The Best CrossFit Shoes

By Carlen Oliveira

February 2, 2021

CrossFit is no joke. It incorporates everyday movements like squads, deadlifts, pushing and pulling, but cranks the intensity up by 20 notches. If you’re looking for a strength and conditioning workout, this high intensity interval training is sure to whip you into shape.

Like every sport or activity, you’ll get the most out of your workout if you use the right equipment - which in this case is finding the best CrossFit shoes for you. Wearing the right type of shoes will make a world of a difference in whatever activity you take part in. In fact, using the wrong shoes for an activity, like wearing walking shoes during a run, or vice-versa, can actually be harmful to your body and expose you to the risk of an injury.

CrossFit shoes aren’t your everyday running shoes. One easy way you can check if a shoe will be able to meet the high demands of your workout is to see if it has a rope guard in the middle of the foot. If you want to learn more about the features that make up a CrossFit shoe, scroll down to the bottom of the article.

Below, we outline some of the best CrossFit shoes from the highly regarded Nike Metcon's, to the Reebok's CrossFit Nano, to help you find the right style of shoes at the right price.

1. Editor's Pick: Reebok Nano 9 Cross Trainer

Key Specs

28 different colours
Lightweight, durable
Low-cut design aids in quick footwork
Available in both men and women shoe sizes
Polyurethane NanoShell protects the midsole from abrasion
Flexweave woven textile upper provides stretch and targeted support

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The Reebok Nano Cross Trainer series has quickly become a favourite go-to choice to help get people through their HIIT workouts. These stylish shoes are built with a wide toe box and a flexible upper to provide maximum breathability, security, durability. Most importantly, it's just an overall comfortable shoe. Suitable for all levels of experience, you can’t go wrong investing in a pair of these bad boys.

2. Best For Men: Nike Men's Metcon 4 Ankle-High Cross Trainer

Key Specs

Rubber sole
TPU heel counter provides stability
Lightweight, comfortable
Rubber rope guard
Great for indoor and outdoor workouts
4 different colours

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The Nike Metcon cross trainers are another popular shoe largely used by those in the CrossFit world. This specific model incorporates high ankle support to make sure you're well supported during all of your side lunges and lateral drills. It also features a drop-in midsole to ensure a stable and secure fit. These shoes combine comfort and durability, which makes them great for not only for HIIT workouts. They also work well through low-impact workouts, and can even be slipped on for casual walks around the neighbourhood.

3. Best For Women: Under Armour Women's HOVR Rise Cross Trainer

Key Specs

Rubber sole
Durable and breathable
7 different colours
Lightweight, abrasion resistant mesh upper
Dual external heel counter provides added stability
Wide range of sizes available

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Using their own UA HOVR technology, these shoes from Under Armour provide a zero gravity feel to maintain energy return in each step to help push you farther during your HIIT workouts. These shoes offer maximum durability and breathability to keep up with the high demands of your workouts, and are built with a lightweight, abrasion resistant mesh upper and coated in a rubber outsole. It's a versatile shoe that will help you maximize your performance.

4. Most Dependable: Nike Women's Metcon 4 Ankle-High Cross Trainer Shoe

Key Specs

Rubber sole
Shock absorbing insole
24 different colours
Wet-grip technology
Stitched toe bumper
Wide range of sizes available

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If you’re someone who’s brand loyal and swear by Nikes, these Metcon 4 Ankle High Cross Trainers will not disappoint. Using an innovative design, these shoes work to secure your foot in place and deliver a custom fit that contours to your foot that helps to reduce irritation. You can take your pick from 24 different colours and styles to get not only a supportive and durable shoe, but one with which you'll feel confident walking into the studio. It's also a great pair to buy because of its removable shock-absorbing insole and its non-marking rubber sole.

5. Great Flexible Support: New Balance Women's 20v7 Minimus Cross Trainer

Key Specs

Rubber sole (4mm drop)
100% synthetic
Lightweight REVlite midsole
Supportive and flexible upper
One-piece Vibram outsole
Wide range of sizes available

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These New Balance Women’s 20v7 cross trainers are nothing short of amazing. These shoes use an engineered knit upper made from nylon-infused yarn to give you maximum support without compromising flexibility. With superior outsole grip, lightweight midsole cushioning, and a molded asymmetrical collar, these shoes allow your feet to breathe while getting the support they need to handle high intensity workouts.

Features of a CrossFit Shoe

Thick Toe Cap:

A toe cap is the material that covers the top of a shoe that can add style, as well as reinforce the shoe. Using a thick toe cap in CrossFit shoes helps to protect your toes during exercises like burpees, push-ups or weighted planks.

Wide Toe Box:

Like most shoes, your toes need a little bit of room to breathe. Having a wide toe box allows your toes, the space to wiggle and spread out during exercises, which will help keep you stable.

Rigid Outsole/Minimal Cushioning: The outsole of CrossFit shoes, also known as the sole, are built with a firm, flat material with very little cushioning to help with stability. Cushioned soles are great for running shoes since they help absorb impact, but imagine trying to stay balanced and lift heavy weights on a mattress; suddenly balancing becomes a lot harder. Using flat soles limits the chance of you rolling your ankles.

Rope Guard: It’s not uncommon to incorporate rope work as a CrossFit exercise. Because of this, many shoes have begun to use an added rubber layer across the middle section of the shoe to help protect your feet from the rope and works to prevent rope burn.

Low Heel Drop: Like we mentioned, cushy shoes are not ideal for CrossFit workouts. Look for shoes with a heel drop that ranges from 0mm-4mm to help maximize your stability.

Sturdy Heel Counter: The heel counter of a shoe refers to the internal structure that wraps around your heel. You want this part of your shoe to be sturdy so it can work to support not only your heel, but your ankle as well during quick moving exercises. A strong heel counter also works to protect and minimize abrasions on your foot, while helping to keep you stable.

CrossFit vs Training: Are They the Same Or Different?

CrossFit is actually just an offshoot of cross training. So, although they have many similarities and features in their shoes, CrossFit shoes are typically more specialized to be able to keep up with all of the demands of a CrossFit workout. From squats and deadlifts to sprints and box jumps, CrossFit focuses on multiple muscle groups to help train your whole body, where cross trainers focus on specific skills to help improve your performance in a specific sport.

Can I Use Running Shoes For CrossFit?

Short answer, no. You shouldn’t use running shoes for CrossFit workouts.Would you buy basketball shoes to play tennis or baseball? Hopefully that answer was also no.

Shoes are designed for specific activities depending on what type of movements the body will be doing. For example, when you’re running, your joints have to handle repetitive impact each time your foot strikes the ground, which is why a pair of good running shoes will have lots of cushioning under your feet and will be stiff around the arch of your foot.

While cushion and a stiff frame are ideal for running, CrossFit workouts require a flatter sole and more flexibility to be able to move quickly and stabilize themselves when lifting heavy weights. The cushioned soles of a running shoe will actually make your life more difficult when trying to do these exercises and can lead to more injuries than if you were to use a CrossFit shoe.

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