The Best Shoes for Training

The Best Shoes for Training

I love shoes more than I care to admit. If it were reasonable, I’d have a hundred pairs for every different occasion, in every color and style. The one exception to that is dress shoes. I don’t understand why an adult would opt to wear a shoe that is more visually appealing than comfortable.

My best guess is, back when corsets where all the rage, someone thought, “Maybe the men should be uncomfortable, too! Let’s make ‘em all wear hard, shiny shoes.” And, since shiny black things are prettier than feet, it stuck.

We’ve been slowly working our way back to sanity ever since. That’s what humans seem to do—they innovate, even when the best possible version of something is attached to you and crafted by millions of years of evolution.

Nowhere is this problem more prevalent than in the fitness industry, which keeps trying to innovate even though the verdict is in about the best shoe for your feet. As it turns out, no shoe is the best shoe.

I don’t care if we are talking running, lifting, or cross-training. Each month Nike, Adidas, and Reebok will shove their newest version of the Inline s57000 Flywise Jump High Gel Bullshits down your throat and claim they’ve improved on the old design, which featured flames on only one side.  

There is nothing wrong with these shoes. In fact, they look cool as hell. It’s their functionality that comes into question. In my opinion, cross-trainers or running shoes with a padded bottom do serve a purpose: if you intend to run a long distance on concrete, it would be nice to have a little cushion for all that impact.  If not, stick with Mother Nature’s own 21st-century cross-trainers (i.e., your feet).

So-called weightlifting shoes serve a unique purpose, as well. If you need a little heel raise to maintain proper form when you first start squatting, they’re perfect. Ankle mobility—tight hamstrings or calves—is a common problem among the novice weightlifter. Weightlifting shoes are a quick fix, but after six months it’s time to ditch the crutches and play on an even field.

Now, the only problem with Mother Nature’s cross-trainers is that they aren’t allowed uncovered in most gyms. I know that no shoes will ever replace my bare feet, but socks keep my feet warm, and I don’t want to get cold feet before a lift (pun intended).  Of course, I can’t wear just socks, because of their lack of grip and durability. Performance socks are a new fad, but I don’t see them surviving more than a month or two of consistent use.

Thus, minimalist training shoes have become all the rage in some circles, and I couldn’t be happier. There are companies that have managed to create some awesome minimalist shoes. If you have to cover your feet for a workout, here are my picks:


Innov8 Bare-XF 210

If Batman wore workout shoes, he’d wear these. They are lightweight, durable, and flat.


New Balance 200 Trainer

Very similar to the #1, but a little more … shoe-y. If you haven’t gone minimalist before, these might make for a smoother transition.


Chuck Taylors/Converse All Stars

These are not minimalist shoes, but they are the cheapest lifting shoes money can buy. They are totally flat and get the job done. A word of advice, though: if you are going with the high tops, I recommend not lacing the top two loops in order to allow your ankle full range of motion during lifts like squats.

It is time to start working out closer to the ground again. Grab a pair of the shoes above or just simply take your shoes off. Since most Americans do not belong to a gym, and since I am assuming your home doesn’t have a strict shoe policy, there is no excuse for lifting in big, padded trainers. Enjoy the freedom, spread your toes, and feel the ground. I bet you’ll find your balance easier and make your feet way stronger!

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