The 10 Best Shoes for Strength Training of 2022, According to Experts

Nike Free Metcon 4 is the best for all types of training.

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Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Photo: Nike and Adidas

Runners know that their shoes are extremely important to their sport. But the shoes you wear directly affect your strength training too.

Before you go out and purchase the latest trendy shoe that a celebrity (or let's be real an Instagram influencer) is wearing, you want to make sure the athletic shoe you invest in best supports your strength training needs. Think about it: CrossFit, Olympic weightlifting, powerlifting, and even your boot-camp classes all qualify as strength training, but the exercises you're doing radically change what your feet are doing and what you need in a pair of strength training shoes.

The Shape team read reviews, considered workout types and training needs, as well as consulted a physical therapist to create this list of the gym shoes. The Nike Free Metcon 4 claimed our top spot due to its combination of stability and flexibility.

These are the best shoes for strength training.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Nike Free Metcon 4

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Nike

Also available at Dick's Sporting Goods

Why We Like It: The combination of stability and flexibility make this a great choice for all types of training.

It's Worth Noting: This shoe is not available in narrow or wide widths.

This shoe is equal parts stable and flexible, according to Chris Crowthers, a certified trainer and founding instructor at Brrrn in New York City. "The shoe is able to expand in every direction, which allows you to really spread out your foot and get a solid foundation on the floor also while providing some stability for heavy lifting," he says. It's best for CrossFitters or HIIT exercisers who may have some short runs in their program but also need to feel grounded during exercises like thrusters, kettlebell swings, or wallballs. (Related: The Difference Between Muscular Strength and Muscular Endurance and Why You Need Both)

  • Sizes: 5-11.5
  • Colors: 9

Best Budget: Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Converse

Also available at DSW

Why We Like It: This simple shoe has a huge size and color range.

It's Worth Noting: While the ankle support is great, not everyone wants a high top design.

Considered the OG weightlifting shoe, Chuck Taylors offer a thin, flat sole that enables the body to maintain great stability and control through your lifts. "They are about as minimal as shoes get, allowing you to really feel the floor which is great for when you're going for the big lifts — deadlifts, squats, cleans, etc.," says Crowthers.

  • Sizes: 5-20 (standard and wide)
  • Colors: 11

Best If You'd Rather Go Barefoot: Vibram Five Fingers V-Train

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Vibram

Why We Like It: These shoes are the closest you can get to barefoot weightlifting.

It's Worth Noting: The feeling of a space for each toe takes some getting used to.

You may have heard about Arnold Schwarzenegger walking around the gym training barefoot. What better way to get your heel as close to the ground as possible? Having relatively nothing between your foot and the floor allows for increased range of motion in your foot and leg muscles, which might be compromised with a more cushioned shoe. "Most gyms don't allow you to train barefoot, so these will give you a similar feel," assures Grayson Wickham, D.P.T., C.S.C.S., founder of Movement Vault.

  • Sizes: 35-43 (6-10.5)
  • Colors: 5

Best for CrossFit: Reebok Nano X2

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Rogue Fitness

Also available at Amazon

Why We Like It: The energy foam gives this shoe a responsive feel.

It's Worth Noting: You may need to size down in this pair.

The Reebok Nano has earned its rep as the best weightlifting shoe for CrossFit. They're stable enough to keep your weight in your heels during complex movements like the squat clean and snatch, but flexible enough to keep you moving during box jumps, burpees, and rowing. Just note: The shoe has a wider toe box, so you may need to go down half a size.

  • Sizes: 5-11
  • Colors: 4

Best for Light Lifting: Adidas Ultraboost Shoes

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Adidas

Also available at Nordstrom

Why We Like It: This shoe has a huge range of colors available.

It's Worth Noting: These are the exception to the no running shoes rule.

These bad girls are technically categorized as running shoes, but the experts say that they're also extremely durable (especially for a pair that weighs less than a bar of soap). While you won't want to one rep max or lift heavy in these, they're great for anything body- or light-weight like squats and lunges or box jumps and rope slams, says Greer Rothermel, a certified personal trainer with RSP Nutrition. (Related: The Ultimate Guide to Strength Training for Beginners.)

  • Sizes: 5-11
  • Colors: 24

Best for Boot Camp: New Balance Women's Minimus 20 V7 Cross Trainer

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
New Balance

Also available at Amazon

Why We Like It: The super lightweight, minimalist design is great for high rep workouts.

It's Worth Noting: Reviewers mentioned the shoe squeaks when you first start wearing it.

The NB Minimus is another great minimalist option (it only weighs 6 ounces). It has a Vibram outsole that allows you to both feel the floor and maintain the natural stance you need to lift some weights. "It's especially great for workouts that have light-weight, high-rep movements like kettlebell swings and goblet squats," says Crowther.

  • Sizes: 5-12 (standard and wide)
  • Colors: 2

Best for Working On Your Balance: No Bull Women's Trainers

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
No Bull

Why We Like It: These shoes are great for working on stability.

It's Worth Noting: Some reviewers mentioned these ran small and narrow, so you may need to experiment to find your perfect fit.

Thanks to their flat sole, No Bulls are known for being incredibly stable and a great pick for one-legged movements. "Definitely the most fashion-forward and effective shoe I've found for all strength training, HIIT training, and indoor rowing," says Caley Crawford, director of education for Row House, a national boutique rowing studio.

The trainer also features a seamless one-piece construction of SuperFabric®, an extremely durable, breathable and abrasion resistant material. Bonus: They come in all different rises and colors (including camo and tie dye).

  • Sizes: 5-11
  • Colors: 14

Best for Lifting Heavy: Nike Romaleos 4 Weightlifting Shoes

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Nike

Why We Like It: This shoe combines strength and stability in a wide size range.

It's Worth Noting: Unisex sizing means women need to size down.

If lifting heavy is your top priority, but you also want to do the occasional wallball, kettlebell swing, or pistol squat, Morgan Olson, certified trainer and CrossFit Level 2 instructor, recommends these. "The raised heel gives you an improved range of motion to keep your chest upright and spine safe in movements such as clean, jerk, snatch, and high bar back squats," she says. "But once broken in, it molds to your foot, making it super versatile for a shoe with a heel lift."

  • Sizes: 4-19.5
  • Colors: 2

Best for Squats: Reebok WIT Legacy Lifter II

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Reebok

Why We Like It: The design helps you squat deeper and prevents you from rolling forward.

It's Worth Noting: The raised heel is helpful for squats but may be a more dramatic lift than you're used to.

"This shoe is great if you're trying to improve heel placement in your squat. It has a raised heel so you can focus on appropriate hip, knee, and foot placement during the eccentric and concentric phase of the squat," says Adrian Williams, training manager at Tone House in New York City. Also, hello Velcro!

Once you're geared up, check out these barbell exercises every woman should master. And the next time you're lacking motivation just scroll through these 11 major health benefits to lifting heavy. You're welcome.

  • Sizes: 5-11
  • Colors: 4

Best Unisex: Adidas Adipower Weightlifting II Shoe

Best Pairs of Shoes for Strength Training
Adidas

Why We Like It: The lace up and strap combo keeps your feet locked in for heavy lifts.

It's Worth Noting: These are one of the priciest pairs on our list.

Another shoe for the heavy lifter, this shoe has a raised heel that'll give you an improved range of motion to keep your chest upright and spine in a safe position for squat cleans, back squats, and squat snatches, says Olson. "But as stable as they are, they're also light, quick, and snappy." Just note that the sizing for this product is considered "unisex," and women should size down one to one and a half sizes. (Want a full month of strength programming? Try this four-week strength training plan for women.)

  • Sizes: 6-15
  • Colors: 4

How We Selected

We began creating this list of the best shoes for strength training by searching the internet for reviews by gym-goers, both positive and negative. Then we tapped the experts — physical therapists and trainers — to weigh in on their picks for every type of strength training workout. We also asked them for advice on what to look for in each type of shoe. From their insight, we made our final selections and gave further details on what kind of person, or workout, is best for each shoe.

What to Know About Shoes for Strength Training

Types of Strength Training Shoes

When it comes to strength training shoes, there are two key factors: stability and heel lift, says Wickham. "When you're lifting weights, you want to be as stable as possible. The heavier you lift, the more stable you need to be," he says.

Cross-Training Shoes: These are sufficiently stable for most strength training activities — and are typically comfortable enough to be worn on a run and on the cardio machines, too. That means they usually have a slight cushion for support and are also sturdy (without weighing down your feet). "Cross-trainers are a good option for hybrid-style training: If you're rowing and squatting moderate weight, doing burpees and kettlebell swings, and deadlifting moderate weight," says Wickham. They may look similar to running sneakers, but you'll notice that cross-trainers usually have little to no heel lift (the space between the floor and your heel), meaning they're usually completely flat or have a lift of 4mm or less.

Weightlifting Shoes: However, if you're only going to be Olympic lifting, are a competitive powerlifter, are training specifically for muscular strength, or lift heavy very often, you should consider a weightlifting-specific shoe. "There's a reason you won't be able to find a competitive Olympic weightlifter who doesn't wear weightlifting shoes-they're incredibly stable," says Wickham. In part, that's because they're so heavy (which is why they're not great for something like box jumps or burpees). They also have a heel lift of about one or one and a half inches high, says Wickham. "This extra elevation helps people with poor ankle mobility squat deeper," explains Wickham. (That being said, you should be doing ankle mobility and strength work regardless: Here's how weak ankles and ankle mobility affect the rest of your body.)

FAQs

Can you strength train in running shoes?

Short answer: No, you should not be strength training in running sneakers. Running shoes typically have air-infused, bubbly, or springy-like soles, which disrupt your body's center of gravity. This causes loss of stability and balance, which could lead to improper form and injury. Cushioned soles can also wear down after a lot of use. (If you flip your running shoes over right now, one side may be more worn than the other. If you do your strength training in shoes with worn heels, one hip or one side of your body could be lower than the other, again creating an imbalance.)

Why Trust Shape

Gabrielle Kessel is a wellness journalist with a lot of experience writing for health and fitness publications. Shannon Bauer is a Senior Commerce Editor for Shape with seven years experience in the beauty and wellness industry. With a background in fashion design, she is well-versed in the materials and design of sneakers, and as an active individual herself, has tested many of the options on the market. Beyond Bauer's personal knowledge, she completed research on all of the products, read reviews, considered the various needs, and consulted experts to create this list. We enlisted the help of physical therapists and personal trainers to get insight into each of these shoes as well as how to shop for shoes for strength training.

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