The Best Cross Training Shoes 2018 — For Runners, Lifters, and More

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Over the last decade, functional fitness and cross-training style workouts have exploded in popularity. Cross training style workouts can include multiple exercises all in one bout, such as squats, power cleans, deadlifts, box jumps, rope climbs, and much more. These workouts are highly versatile, so they need shoes to complement their various exercises.

On top of cross training style workouts growing in popularity, the shoes that accommodate these workouts have grown, too. Every year, big brand cross-training shoes continue to increase their tech to match the high demands of these workouts. This is great news for those in need of new cross-trainers, but it can also feel tedious finding the perfect pair.

You could consider us cross training sneaker heads. Every time a new model is released, we love to give them a try and put them to the test across the board. The best part of reviewing multiple cross-training shoes is that it provides us with a large overview of what to expect from each shoe.

Every cross-training shoe will come with its own strength and weaknesses, so below we’ve divided our top picks into multiple categories to assist you in finding your best cross training shoe. 

Best Cross-Training Shoes

Best Trainer for Women
Nike Metcon 4
Nike Metcon 4

One of the most stable cross-training shoes with a solid outsole, TPU layered heel, and mesh outer construction.

Best Trainer for Men
Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
Reebok Speed TR Flexweave

This new version of the Reebok Speed TR offers full Flexweave construction and lower heel cup for versatile training.

Widest Trainer
NOBULL Trainers
NOBULL Trainers

A cross-training shoe that utilizes SuperFabric material to provide a supportive and comfortable fit.

Best CrossFit Shoe
Nike Metcon 4
Nike Metcon 4

One of the most stable cross-training shoes with a solid outsole, TPU layered heel, and mesh outer construction.

Best HIIT Shoe
Nike Free x Metcon
Nike Free x Metcon

A cross-training shoe that's designed to match every day needs and meet the demands of exercises like squats, power cleans, and box jumps.

Best Priced Trainer
Reebok Speed TR
Reebok Speed TR

A cost efficient cross-training shoe that's designed for both lifting and running workouts.

Why Cross-Training Shoes?

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

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.

Cross-Training Shoe Construction Features
Cross-Training Shoe Construction Features

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.

Shoe Tech

Another cool cross-training shoe construction perk worth noting is the tech that comes in certain models. For this article, we’ll 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 misoles could also be considered tech.

Cross-Training Shoe Factors to Consider

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. This makes the art of choosing the right cross-training shoe slightly tougher because you have camps of athletes who want shoes for only working out or for everything.

Cross-Training Shoes Day-to-Day Wear
Cross-Training Shoes Day-to-Day Wear

At BarBend, we test all of our cross-training shoes in heavy workouts and day-to-day settings. Since we’re New York City based, all of our shoes receive miles and miles of walking on a weekly basis, so we have good idea of their comfort and support.

For this article, we’ve created a stability:comfort rating system to provide a quick idea of how these shoes will work in each setting. The scores provided for each model range from 1-5 on each characteristic.

  • 1 = Not Stable/Not Comfortable 
  • 5 = Very Stable/Very Comfortable

So if you read a score below that states a shoe is 3:4, then you’re looking at a cross-training shoe with moderate stability under heavy weight and in workouts with a high comfort rating for day-to-day wear.

How We Rated the Shoes

The final section we need to discuss before diving into the categories is how we rated each shoe. The stability:comfort rating system doesn’t make a whole lot of sense unless we provide you with an idea of the factors we considered to come up with our numbers.

Lifting Tests  

For lifting, we performed a ton of different movements in each shoe, but we kept three tests consistent across the board. These tests were performed specifically to assess stability and compression of the shoe’s outsole. In each video, we always list tests we performed and some may be different than others, but these three tests were all performed for each shoe in this review.

(Note that the below poundages vary a bit from tester to tester based on their strength level, especially when testing women’s versus men’s trainers.)

  • Back Squat: 315 lbs
  • Deadlift: 405 lbs
  • Power Clean: 205 lbs

If you find yourself looking at a model below with a high stability rating, then chances are that shoe showed very little sign of compression under these movements.

Nike Metcon 4 Lifting Test
Nike Metcon 4 Lifting Test

Day-to-Day Tests

On a daily basis, we walk roughly 6-12,000 steps commuting to work and throughout our day in the concrete jungle. This equates to about 3-6 daily miles, so on a weekly basis, each cross-training shoe receives about 21-miles of wear on the low end and 35+ miles on the higher end.

A high comfort rating indicates that the cross-training shoe is a joy to wear for long walks and doesn’t cause any form of discomfort from something such as a hard outsole. So, in respects to the stability:comfort rating, a high score means the show was very comfortable for daily use.

Best Reviewed Cross-Trainers for Women

1. Nike Metcon 4

Nike Metcon 4
Nike Metcon 4

One of the most stable cross-training shoes with a solid outsole, TPU layered heel, and mesh outer construction.

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Our favorite cross-training shoe pick for women is the Nike Metcon 4. This model earned our top spot for a variety of reasons, but more so for the fit. The Metcon 4 fits a bit more snug compared to the other cross-training models reviewed and has construction features to match even the heaviest workouts. The narrower fit and low-cut design is what really sealed this shoe as our top pick for women.

  • Lightweight construction with signature Nike Flywire for natural reactivity. 
  • TPU layer in the heel, firm outsole, and additional toe layer for durability purposes.
  • Strong and thick outer material to support long-term durability. 
  • Read our full Nike Metcon 4 Review

Stability:Comfort — 5:3

2. Reebok Speed Her TR

Reebok Speed Her TR
Reebok Speed Her TR
A veratile cross-training shoe that is designed for HIIT work outs and CrossFit style lifts.MoreLess

It’s only fitting that our next cross-trainer for women is the Reebok Speed Her TR. This model is specifically designed for female athletes and offers a solid construction to accompany diverse workouts. For example, there’s a decently firm outsole, which makes this model versatile for both lifting and running-focused workout. Also, there’s guarded toe construction to protect from aggressive toes-to-bars.

  • Versatile option for both weight lifting focused workout and runs. 
  • Forefoot flexgrooves and synthetic outer woven construction for comfort and durability.
  • Lightweight build, along with additional inner heel cup for stability. 
  • Check out the Speed HER TR Review video!

Stability:Comfort — 3:4 

3. Nike Free x Metcon

Nike Free x Metcon
Nike Free x Metcon

A cross-training shoe that's designed to match every day needs and meet the demands of exercises like squats, power cleans, and box jumps.

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The Nike Free x Metcon earns our third pick for women because of its high comfort rating and versatility. This shoe could best be described as a “HIIT” shoe because it’s stable enough to support barbell movements, but comfortable and versatile enough to perform well in a HIIT-style workout classes. Also, this shoe is a solid day-to-day option, so for those not wanting to bring two pairs of shoes to the gym, then this is a good model.

  • Comfortable midsole and outsole with varied firmness through heel and toe.
  • Forefoot flexgrooves, extended medial mid-foot midsole, and mesh outer construction.
  • Plastic heel and mid-foot wrap to provide stability and security. 
  • Check out our Nike Free x Metcon review

Stability:Comfort — 3:5

Best Cross-Training Shoe for Men

1. Reebok Speed TR Flexweave

Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
This new version of the Reebok Speed TR offers full Flexweave construction and lower heel cup for versatile training.MoreLess
 

The Reebok Speed TR Flexweave earned our top spot for men for a couple major reasons. First, the outsole and TPU layer in the heel make it a great option for resisting compression under heavy lifts. Second, the lightweight Flexweave is both durable and versatile for things like rope climbs and running. Also, the Flexweave supports these shoes from getting smelly super quick, which is a major perk for day-to-day wear.

  • Lightweight, durable, and breathable Flexweave outer construction. 
  • Solid TPU layer in the heel and wave-like outsole to increase stability and grip. 
  • Cost efficient option with a price starting around $100.00. 
  • Want more? Read our full Reebok Speed TR Flexweave review!

Stability:Comfort — 4:4

2. Nike Metcon 4

Nike Metcon 4
Nike Metcon 4

One of the most stable cross-training shoes with a solid outsole, TPU layered heel, and mesh outer construction.

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Our second pick for men is the Nike Metcon 4. In reality, this pick made this list for one exact reason and that’s the firmness of this shoe. If you plan to squat, weightlift, or deadlift heavy in these shoes, then these are an awesome bet at resisting compression. The solid TPU layer in the heel makes this cross-training shoe potentially the most stable on the market right now.

  • Very hard outsole and firm, durable TPU layer in the heel. 
  • Strong outer construction with rigid TPU to ensure a durable and tough shoe. 
  • Outsole also provides adequate grip on multiple surfaces. 
  • Read our full Nike Metcon 4 Review

Stability:Comfort — 5:3

3. Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave 

Reebok CrossFit Nano 8
Reebok CrossFit Nano 8
The eigth version of Reebok's Nano model that offers a strong plastic heel cup, 4mm heel-to-toe offset, and Flexweave construction.MoreLess
 

The Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave earns our third spot for men. While this wasn’t our favorite Nano model to date, this shoe has a ton of things going for it. For starters, the Flexweave (which was new in this model) has proven to be lightweight, durable, and breathable. Second, there’s a low offset and firm outsole, so this shoe is a solid bet at being resilient towards compression from workouts.

  • Plastic heel cup and TPU heel to promote foot security and stability.
  • Flexweave material provides a maneuverable and lightweight construction. 
  • Cost efficient model starting around $100.00.
  • Read our full review on the Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave

Stability: Comfort — 4:3

Best Cross-Training Shoes for Flat and Wide Feet

1. NOBULL Trainers

NOBULL Trainers
NOBULL Trainers
A cross-training shoe that utilizes SuperFabric material to provide a supportive and comfortable fit.MoreLess

The NOBULL Trainers earn our top pick for the best cross-training shoe designed for wide or flat feet. These shoes have a slightly wider build when it comes to the mid-foot and forefoot, so if you’re about full toe splay with a wider foot, then these shoes should be a good bet. These are also a good shoe for day-to-day life, so if you want a pair for lifting and walking around comfortable — NOBULL fit the bill.

  • Durable, somewhat breathable, and versatile Superfabric outer construction.
  • Consistent midsole and outsole with wider construction for comfortable fit. 
  • Read our full review on the NOBULL Trainers!

Stability:Comfort — 3:5

NOBULL Trainer
NOBULL Trainer

2. Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave

Reebok CrossFit Nano 8
Reebok CrossFit Nano 8
The eigth version of Reebok's Nano model that offers a strong plastic heel cup, 4mm heel-to-toe offset, and Flexweave construction.MoreLess
 

The Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave earns our second pick for wide feet due to its ability to facilitate toe splay with ease. Reebok made this shoe with power movements in mind and kept the toe box slightly wider on this model compared to other cross-trainers. If you have a wide or flat foot, then you’ll probably find this shoe comfortable.

  • Firm outsole and wide toe box to promote full toe splay when lifting. 
  • Durable outer construction with heel cup to promote full foot stability. 
  • Great shoe for providing a wide base to maintain tripod position.
  • Want more? Read our full Reebok Speed TR Flexweave review!

Stability: Comfort — 4:3

3. Nike TR V8

Nike TR V8
Nike TR V8
A versatile cross-training that is designed to be worn on a daily basis, for light runs, and HIIT style workouts.MoreLess

The Nike Free TR V8 earns our final spot for wide and flat feet due to its increased comfort throughout the mid and forefoot. This model is much more of a day-to-day shoe with a light approach to cross-training. What does that mean? Basically, the midsole and outsole feel similar to a running shoe, but the construction supports cross-training. This shoe is also slightly wider than the other Metcon models, which is why it sits at number three.

  • Comfortable build for both running, class-style workouts, and light lifting.
  • Wider toe box and mid-foot construction to increase comfort for wider feet.
  • Forefoot flexgrooves and extended mid-foot medial midsole. 
  • Check out our full Nike TR V8 Review video!

Stability:Comfort — 2:5

Best Cross-Training Shoe for CrossFit

1. Nike Metcon 4

Nike Metcon 4
Nike Metcon 4

One of the most stable cross-training shoes with a solid outsole, TPU layered heel, and mesh outer construction.

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The Nike Metcon 4 earns out top spot for CrossFit for a few defining reasons. Granted, all of the shoes on this list will work for CrossFit, this model does an excellent job at providing maximal stability and a tight fitting shoe. The outsole of this model is the toughest on the list, so we like how resilient this shoe is to compression. Additionally, this model fits snug, so there’s no block-like feeling when moving through jumps and runs.

  • Firm rubber outsole with additional TPU slip in the heel for firm base.
  • Nike Flywire to promote reactivity and firm double-layer mesh and nylon-esque outer.
  • TPU and cloth outer construction to increase durability for rope climbs. 
  • Read our full Nike Metcon 4 Review

Stability:Comfort — 5:3

2. Reebok Speed TR Flexweave

Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
This new version of the Reebok Speed TR offers full Flexweave construction and lower heel cup for versatile training.MoreLess
 

The Reebok Speed TR Flexweave is our second cross-training shoe pick for CrossFit due to two major reasons. First, this shoe is incredibly light and has awesome breathability, so sweaty workouts won’t cause this shoe to get smelly or dingy anytime quick. Second, the construction features are incredibly similar to the well-liked Reebok Speed TR, thus making it a good option for durability.

  • Lightweight, durable, and breathable Flexweave outer construction.
  • Solid TPU layer in the heel and wave-like outsole to increase stability and grip.
  • Lower cut heel, which increases this shoe’s ability to support lateral movements.
  • Want more? Read our full Reebok Speed TR Flexweave review!

Stability:Comfort — 4:4

3. Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave

Reebok CrossFit Nano 8
Reebok CrossFit Nano 8
The eigth version of Reebok's Nano model that offers a strong plastic heel cup, 4mm heel-to-toe offset, and Flexweave construction.MoreLess
 

Our final pick for CrossFit is the Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave. This model is specifically designed for CrossFit, so it’s only fitting it lands itself on our list. The Nano 8 was designed to promote stability through a minimal offset and tough outsole. In addition, the Flexweave material is both breathable and durable, so things like rope climbs won’t hinder performance or this shoe’s longevity.

  • Flexweave material, which promotes durability, mobility, and breathability.
  • Minimal offset, plastic heel cup, and firm outsole to promote stability under lift.
  • Wider toebox to support toe splay and gripping in compound movements. 
  • Read our full review on the Reebok CrossFit Nano 8 Flexweave

Stability: Comfort — 4:3

Best Cross-Training Shoe for HIIT/Class Workouts

1. Nike Free x Metcon

Nike Free x Metcon
Nike Free x Metcon

A cross-training shoe that's designed to match every day needs and meet the demands of exercises like squats, power cleans, and box jumps.

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The best cross-training shoe for HIIT or class-style workouts is the Nike Free x Metcon. This shoe earned our top spot because it’s both stable and comfortable to wear in workouts that require a lot of heel striking movements like running, jumping, and agility exercises. The outsole is somewhat softer than the other models, so it’s not ideal for maximal lifts, but it fits the bill incredibly well for class workouts.

  • Plastic mid-foot and heel wrap to provide heel support, stability, and security.
  • Flexgrooves on the forefoot and high-density foam and rubber outsole provide comfort.
  • Rubber and foam outsole makes for stable and comfortable option. 
  • Check out our Nike Free x Metcon review

Stability:Comfort — 3:5

2. Reebok Speed TR Flexweave

Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
This new version of the Reebok Speed TR offers full Flexweave construction and lower heel cup for versatile training.MoreLess
 

The Reebok Speed TR Flexweave is finding itself on our list once more due to its impressive construction features. If you want a lightweight shoe that’s designed for versatility, but has a firmer outsole than the Free x Metcon, then this model is your best bet. The Flexweave creates a durable, yet mobile feeling, and the price tag for this model is perfect for the casual class attendee.

  • Lightweight Flexweave outer construction makes this a great shoe for HIIT workouts.
  • Moderately firm outsole can resist compression under weight, but also comfortable to wear during running and jumping workouts. 
  • Want more? Read our full Reebok Speed TR Flexweave review!

Stability:Comfort — 4:4

3. Nike DSX Flyknit 2

Nike DSX Flyknit 2
Nike DSX Flyknit 2

A cross-training shoe that utilizes classic Nike Metcon attributes and ties them with Nike's signature Flyknit material.

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The Nike DSX Flyknit 2 earns our final spot for the best class-focused cross-training shoe. This model is somewhat a mix of standard Nike running shoe and the cross-training focused Metcon model line. If you need a firmer outsole, but want a lightweight breathable shoe, then the DSX Flyknit 2 is a pretty safe bet. This shoe also offers a couple signature Nike shoe tech options, which includes Flywire and Flyknit.

  • Versatile shoe option that offers Nike tech options with Flyknit and Flywire. 
  • Strong TPU heel and firm outsole to resist compression in weight bearing classes. 
  • Sock-like fit with no additional tongue, so the shoe feels slim and comfortable. 
  • Check out our Nike DSX Flyknit 2 Review Video!

Stability:Comfort — 4:3

Best Cross-Training Shoe for the Money

The best cross-training shoes for the money will be models you can wear for at least one full year of serious training. These shoes have a higher turnover rate compared to weightlifting shoes, so they have prices that tend to trend a little lower overall. For example, you have shoes like the Reebok Speed TR that starts around $80.00 (check out our Speed TR Review video), and higher priced shoes like the Nike Metcon 4, which comes in around $130.00.

A good price for cross-training shoe not only includes the total dollar amount, but also how versatile and durable the shoes will be. Our list below accounts for all of these attributes.

Around $80
Reebok Speed TR
Reebok Speed TR

A cost efficient cross-training shoe that's designed for both lifting and running workouts.

Around $85
Nike Free x Metcon
Nike Free x Metcon

A cross-training shoe that's designed to match every day needs and meet the demands of exercises like squats, power cleans, and box jumps.

Around $100
Reebok Speed TR Flexweave
Reebok Speed TR Flexweave

This new version of the Reebok Speed TR offers full Flexweave construction and lower heel cup for versatile training.

Wrapping Up

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 and asks being put upon them. Our advice, create a hierarchy checklist for your top cross-training shoe attributes. What do you value most?

  • Versatility?
  • Durability?
  • Price?
  • Stability?

This type of list can help support your next logical cross-training shoe purchase.

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Jake holds a Master's in Sports Science and a Bachelor's in Exercise Science. Currently, Jake serves as one of the full time writers and editors at BarBend. He's a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and has spoken at state conferences on the topics of writing in the fitness industry and building a brand. As of right now, Jake has published over 1,100 articles related to strength athletes and sports. Articles about powerlifting concepts, advanced strength & conditioning methods, and topics that sit atop a strong science foundation are Jake's bread-and-butter. On top of his personal writing, Jake edits and plans content for 15 writers and strength coaches who come from every strength sport.Prior to BarBend, Jake worked for two years as a strength and conditioning coach for hockey and lacrosse players, and was a writer at the Vitamin Shoppe's corporate office. Jake regularly competes in powerlifting in the 181 lb weight class, and considers himself a weightlifting shoe sneaker head. On the side of writing full time, Jake works as a part-time strength coach and works with clients through his personal business Concrete Athletics in Hoboken and New York City.