What are Cross-Training Shoes?

What are cross-training shoes

A few common questions I get is, “what are cross-training shoes”? As a runner, do I really need them? Are running shoes better? Are cross-training shoes better?

As most people know, there are so many different types of shoes out there right now. It can be challenging to find one that meets your needs. There are specific types of shoes for every sport. Even in the running world, there are dozens of types of shoes made for different needs. There are workout shoes, easy run shoes, trail run shoes, and even racing shoes. It’s overwhelming in the running world alone, let alone the rest of the fitness world.

What are cross-training shoes

I’ve written a few posts about athletic shoes, including:

What is Hybrid Running Shoe?

Trail Running Shoes vs. Road Shoes

In short, if you run, you definitely need a running shoe. Whether you are running a mile or 100, running shoes are designed to distance. There are so many different styles of running shoes to meet your needs. Many runners believe that running shoes are the best shoe to meet all situations and needs, which isn’t true. You wouldn’t tell someone a running shoe is good for basketball! There are reasons you might need a cross-training shoe.

So What are Cross-Training Shoes?

Why Use Cross-Training Shoes?

The right shoes depend on what you are using them for. For instance, a soccer shoe is designed to play soccer. A CrossFit shoe is designed for CrossFit, and running shoes are generally designed for running. What you’re using them for and the type of training you enjoy.

What are cross-training shoes? Cross-training shoes are designed to be versatile. It’s the jack of all trades shoe, not ideal for just one thing but good for many things. Think of them as the MVP of workout shoes that you can usually wear out to run errands too.

So why not use a running shoe?

A running shoe is designed for forwarding motion. It does not provide lateral support, so if you are doing side to side movements like Zumba, lunges, or basketball, you might find yourself ripping through the sides of a running shoe. If you do a lot of starting and stopping, a running shoe outsole will rip apart quickly.

Benefits of Cross-Training Shoes:

  • Reinforced Sides: A cross-trianing shoe typically has reinforced sides so that you can move side to side.
  • Stability and Ankle Support: Often, cross-training shoes provide stability and ankle support if you are lifting weights. Cross-training shoes will help plant your feet firmly on the ground for strength style workouts.
  • Protection for Those Who Start and Stop Often: If you’re playing ball sports on the court, many cross-training shoes have the support that will protect you when you start and stop on the court. The bottom of running shoes gets shredded!

Nike metcon What is a cross-training shoe

Can You Use Cross-Training Shoes for Running?

No. Even if you’re only running a mile, get a good running shoe to protect your feet, legs, and body. Running is a hard sport on your body, and you need a running shoe to stay healthy. Cross-training shoes are great for low impact workouts.

How Do Cross-Training Shoes Differ From Running Shoes?

Cross-training shoes are good for low impact and side to side movement.

Running shoes are designed for forwarding movement. For the most part, with distance running, you are running miles and miles in a fairly straight line. Running shoes are designed to protect your feet when moving in the same way. They are designed to be comfortable for miles and miles.

Cross-training shoes are designed for more diverse motion, including: forward, backward, and lateral movements. Cross-training shoes focus on ankle support and stability. On a technical aspect, cross-training shoes have wider soles to support these sudden movements.

Are Cross-Training Shoes Better?

This blog post may make you believe cross-training shoes are better than running shoes! No! They are made for different purposes. Cross-trianing shoes lack the cushion and support running shoes do. Your cross-training shoes will break down VERY QUICKLY if you attempt to run mileage in them. Your body might break down even faster.

Cross-training shoes are a jack of all trades shoe will running shoes are obviously the best for running.

If you find yourself doing activities like ball sports, gym work, or aerobic classes, you want to invest in 2 different types of shoes. Running shoes are for running and cross-training for everything else.

What are cross-training shoes

How Can You Find the Best Cross-Training Shoes for Your Needs?

If it feels comfortable, t’s probably the right one.

  • Traction and Grip: Depending on your needs, look at the outsole and grip. If you are playing a lot of ball sports, you want something with a lot of traction and group.
  • Ankle Stability: Especially in basketball, you want ankle stability. This prevents a lot of ankle injuries.
  • Comfort: Let comfort be your guide, and if the shoe feels good, it’s probably a safe bet.
  • Shop locally: This blog’s theme is to visit your local sports store. Some run specialty stores carry cross-trianing shoes; some don’t, so call ahead if you go that route.

Replacing your Cross-Training Shoes:

Most cross-training shoes last around 100 hours. Wear them more often, and with higher intensity workouts, they’ll last less. I generally advise consider replacing them every 6 months.


If you find yourself in the gym or doing more cross-training activities, having a cross-training shoe becomes key. We know by now that running shoes are the best bet for running, and you need a running shoe if you do any running.

Cross-training shoes are more of the jack of all trades gym workout shoe that you can do most things in, but they are not “the best” for anything.

Love running? You can subscribe to my weekly newsletter or read more about running shoes in my ebook.

Questions for you:

Do you have a favorite cross-training shoe?

What is your favorite gym workout? 


  1. I won some Altra Cross-Fit type shoes once and loved them for casual wear. They were made for rope climbing and all kinds of fancy stuff (which I never did).

    When I cross-train, I wear a super old pair of NB Minimus road shoes haha.

    1. The Minimus is a good shoe for cross training since it’s low profile. As long as you aren’t doing to many side to side movements you should be good.

  2. I love my running shoes, but I don’t wear them in the gym for lifting weights. For lifting, I have always preferred my Converse Chucks. They are flat and firm and make a great lifting shoe.

    1. Converse Chucks are actually a better option for a lot of things because they are so low profile!

  3. I speak with a lot of patients about shoes and the biggest one that bothers me is wearing your HOKA running shoes to the gym for lifting types of workouts. I get it, shoes are expensive, but save your rocker based shoes for propelling yourself forward gosh darn it!

    I’m all for lifting! Love it, just funny when people purchase super squishy running shoes and then wear them in a strength class for no particular reason other than they want to jump on the treadmill minutes after they strength train. When Hoka started making cross training shoes for a bit people even said to me “Hoka needs to go back to making those super padded shoes, those are what I like”.

    Love the comment about the Chuck Taylors above. A few years ago Reebok made “CrossFit strength based shoes that looked like reinforced Chuck Taylors and then dumped the idea. A lot of powerlifters talk about how they can’t find those shoes anymore or scored a pair super cheap and how awesome they had been.

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