When starting out on a running kick your first purchase, quite naturally, is likely to be a pair of running shoes. Similarly, if you get into football, rugby, cricket or almost any other sport, you’re likely to pick up some specialist footwear. But when it comes to the gym, many people are happy to rock up in any old pair of trainers, assuming it won’t make much difference.
Those people are wrong. The right shoe can make a world of difference to your gym training. Additional heel support and a stable base set you up for success when weightlifting, especially squatting, while extra grip on the edges of the sole can help with the quick lateral movements if you’re tackling speed and agility training.
Unless you’re going to spend all your time in the gym on the treadmill, running shoes are not a great bet for your training, because the extra cushioning that helps when pounding the pavements makes for an unstable base when lifting weights.
We’ve pulled together our picks for the best gym trainers for every need. Find the right one for you and go get ’em, tiger.
Best For CrossFit: Reebok Nano 8 Flexweave
Reebok is the sponsor of CrossFit and that means the company has a very good idea of what a shoe for the sport needs, which is the capability to handle heavy lifting, HIIT, running and pretty much everything else you can do in the gym. The eighth edition of the Nano is the best yet, as we were told in no uncertain terms by Phil Morton of CrossFit Thames. As well as being more stylish than its predecessors, the Nano 8 is more stable for lifts owing to the new heel bootie and moulded midsole. £99.95, buy on reebok.co.uk
Best For Runners: On Cloud X
Runners are repeatedly told to spend time in the gym to improve their strength and avoid injury, but really they’d rather be out running, so the requirements of a gym trainer for runners are often limited to only the exercises required to help them run – namely leg and core exercises. The Cloud X delivers with ease on these fronts. The firm heel provides the kind of support during squatting and lunging that running shoes fail to, with their squashy, cushioned soles. The upper on the toe box is all mesh so it’s eminently breathable, and the sole is firm enough to transfer power while cushioned enough to attack box jumps in HIIT classes without jarring your knees. The best news of all for runners? The Cloud X has also developed a reputation as a great race shoe thanks to that mix of firmness and cushioning. £125, buy on on-running.com
Best For Lifting: Adidas Crazy Power
You get so much extra power from these shoes that Adidas considers it crazy – what greater credentials does a shoe need? The extra heel height combined with a firm yet supportive midsole should give you an edge with all kinds of lifts, while the sock-like upper provides a comfortable and secure fit. £139.95, buy on adidas.co.uk
Best For Combining Treadmill And Weights: Nike Zoom Train Complete
If you like to jump on the treadmill before, in between or after your weights training, you need a shoe that has enough cushioning to run in comfortably, but not so much that it results in a squishy, unstable base when lifting. Fortunately, Nike makes that shoe. £94.95, buy on nike.com
Best All-Rounder: Inov-8 All Train 215
If you’re a man who doesn’t like to stick to the same old schedule in the gym, you need a shoe that can handle it (and you). The All Train 215 works for both lifting and quick stints on the treadmill, has extra grip for the lateral movements of speed and agility training, and provides just enough cushioning to ensure plyometric exercises don’t wreck your joints. £110, buy on inov-8.com
Best Stylish Gym Trainer: New Balance Minimus 40
Not only is the Minimus a solid all-round gym option, with some cushioning for running and a stable, supportive base for lifting, it looks pretty damn good too, so you don’t have to hide your shoes in your bag on the way to and from the gym. £90, buy on newbalance.co.uk