIN minimalist shoe and Adidas HVC wrestling shoes are a great choice in addition to the other flat bottom options we’ve included. 

Plus, if you do participate in wrestling, boxing, etc, these shoes are going to help a lot to simulate similar activities.

A good majority of options on our list of best workout shoes though are cross trainers. As you can probably make out from the name, these are sort of versatile, do it all sort of shoes that may not be best for any one activity, but great at a lot of things. 

So you see, we can’t tell you what or what not to get. You have to decide based on whichever shoe type you feel is best suited for your needs. 

Wrapping Up

There are so many great shoes on the market but it’d be impossible to include them all. This list of best workout shoes offers some of the best quality options for almost every need and we’re confident there’s something for you too. 

If you have any questions about the information in this article, leave your comments below and we’ll be sure to get back to you

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Matthew Magnante
Matthew Magnante
Matthew Magnante is the senior writer for Fitness Volt. He has had a passion for fitness since elementary school and continues to research and learn how to build muscle effectively through training and diet. He also loves to help others to achieve their fitness goals and spread the knowledge where needed. Matthew's other passions include learning about mindfulness, strolling through nature, and always working to improve overall.

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