Choosing the right shoes for your workout is more than just grabbing a random pair of sneakers from the athletic store. Here’s how to figure out what type of shoes you need.
I was chatting with a girlfriend the other day, who had just purchased a new pair of shoes for the gym. I asked her what shoes, and she sent me a photo of Asics running shoes. It made me realize that a lot of people don’t understand how to choose the right shoes for certain activities. This friend is not a runner, but she does some weight training, walks on the treadmill and will do a class every now and then. Running shoes, though, were not the shoes she needed.
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I often see people at the gym wearing the wrong type of shoe for the activity they are doing. The issue with this is you could seriously injure yourself without even realizing it!
Here are some common mistakes people make when choosing workout shoes.
They choose the right shoe for the wrong activity.
Number one mistake. You love those xyz shoes because they are so cute. They’re athletic shoes, so they will work for whatever activity, right? WRONG! The right pair of shoes can literally make or break your workout. Running shoes are made specifically for just that: running. They have no lateral stability built into them because you don’t move side to side when you run, so you could get injured if you wear running shoes for things like aerobic activity, or HIIT (high intensity interval training).
I have, on multiple occasions, rolled an ankle by wearing my running shoes to do other activities (especially HIIT). I don’t always want to lug around two pairs of shoes, so I make due with what I have, but it has cost me many an ice pack in doing so. Think it won’t happen to you? I’m pretty damn athletic and it has happened to me. You aren’t invincible.
Also, those blisters you got? Probably because you were wearing the wrong shoes (or you need better socks, not cotton ones). Once I found the perfect shoe for me (running, cross training and lifting included), I’ve never had a blister.
They go for looks and not comfort.
So common with women. We want to look good at the gym because when we look good, we feel good! But choosing shoes based on how they look is not going to do you any good when you have major foot pain due to wearing cross trainers for distance running.
They don’t ask for help.
If you aren’t familiar with what type of shoes you need, ask someone! You can visit a shoe store specifically for athletics (Dicks Sporting Goods, for example. I go to Road Runner Sports for my running shoes.). They have folks trained in how to help you find the right shoe for the right activity. (Or you can use my handy little guide below!)
So what shoes do I need?
I’m glad you asked! Athletic shoes are made specifically for different activities.
You are a runner
Easy no brainer. There are HUNDREDS of running shoe options out there. When I started distance running again about 5 years ago, I went and got fitted for running shoes. Many places, like Road Runner Sports, will video tape you running to show you how your feet move. Based on this, they will help you find the shoes you need. This was a major game changer for me! I used to run cross country in high school, but was not very good. I now realize a lot had to do with my shoes! Now that I know what shoes work for me, (Mizuno Wave Riders) I stick with them.
Also, make sure you replace your shoes every 300-500 miles, or at least once a year.
You are a weight lifter
There are a variety of options designed specifically for lifting, although many of them aren’t that great looking. You want a shoe with a non-compressible sole (read: you don’t want a lot of cushion). If you have the wrong shoe, it will absorb more of the force that’s intended for the weight. You also run the risk of injury, especially when you’re moving heavy weight around. Your feet are the link between your muscles and the stable ground, so having proper shoes is important.
You enjoy walking
Yes, there are shoes made specifically for walking! The difference between walking and running shoes is this: Most runners strike the ground with their mid-sole. When you walk, you tend to strike the ground with your heel more. So walking shoes have more cushion in the heel vs the mid-front of the shoe in running shoes.
You do a little of everything
What you need are cross training shoes. They provide stability for lateral side to side movement, a bit more cushion to support you when you run or walk, and are great for classes like kickboxing and aerobics. Plus they make a great shoe for HIIT (high intensity interval training) and lifting as well. In general I think a large portion of people fall into this category. There are a lot of great cross trainers out there, so just make sure you look for that name when you’re trying to find the right shoe.
My favorite athletic shoes
I’ve probably owned upwards of 200 pairs of athletic shoes in my lifetime. For some that may not be a lot, but for me, it is. I’ve had some great ones and some really crappy ones that went back to the store the next day.
If you’re really into fitness, then I’m sure you have your favorites. But if choosing the right athletic shoe is new for you, here are some of my favorites for different activities.
Hands down the Mizuno Wave Rider line is my favorite. They are the first pair of running shoes I’ve owned that 1) didn’t give me blisters, and 2) my feet don’t get tired in. They are a more neutral running shoe, so if you are an overpronator or underpronator, a shoe that provides more stability may be better.
A great stability running shoe is the Brooks Ravenna line.
The Reebok Floatride got great reviews this year. Reebok has really made a comeback in the last year. Their Floatride Foam Technology makes the shoes extremely light while still providing good cushion and support.
Like I said above, weight lifting shoes aren’t that glamorous, but there are a few brands I think you’d be happy to put on your feet each week.
The Reebok Nano 7 is marketed as more of a training shoe, but I know a lot of people who love them for lifting. And they are probably the best looking of the bunch.
Adidas Powerlift 2 is specifically designed for weight lifting. If you are a doing a lot of cleans, presses and just overall moving a lot of weight, these are the shoes you want.
Asics Gel-Fortius has been touted as a great shoe for lifting. Not surprising as it’s sold out in many sizes already.
I’m not super familiar with walking shoes, but here are a few that come up in my search as some of the best walking shoes.
Asics Gel Quickwalk have been touted at one of the best (and they are cute!).
The New Balance 1865v1 is technically a running shoe, but has been shared as a great shoe for walking. Also a nice lower price option (and again, really cute).
The New Balance 1865v1 shoes are top 5 when it comes to walking shoes.
Cross-training shoes are my jam. I love the feel of them and I can easily go from doing a HIIT workout to lifting and I don’t have to change shoes.
New Balance 1865v1shoes are some of my favorite training shoes. I’ve had two pairs for well over 5 years and love them both.
Nike Flex Supreme TR 5. Nike makes a great cross training shoes.
I think I may test out the Asics Gel Nitrofuze TR Cross training shoes next. They have gotten great reviews.
Nike Free TR7. Another great Nike option.
Having the right shoes for the type of workout you are doing is key for a successful and possibly pain-free workout. It can also help prevent injury, which no one wants when we’re working hard to get fit. Make sure you take the time to pick the right shoes for your workouts!