ask a cool person

What Are the Best Men’s Workout Shoes?

Photo-Illustration: courtesy Chartoff-Winkler Productions

Finding the right pair of shoes for your workout can be a tricky enterprise — not only should they feel comfortable, but they should also look good enough that you’ll actually want to wear them. The line between form and function is sometimes blurry, though, with many opting for marathon-grade running shoes to walk around the city and run errands. That’s totally fine if style is your main concern when buying a workout shoe. But if you’re looking to do a more vigorous workout, the 16 cool fitness pros and exercise enthusiasts we talked to say it’s important to have a shoe designed for that specific task, because it’ll perform better and help you stave off injuries. (“Rule No. 1 in fitness is don’t get hurt and rule No. 2 is reread rule number one,” says trainer and entrepreneur Percell Dugger, who says the right shoes are critical to following these rules.) To find the best workout shoes, we asked our cool people about the pairs they use for running, cross training, weightlifting, and more active pursuits. We organized their recommendations by the type of workout the shoes are meant for, leading each section with any pairs we heard the most about.

Best men’s workout shoes for running

Hoka One One was the only running-specific shoe brand we heard about that came up more than once. Running coach Francisco Balagtas told us he runs “fast and slow, long and far, and everything in between” — and that he does it all in this pair of shoes from the brand. “Being so light, they’re great for doing faster workouts, but they have enough cushion to go longer and slower as well.” (Balagtas says he logged more than 500 miles in them in the last 28 days alone, so you can consider these fully tested.) He stresses that anyone who “doesn’t initially consider these because of their ‘chunky’ look” to reconsider, promising that “the performance is there.”

Hoka One One Arahi 4

Dave Spandorfer, the co-founder of running outfitter Janji, is another runner who told us he has logged hundreds of miles in a pair of Hoka One Ones. That pair is the Arahi 4; designed with support and stability in mind, these are a little more supportive (and two-ounces heavier) than the lighter Mach 4 shoes above. For Spandorfer, a self-described “stability runner,” these shoes’ extra support makes them perfect for “running hundreds of miles on the road.”

Adidas Adizero Boston 8
From $54

If you’re looking for a more affordable shoe that delivers equal parts speed and stability, Matt Taylor, the founder and CEO of running-gear brand Tracksmith, recommends the classic Adidas Boston for its versatility. Taylor, who runs in “major races” as well as recreationally, has tried “hundreds of shoes, but always find myself coming back to the Adidas Boston,” he told us. “They’re light enough you feel like you can get some speed going, but supportive enough for higher mileage.”

Men’s Health associate fitness editor Brett Williams told us he loves Brooks running shoes because, like Hoka One One, the brand “only makes running shoes, so it’s focused on doing one thing well.” Williams is a fan of this pair in particular because the midsole is made of a special Nitrogen-infused compound that, according to him, is designed to increase energy return. Because of that construction, Williams says keeping a quick pace is more efficient. “I eat up miles wearing these and feel light on my feet doing it.”

If you’re running on trails rather than on pavement, Strategist contributor and fitness enthusiast Steven John says that of his “many pairs of trail running shoes” he always comes back to these ones from Merrell. Of their many admirable features, John told us he most admires the way they manage to give the wearer “a better feel for the terrain than typical trail runners,” yet still “doesn’t sacrifice noticeably on cushioning, so I never find myself slowed by rock, roots, or other hard surfaces.” While John will wear them on trail runs, he says they’re just as good “for distance runs on concrete and for use at the gym, too.”

New Balance’s 940 shoe comes recommended to us by contributor (and How Long Gone podcast host) Jason Stewart, the author of our guide on how to build a basic (but respectable) home gym. Stewart, who happens to have very large feet, told us that finding a suitable running shoe was quite challenging. “Since I wear a size 17 shoe, my selection of New Balances are usually limited to their more orthopedic styles,” but the 940, which comes in sizes up to 18, had “clean lines and a modern sole” that drew him to it. The pair shown is a newer version of the shoes Stewart actually wears, which he says “don’t feel heavy on the foot, but also aren’t too light, like some other shoes I’ve had a problem getting used to.” (His exact shoes are still available, but in limited sizing, which is why we are showing the newer version.)

Best men’s workout shoes for cross-training

While many opt to wear running shoes for lifting and cardio, most of the fitness pros we spoke to say that it’s worth investing in a pair of shoes better suited for all-purpose workouts. Sean Sewell, a personal trainer who runs the gear-review site Engearment, says that while running shoes have “a bit of a lift in the heel that helps for comfort when running,” that can make it hard to achieve “proper alignment” in other kinds of workouts. Todd Brandon-Morris, the founder of inclusive fitness brand Out-Fit, says Nike’s Metcon shoe should be “the standard for any versatile athlete,” because they’re “firm enough for heavy weight-lifting” but also great for jumping and running. Sewell tells us they’re also very popular in the CrossFit community: “They are lightly cushioned and have little to no heel lift, making them good for proper biomechanics when performing deadlifts, squats, swings and snatches,” he says, adding that they have “good tactile feedback too.”