GETTING a pair of the best gym trainers can transform your workouts.
Whether you're lifting weights, running on treadmills or throwing yourself around a Zumba studio, the right footwear can make all the difference.
How do I choose gym trainers?
It's worth considering that the perfect pair of gym trainers varies from person to person.
Your planned usage, weight and even running style should all factor into your decision.
And there's other factors, such as fit, drop (the difference in height between the heel and the toe of the shoe) and cushioning, to consider before you spend your cash.
We've looked around the web, as well as testing a few pairs ourselves, for the top-rated trainers for different uses to give you some inspiration.
The best gym shoes for running
If you like to pound out long sessions on the treadmill at your local gym, you're going to want a decent pair of running trainers.
These will usually differ from standard workout trainers as they'll have larger soles and heels to provide you with extra cushioning.
Some models will be super lightweight, to help you expend less energy as you run, but bear in mind that lightweight trainers are likely to have less padding.
If you suffer from impact injuries, such as runner's knee, you might want to invest in some cushioned trainers to help you stay injury free.
New Balance Fresh Foam
- Men's Fresh Foam 1080v11, £135 from New Balance – buy here
- Women's Fresh Foam 1080v11, £135 from New Balance – buy here
Not only are New Balance's Fresh Foam trainers a favourite of reviewers and users, we think they look really unique for a pair of performance gym shoes.
They're available for men and women and prices are around £135, but you're paying for serious comfort with mid-sole cushioning and a bootie upper that supports your foot. Plus, they're nice to look at.
Saucony Chicago Endorphin Speed 2
- Chicago Endorphin Speed 2 (women), £155 from Saucony – buy here
- Chicago Endorphin Speed 2 (men), £155 from Saucony – buy here
Saucony specialises in making running shoes that have unparalleled padding to help take some of the impact out of your run.
So if you suffer from sore knees when you run, these could be the gym shoes for your treadmill sessions.
Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit
- Women's Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit, £164.95 from Nike – buy here
- Men's Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit, £164.95 from Nike – buy here
Nike has a wide array of running trainers, but the new Nike ZoomX Invincible Run Flyknit are perfect for working out both on and off the treadmill.
Cushioning at the front of the foot and the heel should help take the sting out of your strike – even when sprinting hard.
These apparently have "the softest, most responsibe rides" of all their styles.
Best all-round gym shoes
If you really like to mix it up in the gym, you'll need some versatile footwear.
All-rounders are suitable for running short bursts, lifting weights and taking part in classes from HIIT to Zumba.
This Nike Varsity Compete is loved by its users for being extremely tough as well as providing excellent traction.
Nike bill it as a trainer for lifting weights, agility drills and explosive movements, which should get you through any workout you choose to throw at it.
Men's Nike Renew Retaliation
- Men's Nike Renew Retaliation TR 3, £69.95 from Nike – buy here
Soft, springy and secure, the Nike Renew Retailiation TR 3 will work just as well for running as it will for weight lifting.
At less than £70, they're much cheaper than Nike's other trainers but just as great quality.
And they go up to a size 14, which is a rarity.
Women's adidas Alphatorsion Shoes
- Women's Alphatorsion Shoes, £85 from adidas – buy here
While the Alphatorsion shoes from Adidas might look like a running style on the surface, they can handle a variety of gym activities off of the treadmill too.
Adidas claims that the shoes are designed for "quick cuts and multilateral moves", both in and outside, and it’s easy to see that they’ll soon become a firm favourite.
The bounce midsole cushioning is simply made for high-intensity sweat-athons – be it when pounding the treadmill or mixing things up in a HIIT class.
- adidas Ultraboost, £140 from Office – buy here
They might have debuted in 2015, but six years later, they're still a firm favourite for their lightweight comfort.
Made from recycled material in partnership with Parley Ocean Plastic, these trainers have a sock-like support with primeknit uppers.
As these unisex trainers are white, they'll go with your whole gym-drobe too.
Best gym shoes for weightlifting
Powerlifters have different requirements in their footwear compared to runners.
While running shoes will have a bit of flex in the heel to absorb impacts, weightlifting shoes will have less flexible soles to keep you stable mid-lift.
Weightlifting shoes will also generally have additional straps/laces across the top to keep your foot stable as well as an elevated heel platform, which some lifters prefer, (although a need for an elevated heel changes from person to person).
adidas Power Perfect 3 Weightlifting Shoes,
- Power Perfect 3 Weightlifting Shoes, £110 from adidas – buy here
adidas does a good job with gym trainers and hundreds of happy customers have praised the Power Perfect 3 Weightlifting for its unrivalled stability along with its good looks.
You can buy these in white or black and they're suitable for both men and women alike
Reebok Legacy Lifter II
- Reebok Legacy Lifter II (men), £150 from Reebok – buy here
- Reebok Legacy Lifter II (women), £150 from Reebok – buy here
Reebok also has a great range of weightlifting-specific shoes, and its Legacy Lifter IIs are easily the best of the bunch – although expect to pay a premium price for them.
The textile upper keeps things breathable up top, but the most important feature is what lies beneath.
A raised heel helps with your stability throughout your lift and a rubber outsole ensures you stay gripped to the floor.
While they might seem expensive, can you put a price on upping your lifting game?
Nike Savaleos Weightlifting Shoe
- Nike Savaleos Weightlifting Shoe, £109.95 from Nike – buy here
No other trainer quite straps your foot in as securely as the Nike Savaleos Weightlifting Shoe.
From the rigid midsole lifting the heel of your foot, to the wide base which allows your feet to feel stable at all times, it's a winner for someone who heads to the gym just for the weights.
The see-through layer on the base, contrasting strap and Nike swoosh all come together to create a pretty good looking shoe too.
Best gym shoes for Crossfit
Crossfit requires do-it-all footwear that's just as good on the run as it is tossing sandbags in the air, jumping over hurdles and even scrambling up walls.
As such, Crossfit gym shoes need to provide support to the foot when lifting weights, but also to have some cushioning in the sole so you can run a mix of distances in comfort.
Reebok Nano X1
- Reebok Nano X1, £100 from Reebok – buy here
Ranging from size five all the way up to size 13, these Reebok Nano X1s are for cross fitters of all genders. And there are 18 colours available to choose from.
Cut with the brand's Flexweave® knit, these trainers are lightweight, equipped with cushioning that works with your foot.
Among the hundreds of reviews on the Reebok site, one says it all, "No better allrounder cross-fit shoe available, suits all workouts."
Nike Metcon 5
- Nike Metcon 5 (mens), £114.95 from Nike – buy here
- Nike Metcon 5 (womens), £114.95 from Nike – buy here
Reebok isn’t the only brand with a Crossfit offering though, and Nike’s Metcon 5s are a solid bet if you want to look elsewhere.
The shoes are stable when lifting, responsive for running drills and grippy during sled pulls, making them an ideal all-rounder for all your Crossfit needs.
Available in both men’s and women’s designs, each has an array of colours to suit your personality – or you can put on your designer hat with a fully customised colourway.
UA TriBase™ Reign 3 Training Shoes
- Men's UA TriBase™ Reign 3 Training Shoes, £105 from Under Armour – buy here
- Women's UA TriBase™ Reign 3 Training Shoes, now £73.97 from Under Armour – buy here
The UA TriBase™ tech of these trainers by Under Armour apparently maximises your foot's floor contact which creates a stable base, whilst also giving your foot the flexibility it needs.
Packed with great features, these trainers have a foam midsole, rubber build under the toe box for floor grip, an egineered mesh upper and a knit bootie construction for support. Phew.
Best barefoot gym shoes
If you prefer lightweight, comfy trainers most then you should check out barefoot styles. They make you feel like you're running, well, barefoot.
From Vivobarefoot and Merrell, to Inov-8 and Xero, there are multiple brands which specialise in this area, offering tons of different designs.
Vivobarefoot Geo Racer Knit Womens
- Geo Racer Mens, £115 from Vivobarefoot – buy here
- Geo Racer Knit Womens, £130 from Vivobarefoot – buy here
The Geo Racer trainers by Vivobarefoot aren't like much else on the market.
Sporting an incredibly thin sole (3mm), these shoes offer minimal padding between your feet and the road, which supposedly will help you build up the supporting muscles in your feet and lower legs.
It's advised that you don't run for extended periods in these to begin with as your legs will be more used to padded running trainers. But as they're grippy, we'd happily recommend them for HIIT classes or similar.
Inov-8 Bare-XF 210 V2
- Bare-XF 210 V2 (men’s), £120 from Inov-8 – buy here
- Bare-XF 210 V2 (women’s), £120 from Inov-8 – buy here
Added protection and stability make this barefoot shoe an ideal trainer for all workouts. While Vivobarefoot only makes barefoot running shoes, a number of other brands have shoes that offer a similar design.
The Bare XF 210 V2 by activewear specialists Inov 8 might not have the most catchy name, but it too combines a zero drop and 3mm sole to leave the wearer as close to barefoot without going full hobbit.
As well as being great for running, it features special protection for climbing ropes and a stable platform for weight lifting.
Merrell Move Glove
- Men's Move Glove, £90 from Merrell – buy here
- Women's Move Glove, £90 from Merrell – buy here
We can always count on Merrell for quality footwear that makes you want to lead an active lifestyle, if you don't already.
Their barefoot range is impressive, with the Move Glove design being a firm favourite.
They're equipped with an integrated footbed, energy-activated cushioning, Vibram® Megagrip® and a stretch collar that makes them easy to put on and take off.
Are Converse appropriate for the gym?
We wouldn't recommend wearing Converse to the gym.
Canvas trainers aren't going to offer you a lot a support, making dynamic exercises such as burpees more difficult.
The soles on Converse trainers tend to be pretty heavy, which is not a good match for running.
And you're likely to get a much snugger fit in a pair of decent gym shoes, which will reduce the chance you'll chafe your skin and wind up with a foot covered in blisters.
Can I wear running shoes to the gym?
Running shoes are fine for plenty of people to wear to the gym, although you might find if you're lifting heavy weights (particularly squats, deadlifts and Olympic lifts) that you'd prefer shoes with slight less spongy soles.
Running shoes tend to have a fair bit of give in them, which may feel a little unstable when you're lifting heavy weights.
Also, if you're taking part in classes that involve sprints (HIIT) and/or quick changes of direction (Zumba), you might prefer some more low profile shoes, such as the Reebok Nano 9s.
In our experience, the thinner soles make it easier to change direction smoothly without rolling an ankle.
Enjoyed our roundup of the best gym trainers? Then you may also like our selection of the best gym leggings on the market.
We've created Sun Selects so you could find the best items when shopping around the web.
If you want to check more of our sport-related recommendations, visit Sun Selects' health and fitness page.
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