6 Best Athletic Shoes for Men: Pick Out the Proper Kicks to Crush Your Workouts

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by  Savarone Ammann | Last Updated: 

Today, there’s a million different ways to workout and seemingly millions of kicks on the market to pick from. This guide will help you lace up or slip on the right shoes depending on your unique needs and wants.

We’ve covered kicks for Plantar Fasciitis and distance running, but also the most stylish and the most affordable. Have a scroll, there’s something for you.

Most Stylish
  • An intentionally minimal, understated design that looks terrific
  • The firm, sturdy rubber sole can hold up to most workouts
  • The upper mesh breathes superbly well and keeps your feet cool all day long
Best Distance Runner
  • Made with peba-based superfoam that’s cushy, springy, and supportive
  • Has a nylon plate on the bottom that helps with power transfer as you move forward
  • Boasts awards and wide recognition by the running world
Best Wide
  • Feels spacious with its width, but snug in its overall fit
  • Has an extremely durable heel that can withstand heavy weightlifting
  • Is much lighter and less clunky than other training shoes
Most Affordable
  • The best price point you can find in a versatile athletic shoe
  • Mid-top height and medium-thick sole make it a perfectly balanced workout shoe
  • Offers grooves in the outsole that move with your feet
Best Slip On
  • Uses 52 points of measurements to assure for a perfectly snug fit
  • Two-way stretch knit material on the upper stretches outward to let your foot relax and decompress
  • Minimalist aesthetic looks both stylish and sporty
Best for Plantar Fasciitis
  • Built with a durable structure that’s both supportive and comfortable
  • ASIC’s trademarked FF BLAST™ cushioning offers a responsive ride
  • These shoes cradle the back of your feet and heels where Plantar Fasciitis is felt the most

Wearing the wrong kind of shoes to a workout is like showing up to a sword fight with a pool noodle. 

You’ve got the wrong equipment for the job…and you’re going to suffer because of it.

In this case, your precious feet will suffer. And since they carry you around everywhere, I think we ought to keep them happy, don’t you?

6 Best Athletic Shoes for Men

Most Stylish: YORK ATHLETICS Henry Runner Mesh

York Athletics The Henry in gym

Historically, guys who were going somewhere after their workout would just carry a better looking pair of kicks in a bag to change into after their sweat session. But those days are over. 

YORK ATHLETICS has been making performance footwear for three generations. In 2016, they launched a direct to consumer line of performance kicks that aren’t just performance-oriented, they also look sharper than all your other sneaks.

The Henry Runner Mesh will confidently carry you through a group class, weightlifting or HIIT session, circuit sets, or a short run. And that’s great because that’s what you’d expect in a versatile workout shoe.

The difference is that you can also wear these to the coffee shop or grocery store or anywhere else after your workout and not look like a total dud. YORK favors an intentionally minimal design here with solid, simple colors that pair well with every type athleisure or fitness attire from shorts to joggers.  

Man jump roping in York Athletics

The sole of The Henry Runner Mesh is composed of firm rubber that offers a supportive bounce as you stride forward. The heel features a sturdy internal plastic that holds the back of your foot in place as you move forward or back and side to side. 

The toe box features a protective TPU overlay that wraps around the top of the shoe and blends into the coloring of the upper. This helps keep water, grass, and dirt from caking on to the front of the shoe on runs and protects the softer mesh below. 

My favorite feature, other than the understated design, is the mesh itself. This stuff breathes exquisitely. And if you’re going to a full workout and a romp around downtown afterwards, you’ll want to keep your feet cool every step of the way.

What I Like

  • The minimal, understated design pairs well with every kind of outfit.

  • Firm rubber soles will hold up and perform in the gym and on the streets.

  • A breathable upper mesh allows for ample airflow that keeps your feet cool. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The price point is on the expensive side for workout and walkaround shoes.

  • The white sole is prone to show scuffs and dirt in lighter colors.

What Other Reviewers Say

The Henry Runner has hundreds of 5-star ratings on the YORK ATHLETICS site.

Most guys agree these shoes can be worn in and out of the gym and were pleased with their purchase of a shoe that’s comfortable and performance-oriented.

The Verdict

Most workout kicks can only be worn in a workout. The Henry Runner Mesh slices down barriers between the gym and everywhere else you go throughout a typical day.

This shoe will fit snugly and provide support for an intense workout, but also keep you looking cool on the streets while literally keeping your feet cool. That’s a dangerous combination in a workout kick.

Most Stylish
The Henry Runner Mesh from YORK ATHLETICS

This design is entirely intentional as YORK emphasizes a perfect fit as one of their prominent selling points. YORK uses 52 points of measurement to create a fit that “promotes balance, comfort, and support.” I think they delivered on all three of those benefits in this shoe. 

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Best Distance Runner: Saucony Endorphin Speed

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Running is a repetitive pounding movement that can cause serious long-term damage to your joints if your form is off or your shoes are janky.

Sure, tons of workout shoes can handle a few miles here and there, but for the guys setting their sites on distances most of us would complain just to have to drive in a car, you need something beyond being merely capable.

Saucony was founded in 1898 and is still around today. That’s a long history of putting runners on the road. The Saucony Endorphin Speed is an elite running shoe built for serious runners and unruly distances and has picked up a few awards along the way like the Runner’s World Editor’s Choice in 2020.

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These shoes feature a thick layer of specialized PWRRUN PB, a peba-based superfoam that’s designed to be cushy, springy, and supportive. The shoe is also built with a responsive nylon plate constructed to help with power transfer as you propel forward. 

The outsole is reinforced in certain high impact areas which help maintain wear and tear over time. 
Saucony says “Run faster. Not harder.” That’s the intention behind this elite running shoe that has been time-tested by experienced runners and new runners alike.

What I Like

  • A thick, cushy sole promotes comfort for long distances.

  • Saucony is a revered brand in the running world and this shoe reflects that.

  • The nylon plate on the bottom adds tons of arch support and makes this an ideal running shoe for any distance over five miles.

What I Don’t Like

  • The multi-color patterns can feel a bit tacky.

  • These shoes air on the narrow side for some runners.

What Other Reviewers Say

On Saucony’s site, the Endorphin Speed has over 85% 5-star reviews. Many of the lower reviews revolved around this shoe being too narrow. If you have particularly narrow feet, be conscious of this before ordering.

Generally, guys found this to be a superb running shoe that consistently performed.

The Verdict

When it comes to distance running, you really can’t mess around. You need a shoe that is designed specifically for runners. 

Saucony’s Endorphin Speed boasts awards and reviews from the running world and offers a thick, responsive sole that will propel you through any run you take them on.

Best Long Distance Runner
Saucony Endorphin Speed

With a thick layer of specialized superfoam, the midsole is cushy and springy. Combine that with a nylon plate for support, and you've got a shoe that transfers power forward to help propel you faster.

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Best Wide: Nike Metcon

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Feet are funny looking things and they come in all shapes and sizes. A lot of guys have wide feet which poses a real problem when shopping for kicks.

There’s no worse feeling than eyeing a pair of shoes, ordering them, unboxing them, and then feeling utterly disappointed when they squeeze your feet harder than a hug from your crazy auntie. 

Nike, if you’ve ever heard of them, have been around long enough to make shoes in just about every shape, size, and form. Lucky for you guys with wide feet, the Nike Metcon offers a wide-fit among an array of other workout-oriented features.

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The Metcon has a durable rubber sole that wraps up into the instep of the shoe. This is a brilliant feature that keeps your arch in place and pushes back against poor form while weightlifting.

It’s low-top, low-to-the-ground design makes it an ideal shoe for weightlifting and high impact training. I particularly love the heel of the Metcon. Stiff plastic and rubber meet to form stable casing that will support any weight you put through your heels—like in a squat, lunge, or deadlift.

The Metcon isn’t limited to heavy lifts, though. These aren’t your typical clunky weightlifting shoes. You could easily use them in a HIIT or cardio session and maneuver through each different movement.

What I Like

  • The rubber arch in the in-step supports your feet’s arches and helps with form.

  • The heel is stiff, durable, and capable of handling any weight you drive through your heels in weightlifting sessions.

  • Unlike other chunky weightlifting shoes, these are light enough to use in a HIIT or cross-training session. 

What I Don’t Like

  • The low-top nature could lead to ankle rolls.

  • These wouldn’t perform well on a run.

What Other Reviewers Say

Nike has released various generations of the Metcon with different features and styles. On Amazon, this shoe has excellent ratings with tons of reviews.

Most guys feel that Nike’s Metcon is a legitimate training shoe that fits true to size and doesn’t wear out for weightlifting or training sessions.

The Verdict

Having naturally wide feet shouldn’t keep you from enjoying a wide selection of kicks, especially for workouts. Many workout shoes come in narrower shapes that can feel constrictive and lead to foot pain after a workout.

The Nike Metcon is a supreme choice for guys with wider feet who still need a versatile weightlifting and training shoe to carry them through an intense, weight-bearing workout.

Best Wide
Nike Metcon

The Metcon has a durable rubber sole that wraps up into the instep of the shoe. This is a brilliant feature that keeps your arch in place and pushes back against poor form while weightlifting.

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Most Affordable: Reebok Flexagon Force 3

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I love owning top-notch workout kicks as much as the next guy. But nearly every pair comes in well over $100 today, and you’d go broke trying to buy a different pair for every style of workout you want to engage in.

If you’re new to working out or just want to keep a little extra hard earned dough in your wallet, you can still find affordable workout shoes on the market. Reebok’s Flexagon Force 3 is a well-constructed training shoe that will keep both your feet and your wallet intact.

I like this shoe because it falls into a hybrid middle-ground in the world of workout shoes. It’s a mid-top that offers some ankle support, but doesn’t crawl all the way up your shin. It’s sole is substantial, but not as thick as a distance runner, or as slim as a weightlifting shoe. 

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The Flexagon Force 3, as the name suggests, was built to provide flexibility to your workouts. This comes in the form of grooves in the outsole that move with your feet. 

Reebok says the foam in the midsole “provides the optimal balance of cushioning and response.” This further demonstrates Reebok’s emphasis on versatility in the making of this shoe. 

If you’re scrambling across terrain that might tear your shoes up, traveling, or if you just want to save a buck or two, the Flexagon Force 3 is a tremendous option for an affordable, balanced workout shoe that you can use in a variety of workouts.

What I Like

  • At $45-60, you won’t find a better priced workout shoe. 

  • The mid-top design, medium-thick sole, and lightweight feel make this a versatile athletic shoe for a variety of workouts.

  • The flexible nature of the outsole allows you to move more freely.

What I Don’t Like

  • For intense workouts, this shoe won’t hold up as well as others on the market.

  • The laces and tongue feel cheap.

What Other Reviewers Say

This shoe doesn’t have tons of ratings. It holds an average of 4.5/5-stars on Reebok’s site. Most guys conclude this shoe is lightweight, comfortable, and a great value for the price.

The Verdict

Affordable workout shoes are a dime a dozen. Every guy deserves supportive workout shoes that aren’t going to tear his wallet apart.

Reebok has delivered a well-priced, worthy option in the Flexagon Force 3.

Most Affordable
Reebok Flexagon Force 3.0 Cross Trainer

I like this shoe because it falls into a hybrid middle-ground in the world of workout shoes. It’s a mid-top that offers some ankle support, but doesn’t crawl all the way up your shin.

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Best Slip On: YORK ATHLETICS Gail Recovery Trainer Knit

210131 YORK EDWARDO GAIL TRIPLE BLACK 0622 800x1200 1

Slip on shoes are tough to pull off. Stylistically, they are the pinnacle of a minimal look as they omit bunched up laces or eyelets. But to get the fit right is another story.

Slip ons often offer a less restricted fit than traditional lace-up kicks. But you don’t want to be on ice skates, either. A good slip on should still fit well and provide a comfortable ride.

YORK ATHLETICS Gail Recovery Trainer is the best option for a mid-to-high-top athletic slip on. These kicks were specifically designed to support recovery after a workout. 

The upper is made of a jersey-like material with a 2-way stretch that allows your forefoot to spread out and relax after an intense session. The sole is composed of EVA foam that results in a comfy, cloud-like bounce that takes the pressure off.

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One of the issues with slip ons in terms of the fit is that they can tend to…slip. YORK ATHLETICS uses a fit formula with 52 points of measurement to ensure their shoes fit as close to your foot size as possible. 

Slip ons are loved for their convenience—no bending down to tie laces or pull on velcro straps. You simply grab the heel pull tab, slide it over your foot, and you’re off. Aside from their convenience, a tastefully designed slip on can present a new style all together.

YORK has nailed the look of these slip ons. They’re sporty but also casual and come in four elegant color schemes.

What I Like

  • The laceless, minimalist aesthetic of a slip on is beautifully executed in this shoe.

  • The stretchy upper material and cushy soles allow your foot to spread out and relax while wearing these.

  • This shoe is a great balance between being both sporty and casual.

What I Don’t Like

  • The price point is quite steep for a pair of shoes oriented around recovery.

What Other Reviewers Say

The Gail Recovery Trainer is a newer shoe and because of this, lacks a surplus of reviews. The current reviews are almost all 5-stars. Plenty of guys noted how cushy and comfortable these were. One guy said these had the comfort of a slipper with the sturdiness of a Converse All Star.

The Verdict

Slip ons are incredibly convenient, yet too many on the market leave you slipping around in your kicks as you walk. 

YORK ATHLETICS has engineered a slip on shoe with 52 measurement points to ensure a comfortable, reliable fit. The Gail Recovery Trainer manages to balance both sporty and casual styles in one kick and help your feet relax after an intense workout.

Best Slip On
The Gail Recovery Trainer from YORK ATHLETICS

The upper is made of a jersey-like material with a 2-way stretch that allows your forefoot to spread out and relax after an intense session. The sole is composed of EVA foam that results in a comfy, cloud-like bounce that takes the pressure off.

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Best for Plantar Fasciitis: ASICS Gel-Kayano Running Shoes

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Plantar Fasciitis is the inflammation of a thick band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes and spans the length of your foot. 

The result is an acute stabbing pain in the back portion of the foot that makes walking, let alone working out, excruciating. About 2 million Americans suffer from Plantar Fasciitis making it one of the most common foot pains. 10 percent of runners alone will experience it.

ASICS has produced a shoe that responds to this pesky inflammation. Not many people know this, but ASICS is an acronym for the Latin phrase “anima sana in corpore sano” which translates as “healthy mind in a healthy body.” 

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ASICS Gel-Kayano comes equipped with a thin external heel counter that cradles the back of your foot and provides extra support. 

The midsole is made up of ASIC’s trademarked FF BLAST™ cushioning for a responsive ride. It is often recommended that people with Plantar Fasciitis avoid minimalist shoes and instead favor kicks with enough support in the heel and arch and plenty of cushion across the entire sole. 

ASICS Gel-Kayano lends structure, cushion, and comfortability to athletes, runners, and those suffering from Plantar Fasciitis alike.

What I Like

  • Like other ASICs models, this comes with necessary attributes that mitigate the effects of Plantar Fasciitis.

  • This shoe is well-built with plenty of cushion and support.

  • ASICS has clearly spent time and effort to design a shoe that factors in athletes’ striking patterns.

What I Don’t Like

  • This shoe isn’t stylish in the slightest.

  • The price is very high.

What Other Reviewers Say

There are different versions of ASICS Gel-Kayano. The average rating on ASIC’s site was 4.4/5-stars with guys giving especially high ratings in the “comfort” and “quality” categories. 

Different guys used these for walks, runs, and while doing general tasks on their feet. Most were pleased with how comfortable and durable they were.

The Verdict

Dragging your butt out to the gym or on a run is hard enough. If you’ve got Plantar Fasciitis, your chances are even more grim. This form of inflammation is one that will affect 10 percent of runners and many other athletes.

ASICS Gel-Kayano provides a responsive sole and proper heel support to help mitigate the painful effects of Plantar Fasciitis.

Best for Plantar Fasciitis
ASICS Gel-Kayano

ASICS has produced a shoe that responds to the inflammation of plantar fasciitis. It won't solve your problem, but it'll give you the chance to heal up while still staying on point with your training.

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How to Clean Athletic Shoes

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If you’re getting after it like you should, your athletic shoes will be full of dirt, scuffs, sweat, debris, and other impurities that come from the rubber floors of gyms and studios and the great outdoors. Amen to working out hard and putting your kicks through the ringer.

But if you’ve prepared accordingly and invested in a quality pair of kicks to workout in, you don’t want to toss these well-worn beauties. Clean them up and carry on using them instead.

Step 1: Dry Brush (optional)

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Give your shoes an initial scrub with a dry brush to loosen all the dirt and debris in the tread and whatever is caked on the sides of your kicks. If you’ve only been working out in a gym or studio, you can probably skip this step.

Step 2: Make an At-Home Cleaning Solution

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Mixing warm water with a little bit of laundry detergent goes a long way. Once you get this mix all soapy and bubbly, use a brush to scrub it over the surface of your shoes. 

A slightly stiffer brush will help you get deeper and clean out all the scuffs and marks. However, avoid using a metal, brisly brush, as this might start tearing into mesh or softer fabrics.

You can pull out the laces and scrub them separately. This also allows you to access the tongue more easily. Don’t forget about the soles.

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

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Rinse your shoes off in cold water. You might want to take a wet paper towel and wipe off the soap around the upper portion of the shoe. 

Pull the insole out and open up the shoes so as much air as possible can creep into all the nooks and crannies. Now pat them dry with a paper towel and leave them outside to fully dry.

This is a simple, at-home method for cleaning shoes. Consider investing in a proper shoe cleaning kit and even some weather-proofing spray that will extend the time between cleans. My favorite cheap protector spray is Crep Protect

Crep Protect Spray
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One bottle will usually cover an entire pair of kicks maybe 8-10 times. The spray dries on in an invisible layer that keeps dirt and scuffs to a minimum. This stuff is fairly toxic, so spray it outside and leave your shoes to air out and dry for a little while after application.

Conclusion

Model tying shoes 1

Hey, mustering up the energy and ambition to workout consistently is hard enough. You might as well lace up or slip on the best kicks possible for the job.

Whether you’ve got Plantar Fasciitis or wide feet, or you just want a more stylish or affordable pair of athletic shoes, be conscious about what you’re getting and make sure it works for you and your workouts. 

Crush that next sweat session, gents. 

FAQs

What are the most popular athletic shoes?

Nike consistently ranks as one of the most popular athletic brands. But with new brands emerging in the athletic and training space, there’s tons of capable, trendy options to pick from. Check out YORK ATHLETICS as a stylish, performance-oriented option.

What are the best men’s athletic shoes?

It’s important to consider what type of shoe you’re wearing for any given workout. If you’ve got Plantar Fasciitis, check out the ASICS Gel-Kayano line. If you want a more stylish, versatile kick you can wear in and out of the gym, pick a model from the YORK ATHLETICS lineup. For weightlifters, check out the Nike Metcon.

What shoes are good for everyday use?

Athletic shoes make for great casual, everyday shoes as they often offer comfort, breathability, and support. For a stylish, everyday shoe you can wear in and out of the gym, check out YORK ATHLETICS line of performance footwear.

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