The best exercise mats for all workouts in 2024

We discover the exercise mats that'll make you say 'Why did I ever sweat on anything else?'

The best exercise mats stacked on a shelf

by Gemma Lavers |
Updated on

Welcome to the spongy sanctuary of fitness, where the best exercise mat is not just a ground-level necessity but a stage for yoga moves and accidental breakdance moves. Choosing the right exercise mat for your home gym is like finding a workout partner who won't judge your questionable downward dog or wobbly planks.

With the new year on the horizon, it's time to roll out the red carpet (or in this case, cushioned PVC) to find the best exercise mat that will support your lunges, squats and occasional nap (who are we to judge?)

The best exercise mats, at a glance:

• Best for budget and thickness: XN8 Padded Exercise Mat - View now on Amazon
• Best design range: Plyopic All-In-One Hot Yoga Mat - View now on Amazon
• Best for extra length: Yogi Bare PAWS XL - View now on Amazon

Like a yoga block, one of the best things about an exercise mat is that it provides a supportive surface for your workouts, safeguarding your knees, elbows and spine from the hard reality of unforgiving floors. The mat can also be used during a myriad of exercises, from yoga poses to HIIT, offering you additional grip and stability you'd struggle to get on just the floor. Plus, your exercise mat serves as a barrier between you and the gym floor, keeping germs at bay.

The best exercise mats to buy right now

Below, you'll find the best exercise mats for yoga, Pilates and your own home workouts, all made with quality in mind.

Best for budget and thickness

Thick and comfy is what you get here. This mat from Xn8 is a juicy 15mm thick to give you first-class padding during workouts. Suitable for any type of exercise that its 183cmx61cm size allows. Made from nitrile rubber foam.

Pros

  • Indoor and outdoor use
  • Nine colours available
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Anti-slip may not be as effective on some floor surfaces (e.g. tiles)
Size:L183cm, W61cm
Thickness:15mm
Colours:Various colours available, including: Turquoise, Orange, Grey, Blue
Weight:1.18kg
  • Customer review: "Absolutely brilliant XN8 mat. So much better than the thin 'designer' yoga mats costing £60+. This is perfect for yoga, workouts, weight training. Soft, comfy & thick enough to avoid knee & hip or back pain. No feeling the hard floor through this mat. I used almost daily and would buy another no problem, but this should last a long time."

Best design range

For those hunting for an exercise mat with cool patterns, look no further. Sixteen very different designs give you a wealth of stylish choices. The mat has a dotted centre-line to make exercises easier. It's cleverly made too, with a Soft Grip coating protecting an eco microsuede, which feels great to touch. Meanwhile, the natural tree rubber underneath is thermally fused to the microsuede without the use of glue.

Pros

  • Pattern choice
  • Quality of construction

Cons

  • At 3.5mm, it isn't terribly thick
Size:L180cm, W65cm
Thickness:3.5mm
Colours:Various colours/patterns available
Weight:2.4kg
  • Customer review: "I am very happy with this Plyopic mat. It is just as beautiful in real life and it works perfectly. I tried several different exercises and my hands and feet never moved or slipped. It is perfect."

Best for extra length

Some of you may wish for a larger mat. If so, here's Yogi Bare's 213x74cm extra large mat. Another great feature is the natural rubber is bacteria-resistant and can be easily cleaned with a little lemon juice in water.

Pros

  • Extra large
  • Subtle design
  • Ethical ethos

Cons

  • Only suitable for individuals of a taller height
Size:L213cm, W68cm
Thickness:4mm
Colours:Black
Weight:2.7kg
  • Customer review: "I’ve had this mat for a fair few months now and it’s just superb. It’s my first proper mat but thanks to my height I wanted some extra space. Not necessarily for the flow itself as smaller mats can help push me into correct postures but for shavasana I like to be in the mat. Normal mats are just too small for me. This isn’t. It’s durable, easy to clean and sticks very well in hot yoga too. Highly recommended for the taller yogi."

Best for dedicated workout space

Maybe you want a floor covering rather than a transportable rug. If so, this set of thirty interlocking foam mats could be for you. Each individual piece is 31x31cm, so all together you can build a 186x155cm foam pad. Monochrome colour combinations are also available.

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Configurable size
  • Multi-purpose

Cons

  • Not terribly mobile
Size:L30cm, W30cm per square
Thickness:1mm
Colours:Multicolour
Thickness:1mm
  • Customer review: "Nice and colourful would buy again."

Best exercise mat from a trusted brand

Returning to something a bit more traditional here, Reebok knows what it's doing in this department and provides a dependable exercise mat made from synthetic materials. Pores help with breathability, and the 5mm thickness makes for a comfortable workout. The included carry strap is certainly useful, too.

Pros

  • Trusted brand
  • Reasonable price

Cons

  • Design is not as colourful as others on our list
Size:L180cm, W60cm
Thickness:5mm
Colours:Black
Weight:Unknown
  • Customer review: "Lightweight Reebok yoga mat, it has holes in the mat making it breathable (and perfect for hot yoga!)"

Best for thickness variation

Maximo Yoga Mat

Rrp: $18.99

Price: $16.99

Indulge in a premium yoga experience with the Maximo Yoga Mat, a top-tier choice for both fitness enthusiasts and beginners. This high-density mat offers exceptional comfort and support, making it ideal for a variety of workouts, from yoga sessions to intense gymnastics routines. Its extra thickness provides a cushioned foundation for joints, ensuring a comfortable practice every time. The non-slip surface gives you the stability needed for challenging poses, and the moisture-resistant material makes post-workout clean-up a breeze.

Pros

  • Carrying strap included
  • Non-slip material
  • Made from durable NBR foam

Cons

  • Hand wash only
Size:L183cm, W60cm
Thickness:12mm
Colours:Black, Blue, Green, Pink, Red
Weight:Unknown
  • Customer review: "I have very bony knees and usually bending down on a thin mat is agony and have previously had to add 'cushioning'. Not so with this Maximo mat - it is great for yoga and Pilates, fully supports the body and has a strap to wrap round mat and shoulder. The product is good, the price is good, the supplier delivers on time. Highly recommended."

Best cork yoga mat

Enhanced with a natural cork topping, this high-quality yoga mat ensures the optimal grip for achieving flawless stretches. Notably, its grip improves with increased moisture and heat (making it great for hot yoga), enhancing your performance. Easy to transport, the mat is lightweight and includes a convenient strap for hassle-free carrying. Also boasting a super-grip surface and a substantial 5mm thickness, this yoga mat provides utmost comfort.

Pros

  • Easy to wipe down
  • Eco-friendly
  • Handy carry strap

Cons

  • Folding a cork mat leaves a deeper crease in the mat than a PVC one
Size:L183cm, W61cm
Thickness:5mm
Colour:Black/Cork
Weight:Unknown
  • Customer review: "No more slipping hands and feet on this mat especially when practicing downward facing dog which was sometimes a problem with my foam mat. Glad I got this. Great investment."

The best exercise mats: FAQs

What thickness exercise mat is best?

It all depends on the type of workouts you typically enjoy engaging in. For yoga and Pilates, a standard thickness is around 6mm, which is sufficient enough to provide you with a comfortable yet stable surface. If you're into more high-impact workouts, like HIIT or intense cardio, choosing a thicker mat, around 12mm, can offer better shock absorption and joint support. For those with sensitive joints, a thicker mat will be more beneficial. Ultimately, the best thickness is a balance between your specific workout needs and personal comfort preferences, ensuring a supportive foundation for a successful fitness routine.

How do I choose a good workout mat?

Like we said at the very beginning, choosing the right workout mat is crucial. There are some considerations to think about before investing in an exercise mat.

Material: Opt for a mat made from high-quality and durable materials. Common materials include PVC, rubber and cork. When looking at the material, think about the slip resistance and ease of cleaning.

Thickness: As we've just touched on, the thickness of an exercise mat determines the level of cushioning and support. So select a mat that suits the type of workout you most commonly do.

Texture: Nobody wants to be slipping during their downward dog, so select a mat with a non-slip surface. Some mats have textured surfaces for extra grip, which is great for activities that involve a lot of movement.

Size: Ensure the mat is big enough to accommodate your full range of motion. Some retailers even offer larger length mats for inclusivity. A mat shouldn't be the thing to hold you back.

Is there a difference between a yoga mat and an exercise mat?

A yoga mat is slightly different to an exercise mat as it typically has a thinner design. This is because it aims to provide a firm grip for stability during various yoga poses. Yoga has so many benefits, and it's essential to have a direct connection with the floor to promote balance and flexibility. Alternatively, an exercise mat tends to be thicker, as it prioritises cushioning and support. This is so it can be used in a variety of workouts, including HIIT and Pilates. Thus, the disparity lies in its intended use. Whether you're seeking a more grounded feel or extra padding for more diverse workouts.

Gemma Lavers is a Health & Fitness writer for What's The Best, heat and Closer. From understanding nutrition, to practicing yoga and Pilates, to delving into the psychology of motivation – she enjoys demystifying the latest fitness trends and staying on top of the dynamic health landscape. Whether that be the best gym leggings, fitness trackers or the benefits of yoga.

As a seasoned writer, she seamlessly blends her knowledge with a reliable flair, making health and fitness not just a goal but a lifestyle.

When Gemma’s not writing she can be found attending Pilates, yoga and Zumba classes. She’s also a bit of a home workout aficionado, constantly trying out new ways to keep her moving at home. Between writing, exercising and shopping, there’s nothing she loves more than hopping on a plane and exploring new cultures.

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