Best Shoes for HIIT Reviewed & Rated
High-intensity interval training is the driving principle behind today’s popular workouts such as Tabata, Crossfit, and Beachbody’s Insanity, and is characterized by its cycling between bursts of activity at high intensity and subsequent recovery periods. It hybridizes cardiovascular and resistance training together to create a challenging workout that gets you moving in all sorts of ways.
Unlike a running workout where the motion is perpetually forward, most movements in HIIT workouts are lateral, forward, backward, up, and down. This requires a certain type of footwear that’ll be stable, breathable, offer great traction on indoor surfaces, and will provide responsive (but not too much) cushioning for jumps and landings
This is the best product on our list that is currently in stock:
High-abrasion rubber outsole
Top 10 Shoes for HIIT
1. Nike Metcon 4
TPU Heel Counter
Breathable Mesh Upper
Sticky Rubber Outsole
Flywire Cables for Support
Made for cross-training and weightlifting, the Nike Metcon 4 is one of the best choices for those in need of a versatile shoe that’s both supportive and flexible and gives a good amount of traction on varied surfaces. The latest update to the model features improvements in the upper, mainly related to comfort and breathability, seeing that it now features sandwich mesh that’s more padded, but provides the same amount of durability as previous versions.
The Metcon 4 actually features a removable insole that acts the same way a midsole would in traditional athletic footwear. It features a softly cushioned forefoot that works well for sprints, as well as a thicker, sturdier heel that allows a good amount of stability for lifting and squatting. The 4mm drop ensures excellent connection with the surface underfoot.
The outsole on the Metcon 4 is made with a sticky rubber featuring a tri-star tread pattern that’ll work great both indoor and outdoor. The added protection is added on the medial and lateral parts of the foot which ensures good grip even during rope climbing, preventing from degradation in this part of the shoe.
2. ASICS GEL-Quantum 180 TR
Mesh and Synthetic Leather Upper
Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL Cushioning
AHAR Plus Outsole
Made for both quick sprints and weightlifting sessions, the ASICS GEL-Quantum 180 TR is an excellent all-rounder for anyone looking to get in shape. It features the brand’s signature GEL cushioning in the entire sole, giving you some of the best shock absorptions while maintaining a great level of support as well. Lightweight and neutral in terms of support, it’s a great choice for a number of people, especially those who value a cushioned but durable pair of trainers.
The outsole on the GEL-Quantum 180 TR is made with ASICS’ own AHAR compound that is placed in key areas that often see high wear with this type of training. This type of rubber will provide a more durable, but just as strong amount of traction on all types of surfaces. Inside the sole is the brand’s Trussic System that provides integrity to the midfoot area, preventing the loss of stability during quick lateral movements.
There are two key pieces of technology featured in the Quantum. One is the Rearfoot and Forefoot GEL cushioning that provides great shock absorption for all landings, while the other is the Solyte midsole material that’s incredibly lightweight yet durable, providing an added level of cushioning.
3. Reebok CrossFit Nano 8.0
High-abrasion rubber outsole
The Reebok CrossFit Nano 8.0 is the perfect shoe for HIIT, combining unparalleled shock absorption, excellent cushioning in the midsole and a low-cut design for rapid movement. The CrossFit line was specifically designed by Reebok for Olympic athletes that perform lifts and other high impact movements, so you can be assured it’s the best option for going hard.
The clean-cut look of the CrossFit Nano is augmented by its ability to let heat and moisture out while letting fresh air in. The mesh design is perfect for those hours-long sweat sessions at the gym and the NanoWeave upper hugs your foot like a glove. As mentioned, the low-cut design of the Nano is ideal for rapid movements, typical of those found in HIIT.
Lastly, the synthetic, rubber sole of the Nano means you won’t slip and twist your ankle as easily as you would with a competing shoe. The high-abrasion outsole was specifically designed by Reebok to boost grip and traction, while not adding extra weight to the overall shoe.
4. PUMA Cell Riaze
Snug, Comfortable Fit
Padded Tongue and Collar
Runs Small and Narrow
Puma appeals to the folks who enjoy the athleisure look with this shoe but without sacrificing functionality with its form. You will enjoy the benefits of wearing this shoe during your workouts, knowing that stability and support are behind this shoe’s look and reputation.
With this shoe, you will experience all-around cushioning that can be found in its midsole and heel, as well as in its padded tongue and collar. Comfort is clearly the goal here, but you will not feel as though your foot is being swallowed by pillowy softness. Instead, the cushioning is meant to garner support for where you need it most during your most grueling activity, be it squat jumps or jump knee tucks.
If you’re going hard during your HIIT workout and you’ve passed the thirty-minute mark, chances are your feet are sweating as hard as the rest of you. The Cell Riaze’s have a breathable textile upper meant to manage moisture, as is evidenced by its use of the Eco Ortholite sock liner. These shoes work hard to keep your feet cooler, drier, and healthier so that you can work hard at making a higher box jump than last week.
5. ASICS GEL-Venture 6 MX
Rearfoot Gel Technology Cushioning System
ASICS High Abrasion Rubber Outsole
Reversed Lugs Provide Traction On All Terrain Types
The technologies found in the ASICS Gel-Venture 6 MX make it perfect for HIIT. ASICS has covered all the bases when it comes to supplying the wearer with a runner that is comfortable, supportive, versatile and super grippy. Featuring gel cushioning, a high-abrasion rubber outsole with reversed lugs and a breathable mesh upper, you can’t go wrong with the Gel-Venture 6.
ASICS incorporates the Rearfoot Gel Technology Cushioning System throughout the footbed of the 6 in order to dissipate shock away from the sensitive joints and muscles found in the feet, ankles, and legs. The shock absorption found in the Gel-Venture means you can go harder for longer, as you aren’t wearing out your muscles with the feedback from your movements.
The outsole is also worth highlighting, as it features a special high-abrasion rubber that is as durable as it is grippy. The quick movements in most HIIT workouts mean you need to be secure and supported when moving, and the outsole in the Gel-Venture does just that. Finally, the reverse lug pattern will give you traction on almost any surface, natural or synthetic. Feel free to do your workout inside or outside, knowing the MX will back you to the hilt.
6. adidas Powerlift 3.1
Snugly Fitting Upper
Mesh Tongue and Collar
Hook and Loop Strap
Die Cut EVA Midsole Wedge
Unsuitable for Running
Unsuitable for Wide Feet
As one of the highest-rated pairs of footwear when it comes to lifting, the Adidas Powerlift 3.1 can definitely be expected to deliver. Made to fit snugly over the foot to ensure the best possible support all over, these are perfect for daily training, especially as it’s a breathable model that allows a good amount of airflow to prevent bacteria build-up and comfort issues.
The closure on the Powerlift 3.1 features both a traditional lacing system that’s highly adjustable, as well as a midfoot strap that secures the fit over the instep for zero chance of lace failure. The tongue is lightly padded and made with mesh, increasing the breathability of the shoe, allowing hot air to escape even during your most intense workouts.
The difference between the heel and toe height on the Powerlift 3.1 is 12mm, which puts the body in an optimal position for all squatting movements, allowing the heel to be well-supported even when under a heavy load. The Adiwear outsole is durable and provides a good amount of traction on indoor surfaces, while a die-cut EVA midsole wedge provides strong neutral support suitable for most foot types.
7. PUMA Tazon 6 FM
TPU Stability Shank
Although categorized as a running shoe, Puma’s Tazon 6s are built to withstand the harsh demands of activities such as weightlifting and plyometrics. As the second Puma installment on this list, there is much to recommend it as a shoe meant for your hardest HIIT workout.
At a shipping weight of about three pounds, this shoe weighs in heavier than the ASICS Gel-Fit Sanas. Despite its heft and its construction to look like a running shoe, it maintains a stable fit during your repetitions of clean and snatch. Cushioning is placed where your foot requires maximum shock absorption: through the heel and in the midfoot by way of EVA foam cushioning and use of a midfoot saddle.
The outsole of the Tazon 6s contains a thermoplastic polyurethane shank, strategically placed between the insole and outsole for stability during load-bearing exercises. Think of how running up an incline increases the load borne upon the feet and calves. This TPU shank helps prevent any overturning of the joints while your feet are working hard at keeping you upright on uneven surfaces. The more stability you have, the stronger and more efficient your muscles become at keeping you upright and balanced.
8. New Balance Arishi
NB Response 1.0 Performance Insert
The Arishi v2 by New Balance is the perfect runner for HIIT, road running or even just walking around town. With sophisticated style and unparalleled comfort, the Arishi is the perfect match for someone that wants to look good while performing their HIIT for the day. With a fresh foam cushioned midsole that feels like gel nirvana, the Arishi will stop shock in its tracks and keep your feet comfortable throughout the entire workout.
The textile, synthetic upper of the Arishi is perfect for letting cool air in and hot, moist air out. You really work up a sweat during HIIT, so you need a runner that breathes. The perforated design of the Arishi and its easy-to-use lace-up closures mean you will be dry while having the perfect amount of compression to support and snug your feet.
For those of us that wear orthotics or other inserts, the NB Arishi comes with a removable performance insert all of its own. Use the one provided to you by New Balance, or swap it out for the one prescribed by your podiatrist, it’s completely up to you!
9. Puma Prowl Alt 2
Breathable Mesh Upper
Fully Customizable Lace Closure
Lightweight Rubber Outsole
Lacks Arch Support
Lightweight, breathable and highly adjustable, the Puma Prowl Alt 2 is the latest edition of the brand’s great training shoe made for those who need the functionality, but appreciate a stylish look as well. Available in monochrome grey or black, it’s definitely the best looking model on this list, but that’s not why it’s featured. Cushioned both in the midsole and insole, it’ll provide excellent shock absorption, regardless of the type of movement you’re performing.
The midsole material of the Prowl Alt 2 is made with IMEVA, a lightweight version of standard EVA foam that absorbs and disperses shock upon impact, without weighing too much. Aided by a Softfoam sock liner, you’ll love the feeling of this shoe on your feet, and will likely be tempted to wear it for more than just a couple of hours at the gym.
The upper of the Prowl Alt 2 is made with mesh, featuring three supportive straps in the toe area that ensure maximum support and prevent slipping and sliding inside the shoe. The lacing system is completely unique in that it’s made with loops that go from the midfoot all the way to the heel so that you can decide where you need the most lockdown for a great session.
10. Puma Fierce Core
Pull Loop Tab at Heel
Featuring an elasticized bootie construction, the Puma Fierce Core delivers a surprisingly well-balanced approach to flexibility and support, making it one of the highest-rated pairs of training shoes available on the market. It’s made without any laces, featuring instead an elastic over the instep, ensuring a fit that’ll fit almost anyone, providing the perfect amount of giving and lockdown. The black color gives it a futuristic look that’ll definitely set you apart at your gym, but may even work for casual wear.
The outsole on the Fierce Core is made with solid rubber which will do exceptionally well on indoor and outdoor surfaces. Its flexibility is ensured by a flex groove in the middle, while the pivot point at the toe ensures easy movement in all directions. The thick heel adds protection from impact in this area, as well as some elevation that’ll come in handy during squatting movements.
The main material of the upper is mesh, which is not only lightweight and flexible but is the go-to material for anyone who is looking for a breathable pair of footwear that won’t get hot when the workout becomes strenuous. Synthetic overlays provide stability, a padded tongue ensures comfort, while pull loop tabs at the heel provide an easy on and off.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Stability and support features are the most important aspect to consider because the intense movements and shifts in direction can result in a rolled, sprained, or even broken ankle or any number of other injuries to your legs, hips, and back. If you roll an ankle or otherwise lose your balance and fall, you may instinctively throw your hands out to catch yourself, which could result in broken wrists! As such, it’s best to avoid falls altogether by investing in a good pair of supportive shoes for your workout.
The second most important feature to look at in a shoe is traction. As you will be participating in those sharp, quick movements, you need a shoe that won’t slip under you when you lunge or jump. Slipping and falling during such intense activity could result in injury, so you need to find a shoe with good traction and grip. Shoe manufacturers provide this in a handful of creative ways, but we will discuss the one most commonly found in shoes that are best for HIIT, which is the tread and groove pattern.
Tread and Groove Pattern
Outsoles that provide the best traction for HIIT do so because they have an efficient tread pattern which allows the shoes to grip the ground well to prevent injury from a fall. The depth and frequency of the grooves in the tread pattern vary from model to model and from manufacturer to manufacturer, but as a rule of thumb, the more grooves, the better the grip, as long as the grooves aren’t too thin and close together. Too many shallow and thin grooves can reduce the traction the shoe offers. As a whole, manufacturers all use different patterns, but they all have sufficiently deep and wide grooves and treads to promote the best grip.
Cushioning is low on this list of features to look for because too much of it will hinder the shoe’s ability to flex and bend with your foot as you go through those intense movements. Cushioning is important, though, for shock-absorption and to prevent painful rubbing, so you will still need to consider it when you are shopping for your new pair of shoes.
In an intense workout or athletic activity, you need a shoe that provides the right amount of temperature management to keep your feet cool and dry, but this is especially true of high-intensity interval workouts. Wearing shoes that lack breathability features is a surefire way to turn your shoes into a sweat-drenched swamp of a sauna, which could result in foul odors and painful blisters.
When doing HIIT activities, you need a lightweight shoe that provides the support, stability, and traction that you need in the amounts that you need. Minimalist shoes are not usually best for this type of workout, so you need to be sure and pick a good shoe that isn’t too heavy but also offers the above-mentioned features. A neutrally cushioned shoe works best, as well, as a shoe with a lot of cushioning can limit your flexibility and be a hindrance to your workout. The lighter your shoe is, the less foot fatigue you will feel at the end of your workout, but be sure not to sacrifice important safety and comfort features to get a lighter shoe; your feet are too important to risk injuring, as they are generally our primary mode of transportation.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
High intensity interval training, or HIIT, is one of the most efficient ways you can burn calories in a short amount of time.
During these intervals, the 'work' phase is a short period of maximal effort, and the 'recovery' phase is shorter time to give some rest. For example, you can do 20 seconds of effort, 10 seconds rest, and repeat the interval for 4 minutes for a total of 8 rounds.
Plyometrics is what some call 'jump training'. It consists of moves such as jump squats, where the movement required takes you off the ground in a dynamic method, which helps your to expend the maximal amount of energy to burn off calories.
Not only do plyometrics act as a great exercise for HIIT, you may just get a better vertical in the process, as well as some shapely calves!
Other Factors to Consider
The above recommendations come highly regarded by people like you, looking to get the most out of their workouts with the best shoe possible. As intense as some HIIT workouts can be, you will want a shoe that delivers the right fit, the right amount of cushioning, and the most stability. Choosing a pair of cross-trainers that don’t perform well will only increase your risk of injury and prolong recovery before your next workout. Having a workout shoe that’s activity-appropriate can only maximize the results you want for your body while maintaining safety and protection for you and your overall health. Workouts should be fun and motivating, so why not do them with shoes that keep you going hard until the end, ready for the next workout?
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Are Nike, ASICS, PUMA, Adidas, New Balance, Ryka, and Reebok the only shoe manufacturers that make good shoes for HIIT?
No! Nike, ASICS, PUMA, Adidas, New Balance, Ryka, and Reebok offer the top ten best shoes, but there are plenty of other shoes from other brands which provide everything you need for high-intensity interval training.
q: Can I use these shoes for running and other athletic endeavors?
Technically, you can. However, it is not recommended for two important reasons. First of all, HIIT shoes are specifically designed for intense lateral movements and sudden changes in direction. There are some athletic activities and workouts that these shoes would be good for, but for running and using exercise equipment, you would be better off investing in a good running shoe.
q: Can I wear my HIIT shoes on a walk?
You can, but HIIT shoes were not designed for sustained forward motion, so the supportive features may become painful if you wear them to walk or run for prolonged periods of time. They are also not recommended to wear to the office or a job that requires you to be on your feet all day, as these are purely athletic shoes with a specific purpose in mind.
q: Can I use running shoes for my workout?
You can, but it’s definitely not recommended. Running shoes are designed to be lightweight and minimalistic to make it easier to propel yourself forward. Running shoes are not designed for the intense lateral movements and sudden changes in direction which characterize these workouts. Choosing to wear running shoes could result in injury.
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