What shoes to wear for CrossFit?


When starting any type of new fitness related activity, it’s important to have the right shoes. Golfers wear golf shoes, hikers wear hiking shoes, basketball players wear basketball shoes,…and so on. Name any activity and there’s likely a specific type of shoe for it. Sure, you could wear basketball shoes hiking, or skateboarding shoes in the gym, and you’d be ok, but you wouldn’t be setting yourself up for the best possible success.

As a gym owner, when it comes to footwear, the most common thing I see with beginners starting a strength and conditioning program (a.k.a. CrossFit) is that they show up wearing running shoes. Just the fact that these shoes are called “running” shoes should tell you something. They’re not designed for lifting weights, for jumping, turning, and being dynamic. Often times running shoes aren’t even very good at turning and pivoting (think, running trails or playing a sport). Running shoes are really good at helping you feel comfortable while running straight. They often have a large padded sole, and these days, those soles are getting out of hand with how big they are. You definitely don’t want to try doing squats or deadlifts in a pair of those. Common running shoes I see people wearing in the gym are Hoka’s, Brooks, and On Clouds. All great shoes, but for their specific purpose: Running.

“But won’t I be running sometimes in CrossFit?”

Yes, you will, but rarely is it exclusively running with nothing else involved. However, if it is, just a running workout then those shoes are perfect. In fact, at our gym we encourage people to own a pair of running shoes specifically for days like that. However, most workouts that include running will also have a variety of other in-the-gym exercises paired with it, which is where a good CrossFit shoe comes in. The majority of your time spent in a CrossFit gym will be on the gym floor, not out on the track.

Now when I say “CrossFit Shoe” don’t think that I mean it’s a shoe designed by CrossFit for CrossFit. Although those exist, there are a ton of shoes made for Lifting+running (Cross-Training) that you should consider.


A good CrossFit shoe will still have some cushion for comfort, but not so much that you feel your foot rocking side to side if doing a squat or a lunge. A good test is to stand on one foot and try to balance. Do this barefoot, then do it with your shoe one. A good shoe for CrossFit won’t feel much different than your bare foot. A running shoe however, would feel like you’re working overtime to balance yourself. We do want some cushion though, as you will be doing some running, some jumping, and other exercises that result in impact on the ground. You’ll also want a zero drop, or low drop shoe. This refers to the amount of downward slope from the heel of the shoe to the toe of the shoe, measured in millimeters. You can often tell this just by looking at the side profile of the shoe. If the heel looks significantly higher than the toe, it’s probably due to a lot of extra cushion under the heel, which doesn’t help with balance and stability. A lot of running shoes have an 8mm or greater drop, where as think of something like a converse or vans, and it has a 0 drop. In other words, it’s flat. Flat is good for balance and stability, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t still have a couple of millimeters of drop for comfort. When lifting weights, which we do a lot in CrossFit, you’re better off closer to a 0 drop than an 8.

A quick note on something that is always promoted for “CrossFit style shoes” but you shouldn’t really care about: Rope climbing ability. The earlier days of CrossFit shoes (Reebok Nano and Nike Metcon) always promoted their rope climbing technology… as if the average CrossFitter were doing rope climbs regularly. Granted, I know it all depends on what gym you go to, but rope climbs are probably the least programmed movement in all of CrossFit for a group class setting. At our gym, CrossFit Rampage, we almost never program rope climbs. And as an avid CrossFitter myself, I typically do them once per year when they show up in Quarterfinals, so for the average exercise, I wouldn’t consider this feature when searching for shoes.


I personally haven’t worn that many different shoes for CrossFit, as I’ve been a big fan of the Reebok Nano for over a decade. So I won’t be writing this from a personal opinion, nor will I be going in depth about the actual details and feel of all of the shoes. My goal with writing this is to give new gym members a list of the most common options that I see people wearing for CrossFit, then let you do your research. As far as specific fit, feel, and aesthetic, that will be up to you.

Recently, I asked everyone in the gym what shoes they wear for CrossFit, and I got a lot of answers.

Before we break down the list, understand that the history of Cross-trianing style shoes in regards to what we’re talking about is relatively short. Some shoes are more popular simply because they’ve been around longer so they’re more known.

The first sponsor of the CrossFit Games over a decade ago was Reebok. They developed the Reebok Nano in 2011, the first specific CrossFit Shoe ever. Today, the nano is on its 13th iteration, of which is called the X3. I’m a big fan of the 2’s, 8’s and 10’s and can’t speak for all of the newer models.

The nano had a 4 year head start, and in 2015 Nike jumped on board and created the Nike Metcon, of which is now on it’s 9th iteration. Because of the longevity of both of these shoes, and the popularity of the brands, they’re simply more well known so a lot of people have them.

In the same year as the Metcon, NoBull was founded. Specifically designed as a shoe company for CrossFit Style workouts. Obviously NoBull was a brand new company so they were no where nearly as big as Reebok or Nike which are global titans in the shoe game. However, because NoBull was new and different, a lot of early adopters jumped on board.

When the Reebok sponsorship with the CrossFit Games ended in 2020, NoBull became the title sponsor from 2021 – 2023. This greatly increased their popularity, and also expanded their inventory with multiple models of training, running, and casual shoes. For 2024, GORUCK is the sponsor, so they’ll be getting a lot of notoriety in the media and I’m sure their GORUCK trainer will gain popularity.

So, when I polled our CrossFit gym, the most common responses were, in no particular order:

  • Nike Metcon
  • Reebok: Nano
  • NoBull: Outwork

    Granted, this was a small sample size, and there are a ton of other shoes made for doing CrossFit. So here’s a lengthy list!
  • Strike Movement: Haze
  • Innov8
  • GORUCK: Ballistic Trainer
  • Flux Footwear: Adapt Trainer
  • R.A.D. Ones
  • Born Primitive: Savage 1’s
  • Under Armour: Reigns
  • TYR Sport: CXT-1
  • Puma: Fuse

Given how many shoes are on the market these days, you’ll definitely be able to find something that fits your taste! I’m certain that any of these shoes will do much better for you in the gym than your 6 year old running shoes.

If you want to set yourself up for success, ditch the running shoes for your gym workouts, and go get you a pair of shoes that were made for the workouts you’ll be doing!

Lastly, an excellent instagram account of which you should definitely give a follow if you’re looking for CrossFit style shoes is @asmanyreviewaspossible. I have no affiliation with this account, other than it’s my main source for shoe information (and deals!)

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