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Best gym trainers 2021 | Top picks for men & women

Finally replacing your worn out gym shoes? Good footwear can make a huge difference to your workout. Here are our men’s and women’s picks for 2021.

Best gym trainers 2021 title with nike air zoom trainers in white and adidas powerlift shoes in black

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a January gym-goer, or you’re one of those keen beans who works out relentlessly (we truly envy your commitment levels). Gym trainers will always be the most important aspect of your exercise outfit, so you need to choose the right ones. They help serve a number of purposes including comfort, stability, support and of course, helping you to look fly as hell whilst you’re pumping iron.

Today’s the day to toss out those stinking, hole-ridden abominations and slide yourself into some pillowy soft, fresh new gym trainers. We’ve got top picks for both men and women, so let’s get you back to feeling the burn.


What are the best type of trainers for the gym?

Workout shoes are incredibly important for their particular purpose, much like boots are for football. We’re not daft, we don’t expect anyone to rock up to their local gym sporting a pair of Doc Martens anytime soon, but there are subtle differences in gym footwear which you should know about. Let’s take a look at the options and then show you the best available right now.


Weightlifting shoes

mens and womens adidas powerlift weightlifting shoes in black and blue
Image from adidas.

For all those powerlifting folk and members of things such as the #SquatSquad. Weightlifting shoes are built entirely for stability and extra shock absorption. These shoes often have a flat sole with a wider, raised heel area, helping to distribute immense weight more evenly across the feet. Definitely don’t go near the treadmill in these.


All-rounders / CrossFit / HIIT shoes

mens and womens nike metcon 6 gym training shoes in grey and pink
Image from Nike.

Specific shoes created for the all-round gym experience. A flatter sole than running shoes but still with a slight curve to them to help with warm-ups and light cardio. Stability and shock absorption are still the most important factors. High-intensity interval training class? Covered. Little go on the bike or the rower? Covered. Just don’t go full Forrest Gump and you’ll be fine.


Running shoes

mens and womens asics gel kayano running shoes in blue and grey
Image from Asics.

For the treadmill junkie. Built for the sole purpose of comfort and stability when jogging and sprinting. Of course, there’s absolutely no harm in having a pair of running shoes as your gym trainers, but only if you’re focussed more on cardio than getting hench. Go on, unleash your inner Forrest Gump.


Best gym trainers for men

Nike Metcon 6

Image from Nike.

Nike doesn't mess around when it comes to producing footwear fit for athletes, or the casual gym-goer, for that matter. Whichever way you see yourself, the Nike Metcon 6 is the latest release from their highly-respected training shoe collection.

With more breathability and tech than ever before, they feature a wide Hyperlift heel with incredible traction through a rubber outsole. Oh, did we mention they also look fantastic in the flexing mirror? They’re the only gym buddies you’ll ever need.

Shop Nike Metcon >

adidas Powerlift 4

Image from adidas.

One for the iron pumping crew. Couldn’t get further from a treadmill if you tried? This is the one for you. The clue’s in the name, you’re going to want to hump lumps in these. Call us old-fashioned, but we do like the clean, simple design and colourways too.

With a canvas upper and straps, the adidas Powerlift is somehow both stable and flexible at the same time. An EVA foam heel manages to take any level of squat strain, whilst the sole gives you enough grip to avoid any embarrassing groin strain mishaps.

Shop adidas Powerlift >

Reebok Nano X

Image from Reebok.

The Reebok Nano X is a little bit of a hybrid for those people who don’t mind breaking 5km records, then jumping off to snap some bicep muscle fibres. Renowned as a popular CrossFit shoe, the Nano is tough enough for whatever routine you throw at it.

Three Metasplit grooves on the outsole help with stability and support toe-spreading for a better lifting base. The Flexweave woven upper gives the shoe a breathable feel, meaning they can live in the gym bag without gassing out your car.

Shop Reebok Nano >

adidas Ultraboost 20

Image from adidas.

We’re shifting a tad more towards the cardio end of the gym with the adidas Ultraboost 20. Although it’s more than worthy of the title ‘all-round gym trainer’. It looks amazing, as you’d expect from one of the most popular running shoes in the world, in a wide range of colourways.

The Boost midsole remains, giving back 20% of energy each time it strikes the ground. That’ll knock a couple of minutes off the PB, surely? The Continental (yep, tyres) outsole means they will go for miles on end too. A pricey but welcome addition to any gym kit.

Shop adidas Ultraboost >

New Balance 1080v10

Image from New Balance.

Another quality trainer which is deserving of a place in our list, even if it tips more toward the running end of the scale. The New Balance 1080v10 is still durable, comfortable and stable. What else do you need? Fresh Foam X midsoles compliment the feet perfectly, giving a smooth ride on the treadmill or the HIIT class.

If you need a lightweight, stylish option for when you attack that sweatbox they call your local gym, you can’t go wrong with a pair of these.

Shop New Balance Fresh Foam >

Best gym trainers for women

adidas Ultraboost 20

Image from adidas.

We’ve already mentioned in detail how good these adidas trainers are. Well, it’s good news for #girlswhocan because you can grab your own pair of Ultraboost 20 too. And you should. As we said earlier, this shoe is lightweight and ideal for all-round workouts or classes. WIth loads of styles and colourways to choose from, there’s bound to be something for even the pickiest of owners.

Shop adidas Ultraboost >

Nike Air Zoom Pegasus Turbo 2

Image from Nike.

The Nike Air Zoom Pegasus is for women who prefer to lean toward the cardio side of things. Perfect for longer distance running, but equally comfortable for an all-round workout or CrossFit class in the gym. A ZoomX energy efficient midsole is the leading-edge tech which supports the shoe, giving maximum comfort and support. It’s not exactly ugly either, bonus.

Shop Nike Air Zoom >

New Balance FuelCell Echo

Image from New Balance.

Marketed as a lightweight speed shoe, this trainer can still handle the daily grind of the gym floor. The ribbed outsole provides more than enough grip to avoid any potential calamities, while a sock-like upper looks sleek and lends itself to maximum breathability. The FuelCell midsole will provide you enough bounce for classes, box jumps or even a stroll to the shop. Not for chocolate though, nobody’s saying that.

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Nike Free Metcon 3

Image from Nike.

The Nike Free Metcon 3 is a proper training shoe, ideal for CrossFit, lifting weights and warm-up jogs. A rubber Nike Free sole gives flexibility to the toes, helping you to leap and push off with ease, this works in tandem with the wider Metcon heel for support. Its futuristic look won’t be for everyone, but we like them at least? And we know our stuff.

Shop Nike Metcon >

Asics Gel Cumulus

Image from Asics.

Legends in the exercise game, Asics. Those lot really know how to provide their customers with ultimate support and comfort for their sweat sessions. If you haven’t tried a trainer that has Asics Gel then you’re truly in for a treat, with FLYTEFOAM technology running throughout the sole, you won’t feel anything but pillowy cushion with each step. Wait, are they making Asics Gel mattresses yet?

Shop Asics Gel >

Kevan Thorpe

Quintessential grassroots journeyman. I've had more "you look like Gareth Barry" comments than I have career goals.