There’s nothing we love more at Women’s Health than a little friendly competition—even if it’s just with ourselves. And this year, for our annual Fitness Awards, we set the bar high: create the ultimate guide to the best exercise equipment to make your home gym feel sweet and complete. (Simple, right?)
Welp, after 12 months of testing and reviewing over a thousand different exercise machines, fitness tools, connected devices, activewear, gear, and virtual workout platforms, we feel truly confident that the 75 winners on this list will take your training up a notch (or several!). Please meet the next-gen of exercise equipment that’ll help you get #WHstrong…without leaving your house. (Peep the products featuring a lightning bolt logo for WH editors’ faves!) Suffice to say we are obsessed and know you will be too.
Jump to see each category:
While you don’t ~need~ new sneakers, sports bras, or leggings, you’ll def want these for their cutting-edge upgrades.
Best Running Jacket
Hoka One One Gore-Tex ShakeDry Run Jacket
Extreme weather is no match for this coat, which can also fit an 8-liter water pack.
Best Workout Leggings
Reebok PureMove Leggings
The compression in these tights will automatically increase or decrease depending on the impact level of your workout. What?!
Best Workout Socks
Balega Enduro Reflective Socks
The refractive glass beads around the ankles on these socks offer wearers high visibility in low-light conditions.
Most Innovative Sports Bra Design
adidas by Stella McCartney TruePurpose Post-Mastectomy Sports Bra
Cup pockets for prosthetic inserts and seams that eliminate rubbing along scar tissue are two reasons we love this bra.
Best Spin Shoes
Tiem Athletic Slipstream Spin Shoes
Don’t let these “sneakers” fool you—the clips are just hidden in the soles so you won’t duckwalk to and from your bike.
Best Merino Wool Base Layer
Smartwool Intraknit Merino 200 Crew Base Layer Top
The winning combo of wool, polyester, and elastane here will keep you warm and cozy while letting you breathe. Score!
Best Trail Running Tights
Arc’teryx Trino SL Tight
These tights are made from a material that’s designed to be durable and to handle *anything* Mother Nature might toss your way. Read: no rips or slips.
Best Racing Sneakers
Brooks Running Hyperion Elite 2
An updated nitrogen-infused midsole makes these superfast sneaks both insanely light and cushiony. Did someone say “new PR”? Yes, please.
Best High-Waisted Leggings
Aerie OFFLINE Hip Gloss Super High Waisted Legging
It’s hard not to fall for leggings that are designed to dry in a flash. Plus, they come in 17 different sizes, including short and long options.
Best Low-Impact Sports Bra
Lululemon In Alignment Straight Strap Bra
“This is the only sports bra I’m not constantly adjusting.” —Lauren Del Turco, fitness and wellness editor
Best Sneaker For Strength Training
APL Techloom Tracer
The lacing system on these low-top cross-trainers ensures your shoes stay tight no matter how much you move. (Guessing that’s a lot!)
Best Maternity Leggings
Nike One (M) Leggings
Maternity tights specially designed for moms-to-be? (*Praise hands*) The extra-flexy fabric held up in 17 hours of stretching without losing its shape.
Best Running Shoe
Allbirds Tree Dashers
Of all the sneakers we put through test runs this year, these new Allbirds were our faves. Their sustainable, cushy midsole (which is made out of sugar cane!) is perf for pounding the pavement sans pain.
Best Leggings For Cold-Weather Workouts
Athleta Rainier Reflective Printed Tight
Leave it to Athleta to create a new plush (sustainable!) fabric capable of wicking serious sweat while keeping you warm. Bonus: The added reflective details are ideal for logging miles in low-light conditions.
Best Sneakers For Low-Impact Cardio
Skechers Arch Fit Big Appeal
Twenty years of data went in to developing the super-supportive soles in these sneakers. The result? Perhaps the comfiest pair of Skechers yet.
Best Trail Running Shoes
Merrell MTL Long Sky Trail Running Shoes
WH‘s health director Jacqueline Andriakos swears by these extra-grippy trainers for hitting the trails. Merrell worked with ultra runners to get the fit just right and ensure they’ll stand up to even the toughest terrain.
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Our editors hit the trails and streets hard this year with a li’l help from this short list of items.
Best Bike Helmet
Thousand Chapter MIPS Cycling Helmet
Here for the new noggin-shielding tech and rechargeable light.
Apple Watch Series 6
“I use the Blood Oxygen app, exclusive to this model, to see how my body responds on hikes in higher altitudes.” —Jacqueline Andriakos, health director
Best Face Mask
Under Armour UA Sportsmask
Finally! A face covering that sits away from your mouth so you’re not inhaling the material while you sweat (#Hooray).
Best Running Vest
REI Co-op Swiftland Hydro Running Hydration Vest
Its completely swing-free, body-hugging fit makes this pack comfy on even the most hardcore of runs.
Black Diamond Equip. Ltd Access Spike Traction Device
Strap these on your go-to trekkers and stick to the iciest terrain, no prob.
BioLite HeadLamp 200
Having a hands-free light source is a godsend in the wild, and this one is both water-resistant and comes with a rechargeable battery.
Best Roller Skates
Impala Quad Skates
Retro skates with a very modern twist (they’re made of vegan leather) are an affordable way to get your roll on right now—at the rink or on the streets.
Best Hiking Backpack
Osprey Tempest 20 Hiking Backpack
This pack is perf for shorter day hikes or trail runs. Plus, it’s just been redesigned using 100 percent recycled nylon, making it the coolest, eco-friendly carryall to trek with.
Best Electrolyte Powder
Elemental Labs LMNT Recharge Electrolyte Hydration Powder
“These electrolytes contain more sodium than most, which means you truly are hydrated from every sip you take. They’re also delicious.” —Lauren Del Turco, fitness and wellness editor
Best Sports Watch
Casio G-Shock GMDB800-4
It may not have a touchscreen, but this timepiece uses Bluetooth technology to keep track of all your fitness metrics and then upload them to its accompanying app. Its durable design means you get all that data without worrying about banging it around while you explore.
Best Personal Safety Device
Birdie Personal Safety Alarm
True, this keychain charm sounds less like a chirp and more like a helicopter overhead when activated, but if you find yourself in trouble on a trek, you’ll be super grateful that it does.
Best Stand Up Paddle Board
Red Paddle Co. 9’8″ Ride MSL Paddle Board
WH‘s editor-at-large Kiera Carter says this inflatable paddle board makes her shortlist of the best outdoor gear any day. Not only is it easy to transport (hello, inflatable), it’s designed to handle both waves and tranquil waters alike.
MSR Lightning Ascent Snowshoes
These lightweight snowshoes are designed to make walking through a winter wonderland a ‘lil bit easier thanks to their 360-degree super-grip traction and heel lifts that’ll help make trekking uphill feel like NBD.
‘Bee Yourself’ Kula Cloth
More than one WH editor swears that this washable pee cloth is the #1 (it’s not designed for #2) item every badass woman needs to have when nature calls on the trails. TMI? Maybe, but you’ll thank us for it.
Best Sleeping Bag
Big Agnes Sunbeam 15 Degree Sleeping Bag
When we asked our outdoorsy editors for the one item they’d never go camping without, it was this sleeping bag, which is basically a cocoon for your bod. It’ll keep you cozy, even in temps as lows as 15 degrees.
Best Camping Hammock
Kammok Roo Double Camping Hammock
Consider this the holy grail of camping hammocks. Its special slings are made of a fabric that’s 15 times stronger than steel. Plus, the whole thing weighs just about a pound but can hold 500 times that much weight.
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These apps, online streaming platforms, and pocket-size devices are designed to put a virtual fit fam at your fingertips.
Best Heart Rate Monitor
The skin sensors and heart-rate monitoring technology on this new piece of arm candy show you when you’re in the right zone to crush your cardio.
Best New Fitness App For iOS Users
The only workout platform built for the Apple Watch prides itself on giving spot-on recs for new class styles based on your go-to routine.
Best Recovery Tracker
Whoop Strap 3.0
On top of tracking your recovery, it now shows you how stress…and that extra glass of wine…*really* affect your bod.
Best Low-Impact Workouts
HOUSEWORK with Sydney Miller
“Pilates moves get a high-energy makeover set to the beat of house music that never leaves me bored.” —Amanda Woerner, executive digital editor
Best Wireless Headphones
Bose Sport Earbuds
Music to our ears: These wireless headphones are virtually budge-proof, so they won’t pop out during headstands or HIIT.
Best Strength Training Fitness App
Hands down, the app-based option closest to sweating with an IRL trainer. From workouts to demo videos, it offers serious support.
Best Fitness Tracker Under $200
Garmin put its gold standard smartwatch technology into its most affordable model yet and we are here for it.
Best Prenatal Workouts
Fit Pregnancy Club
“FPC’s classes are all led by instructors trained in prenatal or postnatal workouts. You can sign up for live classes via Zoom or—my favorite—join FPC Anywhere for access to dozens of on-demand workouts, with more added each month.” —Robin Hilmantel, digital director
Best Boutique Fitness App
Variis by Equinox
This app is chock-full of high-end fitness experiences from elite boutique studios like Pure Yoga, SoulCycle, and Precision Run, making it one of the strongest virtual workout options in the game.
Best Virtual Bootcamp Workouts
Barry’s new online platform blew our minds by adding bodyweight and resistance band circuit options to its hard AF bootcamps. Boom!
Best Period Tracker For Active Women
WILD.AI Training App For Women
This first-of-its-kind app uses AI to help women track their menstrual cycles and adjust their training and nutrition schedules accordingly to feel and perform at their best.
Best Immersive Fitness Experience
iFit’s library includes workouts shot at some of the most epic places around the globe, which means you can take a run through Patagonia or exercise on Easter Island…without leaving your living room.
Best Live Workouts
AARMY Cycling and Bootcamp Sessions
Akin Akman and Angela Manuel Davis, co-founders of AARMY, inspire a legion of devotees on the daily with training that’s anything but basic. If you’re looking to enlist in a feel-good fit fam that isn’t afraid of hard work, this is it.
Best Bodyweight Workouts
SLT On Demand
Amanda Freeman, founder of SLT, has managed to figure out a way to replicate the muscle sculpting benefits of her slow-burn Megaformer classes at home sans machine. You’ll still get 100 percent of the core-quaking goodness with zero equipment.
Best Intuitive Fitness App
The latest iteration of this online streaming platform now customizes itself to users based on their behavior, meaning it’ll notify you when new workouts drop in the training styles you like and suggest other fitness modalities you might enjoy.
Best Free Workout App
Nike Training Club
“Nike Training Club is the one fitness app I keep coming back to—and not just because it’s free. I’ve worked with so many of its master trainers IRL and can attest that their virtual workout programs are every bit as effective.” —Jordan Galloway, fitness director
Best Dance Cardio Classes
The sweaty, heart-pumping elation you’ll feel after a FORWARD_Space session is the closest thing to a night spent dancing at a club…minus the hangover.
Best Yoga App
What sets Alo Moves apart from other yoga apps is how many different types of yoga it offers. Whether you prefer the slower pace of yin or the athleticism of ashtanga, you’ll find your flow here.
Best Virtual Streaming Experience
Peloton’s workout platform is in a category all its own. It has thousands of on-demand classes. Plus, new live ones are added every week, making it virtually impossible to get bored.
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Behold! Our hot takes on the souped-up iterations of basic home gym equipment every woman should own.
Best Lightweight Dumbbell
Bala Bars Set
This super-cute pair of 3-lb weights is the perf sub for dumbbells when it comes to high-rep muscle endurance moves.
Best Adjustable Dumbbell
The world’s first digital dumbbells can adjust their load (from 8 to 50 lbs) simply with the push of a button. Magic!
Best Full-Body Resistance Band
re*spin Full Body Resistance Loop
“One loop just isn’t enough for this swirly tool that takes resistance to a fresh new level.” —Liz Plosser, editor-in-chief
Best Yoga Mat
Manduka GRP Adapt Yoga Mat
Somehow our go-to mat makers created an even grippier one that’s also crazy absorbent for slip-free sweaty flows.
Best Percussive Massager
Therabody Theragun Mini
The gold standard of percussive massagers now comes in a compact, waaay less expensive model that’ll still pound out muscle tension like a pro.
Best Free Weights
YBell Neo 4-in-1 Weight
Meet the kettlebell’s cooler cousin. The triangular design offers more grip positions for dynamic lifts and swings.
Best Pullup Bar
FitBar Doorway Pull Up Bar
WH’s pullup guru, Angela Gargano, says this is the best doorway bar for beginner up-ers: “I am obsessed with it.”
Best Battle Ropes
Tone It Up Toning Ropes
Leave it to Katrina Scott and Karena Dawn to create the ideal two-for-one piece of workout equipment. Use these as battle ropes to rev your heart rate or resistance bands to strengthen and sculpt.
Best Sculpting Set
P.volve Ultimate Kit
“This set made me feel like I was at a boutique studio in my living room because each piece of equipment was thoughtfully designed for max burn. I’ve also noticed my posture improving after a few weeks.” —Jennifer Nied, contributing writer
Best Strength Training Bar Set
Lebert Fitness EQualizer Total Body Strengthener
We’re seriously impressed by how many different moves you can master with this simple piece of equipment—from triceps dips to chin-ups to inverted and elevated rows. Phew!
Best Suspension System
Hyfit Gear 1 Resistance Training System
Meet the workout system that’s revolutionizing resistance training. The versatile bands can be anchored to your bod, a door frame, or anything heavy that won’t budge, so you can bust out one of Hyfit’s on-demand workouts pretty much anywhere.
Best Beginner Fitness Tracker
Amazon Halo Fitness Tracker
Building healthy habits will be so much easier with this discreet fitness tracker strapped to your wrist. It’ll analyze everything from your sleep to your stress level and daily activity, but you’ll barely know it’s there.
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Sure, the items in this category are a splurge, but the game-changing innovation that’s gone into them makes ’em worth every penny.
Best Exercise Bike
A 180° swivel screen and Auto Follow resistance that adjusts to your effort (no more dial turns!) make this bike perfect for serious pedal pushers.
Best Camping Tent
Roofnest Falcon Roof Top Tent
Pitching a tent atop your car affords you the luxury of hitting any open road and always knowing where you’ll lay your head.
Best Adjustable Barbell Weight Set
Bowflex SelectTech 2080 Barbell with Curl Bar
“I feel like I have a full gym’s worth of weights at my apartment with this set.”—Kristin Canning, health editor
Best Solar-Powered Smartwatch
Garmin Fenix 6S Pro Solar
$585.99 (27% off)
The latest version of this do-everything watch gets a battery boost (up to 10.5 days!) from a solar-charging lens.
Best Weight Training Workout System
A display cabinet hides a barbell, dumbbells, and 115 lbs. of plates; grab ’em for the 5- to 60-minute, A.I.-powered workouts.
Best Vertical Climber
Prepare to sculpt and strengthen your whole bod whenever you want by hopping on this new connected vertical climber.
Best Rowing Machine
CITYROW GO Max
Stroke for stroke, this new rower is one lean, mean cardio machine that makes cross-training ridiculously convenient thanks to its virtual class roster of strength training, HIIT, and yoga.
Best Incline Treadmill
NordicTrack X22i Incline Trainer
Ready to take your runs to new heights? This tread goes up to a 40 percent incline (most tap out at 15). Plus, it comes with iFit interactive personal training, which allows you to stream live workouts, compete against the iFit community, and interact with trainers in real time. Oh, and it’ll automatically adjust your speed and incline as you sweat to make sure your bod is always being challenged.
Best Home Studio
FORME Life Smart Mirror Weight Trainer
Here’s a home studio that’s basically plateau-proof. It uses AI to ensure you’re always being challenged—be it during resistance training or barre class. (Oh, and celeb trainer Harley Pasternak happens to be its Chief Fitness Advisor, FYI.)
Best Boxing Experience
Miss your group boxing classes? This is the next best thing. Get into fighting shape thanks to constantly varied workouts and a competitive leaderboard that lets you go round for round against other online competitors.
Best Camping Gear Upgrade
Tandem Folding Kayak
Your next great adventure can only get better with this foldable (uh, huh, yup) kayak that’s built for two people. Genius!
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This article originally appeared in the December 2020 issue of Women’s Health.
Source: Women’s Health Mag