10 Best Workout Shoes for Challenging Summer Activities

best workout shoes for challenging summer activities

If you’re an active person, then you’re probably aware that there’s just something about summer that really makes you want to get up, get out, and get moving. After all, there’s no better feeling than the sun on your skin and the wind in your hair while you work out or spend time on the move! However, it’s essential to have the right footwear in your corner if you’re serious about reaping the rewards of your summer workouts.

If you think any well-made workout shoe will do for any summer activity, you really need to think again for a number of good reasons. For instance, features that make a certain shoe perfect for tennis can make it a terrible choice for basketball or hiking. A good pair of cross trainers is terrific for many summer activities, but they’re not really made to stand up to the outside elements. Here, we’ll take a closer look at the best type of shoe for each of your favorite warm weather workouts. You’ll be noticing the difference they make in no time.

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Standard Running and Jogging

gray running shoe isolated on whitePerhaps one of the most popular ways to fulfill that daily exercise quota is to lace up a favorite pair of athletic shoes and go for a run. This is especially the case during the summer when the gorgeous weather gives you a great excuse not to stay cooped up in the gym all day. However, it’s vitally important to make sure your running shoe is designed with that activity in mind.

Shoes that are designed for running come equipped with motion control features, as well as shock absorption technology to guard joints and bones against the jarring effects of repeated impact. This helps prevent you from sustaining or worsening an injury. You’re less likely to suffer from achy feet after you’ve been working out as well.

Think options like the 560 model from New Balance. Compression molded EVA outsoles provide unbeatable comfort, traction, and support. Special cushioning technology guards your body against impact-related damage. Breathable mesh uppers help keep your feet cool and dry during even the toughest, most grueling running sessions.

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Trail Running

While some people definitely don’t mind running on the roads, it’s not for everyone. Some people prefer the primal experience of running out in nature on trails and over various terrains. Not only is trail running a great way to treat yourself to some truly therapeutic views, but adding changeable terrain to the mix helps make your workouts more challenging.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking the same shoes you wear to jog around the block will be the proper choice if you’re serious about trail running. Shoes designed for trail running feature thicker, sturdier soles capable of protecting your feet from rocks, unexpected debris, and just about anything else Mother Nature might send your way.

Ultra-traction soles are also seriously important when you’re a trail runner. Keep in mind that dirt, gravel, and loose soil don’t offer the same consistency as a sidewalk or city street, so your shoes’ soles need to be designed to handle the variants. This is especially the case when running uphill or downhill.

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Barefoot Workouts

Have you ever been at the gym and caught sight of a guy walking around or even working out completely barefoot (or maybe just in his socks)? While it may not be the most hygienic choice, we assure you he hasn’t completely lost his mind. He’s probably into barefoot workouts—which is trending right now.

man running barefoot on asphaltExperts who swear by barefoot workouts feel that the best way to get the most out of your exercise sessions is to stick to the tools Mother Nature gave you. By exercising barefoot, you can work on strengthening the muscles, tendons, and ligaments in your feet. This, in turn, can minimize the risk of sustaining an injury, according to this line of thought.

If you’d like to try your own hand at this type of workout, consider investing in a good pair of minimalist shoes. Minimalist shoes are lightweight, feature a low heel drop, and allow your feet to enjoy the highest degree of freedom while remaining safe and supportive.

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Weight Training

These days, weight lifting isn’t just for body builders like Arnold Schwarzenegger anymore. Strength training is considered an important part of any comprehensive fitness regimen. It’s the best way to build lean muscle mass, improve your posture, strengthen your skeletal system, and so much more.

strength training infographic

It’s also a common misconception that, because logging time in the weight room doesn’t require a lot of walking or running, the shoes you wear isn’t as important as other activities. Footwear that’s appropriate for weight lifting features a flat sole and a raised heel. This set-up helps you maximize the range of motion for your ankles and makes it easier to maintain a proper lifting form—which is essential if you’re serious about seeing results and avoiding injury.

Good weight training shoes also tend to be stiffer and more stable to keep your feet from shifting during difficult moves like overhead presses, snatches, and jerks. Surprisingly, a trusty pair of Chuck Taylors is actually perfect for this activity.

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Biking and Cycling

Whether you’re sticking with your favorite spin class or have been tempted back on a traditional bike by the fresh air and sunshine, the benefits of cycling can’t be denied. It’s a great way to get your heart rate up, build endurance, and make short work of excess calories. Plus, it’s loads of fun, especially if you like to go bike riding with friends and family through beautiful natural areas.

Shoes that are ideal for biking and cycling are typically nice and stiff to provide your feet with the support they need to pedal without cramping. Good cycling shoes help you get more out of your workout by providing constant contact with the pedal and superior control over each rotation. Making sure to wear the right shoes helps reduce the likelihood of slipping off the pedals or otherwise losing control of the bike, which can result in injury.

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Mountain Biking

mountain biking shoes quoteThe rigors of mountain biking differ from cycling on paved ground. Shoes that are ideal for this sport are going to have a lot of similarities to trail running shoes because they factor in the inconsistent terrain. Think soles that feature extra traction for trekking up rough trails and maintaining control of a bike if things get unpredictable! Mountain biking shoes are also generally heavier and less aerodynamic than other types of athletic shoes—the better to protect your feet from the elements or any possible hazards.

Last, but not least, mountain biking can sometimes require you to think fast and act quickly. For that reason, you’ll also want to look for shoes that can be easily disengaged from the pedals just in case. You’ll be better equipped to handle it if you need to stop suddenly or if you happen to take a tumble.

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Walking

Since walking is something you can do every single day, it’s easy to assume any old pair of shoes will do, so long as they’re comfortable. However, walking for long periods or for exercise purposes is pretty serious business. A flimsy pair of basic canvas tennis shoes may be fine for walking around grocery store, but they may not be the best choice for a day trip to Disney Land or a long journey on your favorite hiking trail.

Look for options with features capable of supporting your body during long periods of standing or walking. Look for solid arch support, relatively flexible soles, and plenty of cushioning to help absorb shock. While it’s true that walking isn’t as high impact as running or jogging, your feet and joints will still appreciate the protection.

Try a walking shoe that doesn’t necessarily look like a walking shoe—like the You Walk from Skechers. It’s perfect for everything from window shopping at the mall to daily strolls around the neighborhood with your family.

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Hiking and Exploring

Hiking shoes are designed to handle the challenges of the trail. The more challenging the terrain, the more important it is to have a good, reliable hiking shoe.

family holding hands walking

If you’re the type who sticks to low-key recreational trails, you might be able to get away with wearing your trail running shoes. However, hikers who like to challenge themselves will want to look for something with a little added support. Mid- or high-cut tops are a good idea for supporting your ankles and maintaining stability. Just understand that hiking boots and shoes are generally made with ruggedness in mind, so they’ll be a lot heavier than standard shoes.

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Beach Workouts

If you’re lucky enough to live by the ocean, a river, a lake, or any other large body of water, it’s totally understandable if it’s your workout spot of choice during the warmer summer months. However, while it’s probably tempting to perform your beach workouts barefoot, it’s really much better to choose the right footwear, just like every other type of exercise.

Don’t risk ruining your expensive running shoes or walking shoes by subjecting them to the salt, sand, and moisture down by the water. Invest in a good pair of water shoes instead. Water shoes provide the same amazing support and stability you’d expect from any other type of workout shoe, but they’re made to withstand exposure to water and moisture.

If you absolutely hate the idea of wearing enclosed shoes on the beach, try a pair of hiking sandals from a brand like Chaco or Birkenstock instead. They’ll let you enjoy the feeling of the beach, while providing the support you need.

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Crossfit or Multi-Activity Workouts

Are you one of the millions of people who have fallen in love with Crossfit? Maybe you’re someone who likes to engage in multiple types of exercise during a single session. Whatever the case may be, it’s understandable that you’d want a workout shoe that’s capable of handling this intense workout style. Try a good cross-trainer—a shoe that’s just as suitable for running as it is lifting weights and hopping on top of a plyometric box.

Good cross trainers have flat soles. They’re also built for both support and flexibility, but they don’t have an overabundance of cushioning. People who are into CrossFit and other multi-activity workouts need to feel grounded with lightweight options that will support their hard work. Try an ultra-breathable option like the Under Armour UA Dash on for size. You’ll love the way it carries you through even the most challenging multi-faceted workouts!

woman lifting dumbbell with arm

No matter which fitness program you choose, look for shoes that are designed for the activity at hand. That way, you can enjoy all of your favorite summer activities.

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