Harder, better, faster, stronger. Whether you’re into at-home elliptical training, trail running, powerlifting, or CrossFit, you want gear to help you work out safely, comfortably, and more effectively. But in 2023, it’s not just about the gear you use to actually train. It’s also about how you recover from that training, how you track that training, and what you wear when you’re training (and, sometimes, when you’re done training, too).
That means taking stock of your workout routine to figure out what gear will help you achieve your fitness goals. Are you a newbie runner looking to improve your personal-best 5K time? Or a competitive lifter who’s looking for the safest weight setup to take your lifts to the next level? Or a fitness-stats geek who looks forward to tracking your every health metric with the latest smartwatch? Whatever your personal fitness obsession, our expert trainers and professional coaches know what you need to level up your game.
That’s why we’re back with this year’s roundup of our top fitness-gear picks. New year, new gear. From the best adjustable dumbbells and Nordic curl stations to next-gen outdoor smartwatches and workout hoodies, we sweat-tested it all so you don’t have to. This is the 2023 Men’s Health Fitness Awards.
Dumbbells don’t have to be. SMRTFT’s Nuobell easily adjusts from five to 80 pounds, is ultra-durable, and, most importantly, feels like a classic dumbbell for most exercises.
Best Indoor Dumbbell
Hyperwear Softbell Soft Adjustable Dumbbell
Now 10% Off
Softer, better, faster, stronger… Hyperwear’s Softbell dumbbells are easy to grip and prevent damage to you and your floors, thanks to buttery-soft neoprene construction.
Best Dumbbell Accessory
Micro Gainz 1.25-pound Dumbbell Attachment
Want to progress your lifts but can’t always make five-pound jumps? These clip-on dumbbell attachments are the perfect fix (and travel well, too).
Doing split squats on a traditional bench sucks. Turn your own squat rack into a better, commercial-grade Bulgarian split-squat setup with the Split Squat Pad.
Best Barbell Innovation
Kabuki Strength Kadillac Bar
A one-of-a-kind barbell that makes almost every pressing exercise (from benching to shoulder pressing) just a little easier on your shoulders.
Best Weight Plate Innovation
Weight-It-Out Weight Plates
Ditch the needlessly thick, bulky weight plates for these sexy, razor-thin alternatives, which are perfect for ultraheavy trap bar deadlifts.
No frills, no BS with this pure, overbuilt ruck-ready sack. It’s ridiculously comfy whether you train on sand, gravel, grass, or concrete.
Best Suspension Trainer
TRX Pro4 System
Now 20% Off
Bodyweight resistance isn’t futile. Build strength and mobility (and blast your abs, too!) with this all-in-one trainer that fits in a backpack.
Best Budget Sandbag
GoRuck Simple Training Sandbag
That military-grade rucksack demands serious weight. GoRuck’s training sandbags are built tough with double-pass stitching and a triple-lock Velcro closure, so you couldn’t bust ’em if you tried.
The subtle contour of these grip pulls lets you personalize any pulling exercise, from pullups and chinups at home to machine and barbell rows in the gym.
Best Weight Vest
TRX XD Kevlar Weighted Vest
Fuel your weighted workouts with this beefy Kevlar vest. Because nothing ups the burn like adding another 10, 20, or even 40 pounds to the mix.
Best Nordic Curl Station
FreakAthlete Nordic Mini
Now 17% Off
Master the trendiest hamstring exercise out there with this Nordic station that’s compact and portable enough to fit in just about any room of your house.
Best Slant Board
Perform Better Economy Adjustable Slantboard
Build your quads or stretch your calves easily with this dead-simple slant board. Bonus: It folds flat for easy storage.
Best Travel Arm Compression
Therabody RecoveryPulse Arm Sleeve
This Terminator-worthy therapy tool not only looks cool but delivers targeted vibration and compression therapy in a package that can fit in any carry-on.
Best Localized Heat Therapy
“The Venom Go’s portability makes it my go-to for recovery on the road. It applies to basically any muscle group.” —Cory Ritchey, associate editor
Best Slip-On Recovery Shoe
OOFOS OOmg Sport Low Shoe
When low-key, street-friendly style meets top-level recovery, the OOmg becomes one sport recovery shoe to rule them all.
Best Everyday Minimalist Shoe
Strengthen your feet by wearing this über-minimalist shoe every day. It’s the next best thing to wearing nothing at all. Rawr.
Best Foam Roller
Roll Recovery R4 Body Roller
Ditch your $10 bargain-basement foam roller for a uniquely textured roller that works especially well around your back, IT bands, and calves.
Most Portable Massage Gun
Therabody Theragun Mini, 2nd Generation
Ounce for ounce, this pocket rocket (no, not that kind) is the most compact, powerful, and portable mini massage gun there is.
Treat your gams to this next-gen compression tool to recover from tough leg workouts and long runs. Plus, it just feels so, so damn good.
Elevate your at-home cold-therapy regimen with Plunge’s purpose-built plunge tub, which delivers clean, filtered water chilled to as low as 39°F.
Best All-Around Workout Watch
The gold standard for fitness-centric smartwatches, Apple’s latest Watch Ultra blends rugged good looks, a bulletproof design, and a boatload of bleeding-edge tech.
Smartwatches rock; their battery life doesn’t. Garmin solves the problem with the Instinct 2x Solar’s unlimited battery life (yes, really).
Never lose your way with the Apex 2 Pro’s global offline maps and dual-frequency GNSS support—perfect for athletes who love the great outdoors (and not getting lost).
Best Android Workout Watch
The latest Pixel Watch looks great, tracks every health and fitness metric that matters, and plays nice with almost everything in Google’s rich ecosystem.
Masimo’s W1 is sleek, easy to use, and deadly accurate with your most critical health metrics, from heart and respiration rates to pulse oximetry and perfusion index.
Best On-The-Wrist Body Comp Tracker
With a three-in-one bioactive sensor, round-the-clock health monitoring, and advanced sleep programming, this flagship watch is like having a wellness coach on your wrist.
“The most reliable fitness buds ever stay in my ears whether I’m doing handstands or kettlebell swings.” —Ebenezer Samuel, fitness director
Best Earbuds for Long Runs
With a sleek, sweatproof design and a nearly invisible fit, these next-gen Adidas buds seriously elevate your outdoor training game.
Best Weight-Training Sound Quality
Most sport-minded earbuds sound pretty meh. Not so for these premium buds, which boast high-res audio and perfect call clarity no matter your workout regimen.
These next-gen headphones ditch traditional circuitry for bone-conduction technology, producing better, clearer, and richer sound. Plus, we love the secure, comfortable fit, even during our toughest workouts.
Leave the bulky iPad on the nightstand. The Galaxy Z Fold4 packs smartphone, tablet, and e-reader tech into one streamlined, pocketable device.
Best Follow-Along Workout App
Even the most driven among us can use a little extra inspo. Get yours with access to thousands of follow-along workouts from professional, certified trainers from around the world.
When you need personalized, one-on-one fitness training, the Future app delivers it in the palm of your hand.
“These fins have been tops for their benefits to all phases of the kick—up and down. Now a new kind of silicone makes them more comfortable in the footbed and instep without sacrificing performance.” —Marty Munson, health director
Best CrossFit Shoe
Reebok Nano X3 Training Shoes
Reebok’s latest functional-training workhorse has rock-solid support for lifting and a soft, well-cushioned design for jumping and running.
Best Weightlifting Shoe
Reebok Legacy Lifter III
Now 23% Off
Whether you’re squatting or doing cleans, stay locked in using the classic Reebok Pump system to customize your fit.
Most Versatile Cross-Trainer
These versatile trainers are sturdy enough that you can deadlift and squat in them, but flexible enough to support running and jumping, too.
Most Comfortable Cross-Trainer
Under Armour Project Rock 5 Training Shoe
We love the über-comfy fit of these do-it-all trainers, especially with the breezy mesh upper, which keeps your feet cool no matter how hard you train.
Best Minimalist Trainer
Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit
Ready to go all in on barefoot-style shoes? Vivobarefoot’s Primus Lite Knit is extra thin, flexible, and featherweight—bringing your workouts as close to the ground as you can get with anything on your feet.
Best Training Shoe Innovation
Cool, cushioned, and creative, these one-of-a-kind kicks from Under Armour reinvent the
wheel heel with a design that converts seamlessly from training mode to casual mode and back again.
Most Eye-Catching Trainers
NoBull Superblossom Trainer+
If you’re tired of look-alike trainers, NoBull ups the ante with its eye-popping, floral-drenched Superblossom Trainer+.
Best All-Around Running Shoe
“The real MVP of this sleek, streamlined shoe is the high stack of ZoomX foam, which makes it feel like I’m bouncing from cloud to cloud with each stride” —Brett Williams, senior fitness editor
Best Sleeveless Training Tee
Under Armour Project Rock BSR Sleeveless Hoodie
This Dwayne Johnson–approved training hoodie is light on sleeves and heavy on style and comfort, with generously dropped armholes for a full range of motion.
Best Short-Sleeved Training Tee
Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Tee
Lululemon reinvents the lowly tech tee with a design that glides easy, won’t cling, and stretches exactly where we need it to. Plus: no stink.
Best Long-Sleeved Training Shirt
Rhone Vapor Training Long-Sleeved
Now 16% Off
True to its name, the Vapor features a lightweight, seamless design that feels breezy in even the hottest workouts.
High performance, low weight. ON’s dead-simple, ultra-comfortable Ultra-T is one running shirt to rule them all.
The all-new Indie Hoodie takes everything we love about merino wool—odor resistance, anti-itch, thermoregulation, and a soft feel—and packs it all into this year’s best running hoodie.
Best Warmup Sweatshirt
Omorpho Lifestyle Collection Hoodie
Soft enough for the couch, technical enough for the gym. We love everything about this comfy, street-ready hoodie.
Best Training Shorts
Reebok Strength 3.0 Shorts
The best training shorts should be invisible—er, should feel invisible. Reebok’s high-performance Strength 3.0 shorts are the next best thing.
Most Versatile Shorts
Tracksmith Run Cannonball Run Shorts
For early-morning runs or afternoon runs to the lake, Tracksmith’s Run Cannonball Run Shorts are ready to tackle either and both with aplomb.
Best Running Shorts
Lululemon SenseKnit Composite Running Short
These purpose-built shorts are born to run with a clever design that blends a five-inch inseam with a 10-inch liner for maximum breathability and freedom of movement.
NoBull Men’s Jogger
Now 30% Off
With a fitted cut and a soft, stretchy feel, these camo joggers are ready for runs, workouts, and Netflix-fueled couch sessions.
Best Lifting Sweatpants
Gym Shark Essential Oversized Joggers
If you like your sweatpants with extra room, Gym Shark’s Essential Oversized Joggers combine a generous fit with an adjustable waistband and biggie-sized pockets.
Best Training Tights
Lululemon Vital Drive Training Tight
Hold fast and grip tight. These training tights are designed to support and stabilize all your lower muscle groups.
Best Budget Running Shades
Don’t overspend, and don’t overthink it. Goodr’s dirt-cheap Runway is everything you need in a good pair of running shades.
Best Sound-Equipped Shades
These Tony Stark–worthy shades combine a pair of premium sunglasses with nearly invisible headphones.
Best Running Socks
Smartwool Athlete Edition Run Crew Socks
When you want one sock to rule them all, these crew socks from Smartwool are soft, supportive, and breathable for running and whatever else you’re getting into on the daily.
Best No-Show Training Socks
Swiftwick Aspire Zero Tab
Now 20% Off
Thin, supportive, and breathable—the only three things you need in a good pair of no-show running socks.
Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men’s Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He’s logged training time with NFL athletes and track athletes and his current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga. Before joining Men’s Health in 2017, he served as a sports columnist and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.