Best Cross-Training Shoes For Agility, CrossFit, And More

Jump high, lift heavy, and sharpen your agility with a new pair of cross-training shoes.

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Over the last decade, functional fitness and cross-training style workouts have exploded in popularity as the benefits of hybrid training have become more apparent. Cross-training can include multiple exercises all in one bout, such as squats, cleans, deadlifts, box jumps, rope climbs, and much more. These workouts can vary dramatically, so wearing shoes that can keep up with the multitude of movements is a must. 

A variety of cross-training shoes have appeared in response to booming demand from athletes and enthusiasts alike. Every year, big brands produce new and improved cross-training and weightlifting shoes, increasing their tech to match the demands of these high intensity workouts. It can be hard to keep track of all the new innovations on top of other gear like lifting straps, belts, and supplements — but more variety and innovation is great news for those in need of new cross-trainers. However, it can also be overwhelming to decide which cross-training shoe is the best for you — we’ve sifted through them all to help guide you to your final decision.

Best Cross-Training  Shoes

Best Cross-Trainers Video Review

Get a first hand look at our list of the best cross-training shoes with our in-depth video review, including sizing, materials, and our favorite construction features. 

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Men

If you’re doing regular weight training, by now you will be well aware of the value of a strong and stable foot. Though it’s difficult to create a shoe that will suit all users looking for a men’s cross-training shoe, we think Reebok did a pretty respectable job with this pick. It’s an all-purpose cross-training shoe that offers a wide toe box and rubber outsole for stability to help you conquer a wide range of exercises with ease.

Reebok Nano X2

The Reebok Nano X2s are an all-purpose cross-training shoe, which means they were designed for multiple forms of exercise — from burpees to weight training, and even sprints. They’re built with Floatride Energy Feel, which provides a responsive feel in the midsole that’s great for stability during exercises like box jumps. The Nano X2s also offer a breathable knit upper for when your CrossFit sessions heat up, and a durable rubber outsole with a lug pattern for traction. The midfoot outsole also features traction for extra grip during rope climbs. You can choose from black or a gray/white combo to customize your look. 

Reebok Nano X2
Reebok Nano X2
Reebok Nano X2

The Reebok Nano X2s are a great, all-around cross-training shoe, designed for multiple forms of exercise (including burpees, weight training, and even sprints). The cushion provides a responsive feel in the midsole that’s ideal for stability.

Who Should Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Athletes looking for a super stable and adaptable shoe for their workouts. 
  • Trainees who want a shoe with extra grip in the midfoot outsole for rope climbs will appreciate the design here.
  • Lifters who want a shoe with a responsive midsole for stability will like the Floatride Energy Feel foam here. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Anyone who is more price conscious. 
  • Folks who run often will want to look for a more lightweight shoe that’s designed for running, and offers less versatility than this one.
  • Athletes who want specific measurements on heel-to-toe drop, as Reebok does not provide this info.

The versatility here is key. The responsive foam in this midsole allows for great stability, while the outsole traction makes these trainers ideal for a wide variety of strength and cardio exercises.

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Women

A great all-around cross-training shoe should be versatile and offer solid stability. The Reebok Nano X2 has a responsive foam insole, great traction, and even comes in two different color options for variety.

Reebok Nano X2

Adaptability is the name of the game when it comes to cross-training. The Reebok Nano X2s offer great support, stability, traction, and breathability to accommodate all your cross-training needs, including squats, lunges, wall balls, box jumps, burpees, and even short sprints. The lug sole pattern on the outsole provides solid grip, which is ideal when athletes are changing direction quickly.

The RopePro feature in the midfoot outsole can also help with rope climbs, if that’s an exercise you implement into your training regimen often. This shoe features a wide toe box, and the upper is a breathable knit fabric that can help keep your feet from overheating during intense sessions. Plus, the Floatride Energy Foam offers a responsive feel and great midsole stability for your strength training. You can buy these in black or a gray/white combo, but they are a bit pricey — though they’re still not the most expensive we’ve seen.

Women's Reebok Nano X2
Women's Reebok Nano X2
Women's Reebok Nano X2

The Reebok Nano X2s offer great support, stability, traction, and breathability to accommodate all your cross training needs. The lug sole pattern on the outsole provides solid grip, and the RopePro feature in the midfoot outsole can also help with rope climbs.

Who Should Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Women who want a strong, versatile shoe for just about any type of training. 
  • Anyone who doesn’t want their toes feeling cramped will like the wide, anatomical toe box here. 
  • Trainees who want a responsive, stable foam insole will appreciate the Floatride Energy Foam here. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Women looking for a shoe dedicated to just running or squatting.
  • Athletes who want a narrower fitting shoe.
  • Anyone on a tight budget can find less expensive cross-trainers out there.

Cross-training is for people of all genders, and the Reebok Nano X2 is a great choice for women looking for a versatile shoe that can help them take on a number of challenging workouts.

Best Cross-Training Shoes for the Money

We know that price is the deciding factor for many when choosing shoes, and we’re sensitive to the fact that not everyone can spend up to $150 without a worry. In the Reebok Nano 9, you can still purchase a truly elite pair of cross-training shoes at a more affordable price point. At the time of writing, these shoes come in between $80 and $105 depending on the retailer.

Reebok Nano 9

Designed to be strong enough for heavy lifting but flexible and light enough for running, Reebok’s 9th version of their popular Nano trainer is a definite crowd-pleaser. Fear not though, as they are still very durable and feature Reebok’s Flexweave for support plus breathability, RopePro for grip on everything from rope climbs to box jumps and lateral movements, and additional cushioning in the forefoot for comfort. The sole is both maneuverable and supportive, making it a solid choice for a number of athletes. 

Reebok Nano 9
Reebok Nano 9
Reebok Nano 9

Reebok's 9th edition of their Nano training shoe incorporates popular design elements of previous models with updated features and a fit that will appeal to most athletes. Flexweave technology supports a sturdy yet breathable shoe with RopePro grip that comes in handy on everything from box jumps to rope climbs. We also appreciate the wide toe box.

Who Should Buy the Reebok Nano 9

  • Athletes who are more budget conscious. 
  • People who prefer a shoe with a lower heel drop. 
  • Lifters who want a lighter weight shoe for more speed work. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Reebok Nano 9

  • Trainees looking for a heavier shoe for squats and deadlifts. 
  • Those who prefer a stiff-soled shoe with less give. 
  • Athletes who want more ankle support during training. 

The Nano 9 is a great multifunctional shoe that is especially attractive for people who enjoy staying light on their feet. At this price, they’re very hard to pass up. 

Best Cross-Training Shoes for CrossFit

Reebok is known for designing shoes specifically for CrossFit, sponsoring the “Reebok CrossFit Games” from 2011 to 2020. After examining and testing the latest version of the Nano — their flagship cross-training shoe — it’s clear they haven’t been sitting on their laurels.

Reebok Nano X2

Newly upgraded, the X2 features an improved TPU heel clip for stability while lifting, a new Flexweave upper that is more breathable and a midfoot insert of Reebok’s Floatride material to give greater flexibility when running. Alongside these upgrades are all the classic features you’ve come to expect in a cross-trainer — like RopePro to deal with rope climb friction. Overall, this shoe can handle pretty much any exercise you throw at it, and it comes in three color options: black, white, and gray.

Reebok Nano X2
Reebok Nano X2
Reebok Nano X2

The Reebok Nano X2s are a great, all-around cross-training shoe, designed for multiple forms of exercise (including burpees, weight training, and even sprints). The cushion provides a responsive feel in the midsole that’s ideal for stability.

Who Should Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • People for whom CrossFit is their primary form of training. 
  • Athletes who prefer a wider toe box for toe splay will appreciate the design here.
  • Trainees looking for a durable shoe that will stand up to long workouts week after week. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Though this shoe can be used for quick sprints, athletes who focus on longer runs may want a lighter shoe.
  • People who are more budget conscious. This isn’t the most expensive trainer we’ve seen, but it’s definitely not cheap. 

Reebok continues to improve on the Nano design with each iteration. If you are a CrossFit athlete, the X2 should be high up on your list when thinking about which shoes you want to buy.

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Agility Workouts

Agility is a skill that can be overlooked in strength training, but immediately translates to both competition and real life scenarios. The Nike Metcon 7 is our favorite cross-training shoe for prioritizing this aspect of cross-training. 

Nike Metcon 7

Nike has taken their popular Metcon training shoe and shaved down the weight, creating a shoe that still boasts features for rope climbs, handstand push-ups, and heavy lifts, just a bit more streamlined and, well, lighter. We love Nike’s Metcon models for squats and even Olympic lifts, but the sleek and light design means they’re no slouch when it comes to speed work. The soles maintain a nice level of stability, too, thanks to their firmer outer layer, balancing out the softer foam inner core. Plus, there’s a rubber wrap along the arch, as well, that can provide great rope climb grip.

Nike Metcon 7
Nike Metcon 7
Nike Metcon 7

This light design is ideal for speed work. The soles maintain a nice level of stability, thanks to their firmer outer layer, which balances out the softer foam inner core. There’s also a rubber wrap along the arch that can provide great rope climb grip.

Who Should Buy the Nike Metcon 7

  • Athletes looking for a responsive, lightweight shoe. 
  • Anyone interested in training in a shoe that has a more natural foot feel. Grooves in the sole here allow the forefoot to bend more naturally. 
  • Trainees who want a wide heel for stability will like the wide flat heel with an inner plate here.

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Nike Metcon 7

  • Lifters looking for a shoe with less cushioning should look elsewhere. 
  • People looking for a shoe that places more emphasis on durability.

With the lightness and flexibility we’ve come to expect from each variation on Nike’s Metcons, these shoes are just the ticket when you need fast, agile feet.

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Squats

When in doubt, squat. You’ll be hard pressed to find a weight training program that doesn’t include some kind of squatting, and that includes cross-training workouts. If you’re going to be doing something frequently, it pays to try and optimize, and shoes should certainly be part of the equation.

Nike Metcon 6

Here’s the thing about squats: You need a shoe that can keep you stable and won’t give during your lift. These shoes offer versatile cushioning throughout the sole, which means the cushioning is firmer under the heel for security during squats — this can help create a stable base for any type of squats (even 20-rep squat sessions). The wide heel and removable Hyperlift insert can also help with this. In addition, the Metcon 6 has a dual-density drop-in midsole, abrasion-resistant haptic topcoat, and rubber tread on the outsole and along the side of the shoe for directional traction on the ground during lifts. This shoe only comes in black though, so if you want multiple color options (or even just a white option), this pick may not be for you. 

Nike Metcon 6
Nike Metcon 6
Nike Metcon 6

The Nike Metcon 6 gets an upgrade and some new color styles. With a super solid heel and outsole that won't compress too much, these shoes are perfect for heavy lifting days. 

Who Should Buy the Nike Metcon 6

  • Athletes looking to push up their squat numbers will like the support here from the firm heel cushioning. 
  • Lifters who are looking for rubber tread on the outsole to help with traction. 
  • If you’re looking for a wider heel to help with stability during squats, look no further. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Nike Metcon 6

  • People who prefer a dedicated, traditional weightlifting shoe (this is a cross-trainer, after all). 
  • Trainees with very narrow feet may not feel secure in this design. 
  • Anyone who’s looking for a more versatile cross-trainer can find an option on this list that isn’t as focused on heavily weighted workouts. 

We’re going to sound like a broken record, but a supportive, stable heel is just what you want when you’re trying to up your squat game — these shoes should give you the extra confidence you need coming out the bottom of a heavy squat.

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Stability

Cross-training means you’ll undergo a variety of movements, often quickly changing from one movement or exercise pattern to a completely different one at the drop of a hat. A strong, stable, dependable base is the last thing you want to be concerned about when trying to shave seconds off a WOD time or lift a PR.

Nike Metcon 7

The Metcon 7 has a host of features that you want in a stable cross-training shoe. Flywire Cables combine with the laces to secure your midfoot. You’ll also find a wide flat heel with an inner plate, which can help distribute your weight evenly, allowing for greater stability. The rubber wrap on the arch can provide great grip during rope climbs, and the soles have a firm outer layer with a soft foam inner core. Though lightweight, these shoes were made to support strength and agility workouts alike by providing the proper base, grip, and security. Plus, these come in eight different colors for variety.

Nike Metcon 7
Nike Metcon 7
Nike Metcon 7

This light design is ideal for speed work. The soles maintain a nice level of stability, thanks to their firmer outer layer, which balances out the softer foam inner core. There’s also a rubber wrap along the arch that can provide great rope climb grip.

Who Should Buy the Nike Metcon 7

  • Athletes looking for a shoe that can tackle just about any cross-training workout with a stable base.
  • Athletes who want to feel grounded will appreciate the wide flat heel and even weight distribution here. 
  • People looking for a lightweight mesh shoe with a soft foam inner core. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Nike Metcon 7

  • Lifters who squat very, very heavy. You’ll want a shoe with firmer heel support. 
  • Shoppers with a tight budget. Though this shoe isn’t the most expensive on this list, it still has a pretty hefty price tag.

The latest iteration of Reebok’s Metcon line is incredibly solid all around. Though fairly lightweight, the Metcon 7’s offer a wide heel for stability and help distribute your weight evenly, providing the solid base you need for your training. 

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Deadlifts

The deadlift is a humbling exercise at the best of times, and having the right shoe as you pull weight from the floor is a must. This pick has a flat outsole for ground contact, as well as a wide toe box. 

Reebok Nano X2

When deadlifting, you want to be close to the ground and stable for the best pulling position. The Reebok Nano X2 fits the bill perfectly here. It features a flat outsole and split outsole construction. Though this split design is meant to allow for versatility, it provides great stability for heavy deadlifts. And the flat outsole throughout the whole foot is great for grounding. These shoes also feature a wide toe box, which provides plenty of room for toe splay during your lifts.

The Reebok Nano X2’s come in both men’s and women’s fits, and two colors: black and white/gray. However, there is something to be said for having a dedicated deadlifting shoe, or even just a good pair of Chucks for your deadlifts, and these cross-trainers may be a bit too versatile for some athletes. 

Reebok Nano X2
Reebok Nano X2
Reebok Nano X2

The Reebok Nano X2s are a great, all-around cross-training shoe, designed for multiple forms of exercise (including burpees, weight training, and even sprints). The cushion provides a responsive feel in the midsole that’s ideal for stability.

Who Should Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Anyone searching for a solid shoe that’s great on and off the deadlift platform.
  • Athletes looking for a shoe with a flat outsole to help with grounding. 
  • Trainees who want a shoe with a wide toe box will appreciate how much room you have for toe splay in these. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Athletes who want a more dedicated deadlift shoe. This is a pretty versatile cross-trainer. 
  • Buyers on a budget. This cross-trainer may be a little out of your price range — especially if you are totally okay with deadlifting in Chucks. 

As far as cross-training shoes go, these are about as good as you can get for deadlifts. They have a flat outsole and a wide toe box, both of which can help root you for those heavy lifts. 

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Jumping

Let’s face it, jumping can be intimidating because there is a much more obvious risk of injury involved. However, if you work your way up gently, there is a lot to be gained, and the Under Armour HOVR Apex 3s are our favorite shoes to do it in.

Under Armour HOVR Apex 3

Compared to many of the other shoes on this list, the Under Armour HOVR Apex 3s are less stiff, with just a bit more give, all while being lightweight. The grippy rubber sole is great for landing those jumps, and UA’s HOVR foam cushioning is a great feature to help ensure comfort on ballistic/explosive movements. The strap construction allows for both forefoot movement and stabilization in the heel.

And while they aren’t going to be as stable as some heavier shoes on this list, they are going to absorb shock really well and shouldn’t weigh you down, which is why they’re ideal for jumping. You can pick up a pair in your favorite of threedifferent colorways — Summit White/Illusion Green, Mod Gray/White, and Black/Halo Gray. 

Under Armour HOVR Apex 3
Under Armour HOVR Apex 3
Under Armour HOVR Apex 3

The grippy rubber sole on this shoe is great for landing jumps, and UA’s HOVR foam cushioning can ensure comfort on explosive movements. The strap construction is ideal for heel stabilization, as well. 

Who Should Buy the Under Armour HOVR Apex 3

  • Athletes who want a shoe with optimal cushioning for jumping movements will like the HOVR foam here. 
  • Trainees looking to include plyometrics in their program will like this lightweight design. 
  • If you’re looking for a lot of different color options, you can buy these shoes in five different colors. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Under Armour HOVR Apex 3

  • People who consistently train with heavy weight will want something with less cushion.
  • Those on a budget may find this pick to be a bit pricey.

Under Armour’s HOVR cushioning is a game changer in terms of comfort and spring for jumping of any description — if you find yourself often implementing jumping exercises into your workout routine, these are a great pair of cross-training shoes to consider. 

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Day-to-Day Wear

GORUCK has certainly built a training shoe with features that hold up after repeated training. But with an extraordinary focus on arch support and adaptability, the Ballistic Trainers also stand out to us for everyday use — truly multifunctional.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

GORUCK has built their trainer based around the idea that the foot actually contains three arches: medial longitudinal, lateral longitudinal, and anterior transverse arch. So they’ve built three different arch supports into the base of their shoe. They’ve also included an 8mm heel-to-toe drop, which they call a “happy medium”. The moderate heel height is as solid for lifting as it is for traversing long distances. Each pair also contains two sets of inserts so wearers can customize their feel.

And when it comes to a shoe for everyday wear, many people want something that can fit in with a number of different outfits (and not just gym clothes). We think the GORUCK Ballistic Trainer is on the more subtle, understated side, with simple color patterns that fit well with a variety of clothes.

GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers
GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

GORUCK's entry into the training shoe market contains a 3-tiered support system, 8mm heel-to-toe drop, and an extra-wide toe box. They're built to be supportive with regular, repeated wear, making them adaptable for long-term use both in and outside the gym. Each pair comes with two inserts — a high density and thinner insert — so wearers can customize their feel or switch between everyday wear and training sessions.

Who Should Buy the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

  • Trainees who want a super comfortable shoe that performs well across all training modalities. 
  • People who prefer significant arch support for walking or running long distances. 
  • Lifters who prefer some heel elevation (8mm in this model).

Who Shouldn’t Buy the GORUCK Ballistic Trainers

  • Shoppers who are more price conscious. 
  • Athletes looking for minimal heel drop on their shoes.
  • Anyone looking for a more minimalist style of shoe. 

Fairly lightweight with a lot of support, these shoes are a great all day choice. It doesn’t hurt that they are still killer in the gym, too.

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Light Runs

Running is a divisive subject. Many people find it tedious and only grudgingly add it into workouts when it’s absolutely necessary. Others love it and find themselves supplementing weight training to benefit their running. If you’re cross-training, then light runs are likely a standard part of your workout. 

NOBULL Ripstop Runner

Humans weren’t supposed to run on concrete. But when you have to, the durable phylon midsole offers high rebound cushioning that can help soften the blow to your legs. In concert with the internal collar padding and removable sockliner, these shoes can keep your foot comfortably in place and help absorb impacts. Outside of that, this shoe has a lug pattern that’s ideal for outdoor and indoor training, and reflective laces in case that training does take you outside at night or early in the morning. It’s worth noting that if you’re looking for a very versatile cross-training shoe, this probably isn’t your best bet — these shoes are definitely meant for those who implement light runs into their workouts often. 

NOBULL Ripstop Runner
NOBULL Ripstop Runner
NOBULL Ripstop Runner

These shoes have a durable phylon midsole with high rebound cushioning that can help soften your landings. The internal collar padding and removable sockliner also help keep your foot in place. And the lug pattern is ideal for both outdoor and indoor training.

Who Should Buy the NOBULL Ripstop Runner

  • Athletes who plan on including more running in their training will like that these shoes were designed for light running. 
  • Shoppers looking for a solid amount of rebound cushioning will appreciate the phylon midsole here.
  • People looking for a training shoe that is also comfortable for day-to-day use. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the NOBULL Ripstop Runner

  • Athletes for whom weightlifting is more of a priority in training should opt for a more versatile cross-trainer or a weightlifting shoe.
  • Anyone who wants a heavier shoe for greater stability. 
  • If you’re on a budget, these shoes are a bit pricey. You can definitely find cheaper options out there. 

Light and breezy, and with great cushioning thanks to the phylon midsole, you’ll find these shoes aren’t going to weigh you down on your runs. There is a small trade off with regards to stability, but unless the bar is bending for your squats, you shouldn’t have a problem.

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Wide Feet

Finding shoes to accommodate wide feet can be a pain. Thankfully within the cross-training niche, you have several good options available as a wider foot can mean a more stable foot, which can ultimately benefit your workouts. Our current favorite for wide feet is the Reebok Nano X2.

Reebok Nano X2

Some of our testers have very wide feet, and some run closer to normal range. The Reebok Nano X2 is among the most popular cross-training shoes for both crowds. This iteration of Reebok’s popular Nano training line features an extra-wide toe box that allows athletes to grip the floor with their toes during running, lifting, and ballistic movements. It’s actually not the widest-set training shoe Reebok has ever made — that would likely be an older iteration of the Nano, which might be hard to find — but it’s added some great additional features while still being accessible to athletes with wide feet. It’s got a roomy feel without fitting too loose, which is a must for shoes that will accompany you on hard training sessions.

Reebok Nano X2
Reebok Nano X2
Reebok Nano X2

The Reebok Nano X2s are a great, all-around cross-training shoe, designed for multiple forms of exercise (including burpees, weight training, and even sprints). The cushion provides a responsive feel in the midsole that’s ideal for stability.

Who Should Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Trainees with a wider foot who need extra space in the midfoot and toe box. 
  • Lifters and athletes who prefer a clean, minimalist design will like these cross-trainers. 
  • Anyone looking for a very comfortable training shoe that can be used day to day. 

Who Shouldn’t Buy the Reebok Nano X2

  • Athletes who prefer a tighter fit for their shoes will want to look elsewhere.
  • Shoppers who are more price conscious and are shopping on a dime. 
  • Weightlifters who want a higher heel or a dedicated weightlifting shoe can find better options. 

Incredibly comfortable and with more room in the mid-foot and toe box, Reebok’s Nano X2 trainer is a solid option if you have wider feet or prefer to have more toe splay generally. 

How We Decide Our Picks

Cross-training shoes may all seem to be similar at first glance, and they certainly all share a similar look, but there are actually many different varieties on the market. Some cross-training shoes may offer more support while others are more flexible. We take their function into consideration, as well as how they’re designed. The design of the shoe includes innovative tech in the shoe’s construction and support features. Last but certainly not least, the price of the shoes has to match their quality. Keep reading for more on how we decide our picks. 

Functionality

You can have the best looking and most innovative technology in the world, but if your shoes aren’t good for cross-training, it’s pointless. A cross-training shoe has to do what it’s advertised to do, and that’s why functionality ranks so highly for us. It also factors into our more specialized selections. Take the best cross-training shoes for deadlifting for example. They should be solid with a nice base of support and not too much give, whereas that’s not exactly what you’d want for a running-focused cross-training shoe. At the end of the day, the shoe has to function as it’s intended to for it to rank highly for us.

Design

We’ll admit there are some really good-looking cross-trainers out there, but design doesn’t just refer to appearance. When we say design, we’re talking about the specific parts of the shoe and how they’re constructed. We also take into consideration any innovative technology that the company uses in developing the shoes to make them more durable or supportive. An example of this would be, say, Flywire technology in the construction of the Nike Metcons, which provides more support without adding weight.

Price

A company can make the best cross-training shoe the world has ever seen, but if it’s priced too out of reach, there won’t be many takers. That’s not to say we won’t rank expensive shoes highly if the price is justified, but the price has to match the quality overall. We try to give a variety of options with picks in different price ranges, so everyone has a solid option to lift in. 

Man Running On Back Road at Dusk
Image via Shutterstock/ sutadimages

We tried to stay within a price range of $85 to $150 because that’s right around where most cross-training shoes will land. Some more expensive shoes were ranked highly despite their higher price point because of their overall quality and technology. Even the most cost-effective shoes are still solid cross-trainers despite lacking some of the features of the more expensive options.

What to Consider Before Buying Cross-Training Shoes

Cross-training shoes really cover a wide range of the market these days. You can find models that cater to nearly every niche type of training you can imagine. This can be overwhelming, but we think there are a few main factors to think about before purchasing your next pair of cross-training shoes. 

Working Out Or Day-to-Day?

Besides construction, another important consideration to think about is how you’ll primarily be wearing the shoes. Cross-training shoes are different from weightlifting shoes because they can be worn for both working out and on a day-to-day basis. Most of the shoes in this list can be worn on a daily basis and pushed to the limit in the gym, but some are better than others. Ultimately, you should consider things like your commute, how often you plan on training and what kind of training you’re doing. 

Durability

Durability is a massive consideration for cross-training shoes. From toe drags to rope climbs to box jumps, your shoes are going to take a beating. The question isn’t if they need to be durable, it’s how durable and for what purpose. Rope climbs are notorious for shredding uppers and midsoles, but box jumps and other dynamic lateral movements can wear down the toe. Consider your workouts and choose accordingly.

Materials 

As we just noted, uppers regularly take a beating in cross-training, so a durable material is vital here, but the choice of materials doesn’t end there. Heels, midsoles, and laces are also key points to consider. More TPU in the heel vs rubber or EVA foam will tend to be more stable and thus better for weightlifting.
Cross Training Shoe Construction and Materials Diagram
Each company also has their own proprietary materials that may be more or less to your liking. Examples here include the Under Armour HOVR foam or Reebok’s Floatride foam. You’ll have to try on shoes or chat to friends who have a pair to get their views on these different materials. 

Your Body

There is a giant rabbit hole we could dive into here, but some basics to consider include: your flexibility, the width of your feet, your foot arches, and your general proprioception. Wide feet obviously aren’t going to work well with a narrow shoe, but the other issues we’ve raised are more complex.

There are pros and cons to having a larger heel on a shoe. It may help with your overhead position, but could come at the expense of proprioception. Likewise, greater arch support can be useful if needed, but isn’t something that everyone wants. Consider the pros and cons, plus shoes you’ve enjoyed in the past, and you should be able to pick the right cross-training shoes for you and your goals.

Your Budget

Looking at the shoes in this list, there isn’t a massive variation in price like with some other shoe categories. At the low end, you can get down to around $80-$90 but the high end really peaks around $130 for a new pair. Our recommendation is to try to choose based on comfort, features, and durability rather than price, as cross-training shoes do need to be able to withstand more wear and tear than a running shoe. That being said, if price really is an issue, older models of many of these shoes can be found on sale and offer many of the benefits we talk about. 

Heel Height and Elevation

Heel height is something that can dramatically influence your training, especially if you’re more into weightlifting. An elevated heel can help support mobility and give a stable base to rely on during training. A planted stable foot is a must for athletes — especially when moving heavy weight — so a more elevated heel can (at times) help a lifter with their training. 

Cross training shoe performance tests

Heel elevation can range from 0 up to 10mm. It may not sound like much, but it can make a serious difference to the way movements feel. Extra heel height can help support a lifter moving weight through positions like squats and snatches, but little to no elevation is typically better for performing deadlifts. It all comes down to optimal posture angles (easier to keep chest tall, knees track properly, etc) and what you feel is most important in your training. 

Design

There are some truly great looking shoes out there these days, and your choice can be influenced by many factors. Some people prefer minimalist design. Others prefer extra flare and features, like the heel clips that minimize friction during handstand push-ups. There’s no right or wrong when it comes to style points, and we’re confident there is plenty of variety in our picks above to help you find your favorite look. 

Cross-Training Shoe Construction Features

Like weightlifting shoes, cross-training shoes are designed with purpose and functionality. If you’re thinking, “cross training shoes are just regular sneakers, but dressed up” hold that thought for one second while we cover some of the construction differences. From there it should be pretty clear why they’re different from your standard sneaker.

Outer Construction

When it comes to outer construction on cross-training shoes, there’s not a one-size-fits-all formula. Each shoe offers its own take on versatility and durability. For example, some shoes from Reebok offer their signature Flexweave™ material, while shoes from Nike have a cloth, nylon, and TPU mix.

The takeaway: Every cross-training shoe’s outer construction is designed to withstand things like rope climbs, jumps, and heavy lifts, so every company will provide their own take on this feature.

Outsole and Midsole

The outsole and midsole of cross-training shoes are different in design because they’re made firmer. The midsole is the layer of material that’s in-between the bottom of the shoe and the outer construction. Most cross-trainers will combine a slightly firmer rubber with some TPU-esque material. In addition, some cross-trainers provide a medial divot that extends upwards to support movements like rope climbs.

The combination of these two construction traits provide these shoes with harder feeling than normal tennis shoes/sneakers, and an outsole that’s pretty resilient to compression under weight, but also somewhat reactive for jumping movements. Basically, these shoes try to capture a firm, yet somewhat forgiving feeling to provide stability and versatility.

Shoe Tech

Another cool cross-training shoe construction perk worth noting is the tech that comes in certain models. For this list, we consider any unique construction characteristic as tech for the shoe itself. Tech could be considered the signature features in shoe’s like the Flyknit and Flywire offered in Nike shoes or the Flexweave in Reebok’s models. Also, things like TPU inserts and extended midsoles could also be considered tech.

Final Word

You could describe Cross-Training shoes as the decathletes of the shoe world. They’re pretty good at everything and work across many modalities. These shoes can save you from buying two — or maybe three — different pairs of specialist shoes, especially if you’re just somebody who wants to stay fit and healthy. If you’re training three to five times per week and mixing it up with cardio and weights, then look no further than the cross-trainers in this list. 

Before impulse buying your next pair of cross-training shoes, it’s probably a good idea to spend some time doing research. These shoes continually get upgraded every year, so their construction is constantly improved for the workouts they’re designed for. Our advice, create a hierarchy checklist for your top cross-training shoe attributes. What do you value most and why? 

Also, be sure to keep an eye out for sales on old models if you’re looking to snag a great deal on your next pair of training shoes. 

FAQs

What are cross-training shoes?

Cross-training shoes are a style of sneaker that are designed to tackle multiple types of workouts, hence the name cross-trainer. Generally, cross-training shoes will tie a blend of running, lifting, and other styles of training shoes all into one model.

What type of shoe is best for CrossFit?

The best cross-trainers for CrossFit will have a firmer midsole and outsole to support weight. In addition, these shoes will also have a durable outer construction to resist abrasions and wear and tear from things like rope climbs and friction from the ground.

What are the most important construction features to look for in cross-trainers?

Like every dedicated training shoe, the most important construction characteristics are dictated by the demands of the activity. For Cross-training shoes, we’d advise considering these five main construction characteristics:

  1. Outsole Material
  2. Midsole Stability
  3. Outer Construction
  4. Heel Cup and Support
  5. Mid-Foot Durability

What's a fair price for cross-trainers?

Cross-training shoe prices can vary pretty greatly. Generally, a newer pair of cross-trainers will cost between $100.00-$130.00 USD. The best price for cross-trainers should be dictated on how often you plan to wear and use them.

If you wear them for all of your training, then investing in a nicer pay is often worth it. For those on a budget, check out older models, as these will generally have better price tags.

What's a good heel-to-toe offset for cross-trainers?

The heel-to-toe offset in cross-trainers can vary pretty greatly, but generally, 2mm-8mm is the norm for these shoes.

  • 0mm — New Balance Minimus
  • 2mm — Under Armour TriBase Reign
  • 4mm — Nike Metcon, NOBULL, Reebok Nano
  • 6mm — Inov-8 F-Lite G 300
  • 8mm — Under Armour HOVR Rise