To start 2020, we gave our chart on the best women’s CrossFit shoes a bit of a reshuffle. This included adding the popular Nike Metcon 5 Women’s, as well as the brand-new Under Armour Women’s Tribase Reign 2.0. In addition, we also revised our handy buyer’s guide and FAQ section!
Whether you are replicating heroes such as Tia-Clair Toomey or Annie Thorisdottir, or simply want to crush your next WOD, having a great pair of CrossFit shoes is essential!
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In short, a good CrossFit shoe is built for versatility. This is why cross trainers also make excellent shoes for circuits and functional fitness classes, as well as general weightlifting and training at the gym – pretty much anything apart from long-distance running!
Thankfully, the market is full of shoes worth your time and money, whatever your budget. You just have to know what features to look for.
That’s where this article comes in. Below, we have prepared a buyer’s guide to help women find the best CrossFit shoes to suit you and your workout. In addition, we have also listed seven of our favorite cross trainers for women to help highlight what’s popular on the market at the moment.
Size: 5 to 12
Upper Material: Synthetic
Sole Material: Rubber
Features: Multiple colors, rubberized 3D printed upper, textured bi-directional rubber outsole wraps, Hyperlift insert, TPU heel clip, flywire cables with lace integration
We kick off this chart with a popular shoe from Nike’s respected Metcon series – a collection synonymous with CrossFit. These high-end sneakers are built for dynamic CrossFit and HIIT workouts, while performing just as well for shorter runs.
Regardless of your WOD, the Metcon 5 remains flexible enough for running and jumping, while the inclusion of a removable Hyperlift insert adds even more stability for heavy strength training. Overall, the comfort is excellent, as we have come to expect from the Metcon line.
There’s also plenty happening on the exterior of this sleek shoe, with textured rubber wraps offering additional grip on rope climbs, and ridged outsole traction for enhanced sled pushes. The only consideration is the price – a little higher than others, but these feel worth the investment.
Size: 5 to 12
Upper Material: Textile
Sole Material: Rubber
Features: Two color choices, knitted upper, UA TriBase, Micro G foam midsole, larger external heel counter, rubber outsole wraps
As one of the biggest sports brands in the world, it’s only natural that Under Armour offer a wide range of training shoes for women. However, it’s the Tribase Reign 2.0 that’s caught our eye.
New for 2020, this shoe builds on the earlier Tribase Reign, although with some upgrades to improve stability and comfort. While the original Tribase section of the sole (for enhanced ground contact during big lifts) remains, Under Armour has added a large external heel counter for greater support.
This sneaker boasts two gorgeous feminine styles, with a comfortable knitted upper that hugs the foot nicely. Of course, being a new Under Armour product, you will have to fork out quite a few notes for this pair, yet the design, feel and performance makes it feel like money well spent.
There should be no surprise to see multiple Reebok shoes on this list, considering they are the official footwear sponsor of CrossFit. One of the most popular in Reebok’s cross trainer collection, the Nano 9 is a smart choice for women – one shoe that is a regular feature at the CrossFit games.
This versatile shoe features an internal support cage to keep you stable during bigger lifts, while responsive cushioning offers comfort and flexibility for more dynamic movements. It features Reebok’s Flexweave upper, which is stretchy and lightweight for a comfortable fit.
Meanwhile, the rubber sole is durable, nicely grooved and split into two sections for excellent traction and flexibility. This all adds up to a performance shoe that straddles the line nicely between a higher-end feel and an affordable price.
One of the most popular CrossFit shoes for women is the NOBULL trainer, which strips things back aesthetically while delivering a high-performance sneaker that is free from gimmicks.
The design reflects the sentiment of the name, with a no-nonsense style that looks as good outside of the CrossFit box as in it! However, the tech is far from basic. These shoes are built to perform, with an upper made from one piece of SuperFabric – a comfortable, lightweight and breathable material that performs in all scenarios.
The shoe also features high-carbon lateral and medial guards to boost foot protection, with a flat but flexible sole that’s ideal for adding stability to lifts. Whether you are Olympic lifting or box jumping, these shoes stand up to scrutiny – providing you don’t mind the higher-end price.
Size: 5 to 11
Upper Material: Textile and synthetic
Sole Material: Rubber
Features: Multiple color choices, lightweight design, outer sole pivot point, responsive cushioning, antimicrobial Ortholite footbed
Another very popular CrossFit shoe for women is the Devotion XT Cross Trainer from Ryka, which is particularly good for dynamic WODs, as well as dance fitness classes.
Engineered specifically for the female foot, this is a lightweight and comfortable sneaker. The upper is made from a breathable mesh with synthetic overlays for a little extra support, while the sole is made from rubber. This sole features a ‘pivot point’, which is designed to help you change direction quickly.
Wearing the shoe is comfortable, with a cushioned antimicrobial Ortholite footbed providing good support for explosive CrossFit workouts that include burpees and box jumps, as well as general high-intensity training. Edging on the wrong side of affordable, but worth the investment.
Size: 5.5 to 12
Upper Material: Synthetic mesh
Sole Material: Rubber
Features: Four color choices, minimalist design, origami-inspired EVA foam midsole, cushioned insole, flexible molded outsole
We arrive at another popular pair of Reebok sneakers – the Flexagon Energy Cross Trainers. As the name suggests, this shoe has the focus on flexibility! This flexibility is a great asset for CrossFit and other dynamic workouts.
With four clean color choices to choose from, these Flexagons are perfect for both the gym and CrossFit box. The highlight of this shoe is the flex grooves in the rubber outsole that offer good traction and natural flexing of the foot as you run, jump, push and pull your way around your workout.
These trainers also feature an ‘origami-inspired’ EVA foam midsole for comfortable stability, while the upper is made from a breathable mesh to help keep you cool as the heat rises.
While there may be better CrossFit-specific shoes around, we’d be doing a disservice not to highlight the FuelCore Nergize V1 from New Balance – one of the most popular cross training shoes for women on the market.
These affordable sneakers boast a good mix of comfort, stability and versatility – not to mention a huge selection of designs and colors! The upper is made from a synthetic mesh to offer good breathability. This comfort is boosted by the REVlite midsole foam and removable NB Memory Sole insert.
A bonus is that they are very easy to put on and take off thanks to the slip-on design, with additional security from the laces. While they aren’t the most supportive shoes for big lifts, they are excellent for CrossFit, dynamic workouts and Pilates, as well as daily activity.
If you ever needed an example of a dynamic workout, a visit to a CrossFit box should be your first port of call. In addition to the workouts changing every day, every workout demands something different.
One day you may be cleaning, pressing and deadlifting, while the next you may be running, climbing ropes and performing box jumps. For such a demanding workout, it’s no surprise that you need a good pair of shoes.
As our chart above will have shown you, there is no universal ‘best shoe’ for CrossFit – everybody is unique and everybody has their own preference. Instead, there are many designs that offer something different, meaning there is plenty to consider before investing your money.
In the following sections, we take a look at some of the things that make up a good cross trainer, from the design to the features.
As we have mentioned, a CrossFit shoe must perform well in many fitness disciplines. Therefore, a good cross trainer will sit somewhere between a running shoe (with sloping cushioning to encourage forward movement and absorb impact) and a weightlifting shoe (built with stability and no compression) in terms of design, functionality and comfort.
For example, you could probably wear a running shoe for CrossFit and the flexibility would work well for the parts of the workout when you are performing box jumps, burpees, and – of course – running. However, as you start repping out deadlifts, cleans, and squats, that pair of running shoes could start to hinder you, due to the lack of stability and lateral support.
The alternative is to wear a good weightlifting shoe, which will perform perfectly for the heavier lifting portions of your WOD. Of course, the problem here is that lifting shoes are firm and flat, with rigid midsoles – in other words, they don’t perform well when it comes to running or jumping.
As CrossFit often pairs heavier lifting with more dynamic high-impact movements, owning a pair of cross trainers is the best solution.
Good cross trainers tend to place your foot closer to the ground for a better feel and more power transfer during the big compound lifts. They offer more lateral support for when you are moving in different directions. The sole is also flatter than the curved sole you’d find on a running shoe, which helps with stability when lifting.
However, unlike dedicated lifting shoes, cross trainers are much more lightweight and flexible. The shoe should include a little midsole cushioning to make higher-impact movements less stressful on your joints. Often the sole will be developed to flex in multiple ways – whether that’s by adding carefully positioned grooves or by separating the sole into multiple portions.
If your cross trainer can promise this mix of comfort, stability, flexibility and support, then you know you can go ahead and add it to your shortlist.
After this, you have to decide on the kind of style you want, which is obviously going to come down to your personal preferences.
Luckily, the market is bursting with different designs to suit all kinds of taste. You can find shoes with minimalist designs, small logos and subtle feminine colors, while others are louder in color and design to help women make a statement.
After you have ensured that the shoe offers enough stability and flexibility for your desired workout, you should pay attention to the materials.
You will usually find different materials used on the three main sections – the upper, the midsole and the outsole.
These days you will find many materials used for the upper. Often this will be a very breathable material to ensure your foot remains cool during a sweat-inducing workout. Look out for either knitted textile or synthetic mesh, which can both be snug, stretchy and fit your foot like a glove.
The midsole of good cross trainers tends to be made of foam – usually EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate), although with a lower density than the EVA heels found on dedicated lifting shoes. This foam keeps the shoe lightweight while also being flexible and comfortable to wear for higher-impact workouts.
Sometimes you will find a hardwearing TPU (thermoplastic polyurethane) added to the outside of this midsole to enhance the stability and durability of the shoe, while also helping with activities such as rope climbing.
Finally, pretty much every cross trainer will include a rubber outsole. This choice is obvious as rubber is flexible, durable, and offers great traction for things like running, lifting, climbing and sled pushes.
While most shoes will use rubber, they will all use rubber in a different way. They will make use of different patterns or different grooves carved into the base, all with the aim of enhancing grip and flexibility. Some shoes will also implement split soles/decoupled soles, which enhances the flexibility even more.
Your CrossFit shoe could boast the perfect mix of flexibility, stability, comfort and style, but if it doesn’t fit well then none of that will matter!
It may sound obvious, but buying a shoe that’s too small will result in the discomfort, distraction and the potential blisters that come from excessive tightness. On the other hand, wearing something too big may be as uncomfortable – and potentially dangerous if your foot slips around while performing something like an Olympic lift.
If you are buying your shoes in a sports store, then you have no excuse to walk away with an ill-fitting pair of shoes. If a physical store is your choice, always try before you buy!
Buying cross trainers online is usually more convenient and cost-effective, but the caveat is that you are unable to try them on before you purchase. Because each brand tends to differ in size (in other words, a Nike size 10 may feel a little different to a Reebok size 10), you have to be careful.
To ensure you are getting a shoe that fits you properly, there are three things to do.
First, check the manufacturer’s website and marketing information. Many will offer a sizing guide that will advise you how to choose the best size shoe for your feet.
Next, take a look at user reviews on online marketplaces. You will usually find comments on whether a shoe runs too big or too small. If several users make a comment on a shoe feeling too tight, then you can probably order a size or half-size bigger than you usually would.
Finally, make sure you buy from a reputable online dealer with a good returns policy. This way, if you receive the shoes and they don’t fit perfectly, you can return them and request an alternative size. This may be a little more hassle, but it’s worth doing if you are investing your hard-earned money and value your experience.
While design, fit and materials are all paramount, it is worth looking out for extra features that manufacturers add to help you get the best from your CrossFit workouts.
For example, rope climbs are a big feature in CrossFit and appear in many WODs. Rope climbs can be the bane of a CrossFit athlete’s life – although having a good pair of shoes can help. Some shoes will feature a TPU sidewall or a textured rubber wrapped around the outside of the midsole, which enhances the shoe’s grip on the rope to make your life a little easier!
Some shoes may also feature a textured rubber pattern/haptic printing on the upper. In addition to helping on rope climbs and aiding you as you push weighted sleds, it gives the shoes more durability.
On the inside, some shoes will feature ‘Flywire’ – a lightweight but high-strength thread that adds support to the shoe in key areas. This additional support provides a more secure fit, locking your foot in place for added stability.
You can also find shoes that come with inserts (e.g. Nike’s Hyperlift insert) to add a greater heel drop, temporarily converting the cross trainer into more of a dedicated lifting shoe. These removable inserts can be handy to improve stability and motion when you are squatting during your WOD.
The market is brimming with great CrossFit shoes for men – but thankfully there is just as much choice when it comes to good cross trainers for female athletes.
Which is the best? It’s tricky to say – there is no one greatest CrossFit shoe, as ‘the best’ is usually determined by your goals, style and budget.
For example, if you can only afford to spend $50, it’s pointless looking for Nike’s newest Metcons! However, if you are shopping on a budget, there are plenty of affordable shoes to choose from.
We recommend that you check out some of the models in our chart above. This top seven chart highlights some of the most popular shoes on the market in all categories. All of them are engineered specifically for a woman’s feet, while many will feature feminine colors and designs to help you make a statement.
At the time of writing (January 2020), our current favorite is Nike’s Metcon 5 Women’s, although keep checking back as this is subject to change the next time we revisit this article.
No matter what the prescribed WOD, CrossFit is a demanding fitness regime requiring explosive power, speed and endurance. Dressing appropriately to nurture these conditions is vital.
Starting from bottom to top, here’s what you’ll need to feel comfortable and perform at your best throughout a CrossFit workout:
Shoes. We won’t dwell on this too much here as we cover CrossFit shoes in depth in our buyer’s guide above. However, you’ll want a pair of lightweight and breathable cross trainers that offer a firm (but not hard) midsole, a low-profile design, good traction on the outsole, and some flexibility.
Socks. While wearing sneakers with no socks may be a solid fashion statement, you will want to wear a good pair of technical socks for your CrossFit workouts. These will hug the foot to prevent rubbing and blisters, while helping wick sweat away from your skin.
Shorts/Tights. Either will do, providing they are stretchy and do not restrict your movement. Aim for a breathable fabric, with mesh areas behind the knees (in the case of tights). Flat-locked seams will help stop chafing.
Sports Bra. With so much running, jumping and dynamic movement, wearing a good sports bra is crucial. Choose one that fits you perfectly, with a substantial under band to offer comfort and support. The fabric should be breathable, with bonded seams to avoid undue chafing and irritation.
T-Shirt. Over your sports bra you should look to wear a comfortable t-shirt or tank top. Like all other items we have listed, the material should be breathable and wick sweat away from the skin. Aim for a slim fit, as baggy clothing could get caught on equipment, which can result in both inconvenience and injury.
CrossFit shoes or cross trainers are designed to cope with demanding and dynamic workouts, which may include everything from deadlifting and cleans to rope climbs and running. But does that mean you can go out and use your cross trainers for your next marathon?
In short – no.
Cross trainers are certainly more flexible than weightlifting shoes and Chuck Taylors, and running short distances as part of a CrossFit WOD, circuit training class, or gym warmup won’t cause any problems. You can also use them for other activities with no issues, such as yoga, dance fitness, or while using a rowing machine.
However, if you are planning to run longer distances, you will be better off leaving your cross trainers at home and investing in a pair of running shoes.
While, cross trainers have a decent degree of cushioning and flexibility, they are built for stability and support. There is therefore much less cushioning and shock-absorption than you’d find on a running shoe.
Cross trainers also position your feet closer to the ground to aid in stability and power transfer during strength training movements. They tend to be a little heavier than running shoes to provide more durability and lateral support, while they offer more traction on the sole to cope with movements in different directions.
Running shoes are designed for heel to toe movement with more cushioning, especially in the heel. They are often lightweight and narrower than cross trainers, with less traction on the outsole.
So, if you are primarily working out in the gym or CrossFit box and running is just a small part of your weekly activity, cross trainers should work for you. However, if you are a keen distance runner or enjoy daily running, investing in a pair of running shoes in addition to your cross trainers would be the smarter move.
We have already explored how CrossFit shoes perform when running, but how do they fare when weightlifting and strength training is the activity?
First, let’s look at some of the other shoe options available to us.
A dedicated weightlifting shoe will have very little padding and a very firm heel, usually made from hard plastic or other dense material, such as wood or leather.
This firmness adds stability, which is exactly what is needed in heavy deadlifts, squats and overhead presses. Meanwhile, a slight heel – which can range in height – limits the range of motion for your ankles and helps you sit back more in the squat.
Lifting shoes often have a Velcro midsole strap to help keep your foot secure during the lift. They are less breathable than other styles of shoes but, as they are mainly used for strength and hypertrophy work, this isn’t a huge problem.
On the opposite side of the shoe spectrum sit running shoes. These are completely different to lifters, with lots of cushioning, flexibility and breathability. However, squatting or deadlifting while wearing running shoes will result in less stability and power transfer. You might as well be squatting on a giant marshmallow!
As we have mentioned, a cross trainer sits somewhere between a running shoe and a weightlifting shoe in terms of design, support and flexibility. Thankfully for lifters, they perform pretty well in strength training situations. They are much flatter and firmer than running shoes. By placing your foot nearer the ground and removing most of the cushioning, cross trainers help you transfer power into the floor.
Ultimately, whether or not a pair of CrossFit shoes will help you reach your lifting goals will depend on what it is you want to achieve on that deadlift platform.
If you are aiming to build some strength and muscle, while also wearing your shoes for warmups, fitness classes, and – of course – CrossFit, then a pair of cross trainers will serve you well.
If you are a powerlifter or working towards building a huge 1RM – and don’t have any interest in activity away from the squat rack – then you would probably be better off with a more stable lifting shoe, such as a pair of adidas Women’s Powerlift 4.
Whether you are shopping for the very best cross trainers for women, or you are simply a woman looking for a great beginners CrossFit shoe to get you started on your journey, we hope you have found this article helpful.
Our top seven chart offers a glimpse of our favorite shoes, although this just scratches the surface of what is out there in terms of cross trainers.
Our advice? Go browse the market and use the information in our guide to shop with confidence. Determine what you need and you will soon find a shoe that increases your speed, power and comfort during your next CrossFit session.