Though you may be tempted to buy the best looking sneakers on the market, it is important to know whether that particular shoe model suits your form of exercise. Will you be using your kicks for intense heavy lifting? Serious rope climbing? Stick with specific CrossFit or Olympic shoes. The Reebok Nano 3.0 is a good choice with added protection.
As for me, I run outside almost everyday and hit the gym 3 times a week for basic exercises. Since my primary activity is running, I choose my shoes with that activity in mind. Popular brands want to sell you as many shoes as they can: one pair for fitness, another for cross-fit, another for running in the rain, etc. However, I've come to realize that certain running shoes adapt to almost all body-weight exercises: from air squats to burpees. This particular type of shoe will have great ventilation, flexibility and stability and of course, it'll still be excellent for running.
In this list, I'll be selecting the best running shoes that will help you to sprint or go the distance— but you'll also be able to do box jumps and double-unders with equal ease.
Mizuno Wave Rider 18
These are one of my favorite shoes for both running and multi-form fitness. The workout sneakers' toebox is roomy and its ventilation is superb. What's more, it weighs in at a mere 10.6 oz.
Unlike most premium running shoes, this Mizuno is far from being soft. The usual squishy foam sole is replaced by a firmer substance called the Wave plate, a patented support mechanism that can be found in the midsole. Paired with a 12mm heel to toe drop, this makes the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 an unexpectedly good fit for squats. Its raised heel boosts your posture in the way that modern lifting shoes would. The shoes' lack of compression will give you a consistent platform to push from.
The flexibility on this shoe is better than you'd expect, especially in the forefoot. It will get better with time, as the EVA rubber will become less resistant to bending. You can decide for yourself whether this shoe fits the bill after 100 miles or 200 planks.
With the Mizuno Wave Rider 18 you won't find yourself wobbling during an overhead squat. Who knows— you may also win a marathon with it.
SKORA means "skin" in Polish, thus it comes to no surprise that most SKORA models feel as comfortable as wearing socks. All SKORA models have a no-sew build and an anatomic fit that mimics the natural shape of one's foot— design signatures that make these shoes unique. You'll want to splay your toes in these sneakers.
With 16mm of thickness in the heel and the forefoot, the FIT equally belongs in the gym and on the road. The minimalist cushion will give you plenty of depth, as well as the stability you need for weightlifting. If you're craving for a complete ground connection, just remove the 4mm sock-liner and go sockless when you're wearing these workout sneakers to the gym.
With a glove-like fit and a featherweight quality, the Skora FIT makes tough exercises look easy, fast and precise. Are you ready for one leg jumps?
Nike Free 4.0 Flyknit
Nike promises a more natural ride with its "Free" line. The point is to offer a ground-like feel akin to running barefoot— less is more. While it's a "minimalistic" shoe, what so special about it?
First, it comes with a special Flyknit material. This was selected by the New York Times as one of the best inventions in 2012. There is an engineered "knit" in the upper area of the shoe, which is more or less dense depending the size of one's foot. It blends mobility and support in one sneaker. Finally, the shoes have flex grooves etched into their outsoles, which allows for crazy flexibility and a natural range of motion.
The Nike Free 4.0 is the best of the Free line, according to experts at SoleReview. It sits between the more minimalist Free 3.0 and the more cushioned Free 5.0, affording wearers with a sweet balance of comfort and ground feel.
Brooks Connect 4
Brooks is one of the most popular brands for marathon sneakers. They focus on high-performance running shoes with made with high-quality materials and a solid build. Great running shoes like Brooks should have a place in the gym. My choice goes to their Pure line. It's composed of 3 lightweight, low to the ground shoes: the Connect, Cadence and Flow. Small frame shoes are preferable for the gym because they are lighter and more flexible.
The Connect is the fastest and most responsive of the 3 workout sneakers: it features an outstanding midsole and a seamless upper sole. The forefoot is extremely flexible, which something I value when I'm doing any exercise that requires jumping or plyometrics. The fit is narrow and supportive, thanks to a strapping system called the "Nav-band".
Also worth mentioning is its traction. Several pods in the outsole give you an outstanding grip, regardless of which surface you're working with.
Under Armor Speedform Gemini
Though Under Armour is better known for its apparel, the brand released a shoe that works well for most types of exercises.
Its cushioning is consistent, and on the firmer side. The shoe's midsole foam firms up when you accelerate and it softens up when you decelerate, making transitions smooth and exciting. This shoe is a great asset for HIIT running workouts, where you often need to change gears.
The upper, crafted in a clothing factory, is perforated for increased breathability with no visible seams. The only drawback is its non-removable sockliner, so make sure you buy anti-odour sprays before you slip them on.
New Balance Fresh Foam Zante
The American brand delivers a great lightweight shoe with the Fresh Foam Zante. At a light weight of 8.1 oz and with a low stack height, this shoe will help you run fast. Runners would use it for uptempo workouts to increase speed and endurance.
The midsole is made out of a single soft foam, which increases flexibility while adding just enough softness to the foot strike. The rubber that composes the entire outsole offers outstanding grip and the upper foot is well ventilated. It has an internal smooth sleeve and the tongue is built on top of it – which makes these workout sneakers a perfect fit for sock-less running.
Vibram FiveFingers Bikila EVO
These are the most flexible workout sneakers you can find out there, as your toes can move independently. FiveFingers are synonymous with barefoot running and this Bikila is no exception. It features a minimal 8.5mm of cushioning and the upper feels like a second skin.
Of course, this is not the choice for long-runs on the road but they are perfect for running on the treadmill. The transition can be hard, especially in the beginning, because you're using different foot muscles to compensate for the lack of cushioning and the flat sole. Expect stronger calf muscles and a stronger big toe.
What's your choice for the gym? Do you go with regular trainers or are you peeky about your choice? Let us know in the comments below!
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Cover photo via PumpUp member @rachaelgervais.