The Te-Rich Fabric Workout Bands Set is a mini band set—meaning, they’re small loops (instead of straps with open ends) that you can slide around your thighs, calves, or ankles, or use on your arms for a variety of exercises. The lighter resistance is great for recovery and rehabilitation (think: clam shells to strengthen your hips; or pointing and bending your feet to strengthen your ankles); While heavier resistances can be used for squats, banded pull-ups (which will work your upper back), and side walks.
If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, try the Taimasi 23-Piece Resistance Bands Set, which has just about every type of band. You’ll find five stackable bands that come with handles (which means you can mix and match the bands to create a more challenging workout), as well as a jump rope, door stops, and twist-up straps. Best of all, everything folds up and fits into a small bag included in the kit. Think of it as your portable personal gym.
Last on our list is the Bodylastics resistance band set, which is similar to the Taimasi. Stackable bands with handles you can cut and undo mean it’s easy to make your workout as difficult as you want it to be. Grips, like those included in Taimasi and Bodylastics options, are also key if you’re interested in doing more traditional weightlifting moves (ie: bicep curls or flyes) where you want the “feel” of holding the dumbbells. Bodylastics’ range of resistance bands also includes a neat feature: Each band is designed with an underwire, so if an elastic happens to break, the band won’t bounce back and hit you. Cool, isn’t it? At just over $100, Bodylastics are our most expensive option, but according to Amazon reviewers, these are also great quality and well worth the investment.
BEST ENERGY TEAM: The Recreational Race Power Pack
Influencer, registered dietitian, and NASM-certified personal trainer Rachael DeVaux launched Recreation Sweat, her own line of fitness accessories, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic after realizing how effective, inspiring, and energizing home workouts can be. These straps prove to be very durable, so it doesn’t matter how intense your workout is. Power bands serve many purposes—for resistance training, strength support (hello, pull-ups), and stretching sessions—so we can’t recommend them enough.
Best mat: Lululemon The Mat
It is not necessary to use any other name – yes, that is The Mat. While Lululemon originally designed them with yoga in mind, their trademark mat is comfortable and suitable for most, if not all, types of exercises. It’s reversible, so you can choose a smoother or smoother finish depending on what your workout entails on any given day. At 26 inches long, it’s wider than many standard mats and durable enough to last several years, even with heavy use.
Best hot yoga mat: Manduka GRP Lite Hot Yoga Mat 4mm
Sweaty palms are no match for the traction finish on this Manduka mat. While the leather-like exterior may seem strange at first, it’s certainly effective at preventing slipping, even during steamy gusts. The Lite version, granted here, is a bit cheaper than its 6mm counterpart with decent results.
Best mat for larger bodies: JadeYoga XW Fusion
JadeYoga—beloved for its classic, no-frills, crunchy soul—makes an excellent astringent mat beloved by experienced practitioners. Jesamine Stanley – Yoga instructor, author of a book All body yoga, and founder of The Underbelly – recommends using the XW Fusion for regular exercise. It has a larger footprint, and though its higher cost reflects that, Stanley swears it’s worth every penny.
Best Adjustable Dumbbells: Bowflex SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbell Set
When creating a home gym setup, space is always something to consider. Smaller items like dumbbells can quickly add up and feel messy, especially if you like to have a variety of weights on hand. We recommend investing in an adjustable pair if you’re able: You’ll save space and perhaps, over time, on equipment in general. The Bowflex set is adjustable in 2.5-pound increments, while many other adjustable sets only allow you to jump five pounds in either direction. You can buy them for a little less ($400) with just a storage drawer, but the stand bundle is worth it, if you ask us.
Best Dumbbell Set: BalanceForm Neoprene Dumbbell Set
If you want to strength train at home, a one- or two-pound pair of dumbbells probably just won’t cut it, especially when you’re looking to increase the resistance over time. This BalanceForm set, which comes with sets of 5lb, 8lb, and 12lb weights, is better equipped to power you through several months of gains, if not more. It’s made of cast iron and covered in neoprene to help support the grip.
Best Adjustable Kettlebell: Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell
For the same reasons we love an adjustable dumbbell set, we love an adjustable kettlebell: It saves space, enables you to get more dynamic workouts from the comfort of your own home, and encourages you to get stronger and experiment with increasing your resistance. All you have to do is turn the dial and you can set this Bowflex bell anywhere from 8 to 40 lbs.