You're after a pair of the best cross training shoes. So - where to start?
Typically, what to look for in the best gym trainers will depend on what sport you like. For example, if you're into Crossfit, you'll want to invest in a pair of the best weightlifting shoes - flat, supportive, and stable. If you're a runner, opt fora pair of the best running trainers, which will be designed purely with bounce and return in mind.
The best cross training shoes, on the other hand, should be the perfect hybrid - springy yet supportive, cushioned enough for short cardio bursts mid-workout, and flat enough for deadlifts, too.
Cross training shoes are an ideal investment if you love gym workouts that include both strength and cardio. Think high intensity interval training, or finishing off your set of weight lifting exercises with a short round of intervals on the treadmill.
Let's be real - no one is going to faff around changing shoes between sets, so you need to get a pair that can support you through all of it.
All of this is a lot to demand from one product, but our experts have been testing the best pairs to invest in. Below, Marie Claire's Health and Sustainability editor, Ally Head, writer, and fitness instructor Chloe Gray, and Crossfit athletes Aimee Cringle, and Jess Rosart share their favourites. Don't miss our favourite sustainable trainers, while you're here.
What to consider when looking for the best cross training shoes:
- Stability: remember, you need them to be stable enough to hold your ankles in place while lifting heavy weights and while doing high impact activity.
- Comfort: cross training shoes may be a jack of all trades type product, but that doesn't mean you can't ask for perfection. If you're used to running shoes, cross training shoes may feel a little wide and clown like, and if you're only used to flat soled lifting shoes than they may feel very well cushioned. Over time, they should be comfortable, not rub (no one needs to be fighting blisters while they're carrying their own body weight) and look good.
- Special features: if you, like Campbell, have any particular types of training you love, then make sure your shoe is suited. Whether it's protection on the inner edge for rope climbing, grippy soles for sled pushes or springiness for running mileage, make sure they're tailored to your needs.
5 best cross training shoes: these are the only pairs you need, according to the experts
Best for: An all-rounder
Pros: These shoes are specifically designed to take you from pounding the pavements to hitting a squat PB, with support that mirrors what you need. "The shoes really do offer the right support for both weights and high-intensity movements, like high knees and jump lunges — normally two totally different disciplines that require different support. My feet are also blister free, and they also look great when worn as an every day trainer to the office too," says Ally Head.
Cons: They can come up a little small, particularly if you have wide feet, so you might want to size up half a size or so.
Best for: Weight lifting
Pros: These trainers are worn by CrossFit athletes world-over (including Campbell) because they offer stability, rope guards and a slightly spongy sole for plyometric workouts.
Cons: While they're great for strength training and HIIT, they're not right for running, so if you do want milage to be part of your weekly routine, then you'll need to invest in another pair.
Best for: High intensity interval training
Pros: "These are incredibly comfortable and lightweight which is great when it comes to doing gymnastic movements as well as exercises like box jumps and burpees when you want to feel light on your feet," says Aimee Cringle, who placed 1st in the UK in the 2022 CrossFit Games. A chic design also looks good walking to and from the gym.
Cons: These aren't the most supportive for running. Plus, they aren't stocked in mainstream stores in the UK just yet, but you can shop directly from their site in GBP.
Best for: Circuits
Pros: Jess Rosart loves these because they have a wide toe box that allows you to naturally spread out your toes for stability when lifting and grippy edges and heels for extra steady landings no matter what direction you move in.
Cons: Unisex shoes mean these are quite wide and might not offer the best support for people with slim feet or ankles. Similarly, these are quite flat, so won't be suitable for daily runs.
Best for: Cardio hybrid classes
Pros: A really sturdy sole in a lightweight shoe locks your feet and ankles in place when moving between strength and high impact work. Chloe Gray loves wearing them for a stable base when she's doing high-rep lower body work or grounding herself during upper body day.
Cons: The base might be a bit too thick for low rep weight lifting. That said, they're a great all-rounder, in our opinion.
What are cross training shoes good for?
Good question. Lucy Campbell, a CrossFit athlete who's been crowned the Fittest Woman in the UK, reckons that they're best for mixed or hybrid training sessions.
"My sessions can be a mix of general training which includes a broad range of movements including gymnastics exercises; plyometrics, such as box jumps; weightlifting, including barbells, dumbbells and kettlebells and cardio machines," she shares. "I look for shoes that provide a good amount of stability for when I'm lifting weights, as well as having specific features that support specific parts of my training like rope guards for rope climbs."
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Chloe Gray is a freelance journalist who writes and talks about health, fitness, and wellbeing through a feminist lens. She was part of the launch team for Stylist magazine's fitness brand, Strong Women, and has written for i news, Women's Health, Red magazine, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, and more. She's all about building mental and physical strength, eating delicious food that fuels you well, and making the fitness industry more accessible and enjoyable. She's also a qualified fitness trainer and research nerd, so you can be sure everything you read is backed by proper science.
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