Kickboxing is not exactly a sport for the faint of heart, but it is an excellent workout for those who are prepared to put the effort in. Of course, you don’t have to climb into a kickboxing ring and fight to the death with an opponent like movies from the 1980s would have you believe; it is entirely possible to train in kickboxing for the fitness without actually fighting anyone.
But even you take up the sport purely for the exercise and have no intention of ever setting foot into a competitive situation, you are still going to be performing the same moves and giving the same level of exertion that you would in a real kickboxing match, and that means you will still need the appropriate gear.
It can feel a bit cliche to say that the shoes are one of the most important bits of kit you will purchase, not just in kickboxing, but in most high-energy activities, but it is true. After all, all of your body weight goes through those small appendages at the end of your legs. Unsuitable footwear can very easily lead to injury on an already stressed part of the body, and most good doctors will tell you that training on a foot or ankle injury is a very bad idea. At least, if you want the injury to get better.
While good kickboxing shoes can only do so much to keep your feet and ankles safe, they are nevertheless a crucial part of the equation, so we’ve put together this list of best shoes for kickboxing to help you pick the best ones for you.
Why Not Wear Regular Gym or Running Sneakers?
The first question you might ask yourself is why you can’t just train in your regular gym shoes, or perhaps some running sneakers or pumps. Of course, you could do that, but like most things, specialist equipment will always do it better. Kickboxing shoes are designed specifically to grip the floor in ways that suit the motions you will be going through when kickboxing. They are typically lighter and thinner so as not to be too cumbersome while you are training. They are also typically more supportive around the ankle to help protect you from injury if you should go over your ankle. Though on the subject of ankle protection, it is possible to get kickboxing shoes that are do not offer additional ankle support, which suits more agile kickboxers more as it creates less restriction of movement around the ankle.
1. Nike Men’s Metcon 2
Though primarily designed with cross-fit in mind, the Metcon 2 makes for an excellent kickboxing shoe if you are looking for as much flexibility and agility as possible. Granted, this flexibility comes at the expense of the additional ankle support many look for in kickboxing shoes, but you will have to decide if that trade-off is worth it.
The sole of the Metcon 2 is flat and grippy, making it ideal for pushing off when you are looking to move quickly, and it is flexible, so you won’t be fighting against your soles when you try to move around.
In terms of comfort, there are vents and mesh areas that help to regulate the temperature inside, as well as keeping your feet fresher. The shoe is very lightweight, though that lightness does not comes at the expense of durability.
From an appearance standpoint, there is nothing too remarkable about the construction of the Metcon 2; however, there is a large range of designs to choose from if you are looking to spruce things up. That being said, how snazzy your shoes look probably won’t be a high priority if you are competing.
2. ASICS Men’s Snapdown Wrestling Shoe
If you are looking for something built from the ground up for combat sports, ASICS has your back. Or, rather, your feet. These shoes were designed with wrestling in mind, but they make excellent kickboxing shoes as well. They have excellent ankle support thanks to the high cuff, though you will have to accept a reduced range of ankle movement as a trade-off for that extra support.
The upper is made from single-layer mesh for better breathability, while the synthetic suede framing provides the strength and durability you want from active footwear. The outsole, while technically designed for use on a wrestling mat, provides plenty of grip and support, though it can feel a little stiff compared to some of the more agile shoes on this list.
The Snapdown Wrestling Shoe is available in two designs; black and silver or the more colorful white, true blue, and sunflower combination. This isn’t the most agile shoe, but if you tend to be a little unsteady at times, it offers excellent support for your feet and ankles.
3. Ringside Diablo Wrestling Boxing Shoes
The first out-and-out boxing shoe on our list comes from Ringside, though they market them for wrestling as well. They feature the typical high cuffs and thin, flat soles that you would expect to find in a boxing shoe, designed to put up as little a barrier between you and the ground while offering additional ankle support.
The upper combines mesh and vinyl to bring you plenty of breathability without sacrificing too much durability, and the complete lacing system should make getting your shoes to fit easily. The outsole is made from rubber and is non-slip, which should help to both keep you on your feet and avoid marking your gym’s floor!
On the downside, they are not as easy to move around in as you might like. Boxing is a considerably more flat-footed sport than kickboxing. But they are excellent if your training focuses primarily on the upper body or you need additional support around the ankle.
4. Reebok Women’s Crossfit Nano 5.0 Training Shoe
Cross-fit shoes are often popular for kickboxers who are looking for plenty of freedom of movement, and the Crossfit Nano 5.0 training shoe does not disappoint in that regard. Made from 100% synthetic upper and a rubber sole, it is lightweight and durable.
It provides a delightfully flat and solid base to work from thanks to the low sole, and there is more than enough grip to keep you from having and unfortunate spills. There are plenty of designs to choose from, so if looks are important to you, you’ll love this option. It should be noted that these shoes are not intended for running, so they may not be ideal for prolonged intensive sessions. In other words, if you’re training five hours a day for a fight, you’ll probably want something with a bit more padding.
5. Under Armour Men’s Charged Assert 8 Running Shoe
The Assert 8, being a running shoe, fits the more traditional mold for what you’d expect a sports shoe to look and feel like. This is a well-padded sneaker designed for intensive use, which makes it great for kickboxing. The upper section combines strong synthetic materials and a mostly mesh design to achieve a good degree of durability while providing plenty of breathability to keep your feet from roasting in their own juices as you exert yourself.
The midsole is comfortable, and the cuff is padded to ensure that your feet and ankles have plenty of protection from the rigors of physical activity. There isn’t much ankle support, but if you choose these shoes, you’re probably more worried about being able to move around freely and quickly, and in that area, they excel.
There is a huge range of designs to choose from, so you won’t be short of options if the look of the shoe is important to you.
6. ASICS Women’s GEL-Fit Sana 2 Fitness Shoe
Featuring a 100% synthetic upper, the Sana 2 manages to strike a good middle ground between durability, being lightweight, and being flexible. It is a very low and flat shoe with quite a bit of padding, meaning it offers both excellent stability but also comfort.
The outsole is as grippy as you would hope but also abrasion-resistant, so you will get plenty of life out of it. There isn’t much ankle support on offer with the Sana 2, but what the shoe lacks in ankle support, it makes up for in freedom of movement.
7. Adidas Men’s HVC Wrestling Shoe
Possibly the only pure wrestling shoe on our list, the HVC wrestling shoes are great for kickboxing because they offer plenty of ankle support and a nice, flat base to work from, giving you supreme stability all around. They hug your ankles tightly and feature a combination of synthetic leather and suede combined with mesh for breathability.
They are adjustable both through full-length laces but also via a velcro strap around the cuff. While the shoes are lightweight, you may find them to be a little stiff at first. You can pick the HVC Wrestling Shoes up in six different designs.
8. PUMA Men’s Ignite Netfit Cross-Trainer-Shoes
The PUMA Men’s Ignite Netfit Cross-Trainer shoe is a versatile shoe that excels in many sports and activities. It features an almost entirely mesh upper for supreme breathability and flexibility, while the NetFit lacing system will ensure your shoes are securely and snugly on your feet at all times.
There is a surprising amount of cushioning for such a lightweight shoe thanks to a dual-layer midsole, while the outsole is made from rubber and is resistant to abrasion. The outsole also features special flex grooves to ensure maximum flexibility without sacrificing the durability of the sole.
The cuff is relatively high on this shoe, though the additional ankle support it offers is limited due to the lightweight, flexible nature of the materials. On the subject of lightweight, this shoe certainly is that, weighing in at a little over ten ounces.
There aren’t many designs to choose from, but it’s clear from the specifications of this shoe that PUMA has gone all-in on functionality.
9. Otomix Men’s Stingray Escape Bodybuilding Weightlifting
Bodybuilding and weightlifting footwear probably aren’t what you first imagined when you conjured up images of what shoes would be suitable for kickboxing. As it turns out, they are actually well suited for this particular task.
The Stingrays come with additional ankle support thanks to the high cuff, as well as a thin, flat sole, offering plenty of stability. The shoe is very lightweight but features a padded liner around the ankle for even more support. The outsole is extremely grippy and made from rubber, while the upper section is made from leather and synthetic materials, though it is not the most breathable shoe on the list. You can get the Stingray in a variety of different designs.
10. RYKA Women’s Grafik 2 Cross-Trainer Shoe
Our final pick for our best shoes for kickboxing list is a more conventional sneaker. The Grafik 2 boasts a mesh and synthetic combo in the upper, coming together to make the shoe both as breathable as possible while also keeping the shoe as light as possible.
The outsole is made from rubber and offers exceptional grip in most circumstances. Thanks to clever design intended to make Crossfit that little bit more comfortable, the pivot point of the shoe is ideal for the kinds of rapid movements you would be making.
Naturally, the mesh of the upper section is breathable, and there is plenty of it, so your feet should be kept nice and fresh. Unfortunately, there is only the one design available for this shoe, though it is a very stylish design.
We feel pretty confident that our list of best shoes for kickboxing should have something for everyone, but if you are not taken with any of our picks, fear not. There are more than ten decent pairs of shoes suitable for kickboxing in, and just because they are no on this list does not mean they can’t be good.
As long as you ensure your potential kickboxing shoes meet a few of the more important criteria, you should be good to go. And, to that end, we’ve put together this little buying guide so that you know what criteria to look for.
Protection and Support
Probably the biggest reason you might opt for kickboxing shoes over regular sneakers—especially if you are new to the sport—is for the additional protection it can give you. This protection comes in different flavors.
The most obvious of these is cushioning. You will be doing a lot of bouncing around and high-impact exercise during the course of your kickboxing training, and that can be hard on the joints without a little help from your footwear. Cushioning in sports footwear is common, but with kickboxing shoes, you want to ensure that the cushioning is adequate under the balls of your feet, where most of your weight will be placed. Many sports shoes—running shoes in particular—tend to focus more on the heel.
The next area to look at is the lateral movement. As well as bouncing on your heels, you will be doing plenty of side-to-side movement—at least, you will if you don’t want to get hit! Your shoes should have a snug fit, as your feet sliding around inside your shoes when kickboxing can cause friction burns, blisters and increase the likelihood of your falling or twisting your ankle.
On the subject of twisting your ankle, ankle support is another important feature of a good kickboxing shoe. Having the additional ankle protection of a good shoe should help to stop you from going over on your ankle, which can cause sprains or worse.
When considering outsoles, you will naturally want to consider your own circumstances before choosing what kind of grip you want your shoes to have. For most people, however, the inside of a gym will be the most common place that your training takes place. To that end, we recommend you find a pair of shoes with a non-marking rubber outsole.
When looking at materials, you will undoubtedly want a durable material that can withstand the abuse you will be putting it through. You will also want something breathable, as you should be working up quite a sweat if you are doing it right. Finally, you do not want your shoes to be hulking heavy things as you will need to be agile and able to move around quickly.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is natural to have questions when looking to make a purchase, and the world of kickboxing shoes is no exception. To that end, we’ve pulled together some of the most commonly asked questions regarding kickboxing shoes for our convenience.
Do you wear shoes for kickboxing?
Traditionally—as well as competitively—it is common to practice kickboxing barefoot, with shoes being more common for boxing. That being said, much of kickboxing is upper bodywork, and you can’t always be sure of barefoot-appropriate training conditions. Therefore it is advisable to wear shoes in most situations where competition rules don’t require you to be barefoot.
What should I wear for kickboxing?
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about the footwear you should wear in this post, but what about the rest of your gear? Shorts and t-shirt are popular for training, with sleeveless shirts being especially popular. The main goal is to ensure there is as little obstruction as possible. Loose-fitting clothes are ideal, but not so loose that you have fabric flapping about in your way while you’re trying to land a jab.
What gloves should I use for kickboxing?
If you are competing, you will need to consult the rules and regulations enforced in whatever organization you are competing in, but generally speaking, regular boxing gloves are the order of the day. The precise weight of the gloves will be a matter of preference in training or a matter of regulation in competition.
Is kickboxing good for beginners?
We certainly wouldn’t recommend a complete beginner hopping into a professional kickboxing match, but it is certainly good for beginners to pick up from an exercise point of view. And, if you are looking to take up a martial art and have no experience, kickboxing is one of the easiest to pick up from a technical point of view.
Does kickboxing help lose belly fat?
There is nothing about kickboxing that makes it more able to burn away belly fat than any other similar form of exercise, although the simple fact that you will be exercising quite intensively will naturally help to burn fat. Part of the problem is that it is not possible to target certain areas when losing fat—the fat will burn from where your body chooses to burn it regardless of what you are doing.