The 5 best sets of dumbbells of 2021 for your home gym

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  • Dumbbells are an effective fitness tool for anyone looking to build and maintain strength.
  • The best vary in style, with some allowing for quick weight adjustments while others are compact for easy storage.
  • Our top pick, the Powerblock dumbbells, essentially replace 28 pairs of weights and adjust from 5 to 90 pounds.

Dumbells are among the most common and sought-after pieces of workout equipment, no matter if you’re at an actual fitness center or working out in your own home gym – and it’s not hard to see why. Not only can they be effective when used correctly but they’re highly versatile, too, capable of sufficing for a number of workouts like curls, presses, or rows.

It’s because of that multi-purpose use, however, that finding dumbbells typically goes one of two ways; either it’s far too expensive to buy multiple weights or they’re just entirely out of stock. This sort of Catch-22 makes actually shopping for dumbbells a much more arduous task than it needs to be.

But within that problem came a reasonable solution: more brand competition. And while the influx of brands dukes it out to develop the next great dumbbell, the true winners are those looking to buy them. Now, this doesn’t mean the market is flush with options but it does mean there are few more quality choices on the market (of which are, hopefully, in stock and available for purchase).

Take Powerblock, for instance, a brand that’s been around for several years but is finally starting to gather more attention thanks to a highly innovative take on the standard dumbbell. In essence, one Powerblock dumbbell takes the place of up to 28 different pairs of weights. Not only is this efficient but it’s also cost-effective as it’s not anywhere near the price of buying those 28 sets of weights on their own.

Powerblock is but one of dozens of companies trying their hand at offering a worthy dumbbell, and I saw to it to try as many of them as I could. Below are my five favorites across categories such the best budget-friendly option, the best app-connected dumbbell, and even the best traditional set.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to properly use dumbbells, insight into what to consider while shopping for dumbbells, and the specific testing methodology I used in choosing which weights to feature.

Editor’s note: Due to the constant fluctuation of online inventories, we’re doing what we can to keep up with out-of-stock items or those available in limited supply. We review each product’s availability weekly to assure the guide is properly updated, though sometimes this means one or more of the included items may be sold out, or available via a third party.

Here are the best dumbbells:

The best dumbbells overall

Best dumbbells

Powerblock’s dumbbells are highly versatile in that they offer a wide range of weight variation in just one, easy-to-stow form factor — if you can find them for sale, buy them.

Pros: Max weight of 90 pounds, relatively affordable, sturdy and natural feeling

Cons: Slightly awkward weight-changing mechanism, may be a little long at max weight

The first time I saw these sitting in a weight room, I figured they’d be horribly awkward to lift. The rectangular dumbbells appear large and clunky, but I was surprised by how well they moved during workouts like Romanian deadlifts or chest presses. 

Like the Fatbells below, Powerblock dumbbells feature a handle that’s more centered in the apparatus. The weight surrounds your hands on all sides and as a result, they feel comfortable to move. They’re also constructed from steel, making them feel stronger and sturdier compared to other options built from plastic.

My favorite aspect of these dumbbells is that they’re able to load up to 90 pounds, which is enough to ensure you get plenty of mileage out of them as you get stronger. I’ve used these sparingly but they will, without a doubt, be my first purchase when I start building my ultimate home gym. 

To be finicky, I’d say the selecting mechanism isn’t as efficient compared to Bowflex’s dial system. With Powerblock, you select the weights directly on the bell with a vertically-set pin. Changing the weight requires you to pull the pin from the side of the bell and move it either up (lighter) or down (heavier). While it’s not as smooth to use as a dial, it’s not a complete dealbreaker.

The weight plates still sit on either end like a standard dumbbell, so despite looking foreign, they feel familiar and aren’t any more substantial than a heavy pair of dumbbells. Overall, these will save you from buying 28 pairs of individual dumbbells — or roughly 2,565 pounds of weights. That’s thousands of dollars of savings on its own.

Powerblock’s Home Rack Stand, which the brand sells for $179, makes it far easier to hoist the weights onto your lap or shoulders for presses. It’s not a necessity but having used the stand myself, I recommend it.

The best app-connected dumbbells

Best dumbbells

If you’re a techie, or simply meticulous about tracking sets and reps, the Bowflex SelectTech 560 app-connected bells are for you.

Pros: Tracks sets and reps via a companion app, space-saving, easy to change weight

Cons: Max weight of 60 pounds

These dumbbells pair via Bluetooth to the Bowflex app which allows them to automatically record lifted weight, as well as all sets and reps per exercise. This is useful for tracking total volume, especially when your progress is smaller.

Other than the Powerblocks, these are the only other adjustable dumbbells on our list. They’re not as sturdy as our overall pick, though they’re a solid pair of dumbbells that look sleek and save a ton of space. They also come with a floor stand for better storage.

The knurled handle provides plenty of grip and the square plates on each end feel secure for even more dynamic movements like snatches and cleans. Also, the squared-off shape of the weights keep you stable while doing pushups.

Compared to Bowflex’s SelectTech 552 dumbbells, which only go up to 52.5 pounds, these adjust to an even 60 pounds. That’s a decent amount of weight for most people and should serve you well for almost any exercise. Do keep in mind that as you get stronger over time, there’s a decent chance you’ll outgrow these weights and need more than 60 pounds in a dumbbell.

The best dumbbells for comfort

Best Dumbbells

You won’t find these in any commercial gym but the Thompson Fat Bells are an innovative take on the classic dumbbell.

Pros: Very comfortable, more natural to lift, made from durable cast iron

Cons: Expensive, have to buy multiple pairs, not space-friendly

The handle is inside a spherical weight, which centers the load entirely and evenly around your wrist. This allows the dumbbell to feel more comfortable and natural.

Invented by powerlifting legend Donnie Thompson in 2006, Fat Bells are a unique take on the kettlebell — though, to me, they’re interchangeable with dumbbells, too. As Thompson explains on Rogue.com, “it’s a perfect geometric shape for maximizing optimal performance.” Your hand is an equal distance away from every portion of the sphere for a perfect geometrical design.

What I like about these is that you’re able to become one with the weight. Instead of holding a clunky piece of iron, you have a compact load you’ll hardly notice —other than the fact it’s heavy. They do feel slightly off at first due to the fact you’re not used to where the weight is centered but you’ll get over that quickly. I like to use them for moves such as chest presses and rows, since I typically go heavier, and these feel more secure.

Fat Bells aren’t cheap and you’ll most likely need to buy more than one pair. If you’re looking to splurge on your home gym, I’d say opt for one moderate pair (35-50 pounds for men and 15-35 pounds for women) so you have the most versatility with them. 

The best budget dumbbells

Best dumbbells

Though these dumbbells from Titan Fitness require you to buy weight plates, the handles themselves are one of the best deals you’ll find.

Pros: Inexpensive, can handle as much weight as you own, great grip, space-friendly

Cons: Requires weight plates, not as easy to load as adjustable dumbbells

I’d never used this brand personally but the loadable handle on these is very similar to the pair I own. The biggest plus is how affordable they are compared to other options. Of course, you’ll have to buy weight plates but if you’re a home-gym owner, there’s a good chance you have some sitting around already. If that’s the case, these are your best bet. We also recommend investing in a set of barbell collars to stop the weights from sliding off of the handles.

The sleeve, or end of the dumbbell, fits standard Olympic weight plates. If you already own a squat rack and a barbell, then the plates you have should suffice — though it’s worth it to double-check before purchasing. Another plus is that these handles from Titan Fitness are 20 inches, meaning you’re able to load them with a lot of weight. If you’re a stronger lifter, then you won’t be limited to just 90 pounds for moves like rows and chest presses. For reference, many powerlifters and bodybuilders can press and row weights well over 100 pounds.

Lifting dumbbells loaded with Olympic plates can make some exercises awkward. The plates are large enough in diameter compared to typical dumbbells they’re able to disrupt your range of motion. This tends to be problematic for moves like curls, lateral raises, and extensions while chest presses and rows should be unaffected. Another minor nitpick is that having to manually load plates manually isn’t as easy as using adjustable dumbbells. 

The best traditional dumbbell set

Best dumbbells

The CAP Barbell 150-pound Dumbbell set (with rack) is a great starter set for beginners and feels (and looks) the most familiar. 

Pros: Feels familiar, great grip, stable when lifting

Cons: Have to buy multiple pairs which can get expensive, takes up a lot of space, included weight only goes up to 25 pounds

Practically speaking, these aren’t the best dumbbells you can buy but, as the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. These dumbbells don’t offer any sort of fancy weight mechanism or require a complicated method for use —and that’s their major appeal.

The handles are nicely knurled (i.e. they feature a pattern of angled lines etched into the steel of the dumbbell) so they won’t slip out of your hands, and the hexagonal rubber ends won’t roll around on the floor. From personal experience, I like using this type of dumbbell for heavy chest presses since they feel stable in my hands and the weight is more evenly distributed compared to the modern models in this guide.

Now, the downsides: You have to buy multiple pairs to have access to a variety of weight. This means the cost adds up rather quickly. Plus, the more dumbbells you own, the more space it’ll take up, so you’ll likely have to buy a dumbbell rack to hold your increasing collection.

Many of the most affordable sets, like our pick here, only go up to 25 pounds. This is great for exercises like curls, light presses, or squats, but it’s likely you’ll graduate from that weight quickly. But if it’s familiarity you seek, this is the set for you. 

How to properly use dumbbells

Best Dumbbells

Getting that toned look most people covet comes down to reducing body fat percentage and gaining muscle mass. The former comes down almost entirely to your diet while gaining muscle involves a balanced weight-training regimen in addition to the diet.

You’ll want to focus on two things:

  1. Placing tension on your muscles by lifting weight
  2. Increasing the total volume (or, amount of weight lifted) over time

To find this, multiply your total reps for one exercise by the amount of weight used. For example, if you do dumbbell chest presses for three sets of 10 reps with 50 pounds, multiply 30 (sets times reps) by 50 to get 1,500 pounds for that exercise. If you were to lift 55 pounds for just one of your sets next week, you’d increase your total volume to 1,550.

Your goal for each workout should be to slightly increase your volume for each move. Add volume by adding weight or increasing your total reps. 

A general rule of thumb is to find a weight you’re able to use for three sets of eight reps. Add one rep to each set each week and once you reach 12 reps, add five pounds and start back at eight reps.

It’s good to have a light, moderate, and heavy pair of dumbbells if this is your primary source of exercise. That way, you can increase your total volume without having to pump out an insane amount of reps with a lighter pair.

How to shop for dumbbells

Before you start the process of finding a set that’s right for you, it’s important to know what a dumbbell is and why they’re an important investment for your home gym. Put plainly, a dumbbell consists of a central handle with weight on either end capable of ranging anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds.

Dumbbells are a versatile foray into weight training for beginners, too. Anything you’re able to do with a barbell, you can do with a dumbbell — albeit with lighter weight. Lifting dumbbells is a great way to teach yourself moves like the squat, overhead press, and row before graduating to the heavier weight a barbell often affords. They’re also less cumbersome than barbells and much easier to store in your home or apartment. 

More advanced trainees benefit from the fact dumbbells allow you to better isolate your muscles unilaterally (one side at a time), as your right and left sides need to work independently to balance the weights. In turn, you’ll strengthen your weaker side, which translates to stronger and more efficient lifts overall.

According to personal trainer, Chris Parnell, lifting with dumbbells is also a great way to give your abs extra attention. He asserts that, compared to barbells, dumbbells challenge your body’s stability more. With a barbell, you work with a singular mass versus the dumbbell that uses two separate masses.

“Dumbbells provide the beginner or advanced lifter with an opportunity to exercise using compound movements [moves that move more than one joint at once] with low to high intensity using two separate masses,” Parnell told Insider.

Our testing methodology

Each set of dumbbells in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Design, quality, portability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which dumbbells made this guide:

Design: Dumbbell design is mostly straightforward, though unique innovations from brands like Powerblock and Bowflex have turned the humble dumbbell into a versatile all-in-one gym. What I mean by this is that both of the dumbbells featured in this guide from those brands are designed to be several sets of dumbbells in the form of just one set.

This means you don’t have to buy a set of 5 lb weights, a set of 15 lb weights, and a set of 25 lb weights. You buy either of those and you have the adjustability to hit any weight you’d need. The design choices I looked for in standard dumbbells were how well they felt while holding and if they were versatile for a variety of lifts. 

Quality: Most steel dumbbells feature a quality that allows them to last literal decades (if taken care of) before you’d even need to think about replacing them. Because of this, it’s easy to spot a dumbbell that’s made of anything other than quality metal. Thankfully, this never was an issue during testing. This category was useful when judging how well the adjustable systems of the Bowflex and Powerblock dumbbells would hold up over time. 

Portability: Yet another category where praise heaps onto the adjustable dumbbells are portability. When you’re forced to buy multiple sets of dumbbells in different weights, the problem of how to store them can add up quite quickly. Though some come with their own stand like the traditional set from CAP, not all options are that convenient. 

Value: Considering how expensive dumbbells can get when buying multiple sets (and especially when stock is low and demand is high), value is a key component. But it’s also important not to buy an inferior set if it’s your only option. I view value as the combination of the categories listed above as well as its final sticker price — and feel that spending more on a quality product is better than spending less, more often on something that’s second-rate.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best men’s workout shirts of 2021

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  • A great workout shirt provides benefits like moisture-wicking technology, stretch fabric, and odor control.
  • It’s important the shirt also fits comfortably and performs well during activities like strength training or running.
  • Our top pick, Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt, excels in terms of fit and performance and is my go-to for any workout.

Ask any fitness enthusiast about their preferred style of workout shirt and they’ll likely spend a few seconds listing off things like moisture-wicking fabric, innovative cooling technology, or sweat-activated fabrics. While these may sound like a collection of buzzwords, the application behind these concepts are both staples and must-haves in the world of workout clothing.

For years, the who’s who of brands like Nike, Under Armour, and Reebok were the major players in the workout shirt market, constantly innovating on their own in-house tech while keeping tabs on what competitors put out. But as of late, a number of smaller companies have elbowed their way into the conversation with some fresh, unique takes on the humble workout shirt.

Be it a unique manufacturing process that makes use of real gold particles or a revolutionary fabric designed to not just wick moisture but to actively cool a wearer’s body temperature, today’s workout shirts are full of inventive and practical variety.

It’s because of that variety that deciding which workout shirt to buy isn’t always a straightforward decision. Perhaps you enjoy working out at home, or maybe you primarily exercise by running or cycling. Maybe you do a little of everything.

For me, I fit into the latter camp and feel as though there’s plenty of room in my wardrobe for an array of reliable workout shirts. Not only does a mixed bag of options help reduce how often I have to do laundry but different shirts work better for different workouts.

For example, I prefer a shirt with some sort of stretch design or increased range of motion when lifting weights but grab for a tee that does well to wick moisture before I hop on my bike or go for a run. Though those differences in features may seem small, they have a major impact both on my performance and comfort – and they’re incredibly important considerations when shopping for a workout shirt.

To help find the best currently available, I tested (and continue to test) an array of the latest releases to find those that excel at not just being comfortable, functional, and high quality, but are ultimately worth investing in, too. Though this guide gets updated often, the shirts featured are an accurate snapshot of exactly what I wear when working out each week.

Here are the best men’s workout shirts:

The best workout shirt overall

TTVersatile

Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt lives up to its name by being one of our favorite multi-purpose workout shirts — it’s great for anything active, be it cardio, strength training, HIIT exercises, or cycling.

Pros: Comfortable workout shirt that’s good for almost any workout or activity, flatlock seams prevent chafing, doesn’t hold onto odors, sweat-wicking and quick-dry fabric work well

Cons: Fit can differ from what you’re used to but double-check using the brand’s interactive fit guide before buying

Ten Thousand’s workout gear is a staff favorite, and when it comes to workout shirts designed to perform over a variety of exercises, it’s the brand’s Versatile Shirt I grab over and over again. Not only does it fit comfortably but it pulls off being both minimalist and functional, making it great for weight training, running, cycling, and even yoga — there’s a reason it has the word “versatile” in its name.

Made of 84% polyester and 16% spandex, the shirt features a breathable design that, along with its sweat-wicking and quick-drying tech, allows it to remain comfortable no matter how warm or sweaty I’d get. Even when temperatures cooled off, this shirt still performed well, and I especially appreciate its flatlock seams which avoid chafing of any kind (which is a must on my longer runs). 

Similar to how Rhone uses gold particles in its fabric, Ten Thousand infused its Versatile shirt with a silver ion anti-odor treatment. After intentionally wearing it for a 15-mile bike ride followed by an hour resistance band workout, the shirt did well to avoid hanging onto any odors, even if my own self was ready for a full-on shower. 

I do recommend reviewing Ten Thousand’s fit metrics as the medium shirt I tested was just slightly on the shorter side (and I’m roughly 5’8″). The chest, shoulders, and arms all fit properly but I would’ve liked just a bit more length (and may try the Large next time). The site does have a highly useful interactive fit chart that showcases different model body types across each size to give you a good sense of how it’ll fit once you try it on. 

The best workout shirt for runners

Nike Dri Fit shirt

Yes, it wicks moisture and sports the Nike logo but the Nike Dri-Fit Miler helps runners go the distance, thanks to flat seams to avoid chafing and reflective details to increase visibility.

Pros: Reflective details offer increased visibility, flat seams reduce chafing and feel comfortable on the skin, and the Dri-FIT tech actively wicks moisture

Cons: Despite a reflective pattern, dark colors not recommended for runners who run at night

Based entirely on the amount of constant rubbing and chafing a runner experiences on even short jaunts, the type of athletic apparel they choose needs to satisfy a particularly high standard. Nike, a brand that needs no introduction, knows a thing or two about workout gear and has excelled for decades at manufacturing some of the industry’s best, and most innovative, active clothing.

The story remains the same with its Dri-Fit Miler, an athletic shirt designed specifically for runners.

Led by its patented Dri-Fit technology, the Miler excels at wicking moisture but also proves capable of staying dry no matter the mileage — a feature that dramatically impacts both comfort and performance. With a dropped hem in the back of the shirt, it offers more coverage than most other running shirts and its flat seams help avoid excess chafing while feeling soft on a wearer’s skin.

Perhaps its best and most important feature is the reflective pattern Nike used to keep runners visible throughout their run. Be it morning, afternoon, or dusk, the reflective details shine brightly when hit with headlights or a flashlight, helping alert those passing by to the runner’s position. Though running at night requires an entirely different approach, the shirt still reflects in the dark. However, the dark colors aren’t recommended for those who prefer running when the sun’s gone down.

The best workout shirt for odor control

Rhone Reign shirt

Rhone’s Reign sets itself apart with GoldFusion technology that wicks moisture, controls odors, and decreases drying time.

Pros: GoldFusion technology is as innovative as anything on the market, odor control that actually works, fast drying time, and a comfortable, stylish fit

Cons: Premium price tag

There are innovative workout shirts and then there’s the Rhone Reign, a shirt that features actual flakes of real gold and uses the company’s GoldFusion technology. Hardly a gimmick, GoldFusion has a three-pronged impact in that it actively wicks away moisture, combats odor, and dramatically decreases drying time.

So, not only does the technology keep you dry and comfortable but it keeps even the worst gym smells at bay — a feature the rest of the people at the gym would surely love, as well.

Though GoldFusion is its rightful claim to fame, the Reign shirt still scores highly in other areas like fit and comfort. Essentially a performance synthetic tee, it’s capable of holding up to almost any workout, activity, or sport and remains comfortable throughout. With raglan sleeves and flatlock stitching, it achieves a better fit throughout without chafing or irritating your skin.

Rhone may have only just come onto the athletic apparel scene in recent years but armed with its GoldFusion technology and a casual, modern fit, the Reign lives up to its name.

The best workout shirt for hot weather

arctic cool shirt

Powered by HydroFreeze X technology, Arctic Cool’s Crew Neck shirt utilizes an innovative fabric that works to lower your body temperature while also wicking sweat. 

Pros: Innovative HydroFeeze X cools body temperature and actually works, UPF 50+ rating blocks 98% of harmful UV rays, antimicrobial cooling tech is machine-washable and never fades, and it spreads moisture across the shirt as it wicks to improve dry time

Cons: Plain style and color choices

Rhone’s Reign may have gold flakes in its fabric but Arctic Cool’s plainly-named Crew Neck shirt has its own ace up its sleeve: HydroFreeze X technology. Flashy name aside, HyrdoFreeze X is more than just marketing-speak. It’s a type of fabric that, while wicking moisture, dramatically lowers your body temperature.

As you sweat, the fabric absorbs that moisture and disperses it across the material. As air moves over the surface of the shirt, it creates a cooling effect that can make you feel up to 30 degrees cooler. Once it moves through the shirt and cools down, any excess moisture is then wicked completely from the garment. Better yet, the tech is antimicrobial, meaning it’s able to sustain a lifetime of washes and still perform.

Though the shirt itself is a bit plain, the HydroFreeze X fabric offers a premium fit that’s capable of supporting a variety of exercises and activities. Additionally, each shirt is rated at UPF 50+, so it offers a high level of sun protection, blocking up to 98% of harmful UV rays.

The best-fitting workout shirt

Person wearing Saxx Aerator workout shirt

The Saxx Aerator is one of the best-fitting athletic shirts I’ve worn as it’s cut to better fit your arms and chest without looking boxy through the rest of the shirt. 

Pros: Great fit, comfortable, works well for a variety of workouts like HIIT, running, or biking, comes in a L/S variety

Cons: Limited color options

Though Saxx is known mainly for its inventive line of, shall I say, supportive underwear, the brand also makes a selection of workout apparel. One such shirt (which is also available in a long-sleeved version) is called the Aerator, and after wearing it for several months, I’m a huge fan.

Perhaps my favorite part about the shirt is how it fits. It features a flattering cut that’s bigger in the chest and slimmer through the waist. This allows it to achieve a more fitted look that stays true to size and doesn’t look boxy or ill-fitting. Not only does this make me feel more confident while wearing it but a shirt that fits correctly just functions better. 

The Aerator is available in three colors, and while each is solid and works well for anyone’s personal style, the fact there are only three may seem basic to some — to be fair, this is a minor nitpick. 

I’ve mainly worn this shirt while running or doing at-home workouts, and it’s perfectly held up for all of it. Even during the humid summer months when it can get drenched in sweat in a matter of minutes, it avoids feeling too heavy or bogging me down, and its moisture-wicking tech seems to work as advertised. The Aerator quickly became one of my workout apparel staples and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

The best workout shirt for cold weather

under armour shirt

Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt makes frigid winter runs a bit more manageable. 

Pros: Second-skin fit allows for layering without sacrificing performance, soft and lightweight, HeatGear fabric stays warm in the coldest temperatures, four-way stretch offers wide range of movement, and Under Armour compression helps improve performance

Cons: Limited to wearing in cold to moderate weather

Under Armour made its name designing and manufacturing some of the best compression athletic gear on the market and its HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt is the perfect example of the brand’s innovations. Featuring a second skin, compression-style fit and lightweight construction, the HeatGear Armour is a form-fitting shirt that offers comfortable support.

With a four-way stretch design, it not only avoids hindering your performance but also accentuates it by allowing for movement in any direction. The shirt lives up to its HeatGear name by truly shining when temperatures drop as the fabric was built for keeping you warm in frigid weather. It even boasts a UPF 30+ rating, which helps protect against harmful UV rays — something anyone’s capable of being exposed to year-round.   

The long sleeve tee also wicks moisture and dries quickly which is an incredibly welcome feature for those who like to run outside and break a sweat. No more plodding away on an indoor treadmill, Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour allows anyone to enjoy a training session outside of the gym, even in the dead of winter.

The best workout shirt for casual wear

reebok shirt

With a stylish cut and quick-dry fabric, Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 fits in at the gym, at home, or the bar after a workout.

Pros: Stylish cut, effective moisture-wicking technology, quick-dry fabric that performs in any environment, and its loose-fitting torso allows for a greater range of motion

Cons: Fitted design may not be suitable for all body types

A company mostly synonymous with sneakers, Reebok’s athletic apparel is just as impressive as its shoes. With the Supersonic 2.0, the Adidas subsidiary takes a stab at offering performance fabric designed to wick sweat, dry quickly, and look good in the process. With an athletic cut and stylish design, not only does this shirt deliver on performance but it’s also capable of being worn all day, every day if you so please. 

Made of 95% polyester and 5% spandex, the Supersonic 2.0 is lightweight and highly breathable and is as capable of wicking away moisture as it is helping avoid excessive sweat spots. That means you can wear it to the gym and, even after an intense workout, still wear it while meeting up with friends or heading back to work.

Featuring a fitted cut to hug a wearer’s upper torso, the bottom flows freely allowing for a wide range of movement. No matter if it’s an afternoon of basketball, an hour of lifting weights, or simply going for a run, the fit stays true throughout and performance is never limited. Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 is about as functional and versatile of an everyday shirt as it gets. We do recommend washing it regularly, though.

What else I’m testing

The market for workout shirts is broad, which makes it seem like there’s an endless amount of options to choose from. What this also means is that there’s no shortage of workout shirts showing up on my doorstep for testing. While the above shirts are tried, tested, and approved, the following shirts are currently being reviewed to see if they have what it takes to make it into the spotlight. 

Here are the workout shirts I’m currently testing: 

Hylete Calavera Tri-Blend Crew: One of my favorite parts of Hylete’s Calavera is that it looks like a normal tri-blend shirt I’d throw on with a pair of jeans yet it performs just as well as some of the workout shirts featured in the main guide. I was originally skeptical that it’d just feel like wearing a cotton shirt (and come with all the same drawbacks) but I was quickly convinced otherwise after wearing it through a particularly sweaty home boxing session. Hylete offers a wide variety of similar shirts, too, each with fun graphics and colorways. 

Janji Runterra TeeThe Insider Reviews team has written at length and often about the quality of Janji’s workout apparel, and it remains one of our favorite brands to wear when breaking a sweat. One of its shirts I’ve been wearing recently is the Runterra Tee, a technical cotton blend shirt that’s highly comfortable, blocks odor, and that uses volcanic ash to thermoregulate the body. That’s a mouthful to just simply say this shirt is an active person’s dream. I wear it often for just about any activity and never feel I’ve made a bad choice.

Tracksmith Harrier TeeTracksmith’s Harrier quickly became one of my go-to running shirts after wearing it just once while on a run. Featuring a classic design, the shirt wicks moisture, dries quickly, and blocks odors, which is essentially everything a quality running shirt should offer — and it does it all thanks to a Merino wool blend. 

Workout shirt glossary

Just as there’s variety in the available options, there’s also variety in a wearer’s desired application or workout style. Perhaps a runner wants a more lightweight option or a fitness buff desires something that looks good every day, no matter the activity.

Regardless of intent, there’s a suitable workout shirt designed specifically for everyone. A great workout shirt doesn’t just get the job done but does so without sacrificing performance, comfort, or style. 

Here are some of the most popular styles and features of men’s workout shirts:

Sweat-wicking: Sweat-wicking shirts work to remove moisture from your skin. They also don’t soak up any of that moisture (like a cotton tee might), allowing them to avoid feeling overly heavy as you work out. 

Odor control: Fabrics with odor-control technology help minimize lingering odors. There are several ways manufacturers are able to do this, either constructing the shirt of merino wool, having it feature a highly breathable design, or, in the case of Rhone, use gold particles infused into the fabric. 

Quick-dry fabric: Workout shirts with quick-dry fabrics are often made from merino wool, polyester, or nylon (or a blend) and are designed to be highly breathable. 

Four-way stretch: This type of fabric allows for greater freedom of motion, helping the wearer feel less hindered while running, lifting weights, or doing moves like lunges or burpees. 

How we test workout shirts

Each shirt featured in this buying guide went through several rounds of testing across a variety of workouts and activities. These workouts include weight training sessions with resistance bands, medicine balls, and dumbbells, 30-minute cardio sessions of either an outdoor run, outdoor bike ride, or an indoor stationary bike ride, and indoor interval training routines. 

No workout shirt is the perfect, one-style-fits-all, so each selection also lists a few drawbacks to consider, be it sizing and fit issues, an expensive price tag, or lack of color choice. New product styles and releases are always being considered for future updates, as well. 

Here are the four categories we judged each shirt on during testing:

Fit: An ill-fitting workout shirt won’t exactly motivate you or push you through to the end of your workout, no matter if you’re out for a run or using resistance bands at home. When testing, we looked at everything from how stretchy it was and how well it moved along with us, if the armholes allowed for proper range of motion, and if there was enough coverage through the bottom. 

Performance: Performance is essentially the execution of a workout shirt’s fabric tech, especially today. How well does it wick sweat or control odor? Is it breathable and does it avoid chafing? A workout shirt’s performance is one of the most important factors we considered because the last thing you want to be thinking about while working out is why your shirt feels like a hundred pounds drenched in sweat or what the foul smell might be. 

Fabric tech: Innovative fabric tech is now the norm in every manner of workout gear as brands have adopted everything from gold-infused materials and multi-stretch fabric to active cooling and UPF protection. Since these are now standard practice, it raises the bar in terms of judging how well a workout shirt applies the tech. 

Value: The value of a quality workout shirt is less about how much it costs and more about the combination of the three categories before it, as well as what its final price is. We often say it’s better to spend more on a premium product than to spend less, more often on something that’s shoddily designed and won’t last. 

A note on fit

Though the workout shirts featured in this guide have the name “men’s” in them, they’re not strictly for cisgender men. The cut and design of the shirts may differ from similar clothing intended for women but anyone is able to wear whatever shirt they feel comfortable in.

This is especially true in the world of workout apparel where comfort and performance are far higher priorities than what specific gender they’re intended for — and each of the shirts featured below was tested with those features in mind. If you’re looking for workout clothing that more closely identifies with the fit and design of women’s apparel, check out our guide to our favorite women’s workout clothing brands

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best kettlebells of 2021 for your home gym, including adjustable, soft-sided, and budget picks

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Kettlebells help optimize workouts as they combine strength work with cardio and flexibility training.
  • Beginners should pick their weight carefully and learn proper form to minimize the risk of injury.
  • Our top pick, the Everlast Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells, is affordable and has an injury-preventative outer material.

Editor’s note: Due to fluctuating stock, many of the picks may be out of stock, back-ordered, or low in stock. We will keep this updated as best we can.

If you’re looking to outfit your home gym on a budget or with minimal gear, we’d argue that the single most versatile piece of equipment you could consider is a kettlebell. The odd, bell-shaped weights may look intimidating to someone who has never swung one before – and learning how to use one should definitely be taken seriously.

But the piece of equipment is actually really easy to get the hang of, and the odd shape of a kettlebell allows for a more dynamic range of movement than you get with a traditional dumbbell. Thus, kettlebells are used not only for strength training but also for cardio work, flexibility and balance training, and to target multiple muscle groups at once. Kettlebells are incredibly diverse, but they also open the door for challenging moves you can’t otherwise do – like a kettlebell swing – and add another layer of challenge to tried-and-true exercises like goblet squats.

Kettlebells have a lot of advantages and they almost always level up the fun of a workout. But they shouldn’t be treated as toys which is why it’s important to learn proper form for every move. At the end of this guide, I’ve also included answers to a few FAQs to better help you understand the kind of kettlebells you should shop for and how much weight to look for.

Whether your fitness goal is to build muscle strength, improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, or continue to challenge your body in new and exciting ways, one single bell can help you achieve any of these.

Here are the best kettlebells:

The best kettlebell overall

everlast kettlebell

Everlast’s Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells are coated with a thick, colorful layer of vinyl which makes them safer to use and allows for quick identification of each weight.

Pros: Protective vinyl coating, easy-to-use color coding for different weights, decent price point

Cons: Maximum weight too low for some athletes

It only takes smashing a cast-iron kettlebell into the side of your knee one time to help you understand that features like a softer vinyl coating is really nice to have on your kettlebell.

“I’ve used Everlast kettlebells for years,” Cincotta told Insider. “When the bell itself is coated like this, as opposed to metal-based, you’re able to do much more with the bell without accidentally tearing up your body.”

If you’re buying more than one, it’s nice that the Everlast’s Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells have bright colorings to mark different weights, so you’re at less risk of grabbing the wrong weight for a given exercise. The kettlebells are also available in increments between five and 35 pounds. 

Whether used for suitcase squats, lunges, presses, or core training, these are reliable kettlebells from a company with more than 110 years of history in the fitness gear arena.

The best kettlebell for interval training

TRX kettlebell

TRX Training Kettlebells have lightly textured handles that allow for a secure grip and easy transitions, ideal for use during high-intensity exercise.

Pros: Textured handles for secure grip; multiple weights offered; broad, flat base adds stability

Cons: Expensive

If you’re a fan of HIIT exercise (high-intensity interval training), you’ll love these kettlebells that are perfectly suited to fast, highly specific motions. Their textured grips ensure you keep a steady grasp even when you’re sweaty, moving fast, and rapidly switching between various different exercises.

TRX offers kettlebells from four kilograms (8.8 pounds) all the way up to 40 kg (88 pounds) with moderate increases between each option. That means you can choose the exact amount of weight to suit your body for any given exercise. (Find out more in how to choose the right weight kettlebell.)

These bells also have a broader, more flat base compared to competitors. That extra flattened surface area makes these kettlebells more stable when you set them down fast, like during HIIT workouts.

One significant drawback is the price, however — these aren’t cheap.

The best adjustable kettlebell

bowflex kettle bell w

With the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell, you get six kettlebells in one, which is ultimately one of the best values around.

Pros: Six weights in one, affordable compared to buying all six weights, easy to adjust

Cons: Expensive up front; handle is less ergonomic than others; bulky, especially for use at lighter weight

Yes, $149 is a lot to pay for a kettlebell. But with the Bowflex SelectTech 840, you’re actually getting six kettlebells in one, which turns this into quite the deal.

The 840 gets its name from its lowest and highest weights, which are eight pounds and 40 pounds, respectively. In between those low and high options, you get 12-, 20-, 25-, and 35-pound increments, a good spread for people of varying strength and for a single person’s use at varied exercises.

Switching between weights is quick and easy, too. You simply turn a dial and lift up on the handle, and the extra weight is left sitting there on the ground. Beyond the ease of use during active exercise, you’ll also appreciate what is effectively six kettlebells only occupying the space of one. 

The benefits of this design are clear, but there are a few drawbacks — the largest of which is that kettlebell is less ergonomic than a standard option. The handle is slimmer and doesn’t have the flared shape of most kettlebells, and the overall unit is larger than solid options, which might make some exercises harder to execute properly.

With a few reps, you should get used to the shape, though, and the value far outweighs the cons.

The best budget kettlebell

amazonbasics kettlebell

AmazonBasics Vinyl Kettlebell has many features of other brands like a gentler vinyl coating and range of weight choices, but you’ll pay a few bucks less.

Pros: Great price point, good spread of weight increments, colorful, vinyl coatings

Cons: Grips often have minor imperfections

There’s plenty of positive things to say about the kettlebells from AmazonBasics. They’re coated in a thick vinyl that protects your skin and helps minimize the chance of scuffing the floor or scratching a piece of furniture; they come in a wide range of weights, starting at 10 pounds and reaching all the way up to 60, with 11 increments along the way; and their colorful coatings make it easy to tell one weight from another.

That description fits just about any decent set of kettlebells. What sets these apart from the pack is that they cost on average 15% less than its competitors — and you can use your free Prime shipping for delivery.

For that reduced price, you can expect a slight reduction in quality. Many of the kettlebells sold under the AmazonBasics banner have minor imperfections in the handles such as irregular bumps or little holes. 

These flaws shouldn’t be deal-breakers unless you have sensitive hands, for which you can also work out with gloves on.

The best soft-sided kettlebell

Bionic Body kettlebell

The Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell is plenty heavy but soft-to-the-touch, so you won’t break a toe or crack a tile if you accidentally drop one.

Pros: Safer for flooring and injury, decent price point for a unique product

Cons: Leather exterior damages more easily than standard kettlebell

If you work out often enough, at some point you are going to have an accident. Dropping weights is a fact of life, and it’s why gyms have padded floors. If you’re working out on the hardwood or tile floors of your own home, that dropped weight might lead to an unexpected and unpleasant home repair project — or, potentially, an ER trip to fix a broken toe.

Working out with a soft-sided kettlebell solves this. Bionic Body’s Soft Kettlebells come in a decent range of weights, spanning 10 to 35 pounds, and they’re durable and solid-feeling in your hands.

There’s no sacrifice of function in the name of making them soft-sided, and you won’t even pay that much more for these kettlebells than you would for standard iron or vinyl-coated weights. 

The leather wraps around the weights won’t chafe or irritate your skin, so these kettlebells make for more comfort. But with them being leather, the exterior can get scuffed and torn in a way a solid kettlebell can’t, so you do need to treat these with a bit more care than with other options.

What else we considered

kettlegrip

Many brands offer their own version of the kettlebell incredibly similar to one another, so there’s little reason to look much beyond the list we put together. There are, however, a few specialty options and accessories worth your consideration:

Meister MMA Elite Portable Sand Kettlebell ($13): This option is made from rugged PVC that can be filled with sand to create a functional kettlebell. Empty, the sack packs down flat for easy storage or travel. Filled and with the neoprene handle wrapped into place, this portable kettlebell lets you knock out snatches, standing rows, and more anywhere you go — so long as you can find sand. And for under $15, you can’t beat it.

Kettle Gryp ($35): The Kettle Gryp is a one-pound plastic grip that affixes to any dumbbell with a grip wider than 4.5 inches and converts dumbbells into kettlebells. So that stack of free weights you have there in your garage? Every one of those could be used just like a kettlebell.

Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell Handle $34: If you have weight plates in your home (the disc weights with holes for mounting them on bars, e.g.) then a Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell Handle can create an ad hoc kettlebell of myriad weight combinations.

How to correct your form

Before you start swinging your new kettlebells around wildly, make sure you take some time to learn how to properly execute the exercises for which they are so helpful when used correctly.

“When you’re using kettlebells, safety is the first thing,” R.J. Cincotta, director of fitness with Orangetheory Fitness Long Island, told Insider. “Many people just start swinging them around and don’t focus on form. There’s such a dynamic difference using them [compared to other weights] that you really need to learn form, first. And you don’t want to go too heavy too quickly; that’s a very easy way to get injured.”

With that advice in mind, we tested a variety of kettlebells from brands like Everlast, TRX, and Bowflex to find the best currently available. So, no matter if you’re just looking for a set to round out your home gym or want to kick your weekly fitness routine up a few notches, there’s a set of kettlebells perfect for you. 

FAQs

What weight of kettlebell should I buy? 

The problem with buying a single piece of strength equipment like a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell is that different moves call for different resistance amounts. One of the main selling points of a kettlebell is that it’s such a diverse piece of equipment, but to really maximize its use, you want to choose the single weight that will deliver the most bang for your buck.

When thinking about what weight will be most useful, it’s better to go a little heavier, San Diego-based trainer Pete McCall, CSCS, host of the All About Fitness podcast, told Insider. “Kettlebells are often used for exercises like swings and goblet squats, and for these lower body movements, heavier is better,” he says.

What’s more a heavier kettlebell actually forces you to use better form and technique. “Going too light could lead to “cheating” during the lift which, in turn, could result in injury,” he said. (We know — it’s the rare instance the injury risk is in going too light instead of too heavy).

If you’re going light, McCall also advises looking for a competition-style kettlebell. “With traditional kettlebells, as the weight gets lighter, the handle gets smaller,” he explained.

But competition-style bells have more room between the bell and the handle, which can be a lot easier to grip, especially for those not used to the equipment.


What kind of workouts can you use a kettlebell for?

R.J. Cincotta provided some professional perspective on the importance of kettlebells, and although most Orangetheory gyms don’t use kettlebells, he was able to speak to Insider based on his own extensive fitness experience. 

“Kettlebells are best used for power movements,” Cincotta said. “You’re going to use them for squats and swings, and you’ll use them for a lot of single-sided exercises often referred to as asymmetrical movements. You can even use kettlebells for stability work as well.”

What makes a kettlebell harder to use than a dumbbell lies in its shape, which puts the weight several inches away from your hand. This means you’ll need to activate more of your muscles as you stabilize the weight. With a kettlebell, every single-handed exercise like curls, shoulder presses, snatches, and so on is that much more productive.

And for two-handed exercises like goblet squats, the grip shape means added stability so you can focus on your form, as well as your core, glutes, quads, and other muscles.


Is there a significant injury risk with buying a kettlebell that’s too heavy?

The answer to this is both yes and no. Using a heavier kettlebell will lead to more results because you’ll have to work harder to move it and therefore use more muscle. Keep in mind however, that “heavier” is entirely relative. As Cincotta mentioned (and any trainer will tell you), a weight above your strength level is the fast track to injury.

Generally, the best way to choose a weight is to borrow a friend’s or pop into your local sporting goods store and see what feels comfortable for moves like lunges and squats. But if you can’t do that, McCall offers some guidelines for what weight is good for most people:

If you don’t have a solid foundation of muscle mass already or experience using a kettlebell, aim for a 20- to 25-pound (12kg) kettlebell for a female, and a 30- to 35-pound (16kg) bell for a male.

For those experienced with a kettlebell (i.e., have been using one 1-2 times a week already), females should opt for a 30- to 45-pound (16 or 20kg) bell, males for 40- to 50-pound (20 to 24kg) kettlebell.

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The 5 best jump ropes for a great cardio workout

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Jumping rope is one of the best cardio exercises you can do at home, practically for free.
  • The best jump ropes are durable and adjustable in length and ideally, come with extra ropes or handles.
  • Our top pick, Crossrope Get Lean, has multiple weights, exchangeable handles, and its own workout app.

Most of us associate jumping rope with days on the playground but for the everyday athlete, it’s actually one of the best cardiovascular activities you can do as an adult, Andrew Laux, NASM-CPT, and personal trainer with fitness platform, Fyt, told Insider.

Though jumping rope is good to get your heart pumping, it can also help improve bone density and build strength and stability through your entire kinetic chain (your feet to your shoulders). Plus, it’s a fun workout you can do almost anywhere, Laux said.

In addition to learning how to use a jump rope, the one thing you need to gain the benefits of the workout is the rope itself. And if you think all jump ropes are the same, think again: Many manufacturers have made improvements and tech updates to jump ropes over the years, offering more ease of use, adjustability, and weight options.

To find the best jump rope for cardio, I tested brands like Crossrope, Rx Smart Gear, SKLZ, and more, relying on my own experience as a certified personal trainer and fitness writer as well as important features in a rope. At the end of this guide

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some insight from Laux on the proper technique for jumping rope, as well as some tips on how to shop for a jump rope and the testing methodology that was used in determining which ropes ultimately made this guide.

Here are the best jump ropes:

The best jump rope overall

Get_Lean_Set

Crossrope reimagines the tried-and-true jump rope by offering multiple weighted rope options, an easy-to-use handle clipping system, and a companion app with workouts and insight. 

Pros: Ropes come in multiple weight options, easy-to-swap soft handles, companion app has great workout guidance

Cons: Expensive

At $99, Crossrope’s Get Lean Set isn’t exactly inexpensive — but it’s not just any ole jump rope, either. 

This specialized jump rope set features ergonomic handles that are lightweight and easy to hold. The handles feature a quick clasp system making it easy to swap them in and out of the different weighted ropes. Each handle has a soft grip that won’t slip out of your hand, even when you start sweating — we’ve tested this in the humidity of NYC and the comfortable, tacky grips are a very welcome sight.

The other feature that makes Crossrope an attractive choice is its variety of rope weights. The Get Lean Set, specifically, comes with both a 1/2-pound rope good for advanced cardio exercises and a 1/4-pound rope that works well for HIIT routines and endurance training. As mentioned above, the handles just click in and out of the end of each rope for easy swapping. 

Crossrope also offers a companion smartphone application that comes standard with workout inspiration and routine guidance. The Lite version is completely free whereas premium access runs $10 per month. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best jump rope for speed work

wod jumprope

When speed and lasting performance are your main concerns, the WOD Nation Speed Jump Rope is your best option.

Pros: Comes with an extra cable, features a smooth bearing system for speed work

Cons: Susceptible to wear when used on hard surfaces

If you’re looking to perform quick tempo jumps, like high knees, crossover, or double unders, you want a speed rope, which moves faster, Louis Chandler Joseph, NASM-CPT, trainer at Dogpound in LA told Insider. “Speed ropes are also great for working hand-eye coordination,” he added.

WOD Nation Speed Jump Rope uses a patented four-metal ball bearing system in the handles. There is a bearing on the tip of each handle to hold the cable and another bearing in each handle for smooth rotations, and the handles are made of tapered nylon resin for a better grip.

This speed rope comes in nine colors and with an extra cable, replacement hardware, and a carrying bag. The cable is 2.5mm thick and 11 feet long, which you can easily adjust. 

WOD Nation’s jump rope comes with a “100% satisfaction guarantee,” so you can try it for 60 days and if you’re not completely satisfied, return it for a complete refund. (However, its return policy says it will only accept returns on unused items within 14 days of purchase, so that’s a bit confusing.) If you order through Amazon, you get 30 days to return. — James Brains, home and kitchen reporter

The best jump rope for beginners

SKLZ jump rope

The SKLZ jump rope is easy to use, lightweight, comfortable, and affordable, making it a smart choice for those just starting to jump rope. 

Pros: Easy to adjust, comfortable grip, smooth rotations

Cons: Comes with just one rope — no fancy additions

If you’re new to jumping rope, you need a straightforward jump rope that’s easy to set to your height and easy to swing. The SKLZ jump rope is all of this and more: The soft, padded handles allow for a solid, comfy grip, while the swivel on the inside of the handle makes for easy rotations and lots of control (which is super helpful for those jumping in small spaces).

It’s also lightweight, making it easy to move at a pace that works for you, especially as you tackle technique and eventually add in speed. 

Adjusting the rope is easy — just unscrew the handle, pull the rope through to the length for you,  push the plastic tab back, and cut the extra. Then, close the handle back up. Cutting the rope does means it’s a one-and-done adjustment so you can’t share your rope with someone of another height. But at under $15, your partner or roommate can buy their own cheap, too.

I tested this rope both indoors on carpet and outside on cement, and it lasted through lots of jump intervals. It’s definitely a no-frills cable but offers everything you need to get your jump rope routine started.

The best jump rope for multiple users

RX smart gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope

The Rx Smart Gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope allows you to easily switch between lengths, so the whole family can use it. Plus, it’s so smooth and comfortable. 

Pros: Easy adjustment and multi-user, smooth rotations, comfortable (and narrower) handle

Cons: More expensive than other ropes

If you’re 5-feet tall and sharing this rope with your 6-foot-tall partner, you can both use this Rx Smart Gear jump rope without anyone compromising proper length. The Rx Smart Gear Rapid Fit Jump Rope allows you to swap between sizes, just by pressing the end of the handle, removing the cover and pulling the rope to the top (to make it shorter) or bottom (to make it longer).

The standard size of the Rapid Fit Jump Rope works for people 5- to 6-feet tall. There’s also a short cable option that’s a better fit for anyone under 5 feet, as well as a longer cable for those over 6 feet. 

To be adjustable, this rope has long, thin handles. This shape has the added benefit of being easy to grip while you flick your wrists on the spin, and it offers good control over the rope so you can dial up or down the speed. 

This adjustable jump rope also comes with a carrying case. The price point is higher than other models, but it’s cheaper than buying two high-quality jump ropes of different lengths.

The best budget jump rope

Tone It Up Jump Rope

The lightweight Tone It Up jump rope comes in at under $10, while still offering an easy-to-use rope that’ll last through countless cardio sessions. 

Pros: Inexpensive, lightweight, soft and comfortable handles, easy to use and adjust

Cons: Not as durable as others; if you don’t cut the rope, it twists as you jump

For a super affordable jump rope, the Tone It Up offering costs less than $10 and is available at Target, while still delivering all the basic necessities of a cardio jump rope. At less than 13 ounces, the lightweight design makes for easy rotations and quick rounds. The padded foam handles also make for a soft feel as you hold onto the rope through each jump. 

To adjust the cable, simply unscrew the end of the handle, and move the plastic stopper tab to the spot that works with your height — the cable is short enough for those 4-foot-9 and long enough for those 6-foot-6. While you can shove the excess rope back into the handle, I suggest cutting off any extra (particularly if you have a lot of excess). The wound-up rope inside the handle occasionally made the rope twist up as I hit my rotations. 

To top off the benefits of this purchase, you’ll also support a women-owned brand.

What else we tested

RXSG EVO GO Speed Rope

Rx Smart Gear EVO GO Speed Rope ($125): If you’re looking for a truly lightweight rope for picking up speed on your feet, this rope has a well-designed handle that makes it comfortable and easy to whip the rope around. This rope comes at a fixed height. It didn’t make our main list because of its expensive price tag, but we do love this rope for speed work. 

SKLZ Speed Rope ($25): Another rope that handles well, works fast, and makes for smooth transitions, this SKLZ Speed Rope is also super affordable. The sturdy handles felt heavier than other speed ropes, and the adjustable rope itself stands up against kinks. The biggest downside is you need a wire cutter to remove the extra material, which isn’t always easy to get your hands on.

How to master the proper technique

Jumping rope is dauntingly easy — but the right technique is very helpful to master the cardio skill. Andrew Laux, NASM-CPT, and personal trainer with fitness platform, Fyt, offers three tips:

1. First, think of it like a pogo stick. “Keep your body in a straight line but relax your muscles and joints so you can easily absorb the jump and get ready for the next,” he said. Bend your knees slightly and jump on the balls of the feet to help with that impact.

2. It’s important to keep your shoulders back and chest tall (think of this as like having good posture).

3. And finally, look out on the horizon. “Once your eyes drop to your feet, your form will crumble,” Laux warns. 

When it comes to your actual jump rope workout, Laux loves jumping to his favorite song, resting for one minute, then repeating for another few pump-up jams. If you’re just starting out, though, he suggests going for just 10 seconds of effort, then resting for 20 seconds.

As you get better and can do five to 10 rounds, build the work interval, and decrease the rest break.

“Once you build up your strength and fitness levels and slowly build up your jump duration, you will find yourself jumping for longer time periods like 5 minutes or even 10 minutes nonstop,” he said. “It takes time, but you will get there.”

Learn more in How to jump rope in 4 easy steps, and a few fun workouts you can do at home.

How to shop for a jump rope

If you’re considering which jump rope to buy, think about how you want to use it. “The heavier the handles, the harder the shoulder and forearm workout,” Laux explains. “The lighter and thinner the rope, the faster you can spin the jump rope around and around.”

Anything labeled as a speed rope will likely feel lightweight and fast, while a more straightforward rope (usually plastic with foam handles) may be slightly heavier and likely, more affordable. 

The most important thing to consider once you know the kind of rope you want is its length. If a rope is too long, it might be harder to find your rhythm. Conversely, one that’s too short may increase your chances of tripping.

Make sure to check out the brand’s sizing guide before you buy. Then, to measure a jump rope to your height, step in the middle of the rope with both feet, ensure the rope is symmetric and taught, and adjust it so the bottom of the handle reaches your armpits, said Louis Chandler Joseph, NASM-CPT, trainer at Dogpound in LA.

You can always test out the rope and decide if you want it to be shorter or longer, too. Once you have a length you’re comfortable with, use scissors or wire cutters to clip the ends of the cable so you don’t have annoying and unnecessary lengths of the rope hanging off the handles. 

Also, Chandler Joseph suggests hanging your rope for storage — though, some ropes (like the Rx Smart Gear rope) do come with their own carrying case, making it far easier to stash away. Just try to avoid any kinks or bends, no matter how you chose to store them.

How we test jump ropes

Each jump rope featured in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well they stacked up across these four categories: Ease of use, versatility, durability, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category factored into which jump ropes ultimately made this guide:

Ease of use: Jump ropes should be easy to use right out of the box (so long as you have your timing and rhythm down), but through the course of testing for this guide, we realized there’s plenty to a jump rope that can make it easy to use. First, is how comfortable the handles feel in-hand. We also considered the flexibility of the rope, if it rotated cleanly on the handle, and if it avoided getting tangled too easily.

Versatility: There are a variety of workouts you can do using a jump rope, and they’re not all just the standard motion you first think of. Whether we were doing double under, crossing the rope, or any other variation, we looked at how well the rope moved along with us at every turn. Even if our own jump roping technique wasn’t flawless, we still were able to see how versatile the rope was able to be.

Durability: Much of our jump rope tests occurred outdoors where the rope would constantly hit the cement beneath our feet. Because of this, the part of the rope hitting the ground would naturally start to file down. After spending several hours jumping rope with each pick, none of those we featured ended up snapping or even filing down dangerously close enough to breaking. 

Value: Jump ropes shouldn’t cost much to begin with but it is important not to just buy whatever the cheapest on the market is. Keeping in mind the three categories above, as well as a jump rope’s actual sticker price, is a great way to judge the overall value. Our top pick is even $99, which seems like a lot for a jump rope, but considering everything it comes with, and the fact it scored the highest in terms of ease of use, versatility, and durability, it’s worth every bit of that investment.

Expert sources

  • Andrew Laux, NASM-CPT, and personal trainer with fitness platform, Fyt

  • Louis Chandler Joseph, NASM-CPT, trainer at Dogpound in Los Angeles

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best treadmills for your home gym

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Adding a treadmill to your home gym is an excellent way to increase your routine cardio and keep fit.
  • The most important qualities to look for in a treadmill are power, reliability, and comfort.
  • Our top pick, the ProForm Pro 2000, features iFit workouts, has a cushioned tread, and folds up easily.

Editor’s note: Due to high demand, some of the selections are either limited in stock or back-ordered. We will update this piece with new picks or purchase options as best we can.

Few exercise machines have endured the changing landscape of at-home fitness quite like the treadmill. They’re great for maintaining cardio fitness, preparing for road races like 2-milers or 5Ks, or serving as a complement to a weekly workout routine – especially for anyone who doesn’t have time to run outside.

Treadmills are also incredibly simple to use. You just run or walk on the belt, and a motor moves it under your feet at whatever speed you select. Some even offer a variety of different features, including touchscreen displays and live-streamed classes, that’ll help you gain exactly the kinds of training and health benefits you need.

As a frequent gym-goer (prior to the pandemic, of course) and current fitness editor, I’ve run my fair share of miles on treadmills advanced, basic, or otherwise. For every mile logged on something like NordicTrack’s Commercial 2950 or ProForm’s Pro 2000, I’ve logged an equal amount (if not many more) on treadmills without an interactive screen attached to them and those a bit more typical of a standard fitness center or gym.

This experience proved vital when combing through and testing the allotment of treadmills currently available – and helped me better understand why someone may prefer a certain model over another. The following guide features a range of treadmill types at various price points in hopes of helping you find the best option for your fitness needs.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for a treadmill as well as insight into the testing methodology used for deciding which made the cut.

Here are the best treadmills:

The best treadmill overall

treadmill

The ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill is a race-trainers dream that’s versatile enough for the casual runner, too. 

Pros: Good motor, large running belt of 22 by 60 inches, includes both an incline and a decline setting, offers good interval training features, has access to iFit workouts

Cons: Customer service may be disappointing if you have problems, very heavy treadmill

Runners looking for a treadmill with good all-around training capabilities and a host of useful features will like the reasonably-priced ProForm Pro 2000 Treadmill

It has a 3.5-horsepower motor, which allows it to stand up to daily use, and it boasts a belt deck that measures 22 by 60 inches, which is perfect for most runners. When you’re training for races with hills, you’ll appreciate this treadmill’s ability to reach a 15% incline and a 3% decline, which better simulates hills than most other treadmills — it’s easy to adjust it both up and down, too, even while running. 

The ProForm Pro 2000 also has a number of techy features, including a 7-inch screen that’s compatible with iFit’s wide range of interactive workouts, a music port for iPods, and a built-in fan that works well to keep you somewhat cool while using it. Its tread features what the brand calls ProShox Cushioning, which is designed to lessen the impact on your feet and knees while running. Though a true, long-term test of this would better judge its viability, even a handful of runs on it showed that this made a difference (even if it was minimal). 

What truly makes this treadmill stand out is its inclusion of the above-mentioned iFit workouts. Not only are these excellent ways to keep motivated, but the platform offers some genuinely unique workouts. One day you could be running through France and the next through Vietnam. The globe-spanning locales add a level of quality to the workouts you’d have a hard time finding elsewhere.

Another perk of the iFit workouts is how the trainers leading the runs entirely control the incline, decline, and speed, allowing you to focus strictly on running. This is something that’s incredibly welcome as fumbling with a treadmill’s controls while in a full stride isn’t always the most fun (and can easily mess with your cadence). The ProForm Pro 2000 comes with one free year of iFit, too, so you won’t have to worry about shelling out a monthly payment for at least 12 months.

Its price is also in the range of what you’d expect to pay for a full-featured treadmill. Most interactive workout machines run in the $2,000 range, and the fact this undercuts that average by a few hundred dollars, makes it an appealing choice for anyone looking to add a treadmill to their home gym. It can easily support any fitness routine, whether it’s the centerpiece of your weekly workouts or a supplement to a more comprehensive plan.

The best smart treadmill

2950Nordic

NordicTrack’s Commercial 2950 is a highly versatile treadmill that offers automatic incline control, an HD 22-inch touchscreen, and a deep library of interactive classes from iFit. 

Pros: Now features automatically adjusting resistance and speed, the iFit library offers a wide range of in-studio classes and runs through real-world locales, offers Bluetooth connectivity and WiFi support

Cons: Expensive

The Commercial 2950 treadmill from NordicTrack is one of the most full-featured machines I’ve tested, coming with everything from automatic incline control and Bluetooth connectivity to Google Maps integration and personalized workout stats. My favorite feature, however, is its access to iFit’s expansive library of interactive workouts. 

With iFit, you’re able to run essentially anywhere, yet still from the comfort of your home. The service’s roster of trainers offers a wide range of run types that aren’t just confined to a studio or their home (where they do film some of the classes). Rather, you could be running through real-world locales that quite literally offer a breath of fresh air from standard treadmill routines. I found this to be a welcome deviation from the tediousness of normal running. Though iFit does cost $39 per month, a free year of the service comes standard with the purchase of all new treadmills (and bikes, too, for that matter). 

In addition to those workouts, the rest of the 2950 is a highly premium product. The automatically adjusting resistance feature mentioned above is a game-changer, and, as the name suggests, allows the trainers to fully control the incline, decline, and speed of the treadmill as you run along. All you have to worry about is just running — which does well to keep you focused and motivated instead of worrying about fumbling with controls. 

One nitpick could be that the iFit interface can be a little clunky and slow to use sometimes, and the service occasionally crashed mid-workout (though did tend to load right back up in the exact same spot I was running). This didn’t happen enough to be concerning, nor did it detract from my overall experience. 

The 2950 certainly isn’t cheap but few treadmills with this much to offer both in terms of features and available workouts will necessarily be “affordable.” Still, it’s worth the investment for those who want access to a huge library of interactive classes and a premium-built treadmill. 

The best budget treadmill

treadmill

Compared to other budget fold-up treadmills, the Horizon Fitness T101-04 Treadmill has nice features and good performance.

Pros: Very good price point for an entry-level treadmill, will save space with a fold-up design, runs quieter than most budget-priced treadmills, works better for walkers and light runners

Cons: Only a 55-inch belt length, not really made for high-end running workouts, longevity is questionable

Saving space with a fold-up treadmill is a great idea for a lot of people. However, most fold-up treadmills don’t offer a lot of power.

With those natural limitations of fold-up treadmills in mind, you’ll like the Horizon Fitness T101-04 Treadmill, which works well for walkers and anyone on a budget (and isn’t really made for runners looking for high-end workouts). Think of it as like an entry-level treadmill, or something that can be a complement to a wider range of at-home equipment. 

It has a 55-inch belt length, a maximum 10 mph speed, and a 2.25-horsepower motor. The T101-04 treadmill is easy to fold up for storage, which is great for anyone with minimal space in their home or apartment.

You can’t beat the value, too. If you want something simple, straightforward, and cost-effective that has the basic features necessary for just running and walking, the T101-04 from Horizon Fitness is the treadmill you need.

The best upright folding treadmill

treadmill

The LifeSpan TR3000i uses an extensive shock absorption system to take some pressure off your joints while running.

Pros: Good price for a mid-range treadmill, unit folds up to save storage space, extensive shock absorption system, good feature set versus other models in this price range

Cons: Not really designed for high-end workouts, build quality of treadmill is questionable

Some people dislike working out on a treadmill because of the pressure it places on their joints. The LifeSpan TR3000i attempts to alleviate some of this pressure by using a shock absorption system in the treadmill’s deck.

It has a 20 x 56-inch running surface, 15 incline levels, and a 6-inch LCD screen that shows your time, calories, distance covered, steps, heart rate, speed, and incline. The eight shock absorber elements in the deck ensure that it remains both stable and comfortable to run on. As mentioned on other models, long-term testing would be a better indicator of just how well the shock-absorbing works, but it’s easy to notice the difference in the TR3000i compared to others. If you at all have foot, knee, or joint issues, you’ll want to at least consider this one when shopping.

Beyond its shock-absorbing capabilities, the TR3000i has a number of fun features to give you variety in your workouts, too, including a tablet holder, a USB charging port, and compatibility with iPods. It also has built-in speakers, folds up for easy storage, and physical console buttons that are sometimes easier to use when making adjustments than only relying on the touchscreen.

The best compact treadmill

Cubii1

The Cubii Pro is an easy-to-use, under desk exercise machine that’s more of an elliptical than a treadmill but still allows you to log some quality cardio no matter if you’re sitting down for lunch or powering through a backlog of emails. 

Pros: Small, easy-to-use machine that delivers an effective cardio workout, has up to eight different resistance settings, offers companion app support

Cons: Not strictly a treadmill, might not be as intense for hardcore fitness buffs

Though the Cubii Pro isn’t exactly a treadmill in the traditional sense (and is more of an elliptical style machine than anything else), its unobtrusive nature makes it a convenient addition to anyone’s home gym. The machine simply sits on the floor, be it under a desk, next to a coffee table, or literally anywhere around the house, and lets you pedal away for as long as you like. 

The machine delivers low-impact cardio that may benefit those unable to run on a treadmill due to sore joints, and its quiet operation even allows it to be used while watching TV, talking on the phone, or listening to music. With eight different levels of resistance, it affords as easy or as difficult a workout as you like, too. 

A companion smartphone application lets you keep track of all your logged workouts and lets you set weekly and monthly goals or share your progress with friends. The app is also compatible with services like Fitbit or Apple HealthKit, so if you prefer the interface of those, all workout data can easily sync to them.

At $349, it’s certainly not a drop in the bucket but it is far cheaper than even the budget model on this list. For convenient, low-impact cardio exercise, the Cubii Pro is as versatile and easy to use as it gets. 

The best treadmill for quiet workouts

treadmill

The 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill delivers excellent performance and runs quieter than most treadmills.

Pros: Strong steel frame that will support a lot of weight, unit runs quieter than most treadmills, large treadmill belt area for tall runners, includes a large motor to compare favorably to gym treadmills

Cons: Extremely high price point, very heavy equipment that is difficult to move around

Few treadmills made for use at home will deliver the kind of quiet performance that the 3G Cardio Elite Runner Treadmill delivers. It’s made for tall or heavy runners looking a tough workout, but you’ll pay more than $3,000 for the kind of quality that this 3G Cardio unit delivers.

It has an Ortho Flex Shock suspension system to minimize the stress of impact for runners, and the 22 by 62-inch platform is perfect for running.

The 3G Cardio comes with many pre-programmed workouts and a fitness level test. You have access to speed and elevation settings, heart rate control, and workout customization.  This treadmill also has a 4.0 horsepower motor and 3-inch rollers for great performance.

As you would expect with a treadmill with such a high price point, the 3G Cardio Elite consists of thick steel tubing in the frame. It’s also rather expensive, so this is really only for serious runners who want a treadmill that will last a lifetime.

Treadmill FAQ

 

Basic

The most basic type of treadmill only works for walkers. They will have simple tracking features, such as speed, distance, and time. Most basic units will have a short bed that works better for a walker’s stride than for running.

And you’ll find limited shock absorption features here, which isn’t great for runners. Such treadmills will fold up for easy storage (although some more expensive treadmills also can fold up for storage).

Mid-range

These treadmills will work for walkers or runners. For walkers, a mid-range treadmill should have longer support arms, allowing you to balance yourself easier. The belt bed will be a bit longer than the basic treadmill, but those with long running strides may still struggle.

You’ll see better tech features in this price range, including a heart rate monitor worn on the chest or pre-set training programs.

Top-end:

The highest quality of treadmills will contain long belt beds with good shock absorption, making them perfect for runners. To gain these features, such treadmills rarely will fold up for storage, meaning they require a lot of free space. They will deliver greater maximum speed levels and greater levels of incline, too.

These treadmills consist of the highest-quality materials. You’ll receive Wi-Fi connectivity and extensive pre-set exercise programs with these models.

Key treadmill features and terms

As treadmills evolved, companies began adding a suite of high-tech features. However, don’t focus entirely on the bells and whistles of expensive treadmills. Pay attention to its physical parts, too, to find the best possible unit for your needs.

Exercise programs

Treadmills may have pre-programmed workouts that can help you with weight loss, cardiovascular performance, speed workouts, or hills training. These programs will allow you to set the length of exercise time, but they will automatically change the speed of the treadmill and the incline to match the parameters of the pre-programmed workout.

Horsepower

Any treadmill motor with a continuous duty measurement of at least 2.0 should be sufficient for most people. Smaller motors work better for walkers and larger motors work better for runners.

Incline and decline

To help with training for running on hills or for additional calorie burn, the treadmill needs to offer an incline. Most treadmills can reach at least a 12% incline grade. Some treadmills even give you a simulation of running downhill with a decline grade of around 3%.

Length

Runners need a treadmill belt bed of roughly 55-60 inches long, while walkers can use one closer to 45-50 inches long. Taller people will need an even longer belt bed. Remember that the length of the treadmill isn’t the same as the length of the bed.

The treadmill length (and width, for that matter) must accommodate the base portion of the unit that doesn’t move, as well as the bed’s motor housing at the front of the unit.

Safety line

Treadmills will contain a safety line that hooks into the unit. You’ll clip the safety line to your shirt. Should you stumble, the safety line will disconnect from the treadmill, causing it to shut down immediately. This is a nice safety feature, and it prevents those common TV and movie gags where the person using the treadmill falls and gets launched into a wall.

Speed

The speed with which the bed rotates on the treadmill is measured in miles per hour. Most people don’t need anything over 10 mph, but those seeking heavy-duty interval workouts can find speeds up to 15 mph in a top-end treadmill.

Support rails

A treadmill made for walkers, especially elderly walkers, should have long support rails on the sides that you can grip while using the treadmill to steady yourself.

Touch screen controls

You should be able to adjust the incline, speed, and program in use through the touchscreen monitor. The screen also gives you information on the time elapsed, calories burned, distance traveled, your heart rate, and more. 

Weight limit

Based on the size of the motor and the shock absorption capabilities, a treadmill may give you a maximum user weight recommendation. You should be able to find this listed in its online user’s manual or listed on its specifications sheet. 

Wi-Fi connection

Through a Wi-Fi connection, you can gain access to simulated video workouts. Or you can play streaming movies on the display screen, giving you some entertainment as you’re workout out on the treadmill.

Width

A treadmill belt bed should be at least 22 inches wide for runners which provides plenty of space in case you have a misstep. Walkers can successfully use a narrower bed than runners, such as 18 or 20 inches.

How we test treadmills

Each treadmill featured in this guide went through a series of extensive tests (i.e. we ran on them, a lot) to see how well they compared across these four categories: Performance, features, quality, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which treadmills ended up making this guide:

Performance: How a treadmill performs comes down to a few basic aspects, including how comfortable it is to run on (and how shock absorbing it is), if it’s able to avoid sounding like you’re loudly pounding the ground with each step, what its tread feels like underfoot, and how wide the running area is. Though not all treadmills reliably check each of these boxes, a healthy combination of at least three of those often translates to high quality. 

Features: Some modern treadmills, like those from NordicTrack or ProForm, feature a built-in interactive screen that streams workouts, tracks output metrics, and improves the treadmill’s performance. For models that don’t have a screen, we looked at how intuitive it was to increase and decrease the treadmill’s speed and whether it offered an incline or decline mode. Even those that aren’t decked out with the ability to stream workouts are still feature-heavy enough to warrant a spot in your home gym.

Quality: If used often, treadmills can take a consistent beating, mostly due to a runner pounding on it step after step after step. This means the best treadmills should feature a sturdy and durable tread, a high-quality design that won’t become compromised even after a full year or more of use, and that feature an interface or series of buttons and dials that can avoid popping off or being unusable. 

Value: The value of a treadmill is less about its sticker price and more so the combination of the three categories above compared to its initial (and sometimes recurring) investment. We factored in everything when selecting treadmills across each featured category and often feel that it’s worth it to spend a little more money on a product that’s designed to last than to spend less, more often on something inferior. 

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This $2,200 rowing machine is poised to be the Peloton of at-home rowers – here’s why it’s worth the investment

Rower_Model_838_r2 copy

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Hydrow is an at-home rowing machine that offers live and on-demand workout classes, not unlike Peloton.
  • Though expensive at $2,245, it’s a durable rower that delivers an engaging, full-body cardio workout.
  • I tried Hydrow and was impressed at everything it offered and how motivating and fun it was to use.

The popularity of interactive at-home workout machines continues to grow with brands like Peloton and NordicTrack leading the charge. Though similar at-home products have been around for years, advancements in the space have allowed these machines to be highly effective workout tools and more widely accessible.

Take the above-mentioned Peloton, for example. What started as a simple group cycling class seven years ago has since expanded into an at-home stationary bike outfit with highly interactive videos and classes. Put plainly, it’s revolutionized our relationship with the stationary bike – and the startup is now estimated to be worth $4 billion.

But one nitpick some have with these bikes is how the machines tend to neglect your upper body. This is where the Hydrow Rowing Machine comes in, an at-home rower poised to become the Peloton of rowing.

Unlike cycling, rowing is said to engage 86% of your muscles. With this $2,200 at-home unit, you can participate in live or on-demand rowing classes led by world-class athletes, all in the comfort of your living room.

Curious about its benefits, I tried Hydrow for a month. Here’s what I thought of the experience and if the $2,245 price tag is worth the investment.

Specs

Hydrow 4

The Hydrow is an 86-inch-long by 25-inch-wide rowing machine featuring an easily accessible 22-inch HD touchscreen mounted on the front. The monitor is sweatproof and features Hi-Fi speakers, a two-megapixel camera, a built-in microphone, USB 2.0 connection, and both Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities.

Here are a few other important specs:

  • Aluminum and steel frame with a flat anthracite polymer body
  • Soft rubberized feet to protect floors
  • Low-stress handle grip with ergonomic design
  • 1920 by 1080 Full HD screen resolution
  • Over 500 pre-recorded river and studio rowing sessions
  • Four types of rowing videos: Live Rowing, Rows on Demand, Serene River Rowing, Whole Body Fitness
  • Quiet, electromagnetic resistance that adjusts 240 times per second
  • Heart rate monitoring
  • 10-roller seat roller system facilitating a smooth operation
  • 25-degree monitor pivot in each direction
  • 18-month labor warranty; 2-year warranty on wear items, screen, and other electronics; and a 6-year structural frame warranty

A recurring $38 monthly membership is required to experience the full functionality of the Hydrow (i.e. the classes). This includes live virtual outdoor rows with instructors and athletes (including a selection from the U.S. National Rowing Team), access to a live leaderboard during classes, Hydrow’s full on-demand library, and other exclusive off-machine fitness content.

The setup process

My setup experience was slightly different than what should be expected as Hydrow coordinated both the delivery and setup with a team of its own. The rower was fully assembled when it arrived, so the brand’s technician just needed to screw the screen onto the frame, plug in the machine, and connect it to my Wi-Fi.

Once complete, the technician walked me through how to use the machine before he left and even showed me how to access the rowing tutorials – all of which I found really helpful.

If purchased via Best Buy, there is a white-glove treatment available for anyone who wants a complete setup done for them. Best Buy offers a delivery and installation option just about everywhere in the US for $249.99. There’s also a flat $69.99 delivery charge but that gets waived if you go with the delivery and installation option – something Best Buy strongly encourages. You may even qualify for free installation and delivery if you reach out to customer service.

If you go the full installation route, a Geek Squad member delivers and sets up your Hydrow wherever you want it in your apartment or home. They’ll also connect it to your Wi-Fi and ensure the rower is workout-ready before leaving.

A motivating library of classes

To get the most out of my month of testing the Hydrow, I challenged my wife to see who could put in the most mileage. My wife is fairly sedentary while I’m very active, yet the spirit of competition and ease of use motivated her to

I often loaded up a pre-recorded video class first thing in the morning to hit the digital water, due mainly to the fact the trainers all had upbeat attitudes. This helped to guide my workouts and started my day off on the right foot – thankfully, they weren’t annoyingly positive. Their encouragement got me to push a little harder while focusing on my form.

Rower_Model_909_r1 copy

There are several levels of intensity to choose from and it took a bit of experimentation to figure out which level and workout length were ideal for my exercise needs. I felt the Warm-Up, Breathe, and Sweat videos were fairly light and didn’t get my heart rate going as much as I wanted. Instead, I was more into the Push videos. The first 20-minute, Push interval session I did really worked out my body.

I also enjoyed the real-time leaderboard that appears on the right side of the screen a Live Rowing session. It compares your distance to the distances rowed by other users at each point of the video. I found it to be an incredibly useful motivating tool – my wife also noted how it often pushed her to row harder.

Although I preferred the interactive classes, some of my wife’s favorite sessions didn’t have live instructors. She liked the Serene River Rowing in which you go through beautiful natural areas and hear nothing but the water. There’s still a leaderboard but no one is pushing you, so you’re more likely to go at your own pace.

Another impressive aspect was the video streaming quality. There’s nothing worse than having a video freeze in the middle of a guided workout, especially when you’re challenging for the top of the leaderboard. During my testing, the screen froze just once – something my wife experience as well, at the same point in the same video. If this happens, you’re able to just press the help icon on the screen and instantly send feedback to Hydrow, who was responsive.

A few nitpicks

Perhaps the Hydrow’s biggest drawback is how big its 15-square-foot size is. I kept it in my living room for the short term but in the long term, you’d want a dedicated workout area.

You can, however, store the Hydrow vertically if you want to free up space. When stored vertically, it only takes up a 33-inch by 25-inch patch of space. I did this a few times and with the front wheels, it was easy enough for me to move and stand up the 145-pound machine on my own.

hydrow

To the Hydrow’s credit, the machine is incredibly quiet, which is certainly nice if you live in an apartment with paper-thin walls, or just don’t want to make too much of a racket.

The only time it wasn’t quiet, though, was when I had the resistance cranked up to 100% and was trying to do a high stroke rate. I’d hear a knocking sound where the foot pedals met the machine. My wife never experienced this but I weigh 250 pounds, which is 80 pounds more than her, so it might’ve just been a weight issue. Either way, I brought it up to Hydrow who told me that they’d fixed it in subsequent versions of the machine.

The price might also give you a bit of sticker shock. At $2,245, it’s definitely not cheap but considering a Peloton bike costs $1,895, I’d say it’s comparable. You’re also getting a full-body workout as opposed to only cardio.

Hydrow’s base price doesn’t include the $38 monthly membership fee, which does make the final price a bit higher than what’s advertised. Depending on how often you’d use the machine, an ongoing subscription might be an unnecessary and sunk cost – or a financial motivator.

Should you buy it?

Yes. At a comparable price to the Peloton, the Hydrow gives you a full-body workout. Plus, with its software updates, a new app, and constant improvements, Hydrow has demonstrated that it’s committed to producing a top-quality experience.

If you can afford it and are looking for a way to stay motivated with a fun and challenging full-body exercise, I strongly recommend giving Hydrow a try.

What are your alternatives?

Though there’s a variety of at-home workout equipment like stationary bikes or treadmills, interactive at-home rowers are relatively new (outside of the traditional, analog water rowers or stationary, screen-less row machines).

The closest alternative would be the Ergatta rower. Like Hydrow, the Ergatta rower features an onboard screen that displays workouts, leaderboards, and pre-recorded classes. The rower itself is even in the style of a water rower in that it uses water flywheel technology to produce a smooth row experience.

The bottom line

Overall, I loved Hydrow. So much so that I was sad when the technicians came to take it away. On my humble freelance writer wages, I’d likely be unable to buy it at its current price of $2,245 (plus membership fees). I just can’t afford it. But if I had $2,245 to put toward my physical fitness, or was willing to part with $61 per month with Best Buy’s financing payment, I’d buy the Hydrow today.

Pros: More than 500 on-demand videos of varying lengths and intensities, live broadcasts with live leaderboards, full-body workout, durable construction, quiet and precise electromagnetic resistance

Cons: Expensive, requires membership for access to all of the features, takes up a lot of space

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The 6 best men’s workout shirts perfect for running, working out at home, or lifting weights

  • A reliable workout shirt provides plenty of benefits like moisture-wicking technology, stretch fabric, and odor control.
  • It’s also important that a workout shirt fits comfortably and performs well during activities like strength training or running.
  • Our top pick, the Ten Thousand Versatile Shirt, excels in terms of fit and performance, and is my go-to for almost any workout.

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Ask any fitness enthusiast about their preferred workout attire and they’ll likely spend a few minutes talking about moisture-wicking fabric, innovative cooling technology, or sweat-activated fabrics. While these sound like industry buzzwords, the application behind these concepts are staples and, frankly, must-haves in the world of workout apparel.

Brands like Nike, Under Armour, and Reebok remain major players in this market but a few smaller companies burst onto the scene in recent years with innovative workout shirt tech. Be it a unique manufacturing process that makes use of real gold particles or a revolutionary fabric designed to not just wick moisture but to actively cool a wearer’s body temperature, today’s workout shirts are full of inventive and practical variety.

But like so many others, I’ve transitioned to fully working out at home. However, I still feel as though there’s plenty of room in my wardrobe for an array of reliable workout shirts. Not only does variety help reduce how often I have to do laundry but different shirts work better for different workouts.

For example, I prefer a shirt with some sort of stretch design or increased range of motion when lifting weights but grab for a tee that does well to wick moisture before I hop on my bike or go for a run. Though those differences in features may seem small, they have a major impact both on my performance and comfort – and they’re incredibly important considerations when shopping for a workout shirt.

To help find the best currently available, I tested (and continue to test) an array of the latest releases to find those that excel at not just being comfortable, functional, and high quality, but are ultimately worth investing in, too. Though this guide gets updated often, the shirts featured are an accurate snapshot of exactly what I wear when working out each week.

A note on fit

Though the workout shirts featured in this guide have the name “men’s” in them, they’re not strictly for cisgender men. The cut and design of the shirts may differ from similar clothing intended for women but anyone is able to wear whatever shirt they feel comfortable in.

This is especially true in the world of workout apparel where comfort and performance are far higher priorities than what specific gender they’re intended for – and each of the shirts featured below was tested with those features in mind. If you’re looking for workout clothing that more closely identifies with the fit and design of women’s apparel, check out our guide to our favorite women’s workout clothing brands.

Here are the best men’s workout shirts:

The best overall

TTVersatile

Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt lives up to its name by being one of our favorite multi-purpose workout shirts — it’s great for anything active, be it cardio, strength training, HIIT exercises, or cycling.

Pros: Comfortable workout shirt that’s good for almost any workout or activity, flatlock seams prevent chafing, doesn’t hold onto odors, sweat-wicking and quick-dry fabric work well

Cons: Fit can differ from what you’re used to but double-check using the brand’s interactive fit guide before buying

Ten Thousand’s workout gear is a staff favorite, and when it comes to workout shirts designed to perform over a variety of exercises, it’s the brand’s Versatile Shirt I grab over and over again. Not only does it fit comfortably but it pulls off being both minimalist and functional, making it great for weight training, running, cycling, and even yoga — there’s a reason it has the word “versatile” in its name.

Made of 84% polyester and 16% spandex, the shirt features a breathable design that, along with its sweat-wicking and quick-drying tech, allows it to remain comfortable no matter how warm or sweaty I’d get. Even when temperatures cooled off, this shirt still performed well, and I especially appreciate its flatlock seams which avoid chafing of any kind (which is a must on my longer runs). 

Similar to how Rhone uses gold particles in its fabric, Ten Thousand infused its Versatile shirt with a silver ion anti-odor treatment. After intentionally wearing it for a 15-mile bike ride followed by an hour resistance band workout, the shirt did well to avoid hanging onto any odors, even if my own self was ready for a full-on shower. 

I do recommend reviewing Ten Thousand’s fit metrics as the medium shirt I tested was just slightly on the shorter side (and I’m roughly 5’8″). The chest, shoulders, and arms all fit properly but I would’ve liked just a bit more length (and may try the Large next time). The site does have a highly useful interactive fit chart that showcases different model body types across each size to give you a good sense of how it’ll fit once you try it on. 

The best for runners

Nike Dri Fit shirt

Yes, it wicks moisture and sports the Nike logo but the Nike Dri-Fit Miler helps runners go the distance, thanks to flat seams to avoid chafing and reflective details to increase visibility.

Pros: Reflective details offer increased visibility, flat seams reduce chafing and feel comfortable on the skin, and the Dri-FIT tech actively wicks moisture

Cons: Despite a reflective pattern, dark colors not recommended for runners who run at night

Based entirely on the amount of constant rubbing and chafing a runner experiences on even short jaunts, the type of athletic apparel they choose needs to satisfy a particularly high standard. Nike, a brand that needs no introduction, knows a thing or two about workout gear and has excelled for decades at manufacturing some of the industry’s best, and most innovative, active clothing.

The story remains the same with its Dri-Fit Miler, an athletic shirt designed specifically for runners.

Led by its patented Dri-Fit technology, the Miler excels at wicking moisture but also proves capable of staying dry no matter the mileage — a feature that dramatically impacts both comfort and performance. With a dropped hem in the back of the shirt, it offers more coverage than most other running shirts and its flat seams help avoid excess chafing while feeling soft on a wearer’s skin.

Perhaps its best and most important feature is the reflective pattern Nike used to keep runners visible throughout their run. Be it morning, afternoon, or dusk, the reflective details shine brightly when hit with headlights or a flashlight, helping alert those passing by to the runner’s position. Though running at night requires an entirely different approach, the shirt still reflects in the dark. However, the dark colors aren’t recommended for those who prefer running when the sun’s gone down.

The best for odor control

Rhone Reign shirt

Rhone’s Reign sets itself apart with GoldFusion technology that wicks moisture, controls odors, and decreases drying time.

Pros: GoldFusion technology is as innovative as anything on the market, odor control that actually works, fast drying time, and a comfortable, stylish fit

Cons: Premium price tag

There are innovative workout shirts and then there’s the Rhone Reign, a shirt that features actual flakes of real gold and uses the company’s GoldFusion technology. Hardly a gimmick, GoldFusion has a three-pronged impact in that it actively wicks away moisture, combats odor, and dramatically decreases drying time.

So, not only does the technology keep you dry and comfortable but it keeps even the worst gym smells at bay — a feature the rest of the people at the gym would surely love, as well.

Though GoldFusion is its rightful claim to fame, the Reign shirt still scores highly in other areas like fit and comfort. Essentially a performance synthetic tee, it’s capable of holding up to almost any workout, activity, or sport and remains comfortable throughout. With raglan sleeves and flatlock stitching, it achieves a better fit throughout without chafing or irritating your skin.

Rhone may have only just come onto the athletic apparel scene in recent years but armed with its GoldFusion technology and a casual, modern fit, the Reign lives up to its name.

The best for hot weather

arctic cool shirt

Powered by HydroFreeze X technology, Arctic Cool’s Crew Neck shirt utilizes an innovative fabric that works to lower your body temperature while also wicking sweat. 

Pros: Innovative HydroFeeze X cools body temperature and actually works, UPF 50+ rating blocks 98% of harmful UV rays, antimicrobial cooling tech is machine-washable and never fades, and it spreads moisture across the shirt as it wicks to improve dry time

Cons: Plain style and color choices

Rhone’s Reign may have gold flakes in its fabric but Arctic Cool’s plainly-named Crew Neck shirt has its own ace up its sleeve: HydroFreeze X technology. Flashy name aside, HyrdoFreeze X is more than just marketing-speak. It’s a type of fabric that, while wicking moisture, dramatically lowers your body temperature.

As you sweat, the fabric absorbs that moisture and disperses it across the material. As air moves over the surface of the shirt, it creates a cooling effect that can make you feel up to 30 degrees cooler. Once it moves through the shirt and cools down, any excess moisture is then wicked completely from the garment. Better yet, the tech is antimicrobial, meaning it’s able to sustain a lifetime of washes and still perform.

Though the shirt itself is a bit plain, the HydroFreeze X fabric offers a premium fit that’s capable of supporting a variety of exercises and activities. Additionally, each shirt is rated at UPF 50+, so it offers a high level of sun protection, blocking up to 98% of harmful UV rays.

The best for cold weather

under armour shirt

Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt makes frigid winter runs a bit more manageable. 

Pros: Second-skin fit allows for layering without sacrificing performance, soft and lightweight, HeatGear fabric stays warm in the coldest temperatures, four-way stretch offers wide range of movement, and Under Armour compression helps improve performance

Cons: Limited to wearing in cold to moderate weather

Under Armour made its name designing and manufacturing some of the best compression athletic gear on the market and its HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt is the perfect example of the brand’s innovations. Featuring a second skin, compression-style fit and lightweight construction, the HeatGear Armour is a form-fitting shirt that offers comfortable support.

With a four-way stretch design, it not only avoids hindering your performance but also accentuates it by allowing for movement in any direction. The shirt lives up to its HeatGear name by truly shining when temperatures drop as the fabric was built for keeping you warm in frigid weather. It even boasts a UPF 30+ rating, which helps protect against harmful UV rays — something anyone’s capable of being exposed to year-round.   

The long sleeve tee also wicks moisture and dries quickly which is an incredibly welcome feature for those who like to run outside and break a sweat. No more plodding away on an indoor treadmill, Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour allows anyone to enjoy a training session outside of the gym, even in the dead of winter.

The best for casual wear

reebok shirt

With a stylish cut and quick-dry fabric, Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 fits in at the gym, at home, or the bar after a workout.

Pros: Stylish cut, effective moisture-wicking technology, quick-dry fabric that performs in any environment, and its loose-fitting torso allows for a greater range of motion

Cons: Fitted design may not be suitable for all body types

A company mostly synonymous with sneakers, Reebok’s athletic apparel is just as impressive as its shoes. With the Supersonic 2.0, the Adidas subsidiary takes a stab at offering performance fabric designed to wick sweat, dry quickly, and look good in the process. With an athletic cut and stylish design, not only does this shirt deliver on performance but it’s also capable of being worn all day, every day if you so please. 

Made of 95% polyester and 5% spandex, the Supersonic 2.0 is lightweight and highly breathable and is as capable of wicking away moisture as it is helping avoid excessive sweat spots. That means you can wear it to the gym and, even after an intense workout, still wear it while meeting up with friends or heading back to work.

Featuring a fitted cut to hug a wearer’s upper torso, the bottom flows freely allowing for a wide range of movement. No matter if it’s an afternoon of basketball, an hour of lifting weights, or simply going for a run, the fit stays true throughout and performance is never limited. Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 is about as functional and versatile of an everyday shirt as it gets. We do recommend washing it regularly, though.

What else I’m testing

The market for workout shirts is broad, which makes it seem like there’s an endless amount of options to choose from. What this also means is that there’s no shortage of workout shirts showing up on my doorstep for testing. While the above shirts are tried, tested, and approved, the following shirts are currently being reviewed to see if they have what it takes to make it into the spotlight. 

Here are the workout shirts I’m currently testing: 

Saxx Aerator: Though Saxx is known mainly for its inventive line of, shall I say, supportive underwear, the brand also makes a selection of workout apparel. One such shirt (which is also available in a long-sleeved version) is called the Aerator, and after wearing it through a few workouts, I’m already a huge fan. It fits extremely well, stays comfortable throughout a variety of workouts, and doesn’t just come in a basic assortment of colors.

Hylete Calavera Tri-Blend Crew: One of my favorite parts of Hylete’s Calavera is that it looks like a normal tri-blend shirt I’d throw on with a pair of jeans yet it performs just as well as some of the workout shirts featured in the main guide. I was originally skeptical that it’d just feel like wearing a cotton shirt (and come with all the same drawbacks) but I was quickly convinced otherwise after wearing it through a particularly sweaty home boxing session. Hylete offers a wide variety of similar shirts, too, each with fun graphics and colorways. 

Janji Runterra TeeThe Insider Reviews team has written at length and often about the quality of Janji’s workout apparel, and it remains one of our favorite brands to wear when breaking a sweat. One of its shirts I’ve been wearing recently is the Runterra Tee, a technical cotton blend shirt that’s highly comfortable, blocks odor, and that uses volcanic ash to thermoregulate the body. That’s a mouthful to just simply say this shirt is an active person’s dream. I wear it often for just about any activity and never feel I’ve made a bad choice.

Tracksmith Harrier TeeTracksmith’s Harrier quickly became one of my go-to running shirts after wearing it just once while on a run. Featuring a classic design, the shirt wicks moisture, dries quickly, and blocks odors, which is essentially everything a quality running shirt should offer — and it does it all thanks to a Merino wool blend. 

Workout shirt glossary

Just as there’s variety in the available options, there’s also variety in a wearer’s desired application or workout style. Perhaps a runner wants a more lightweight option or a fitness buff desires something that looks good every day, no matter the activity.

Regardless of intent, there’s a suitable workout shirt designed specifically for everyone. A great workout shirt doesn’t just get the job done but does so without sacrificing performance, comfort, or style. 

Here are some of the most popular styles and features of men’s workout shirts:

Sweat-wicking: Sweat-wicking shirts work to remove moisture from your skin. They also don’t soak up any of that moisture (like a cotton tee might), allowing them to avoid feeling overly heavy as you work out. 

Odor control: Fabrics with odor-control technology help minimize lingering odors. There are several ways manufacturers are able to do this, either constructing the shirt of merino wool, having it feature a highly-breathable design, or, in the case of Rhone, use gold particles infused into the fabric. 

Quick-dry fabric: Workout shirts with quick-dry fabrics are often made from merino wool, polyester, or nylon (or a blend) and are designed to be highly breathable. 

Four-way stretch: This type of fabric allows for greater freedom of motion, helping the wearer feel less hindered while running, lifting weights, or doing moves like lunges or burpees. 

How we test workout shirts

Each shirt featured in this buying guide went through several rounds of testing across a variety of workouts and activities. These workouts include weight training sessions with resistance bands, medicine balls, and dumbbells, 30-minute cardio sessions of either an outdoor run, outdoor bike ride, or an indoor stationary bike ride, and indoor interval training routines. 

No workout shirt is the perfect, one-style-fits-all, so each selection also lists a few drawbacks to consider, be it sizing and fit issues, an expensive price tag, or lack of color choice. New product styles and releases are always being considered for future updates, as well. 

Here are the four categories we judged each shirt on during testing:

Fit: An ill-fitting workout shirt won’t exactly motivate you or push you through to the end of your workout, no matter if you’re out for a run or using resistance bands at home. When testing, we looked at everything from how stretchy it was and how well it moved along with us, if the armholes allowed for proper range of motion, and if there was enough coverage through the bottom. 

Performance: Performance is essentially the execution of a workout shirt’s fabric tech, especially today. How well does it wick sweat or control odor? Is it breathable and does it avoid chafing? A workout shirt’s performance is one of the most important factors we considered because the last thing you want to be thinking about while working out is why your shirt feels like a hundred pounds drenched in sweat or what the foul smell might be. 

Fabric tech: Innovative fabric tech is now the norm in every manner of workout gear as brands have adopted everything from gold-infused materials and multi-stretch fabric to active cooling and UPF protection. Since these are now standard practice, it raises the bar in terms of judging how well a workout shirt applies the tech. 

Value: The value of a quality workout shirt is less about how much it costs and more about the combination of the three categories before it, as well as what its final price is. We often say it’s better to spend more on a premium product than to spend less, more often on something that’s shoddily designed and won’t last. 

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The best pull-up bars

  • A proper at-home pull-up bar should be easy to install and able to support your weight without wobbling or bowing – and is a great addition to anyone’s home gym setup
  • Adding a pull-up routine to your weekly workouts helps strengthen your upper body, builds muscle, and improves your grip strength – so long as you’re using the right bar. 
  • We spoke to New York City-based personal trainer, Brad Baldwin, about how to pick out the right pull-up bar, the benefits of doing the workout, and how adding it to your fitness routine can have a major impact. 
  • Our top pick, the Garren Fitness Maximiza pull-up Bar, features comfortable foam grips and unobtrusively fits in any standard doorframe. 

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Pull-ups aren’t for the faint of heart. I remember the days of easily cranking out a dozen or so pull-ups while hardly breaking a sweat. But after years of cheeseburgers and sitting at a computer, easy pull-ups are harder to come by. Fortunately, there are a number of pull-up bars on the market that fit the needs of anyone looking for a new addition to their home gym.

But first, I highly recommend first consulting with a physician before starting any exercise program. I learned this the hard way when I tried to rattle off some pull-ups after years of sedentary living, and quickly tore a muscle in my shoulder. Don’t be like me. 

Why you should start doing pull-ups 

The benefits of incorporating pull-ups into your weekly routine are many. From improving upper body strength to building muscle, pull-ups can have a significant impact on your fitness goals. According to the New York City-based personal trainer, Brad Baldwin, pull-ups are “the king of back exercises.”

“[Pull-ups] force you to work at a higher intensity,” Baldwin told Insider. “They’re great for creating that coveted V-shaped torso and for getting stronger.” 

For anyone looking to begin strength training, it’s smart to start with dips and push-ups on your way to performing a pull-up. You might also try mounting your pull-up bar lower or standing on a box. Pull yourself up to the bar with your feet on the ground at an increasingly difficult angle. Thankfully, the bars I included in this guide are versatile enough to help you work up to your goals. 

At the bottom of this guide, I’ve included some helpful tips on how to shop for an at-home pull-up bar and what to consider, as well as some insight into the testing methodology.

Here are the best pull-up bars:

Updated on 12/15/2020 by Rick Stella: Updated the section on why you should start doing pull-ups, added more to our testing methodology and how to shop for a pull-up bar, checked the availability of all recommended picks, and updated the prices where necessary. 

Best pull-up bar overall

pull up bar 1

The Garren Fitness Maximiza Pull Up Bar is easy on your hands, installs effortlessly, and is made of long-lasting chrome steel.

The Garren Fitness Maximiza Pull Up Bar is made of chrome steel and comes with three sets of mounting hardware, two of which support up to 300 pounds of weight. The medium-duty door mount supports 150 pounds and isn’t recommended for use above waist height.

You can also use the bar without door mounts for sit-up foot support and other light exercises. The bar is adjustable and fits doorways between 26 and 36 inches wide, and can be installed so that a door is still able to close. 

The bar features non-slip, extra-long foam grips. Garren Fitness cautions against using the Maximiza for gymnastics, and they suggest applying your weight cautiously during the first few exercises to ensure the bar is safely installed (a smart practice with any pull up bar.) Garren Fitness provides a full satisfaction guarantee, so you can get a no-questions-asked full refund if you’re not satisfied for any reason.

Pros: Comfortable foam grips, unobtrusive, solidly built

Cons: Installation requires drilling into door jamb, foam grips may wear from heavy-duty use

Best ceiling-mounted pull-up bar

pull up bar 2

If you are interested in doing a variety of pull-ups and you don’t want to use your door frame, the Ultimate Body Press Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar is your best bet.

Pros: Three padded gripping positions, easy installation, sturdy construction

Cons: Some complaints of manufacturer defects

The Ceiling Mounted Pull Up Bar from Ultimate Body Press has three high-density foam grip positions for standard, wide-grip, and 20-inch parallel-grip pull-ups or chin-ups. This model has a powder-coat finish for added durability. The 14-inch reversible risers are designed to fit either 16- or 24-inch joists.

The mounting kit comes with instructions, a template, and mounting hardware. You will need a drill, tape or pencil, and a step ladder. Ultimate Body Press offers a fairly nebulous 100% satisfaction guarantee with this product. The fact the bars aren’t welded to the mounting brackets could affect long-term durability (though perhaps the satisfaction guarantee would cover it). 

Best pull-up bar for beginners

pull up bar

If you are interested in doing pull-ups but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Iron Gym Pull Up Bar is an excellent solution for beginners.

Pros: Inexpensive, versatile, easy to mount and remove, 300-pound capacity

Cons: Contains plastic parts

The Iron Gym Pull Up Bar works much like the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym. It hangs on a doorframe and stays in place through leverage. You can also remove the pull-up bar to perform sit-ups, push-ups, and dips.

The bar is made of a combination of plastic and steel, and it comes with everything you need to assemble the unit, including a hex open wrench. There are foam grips for standard and wide pull-ups. However, the parallel grip handles are fairly small and awkwardly positioned. Lastly, this model comes with a comprehensive workout and nutrition guide.

Best doorframe pull-up bar

pullup bar 4

If you are looking for a pull-up bar that you can effortlessly attach to your doorframe and take down when you’re done, the Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar will serve you well.

Pros: Three grip locations, 300-pound capacity, unlikely to damage your doorframe

Cons: Wide grip may be too wide for some, recent quality concerns, doesn’t fit all doorframes

The Perfect Fitness Multi-Gym Doorway Pull Up Bar has three padded grip positions for hammer grip, close grip, and normal grip pull-ups. The 300-pound weight capacity makes it so you can use this model with a weight vest. There is some assembly required, and all of the tools needed are included with the bar.

The Multi-Gym Pro adjusts for height and works with doorframes that are up to 6 inches deep and 33 inches wide. The bar can be placed on the floor to assist with push-ups and sit-ups. And, Perfect Fitness stands behind the quality of this model with a one-year warranty.

Best budget pull-up bar

SunnyHealthBar

At under $30, the Sunny Health & Fitness Doorway Pull-Up Bar is not only a bargain but a quality pull-up bar that’s easy to install and won’t hinder being able to open or close your door. 

Pros: Securely installs into a doorframe and allows the door to still shut completely, costs less than $30, features padded grips

Cons: Only supports weight up to 220 pounds

The Sunny Health & Fitness Doorway Pull-Up Bar may not have many bells and whistles, but it’s basic nature (and wallet-friendly price tag) is what makes this product so attractive. Installing the bar requires drilling a couple of brackets into either side of the doorframe you wish to use it on, then the bar’s telescoping arm extends to fit snugly into place.

Brackets may seem like overkill but they work wonders in making sure you don’t end up slamming into the ground should the bar come loose. Even with the brackets and bar installed, any door is still able to fully shut without being interfered with — which adds even more to this bar’s ease of use. 

It’s worth pointing out that the bar only supports weight up to 220 pounds, and its position on the door could create a situation where hit the top of your head on the doorframe if you’re not careful. With a price tag south of $30, however, these are minor drawbacks to an otherwise impressive budget pull-up bar.

Best freestanding pull-up bar

stamina pull up bar

The Stamina 1690 Power Tower allows you to perform platform push-ups, sit-ups, knee and leg raises, dips, pull-ups, and more.

Pros: Wide range of exercises, easy to assemble — no drilling or door frame needed

Cons: Issues with wobbling, expensive compared to traditional bars, takes up a lot of space

The Stamina 1690 Power Tower is a free-standing full-body workout unit made of durable steel and fitted with padded foam in five sets of grip locations. The overall size of the assembled tower is 49 inches long by 42.5 inches wide by 81 inches high. The base of the tower features no-slip endcaps.

Stamina states that the capacity is 250 pounds, but as noted below, it’s closer to 200 pounds in practice. In addition to pull-ups and chin-ups, this model is designed for tricep dips, sit-ups, push-ups, and leg raises, though there is no backrest to assist with the leg raises.

How to shop for an at-home pull-up bar

At-home pull-up bars aren’t a one-design-fits-all market, as there are several different styles to choose from, each with its own advantages. Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common at-home pull-up bar type:

  • Cantilever: One of the most popular pull-up bar variations is the cantilever-style, molding-mounted bars. They don’t require permanent alteration to your home and are easy to install and remove. They feature several grip options, too. However, when shopping for these doorframe pull-up bars, pay attention to the dimensions of the bar and what size frames they work on to ensure you get the proper fit.
  • Mounted: Then there’s a class of pull-up bar that requires drilling and mounting of the unit. We included ceiling-mounted and door-mounted options in our guide. They tend to be rated for heavier weights but are less portable. Wall-mounted bars are also available but we didn’t find any models worth recommending.
  • Power towers: The final group of pull-bars is called power towers. These are freestanding units that do not require drilling and are often compatible with a wide array of exercises. However, power towers typically cost more, have a large footprint, and many models have problems with wobbling when heavier individuals are performing intense workouts.

How we test pull-up bars

Each pull-up bar featured in this guide went through an array of tests to see how well it compared across these four categories: Ease of installation, build quality, versatility, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which pull-up bars made this guide:

Ease of installation: How easy an at-home pull-up bar is to install is a vital feature as you not only want to avoid fumbling with a confusing setup, but you also want to be confident that once it’s installed (and installed correctly) that it’ll keep in place. It’s reasonable to doubt the reliability of a pull-up bar that sits precariously in your doorway, so this was one of the first things we assessed when testing. 

Build quality: Relying on a pull-up bar to hold your weight comes down not just to the above category but to its build quality, as well. If it’s susceptible to being easily bent or its components are shoddily built-on and likely to fall off, the pull-up bar will be far less comfortable, and safe, to use.

Versatility: A pull-up bar’s versatility is sort of an extension of its ease of installation as most will require you to take them off if you intend to shut the door whose door frame it resides in. There are some, however, (like our top pick) that allow you to still close the door even after they’re installed. This category also refers to the actual build design and if it allows for multiple grip positions or not.

Value: A pull-up bar’s value comes down to a combination of the three categories above, as well as how much it actually costs. It’s not always about spending the most money to get the best pull-up bar, though it is better to shop for a premium, well-built product. While it may be expensive at first, it does save you the hassle of having to buy several, cheaper options more often. 

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