Best Exercise Mat
Finding the right exercise mat for your workout regime can be difficult.
While some activities like yoga have their own line of mats made for optimal performance, other activities have to rely on general use exercise mats.
Once you settle on the most important criteria though, you should be able to find an exercise mat for whatever you like to do in no time.
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Exercise Mat Picks
- Best of the Best: ProsourceFit Puzzle
- Best on a Budget: HemingWeigh Extra Thick
- Best for Yoga: Gaiam Essentials
Best Exercise Mat Reviews
ProsourceFit Puzzle (👑 Top Pick)
The best exercise mat is the ProsourceFit puzzle mat in our view.
What’s so great about this mat is the versatility. You can take the six different square tiles and link them together in the way that best suits your workout space. Say you have a large garage and you want to do some cardio workouts or practise gymnastics, all you need to do is put all six tiles together and you can practically transform it into a gymnasium. Alternatively, if you have a small space like a living room, then you can use just two or three tiles in any composition you like.
The clever jigsaw puzzle design of this floor protection mat gives way to endless workout possibilities. Whether you need a lot of space to run around, or just a small amount of room to stand on, you can create it easily. This limits the amount of money you need to spend on mats too, since you can do all kinds of workouts with a single investment in this set.
As for the design, this puzzle style floor protection mat from ProSourceFit is water-resistant for those extra sweaty sessions, and noise-reducing for more intense cardio workouts. The high density EVA foam gives you all the support you could need too.
- Floor protection mat
- Includes 6 tiles totalling 24 square feet
- Made from high-density EVA foam
HemingWeigh Extra Thick (💸 Best on a Budget)
While there are mats that are slightly cheaper than this one, you’ll struggle to find the same versatility and foam density for this budget-friendly option from HemingWeigh.
This mat is best suited for activities like yoga and pilates, but is also ideal for bodyweight exercises including squats and pushups. The best part of this mat is its extra sturdy design and long surface area. Whatever exercise you are doing, you’ll have more than enough space and support if you use this HemingWeigh mat.It’s also made from a solid foam material which prevents slipping as you move around which makes it perfect for holding long postures in yoga.
Being a very portable mat with a long shoulder strap, you can easily take your workouts with you whether it be yoga or bodyweight exercises. And since it’s so padded, you can lay it on more or less any surface without feeling discomfort in your back or knees.
- Double-sided non-slip mat
- Long surface (70 inches)
- Shoulder strap
- Made from supportive foam
Gaiam Essentials (🧘 Best for Yoga)
This mat from Gaiam is all you need for your regular yoga practice.
A well-known brand in the world of yoga gear, Gaiam has an outstanding reputation for producing some of the best yoga mats around.
What makes it such a solid choice for yoga is largely the textured grip which provides much needed traction for all kinds of yoga poses and flows. If you have a smooth mat you might find that your feet slip around a lot which is the last thing you want when you’re trying to go deeper into a stretch as it could be dangerous.
The thickness of the mat (⅖ inches) provides plenty of support and comfort whether you’re resting on your knees, hips, or back. This will come as great news if you struggle in those positions with discomfort or pain, and this extra support doesn’t come at the expense of traction.
The easy cinch strap and hook-and-loop fasteners of this yoga mat make it extremely straightforward to carry around with you. Chances are you practise yoga in a class, or outdoor location, as well as at home. With that in mind, why not invest in a mat which you’ll be able to easily pack up and pick up whenever you fancy a change of scenery?
- Made from PVC
- Includes a carrier strap
- Available in a range of colours
- Textured grip
Again proving to be the brand with the best solutions for a versatile gym mat, ProSourceFit knocked it out of the park with this convenient tri-fold mat.
Just like the tiled puzzle design mat, this tri-fold mat is very flexible in how you can use it. The three-piece design makes it incredibly easy to pack up for portability, and assemble with ease.
The primary use for this exercise mat is MMA training, gymnastics, and any exercise or discipline that requires you to lay on the floor. This could be your new stretching mat, your new core training mat, or your new gymnastics mat. Or it could be all three.
The cushioned surface makes it very comfortable to lay on, and the foam interior ensures your joints are supported at all times. The vinyl surface keeps the foam well-protected, and makes for easy cleaning when things get sweaty.
- Available in 5 colours
- Strap for carrying
- Foam interior and vinyl exterior
What To Look For When Selecting An Exercise Mat
If you’re in the market for an exercise mat, chances are it’s a purchase you only want to make once.
An exercise mat can be an incredibly useful tool for your workout regime, so it’s important to make the right decision first time.
To save you time, we’ve drawn up a list of the factors that differentiate the various exercise mats you can buy, so you can make an informed decision with minimal research necessary.
As you might imagine, one of the biggest factors you should take into account when picking out an exercise mat is the thickness.
If you want to do yoga and Pilates, you’ll prefer a thin yoga-style mat, which typically won’t exceed an inch in thickness.
Conversely, if you do intense cardio activity, weight lifting, or plyometric exercises you’ll want an exercise mat which ranges between 1-3 inches.
The reason why thickness matters is largely because of impact absorption and grip.
For yoga, where the idea is to hold poses for long periods of time, it’s important that your feet can grip the mat well. The thinner it is, the easier it is since your feet will be closer to the ground.
For many other forms of exercise this level of grip isn’t as important as the impact absorption.
Jumping up and down, doing core exercises on your back, and weightlifting all require a high level of impact absorption in an exercise mat.
The more padding and thickness there is, the more support your body will receive and the more comfortable the workout experience will be.
It goes without saying that impact absorption applies as much to weights as it does to the body, and you don’t want to drop a dumbell on a mat that’s too thin.
Just as the thickness is important, so is the suitability of the mat for the type of exercise you plan on using it for.
We’re going to take a look at some of the most popular home exercise methods, and suggest the best exercise mat for each, so you know at a glance which is best for your needs.
- Yoga. First up is the simplest answer. The best exercise mat for practising yoga is of course the yoga mat. A yoga mat will have a textured surface made for steady footing as you hold your poses, and a thin design which makes balancing easier.
- Pilates. Pilates is an activity that could be performed on either a yoga mat, or a specifically designed Pilates mat. A pilates mat is simply thicker than a yoga mat, but other than that resembles the design very closely so the two are largely interchangeable.
- Callisthenics. Callisthenics encapsulates mostly bodyweight exercises like pushups, squats, and lunges. The best type of mat for callisthenics is a general use/gym mat made from vinyl or high density EVA foam. The biggest quality to look for in this mat is moisture-wicking to avoid large puddles of sweat, but durability is also important if you workout regularly.
- Cardio. For cardio training, including everything from jumping jacks, to mountain climbers and on the spot sprints, you’ll want a mat that can reduce noise and soak up moisture. The jigsaw style floor protection mat is a great choice, especially if you plan on setting up shop in the garage.
- Weight Training. For weight training you’ll need to look at mats specially designed to withstand a lot of impact. Dropping a weight is a big deal, and you need to know the mat is capable of soaking up most of the impact. A floor protection mat is a decent option, and they can support the weight of some smaller gym machines should that be your goal. Otherwise you’re looking at a very high density foam or rubber mat which is thick enough to survive a dumbbell drop.
The material will depend on the type of exercise mat you are looking for.
Here are the most common mat types, and the materials most often associated with them:
Floor Protection Mat
While I don’t need to go into detail of the purpose of this self-explanatory mat, it’s interesting to note what the best materials are for this type of mat.
Usually quite thin in nature, this type of mat will protect your floor from the impact caused by intense workouts.
They usually come in a jigsaw puzzle style design, since you might need more or less space depending on whether you’re doing gymnastics or callisthenics.
The main material used for this type of mat is high density EVA foam. This foam is designed to absorb shock well, protect the floor, and muffle any sound you make by jumping around on it.
The standard gym or general purpose mat is perfect for use at home, since it’s light, but provides more than enough support for your back and other body parts.
You’ll find the most common materials that are used for this mat are TPE, EVA, and vinyl.
TPE (Thermoplastic Elastomer) is a solid eco-friendly choice since it is recyclable, and due to its elasticity it can be quite versatile.
EVA foam is the same material used for floor protection mats, so you can expect a mat made from this to be both resilient and shock-absorbent.
Finally vinyl covered mats are built to last, and are very easy to maintain.
A yoga mat is usually textured to support better grip with the feet, and tends to be less than an inch in thickness.
You can get yoga mats in many different materials. Among the most popular are PVC, cork, and natural rubber.
PVC, or vinyl, is very commonly used for yoga mats due to its high durability, and sticky surface which lowers the risk of slipping. It’s also an economical choice, which is great if you’re on a budget.
Cork is the natural, eco-friendly choice. Not only does it look great, but it’s sustainable, and 100% biodegradable. It’s also a popular option for hot yoga since the surface is similar to that of a surfboard.
Natural rubber is another eco-friendly option, and one which can also stand up to profuse sweating without becoming too slippery to use. As a very durable material, wear and tear shouldn’t be too much of an issue.
Not all exercise mats are made to be portable. In fact, many of them aren’t.
If you’re looking to practise yoga outdoors, you shouldn’t have much trouble finding a portable mat, since most yoga mats are designed to be rolled up and carried around.
One with a shoulder strap or hand hold is best for extra portability, and one which weighs less.
As for other exercise mats, you should think about how portable you need it to be before you invest.
If you plan on taking it to the park or to a class for example, then it should be easy to fold up like a yoga mat, and some kind of strap is always recommended.
Certain mats like floor protection mats aren’t designed to be moved around a lot, so you should have a place in mind to put them before you make the purchase.
Related: Best Travel Exercise Equipment
Frequently Asked Questions About Exercise Mats
Is there a difference between a yoga mat and an exercise mat?
In short, yes, there are actually several differences between a yoga mat and an exercise mat.
Specifically, the two types of mat while both used for physical exercise, mainly vary in terms of thickness and firmness.
The yoga mat tends to be made from thin material since this makes it a lot easier to carry to class, the park, or wherever you like to practise your yoga. It also brings the overall cost down, and makes them much easier to store away when you’re not using them.
You can get firm yoga mats which are great for supporting the knees and back too though, but you generally won’t find any that have a thickness of more than an inch.
The exercise mat on the other hand requires a thicker design, since it is often used for a variety of different exercises. Some of these exercises can be harsh on the body, so it makes sense that the mat can absorb a decent amount of impact.
Just think about doing jumping jacks or squat jumps, and it’s easy to understand why you’d want a thicker mat for your feet.
The impact absorption isn’t just for your benefit though, it can also help protect the floor beneath you. In the rare case that you drop a weight, you’re much less likely to dent the floor if you have a well-padded exercise mat. A yoga mat on the other hand wouldn’t provide as much protection in this scenario.
How thick should an exercise mat be?
An exercise mat usually sits in the range of 1-3 inches, and the thickness you go for will largely depend on what you want to use it for.
If you plan on doing a lot of plyometric exercises (jumping around), then you’ll want the impact absorption that a thicker mat offers.
The same goes for any kind of weight training, you would definitely want a thicker mat if that’s what you plan on doing.
On the other hand, if you just plan on doing light exercise or low-impact moves like pushups, then a thinner mat will be the better choice.
Is it necessary to do exercise on mat?
It isn’t absolutely essential to do exercise on a mat, but in a lot of cases it is definitely preferable.
If you have hardwood or tiled floors at home, and you want to establish a regular workout regime, then a minor investment like an exercise mat could be all you need.
The reasons why it might be a good idea to have one is largely due to injury prevention, grip, and not leaving a puddle of sweat on the living room floor.
Whatever your workout regime includes, whether it be pushups, yoga, or weight lifting, you could benefit from having an exercise mat beneath you.
Say you want to do pushups on your knees or core exercises on your bag, wouldn’t you feel a lot more comfortable doing so on a padded exercise mat than a cold, hard floor?
If you do yoga, a mat of some description is almost essential. You need it for better grip, since holding a posture while your foot slips is not only frustrating but also potentially dangerous.
Lastly the issue of sweating in your home is an uncomfortable one, since you probably don’t want to mop up after every small workout. That’s why having an exercise mat that can absorb or wick any moisture is a great way to keep things simple and the house clean.
Can you workout on a yoga mat?
You can workout on a yoga mat, depending on what type of exercise you want to do, and the intensity.
Of course you can do yoga, Pilates, ab exercises and basic cardio workouts without a problem on a yoga mat.
The problem comes when you try to do more intense workouts that require jumping, body parts making harsh contact with the ground, or weights.
If you’re serious about working out, then you’ll probably want a mat with enough support to prevent impact injuries. Even jumping jacks can hurt your feet after a while, so it’s worthwhile to invest in a mat with the right amount of support.
That’s not to say that a yoga mat won’t suffice for a lot of exercises though. Pushups, squats, and all of the basics you’ll be able to do without an issue.
Related: Best Portable Exercise Equipment
A Final Word on Exercise Mats
Picking out the right exercise mat will largely depend on what your workout regime consists of.
Make sure you find the exact level of support you need, and that should help determine whether a gym mat or yoga mat is more suited to your needs.