What are Cross Training Shoes Good For?

The most important piece of equipment you need for sports activity is a quality pair of shoes. Whatever style of workouts you do (besides swimming), you’re most likely going to be on your feet. This is especially important for high-intensity exercises like CrossFit or HIIT style workouts. These exercises can be tough on the joints, so you’ll want something with plenty of support.

Cross training shoes are multipurpose fitness shoes mainly used for indoor gym workouts and outdoor agility training. Their best attributes are flexibility and versatility. Cross training shoes have less heel cushion compared to running shoes, but have more pad at the balls of the forefoot to protect your  toes.

Cross training shoes are good for trainings like Zumba, HIIT, and weightlifting. They are flat on the bottom with solid heel support and a firm midsole. They are designed to specialize in multi-directional movements including forward, back, and sideways.

If your exercise involves more than one type of workout, this is the shoes for you. When you go from a morning gym session to work, to an afternoon bike ride, and an evening light jog, cross training shoes are ideal because you can save money by buying just one pair.

You should buy cross training shoes if:

  • You do several fitness activities including gym workouts and outdoor training.
  • You play multiple sports
  • You want to simplify your athletic footwear
  • You travel a lot and want to pack something versatile

You should not buy cross training shoes if:

  • You are really into one sport like running and need specialized shoes
  • You are a long-distance runner

Men’s Top Ranked Best Sellers in Amazon:

Women’s Top Ranked Best Sellers in Amazon:

Men’s vs Women’s Cross Training Shoes

There are difference between Men’s and Women’s cross training shoes. Men’s cross training shoes are generally made slightly bulkier than Women’s for the sturdiness to support their weight. There are women with heavier weight who will prefer men’s training shoes, and some lighter weight men may wear women’s training shoes in black or blue color.

Related: Top 15 Best Cross Training Shoes for Men

Women’s feet are not simply smaller than men’s but have more varieties of characteristics in shape, including their arch, ball, toe size and width. In comparison to men, women’s arch lengths are shorter and their toes are not as thick as men’s. Women’s ankles are slimmer and feet shapes are generally wide in the forefoot and narrow in the heel. If you have a wider forefoot and let’s say that you are size 7, see if the shoes you want to buy have a size 7 wide.

Related: Top 15 Best Cross Training Shoes for Women

Cross Training Shoes vs Running Shoes

Group of runners training outdoors

Can cross training shoes be used for running? Yes, cross training shoes can be used for short runs. Are cross training shoes good for running? No, cross training shoes are not good for running. What makes cross training shoes different than running shoes is that running shoes are specifically made for forward movement, but cross training shoes are designed for all motions including back movement. Cross training shoes may look similar to your average running shoe, but they have a lot of different features:

  • Lateral support for moving in all directions.
  • Extra stability to help prevent foot and ankle injury.
  • Forefoot cushioning for support when landing on your feet. This is perfect for exercises like short sprints and jumping rope.
  • Firm support that won’t buckle or compress under heavy loads. This makes them ideal for weight training.

If you are jogging or running a short distance, cross training shoes are acceptable. But if you’re running long distances, buying a pair of running shoes is recommended. If you’re training and looking for workout shoes at the gym, weightlifting, or agility training, cross training shoes are a great choice.

Cross training shoes are designed for forward-back and side-to-side movement. This multi-directional movement allows this type of shoe to be best suitable for agility training. It is similar to basketball shoes, except that basketball shoes have much better ankle protection and shock absorption.

Learn More: Difference Between Cross Training Shoes and Running Shoes

Using cross training shoes for running: You can do short runs but they are not ideal for long-distance runs. Running shoes are designed for heel-to-toe movement and they give you support when you strike the ground, making you more “bouncy” and help push you forward, but they are not as steady when lifting weights and do not have adequate support for side-to-side movements which can cause ankle injuries.

Using running shoes for training: If you want to use running shoes at the gym, they are best used for treadmills. You can also use running shoes at the gym if you are using machines or cables, but if you lift heavy weights or cardio that requires versatile movements like dance classes, it is not worth the risk and you should consider investing in training shoes.

Cross training shoes brands: Companies that make the best cross training shoes are brands like New Balance and Reebok. Although not as mainstream, NOBULL is also a good brand and highly popular cross training shoes brand.

Running Shoes brands: There are many athletic shoe companies that make cross training shoes, but only a few brands have sustained the highest trust level from users. Nike makes good running shoes, but if you’re a runner, you should stick to the brands that specialize in running like Asics and Brooks.

Related: Top 8 Best Running Shoe Brands that are Trusted by the Public

Cross Training Shoes
  • Direction: multi direction
  • Movement: side to side lateral
  • Shoe Drop: lower
  • Drop reason: more flexible
  • Cushioning: average
  • Usage: weight lifting, gym
  • Running: short runs only
Running Shoes
  • Direction: one direction
  • Movement: forward only
  • Shoe Drop: higher
  • Drop Reason: more cushion
  • Cushioning: great
  • Usage: running
  • Gym: treadmill

Cross Training Shoes vs CrossFit Shoes

Shot of crossfit in motion

If you aren’t sure where to start, cross training shoes are perfect for regular daily gym workout and athletes of all experience levels. While these shoes are not specialized for any one activity, they provide the forefoot cushioning and heel support needed for almost all athletic activity.

If you’re doing entry-level or intermediate training, you can go with cross training shoes. If you are a higher level weightlifter or doing advanced rope climbing and box jumping, you should consider CrossFit Shoes because they can take a lot of beating.

CrossFit shoes’ fabrics are thicker and have more solid rubber, which makes them more sturdy and durable. You can use cross training shoes to CrossFit, but as you become more advanced in CrossFit you will want to invest in a pair of CrossFit shoes.

Recommended CrossFit Shoes for Men:

Recommended CrossFit Shoes for Women:

What are Cross Training Shoes Good for

Like we talked about before, cross training shoes aren’t specialized for just one activity. They are ideal for the athlete that wants to do a full range of exercises. As their name implies, these shoes are multi-purpose training shoes that can be used in running, sports, calisthenics, yoga, and more:

  • HIIT Classes – Cross training shoes can be used for any indoor and outdoor classes. Here are reviews on best cross training shoes. Men’s cross training shoes review | Women’s cross training shoes review
  • Bodyweight Training/Strength Training – These shoes offer plenty of flexibility and breathability for any movements you need to do.
  • Short Interval Runs – For longer runs, you may want a shoe with more cushioning. Cross training shoes are ok for a short run, but if you’re going for long runs, we recommend you to invest in a pair of running shoes because they do make a big difference.
  • Weight Lifting – As we mentioned before, cross training shoes are designed to avoid compressing under heavy loads.

Cross Training Shoes as Used as Daily Trainers

Cross training exercise

These shoes are the most versatile style of cross training shoes. While there are more specialized varieties of cross training shoes, a good pair of daily trainers can be used for almost any activity. They are even great for fitness classes of all kinds. Here are some features of daily trainers:

  • Lightweight design – these shoes use synthetic materials to save on weight.
  • Extra breathability – theses same synthetic materials allow excellent airflow to your feet.
  • Cushioning and support – they feature excellent lateral support for movement in all directions.
  • Low profile – their design doesn’t constrict movements around the ankle.

Related: Lightweight cross training shoes: Nike Women’s Flex Trainer 9 Sneaker | Read Review

Are Cross Training Shoes Good for CrossFit?

Women group training in a crossfit circuit

Cross training shoes are just as versatile, but CrossFit shoes provide a little more support than a daily trainer. A good example of cross training shoes with great versatility is NOBULL. Here is a review on NOBULL women’s training shoes.

You’ll find that CrossFit shoes are a bit more durable than the average cross training shoes. Here are some features of CrossFit shoes:

  • Heel stability – these shoes have firm heels that provide a more stable base for lifting heavyweights.
  • Flatter sole – this allows the wearer to have better foot control and grip on the ground at the cost of a little arch support.
  • Extra protection – CrossFit shoes have protection against blisters and abrasions on the feet.

Are Cross Training Shoes Good for Weightlifting?

Lifting class at the gym

Weightlifting shoes don’t require as much breathability as other types of cross training shoes. However, they do need major support to keep your tendons and ligaments secure under extremely heavy loads. Their purpose is to keep the feet stable for a good weightlifting foundation. Any good weightlifter knows that good form is critical to prevent serious injuries. Here are some features of weightlifting cross training shoes:

  • Elevated heel – protects the Achilles tendon from strain during exercises such as deep squats.
  • Durable materials – these shoes use extremely durable materials for extra grip and security.
  • Rigid structure – these shoes don’t have as much flex in them. This aids in having proper weightlifting form.

Are Cross Training Shoes Good for Outdoor Training?

People receiving tire obstacle course training

Outdoor workouts like boot camps and circuit training have a lot of lateral moves and exercises that involve quick changes in direction. For these routines, you’ll want to look for cross training shoesthat has these features:

  • Flat, thick soles – with all the changing in a direction that goes on in these types of routines, you want a shoe that can change directions on a dime while still offering excellent shock-absorption.
  • Higher ankles – while you want your ankles to be mobile, you’ll also need some protection against rolling them.

Can You Wear Cross Training Shoes for Trail Hike?

Cross training shoes for hiking are similar to daily trainers, but they provide more cushioning for long days out on the trail.

  • Big lugs – cross trainers for hiking have deeper treads and bigger lugs to prevent from slipping and sliding on slick surfaces.
  • High ankles – hiking on rock and root covered trails can cause some major injuries if you aren’t careful. A shoe with a high ankle support can help to keep you from rolling your ankle on the trail.
  • Thick soles – extended periods of time spent walking can put stress on the feet and legs. Thicker soles provide more shock-absorption to prevent joint pains.

Please note that cross training shoes are an acceptable option if you don’t want to buy additional shoes for hiking. However, if you hike a lot we recommend you to invest in a pair of good Trail Running Shoes or Hiking Boots.

Related: 15 Best Trail Running Shoes

Are Cross Training Shoes Good for Walking?

As walking doesn’t put the strain on your joints in comparison to running, you won’t need a ton of cushioning in your shoes. Here are some features of cross training shoes that are suited for walking:

  • Lightweight – cross training shoes for walking don’t require a lot of cushioning and support. This allows them to save on weight.
  • Breathability – because they don’t need as much material, these types of shoes can have excellent airflow to your feet.
  • Flat soles – this allows your feet to find a natural and comfortable gait with no assistance from the shoe.

You can use training shoes for walking as walking, but if you are going for a long walk or you do walking as a daily routine, it’s best to look for shoes that are specifically designed for walking.

Related: Top 25 Best Walking Shoes

Cross Training Shoes are Great for Indoor Dance

Cross training shoes are perfect for indoor dance cardio classes. They provide ease of movement, and you won’t need much cushioning for an indoor environment. You also won’t need to worry about much traction. If your activity requires a lot of pivot movements, cross training shoes with great traction would be a good choice.

Cross training shoes for indoor cardio would need:

  • Low profile – because indoor cardio requires lots of multi-directional movements, these shoes have a low profile that won’t interfere with any movements your ankles and feet need to make.
  • Snug fit – because of the movement in all directions, cross training shoes need to have a snug fit that will ensure no slipping while they are on your feet.

Related: What Kind of Shoes Should I Wear to Zumba Class?

Related: Best Shoes for Kickboxing & Cardio Kickboxing Class

What is the Right Fit for Cross Training Shoes

A good fit for cross training shoes is the same principles for standard shoes apply to cross trainers. They must be snug without being tight and offer room without letting your feet slide around. When trying on cross trainers, do not just walk around in them. Stand on your toes, hop up and down, wiggle and fan out your toes, and make a few sharp cuts to see how the shoes react. Ideally, you should feel some room without having your feet move around much.

All shoe brands have their shoes listed in standard sizes. This indicates the length of the shoe in question. However, you may find that one brand of shoe fits when you wear a 10, while another brand of shoe fits when you wear a 10.5.

Don’t assume that a shoe will fit just because it is the size you usually buy. It is a smart idea to go and try on the new shoe before you take the plunge and buy it. Just like with clothes, there will always be a discrepancy between sizes and brands.

When you try on a shoe, here are a couple of tips you can use to help you determine if the fit is correct for your fee

  • Check your toes – you should have a little room between your longest toe and the front of the shoe. This space should be roughly the width of your thumb.
  • Check your distances – the heel and the ball of your foot should be the same distance apart as the heel and forefoot support on the shoe. Otherwise, your feet may not receive the proper support when you exercise. If you aren’t getting support in the right areas, you are more at risk for an injury.
  • No pinching – the shoe should be snug, but not uncomfortably tight. If you feel that the shoe is too tight on any part of your foot, you may need to try a different size.

It is also very important to check a shoe’s width when you are researching brands and checking sizes.

Most brands use these letters to represent shoe width: A, AA, B, C, D, E, EE, EEE, and so on. The letter “B” denotes a medium width for women—the letter “D,” a medium width for men. The closer you get to the letter “A,” the narrower the shoe is. Conversely, the further you get from the letter “A,” the wider the shoe gets.

Many people have the same size shoe but need a different width. Remember, a shoe’s size only measures the length of the shoe! Some people have narrower feet and need less room, where some people have wider feet and need more room. You may find that many generic shoes only come in one width. Some notable companies that are doing this are New Balance and Skechers.

Good Uppers for Cross Trainers

The upper portion of the shoe is normally made from strong, flexible materials that are commonly used in many types of shoes. They can be natural materials such as leather. Or, they can be synthetic materials such as nylon. Leather is quite strong, durable, and provides plenty of support, but it is not as breathable compared to synthetic mesh.

In most cases, you will probably want a synthetic mesh material used for the uppers of your cross trainers. The only exception would be in cold weather when you may want leather or other material that provides better insulation.

Good Heel Support for Cross Trainers

Proper heel support is the major factor separating cross trainers from standard sneakers or running shoes. The materials used in the heel are designed to handle the stress and weight of lifting along with shifting to different positions. You should look for the following materials.

  • EVA Foam
  • High Abrasion Rubber
  • Thermoplastic Polyurethane

All three materials provide strength, comfort, and flexibility which is vital to keeping the heel in place. The Thermoplastic Polyurethane is common with weightlifting shoes and is easy to spot on cross trainers.

Good Midsole Materials for Cross Trainers

Standard rubber that is part of the sole makes for an excellent midsole material. What you want is a thicker sole in this area to provide greater traction and durability for the shoes. This is especially true if you are climbing, moving sideways, and the like.

  • Rubber
  • EVA Foam – For Better Support

If your cross training is focused on engaging in different activities, such as climbing up hills, rocks, and the like, it’s good to have midsole material that is solid rubber.

Good Outer Construction for Cross Trainers

Next to the heel, the outer construction of the shoe is the most important. It’s common for cross training shoes to have multiple layers of material to withstand the stress and keep the shoe together even under considerable duress. The most common materials used in the outer construction include the following.

  • Blends of Cloth, CORDURA, and Dyneema,
  • Flexweave, Flynit, and Nylon
  • Synthetic Mesh and Textured Rubber

Any of these materials are excellent for cross trainers. Even simple nylon is quite strong and flexible, making it a great material for the outer construction of the shoe.

When to Replace Your Cross Training Shoes

The typical lifespan of most shoes is about 100 hours of high-intensity training. You may find that you get more time out of them, depending on how hard you exercise and what surfaces you exercise on. This will all depend on how well the shoe is constructed, as well as how often you wear the shoe outside of your training sessions.

Some shoes, such as CrossFit and weightlifting shoes may last longer due to their extra padding and bracing inside the shoes. The more structure your shoes have, the less likely they are to break down during use.

Check out the bottom of your shoe. If the middle is starting to heavily crease, and the heel and forefoot are thinning out, then it may be time to buy a replacement pair.

Try squeezing the sole of the shoe. The sole is designed to compress on impact, so if you find that your shoe is barely giving when you squeeze it, the sole is over-compressed. This is another indicator that it is time for a replacement.

Here are some more things to keep track of if you are wondering whether or not to replace your shoes.

1. They are over 6-12+ months old or you’ve been using them frequently

Your training shoes life span depends on what type of user you are. If you work out three days a week, your shoes won’t wear out as quickly as someone who works out five days a week. If you use them for jogging or running, it will wear out so much faster than regular gym workouts. The level of usage can be categorized like this:

  • Heavy users: approximately 150-200 miles – consider shopping in 6 months
  • Average users: approximately 300-500 miles – consider shopping in 6-12 months
  • Light users: approximately 1000 miles or more – consider shopping in 12-24 months

2. Your feet, knees, or joints hurt after a workout.

If you start to feel pain from using your shoes, you’ll want to get a new pair fast. These issues are only going to get worse the longer you wear your shoes.

As your shoes wear down, they start to provide less shock absorption. This puts more strain on your feet and knees. It can also translate to the hips and all the joints and ligaments through your legs. It can even lead to lower back issues if left unchecked!

3. You’re starting to get blisters from them.

Blisters are a bad sign. If you’ve been getting them right from the start, then you probably bought the wrong pair of shoes. However, if you’ve never gotten them before, it means that your shoes have worn out and need replacing.

These factors are completely dependent on intensity and workout style. You may find that you’ve had your shoes much longer and they still work fine.

Shoes are always subjective. A shoe that works great for one person may be terrible for you. Find the shoe that fits your foot and feels great when you move. It’s always a good idea to visit your local shoe store and try on as many pairs as you can to find your best fit.