What kind of shoes should I wear for High Intensity Interval Training?

Optimum Fitness








High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) is CRAZILY popular right now, and for good reason.

These classes are super-tough, but you get results incredibly quickly.  In today’s article we will look at the best shoes for high intensity workouts, and our favourite P90X!  We’ll also discuss why running shoes should be avoided.

How do these classes work?

Usually, you do 20 – 40 seconds of high intensity exercise (burpees, ski jumps, press ups etc.) followed by a short rest period (e.g. 10 seconds).

As you are working so hard, the duration of the classes are often a bit shorter than other classes, which means you get a better workout in less time – what’s not to love?!

This type of training gets you fit really fast as you are pushing your body to the limit.

It also gives your metabolism a real kick up the ass, and you can keep burning calories for up 24 hours after the workout!

Tabata, Metafit, Insanity, P90X, Barry’s Bootcamp, Metcon are all super popular workouts right now.

What kind of shoes should I wear for High Intensity Workouts?

HIIT training is quite new, and while the class formats are well-established, few instructors have given thought to the best types of shoes for their participants to wear.

Can I go bare-foot in an HIIT class?


First of all, we would NEVER recommend doing this type of training bare-foot!  There is WAY too much impact on the jumping exercises.  You do need some cushioning to absorb that impact or you are going to absolutely kill your knees, hip, back and ankle joints.

Is it OK to wear running shoes for HIIT workouts?

Let’s face it, most people work out in running shoes.

This is great if your main activity is running, but running shoes are NOT RECOMMENDED for other types of exercises.  There are three important reasons:

  1.  Running Shoes are designed to support the foot in a forward-motion only!  In HIIT training, you move forwards, backwards, side-to-side and up and down!
  2.  Running Shoes tend to have some degree of arch support.  While this is beneficial to many runners who are repetitively putting weight and pressure through the soles of their feet, it is not really necessary for a 30 minute HIIT work-out.
  3. Running Shoes usually have quite a bit of cushioning, to support the joints and muscles as the foot strikes the sidewalk.   HIIT training is a mish-mash of different exercises.  While there are jumping exercises where some degree of cushioning is useful, there also exercises which are performed lying down or on your front.

What about the best shoes for other high intensity classes like Spinning?

See here for best shoes for spinning classes:  Best Shoes and Kit for Spinning Classes

What shoes are recommended for HIIT workouts and classes?

Here are the 3 main features to look for:

  • You want a flattish shoe without excessive arch support
  • The shoe should provide support not only at the front of the shoe, but also at the rear and sides
  • The shoe should be mildly cushioned

There are 3 shoes that we recommend for Tabata, Metafit, Insanity, P90X, Barry’s Bootcamp, Metcon and other HIIT workouts:

Reebox Zig Energy Shoe:

This is actually a basketball shoe, but that’s OK!  If you think about all the movement basketball players make – forwards, sideways, turning, jumping – it’s pretty similar to the movements done in a HIIT class!

This video explains some of the benefits of the Reebox Zig shoe:

We also like these shoes from Asics:

  • DuoMax® Support System: A dual density midsole system positioned to enhance support and stability, positioned sport specifically
  • Rearfoot GEL® Cushioning System: Attenuates shock during impact phase and allows for a smooth transition to midstance
  • SpEVA® Midsole Material: Improves bounce back characteristics and decreases midsole breakdown.
  • Trusstic System® Technology: Reduces the weight of the sole unit while retaining the structural integrity of the shoe
  • Width Specific: Designed and built on lasts and molds that are tooled specifically to designated widths.
  • Mix up your fitness routine with the versatile performance of the ASICS® Gel-Craze TR 4 cross-training shoe.
  • Open mesh and synthetic upper materials.
  • Lace-up closure.
  • Padded tongue and collar.
  • Breathable fabric lining offers a great in-shoe feel. Molded foam insole. Solyte® midsole is lighter than standard ASICS EVA and SpEVA® foams. FluidRide™ midsole technology provides the ultimate combination of bounce back and cushioning properties. Rearfoot GEL® Cushioning System attenuates shock during impact phase and allows for a smooth transition to midstance. AHAR® rubber outsole delivers long-lasting durability. FluidAxis™ technology creates anatomical grooves

These super-tough shoes have been specifically designed to support jumping, forwards/backwards and lateral movements.

They even come with an anti-microbial sock lining to keep your feet dry and fresh!

Recommended by Men’s Fitness as one of the best training shoes for non-running activities.

Best shoes for High Intensity Training verdict:

For optimal support, comfort and cushioning during HIIT training, we’d recommend a cross-trainer (NOT a running shoe) that is flattish and provides some degree of cushioning.

Our recommendations are the Reebok Zig Energy Basketball Shoe and the men’s and women’s Asics Gel Training Shoes