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Most exercisers follow a cross-training regimen, in which they alternate between strength training and conditioning activities.
Cross-training is a method of improving health and athletic performance by utilizing a combination of two or more exercise modalities, such as running and weightlifting. In the 1980s, when interest in cross-training activities was growing, the idea of a single shoe that could handle all of these different routines was first proposed.
Tinker Hatfield's Nike Air Trainer One is widely regarded as the pioneering cross-training shoe. In addition to its innovative Air Sole unit, partial cupsoles, midfoot strap, and lateral outrigger, the cutting-edge design also featured In the 1980s, tennis great John McEnroe and later, multi-sport icon Bo Jackson, brought widespread attention to the Air Trainer. After Nike introduced their first cross-training shoe, many other major athletic brands followed suit, including Reebok with their CXT model. (At the time, Reebok designer Paul Litchfield was also hard at work on another future classic: the Reebok Pump, a basketball shoe worn by Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkens in the late '80s and early '90s. )
From quick directional changes to training jumps, deadlifts to sled pulls, power cleans to sprints, battle ropes to box jumps, and so on, the term "cross-training" and the role of cross-training footwear has expanded to encompass a wide variety of athletic modalities as our workouts have evolved.
Litchfield, now the head of product at sporting equipment company GoRuck, attributes this success to developments in performance technology. "Today's training is much more bioscientific and is more intense and focused on explosive moves," he says. "The shoes from back then were great for general fitness and training, but they weren't made for this particular kind of training." They couldn't have been as sturdy or quick to react because they didn't have access to the same resources. ”
This is why Air Trainer Ones, like many of Nike's original sport sneakers, are now commonly worn for everyday activities. The fact that rapper and sneaker king Travis Scott recently reworked them has given them even more street cred.
Finding the right footwear for cross-training
Litchfield warns that not every pair of workout shoes will be a perfect fit, despite the fact that there is likely a shoe designed for your needs and foot type. It can be as challenging as a 60-minute Barry's Bootcamp HIIT class to locate a pair of cross-training shoes with the ideal heel drop, sockliner, toe box, and outsole. Litchfield says that the tried-and-true method of trying on shoes in a store is the best way to find a pair that fits well. (While you can place an order online, keep in mind that not all businesses offer generous return policies or cover shipping costs if you change your mind. )
Cross-training shoes, according to Litchfield, "shouldn't bite the top of your foot" and "the right cross-training shoes shouldn't be too high or too low at the ankle." The shoes should be comfortable enough that doing jumping jacks or walking around the store in them won't irritate your feet. ”
Try to find shoes with roomier toe boxes if you have wide feet. Shoes with a lower toe drop may be more comfortable during strength exercises like deadlifts, while those with extra cushioning may be more appropriate for longer cardio routines involving running.
No matter what kind of exercise you like to do, your shoes should never cause you any discomfort. You don't want to take your mind off of your performance and start thinking about how your shoes feel, he says. "Your focus is on scoring a new PR, a power clean, or running a faster time." You can tell you're not wearing the right shoe without severing an artery. Subtle flaws, like shakiness, can add up over time. ”
When doing cross-training, how often should you replace your shoes?
Whether or not your cross-training shoes need to be replaced can be hard to tell just by looking at them or smelling them. The mileage calculator may also be useless if you don't regularly run very far.
So, how do you know when it's time to buy a new pair? Experiencing increased fatigue during exercise or stress in new areas of the body are both potential warning signs. Are you having trouble maintaining proper form during a squat or power clean? How much more inward or outward rotation do your knees typically have? Observing any of these symptoms over the course of multiple workouts should raise red flags.
Litchfield says, "You might not notice anything different about your shoes when you put them on, but if they are breaking down, they will probably be collapsing on either the lateral or medial side." "This may signal the beginning of compression loss in the midsole, something that will inevitably affect all products in the long run." ”
We've compiled a list of the top 15 pairs of cross-training shoes available now. We put each pair of cross-trainers below through our paces, with the exceptions being those that came highly recommended by our testers. Go on shopping for them down the page
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Best Men's Cross-Training Shoes
Nike Cross-Training Metcon 7 Shoes
We've come to take Nike's signature cross-trainer, the Metcon, for granted at this point, as each new iteration has become an instant classic. The Metcon 6s are a favorite of this reviewer's because they provide enough support without restricting movement, making them suitable for a wide variety of workouts (the writer's feet never felt compromised or tired while wearing them). When you throw in some agility-based workouts, you'll appreciate the Metcon 7's full-length React Foam midsole and outsole.
Shoes for Cross-Training: Inov-8 F-Lite G 300
Favored by CrossFitters
Fans of the style, such as CrossFit athletes Dani Speegle, Scott Panchik, Kara Saunders, and Jamie Greenwood, lend credence to Inov-8's claim that it produces the world's toughest training shoes. The Inov-8 F-Lite G 300, at just 11 ounces, has a rubber outsole reinforced with Graphene, also known as the world's strongest compound, making it exceptionally durable while pushing or pulling heavy weights and providing stability on slippery hardwood gym floors. With the increased energy return from its Boomerang footbed, you'll be able to sprint to the finish line with greater ease.
Shoes for Cross-Training: Reebok Nano X1
For Those with Wide Feet
One of the most well-known and popular cross-training styles on the market is the Reebok Nano X1, alongside Nike's Metcon series. The X1s are versatile enough to be worn anywhere from light cardio to the toughest WODs. Nano's Flexweave technology offers breathability and durability, and the forefoot cushioning provided by Floatride Energy foam will help you set a personal best in the squat. One reviewer says, "The fit is incredibly relaxing." I like that the toe box is roomier than in most shoes. ”
Cross-Training Shoes, Under Armour Hovr Rise 3
The Most Adaptable
One of Under Armour's recent releases is great in many ways. First and foremost, the Hovr cushioning and foam are long-lasting and pleasant for any physical activity. Also, these shoes are flexible enough to be slipped on and off quickly (not a big deal, until it's the last minute before class). Most notably, these shoes have a rubber outsole that allows for a variety of movements, from running to shifting to throwing a combo at Rumble, all without causing the wearer to plant their feet and become stuck to the floor.
One reviewer raves, "They are super comfortable, but the style and look calls so much attention." You can wear them running or to the gym without worry. You won't regret purchasing them. ”
The Cross-Training Sneakers, the Brooks Levitate StealthFit 5
Ideal for Workouts That Focus on Running
The Brooks Levitate StealthFit 5 is an excellent choice for cross-training if your routine centers on running but also includes weightlifting. The DNA AMP midsole technology and light weight of the Levitate make it ideal for running, jumping, and changing directions in, but it doesn't feel at all soft when performing strength-based exercises. While not the best option for heavy deadlifts, these offer a secure and comfortable grip to the floor during pulls when you really need them, making them a great addition to your cross-training wardrobe.
Cross-Training Sneakers by Puma
The Fuse from Puma is the company's first strength-focused shoe, and at , it's one of the more reasonably priced options here. The Fuse has been approved by Formula One star Lewis Hamilton and worn by CrossFit athlete and WODapalooza champion Chandler Smith. The Fuse, with its four millimeter toe drop and not-quite-extra-wide toe box, provides comfort and security for deadlifts and cleans. Meanwhile, the Pumagrip oustole greatly facilitates both short sprints and nimble maneuvers. There's a finger loop on the back of the heel for easy donning.
Cross-Training Shoes with an APL Techloom Tracer
The Best Extravagance
With a heel drop of only eight millimeters and a weight of just over seven ounces, the latest offering from APL in the realm of cross-training is perfect for everything from sprints and jumps to heavy lifting and HIIT routines. According to satisfied buyers, the Propelium midsole also provides a high level of comfort and durability. A reviewer who initially hesitated to spend $230 on a pair of shoes now proclaims, "The money has definitely been worth it." For the past 30 days, I've been using the shoes for my workouts, and I have to say that they are far more comfortable than any other shoe style I've tried before from other brands. I do most of my workouts on the concrete floor of my garage, so I need shoes with sturdy soles. I'm pretty sure I won't be done buying APLs anytime soon. ”
The Cross-Training Shoes You Need: Hoka One Kawana
Best in Fashion
It's no secret that celebrities like Tyler Cameron, Tayisha Adams, and Britney Spears are fans of the unique color combinations found in Hoka's trendy treads. If you're serious about improving your athletic abilities, you need to try out the newest trend in cross-training. The lightweight and firm Kawanas provide a level of comfort that lies somewhere between Hoka's softer and spongier Bondi and the ultra-light Clifton. In addition, they make the ideal 10-ounce foot mold for any challenge, whether it's a heavy lift, a long run, or an after-work HIIT class. On a conditioning day consisting of Assault Bike sprints, kettlebell swings, and farmers walks, I wore the Kawanas and found that they helped me to easily transition from one exercise to the next. In conclusion, they are always among my go-to pairs of exercise footwear.
Hylete's Cross-Training Circuit II Sneakers
Don't Forget About Cross-Training Shoes That Can Do It All
Hylete's cross-trainer is versatile enough to be used for anything from setting a new personal record in the deadlift to running three miles (though you should test and adjust the insoles before using them for long distances). sled pushing, for example, is made more challenging by the six millimeter drop, making it more likely that the shoes will come off. The knit fabric of the Circuit IIs and the Vibram outsole of the Hylete make for a very comfortable shoe.
One customer remarked, "They fit pretty much perfectly and give me the support I need for lifting and running." After some wearing in time, they are a perfect fit. ”
Cross-Training Shoes by Under Armour, the Project Rock 4
The Rock's new line of shoes, created in collaboration with the sportswear giant Under Armour, is another successful venture for the multi-hyphenate. The company claims that its Hovr technology eliminates the impact of running, jumping, and doing burpees by creating a "zero gravity feel." A TPU strap across the middle of the foot further secures the foot and stops any wiggle room. One happy buyer had this to say: "The shoe is lightweight and very comfortable, and it also looks great." The sole is very well cushioned. I loved the variety of colors available and plan to get another pair very soon. ”
Shoes for Cross-Training: Adidas Mahomes Impact FLX
Adidas' latest partnership with NFL MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes dropped last month, and the shoes feature a unique waved sole and bold color combinations. The Boost midsole cushions your feet and distributes your energy reliably, whether you're doing sprints on the turf, a steep incline on the treadmill, or a series of box jumps and burpees. Some early buyers complained that the shoe was too narrow, but overall reception has been positive.
Wearing My Cloud X X-Training Shoes
The Ultimate in Middle-Distance Relaxation
Newcomer On has exploded onto the running scene, and for good reason: the company's products are widely regarded as the most comfortable available. Although not ideal for trying new personal records in the deadlift, the Cloud X represents a transition into the category of multipurpose training shoes, and it provides great comfort, durability, and versatility for HIIT class, the gym, or running a 5K. The shoe's reviews rave about how comfortable it is and how well it supports the arch.
One reviewer says, "I have very high arches, and this is the only shoe that fits and supports like a shoe is supposed to." The upcoming purchase will be my fifth set. Great shoe for running and other forms of exercise. ”
Trainer No Bully
Workout of the day today Your CrossFit performance can benefit greatly from Nobull's Trainer. These trainers have a four millimeter toe drop, which allows for easy transitions between events, and an extended toe bumper, which provides extra traction for explosive takeoffs and secure landings. And if long-lastingness is a priority when making a purchase, know that NoBull footwear is constructed to last. A satisfied buyer raves, "These shoes still look brand new after nearly five years." They're thousands of hours old, but they're as good as new. There is obvious wear and tear, but the shoes still fit and function perfectly. This is the only brand of training shoe I will ever buy or recommend. ”
Those are some tough GoRuck cross-training shoes.
Rucking, the practice of carrying a heavy load while on foot, is the focus of GoRuck's product line. The Ballistic Trainer, one of the company's more recent offerings in the cross-training shoe market, is designed to cushion your feet not only during long rucks but also while running, jumping, and lifting heavy weights in the gym. The shoe's breathable upper and eight millimeter heel lift make it suitable for a wide range of physical activities. (You can customize the height of the shoe by inserting sockliners of your own choosing.) The three-material rubber soling of the Ballistics ensures reliable grip on any surface you choose to work out on. I have not found another cross-training shoe that can double as a powerlifting shoe on deadlift day and a running shoe for a mile sprint at the end of the workout, but the Ballistic comes close.
How to Meet a Writer
Journalist and avid exerciser Jeff Tomko. In addition to Muscle & Fitness, his work has appeared in Men's Health, Esquire, Runner's World, GQ, and Metro, where he currently serves as senior editor. When he's not writing, he's probably at the gym, wearing the most advanced men's cross-training footwear.
Confer with a Pro
Paul Litchfield is in charge of product development at GoRuck, a company that makes rucking-specific athletic gear. Before becoming the vice president of Reebok Advanced Concepts, he worked for Jabil, a global manufacturing services provider, for nearly three decades as the chief engineer of footwear and apparel innovation and product creation.