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Best Workout Shoes

No matter what kind of exercise you do, wearing the right kind of shoes can make a big difference.

Updated Sept. 29, 2022 3:00 p.m. PT

mercey-livingston
Written by  Mercey Livingston
Our expert, award-winning staff selects the products we cover and rigorously researches and tests our top picks. If you buy through our links, we may get a commission. Reviews ethics statement
mercey-livingston
Mercey Livingston CNET Contributor
Mercey Livingston is a health and wellness writer and certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach. She's written about fitness and wellness for Well+Good, Women's Health, Business Insider, and Prevention.com among others. When not writing, she enjoys reading and trying out workout classes all over New York City.
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$150 at Backcountry
Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX
Best for: Trail running
Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX
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$160 at Zappos
Asics Gel Kayano
Best for: Running and strength training
Asics Gel Kayano
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$129 at No Bull Project
NoBull Trainers
Best for: CrossFit
NoBull Trainers
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$160 at Zappos
Asics Gel Nimbus
Best for: High impact workouts (like dance cardio, plyometrics or HIIT)
Asics Gel Nimbus
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See at Amazon
On Running Sneaker Cloud Whites
Best for: Boxing
On Running Sneaker Cloud Whites
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gettyimages-1131209578

Everyone needs the proper shoes to support them in their workouts.

Getty Images

The right type of athletic shoe is the key to a successful workout. Whether your workouts consist of cardio, CrossFit, cycling or even just walking, there is a proper shoe that you should be wearing to prevent injuries and help improve your performance. That's why we've gathered the best athletic shoes to help you find the best options for your routine.

So do you need a running shoe, a weightlifting shoe or a cross trainer? Do you need breathable mesh, anti-slip rubber or a rubber outsole for your workout shoe? Do you go for the big brands, such as Nike, Reebok and Adidas? Ultimately, finding the best workout shoes often comes down to personal preference. 

But if you're looking for some suggestions on which exercise shoes are optimal for certain workouts, let the fitness instructors below help guide you in the right direction. They know which sneakers to skip, which to invest in, and their recommendations can even save you from a headache (or foot ache) when you've just bought four different pairs but you're not sure which is right.

Let these fitness training experts save you some precious time -- as well as hopefully money and pain in your feet, including the dreaded plantar fasciitis -- by checking out their recommendations for the best workout shoes for different exercises. No matter your workout preference, this guide has you and your feet covered.

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$150 at Backcountry

Best for: Trail running

Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX

"For trails, I prefer Salomon XA Pro 3D GTX.  These are Gore-tex to keep your feet dry and have firm soles for added stability on the trails. The toe box is also reinforced to keep you from stubbing your toe. As these shoes are sturdier, they are good for indoor cycling and some indoor exercise classes.  With a firm sole, some activities (such as calf raises) might be difficult in these shoes."

-- Mollie Millington, runner and certified personal trainer.

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$160 at Zappos

Best for: Running and strength training

Asics Gel Kayano

"I love the Asics Kayano as they provide additional ankle stability for people with muscle imbalances, which we all have. Once the ankle and knees are supported correctly, the proper shoe can relieve pain in the knees and ankles and help correct over-pronation which is when your foot rolls inward, causing shin splints and can cause knee pain and swelling.

"A good stability shoe will help minimize the rolling inward and help the heel-to-toe transition slowly, correcting your running form over time.

"I personally love how light this model has become over the years. The shoe has transformed into a fashionable and light shoe while helping correct the form of our feet while we run while improving the pressure on our joints while we run with added cushioning. Every client I put in these shoes loves them, as they can be worn while strength training or running."

-- Holly Roser, certified personal trainer. 

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$129 at No Bull Project

Best for: CrossFit

NoBull Trainers

"There are two main things you look for in a CrossFit shoe: durability and versatility. A good CrossFit shoe takes you from squats to rope climbs to burpee box jumps all in one workout. A good pair of CrossFit shoes feels just as comfortable during an 800-meter run as it does during a couplet of deadlifts and push-ups -- and NoBull surpasses standards for all of the above.

"NoBull shoes have a reputation for being heavy-duty yet comfortable, supportive yet flexible. Plus, they're sleek and simple, and you can choose from high-top, mid-rise and regular to find your perfect fit," 

-- Amanda Capritto, CrossFit coach, certified personal trainer and CNET writer

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$160 at Zappos

Best for: High impact workouts (like dance cardio, plyometrics or HIIT)

Asics Gel Nimbus

"My fave sneaker model is the Asics Gel Nimbus. They were the first pair of shoes I bought when I started training with DanceBody in 2016, and I'm seriously committed to them. I've tried a bunch of different sneaker brands and models, but I always come back to the Gel Nimbus. 

"They have amazing shock absorption for high-impact movements, but are light enough that they don't feel like clunky moon shoes; the perfect balance for dance cardio." 

-- Sam Ostwald, trainer and instructor at DanceBody

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See at Amazon

Best for: Boxing

On Running Sneaker Cloud Whites

"For boxing workouts, these are super-comfortable and feel like you're walking on clouds! I also like that they can be slip-on and not tied with laces. I do a lot of strength training and high-impact moves and have loved these shoes for the past four years. I still wear them whenever I do boxing workouts, drills and high-impact training," 

-- Amanda Alappat, former pro boxer and personal trainer

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