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The Best Cross-Training Shoes for Women

Someone wears a black and pink running shoe, a pair of black athletic shoes, and someone wears a pair of red and white athletic shoes
Brooks/New Balance/Lamincoa

Proper footwear is crucial for exercise. What you wear on your feet impacts how your entire body feels during and after your workout. Cross-training sneakers are ideal for people who do several types of exercise, but only want to buy one pair of sneakers. Here’s everything you need to know about cross-trainers, and some of the best on the market for ladies.

What Are Cross-Training Shoes?

A woman tying the shoelaces on her cross-training shoes in a gym.
ESB Professional/Shutterstock.com

If you’ve ever tried to buy a pair of athletic shoes, you’ve probably noticed that many styles are labeled for a certain sport or exercise. You’ll find running shoes, basketball shoes, walking shoes, and more. These shoes are designed to support you during that specific exercise.

Cross-training shoes, or cross-trainers, are designed for multiple kinds of workouts. They’re usually labeled with the main exercise in mind but are able to keep your body stable during other types of workouts.

For example, a HIIT cross-trainer is built to keep your feet and ankles supported during high-intensity interval training, but you’ll also be able to wear them in the weight room or on the treadmill without issue.

There are a couple of exceptions to this. Cross-trainers aren’t a substitution for sport-specific shoes. These won’t replace soccer cleats, basketball shoes, or track spikes. You should also find exercise-specific shoes if you’re performing exercises at a high intensity.

For example, people training for a marathon should get the most ideal running shoe for their training, not one that can function in multiple types of exercise.

However, the average person who likes to perform multiple kinds of exercise at the gym will find a lot of success with a cross-training shoe. When picking out a pair, find one that focuses on the physical activity you do the most.

Best for Strength Training: Reebok Women’s Nano X1 Cross-Trainer

A pair of blue athletic shoes from the front and back

Most athletic shoes are built with arch support and a thick padded heel. While these features are great for jumping and running, they can actually cause you more harm than good in the weight room.

When you’re lifting heavy weights, it is important that your feet are planted firmly on the ground and won’t shift in the middle of a movement. This is especially crucial for serious lifters but applies to novices as well. The ideal strength training shoe will have a flatter sole than a running shoe.

However, if you’re planning on lifting in the weight room and finishing your workout with a dance class, you need a shoe with enough support to avoid ankle or knee pain.

Reebok’s Women’s Nano X1 Cross-Trainer shoes are the ideal shoes for someone who is committed to lifting but isn’t afraid to stray outside of the weight room. The flat sole will keep you stable while carrying heavy dumbbells and the shock-absorbing EVA foam midsole provides plenty of support when you move to the treadmill later.

Its knit outer layer keeps your feet secure during multidirectional movement while allowing them to breathe and stay comfortable.

Best for Strength Training

Reebok Women's Nano X1 Cross Trainer

For remaining stable in the weight room, but quick in the gym.

Best for HIIT: Reebok Women’s HIIT Cross-Trainer

A pair of blue and white athletic shoes

High-intensity interval training is a favorite of people who like to burn as many calories as they can in as little time as possible. This type of exercise usually involves movements like tuck jumps, lateral jumps, lunges, kicks, and more. You need a shoe with a lot of support and traction.

Reebok’s Women’s HIIT Cross-Trainer shoes are built with stability and grip in mind. They’re super lightweight to keep you comfortable through tough workouts but durable enough to live up to your toughest training session. The mixed grip pattern on the sole means you’ll have excellent traction whether you’re doing jump lunges, running on the treadmill, or sweating it out in a kickboxing class.

Best for HIIT

Reebok Women's HIIT Training Shoe Cross-Trainer

Perfect for the sweatiest, high-intensity interval training workouts.

Best for Cardio: Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 21

Someone wears a pair of black and pink running shoes

Brooks is one of the most trusted brands in the running community. If most of your workouts involve running, you need to check this brand out. Running puts a huge amount of stress on your body, so you need a shoe with plenty of cushioning that will support everything from your toes to your knees.

Brooks’ Women’s Adrenaline GTS 21 is one of the top-rated women’s running shoes available and for good reason. These shoes offer excellent arch support and the DNA LOFT Crash Pad inner layer cushions every step to prevent pain and injuries. They are specifically designed to prevent excess foot movement that can hurt your knees.

All of these features made these shoes make them ideal for running, walking, HIIT workouts, dance classes, and more. The soles aren’t flat enough for heavy-duty weightlifting, but they should be appropriate for most other exercises.

Best for Cardio

Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 21

Top-rated running shoes you can also take into the weight room.

Best for CrossFit: Nike Women’s Metcon 7

A pair of pink athletic shoes

As if the name didn’t give it away, CrossFit is the ultimate cross-training sport. It involves a variety of dynamic movements combined with weightlifting, which requires a shoe that really can do it all.

Nike’s latest Metcon model is the Metcon 7. These shoes are often hailed as the best women’s cross-training shoes, period. They have a wide, flat heel that’s great for keeping you stable while squatting or deadlifting. The bottom of the shoe has a serrated pattern that offers amazing traction on any surface while the springy cushioned base gives you enough energy to power through high-intensity cardio.

If you need more support during your cardio or HIIT sessions, simply take out the removable inserts and swap them for your favorite orthotics. They even have a lightweight mesh overlay to keep your feet cool and tab locks to ensure your laces never trip you up.

Best for All-Day Wear: New Balance Women’s FuelCore Nergize V1

A pair of black athletic shoes
New Balance

Gym-to-work is definitely a form of cross-training. If you don’t have the luxury of going home to change after working out in the morning, you want a pair of shoes that can take you from your first step into the gym to the last one leaving the office in the evening.

New Balance’s Women’s FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker is the ultimate multitasker. It offers great arch support and cushioning to keep your feet from getting tired, even if you’re on them all day long. The midsole is nice and snug, while the toe box leaves plenty of room so you don’t get cramped.

These shoes also come in a variety of colors and styles to match any outfit. With a sleek design and fit, they’ll look good in and out of the gym.

Best for All-Day Wear

New Balance Women's FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneaker

Sneakers that are as stylish as they are comfortable.

Best Budget: Lamincoa Walking Shoes

Someone wears black athletic shoes and someone touches the bottom of red and white sneakers

Athletic shoes are expensive and not everyone can afford to spend $75+ on a single pair. Sometimes, you just need a solid pair of sneakers that will safely get you through most workouts.

Enter Lamincoa’s Women’s Walking Shoes. For less than $50 you can score a highly rated pair of sneakers that aren’t cheap at all when it comes to quality. Memory foam insoles keep your feet comfortable through the entirety of your workout, while non-slip outsoles give you plenty of traction on the road, treadmill, or gym floor.

These sneakers are super lightweight and come in a variety of colors. They’re guaranteed to keep your feet (and your wallet) happy.

Best Budget

Lamincoa Women's Walking Shoes

Perfect for gym enthusiasts on a budget.

Like a bit of variety in your workout routine? If you lift weights and jump rope one day, and jog on the treadmill the next, a pair of cross-training sneakers will be money well spent.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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