The Best Sneakers for Every Kind of Workout
Whether you’re keeping fit at home, or looking to lose those lockdown pounds, having the correct type of sneaker will go a long way towards helping you to get the most out of your workout.
It’s not a matter of slapping on your beat pair of running shoes, or flexin’ at the gym with your most coveted Grail. For most sneakerheads, it’s most likely about finding that balance between panache and performance.
With so many options out there, finding the perfect sneaker for your preferred workout isn’t always a walk in the park. So, whether you’re pounding that pavement or lifting large, here’s a guide to finding the perfect sneaker for your needs.
Perhaps the most ubiquitous form of workout shoe, performance running sneakers are often the go-to option when it comes to all forms of exercise. And you can’t blame people for gravitating towards them as an all-rounder, but really, they’re designed to enhance performance in two ways: running more efficiently, and reducing injury while doing it.
When running, your foot more or less lands in the same place with each stride. This repetitive motion can lead to all kinds of injuries if you’re rocking the wrong sneakers. To combat this, running sneakers are often packed with some kind of shock absorbing cushioning, often with energy-returning properties – think Nike’s React or adidas’ BOOST.
The amount of material between your foot and the ground is referred to as ‘stack height’, and choosing the right amount will vary depending on your needs. Those who prefer that ‘au naturel’ feel will probably opt for a low stack height sneaker like the Nike Pegasus 37, while those wanting a more cloud-like experience will gravitate towards silhouettes such as the HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 6. Of course, there’s also a happy medium in the form of something like an ASICS EvoRide.
If you’re looking to trade the track or pavement for something a little more rugged, trail running sneakers should definitely be on your radar. They may share many similarities to standard running options, but the most prominent upgrades will be seen on the outsoles, which will be more suited to tackling dirt, rocks and gravel.
The tread patterns tend to have deeper lugs, which provide added traction for grip on looser or slippery terrain, while the uppers will tend to have more support technology for added stability. Additionally, they often deliver better protection from the elements, making use of materials such as GORE-TEX.
If you tend to keep the pace low to take in your surroundings, something like the adidas Terrex Free Hiker will suit perfectly. However, if you’re more about clocking a PB, opt for silhouettes like the Salomon Speedcross 5.
Perhaps one of the more confusing categories in footwear, cross-training is a broad term that refers to training in multiple disciplines. Serious athletes will cross-train to enhance performance in their chosen sport or activity, while others may just prefer the chance to exercise in a variety of different ways to keep things interesting.
With that in mind, cross-training can involve everything from plyo circuits to power-lifting sessions, as well as bootcamp-style workouts or even cycling – so you’re going to need a versatile training-specific sneaker packed with plenty of stability and bounce. Sure, a regular pair of running shoes may do the trick, but if you want to get the most out of every type of workout, and minimise your chances of injury, a good cross-trainer such as the Under Armour Project Rock 3 or New Balance Minimus Prevail is a no-brainer.
Power-lifting and Olympic Lifting
If you’re looking to lift heavy, you may want to opt for something more specialised than a cross-trainer. When you’re serious about weightlifting, choosing the right sneaker becomes essential.
Designed for strength and stability, these sneakers will often feature supportive midsoles, accompanied with a wider, flatter outsole. These sole units will maximise your contact with the ground, and are more suited to deadlifts and other lifts like low-bar back squats.
In a weird gym quirk, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star has become somewhat of a cult sneaker for those seeking serious gains. However, if you’re after something a little more modern, opt for sneakers like the Nike Romaleos 4.
When you’re done with your workout, you’re going to need to slip into something to keep your feet and legs fresh. This is where recovery footwear comes to the fore, packed with uber-comfortable cushioning and feather-light constructions. Styles like the HOKA ONE ONE Ora Recovery Flip are without doubt the easiest recovery options to slide on post-workout.
You might think you don’t need ‘em, but their versatility makes them a neat double-up as the perfect pair for working or lounging at home.