Are those trainers you’re using in your home gym up to the task? In this guide, we’re digging into the best home workout shoes to kit your feet out with in 2021. We’ll cover the most popular shoes for everything from cross-fit to weight training, running on treadmills to shoes that can help your squat form. Getting the right tool for the right job or, in this case, the right shoe for the right training can have a huge impact on your training.
Under Armour Tribase Reign
"Great all-round gym shoe with a massive choice of designs."
Reebok Nano X Cross
"Another one-shoe-for-all trainer that's as tough as hell and ideal for home gyms."
Nike Flyknit Metcon
"This shoe offers a lot of ankle support during for intense weight sessions."
Adidas Adipower Weightlifting 2
Converse Chuck Taylors
Best Foot Forward: 2021’s Top Picks for Home Gym Footwear
Before the buyer’s guide, let’s go over the current top gym shoes up for sale today. Here are the ones we found were actually worth the money, covering a range of training disciplines and sexes.
#1 – Under Armour Tribase Reign
Designed specifically from the ground up for exercise, the Tribase Reign is a great shoe that offers probably the most stability out of any gym shoe we’ve seen.
It does this by having a massive triangular wedge base, (explaining the name, ‘Tribase’) that keeps your feet flat and stable, with extra support at the rear of the heel, where you need it most. The outsole has a heavy, jagged grip that adds extra traction when you’re lifting heavy.
The overall design is low-profile, which helps you stay light and on your feet, with a flexible midsole made from Micro G foam that helps with bodyweight exercises and plyo jumps.
As a weightlifting shoe, the Tribase Reign is hard to beat. It offers literally everything you should be looking for, at a decent price, and a unisex design that anyone can use.
- Huge, stable heel base
- Light and comfortable
- Stylish design
- Not suited for cardio
Verdict: Tribase shoes are a staple of many a home gym, offering some serious stability and not-too-shabby aesthetics too.
Crossfit encompasses a huge amount of different exercises, generally performed at high speed and ridiculously high rep numbers (cross-fitters are a special breed) so a shoe designed for the sport should be good right?
Because it’s designed for Crossfit, the Nano X Cross is a great shoe for most exercise regimes, including a lot of foot support, with moulded midsoles, sock liners and a boot style heel that hugs your feet during all of your big lifts and bodyweight bursts.
The front of the shoe has extra reinforcement, adding protection to your toes, and also stopping the shoe itself from failing after long weeks of catching it on squat racks, bars, plyo boxes, and more.
Finally, the all-important sole is flexible and tough, with extra grip and a lot of balance.
- Very flexible
- Incredibly light
- Strong and tough sole
- A little too generalist
Verdict: This shoe is perfect any home gym. It comes in some gorgeous styles so everyone should be able to find one they like. It’s flexible and supportive too.
Up above, we mentioned what makes a good workout shoe, and the Nike Metcon range basically hits every single one of these, in order.
First off, stability. The Flyknit Metcon, which we’ve chosen here, is a high ankle shoe that laces tight, so it offers a ridiculous amount of foot and ankle support throughout every single movement.
Despite being so tight and stable, Nike’s heritage shines through, and the shoes stay light and flexible throughout, breathing really well and staying cool even if you’re working hard.
They’re also relatively cheap, with a lot of options on the market. The downsides are pretty minimal too. Basically only that the shoes can be uncomfortably tight if you over-tighten them, and they’re not the most attractive shoe, looking like something that escaped from the 80s.
But you’re buying them for performance, not looks, and everything else here is so good that it more than makes up for looking a little unfortunate.
- Great support for the whole foot
- Solid grip
- Breathable and light
- Kind of ugly
- Very tight on the upper foot
Verdict: If you don’t mind how they look, you might just find your new best training partner. They’re light, solid and feel great.
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A dedicated weightlifting shoe, the Adidas Adipower is clearly designed for one thing, and it excels at it.
The first thing you’ll notice is the huge wedge at the back of the shoe. This puts your feet at an angle that drives your heels downwards, and the torsion bar system locks you in place and keeps you stable throughout the full range of motion of all of your biggest lifts.
Strong rubber outsoles and synthetic materials throughout keep the structure strong, with a simple instep strap system that’s incredibly easy to adjust as you go.
One word of warning. Please don’t use these for anything except weightlifting. They’re really not suited for long-distance running or any other sort of cardio. They’re for lifting iron, and that’s it.
- Massive stability and support
- Secure and easy to put on
- Strong and tough sole
- Really not good for anything except weightlifting
Verdict: A great shoe for improving your squat form. Plenty of stability and support and a very well-made weight lifting shoe.
Weirdly enough, the simple Converse Chuck Taylor is a fantastic shoe for your home gym, despite being basically ancient in exercise gear terms. (The original shoe design is around 100 years old now!)
But why are they so good? Simple. Chucks have a wide, flat, stable sole which is fantastic for weightlifting, especially the big core lifts like squats, overhead presses and deadlifts.
On top of this, the shoes themselves were originally designed for basketball, so they’re also surprisingly good for bodyweight exercises. We’d probably avoid them for long-distance running or treadmill work, though.
Factor in that Converse trainers are available pretty much anywhere, including online, and come in literally hundreds of different styles, and you can pick up a pair for very cheap, and you’ve got a solid choice for home workouts no matter who you are.
- Low, flat sole provides a really stable base
- Cheap and ubiquitous
- Hundreds of styles available
- Can get pretty sweaty
In our opinion, there’s a lot to be said for generalist equipment, and that extends to your footwear, too.
Unless you’re pushing for personal records, you’ll be better off buying a shoe that can be used for every type of exercise, rather than specialising in one thing. The difference is minimal, and most fitness shoes are now good enough to be used for almost anything.
Did we miss anything? Do you have any of your own recommendations? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!
Next up, we’ve got a buyer’s guide packed with handy info for anyone all tied up about which rope they need for their gym.
Home Gym Shoes: 101 Guide
When they’re just starting out, when it comes time to exercise, most people will throw on whatever trainers they have around and make do. But this is exactly the worst option out there.
The right shoes will add a massive amount of support and a bunch of grip, and they’re almost essential if you’re going hard on certain exercises, like weightlifting and running.
How we chose our workout shoes
Your workout shoes should be chosen to supplement what you plan on doing with them. Here’s what you should be focusing on:
Balance and stability
If you’re buying shoes to work out with, then stability is pretty much the biggest thing you should be looking for, and why you shouldn’t use standard trainers or running shoes to train with.
If you’ve ever lifted heavy, you know how easy it can be to roll a heel or lose your footing. You should be looking for a shoe with a wide, stable sole, especially around the heel, where most of your weight should be focused.
This is why you should avoid dedicated running shoes if you’re looking to train, because running shoes generally have a slightly curved sole that helps with a more natural stride, but can really affect your balance.
A lot of shoes will also have supplementary support built-in, with things like extra stability around the ankle, strong inner frames, or extra structure elements like stability bars built into the shoe.
You’re going to be moving around a lot in your workout shoes, so keeping the weight down is a major advantage.
Even if you plan on using your shoes for lifting only, so really just need them for a stable base, it’s worth keeping them as light and flexible as possible without compromising on the structure. Your feet will thank you after a long session.
This goes double if you’re performing anything that requires a lot of movement, whether that’s explosive plyometric movements, bodyweight workouts, or just serving double duty and using them to run with too.
You’re going to be working out in your new shoes. That means you’re going to get hot, and your feet are going to sweat.
Most modern shoes are built to help, made from light, flexible materials that naturally breathe well. But a little extra help is always a bonus, especially if you train hard for long periods of time.
As much as we’d like to splash out and buy everything you need for your home gym, no one has an infinite budget.
Most gym shoes aren’t particularly expensive, and if you look after them they should also last a decent amount of time without breaking down, but getting more for your money is always worthwhile.
References & Further Reading
- The Student Room – Best footwear for the gym?
- British Medical Journal – Running shoes and running injuries: mythbusting
- Fellrnr – The Science of Running Shoes
- RunRepeat – Expensive Running Shoes Are Not Better Than More Affordable Running Shoes
- NCBI – Systematic Review of the Role of Footwear Constructions in Running Biomechanics