Whether you’re a competitive CrossFitter or you just include box-style drills in your training, you need versatile kicks that can handle a range of disciplines. Deadlifts and explosive box jumps one minute, clambering up ropes and 400m dashes the next.
The right footwear can also help you prevent injury – and your regular go-to workout trainers probably won’t cut it. Comfy as they might be for cardio, squishy-sole running shoes don’t provide a stable base for those ass-to-grass squats and heavy cleans. Unresponsive lifting shoes, meanwhile, lack the propulsion and power needed for more dynamic drills.
It’s a lot to ask for. So, before you throw down your hard-earned pounds on a pair of do-it-all daps, the Men’s Health experts worked out in some of the latest shoes to find you the best options for crushing your next WOD.
What makes a good all-round training shoe? In a word: balance. A killer cross trainer needs to be comfortable, agile and supportive, flexible but firm, light but durable. You want rock-solid stability for lifts, responsiveness for explosive push-offs and reliable grip for landings and hitting the breaks. Like any CrossFit athlete, they also need to be robust enough to withstand serious wear and tear. Last year’s NOBULL CrossFit Games winner Jeffrey Adler opts for the TYR CXT-1 training shoe.
What to Look for When Buying a CrossFit Shoe
So what features should you be looking for when shopping for a CrossFit shoe?
• Rigid Sole: Look for a solid and firm base that will allow for stability and anchoring during lifts, but also something that is responsive and propulsive for when you’re performing more dynamic exercises.
• Heel Drop: With training shoes, the size of the heel drop will differ from shoe to shoe. A high heel drop (like you’d find in a running shoe) is great for dashes, but for lifting, you’re going to need something smaller for greater stability. Balance is key.
• Toe Box: A wide toe box is also desirable when it comes to lifting as it gives your toes room to spread when performing lifts and enables a greater distribution of weight.
• Durability: Due to the variety of strength and mobility exercises in a CrossFit workout, it’s important to choose a shoe that, while ticking all the above boxes, is designed to withstand the demands of both. Look out for reinforced mesh uppers, rope guards, thick heels and toe caps, to name a few.
The Best Shoes for CrossFit Training
Reebok Nano X4
Built for nailing demanding drills and outdoor sessions, the Reebok Nano X4 has a comfortable upper that’s both tougher yet flexible, as well as deep lugs on the outsole for to optimal traction. It has the a 7mm drop that feels fairly minimal under foot, and a sizeable wedge of springy Floatride Energy EVA midsole foam for cushioning. A TPU frame wraps the heel for security when weightlifting.
VERDICT: The new X4 is as tough as it predecessors, but it was the breathable upper and stack of punchy foam that stood out. The subtly elevated heel makes it feel more like a traditional lifting shoe, while the raised stack takes strain off your heels and calves when jumping or running. Overall, a decent all-rounder.
The standout attribute of the Nike Metcon 9 is the wide, flat heel with an inner plate that creates stability for big lifts. When it comes to HIIT drills, a springy, dual-density midsole foam levels up the cushion and response. A handstand heel clip cuts drag during wall drills, while arch wraps provide traction.
VERDICT: The Metcon 9 strikes a great balance, transitioning seamlessly from plyometric-style movements to lifting. They’re nimble thanks to the foam midsole and a flexy groove-cut sole. Under the barbell, that base guarantees solid ground contact. And we were fans of the toe box reinforcements when plank time came.
Though a great all-rounder, the Under Armour Reign 6 excels with big lifts. It has a removable, drop-in midsole, which is softer in the forefoot and firmer in the heel, providing flexibility for lower-body exercises and multidirectional movements while maintaining stability. Meanwhile, the rubber forefoot outsole grooves add useful grip, while the subtle micro-studded overlays offer durability without adding weight.
VERDICT: It feels the most minimal of our tested trainers but we loved the hugging comfort of the mesh upper and the control from the 2mm offset. The heel clip is a nice touch for handstand push-ups.
Inov 8 F-Lite G 300
Inov 8 F-Lite G 300
Now 62% Off
Durable and lightweight
Cushioned midsole for cardio
Inov-8’s tough 300g trainer can handle a beating. The graphene-enhanced outsole delivers grip, overlays prevent friction and a lifting stabiliser – and 6mm drop – supports work under the bar, while the cushioned midsole protects during cardio.
VERDICT: The G in the name stands for graphene but it should stand for G-reat. The larger drop is great for squats and they’re nimble on the move. We also loved the oversized tongue loops for yanking them on. The only issue is stock, so you may need to shop around.
Clean and minimalist, this from NOBULL Gym Trainer is a versatile dynamo of a shoe. The unique look comes from a one-piece, abrasion-resistant upper that protects like a butcher’s metal gloves. Light and fast on the move, they are also designed for indoor and outdoor use thanks to a outsole lug pattern.
VERDICT: The best looker, with substance behind that style. The flat, stiff base is great for big lifts. The moulded sock-liner wraps the foot for comfort, though on hotter workouts the breathability wasn’t the best.
Another versatile cross training shoe, the TYR CXT-1 has become one of the most popular footwear choices among CrossFit athletes, including 2023 CrossFit Games winner Jeffrey Adler, thanks to its responsive foam midsole and flexibility in the forefoot.
VERDICT: In terms of stability, the CXT-1 has a wrap-around side gripper around the heel for recreational lifting. However, it also has one of the highest heel drops compared to similar CrossFit shoes, at 9mm. This won’t be to everyone’s liking, but if you’re tall you may benefit from the extra ankle mobility.
Versatile thanks to cushioning, stable profile and grippy outsole
Stylish with plenty of colourways
It may be newest footwear brand to arrive on the fitness scene, but the R.A.D One is already receiving a lot of praise for being a dependable all-rounder training shoe for pretty much any kind of strength training.
VERDICT: With a cushioned foam midsole for plyometrics, a rubber sole with plenty of traction, a spacious toe box and secure heel lock for lifting, it not only looks the part, but will perform just as well, too.