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It’s nearly impossible to set foot in a gym and not see a pair of Nike sneakers. That’s because Nike training shoes are some of the most popular sneakers for people of all ages, genders, and fitness levels.
And they also gained this popularity, because they are simply good. The sportswear brand was founded in 1964 by University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman and one of his former athletes, Phil Knight. Before Nike, Bowerman modified his athletes’ shoes to optimize performance. Since then, the label has only stepped up innovation, delivering new technologies, shapes and fabrics that improve sneaker performance and can also be tailored to specific sports.
For example, Nike’s running sneakers are an absolute no-brainer when it comes to choosing pairs that are ideal for running long distances, outdoors on trails, or doing fast sprints. Additionally, Nike has designed some great cross-training shoes, like the entire Metcons line, and shoes that can work for almost any type of training, like Reacts and SuperReps.
The beauty of these new shapes and technologies means you can find the perfect shoe for your workout. Some people swear by Pegasus styles for marathon training, while others use them specifically for long walks and runs. There is no wrong answer here; you just have to find the style that suits you best for different activities.
How to Find the Best Nike Training Shoes for Any Exercise
- Functioning: Running shoes are incredibly specific to your body, and what’s ideal for you depends on how often you run, how far you run, and how your body moves. It may involve trial and error to find your optimal pair, but there are a few details that can help you get started. Look for shoes that give you room in the toe box and provide a level of support that you feel comfortable in. Also, test them before you buy. Podiatrist Mark Mendeszoon advises that if you have flat feet, look for shoes with wider bases so your feet don’t get crushed while you run.
- Bodybuilding: Lifting heavy loads requires a different kind of support and protection than running. For example, when squatting, you need shoes with a solid base and space for stability. You want to stay connected to the ground for the best kind of movement, says strength expert Chris Duffin. With some weightlifting shoes you may want to have a slightly raised heel to allow for a greater range of motion.
- Cross training: Cross-training shoes have to be good in more ways than one. They should help reduce impact on the feet but be flexible enough for you to perform more explosive moves. If you have back or knee pain, be sure to look for shoes that emphasize lateral support, which will keep your feet in a more optimal position throughout cross-training movements. Whatever is on your foot is going to affect how the rest of your body moves and feels supported.
- Trail running shoes: Trail running shoes should support your feet and your movement as you subject them to varied surfaces. The best pairs should include extra padding underfoot to absorb impact, protective features such as rock plates, layers of hard plastic or carbon fiber to prevent injury, and stabilizing components to limit excessive rotation of the foot – the latter being particularly important if you naturally overpronate.
Ahead, shop the best Nike training shoes for every way you sweat.
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Best Nike Training Shoes
Nike Free Metcon 4 Trainers
Ideal for HIIT
For workouts that involve different types of movement, like resistance and strength training paired with cardio, you want a shoe that can reduce impact but also won’t cause you to wobble on an elevator. You can’t go wrong with any Metcon shoe, really, but the Nike Metcon 4 is a favorite for high-impact workouts that include jumping or other explosive moves. The flexible Free sole and chunky heel provide great lightweight support.
A long-time Metcon lover said of the Model 4: “I had the previous version and loved it; used for short runs and mostly gym time (lunges, squats, circuits with box jumps and side jumps, etc.). This version also stands up to anything in the gym while providing solid lateral support, a little heel lift (nice for squats) and a hard surface to push off.
Nike ZoomX SuperRep Surge Trainers
Ideal for cardio
Running might be a popular form of cardio, but it’s not the only one you need a good shoe for. Maybe you like working out on the elliptical, StairMaster or Airdyne – or maybe you like jumping rope. Whichever method you prefer, the Nike Zoomx SuperRep Surge is a solid option with its cushioned ZoomX foam and light lateral and heel support thanks to the arch shape along the side of the shoe. These aren’t as durable as an outdoor running shoe, but they’re great for treadmill sprints.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 Trainers
Ideal for running
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 is one of the best Nike sneakers of all time, and you should do everything possible not to see them scattered in any running community. It’s one of the brand’s newest innovations, and you can feel the difference in the spring, allowing you to move forward in a neutral stride. It’s also a great option for people with wider feet, thanks to the roomy toe box with stretchy mesh.
Reviewers have tested the Pegasus and report that it can handle the intensity of a long workout. “Great shoe,” writes one shopper. “I’ve worn Pegasus for years, and they’re awesome for the price, especially for those who want to put in thousands of miles.”
Nike Wildhorse 7 Trainers
Ideal for trail running
The Nike Wildhorse 7 offers the support and spring you might be used to in your standard Nike sneaker, but its outsole is designed to support your feet on rougher terrain. It is made of high abrasion rubber, which provides strong traction when it comes into contact with different surfaces. The upper offers the protection of a thicker sneaker or hiking boot, but it’s also airy and breathable so feet don’t overheat.
Nike Metcon 7 Trainers
Best Shoes for CrossFit
The Nike Metcon 7s are basically designed for CrossFit and other types of cross-training activities that require strong foot support and protection. The shoe’s toe box is nice and wide so the toes can grip the ground with even stability – which is essential for maintaining good form throughout a workout – and the midfoot lateral support is unmatched. The silhouette helps with things like jump squats and lateral bounds that challenge your feet and ankles to stay upright and stable.
Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 3 Trainers
Ideal for walking
Nike’s React Infinity Run is a solid running shoe (we especially like it for sprint-style runs), but it’s also one of the best Nike walking shoes around. The brand recommends its running shoes for walking as a lot of resources are invested in designing and redesigning the support inside. We think they also make great walking shoes, as they are airy and bouncy and allow your feet to expand as they swell throughout a walk.
Nike Blazer Mid ’77 Trainers
Ideal for lifting
The best way to lift is barefoot, as this connection to the ground keeps your body in the most efficient position. However, working out barefoot in a gym is gross, so your next best option is to wear shoes that keep your body as close to the ground as possible. Enter: the Nike Blazer Mid-Tops. Although these are technically lifestyle shoes, their extremely flat base and built-in ankle support make them an excellent choice for lifting weights.