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If you’re finally deciding to start exercising, you’re going to need a pair or two of the best gym shoes. Even if you’re a seasoned pro in the gym, a great gym shoe can take your weightlifting or running to the next level by offering you increased stability and cushion, helping you work out longer and stronger.
We’re no strangers to exercise here at SPY, and we’re all into different things. Some of us are all about that weightlifting gear, some of us are lifelong runners, and others have fallen in love with Peloton. But we all recognize that to some extent you can only push your body so far without top-notch equipment.
That’s why we’ve rounded up some of the best gym shoes for men in one place. Whether you’re getting ready for an intense spin class or trying to break your own squat weight record, we’ve got some great workout shoes for your consideration.
Check out the best gym shoes below and take your exercise to the next level.
1. NOBULL Men’s Training Shoe
NOBULL is relatively new to the athletic shoe world, but perhaps thanks to one of the founders coming from Reebok, it’s grown to become massively popular in five years from the time it was founded in 2015. While knowing how the business works certainly helps, making a great exercise shoe is better, and that’s what you get with NOBULL, a great exercise sneaker for the gym or anywhere really.
Designed in the spirit of CrossFit, the NOBULL Men’s Training Shoes shine for most things cardio. The upper is made from what NOBULL calls SuperFabric. While NOBULL isn’t clear on what that is exactly, it’s durable, breathable and abrasion-resistant. Furthermore, if you’re into high-intensity interval training or CrossFit, you’ll love the high-carbon lateral and medial guards for increased side-to-side stabilization. Admittedly it’s not as much as a high-top shoe, but better than a lot of weak-walled shoes. And for any running-minded gym rat, these shoes are just the right amount of light to protect your foot without weighing it down while offering solid support in the toe, sole and heel.
The only thing they can’t do is extreme distance running and super heavy powerlifting. The flat sole and heel support will handle quite a bit of weight, more than enough for most people we think, but if you find you’re stacking a ton of plates on the barbell, you might want to go for a shoe designed for more weightlifting. That flat sole also doesn’t help for long-distance running.
But overall, for most people for most exercises, the NOBULL trainers will take care of their feet in the gym and they’ll stand up to a beating over time. What more can you ask for out of a gym shoe?
2. Reebok Men’s Nano 9 Cross Trainer
If the guy from NOBULL came from Reebok, then it’s obvious Reebok knows what’s it doing with gym shoes. (That and the fact Reebok is actually used by professional athletes, of course). For one, the Reebok Men’s Nano 9 is rated even higher on Amazon than the NOBULL trainers for its all-around excellence. If the NOBULL trainers lean more toward CrossFit kinds of exercise, the Nano 9s lean more into weightlifting.
The wide toe box and minimal drop sole help keep your foot stable for safe powerful movements, like the kind you need to perform for power lifts and Olympic lifts. At the same time, the uppers are durable and breathable so you won’t be suffocating your foot or wearing through these any time soon.
Truly the Nano 9s are among the best gym shoes for just about everything except long-distance running. The same flat sole that makes them great for lifting does take its toll when you’re running. But they’ll still get the job done. If you’re not comfortable going with a less-established brand like NOBULL, these Reeboks are undoubtedly the best place for your money.
3. New Balance Men’s Minimus Prevail Cross Trainer
If you’re looking for something more balanced than the top two picks, you can’t do better than New Balance. The New Balance Men’s Minimus Prevail Cross Trainers will stand up to a decent amount of weight as well as they handle moderate cardio. They’re narrower than the top two options, so you get less stability for lifts, but that does make them a bit better for running. They’re also made with a light knit upper and use a REVlite midsole for comfort.
Of course, the sole is too flat to triumph over a proper running shoe, but while true running shoes are straight-up unsafe to lift in, these are designed to serve both goals well, like the top two picks. So don’t make them your dedicated running shoe, but the Minimus Prevails are great for everything else.
4. Under Armour Men’s Charged Commit 2.0 Cross Trainer
OK, so these Under Armour Men’s Charged Commit 2.0 Cross Trainers are not the cheapest possible shoes you can buy, but they’re the most consistently available and the most consistently priced. Also, when it comes to the gym, you want to do right by your feet and that means spending a little extra money. Anything less is just asking for an injury.
In any case, these shoes will deliver on whatever you need them to do in the gym. Though they might not stand up to seriously heavy powerlifting, a cushioned midsole and external heel counter work to absorb impact and help your foot give that comfortable push you need. That’s useful for most weightlifting, but it’s also great for any kind of cross training or running.
Go ahead and take these out for a run and you’ll see they’re comfortable and breathe well, thanks to a sockliner that molds to your foot and a lightweight mesh upper. Overall, these trainers will make for solid all-around gym shoes.
5. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 Running Shoe
BEST RUNNING SHOES
When it comes to the best men’s running shoes, we’ve achieved a consensus at SPY. The Brooks Adrenaline Running Shoe is an all-around great trainer to keep up with you five days a week whether you’re hitting the streets or the treadmill. It’s stable, offers great support and Brooks’s GuideRail system helps to keep your knees straight and reduce damage to your body from the constant shock of your feet hitting the pavement.
Unfortunately with great awesomeness comes difficulty finding your preferred style in your size and a price to match the scarcity. So unless you’re prepared to shell out for a particular color, we just recommend finding your size and buying the cheapest colors available. That aside, if you’re a big-time runner, these are the best gym shoes for you.
6. Nike Metcon 5 Training Shoe
BEST FOR WEIGHTLIFTING
We’re as surprised as you are that Nike makes some of the best gym shoes (which is to say we’re not surprised at all). The Nike Metcon 5 Training Shoes are our pick for a few simple reasons. First and foremost, they’re serious weightlifting shoes. They have what Nike calls a Hyperlift insert that gives you extra heel support for heavy lifting like squats and deadlifts. Second, Nike designed these weightlifting shoes so you can remove the insert, which makes them great shoes for any other kind of exercise like running or HIIT training. And third, it doesn’t hurt that these are some pretty stylish shoes and could easily double as casual weekend kicks. Overall, the Nike Metcon is a great weightlifting shoe but it’s also just a great shoe for exercise and definitely one of the best gym shoes you can go for.
7. Tommaso Strada 100 Cycling Shoe
BEST FOR SPINNING
Who better to make a great cycling or spin shoe than a company that actually makes bikes? These Tommaso Strada 100 Cycling Shoes are well worth the $100 if you’re a regular attendee at your local spin class. Importantly, they’re compatible with all cleats and Look Delta and SPD pedals, so no worries about not actually being to use them. Three velcro straps easily keep your foot locked in and a breathable liner and mesh inserts work as hard as you do to keep your foot cool. Speaking of working hard, feel free to go ham in these shoes because they’re backed up by a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty. Tommaso must be pretty confident in its shoe design and fiberglass-reinforced sole, so push hard through your spins because these shoes will handle it no problem.
8. Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 4 Sneaker
BEST LIGHTWEIGHT GYM SHOES
If you’re looking for the lightest shoe possible to just give your foot that extra bit of protection or traction while still feeling getting that close-to-the-ground barefoot experience, the Merrell Men’s Vapor Glove 4 Sneaker is going to be your jam. These shoes are so light you’ll worry they won’t last long. Thankfully you don’t have to worry about that because they’re designed to handle rapid changes in movement. So no matter how aggressive your HIIT workout gets these things will hold up.
Their super airy feel and minimal weight come from the simple design and choice of materials. Except for the Vibram sole and a nylon arch shank, these are 100% textile shoes with a mesh upper for breathability. And that choice of nylon matters. It does decrease arch support and the ability to bounce back, but it does make the shoe lighter.
The major downsides are these shoes are pretty narrow, so wide feet beware and they probably wouldn’t hold up for serious rock climbers. Some users also claim they’re less durable than previous versions of the shoe. But every shoe comes with trade-offs and the Vapor Gloves excel as lightweight barefoot-style gym shoes.