Finally, a new breed of stable but well-cushioned cross-trainers that are as dynamic as your workouts.
Peter Koch 1 / 5
The New Generation of Sneakers
Stripped-down, thin-soled lifting shoes kill your feet during high-impact exercises. Heavily cushioned high-heel running shoes throw you off balance during squats and deadlifts. Hmm, if only there were something…Finally, with the rise of multimovement programs like CrossFit and HIIT, an entirely new type of shoe aimed at the gym generalist has come into its own. Nike made a huge splash in this category with the launch of its Free Trainer 3.0 V4 (more on those here), but it isn’t the only great, do-everything cross-trainer out there.
The ZPrint has some serious sole: The inner-cushioning zone on the bottom is made up of soft, adaptive lugs, surrounded by a denser compound. The idea is to put the squish—a full 23mm in the heel and 17mm in the forefoot—directly underfoot while remaining durable and supportive. And on the striking fashion-forward upper, a lightweight midfoot webbing locks your foot to that solid foundation.
For the less-is-more crowd, the barely there Minimus trainer is about as close to barefoot as you can get without exposing your toes. At 6.9 ounces, this is far and away the lightest shoe in this roundup, and it takes a little getting used to. But once you do, the minimal, socklike feel offers great power transfer and stability for weightlifting, and the thin sole still sports enough flex and support for middle-distance running and light-on-your-feet cardio moves.
With its newest trainer, Inov-8 wanted to build on the success of its F-Lite 235 while making a more comfortable, versatile shoe. It still has a dense heel for steady deadlifts, Rope-Tec for traction on rope climbs, and a durable toe bumper for pain-free burpees, but now it also has a hugely beefed-up midsole that features 8mm of heel-toe drop, giving it a PR-fetching mechanical advantage on heavy Olympic lifts.
Adept whether you’re on a trail run, a light-and-fast summer summit, or the CrossFit box, this shoe is built for explosive, dynamic workouts. Its heel-cradling insole makes it stable during lateral moves, while a full-length TPU plate offers support and energy return on thrusters and stepups. The lightweight dual mesh upper breathes and is reinforced by durable support overlays so it won’t fall apart. Make the Ampere your off-season indoor workhorse, then slay it outside.