13 Tools for a Smarter, More Efficient Workout
New year, new workout-enhancing tech and tools. Whether you’re just locking in a new gym routine or looking to level up, these are our favorite things to make the most of it, from pre to post.
There’s your workout, and then there’s muscle care. The latter involves a couple key elements: Stay hydrated, and roll things out regularly. This water bottle, by virtue of also being a foam roller, is an ultraconvenient way to achieve both. It holds forty ounces of water, supports 350 pounds of weight, and is made of recycled stainless steel wrapped in high-density EVA foam that’s free of BPA and phthalates. And the fact that it’s uninsulated is a plus: Try filling this guy with warm water before you roll and notice how quickly sore muscles loosen up.
Think of percussion massage as a supercharged foam rolling session. The concept is the same—intentional compression and release to stimulate blood flow and achieve loose, flexible muscles and joints. The Theragun G3 makes quick work of muscle tightness and soreness with forty pounds of force at forty reps a second. It’s designed to get into all your hard-to reach spots (like where the shoulder meets the neck), is easy to use (just press the power button and float it along fleshy areas), and feels heavenly. What makes the Theragun G3 better than other massagers is that it’s designed really, really well: It’s ergonomic and balances well in your hand, and it’s built with high-quality materials, so you can continue to massage things out well into the future. Theragun also has an accompanying app, which resolves any “how do I use this” feelings and guides you through routines for warm-ups and cooldowns (as well as some deskside tech-neck relief).
CORK IN IT
We never knew how good downward dog could be until we got a cork mat. Cork is super grippy, even with the slippiest hands, and even in a heated studio. This one from 42 Birds is lightweight, smooth, and the perfect amount of cushiony, with a five-millimeter bottom layer of PVC-free rubber foam that gives it just a bit of lift. And you can feel good about this: Cork is inherently sustainable and renewable. It’s a soft layer of bark that’s harvested without causing harm to the cork tree itself, and since it’s a naturally occurring material, it’s completely biodegradable, too.
A foam roller hits your major muscles, but for the stuff that needs more-gentle adjustment, you need special equipment. This kit includes the body sphere, a tool to massage the belly and the pelvic floor; two aligned domes, which are great for the scalp, hands, and feet; and the infinity roller, which is built to roll out hard-to-reach areas, like the dense tissue along either side of the spine.
Getting your sweat on is even better when you catch a pop of gingham in the weight room mirror. So much so that the fact these are made from supportive, stretchy, sweat-wicking fabric is a side note.
Strength is one thing; speed is another. But for whatever you’re working on (forehands, barbell cleans, eka pada bakasana), muscle memory is king. So any tool that can provide extra support for learning movement-based tasks is worth trying. This headset serves that purpose—and is one of the coolest pieces of athletic tech we’ve tried. It uses transcranial electrical stimulation (meaning tiny electric currents cross your scalp to your brain) of your motor cortex to improve how quickly you learn physical skills, whether you’re learning a new sport or fine-tuning a years-long practice.
No, this isn’t a tool for the gym. But it is a workout. This pelvic floor trainer links up with an app on your phone to guide you through your Kegel practice, helping you visualize your pelvic floor movements, letting you know when your technique is spot-on, and creating challenges that play out like a video game. Which might make working toward things like better bladder control, faster postnatal recovery, and intimate well-being as exciting as your favorite workout class.
It’s simple math: A favorite workout + plant-based protein + whole-body-supporting herbs and mushrooms = a well-rounded routine. This post-workout powder from Four Sigmatic supports healthy muscles with protein from hemp, pea, chia, coconut, and pumpkin seeds; harnesses the adaptogenic might of ashwagandha, eleuthero, and reishi; and supports overall well-being with cordyceps and lion’s mane, chaga, and turkey tail mushrooms. (It’s all organic, too.) In addition to having a long list of the good stuff, the formula is well-balanced, unsweetened, and unflavored, so it mixes easily into smoothies and shakes.
Normatec’s post-exercise recovery boots are built for those high-intensity, hard-core days when you need more than water and a good stretch. The five targeted zones fill with air at certain pressure intensities (it feels like a therapeutic spin on a blood pressure cuff) to massage your muscles and regulate blood flow. Here’s how it goes: You take a seat, slide on the boots, and choose what parts of the legs you want to focus on (there’s a precise digital controller you hold in your hand), then the boots do the rest.
Sometimes there’s just no hauling yourself to the gym. But if you’re dedicated to this “sweat every day” thing, there’s a happy work-around: sauna. Even better: at-home infrared sauna. Burrito yourself up in this blanket made with layers of amethyst, tourmaline, and charcoal and let the power of infrared heat do the work.
This tee is a bit like a sweatshirt, yet airy, and it works nicely with every sports-bra-and-leggings set we’ve tried it with. Which is to say it’s the perfect first addition to your gym wardrobe in the new year.
OUT WITH A BANG
These simple weighted bangles could make any workout more efficient. Each one weighs just a pound, and that little bit goes a long way in bumping up your heart rate and helping you build strength. (You’ll feel the difference the first time you wear them.) And the best part is that they’re comfortable and completely unobtrusive. They secure snugly around your wrists or ankles while you do whatever it is you do, whether that’s early morning HIIT, evening asanas, or an easy lap around the block with Spot.
After laps in the pool, a sweaty outdoor run, or a particularly hot hot-yoga class, these clean face wipes are our favorites (conventional face wipes are often made with a heavy load of potentially skin-irritating