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It’s virtually impossible to step foot inside a gym of any kind and not see a pair of Nike sneakers. That’s because Nike workout shoes are some of the most popular sneakers for people of all ages, genders and fitness levels.
And they’ve have earned that popularity, too, because they’re just plain good. The sportswear brand was founded in 1964 by University of Oregon track and field coach Bill Bowerman and one of his former athletes, Phil Knight. Before there was Nike, Bowerman would alter his athletes’ shoes to optimize performance. Since then, the label has only gone harder on innovation, coming out with new technologies, shapes and fabrics that improve sneaker performance and that can be tailored to specific sports, too.
For example, Nike’s running sneakers are an absolute no-brainer when it comes to choosing pairs that are great for running long distances, outdoor on trails or doing quick sprints. Additionally, Nike has designed superb cross-training shoes, like the entire line of Metcons, and shoes that can work for nearly any kind of workout, like Reacts and SuperReps.
The beauty of these new shapes and technologies mean that you can find the perfect shoe for your workout. Some people might swear by Pegasus styles for marathon training, while others use them specifically for long walks and running errands. There’s no wrong answer here; you simply need to find the style that best suits you for different activities.
How to find the best Nike workout shoes for any exercise
- Running: Running shoes are incredibly specific to your body, and what’s ideal for you depends on how often you run, how far you go and how your body moves. This might involve some trial and error to find your optimal pair, but there are a few details that can get you started. Look for shoes that give you some room in the toe box and offer a level of support that you feel comfortable running in. Also, test them out before you buy. Podiatrist Mark Mendeszoon advises that if you have flat feet, seek shoes with wider bases so your feet don’t get crushed as you run.
- Weightlifting: Lifting heavy requires a different kind of support and protection than running does. For example, while squatting, you need shoes with a strong foundation 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 might want to have a bit of an elevated heel to allow for more range of motion.
- Cross-training: Cross-training shoes have to be good at more than one thing. They should help reduce impact on feet but be flexible enough for you to execute more explosive movements. If you have a bad back or bad knees, make sure to look for shoes that emphasize lateral support, which will keep your feet in a more optimal position throughout cross-training movements. Anything that’s on your foot is going to affect how the rest of your body moves and feels supported.
- Trail shoes: Trail running shoes need to support your feet and movement as you subject them to varied surfaces. The best pairs should include extra underfoot cushioning to absorb shock, protective features like rock plates, hard plastic or carbon fiber layers to prevent injury and stabilizing components to limit foot overrotation — the latter being especially important if you naturally overpronate.
Ahead, shop the best Nike workout shoes for every way you work up a sweat.
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Top Nike Workout Shoes
Nike Free Metcon 4 Sneakers
Best for HIIT
For workouts that involve different types of movements, like resistance and strength training paired with cardio, you want a shoe that can reduce impact but won’t make you feel wobbly in a lift, either. You can’t go wrong with any Metcon shoe, really, but the Nike Metcon 4 is a favorite for higher-impact workouts that include some jumping or other explosive movements. The bendy Free sole and thick heel offers excellent lightweight support.
One longtime Metcon lover said of the 4 model: “Had the previous version and loved it; used it for short runs and mainly gym time (lunges, squats, circuits with box jumps and side to side jumps, you name it). This version also holds up for everything in the gym while providing solid support on the sides, a little heel lift (nice for squats) and a hard surface to push from.”
Nike ZoomX SuperRep Surge Sneakers
Best 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 the elliptical, StairMaster or Airdyne bike — or maybe you like jumping rope. Whichever is your preferred method, the Nike Zoomx SuperRep Surge is a solid option with its cushioned ZoomX foam and light lateral and heel support from the arch shape along the side of the shoe. These are not quite as tough as a running shoe for outdoors might be, but they’re perfect for treadmill sprints.
Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 Sneakers
Best for Running
The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus 38 is one of the best Nike sneakers of all time, and you’d have to go out of your way to not see these scattered about in any running community. They’re one of the brand’s more recent innovations, and you can feel the difference in the spring, which keeps you moving forward in a neutral stride. They’re a great option for people with wider feet, too, thanks to the roomy toe box with stretchy mesh.
Reviewers have tested the Pegasus and report that it can handle the intensity of long-mileage training. “Great shoe,” writes one shopper. “Have been wearing Pegasuses for years, and they’re awesome for the price — particularly for those who want to put thousands of miles on them.”
Nike Wildhorse 7 Sneakers
Best for Trail Running
The Nike Wildhorse 7 has the support and spring you might be used to in your standard Nike sneaker, but its outsole is made over to support your feet through rougher terrain. It’s composed of high-abrasion rubber, which provides heavy traction when it comes in contact with different surfaces. The upper offers the protectiveness of a thicker sneaker or hiking boot but is also airy and breathable so feet don’t overheat.
Nike Metcon 7 Sneakers
Best Shoes for CrossFit
Nike’s Metcon 7s are basically made for CrossFit and other types of cross-training activities that require solid foot support and protection. The toe box on the shoe is nice and wide so toes can grip the floor with even stability — which is essential for keeping good form throughout a workout — and the lateral support in the middle of the foot is unparalleled. 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 Sneakers
Best for Walking
Nike’s React Infinity Run is a solid running shoe (we like it specifically for sprint-style runs), however, it’s also one of the best Nike walking shoes around. The brand recommends its running shoes for walking purposes, since so many resources are put into designing and redesigning the support inside them. We think these make great walking shoes, too, because they’re airy and bouncy and let your feet expand as they swell throughout a walk.
Nike Blazer Mid ’77 Sneakers
Best for Lifting
The best way to lift is barefoot, because this connection to the floor keeps your body in the most effective position. However, working out at a gym barefoot is gross, so your next best option is to wear shoes that keep your body as close to the floor as possible. Enter: the Nike Blazer mids. Although they’re technically a lifestyle shoe, their extremely flat base and built-in ankle support make them a superb choice for lifting weights.