7 Best Nike Cross-training Shoes in 2024 (2024)

How we test training shoes

Evaluating all the quality shoes in our repertoire requires serious testing in the gym. That means wearing the shoes for actual workouts to determine their real-world value and performance. We also analyze the shoes to their micro-level at the RunRepeat lab to check the technologies used.

Our selection procedures include the following:

  • Buy the Nike cross-training shoes for wear tests. We use our own funds for this to maintain our 100% objectivity.
  • Go to the gym for the hybrid training sessions, putting in around 10-20 hours for each particular model. We determine how the shoes feel and perform while doing multiple movements and workout regimens. We then take note of our assessments after each session.
  • Split the shoes in half and cut them into pieces. We also quantify the various properties of the training shoes. One thing we explore is stability. There are a few factors that affect this: platform width, cushioning, and overall and heel stiffness. Check out our reviews to know how we test for these parameters.

Best Nike cross-training shoes overall

Nike Free Metcon 5

86

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What makes it the best?

The Nike Free Metcon 5 delivers benefits that are mutually exclusive in other Nike shoes. It’s both sufficiently supportive and insanely flexible. It’s also both plush but exceptionally stable. Because of these wonders, we didn’t have any other choice but to declare the Free Metcon 5 as the best among Nike’s cross-training shoes.

This shoe’s support capacities come from its collar and tongue. The collar is well-padded, so it’s able to comfortably hug the back of the foot and ensure good ankle and heel lockdown. The tongue, for its part, is fully gusseted. This design expectedly delivered an optimal lockdown and a snug fit.

We learned in the lab that this shoe needs only 8.8N of force to do a 90-degree bend. This makes it way more flexible than the typical trainer, which needs 22.5N to bend at the same angle. This shoe’s immense flexibility allowed our feet to naturally flex for exercises like burpees and mountain climbers.

Our HA durometer in the lab pegged the midsole’s softness at 17.4, making it way softer than the average which is 27.0. While this setup is hugely comfortable, it would have been easily unstable if not for the fairly wide platform, especially in the heel area. The heel of an average shoe is only 87.0 mm wide, but the Free Metcon 5’s heel is 95.1 mm!

At its widest part, the toe box has a width of 107.9 mm, making it way wider than the 100.5 mm average. Clearly, this shoe cannot accommodate gym rats with narrow feet.

Pros

  • Impressively stable
  • Noteworthy ankle support
  • Awesomely close-fitting
  • Roomy toebox
  • Nice and airy upper
  • Comfortable for all-day wear
  • Quite cushiony
  • Notably lightweight
  • Exceptionally flexible
  • Stylish design and overall look

Cons

  • Not for long runs (2-3 miles max)
  • Upper lacks durability

Full review of Nike Free Metcon 5

Best Nike cross-training shoes for weightlifting

Nike Savaleos

85

Good!

What makes it the best?

The Nike Savaleos has a semi-gusseted tongue and a really stiff heel counter. These design elements surely helped this trainer become the versatile shoe that we needed for a wide array of exercises including lifting. What made this shoe even more suitable for lifters is its amazingly wide platform, which gave us a lot of anti-wobble benefits. No other Nike cross-training shoe comes close to the Nike Savaleos when it comes to lifting.

The shoe's semi-gusseted tongue allowed us to experience high levels of comfort and a good blend of secure support and freedom of movement. Hence, overhead snatches, jerks, and even squats were as easy to execute as box jumps and quick jogs in place.

The perfectly rigid heel counter complemented the benefits that the semi-gusseted tongue delivered. It kept the rear part of our feet secure all throughout our routines. In the lab, we gave this part of the shoe a perfect 5 for stiffness after manually twisting and squeezing it.

The Metcon 8’s wide platform was one of the main reasons this shoe became a dependable lifting partner. Using a caliper, we saw that the platform is 116.0 mm wide at the forefoot and 94.2 mm at the heel. These figures add 8.9 mm and 7.1 mm to the respective averages!

It’s just regrettable that the upper isn’t as durable as we would have wanted. It scored only a 3 out of 5 in our in-lab Dremel test for durability.

Pros

  • Superb stability for moderate lifting
  • Good for non-lifting exercises
  • Very lightweight for a lifter
  • Secure lockdown
  • Flexible forefoot
  • Excellent grip
  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • Not for heavy weightlifting
  • Not for wide feet
  • Upper lacks durability

Full review of Nike Savaleos

Best Nike cross-training shoes for speed

Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2

85

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What makes it the best?

As a true cross-trainer, the Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2 delivered a good blend of ground feel and impact protection. It does so without sacrificing speed because of the highly responsive Zoom Air unit embedded in its forefoot. Hence, it became our best pick for speed among cross-training shoes from The Swoosh.

Only 22.9 mm thick at the heel (the average is 24.6 mm) and 15.2 mm thick at the forefoot (the average is 18.3 mm), the Metcon Turbo 2 surely brought us closer to the ground. This setup allowed us to accelerate much more easily and gain additional movement control.

Impact protection is not to be discounted because our HA durometer in the lab showed that that cushion is actually softer than average, 22.4 against 27.0. In the gym, we felt our harsh landings and aggressive strikes effectively neutralized, keeping us free from pain.

The Zoom Air unit in the forefoot is not to be discounted when it comes to energy return. During our test runs, it felt like a spring that made every step amazingly efficient and powerful.

Garnering only a rating of 1 out of 5 for durability, we could only wish that the upper delivered more. We surely cannot recommend this shoe to those gym goers who want something that lasts.

Pros

  • Bouncy Zoom Air in the forefoot
  • Good for short runs
  • Perfect for jumps and aerobics
  • Stable for moderate lifting
  • Excellent flexibility
  • Amazingly breathable
  • Durable outsole

Cons

  • Upper is not durable rope climbing
  • Heavy for a "speed-oriented" trainer

Full review of Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo 2

Best Nike cross-training shoes for HIIT

Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3

80

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What makes it the best?

The Air Zoom SuperRep 3 from Nike is both tough and soft in the right places. The softness of the cushion effectively toned down the impact of each strike. The toughness of the sidewalls and the base ensured a secure lockdown and a pretty stable ride. Add high levels of breathability to this already fantastic mix, and we got for ourselves the best for HIIT among Nike’s cross-trainers.

In the lab, we measured the heel and forefoot to be 31.7 mm and 27.5 mm thick respectively, making them 7.1 mm and 9.2 mm thicker than the average. What’s even more noteworthy was what our HA durometer showed: this cushion is also softer than average! It got a reading of 21.0 which is significantly lower than the 27.0 that the typical trainer would get.

To test how resistant this shoe is to force, we manually twisted this shoe in the lab. Even if we exerted so much force, the base and the forefoot were still unyielding. We were left with no other choice but to give this a 5 out of 5 in terms of its torsional rigidity.

Airiness was also another aspect that we appreciated so much. During our breathability test, the smoke that we pumped into the shoe escaped quite easily through the pores in the sidewalls, toebox, and tongue area. Not once did we feel our feet getting too warm even as our sessions become a little too intense. This shoe easily got a 4 out of 5 for breathability.

It’s just unfortunate that the Air Zoom SuperRep 3 is on the narrower side. We learned through the caliper that the toe box is 97.9 mm at its widest, which is still narrower than the 100.1 mm average. This Nike training shoe isn’t for fitness enthusiasts with wide feet.

Pros

  • Perfect for HIIT
  • Light on the foot
  • Bouncy cushioning
  • Great flexibility
  • Stable side support
  • Snug, locked-down fit
  • Breathable

Cons

  • Not for wide feet
  • Arc catches debris outdoors

Full review of Nike Air Zoom SuperRep 3

Best minimalist Nike cross-training shoes

Nike Flex Control 4

88

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What makes it the best?

The Flex Control 4 did everything as a good minimal cross-training shoe should: it helped us accelerate and provided us with a stable base without putting on so much weight. Because of all these benefits, we declare the Nike Flex Control 4 as the best minimalist shoe among all the cross trainers that we have worn so far.

The quick-footedness that this trainer afforded us was a result of the synergistic performance of two features: a low-to-the-ground profile and a firm midsole. Through our caliper measurements in the lab, we discovered that the midsole is only 19.0 mm and 15.6 mm thick at the heel and forefoot. This makes it far thinner than average, which has respective measurements of 24.6 mm and 18.3. Compared to that of the typical cross trainer that has a firmness score of only 27.0, the cushion is firmer at 32.0 as per our HA durometer.

The Flex Control 4 also has a wider base. We learned through our caliper measurements that this shoe’s footprint is 111.0 mm wide at the forefoot while it’s 89.2 mm wide at the heel. These numbers are 1.4 mm and 2.2 mm wider than average. The extra width was enough to stabilize our stance when we did light to moderate lifts.

The weight is a sure highlight of this shoe. Weighing only 9.8 oz or 277g, this shoe is indeed lighter than the typical trainer that weighs 11.2 oz or 317g.

The durability of the upper was a source of concern. After just a few rigorous sessions, it already showed considerable damage. Because of that, we don't recommend the Nike Flex Control 4 to gym goers who prioritize durability.

Pros

  • Comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Lighter than average
  • Very flexible
  • Foot feels planted
  • Budget-friendly
  • Good grip
  • Simple aesthetics
  • True to size

Cons

  • Durability issues
  • Not for serious workouts

Full review of Nike Flex Control 4

Best budget Nike cross-training shoes

Nike Legend Essential 3

70

Bad!

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What makes it the best?

At $65 per pair, the Nike Legend Essential 3 is surely a lot cheaper than the average Nike cross-trainer ($104 per pair!). Of course, the price is not the only thing that’s good about this Nike shoe. It moved well with our feet so gracefully, allowing us to easily do jumps and other exercises that require the feet to flex. This shoe also allowed our feet to breathe in and breathe out with much ease! Because of all the goodness that we enjoyed, we declare the Legend Essential 2 as our most valuable pick among all Nike cross-trainers.

After manually twisting and squeezing this shoe in the lab, its base got a score of 1 out of 5 for torsional rigidity. This means that the shoe did not restrict our movements at all. We were able to bend with much ease. Standing on our toes to target our calves became so easy to do! As a result, no one among us skipped leg day!

Keeping our feet cool and well-aerated was never a problem for the Legend Essential 3 from Nike. During our breathability test in the lab, the smoke that we pumped in escaped quite easily through much of the upper. There was just no chance of overheating even if we sprinted and box-jumped for hours.

We just don’t think that this shoe is of much help when it comes to heavier weightlifting. The heel counter felt like giving in when we started packing up more plates. It only got a 2 out of 5 for stiffness, after all.

Pros

  • Very affordable
  • Super lightweight
  • Breathable upper
  • Enough cushioning for jumps
  • Wide platform
  • Flexible
  • Good grip

Cons

  • Lacks durability
  • Not for heavy lifting

Full review of Nike Legend Essential 3

Best Nike cross-training shoes for Crossfit

Nike Metcon 9

83

Good!

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What makes it the best?

We shuffled through Nike cross-trainers to find the ultimate CrossFit shoe - and it’s no other than Metcon 9. Our lab results show this incredibly supportive shoe has a wide base, good stability, flexibility, and excellent traction that allows us to power through our WOD. It’s versatile enough to handle hybrid training, but its strength in weightlifting makes it an awesome CrossFit partner.

We can “just do it” and lift away since the wide and sturdy base keeps us planted to the ground. Under the heel lies a non-compressible Hyperlift plastic for extra support when lifting heavier loads. With raised sidewalls and a protective upper, Metcon 9 offers a solid foothold for better balance.

This pair proves it can handle multiple workouts. The sidewalls assisted our climbs and protected the upper from wearing out. On our lateral movements, we didn’t have any wobbles. We found manually twisting the shoe difficult, earning a 5/5 torsional rigidity rating. This explains why we always feel so stable, regardless of our movement.

Our CrossFit sessions were dynamic and fast-paced, yet Metcon 9 conquered them all. The shoe moved freely with us. Our bend test confirms it’s 15.0% more adaptive than average.

On hot and humid days in the box, Metcon 9 feels too toasty. With subpar breathability, we recommend exploring other summer trainers.

Pros

  • Exceptionally stable for weightlifting
  • One of the most durable cross-trainers
  • The best shoe for rope climbs
  • Reliable foot containment
  • Very comfortable in-shoe feel
  • Nice grip on gym floors
  • Accommodates wide feet (finally!)
  • Surprisingly flexible

Cons

  • Heavier than average (and previous Metcons)
  • Not great for cardio workouts and rope jumps
  • So-so breathability

Full review of Nike Metcon 9

Buyer’s guide on Nike cross-training shoes

Nike has a long history of producing high-quality athletic footwear. Its cross-training shoes are designed to provide support, stability, and comfort for a variety of workout types.

What to look for in your future Nike cross-trainers

There are a few important parameters to consider before you buy a pair of Nike training shoes. Ticking off the following few boxes in Nike cross-trainers will help you get the best out of your workouts.

Support and stability

If you include a lot of weightlifting into your routine, your trainer should have a firm and wide heel, a stiff heel counter, and lots of side support. The best shoe for the job is the Nike Metcon.

Cushioning

The level of cushioning you need depends on the type of activities you will be doing. We use a durometer to measure each shoe's softness level and a caliper to find out its cushioning thickness. Most Nike cross-training shoes have a good balance of cushioning and support but some offer a little more cushioning for jumps and runs. Consider the Nike Air Zoom SuperRep if you focus on aerobics and cardio.

Breathability

Look for shoes that allow your feet to breathe, this will help to prevent your feet from overheating and prevent blisters. We assess each shoe's breathability level in our lab with the help of a smoke-pumping machine. Most Nike shoes have plenty of airflow but the Nike Zoom Metcon Turbo proved to be the airiest.

Durability

Cross-training shoes should be able to withstand the wear and tear of different types of activities. We put each Nike shoe through a series of durability tests involving a Dremel.

The most wear resistant by far is the Nike Metcon (on the left).

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Flexibility

Cross-training shoes should have a flexible sole that allows for natural foot movement and help you pivot, jump, and change direction easily. If you prefer a very natural underfoot experience, get the super-flexible Nike Free Metcon. Or a Nike Flex Control, if you are on a budget.

Fit

Make sure the shoe fits well and is comfortable. Try on different sizes and widths to find the perfect fit. Make sure there is enough room in the toe box for your toes to move freely and that the heel is snug but not too tight.

We provide detailed information of each Nike shoe's fit on our lab reviews.

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Cushioning technologies in Nike cross-trainers

Nike uses a variety of cushioning technologies in its cross-training shoes which vary depending on the shoe's purpose. Some of the most common types include:

  • React foam: The most common cushioning used in Nike training shoes. Durable and responsive, it also provides good impact protection and energy return.

  • Zoom Air: This is a type of pressurized air cushioning that provides plenty of energy return. These units are often found in the shoe's heel or forefoot.

  • Phylon: basic lightweight foam often found in the more budget-oriented Nike models.

In some cases, Nike also uses dual-density foam. It is a combination of two different types of foam where the firmer is placed in the heel for support and the softer one in the forefoot, for cushioning.

What’s the difference between Nike cross-training shoes and Crossfit shoes?

Nike Crossfit shoes and Nike cross-training shoes are both types of athletic shoes that are designed for different types of activities.

Nike Crossfit shoes are specifically designed for the sport of Crossfit, which involves a combination of high-intensity functional movements, such as weightlifting, gymnastics, and cardio exercises. These shoes typically have features such as reinforced toes, sticky rubber outsoles, and sidewalls for rope climbs. Nike Metcon is the brand's flagship Crossfit shoe.

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Nike cross-training shoes, on the other hand, are designed for a wider range of activities that involve a combination of different types of movements, such as running, jumping, lifting weights, and performing bodyweight exercises.

A brief history of Nike cross-trainers

Nike has a long history of producing athletic shoes for a variety of sports and activities, including cross-training. The company first began producing cross-training shoes in the 1980s and 1990s, with the introduction of models such as the Nike Air Trainer 1 and the Nike Air Trainer SC.

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These early trainers had leather uppers and the iconic Air units. Nowadays, they have turned into retro sneakers.

In the early 2010s, Nike began to focus more specifically on the cross-training market, with the introduction of shoes such as the Nike Free Trainer and the Nike Metcon. These shoes were designed with features such as flexible soles, reinforced toes, and sticky rubber outsoles, making them well-suited for a wide range of cross-training activities.

7 Best Nike Cross-training Shoes in 2024 (2024)
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