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The Best Workout Shoes for Acing Every Kind of Exercise

The Best Workout Sneakers for 2017

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Check out the latest, greatest sneakers in the 2018 Shape Sneaker Awards.

Find the right pair of sneakers and magic happens. You run faster. Lift heavier. Feel more con dent in every move you make. Meet the 12 newest styles, sweat-tested to elevate any workout. (See how these stack up against last year's best workout shoes.)

Photo: Jonathan Kambouris

OCR, Mud Run, & Spartan Race Shoes

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Lacking confidence is no longer a reason to skip any obstacles as you race through a course. A mix of hexagonal and squiggly lugs on the outsole of this trail runner help you power up ropes and over walls. A reinforced arch gives you stability as you walk across logs or run on sand or wet trails, and generous cushioning dampens impact. Tabs on the back let you hook on gaiters if you want to keep your socks dry, but the breathable mesh upper makes for quick draining if they get dunked in muck. (P.S. Here's why you should sign up for an obstacle race, stat.)

Photo: Brooks

Distance Running Shoes

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The arch of this sneaker is detached, and though the seam-free knit is stretchy, it's durable, so it wraps all the way around your midfoot to provide customized support for your arch. One tester said she felt her shoe was hugging her foot during a six-mile run. The midsole is made of tiny pellets fused together that store the energy your foot creates as it hits the ground and then rebound it into your step
to propel you forward (and give you a seriously cushy ride), making long miles feel easier. (Who knows, maybe they'll help you snag the fastest possible marathon time.)

Photo: Adidas

Trail Running Shoes

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This rugged runner gives you incredible traction on everything from slick, wet trails to loose, dusty routes but also moves naturally with your foot so you feel nimble and in control. Flexible rubber wraps around the Achilles tendon like a seatbelt, locking your ankle in place so your foot doesn't wiggle while you power down descents or around sharp turns. You won't really notice tough terrain, thanks to a rock plate in the heel and forefoot. ($130, (These trail running tips will help you crush your trail runs.)

Photo: Merrell

Crossfit Shoes

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It's PR time: A reinforced heel cup helps you feel rooted during heavy lifts and wall balls, and a rubber strip over the toes acts like a buffer between your feet and the floor during burpees and the wall during handstand push-ups. Tiny grippy rubber bumps around the arches make rope climbs less of a challenge. The shoes are light and flexible, so you'll be fleet-footed during 400-meter sprints, and they're minimal enough to slip in and out of the rower without any hassle. ($130, (Try this HIIT rowing workout to put them to the test.)

Photo: Nike

Cross-Training Shoes

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You need this sneaker for the days when you know you're going to the gym but you're not exactly sure what you want to do there. (BTW that doesn't give you the OK to waste time at the gym.) It has enough flex and cushion to get you through a few treadmill miles, is minimal enough to keep you grounded during a strength circuit, and offers sturdy lateral support so you can feel locked down for a class packed with plyometrics. Special rubber under the forefoot and heel eases impact. (FYI: Most testers said they'd have preferred a half size bigger, so consider sizing up.) ($110,

Photo: Inov8

Stylish Sneakers

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We know style is a priority, especially when it comes to a sneaker you plan to wear beyond the gym. And that's a big reason testers loved this model so much. The pattern has personality but isn't too loud, one tester said, and the minimal upper gives the shoes a cool edge. Plus, they're easy to slip in and out of with sockless feet. A tie-less bungee lacing system is as no-fuss as it gets, making them ideal for transitioning from yoga to grabbing a meal with friends. Oh, and blisters? No chance, thanks to the memory-foam cushioning that gives feet constant TLC during long or fast walks. ($65, (Pair with some trendy mesh workout wear that's totally brunch-approved.)

Photo: Skechers

Running Trainers

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If you've got a 5K or 10K on your calendar, here's your sneaker. Its cushioning is 50 percent lighter than the standard EVA foam used in many running shoes, so it's no surprise our testers said they truly felt speedier in these. The molded heel cup adjusts to your heel as you move, giving just the right amount of support and wiggle room. ($180,

Photo: Reebok

Cycling Shoes

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Surprise: You don't need a clip-in to crush your Spin. One tester said she didn't think it was possible to find a sneaker that delivers the same strong, smooth ride as a cycling shoe until she slipped this one into her Spin bike's cage. The square toe box lets your toes splay comfortably, there's no drop from the heel to forefoot (just as in a cycling shoe), and the firm outsole keeps your foot from bending around the pedal, while its rubber tread won't let you slip out—which means faster sprints and heavier climbs. Plus, these are designed to be versatile running shoes, so it's like getting two great sneakers for the price of one. ($120, (Rather clip in? Here are all the best bike shoes for all your cycling needs.)

Photo: Altra

Interval & Racing Shoes

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This racing shoe is lightweight and speedy without sacrificing the cushioning you need for interval workouts. A flexible beam through the center of the outsole gives extra arch support and keeps feet from collapsing inward or rotating outward when you're pounding the pavement or treadmill. ($110, (The perfect tester: this running interval workout that strengthens your whole body.)

Photo: New Balance

Hiking Boots

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Unlike some hiking boots that take a few go-arounds to break in, one tester told us she found these immediately comfortable. The outsole is covered in two types of lugs: A larger center strip works to help you maintain your footing on loose ground, while a less-aggressive outer ring makes you feel solid on slick surfaces. Don't let the leather and suede fool you—they're totally waterproof (and easy to clean). And the sealed-seam inner keeps the elements out, so even if you underestimate a puddle or get caught in the rain, your feet will stay dry. ($140, (Just make sure you grab these other hiking essentials before you head out.)

Photo: Forsake Duck

Aerobics Shoes

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This cross-trainer was made for class-hopping, according to our testers. One tester also said she almost forgot she was wearing shoes at all, but still felt totally protected attacking a heavy bag during a kickboxing class. The snug arch keeps you steady for workouts that involve quick cuts and side stepping, such as dance cardio. These are narrow, so there isn't much room for your foot to move around, which should eliminate any worry of slipping out. ($100,

Photo: Asics

Lifting Shoes

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The slight, 4 mm heel helps you keep your weight back so you can squat low and deadlift heavy while feeling connected to the floor. Stiff plastic wraps around the back of the sneaker, and a rigid sole cuts down on wobbling when you go heavier or do single-leg exercises. Testers said they're minimal enough for other workouts too, especially HIIT sessions. ($130, (ICYMI, lifting heavy is crazy good for you.)

Photo: Reebok


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