Best Gym Trainers 2020 | The Sun UK

GETTING a pair of the best gym trainers can transform your workouts.

Whether you're lifting weights, running on treadmills or throwing yourself around a Zumba studio, the right footwear can make all the difference.

How do I choose gym trainers?

It's worth considering that the perfect pair of gym trainers varies from person to person.

Your planned usage, weight and even running style should all factor into your decision.

And there's other factors, such as fit, drop (the difference in height between the heel and the toe of the shoe) and cushioning, to consider before you spend your cash.

We've looked around the web, as well as testing a few pairs ourselves, for the top-rated trainers for different uses to give you some inspiration.

We're testing: Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Recycled

  • Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II Recycled, £110 from Vivobarefoot – buy here

The Vivobarefoot Primus Lite II trainers aren't like much else on the market.

They're designed to replicate the feel of training barefoot, without the inconveniences of stepping in dog mess and the like.

They've got an incredibly thin sole (3mm) which means you've got minimal padding between your feet and the road, which supposedly will help you build up the supporting muscles in your feet and lower legs, (along with a number of other benefits that you can find here.)

I can't confirm if my feet are any stronger for wearing these for a couple of weeks, but as someone who rolls their ankles relatively frequently, I can confirm that these are a good antidote to such mishaps (possibly because the sole is so thin, there's nothing to roll).

It's advised that you don't run for extended periods in these to begin with as your legs will be more used to padded running trainers.

Having completely ignored this advice and gone for a 5k run in these almost immediately, I can confirm this advice is worth heeding; something I appreciated as I limped around the office with a serious case of the DOMS for the following week.

But once this died down I could appreciate that the Primus Lite IIs are actually a very comfy wear, with the vegan materials (leather-free and made from a mix of recycled plastics and bio-based materials) offering a snug fit where it mattered.

And, because they're so well ventilated, they're ideal for sessions in the gym.

I actually felt a lot more stable while lifting weights with these than regular trainers as the (lack of) soles provide you with a very solid platform.

They're grippy too, so I'd happily recommend these for HIIT classes or similar.

Just make sure you build up slowly to any running: your calves and Achilles tendons will thank you for it.

The best gym shoes for running

If you like to pound out long sessions on the treadmill at your local gym, you're going to want a decent pair of running trainers.

These will usually differ from standard workout trainers as they'll have larger soles and heels to provide you with extra cushioning.

Some models will be super lightweight, to help you expend less energy as you run, but bear in mind that lightweight trainers are likely to have less padding.

If you suffer from impact injuries, such as runner's knee, you might want to invest in some cushioned trainers to help you stay injury free.

Not only are New Balance's FuelCell Rebel trainers a favourite of reviewers and users, we think they look really good for a pair of performance gym shoes.

They're available for men and women and prices start at £60.

  1. New Balance FuelCell Rebel (women), £60 from New Balance – buy here
  2. New Balance FuelCell Rebel (men), £72 from New Balance – buy here
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The Saucony Ride Iso 2 trainers have plenty of paddingCredit: Saucony

Saucony specialises in making running shoes that have unparalleled padding to help take some of the impact out of your run.

So if you suffer from sore knees when you run, these could be the gym shoes for your treadmill sessions.

  1. Saucony Ride Iso 2 (men), £120 from Saucony – buy here
  2. Saucony Ride Iso 2 (women), £120 from Saucony – buy here

Best all-round gym shoes

If you really like to mix it up in the gym, you'll need some versatile footwear.

All-rounders are suitable for running short bursts, lifting weights and taking part in classes from HIIT to Zumba.

This Nike Varsity Compete is loved by its users for being extremely tough as well as providing excellent traction.

Nike bill it as a trainer for lifting weights, agility drills and explosive movements, which should get you through any workout you choose to throw at it.

  • Nike Varsity Compete (men), £64.95 from Nike – buy here

Best gym shoes for weightlifting

Powerlifters have different requirements in their footwear compared to runners.

While running shoes will have a bit of flex in the heel to absorb impacts, weightlifting shoes will have less flexible soles to keep you stable mid-lift.

Weightlifting shoes will also generally have additional straps/laces across the top to keep your foot stable as well as an elevated heel platform, which some lifters prefer, (although a need for an elevated heel changes from person to person).

Adidas does a good job with weightlifting shoes and hundreds of happy customers have praised the Powerlift 4 for its unrivalled stability along with its good looks.

You can buy these in a range of colours and they're suitable for both men and women alike.

  • Adidas Powerlift 4, £84.95 from Adidas – buy here

Best gym shoes for Crossfit

Crossfit requires do-it-all footwear that's just as good on the run as it is tossing sandbags in the air, jumping over hurdles and even scrambling up walls.

As such, Crossfit gym shoes need to provide support to the foot when lifting weights, but also to have some cushioning in the sole so you can run a mix of distances in comfort.

Considering Reebok is the sponsor of the Crossfit Games, it makes sense to look at the American fitness brand for Crossfit training shoes.

The Nano 9.0s are massively popular trainers since their release in 2019 and you'll struggle to find someone with a bad word to say about them.

They're well rated for everything from running to rope climbs and provide plenty of support when lifting weights.

  1. Nano 9.0 Crossfit shoes (men), 99.95 from Reebok – buy here
  2. Nano 9.0 Crossfit shoes (women), 99.95 from Reebok – buy here

Are Converse appropriate for the gym?

We wouldn't recommend wearing Converse to the gym.

Canvas trainers aren't going to offer you a lot a support, making dynamic exercises such as burpees more difficult.

The soles on Converse trainers tend to be pretty heavy, which is not a good match for running.

And you're likely to get a much snugger fit in a pair of decent gym shoes, which will reduce the chance you'll chafe your skin and wind up with a foot covered in blisters.

Can I wear running shoes to the gym?

Running shoes are fine for plenty of people to wear to the gym, although you might find if you're lifting heavy weights (particularly squats, deadlifts and Olympic lifts) that you'd prefer shoes with slight less spongy soles.

Running shoes tend to have a fair bit of give in them, which may feel a little unstable when you're lifting heavy weights.

Also, if you're taking part in classes that involve sprints (HIIT) and/or quick changes of direction (Zumba), you might prefer some more low profile shoes, such as the Reebok Nano 9s.

In our experience, the thinner soles make it easier to change direction smoothly without rolling an ankle.

Enjoyed our roundup of the best gym trainers? Then you may also like our selection of the best gym leggings on the market.

We've created Sun Selects so you could find the best items when shopping around the web.

If you want to check more of our sport-related recommendations, visit Sun Selects' health and fitness page.

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