What Is A Cross Training Shoe – Full Guide On The Roles & Benefits Of Cross Training Shoes

There are plenty of options in commerce when looking for workout or exercise shoes. You can find particular gym shoes, as well as running shoes. Pretty much any type of workout has a type of shoe that will make the experience easier and more efficient. But then, as you explore the market, you will inevitably run into cross training shoes too. You may ask yourself then – what is a cross training shoe?

Cross training shoes have a bit of everything. From this point of view, they may have different features and elements, depending on the manufacturer. For instance, you may find cross training shoes with side stability – more common in basketball shoes. You may also find forefoot cushioning, which is mandatory in volleyball shoes, not to mention heel cushioning like running shoes.

In terms of design, many cross training shoes are similar to running shoes. As for the materials and extras, they are just as diversified. Some of them might be based on leather, which is helpful for some types of workouts. Some others are based on breathable fabrics or more flexible materials for more intense workouts.

What is a cross training shoe

The main benefit of cross training shoes? Versatility, by far. These shoes grab the best parts of other sports shoes. In other words, they can be used for a wide variety of sports-related activities. They are ideal if you like more types of exercises and sports, but you are not specialized in one or another. Now, what else should you know about these shoes? What are cross training shoes used for?

Understanding the concept of cross training

Performing the same workout or type of exercise over and over again will most likely become daunting and annoying. While you may see some results in your looks or performance, it can be boring and you will soon feel the need of something new. This is when cross training kicks in to break the monotony and give you something else.

Moreover, performing the same workout on a regular basis will inevitably cause weakness in some part of your body. In the long run, results will stagnate or even go poor. Runners, for example, are known for being quite weak in lateral movements. Their upper strength is also low in general, as running is mostly focused on moving forward.

Cross training is not a specific thing. It is not a particular type of exercise that will add to your workouts. Instead, it is a general type of training that diversified your training. It makes no difference what you work on – it could be your performance, heart rate, cardio or chest. It could be cycling, football or aerobics – cross-training is general.

The best part about such training is the fact that it works on parts of your body that are overlooked otherwise. If you are a runner, your cross training sessions should be based on your upper body. Therefore, such activities must be picked with your current needs in mind. With time, you will bring new energy to your workouts and a few extra skills.

What are cross training shoes

What is a cross training shoe used for?

Now that you understand the concept of cross training, what are cross training shoes used for? What are the main reasons wherefore these shoes dominate the industry?

The build is what makes them stand out in the crowd. Such shoes tend to be rough and rugged when compared to other exercise shoes. The shock absorption, for example, is not taken to the highest possible standards – lower than in running shoes. On the other hand, lateral support is flawless, which helps with movements in various directions.

Since they are super stable, such shoes are excellent at keeping your feet safe and secure inside them. Besides, they will help to keep your shoe on the ground. With this aspect in mind, cross training shoes are ideal for runners who want to engage in other physical activities – not that much shock protection, but lots of lateral support.

It does not mean that these types of shoes will ruin your feet though. While they do have lower shock absorption, they are still professionally built to keep your feet safe. Cushioning in the forefoot is superior and protection comes from multiple directions – you will gain extra benefits if you exercise or jump on your toes.

To help you understand how the system works, imagine taking a break from running. Engage in jumping ropes or other physical exercises a few times a week. No matter what it is, your toes will go under a lot of pressure – it could be jumping, for example. Cross shoes take this into consideration. Since they are relatively firm, they are also great for training with weights.

Imagine pushing weights in running shoes. While you will get a decent workout, the foam in these shoes will most likely collapse overtime. It will lose its shape and get permanently compressed. You are constantly exposing it to heavy loads. Throw some cross training shoes in and their firmness will prevent such problems.

What is a cross training shoe made of?

So, what are cross-training shoes? The build and appearance are some of the most distinctive aspects related to these shoes. But then, the material is just as important. Again, cross-training shoes are quite diversified and may incorporate various aspects and profiles – the same rule applies to the materials they are made of.

If there is one thing they have in common, that is the possibility to take a good beating. Since cross training shoes are meant to be a bit general, they can take a good beating in a wide plethora of activities. In other words, they are made of stronger and more durable materials. Your workouts can be mild or super-tough – your shoes will resist wear and tear with no issues at all.

What are cross-training shoes

Cross training techniques are diversified and involve many sports. Since your shoes will be exposed to some proper hammering, make sure you pay attention to the material you want. You need something specifically made for your exercises. In fact, most manufacturers tend to pay more attention to outer materials, rather than cushioning.

The extra strength in such materials comes with both pros and cons. A cross training shoe will last for ages – no doubts about it. It is excellent if your budget is limited and you want to make a long-term investment. But on the other hand, the sturdy and durable material will also add to the weight, meaning these shoes will be a bit heavier.

Differences between running and cross training shoes

So, what is a cross training shoe and what makes it so special? Imagine shopping for sports shoes. You see some running shoes here and there, then you move on to cross training shoes, then back to running shoes. If you are not educated in this field, they all look the same – you may not be able to tell the difference.

The truth is, running and cross training shoes are quite similar in appearance, yet their profile and design will vary. To someone who goes to the gym or runs once or twice a week, the type of shoes might be irrelevant. But if you are really serious about your progress and goals, having the optimal shoes will make the difference.

Generally speaking, running shoes are supposed to take over all the pressure and stress on your soles, joints and legs while you run. They support you and they are corrective. They provide all that support with plenty of cushioning. At the same time, running shoes are extremely lightweight – you will barely feel them as you run.

Cross training is different. They have to take a good beating. They endure more and they face all kinds of stress, regardless of what other exercises you want to perform. This is the main reason wherefore they require a more durable build. There is less cushioning, but more lateral support. There is more weight, but more durability too.

Most runners tend to push themselves further and focus on cross training as well. They know that running only works on the heart rate, cardio profile and legs. Therefore, they need some sort of trainings to work on other parts of their bodies. At this point, having two pairs of shoes is the right thing to do – one specifically for running and another one for cross-training.

If you barely workout once or twice a week, the necessity of two pairs of shoes is irrelevant. It may look unnecessary. However, if you tend to push your workouts and keep track of your performance, different types of shoes will prevent potential injuries, save frustration and time, as well as medical expenses if you face trouble.

What to look for in cross training shoes

So, what is a cross training shoe and how do you buy the right model?

The arch is extremely important, especially if you have wide feet. Whether the arch is too low or too high, it will negatively affect your performance. Generally speaking, there are three general types of arches – flat, high or normal. If you have a normal arch, the middle part of your shoe will wear out first. Flat arches tend to affect the inside of your shoes. Those with high arches wear out the outside.

The shoe construction is just as important. More importantly, consider the outsole. That is where most of the cushioning is located in cross-training shoes. You want wide outsoles that will not wear out after a couple of months. As for the upper, it could be based on the mesh, synthetic materials or leather. Leather is supportive, but mesh allows breathing. Opt for wide and thick outsoles if your exercises involve lots of lateral movements.

Finally, consider the comfort and fit. You might need to try out a few different options to figure out what works for you. Measure your feet if they are wide – usually after exercising. This way, you can ensure comfy feet even if they tend to swell during an exercise.

Types of cross training shoes

Cross training shoes can be classified by more criteria, but generally speaking, they go into four main categories:

·         Synthetic – Many shoes come with synthetic mesh, providing great breathability. Such shoes feel different when you exercise because they allow direct airflow. Not only do they prevent sweating, but these shoes are also easy to look after, as they will not crack or tear after a few months of regular exercises.

·         Leather – While breathability is not great, leather features a sleek and good looking profile. Moreover, compared to synthetic materials, leather is more durable.

·         No tie – Such shoes come with springy laces and will no longer cause issues with knots or untied shoes. If you somehow get tired of them, you can always use some scissors and put on a pair of standard laces.

·         Barefoot – These shoes are not designed for everyone, but they do come with some benefits as you get used to them. They work on certain muscles and feel extremely lightweight. You will also feel the texture of the court, so it pays off working out on even surfaces to prevent injuries. Again, not everyone may appreciate the feeling associated with these shoes.


Bottom line, a cross training shoe is, generally speaking, a type of training shoes that are meant to grab the main capabilities of other training shoes. They have some of the benefits of running shoes or gym shoes, meaning they can be used for a wide variety of sports related exercises.

Most commonly, such flexible training shoes are used to compensate for the minuses associated with certain sports. For instance, if you are into running, cross training shoes will help you during unrelated workouts – such as for the upper body, which is often overlooked when running.

While these cross training shoes may seem general, they are not. In fact, you should still have a specialized pair of shoes for your primary workouts.