From strong-and-stable lifters to light-and-fast treadmill runners, here’s our pick of the best gym shoes to kickstart your new year fitness drive…

If you’re serious about the time you spend in the gym in 2024 – whether you’re pounding the treadmill or picking weights up off the floor – a battered old pair of trainers just aren’t going to cut it. For dynamic, high-intensity movements, you need a pair of the best gym shoes that are lightweight and responsive and can handle quick changes of direction.

By contrast, heavy lifting – particularly squats and deadlifts – calls for a robust, flat-bottomed shoe that grips the ground and allows you to drive through your heels.

Then there are hybrid shoes – the jacks-of-all-trades – which offer stability, grip and lateral support. They may not excel at any one discipline but offer decent performance across the board.

To help you make the best decision for your workout needs, we’ve pulled together the following buyer’s guide, featuring the very best gym shoes for 2024.

How we test the best gym shoes

Our expert kit testers spend at least a month with each pair of gym shoes. Unless specified as purely lifting or running shoes, they would put them through numerous gym workouts to see how they coped with treadmill, cross-training, HIIT, mobility and strength training sessions. They judged each shoe on fit, comfort and performance before awarding it an overall score.

These are the best gym shoes 2024

Gym shoes tend to fall into specialist categories, including treadmill running, HIIT workouts, lifting or cross-training. If you want one pair of gym shoes that’ll boss all these disciplines, we’d recommend the Reebok Nano X3. If you’re a gym-goer who likes to mix up their routines and do a bit of everything – including bigger lifting – you’ll appreciate their versatility.

Other gym shoe recommendations

Best for treadmill running:Featuring in our best running shoes guide, it’s no surprise that the New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 should top the list for treadmills too. Plenty of comfort, cushioning and stability make this a top choice for static running sessions.
Best for HIIT workouts:The Under Armour TriBase Reign 5 tops the bill here, offering the blend of stability and dynamic control you need for HIIT sessions. The impressively breathable upper comes into its own when you turn up the heat too.
Best for heavy lifting:It may not look it or sound it, but the lifting shoe we’re most impressed by is the Vivobarefoot Motus Strength. It provides a surprising stable platform to push off from, with good sidewall protection creating that locked-in feel.
Product shot of New Balance gym shoe

New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13

Best shoes for treadmill running

Men’s Fitness verdict

It’s lighter than its predecessor, with more midsole foam, and although it delivers comfort in spades the 1080 v13 may have dug itself a hole in terms of versatility.
  • Big, cushioned comfort
  • Plush, padded uppers
  • Lacks a bit of energy
  • Not as versatile as some daily trainers
Material:Hypoknit upper, Fresh Foam X midsole, Ndurance rubber outsole
Weight:260g / 9.2oz
Width:Standard, wide, extra wide
Colours:Ginger lemon and arctic grey / true red and silver metallic /
white and coastal blue / black and ginger lemon
Sizes:6½ – 12½

The New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 v13 is described as the best running shoe in its range, and it certainly strikes the ideal balance between cushioning, stability and flexibility on test.

It’s an attractive trainer that comes in five colors and four width options, and features a deep foam midsole, which provided a huge amount of support while we were working out. Plus, the 1080 v13 also has an engineered ‘Hypoknit’ upper, which provided plenty of breathability and stretch, while keeping the shoe’s weight well below 300g.

Lastly, in terms of fit, this shoe is nice and snug. It hugged out feet well and offered plenty of cushioning and support for added stability underfoot.

Pair of Asics Gel-Kayano 29 gym shoes

Asics Gel-Kayano 29

Best shoes for treadmill running

Men’s Fitness verdict

The Asics Gel-Kayano 29 is a sturdy, supportive shoe that’s well suited to long gym sessions and serious treadmill pounding. If ordering online make sure you go half a size up.
  • Sturdy, stable feel
  • Think, grippy sole
  • Collar could be a little comfier around ankles
  • A little small so you may need to size up
Material:Stretch knit upper, FF BLAST™ PLUS midsole, AHARPLUS™ outsole
Colours:10 colours available
Sizes:5 – 15

The Asics Gel-Kayano 29 is a sturdy, highly supportive shoe. There’s plenty of impressive sounding tech – such as FF BLAST PLUS cushioning, LITETRUSS midsole stabilisation and AHARPLUS heel plugs – which all combined to help me feel stable throughout lateral and forward motion.

While testing, that foamy midsole offered impressive shock absorption, helping us deal with the impact when running on treadmills. Plus, there’s a cushioned tongue and thick padding around the ankle, while the sock liner also helps make for a comfy fit.

What’s more, at least 50% of the shoe’s main stretch-knit uppers are made out of recycled materials to reduce carbon emissions and waste. 

Product image of Under Armour TriBase Reign 5

Under Armour TriBase Reign 5

Best shoes for HIIT workouts

Men’s Fitness verdict

Combining a lightweight and breathable upper with a strong and grippy rubber build under the toe box, this shoe provides a solid base and powerful floor grip, making it well suited to heavy lifting.
  • Solid and sturdy
  • Great all-rounder
  • Thick midsole means you don’t feel close to the ground
  • Heel area could be comfier
Material:Mesh upper, Micro G™ foam midsole, UA TriBase™ outsole
Colours:7 colours available
Sizes:6 – 14

The Under Armour TriBase Reign 5 is a solid, versatile trainer, offering stability during various cardio and weight exercises.

The Reign 5 has a durable base, a sock-like wrap-around upper and a thick, blocky midsole that provides plenty of support. We also found it to be a highly breathable shoe, with a layered mesh material that stopped out feet from getting too sweaty during intense workouts.

The Reign 5 is designed to maximise ground contact while promoting natural motion. On test, this shoe certainly provided a good blend of stability and movement. 

Lastly, we liked the strong rubber build under the toe box, which offered a solid base and powerful floor grip – helpful during weight lifting and mixed workouts. If you’re incorporating heavier weights alongside your aerobic work, this might just be the ideal gym shoe for you.

Reebok Nano X3 product image

Reebok Nano X3

Best shoes for cross-training

Men’s Fitness verdict

These stylish and comfy shoes are stable and secure, able to handle multiple movements as well as the strain put on by heavy lifting. A quality all-rounder and some of the best we’ve tested.
  • Comfortable, with plenty of cushioning
  • Stylish design
  • Laces a little short
  • All-rounder rather than specialist design
Material:Flexweave™ knit upper, Floatride Energy Foam™ midsole,
glow-in-the-dark rubber outsole
Colours:6 colours available
Sizes:4 – 13

The Reebok Nano X3 is a superb all-around gym shoe, and arguably the most versatile trainer on this list. Firstly, it features excellent lateral support, plus good grip and traction from the shoe’s rubber outsole.

In testing, we found that the Nano X3 can also handle multiple movements, as well as the strain put on it by heavy lifting, making it perfect for cross-training. Its heel also has a good spring to it. Plus, its breathable upper material kept my feet from becoming too hot and stuffy.

If you’re looking for a quality all-rounder that can handle the variety of exercises included in a multi-format routine, you can’t go wrong with the Reebok Nano X3. And with six attractive colour schemes, it also holds its own away from the gym as well.

Pair of Nike Metcon 8 gym shoes

Nike Metcon 8

Best shoes for heavy lifting

Men’s Fitness verdict

The Nike Metcon 8 isn’t an out-and-out weight lifting shoe, but its wide, thick heel and solid feel mean it’s not far off…
  • Stable and supportive
  • Lace lock strap is a practical addition
  • A little tight around the ankles
  • Not specialist lifting shoes
Material:Mesh upper with synthetic overlays, Nike React Foam midsole, rubber outsole
Colours:6 colours available
Sizes:5½ – 15

The Nike Metcon 8 provides plenty of stability and support during heavy lifting. But we also found it was versatile enough to allow you to perform a more mixed set of exercises.

In testing, its wide, thick heel provided a strong base for deadlifts and squats, giving the shoe a solid feel with plenty of protection.

The foam midsole gave a cushioned, springy base and the shoe’s rubber tread provided ample grip. Plus, the uppers are fairly light, creating a good balance between sturdiness, flexibility and relatively light weight.

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength

Vivobarefoot Motus Strength

Best shoes for heavy lifting

Men’s Fitness verdict

Featuring the brand’s usual wide toe box, ultra-thin soles and a flexible upper for a barefoot feel, these flat and grippy shoes are ideal for all manner of weight-lifting drills.
  • Wide, flat base is perfect for heavy weight lifting
  • Comfortable sock-like fit
  • Made from recycled materials
  • Ultra-minimalist design won’t be cushioned enough for some
Material:Recycled polyester upper, plastic-free laces
Colours:4 colours available
Sizes:6.5 – 14.5 (US) / 6 – 14 (UK)

Vivobarefoot does things a little differently: creating feet-shaped shoes, not shoe-shaped ones. The Motus Strength is the brand’s latest barely-there training shoe, with a flat base and minimal cushioning to allow your feet to move as nature intended.

The result is an excellent lifting shoe, with a stable base that allows you to stay stable and exert maximum force with compound lifts like squats and deadlifts. We appreciated the extra ‘sidewall’ protection with the Motus Strength, though, which creates a locked-in feel. There’s also ample grip provided by the 1.5mm outsole luge.

Reebok Legacy Lifter 3 product image

Reebok Legacy Lifter 3

Best shoes for heavy lifting

Men’s Fitness verdict

While these are not suitable for cardio workouts or dynamic strength sessions, if your main priority is a strong, stable base for weightlifting, this is definitely the shoe for you.
  • Specialist weight-lifting shoes
  • Strong, reinforced heel gives plenty of stability
  • Too bulky for anything but heavy lifting
  • Not suitable for more dynamic workouts
Material:Textile upper, TPU heel clip, rubber outsole, midfoot strap
Colours:6 colours available
Sizes:7 – 14

This is an out and out lifter, pure and simple, offering excellent stability and a locked-in feel to keep you gripped to the ground at all times.

That said, the thick, heavy feel of the shoe means it’s not the most comfortable when you’re walking between workout stations (though that’s not an uncommon sacrifice made with specialist weight-lifting trainers). And the bulkiness of the Reebok Legacy Lifter II might not be to everyone’s tastes; they’re just too heavy for a more generalised workout.

However, if you’re gearing up for a day of heavy lifting, you’ll do well to find a better option than this shoe.

Under Armour Flow Dynamic Training Shoe 

Best shoes for hybrid training

Men’s Fitness verdict

Best suited to dynamic HIIT workouts and mixed-drill gym classes, this shoe is a versatile all-rounder offering a comfortable fit alongside a durable and grippy sole.
  • Great versatility
  • Responsive enough for short runs
  • Comfortable hugging fit
  • Lacks stability for heavier lifts
  • No protection for rope climbs
Material:UA Intelliknit upper, Flow midsole
Colours:Black, grey mist, downpour grey, gilded yellow
Sizes:6 – 13

It’s hard to find a shoe that’ll support strength efforts and cardio sessions, yet the Flow Dynamic manages to offer the best of both worlds. Unlike some of the other shoes on test, it may not have the solidity to support heavy lifting, but it’ll treat your feet right through most strength sessions, as well as plyometrics, HIIT, sled pulls and and hour-long runs on the treadmill or tarmac.

It manages to do this with a Flow foam midsole that’s firmer than most super foams. It gives much needed rigidity but keeps weight to a respectable 9oz / 255g. Plus, it features the same rubberless sole as UA’s Velociti shoes, tapping into the company’s running DNA.

Under Armour SlipSpeed review

Under Armour SlipSpeed

Best shoes for hybrid training

Men’s Fitness verdict

With a unique collapsible heel, which allows you to instantly transition from locked-in performance to slip-on recovery mode, this is versatile shoe is a capable all-rounder. Fit could be better.
  • Great versatility
  • Unique collapsible heel
  • Unique fit feels a bit fussy
  • Foot hold lacks a little security
Material:UA Flow cushioning, breathable mesh uppers, Iso-Chill padded interior
Colours:Black, white, red, yellow
Sizes:6 – 12

The Under Armour SlipSpeed is an innovative gym shoe that switches effortlessly from beast mode to recovery mode just with a flick of its ‘crushable’ heel. In training mode, we found it to be a capable all-rounder, handling treadmill runs, aerobic sessions and even strength training.

It may not excel at any of these, but its Flow foam is durable and grippy, reinforced mesh uppers are breathable and the Iso-Chill interior enhances comfort. Pop the heel down and – hey presto – you have a Croc-like slip-on for post-workout lounging.

What’s the difference between gym shoes and running shoes?

If your main goal at the gym is to pound the treadmill before maybe spending some time on the exercise mats, a classic running shoe will do the job. However, if your workouts extend beyond treadmill running, you’ll want to get more specific.

There are a few key differences between a gym shoe and a running shoe. Think about the type of action that a running shoe is made for: it supports forward-going, heel-to-toe movements, rather than lateral movement or upward propulsion. A higher heel-toe drop provides a running shoe with extra cushioning and shock absorption, protecting the runner’s joints and ligaments from injury.

Heel cushioning is particularly important, as is the use of lightweight mesh materials – a running shoe need to be light and breathable for those long, sweaty runs.

A gym shoe, however, is made with multidirectional and lateral movement in mind. Generally, it’ll have a lower heel-toe drop and a smaller cushion, which gives athletes a better range of motion. Typically, a wider toe box also helps to support quick directional changes.

How to make gym shoes last longer

Now you’re kitted out with some killer kicks, we’re sure you want to make them last as long as possible. While there is only so long a pair of gym shoes can last if you’re using them regularly, there are certain steps you can take to prolong their lifespan.

Firstly, to minimise the build-up of bacteria and odours, it’s always best to wear socks when exercising and to allow your shoes to dry out properly after sweaty sessions. We recommend leaving them outside in the sun to air dry, removing the insoles first if they are particularly damp. Steer clear of the radiator or tumble dryer: the heat can cause damage, warping and premature ageing.

Even with these precautions, it’s likely your shoes will need freshening up from time to time. However, you need to make sure you learn how to wash your gym shoes properly to avoid any damage (spoiler: don’t throw them in the washing machine).

Words: Fred Garratt-Stanley / Kieran Alger

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