Getting a pair of new gym shoes is the classic purchase dilemma. If you’re hitting the gym for weight training, you tend to spend some time on the treadmill too. So which type of shoe do you buy – one which is running oriented or a shoe designed specifically for training or lifting?
Buying a pure-play training shoe might offer the stability you need, but could prove clunky during runs. In the same vein, a soft running shoe might be more comfortable, but could lack the level of support required for weight training sessions.
That said, there’s always a middle ground for everything, and that’s what this guide is about. We’ll help you find a shoe which delivers all-around performance in the gym. The following is our selection criteria; this applies to the shoes on the list in varying degrees. Since our list is not exhaustive, you can also apply it to other shoes not mentioned here:
1. The shoe should have a minimum heel drop of 6 mm. When weight training, the higher the drop/lift (10-12 mm), the better it is.
2. A firm and stable midsole with a full ground contact outsole: Have you seen a professional powerlifting shoe? It is super-firm with zero roll and a full contact outsole. This is the reason why casual sneakers like the Chuck Taylor, Vans, and skate shoes perform so well in the gym. Since we have to consider running too, we’ll tone down the hardness aspect a bit, but still stick to stable shoes.
For the same reasons, shoes with a heel Air Bag (Nike) or adidas Boost are excluded. Besides, treadmill running requires a firmer shoe than road running. The general thumb rule here is: heavier the loading weight, firmer the shoe.
If you’re lifting super heavy – say 110 kg/250 lbs+ free squats or 40 kg/100 lbs standing barbell/dumbells curls, then disregard this list and get a proper (firm) training or lifting shoe instead.
3. Good forefoot plant and outsole grip: The shoe should grip well; a few exercises require you to be on the ball of your foot. For example: lunges, leg press, or calf raises. The forefoot should be reasonably flexible too.
4. Decent cushioning: Needed for running on the treadmill, while considering points #1 to #3.
Here is solereview’s pick of ten best shoes for gym and weight training, sorted alphabetically:
|BRAND/MODEL||Cushioning feel||CHECK PRICE|
|Asics Gel-DS Trainer 22||Firm||Amazon|
|Brooks Ghost 9||Medium soft||Amazon|
|Brooks Transcend 4||Medium soft||Amazon|
|Mizuno Wave Rider 20||Medium soft||Amazon|
|New Balance Vazee Pace V2||Firm||Amazon|
|Nike Free RN 2017||Medium soft||Amazon|
|Nike Zoom Elite 9||Firm||Amazon|
|Nike Zoom Structure 20||Firm||Amazon|
|Saucony Guide 10||Firm||Amazon|
|Underarmour Speedform Gemini 3||Medium soft||Amazon|
1) Asics DS-Trainer 22
Asics’s lightweight trainer has an excellent forefoot grip with good stability manners. Its Flytefoam midsole is supportive while providing enough cushioning for those treadmill runs.
If you’re not a fan of the medial post which the DS-Trainer comes equipped with, the neutral Dynaflyte is a suitable alternative.
2) Brooks Ghost 9
If you like a cushioned shoe to be your gym companion, the Brooks Ghost 9 is it. The upper has a plush fit and feel, and the dual-density midsole offers a lot of cushioning. And yet, it is very supportive for a neutral shoe.
And what if you rather have the Glycerin 14 instead? Go right ahead – no problem with that one either.
3) Brooks Transcend 4
This shoe has the widest outsole footprint of all shoes on this list. That makes the shoe feel very planted while being well cushioned.
This is a couple of levels above the Brooks Ghost 9 when it comes to cushioning and support.
4) Mizuno Wave Rider 20
Most Mizuno shoes are supportive, and the Wave Rider 20 is of the same mold. A hard plastic ‘Wave’ plate adds an element of stability otherwise not found in neutral shoes, and the flared forefoot delivers excellent support characteristics. And yes, even the Inspire 13 will do.
5) New Balance Vazee Pace V2
The Vazee’s firm ride makes it suitable both for weight training and treadmill running. There isn’t any fancy tech on the Vazee Pace, just a supportive midsole hewn out of single density foam, and a no-nonsense upper.
The softer Zante will also do, as long your weight training sessions do not involve extremely heavy weights.
6) Nike Free RN 2017
Nike Free models have been excellent all-around performers in the past, and the Free RN 2017 is no exception.
The flexible and supportive midsole paired with a lightweight upper makes it very versatile, regardless of its use on the gym floor or the treadmill.
7) Nike Zoom Elite 9
The Zoom Elite 9 is a very firm running shoe with a forefoot-only Zoom Air bag. There’s enough padding available for running, and yet the noticeably firm midsole keeps things stable on the gym floor.
8) Nike Zoom Structure 20
Like the Elite 9, the Structure 20 has a forefoot-only Zoom with a firm ride. This makes it similar to the Elite 9 except that the inner midsole has a harder foam wedge.
We’ve purposely left out the Pegasus because of its softer ride and heel Zoom Air bag. The Pegasus 33 will work for mild weight training but might come up short for those heavy workouts.
9) Saucony Guide 10
The Saucony Guide 10 is a firm shoe with a medial post. Saucony’s flared forefoot design produces a planted ride, and the multiple-density midsole has sufficient amount of cushioning for short treadmill runs.
If you do not like the idea of a firmer medial post, the Guide’s neutral version – the Ride 9 – will work just as well.
10) Underarmour Speedform Gemini 3
Like the Brooks Ghost 9, the UA Speedform Gemini has a great mix of cushioning and support.
Regardless of the thick midsole, the ride isn’t mushy. The upper fit and feel is quintessential Underarmour – seamless construction and a Burrito tongue.