The best shoes for the gym, by Nike

Buying guide

FYI, gym-goers, you've come to the right place.

Last updated: 9 April 2024
4 min read
How to Choose the Right Training Shoe for You

Your footwear carries you through everything from dinners out to workouts, with plenty of action in between. While you can get away with shoes that aren't top tier when you're hanging out, gym shoes comprise a different category. The best workout shoes support your performance, are well cushioned and help enhance your stride while you grind it out.

Of course, your needs vary depending on whether you're focused on strength training or pursuing a more cardio-heavy workout. The best gym shoes for heavy lifting are different from the best gym shoes for running, and matching your workout to your footwear helps you get the proper support you need.

With all of the sneaker options out there, it can be difficult to know where to start when picking out the right training shoes. With that in mind, these are the best workout shoes to fit a range of fitness needs.

  • Best gym shoes for lifting: Nike Metcon 9
  • Best gym shoes for walking: Nike Motiva
  • Best gym shoes for men: Nike Free Metcon 5
  • Best gym shoes for women: Nike Versa
  • Best gym shoes for running: Nike Free RN NN

Best gym shoes for lifting

It's generally recommended that weightlifting-specific shoes have a flat, stable sole to help you power through reps.

Nike Metcon 9

The Nike Metcon 9 is packed with key features to deliver the stability your feet crave during lifting. These Metcons have a Hyperlift plate in the heel designed to give a grounded feeling during moves like Split Squats and Dead Lifts. An extended rubber wrap on the side lends durability and added grip to do rope climbs and multi-directional movements with enhanced support. Meanwhile, a full rubber outsole helps provide traction during motions like Clean Jerks and Walking Lunges.


"In Nike Training, we build shoes for all types of workouts", Senior Product Line Manager Jake Bennett says. "When it comes to lifting weights, the Nike Metcon 9 gives you that connectivity to the ground for stability while offering dual-density foam that offers comfort throughout your workout". These workout shoes are topped off with lightweight mesh for breezy comfort. These Metcons come in an array of colourways, although you can also create a custom design.

Best gym shoes for walking

When you're crushing a treadmill programme, you want workout shoes with flexibility to help with a range of motion and push-off.

Nike Motiva

The Nike Motiva is designed to ease you through your gait thanks to an exaggerated rocker for a smooth, cushioned ride and a propulsive feel. This shoe features a Comfortgroove outsole to create a piston-like effect, compressing the foam as you go and bouncing back for an enhanced stride. The Motiva has a durable outsole and specialised traction to help you get a grip as you rack up the miles. A soft waterfall foam collar delivers cushioning around your ankle and heel. "We all know how important it is to get your body moving for both your body and your mind. We created the Nike Motiva walking shoe to help keep you moving", Bennett says.

Best gym shoes for men

Some gym days feature a mix of workout types, which is when a transitional shoe can be helpful.

Nike Free Metcon 5

With features designed for lifting and cardio-heavy workouts, these Nike Metcons help see you through various exercises. A wide heel makes a solid base for lifting, while the internal webbing is designed to distribute pressure around the midfoot for a secure feel when you make stops and quickly change direction. Specialised Nike Free technology in the shoe's forefoot gives you flexibility while working through Burpees and Sprints. There's also stretch around the collar to gently hug your ankle while allowing for movement.

How to Choose the Right Training Shoe for You

Best gym shoes for women

The best versatile shoe helps you to flip through leg day, cardio and sessions with your personal trainer.

Nike Versair

The Nike Versair is the top pick for the do-it-all gym-goer. These women's sneakers have a built-in Zoom Air unit shaped like a horseshoe to deliver plenty of cushioning and response. These low-to-the-ground workout shoes feature a moulded wrap to secure your heel and chenille fabric in the upper that feels soft to the touch.

Best gym shoes for running

Support, give and plenty of cushioning are crucial for treadmill warriors.

Nike Free RN NN

The last thing you want when logging miles is for your running shoes to hold you back. The Nike Free RN NN is designed to feel lightweight while maximising comfort. These running shoes feature Flyknit technology with a stretchy inner sleeve for a sock-like feel. The lightweight midsole provides support without weighing you down. Pull tabs on the heel and tongue make it easy to slip your feet in and hop on the treadmill—or hit the road for a pre-gym warm-up.

Words by Korin Miller

Originally published: 8 April 2024

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