While your workout clothes might not be as important as, say, a proper warm-up routine, picking out workout leggings that fit properly, tank tops that help boost your self-confidence and running socks that won't cause blisters can go a long way in ramping up your workout motivation and even helping you push yourself harder at the gym.
But for those new to the world of gym clothes or for those who simply hate shopping, knowing where to look and what to look for can be challenging. Enter: the LIVESTRONG.com guide to the best workout clothes.
Here, we'll cover everything you need to know to find the best sportswear for your specific workout needs — from fabrics and fit to brands and buying tips. But let's start with the most daunting part: shopping for workout clothes.
Shopping for the Best Workout Clothes
Which workout gear you end up buying depends largely on what kind of workout you plan on doing and what you feel most comfortable in. Still, there are a few basics to keep in mind.
Tip 1: Pick the right fabric. No, it's not some marketing gimmick: The right fabric really does make for better workout clothes. Expert running coach John Honerkamp recommends moisture-wicking material (usually polyester-based rather than cotton) to keep you cool and dry. You can also look for fabrics with small ventilation holes.
Tip 2: Try before you buy. While it's easy and convenient to click "Add to Cart" during an online shopping spree, trying clothes on first — especially form-fitting workout clothes like leggings or compression shorts — is key. Either head to a brick-and-mortar store to find out what size really fits you best or pick an online retailer with a phenomenal return and exchange policy.
Tip 3: Start with the basics. There's nothing wrong with a super cute, strappy sports bra, but before you add trendy pieces to your workout wardrobe, make sure you have the essentials first. A pair of well-fitting leggings, capris or shorts paired with a breathable tank top or shirt is a good place to start (throw in a supportive sports bra for the ladies). And of course, black will go with pretty much anything.
Tip 4: Read reviews. One of the best things about online shopping for gym clothes is the ability to read reviews before committing to a particular item. While you should take them with a grain of salt, if a product has 4.5-star rating with more than 1,000 reviews, chances are people like it for a good reason.
Tip 5: Consider your workout type. Think about how you'll be moving in your workout (squatting, running, jumping, bending) and test out your activewear accordingly. Some features to consider include a reflective patch (especially if you work out outside early in the morning or late at night) and a pocket for your keys, phone or ID, says Tara Laferrara, a certified personal trainer and co-owner of Compass Fitness.
Workout Clothes for Women
Sometimes, when the mood strikes, you might happily spend hours online shopping for workout clothes. Other times, though, you just want the perfect workout leggings and sports bras to magically appear in your closet. While we can't make that last part happen, we can help make it easier to find just the right pieces to complement your sweat style.
Whether you're in the market for a sports bra that keeps the girls in place on your run or leggings that won't slip, slide or split during boxing class, we've got you covered with our recommendations for gym clothes for women.
Workout Clothes for Men
Guys, we know you want functional and stylish gym clothes, too. And while you can play through a game of pick-up basketball with your buddies in gym shorts and an old college T-shirt, certain workouts require you to step up your game just a bit.
For example, if you're an avid cyclist, you'll want cycling shorts that were specifically designed to be aerodynamic without being too tight in (ahem) certain areas. And if you're hitting the weight room, you might be more comfortable in a loose-fitting, sweat-wicking workout tank top than going shirtless. Whatever you're looking for, you've come to the right place to find the perfect athletic wear for you.
Plus-Size Workout Clothes
Fact: People of all shapes and sizes deserve gym clothes that fit properly and look stylish. Because when you look good, you feel good, and that also translates to better workout motivation. alone can help keep you motivated.
It used to be that you couldn't find very many high-quality, budget-friendly plus-size workout clothing brands. But now, more and more companies are catching on. Established brands are creating workout clothing in a more inclusive range of sizes and new brands specifically devoted to plus-size workout clothing are springing up all the time. And we can point you in the direction of the best of them.
Maternity Workout Clothes
Working out for two? (Or more?) You'll want maternity workout clothes that move and grow with you. For starters, it's important to find maternity workout leggings that provide plenty of support for your baby bump while giving you the freedom to move through your workout.
And while your regular sports bra might get you through the first or even second trimester, you'll probably want to consider sizing up or investing in a maternity or nursing sports bra as your due date gets closer. From maternity workout tops to belly bands, there are more and more maternity workout clothing options for the mama-to-be, and we've got your recommendations covered.
The Best Yoga Clothes
No one wants to get distracted from their flow because of a workout wardrobe malfunction or worry about see-through yoga pants during Downward Facing Dog. But you also shouldn't have to spend a fortune on all new yoga clothes either. The key is finding a brand you love that also fits your budget.
Since yoga has become so mainstream in recent years, there's no shortage of yoga clothing options. Whether you're looking for yoga shorts that won't ride up during your favorite hot yoga class or a tank top that sticks with you (but not to you) through a Vinyasa class — or even if you're just wondering what underwear to wear with yoga pants — our guide to the best yoga clothes can help.
The Best Sports Bras
Every active woman knows the struggle of finding the Goldilocks of sports bras — a "just right" fit that's supportive but not too tight. Depending on your bra size and favorite workout, you might either have endless options or only a few, which both present their own problems.
If you need help sorting through myriad options or can't seem to find anything that works, we can help. Check out our guides to finding the perfect sports bra whether you're an avid CrossFitter or devoted yogi or if you base your decisions on brand (are you Team Nike or Team Adidas?).
The Best Workout Leggings
Just like sports bras, picking workout leggings that stay put through your entire workout without giving you a wedgie can sometimes be a daunting task. But if you know where to look — hint: even Amazon has well-rated, affordable workout leggings — and what to look for, you'll be rewarded with the Holy Grail of workout clothes: the perfect pair of workout leggings.
Regardless of if you like to sweat it out in a fast-paced HIIT session or prefer to commune with nature on your favorite running route, we've put together a guide of what to look for as well as some of our recommended picks.