8 best exercise mats to buy - crush home workouts with these mats

2022-08-13 14:13:59 By : Mr. Wayne Zhou

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Ramp up your garage HIIT sessions with our tried and tested non-slip mats

Countless Covid lockdowns later, you’re likely no stranger to a home workout. By this point, you’ve done enough bedroom burpees and living room Pilates sessions to justify investing in an exercise mat.

The best mats will provide grip, support and comfort as you train, but it can be tricky to find the right one for your needs. That’s where the Runner’s World Lab steps in.

To help you spend your money wisely, we’ve tested the top mats on the market and compiled a handy buyer’s guide.

Too busy to read our expert’s verdicts? Here are their five favourite mats at a glance:

Not quite what you’re after? Our Runner’s World editors also have a couple of mats to recommend, too:

A good exercise mat will have four key features; grip, stability, comfort and durability.

Grip: Slipping of the hands, feet and forearms is the last thing you need when a lengthy plank is rocking you to your core. Find a mat with a non-slip surface that lets you plant yourself with confidence.

Stability: Look for a mat that will lie flat without curling at the corners and not budge a millimetre, no matter how furious your fitness session.

Comfort: This is important, particularly if you plan to work out on unforgiving flooring like hardwood or tiles. There should be enough cushioning to allow you to do a few crunches without crippling your spine. While the average yoga mat tends to be about 4-6mm thick, we would expect a bit more padding from an exercise mat. Look for between 8mm and 15mm for optimum comfort and performance.

Durability: While the two camps have plenty in common, this is the main difference between an exercise mat and a yoga mat. A thin yoga mat may only be designed to withstand slow, barefooted practice, while a thicker exercise mat should take dropped dumbbells and stomping shoes in its stride, without marking or denting.

Many mats will give you the lightweight stickiness you need for a yoga class, but we wanted to find models that could take repeated beatings from hardcore home workouts. To do this, our expert tester trialled 18 of the best mats on the market, rating each one for grip, stability, comfort and durability before settling on this top selection.

Ready to show Joe Wicks who’s boss?

Purpose-built for versatility, this Les Mills mat has a cushioned red side for yoga and a grippy grey side for higher impact activities. Its edges are weighty enough to make it instantly lie flat and there was no budging as we launched into a gruelling HIIT session. 

It showed no signs of wear and tear after weathering several dropped weights, and handy eyelets allow it to be hung up on the wall. It doesn’t roll up easily on account of its sturdy design, but that’s where our complaints end. 

Key specifications Dimensions (cm): 180 x 61 x 0.5 Weight: 2.1kg Material: Eco PVC Thickness: 5mm (medium)  Colours available: Grey and red

Malleability and an affordable price tag make this mat a front-runner. It offers a plush platform that protects your spine from hard floors without compromising on grip, making it great for everything from yoga to lifting sessions. 

The material’s closed cell technology minimises moisture absorption, meaning it won’t develop that unpleasant stale sweat smell, while adjustable velcro straps make it easy to roll up and sling over your shoulder, should you fancy some Pilates in the park. Some slight movement on the ground during intense workouts was our only niggle. 

Key specifications Dimensions (cm): 183 x 61 x 1 Weight: 1.25kg Material: NBR Thickness: 1cm (thick) Colours available: Black and red

Transforming a spare room or garage into a home gym needn’t be a bank-ravaging endeavour. These heavy-duty floor pads come in an interconnecting set of six, meaning you can easily set them up in a square, line or ‘L’ shape to suit your available space. 

Bouncing barbells didn’t leave a dent and there was enough cushioning to keep us comfortable during workouts. They slipped a bit when placed over tiles, but that’s our only moan.

Key specifications Dimensions (cm): Six interconnecting 60 x 60 mats Weight: 400g per mat, 2.4kg in total Material: Heavy duty PVC Thickness: 10mm Colours available: Black

This is a great mat for beginners, particularly those for whom comfort is king. It’s lightweight and a doddle to use, offering secure grip for the hands and feet. There’s also plenty of padding, providing a protective layer between aching joints and unforgiving tiled floors. 

We would have liked to see a more effective non-slip material on the underside, as the mat did slide a bit during vigorous sets of burpees, but we loved its useful carry straps. For just over £20, it’s a great investment.

Key specifications Dimensions (cm): 173 x 61 x 0.7  Weight: 0.8kg Material: NBR  Thickness: 7mm (medium, 1cm also available) Colours available: Blue, green, grey, orange, red 

It’s wise to give your joints some TLC after miles of pavement pounding, and that’s where this Mirafit mat comes into its own. Its 4cm of sponge padding provides mattress-like levels of comfort for your hands, knees and spine during stretching or mobility sessions. 

However, we wouldn’t recommend it for higher impact activities – our limbs sank into the soft material during a HIIT class, causing us to lose our balance.

Key specifications Dimensions (cm): 180 x 60 x 4 Weight: 3.5kg Material: PVC cover filled with sponge padding Thickness: 4cm (thick) Colours available: Black, blue, orange, pink, green

This Nike training mat is designed to be supportive whether you're practising yoga or trying a new HIIT class from home. Its neat roll-up design and adjustable strap makes it a breeze to carry about, while the brand claims that the 'high-density foam offers maximum cushioning for floor workouts'.

Key specifications Dimensions (cm): Unspecified Weight: Unspecified Material: 95% thermoplastic elastomer, 5% polyester Thickness: Unspecified Colours available: Black

Meet your ultimate travel companion. Heck, meet your new favourite mat, period. At just over 1kg, it’s perfect for use on its own or overlayed on a studio mat (read: germaphobes, this one’s for you). 

Unlike other travel-friendly options which can be a bit bare bones, this pick has two layers making it feel more like a standard mat than an on-the-go selection. Not as cushy as it’s 4-millimeter brethren, it’s still super smooth to the touch and gets the job done without making you feel like you’re lugging around an extra arm.

Key specifications Dimensions (cm): 66 x 180 x 0.15 Weight: 1.05kg Material: Polyurethane and natural rubber Thickness: 1.5mm Colours available: Black, white and chalky rose, water drop, blue linen, white and true navy, black and white

These floor pads are just as capable of providing a non-slip base for a rowing machine as they are of protecting floors from clattering kettlebells. They even offer enough cushioning to keep you comfortable during planks and push-ups. They come as a set of four interconnecting mats, making it easy to vary the overall shape to fit whatever space you have available.

Key specifications Dimensions (cm): Four interconnecting 54 x 54 x 0.8 mats Weight: 0.8kg per mat Material: Polyethylene Thickness: 8mm (thick) Colours available: Black