Best Cross-Training Shoes

November 1, 2017

Crossing training workouts like HIIT bootcamps or circuit exercises at your gym are effective ways to burn calories and build strength but it can be tricky to figuring out the best footwear because they involve such a diversity of movements. As a HIIT instructor and avid cross trainer, I see and try out a lot of shoes.  Today’s roundup showcases shoes I love because they are stylish and have the key design elements to support you through weigh lifting, lateral movements and quick transitions. Umm, yes please!

As is true for all specialized activities, not all sneakers are good for cross training. For example, running shoes are designed to be light but when working with weights you want something more sturdy; and while soft shoes with lots of padding underfoot or knit bodies are really comfortable, they do not help you balance and will have you slippin’ and sliding all over the place.  If you want to feel your best during and after workouts then it’s worth it to seek shoes with these characteristics:

  • Structured exterior fabric – Make sure the shoe material is sturdy and holds your foot in tightly! I love knit shoes because they feel like you’re wearing a sock but they are not good for cross training. Your feet, especially toes, will slide over the edges every time you make a sideward movement, and there is no support for your ankles. Save those soft shoes for everyday errands and jogging, and opt for thick woven fabrics and neoprene.
  • Firm rubber toe – Many cross training drills have you hopping back onto your toes so a firm rubber lip over the front of the shoe is the ideal way to protect yourself from feeling all jammed up or losing a toenail by accidentally stubbing a weight.
  • Moderate support with minimal drop – This means that you have a sturdy but not overly fluffy sole that is about the same thickness from the heel to the toe (called “drop”). A generally flat sole will increase your sense of stability throughout the workout.
  • Snug heel – Lots of jumping, squats, and lunges mandate a shoe that will stay put on your heel. The best cross training shoes are ones specifically designed to have a snug heel and and toe box that is wider than average sneakers. If at first this sensation feels odd, stick with it because your toes inherently spread out more when bearing weight and you may come to appreciate that extra space.

We picked the below shoes because they meet these specifications and more! Read on…

  1. Nike Air Zoom Strong AMP – This is my all time favorite shoe for training and teaching in! I own two pairs and always reach for them. In addition to satisfying all the conditions laid out above, these are awesome because of the velcro strap that keeps my shoelaces in place and adds another bit of tightness when I lace up. Update: This style is are currently sold out and not in production, but you can find the Air Zoom Strong 2! Shop options in the widget below. And keep faith! Nike releases new color schemes often so keep an eye on these timeless kicks.
  2. Reebok Crossfit Grace – This update on Reebok’s cross training classic was made with speed and style in mind – you can customize your color combination!
  3. New Balance 1267 – Seeking more arch support? Give this updated version a try.
  4. Hoka One One – Stability is key and these deliver without being heavy. I was initially skeptical about these but am loving my all black pair – super comfortable and understated. This brand offers a 30 day trial period, so if you workout in them for a couple weeks and aren’t satisfied, it’s easy as ever to get a refund.
  5. Adidas Crazy Train Pro – If you’re obsessed with the lightness of knit shoes then these super lightweight and breathable adidas are for you.
  6. Altra Women’s HIIT XT – These sticky rubber soles are not playing around. Designed for rope climbing and lateral traction, these weighty kicks will help you beast through your workout.
  7. Reebok CrossFit Speed Field 2 – These are runners up to the Nike Strong Amps and beloved by many. With these you can count on good grips and good ankle support.
  8. Nike Air Zoom Strong 2 – Again, with the velcro strap (seriously, I can’t get enough)! This model has the straps higher up which feels great for folks who appreciate more joint security. I’m also digging the combination of leather and woven fabrics.

Images by HonestlyFIT 

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