Melbourne Podiatry Clinic

What Type Of Shoes Should I Wear At The Gym?

What type of shoes should I wear at the gym?

As we start hitting the gym more and more now that they are back up and running, it is important you have the right shoe for the right workout, whether you are lifting weights, HIIT classes or just cardio. 

The type of workout you do and frequency will generally dictate the type of shoe required to give you the best performance outcome whether you are trying to hit a PB with your squat, kilometres on the treadmill or pushing your limits in your HIIT class.

It is important to note that shoes are not designed to last forever and have a lifespan based on the activity they are designed for. Hence, if you are the type of person who uses your shoes for all your exercise activities such as at the gym and then for walking/running, the lifespan of your shoe will likely diminish faster as a result of greater ‘wear and tear’.

Below, I discuss different types of footwear, their key features and the activity they are best recommended for.

Type: Running Shoes

Activity type: Cardio (walking/running on treadmill & step climber/elliptical)

Key features:

  • Increased cushioning from the heel to forefoot 
  • Greater torsional stability (depending on the brand)
  • Greater stability
  • Better durability (depending on brand and price)
  • Stack height (from heel to forefoot) between 8-12mm on average

Benefits: The above features will provide you greater shock attenuation, reducing the impact from 3-6 times of your bodyweight of forces which occur each time you step. These runners will ultimately allow you to complete your cardio with a spring in your step!

As there are many different runners available, it is important you speak to either a podiatrist or specialist footwear store to find the appropriate shoe for you.


Type: Lightweight training shoes

Activity type: Boxing, HIIT, pump or high intensity classes such as F45/bodyfit 

Key features:

  • Low stack height (from heel to forefoot) between 0-5mm
  • Increased flexibility
  • Lightweight 


These shoes offer a lower centre of gravity giving you greater proprioceptive feedback so you can ‘feel’ the ground more, are lighter and more responsive which allow you to complete your activity more efficiently.

Examples of models of shoes: Nike Metcons, Asics DS trainer, Brooks Launch, Mizuno Wave Shadow, Saucony Kinvara or New Balance Zante

Type: Weight training

Activity type: weight lifting, cross training

Key features:

  • Lower stack height (from heel to forefoot) between 0-3mm
  • More responsive 
  • Firm sole
  • Have little cushioning and offer little support


These shoes provide you the best proprioceptive feedback, are much more responsive and allow a quick and efficient transfer of power from your forefoot to heels as you complete your weight training exercises such as a squat, deadlift, clean and jerk or snatch.

Examples of models of shoes: Vivo Barefoot, Altra Escalantes, New Balance Minimus, Nike Metcons or even barefoot.

For expert advice, then please feel free to book in with one of our experienced podiatrists at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic for guidance and advice on either your current gym shoes or shoes you are considering for the gym


by Tristan MacHutchison – Podiatrist at Melbourne Podiatry Clinic


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