How to choose the right cross training shoes for HIIT workouts

Our in-house exercise scientist explains!

By Brooke MacDonald • 3 years ago • SNEAKERS


Gone are the days of a long run and a weight session making up your weekly exercise regime. We have a million ways to get sweaty now but barely enough time to fit them all in! As research evolves and we continue to discover the benefits of HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training), we are participating in more and more circuit and cross-training styled classes such as F45, CrossFit and bootcamps.

It use to be that just a single pair of shoes was adequate for all activities: running, weights, cycling, shopping – anything you did, the shoe fit! Now, it’s more like the workout must fit the shoe. Understanding what shoe to use for our cross training activities is important to not only avoid injury but to really help you perform at your best.

Why choose cross training shoes?

Cross training shoes now have their own category and place in the giant footwear industry, as the demand for these has been enormous. But how do we know what is good for us? And how do we know what shoe is good for training or running?

Often an integration of different types of footwear, cross trainers may contain lateral (side of foot) stability of a basketball shoe, or cushioning in the heel of a running shoe. Furthermore, good shoes are made flexible and lightweight but also durable and tough. They typically combine a lot of different aspects but their main feature is that they don’t specialise in any one specific type of movement or activity.

These shoes have to be versatile enough to be used in any one of those sweat sessions we choose to tackle during our week.

How to choose the right cross training shoes for HIIT workouts:

Firstly we do need to point out the difference between a conventional running shoe and a cross training shoe. There are a few key differences you need to be aware of:


Heel drop – This refers to the height change in the sole from the heel to toe. It can be quite easy to point out a training shoe by how much flatter the shoe is. This allows us to be in closer contact to the ground for more stability when changing directions or moving through lifts. A higher heel to toe drop in running shoes comes from the added cushioning through the heel, the point that receives the most impact.

Sole Flexibility – Running shoes are designed for a heel to toe forward movement and require only flexibility through the forefoot. A training shoe is used multi directional, especially side to side so are made with a lot more flex grooves to allow for flexibility through the entire foot.


– The shoe should be flat, if not close to flat or a straight line- a small raise can increase the risk of imbalance during different movements. Being closer to the ground can improve ankle stability and take stress off the knees.

– The shoe should be multidirectional in flexibility and grip. A lot of the time you can see this cut out in the sole and you will see a hexagonal design on the bottom.

– The shoe should mainly bend at your toes, where your foot bends and be fairly rigid through the middle to back of the foot.

– The shoe should be widest around your toes to allow for grip and wiggle.

– There should be a tough stable heel counter, which is the section of the shoe that wraps around the heel. In some training shoes they even wrap this up around the ankle.


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How to choose the right training shoes for HIIT workouts How to choose the right training shoes for HIIT workouts

These are must in every girl’s shoedrobe if they call cross training or HIIT training part of their routine. OBSESSED!

These cross trainers are light enough to handle small short runs and stable enough to keep you anchored to the ground when doing deadlifts. The shoe is designed on one straight level from heel to toe, which keeps you close to the ground, sturdy and balanced. This makes them great for skipping, box jumps, plyometric and weights. The ultra-light knit upper gives the shoe its comfy, flexible feeling, however it is also known to be one of the most durable and unbreakable shoes on the market.

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How to choose the right training shoes for HIIT workouts How to choose the right training shoes for HIIT workouts

This cross training shoe is perfect for women because its low profile shape matches the shape we have as women. The thicker and softer the shoes cushioning, the softer and weaker your feet can become which can continue to refer up the body. This shoe keeps you super low to the group with its responsive midline. They don’t instantly feel soft but as soon as pressure is applied they will react. This allows the foot to stay strong and more balanced during workouts.

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Exercise Scientist (BExSc), F45 Instructor
Follow @brookiem5

With a bachelor’s degree in exercise science behind her, Brooke has spent many years in the fitness industry, devoted to helping people on their path to wellness through strength, conditioning and rehabilitation. Coming from a strong track and field background, she has developed a love for all things health and fitness. Her passion is driven from her belief that exercise acts as a form of medicine and she tries to promote and educate this throughout her every encounter. Her love for sneakers and runners is also a little bit obsessive…




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