July 20, 2024

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The 2023 Men’s Health Fitness Awards

The 2023 Men’s Health Fitness Awards
mh fitness awards

Matt Ryan

Harder, better, faster, stronger. Whether you’re into at-home elliptical training, trail running, powerlifting, or CrossFit, you want gear to help you work out safely, comfortably, and more effectively. But in 2023, it’s not just about the gear you use to actually train. It’s also about how you recover from that training, how you track that training, and what you wear when you’re training (and, sometimes, when you’re done training, too).

That means taking stock of your workout routine to figure out what gear will help you achieve your fitness goals. Are you a newbie runner looking to improve your personal-best 5K time? Or a competitive lifter who’s looking for the safest weight setup to take your lifts to the next level? Or a fitness-stats geek who looks forward to tracking your every health metric with the latest smartwatch? Whatever your personal fitness obsession, our expert trainers and professional coaches know what you need to level up your game.

That’s why we’re back with this year’s roundup of our top fitness-gear picks. New year, new gear. From the best adjustable dumbbells and Nordic curl stations to next-gen outdoor smartwatches and workout hoodies, we sweat-tested it all so you don’t have to. This is the 2023 Men’s Health Fitness Awards.

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Best Adjustable Dumbbell

Nuobell

Dumbbells don’t have to be. SMRTFT’s Nuobell easily adjusts from five to 80 pounds, is ultra-durable, and, most importantly, feels like a classic dumbbell for most exercises.

Best Indoor Dumbbell

Softbell Soft Adjustable Dumbbell

Hyperwear Softbell Soft Adjustable Dumbbell

Now 10% Off

Softer, better, faster, stronger… Hyperwear’s Softbell dumbbells are easy to grip and prevent damage to you and your floors, thanks to buttery-soft neoprene construction.

Best Dumbbell Accessory

1.25-pound Dumbbell Attachment

Micro Gainz 1.25-pound Dumbbell Attachment

Want to progress your lifts but can’t always make five-pound jumps? These clip-on dumbbell attachments are the perfect fix (and travel well, too).

Best Barbell Accessory

Split Squat Pad

Doing split squats on a traditional bench sucks. Turn your own squat rack into a better, commercial-grade Bulgarian split-squat setup with the Split Squat Pad.

Best Barbell Innovation

Kadillac Bar

Kabuki Strength Kadillac Bar

A one-of-a-kind barbell that makes almost every pressing exercise (from benching to shoulder pressing) just a little easier on your shoulders.

Best Weight Plate Innovation

Weight Plates

Weight-It-Out Weight Plates

Ditch the needlessly thick, bulky weight plates for these sexy, razor-thin alternatives, which are perfect for ultraheavy trap bar deadlifts.

Best Rucking Pack

Rucker 4.0, 25L

No frills, no BS with this pure, overbuilt ruck-ready sack. It’s ridiculously comfy whether you train on sand, gravel, grass, or concrete.

Best Suspension Trainer

Pro4 System

TRX Pro4 System

Now 20% Off

Bodyweight resistance isn’t futile. Build strength and mobility (and blast your abs, too!) with this all-in-one trainer that fits in a backpack.

Best Budget Sandbag

Simple Training Sandbag

GoRuck Simple Training Sandbag

That military-grade rucksack demands serious weight. GoRuck’s training sandbags are built tough with double-pass stitching and a triple-lock Velcro closure, so you couldn’t bust ’em if you tried.

Best Pulling Accessory

Grips

The subtle contour of these grip pulls lets you personalize any pulling exercise, from pullups and chinups at home to machine and barbell rows in the gym.

Best Weight Vest

XD Kevlar Weighted Vest

TRX XD Kevlar Weighted Vest

Fuel your weighted workouts with this beefy Kevlar vest. Because nothing ups the burn like adding another 10, 20, or even 40 pounds to the mix.

Best Nordic Curl Station

Nordic Mini

FreakAthlete Nordic Mini

Now 17% Off

Master the trendiest hamstring exercise out there with this Nordic station that’s compact and portable enough to fit in just about any room of your house.

Best Slant Board

Economy Adjustable Slantboard

Perform Better Economy Adjustable Slantboard

Build your quads or stretch your calves easily with this dead-simple slant board. Bonus: It folds flat for easy storage.

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Best Travel Arm Compression

RecoveryPulse Arm Sleeve

Therabody RecoveryPulse Arm Sleeve

This Terminator-worthy therapy tool not only looks cool but delivers targeted vibration and compression therapy in a package that can fit in any carry-on.

Best Localized Heat Therapy

Venom Go

“The Venom Go’s portability makes it my go-to for recovery on the road. It applies to basically any muscle group.” —Cory Ritchey, associate editor

Best Slip-On Recovery Shoe

OOmg Sport Low Shoe

OOFOS OOmg Sport Low Shoe

When low-key, street-friendly style meets top-level recovery, the OOmg becomes one sport recovery shoe to rule them all.

Best Everyday Minimalist Shoe

Ursus Low-Top

Strengthen your feet by wearing this über-minimalist shoe every day. It’s the next best thing to wearing nothing at all. Rawr.

Best Foam Roller

R4 Body Roller

Roll Recovery R4 Body Roller

Ditch your $10 bargain-basement foam roller for a uniquely textured roller that works especially well around your back, IT bands, and calves.

Most Portable Massage Gun

Theragun Mini, 2nd Generation

Therabody Theragun Mini, 2nd Generation

Ounce for ounce, this pocket rocket (no, not that kind) is the most compact, powerful, and portable mini massage gun there is.

Best Compression Boots

Normatec 3 Legs

Treat your gams to this next-gen compression tool to recover from tough leg workouts and long runs. Plus, it just feels so, so damn good.

Best Cold Therapy

Hot & Cold Plunge

Elevate your at-home cold-therapy regimen with Plunge’s purpose-built plunge tub, which delivers clean, filtered water chilled to as low as 39°F.

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Best All-Around Workout Watch

Watch Ultra

The gold standard for fitness-centric smartwatches, Apple’s latest Watch Ultra blends rugged good looks, a bulletproof design, and a boatload of bleeding-edge tech.

Best Battery Life

Instinct 2X Solar

Smartwatches rock; their battery life doesn’t. Garmin solves the problem with the Instinct 2x Solar’s unlimited battery life (yes, really).

Best Outdoor Smartwatch

Apex 2 Pro

Never lose your way with the Apex 2 Pro’s global offline maps and dual-frequency GNSS support—perfect for athletes who love the great outdoors (and not getting lost).

Best Android Workout Watch

Pixel Watch

The latest Pixel Watch looks great, tracks every health and fitness metric that matters, and plays nice with almost everything in Google’s rich ecosystem.

Most Accurate Smartwatch

W1

Masimo’s W1 is sleek, easy to use, and deadly accurate with your most critical health metrics, from heart and respiration rates to pulse oximetry and perfusion index.

Best On-The-Wrist Body Comp Tracker

Galaxy Watch5

With a three-in-one bioactive sensor, round-the-clock health monitoring, and advanced sleep programming, this flagship watch is like having a wellness coach on your wrist.

Best Workout Earbuds

Editor’s Choice

Fit Pro

“The most reliable fitness buds ever stay in my ears whether I’m doing handstands or kettlebell swings.” —Ebenezer Samuel, fitness director

Best Earbuds for Long Runs

FWD-02 Sport

With a sleek, sweatproof design and a nearly invisible fit, these next-gen Adidas buds seriously elevate your outdoor training game.

Best Weight-Training Sound Quality

Pi7 S2

Most sport-minded earbuds sound pretty meh. Not so for these premium buds, which boast high-res audio and perfect call clarity no matter your workout regimen.

Most Unique

OpenRun Pro Mini

These next-gen headphones ditch traditional circuitry for bone-conduction technology, producing better, clearer, and richer sound. Plus, we love the secure, comfortable fit, even during our toughest workouts.

Best Workout PDF Reader

Galaxy Z Fold4

Leave the bulky iPad on the nightstand. The Galaxy Z Fold4 packs smartphone, tablet, and e-reader tech into one streamlined, pocketable device.

Best Follow-Along Workout App

App

Even the most driven among us can use a little extra inspo. Get yours with access to thousands of follow-along workouts from professional, certified trainers from around the world.

Best Overall Workout App

App

When you need personalized, one-on-one fitness training, the Future app delivers it in the palm of your hand.

Best Swim Fins

Powerfin Pro 2

“These fins have been tops for their benefits to all phases of the kick—up and down. Now a new kind of silicone makes them more comfortable in the footbed and instep without sacrificing performance.” —Marty Munson, health director

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Best CrossFit Shoe

Nano X3 Training Shoes

Reebok Nano X3 Training Shoes

Reebok’s latest functional-training workhorse has rock-solid support for lifting and a soft, well-cushioned design for jumping and running.

Best Weightlifting Shoe

Legacy Lifter III

Reebok Legacy Lifter III

Now 23% Off

Whether you’re squatting or doing cleans, stay locked in using the classic Reebok Pump system to customize your fit.

Most Versatile Cross-Trainer

Metcon Free 5

These versatile trainers are sturdy enough that you can deadlift and squat in them, but flexible enough to support running and jumping, too.

Most Comfortable Cross-Trainer

Project Rock 5 Training Shoe

Under Armour Project Rock 5 Training Shoe

We love the über-comfy fit of these do-it-all trainers, especially with the breezy mesh upper, which keeps your feet cool no matter how hard you train.

Best Minimalist Trainer

Primus Lite Knit

Vivobarefoot Primus Lite Knit

Ready to go all in on barefoot-style shoes? Vivobarefoot’s Primus Lite Knit is extra thin, flexible, and featherweight—bringing your workouts as close to the ground as you can get with anything on your feet.

Best Training Shoe Innovation

SlipSpeed

Cool, cushioned, and creative, these one-of-a-kind kicks from Under Armour reinvent the wheel heel with a design that converts seamlessly from training mode to casual mode and back again.

Most Eye-Catching Trainers

Superblossom Trainer+

NoBull Superblossom Trainer+

If you’re tired of look-alike trainers, NoBull ups the ante with its eye-popping, floral-drenched Superblossom Trainer+.

Best All-Around Running Shoe

Invincible 3

“The real MVP of this sleek, streamlined shoe is the high stack of ZoomX foam, which makes it feel like I’m bouncing from cloud to cloud with each stride” —Brett Williams, senior fitness editor

Best Sleeveless Training Tee

Project Rock BSR Sleeveless Hoodie

Under Armour Project Rock BSR Sleeveless Hoodie

This Dwayne Johnson–approved training hoodie is light on sleeves and heavy on style and comfort, with generously dropped armholes for a full range of motion.

Best Short-Sleeved Training Tee

Metal Vent Tech Tee

Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Tee

Lululemon reinvents the lowly tech tee with a design that glides easy, won’t cling, and stretches exactly where we need it to. Plus: no stink.

Best Long-Sleeved Training Shirt

Vapor Training Long Sleeve

Rhone Vapor Training Long Sleeve

True to its name, the Vapor features a lightweight, seamless design that feels breezy in even the hottest workouts.

Best Running Shirt

Ultra-T

High performance, low weight. ON’s dead-simple, ultra-comfortable Ultra-T is one running shirt to rule them all.

Best Running Hoodie

Indie Hoodie

The all-new Indie Hoodie takes everything we love about merino wool—odor resistance, anti-itch, thermoregulation, and a soft feel—and packs it all into this year’s best running hoodie.

Best Warmup Sweatshirt

Lifestyle Collection Hoodie

Omorpho Lifestyle Collection Hoodie

Soft enough for the couch, technical enough for the gym. We love everything about this comfy, street-ready hoodie.

Best Training Shorts

Strength 3.0 Shorts

Reebok Strength 3.0 Shorts

The best training shorts should be invisible—er, should feel invisible. Reebok’s high-performance Strength 3.0 shorts are the next best thing.

Most Versatile Shorts

Run Cannonball Run Shorts

Tracksmith Run Cannonball Run Shorts

For early-morning runs or afternoon runs to the lake, Tracksmith’s Run Cannonball Run Shorts are ready to tackle either and both with aplomb.

Best Running Shorts

SenseKnit Composite Running Short

Lululemon SenseKnit Composite Running Short

These purpose-built shorts are born to run with a clever design that blends a five-inch inseam with a 10-inch liner for maximum breathability and freedom of movement.

Best Joggers

Men’s Jogger

NoBull Men’s Jogger

Now 30% Off

With a fitted cut and a soft, stretchy feel, these camo joggers are ready for runs, workouts, and Netflix-fueled couch sessions.

Best Lifting Sweatpants

Essential Oversized Joggers

Gym Shark Essential Oversized Joggers

If you like your sweatpants with extra room, Gym Shark’s Essential Oversized Joggers combine a generous fit with an adjustable waistband and biggie-sized pockets.

Best Training Tights

Vital Drive Training Tight

Lululemon Vital Drive Training Tight

Hold fast and grip tight. These training tights are designed to support and stabilize all your lower muscle groups.

Best Budget Running Shades

Runway

Don’t overspend, and don’t overthink it. Goodr’s dirt-cheap Runway is everything you need in a good pair of running shades.

Best Sound-Equipped Shades

Sonic 1

These Tony Stark–worthy shades combine a pair of premium sunglasses with nearly invisible headphones.

Best Running Socks

Athlete Edition Run Crew Socks

Smartwool Athlete Edition Run Crew Socks

When you want one sock to rule them all, these crew socks from Smartwool are soft, supportive, and breathable for running and whatever else you’re getting into on the daily.

Best No-Show Training Socks

Aspire Zero Tab

Swiftwick Aspire Zero Tab

Now 20% Off

Thin, supportive, and breathable—the only three things you need in a good pair of no-show running socks.

Headshot of Ebenezer Samuel,  C.S.C.S.

Ebenezer Samuel, C.S.C.S., is the fitness director of Men’s Health and a certified trainer with more than 10 years of training experience. He’s logged training time with NFL athletes and track athletes and his current training regimen includes weight training, HIIT conditioning, and yoga. Before joining Men’s Health in 2017, he served as a sports columnist and tech columnist for the New York Daily News.