When you push yourself in a workout, you might expect your body to suffer a little, but the wrong workout clothes for men can make an already strenuous sweat sesh infinitely harder. Clothes too tight? You'll feel restricted. Too loose? You'll be pulling up your pants, paranoid about giving someone a peep show. Plus, the wrong fabric can chafe, leaving you with painful rashes in delicate areas (think nipples and nether regions).
"If you're new to working out, finding the proper clothing could be easily overlooked as an important step in the process," says certified personal trainer James Laurita. "An old AC/DC shirt and sweatpants may be serviceable for training, but taking the time to build a proper wardrobe for exercise can lead to better workouts and, ultimately, a greater chance to reach your goals."
Read more: 9 Essential Strength Benchmarks for Men
Tips for Buying for Men's Workout Clothes
That said, what should a guy look for when buying new gear? "First, fabric matters," says Laurita. "Find you get overheated very quickly? Well, now you know those cotton sweatpants may not be ideal."
Some fabrics are definitely more breathable than others, agrees expert running coach John Honerkamp, adding that moisture-wicking material (usually polyester-based) is ideal for keeping you cool and dry. Even better if you can find fabrics made with small holes for ventilation. "But for cold days, it is more about layering properly," says Honerkamp.
In terms of wardrobe must-haves, every guy should own a few good pairs of shorts with pockets to store your keys, credit card and ID. Bonus if they have a pocket designed to securely stow your phone, says Honerkamp. That way you can focus on working out without worrying about it bouncing around or slipping loose.
You should also consider investing in some compression wear, says Laurita. "The comfortable, stabilizing feeling of compression clothing greatly enhances a workout," he says. Honerkamp agrees: "Compression clothing, especially socks and tights, can aid with circulation... while compression shorts will help avoid or reduce chafing between your thighs."
Above all, finding what feels good on your body is most important. But liking how you look in your workout clothes is essential, too. "It's all about confidence," says Laurita. "Feeling confident during a workout is vital to achieving your best performance." Translation: When you look like a badass, you're primed to push yourself that much harder.
The Best Gym Clothes for Men
So, ready to crush your workout? Whether you're a gym newbie or a seasoned pro, these clothing picks will have you looking stylishly swole and performing your best all year round.
1. UA Speed Stride Split 1/4 Zip Men’s Running Long Sleeve Shirt
Designed for running, this long-sleeve shirt features an ultra-lightweight, breathable, sweat-wicking fabric with anti-odor technology. That's right, it's engineered to prevent the growth of microbes that make your clothing stink. Plus, its reflective details keep you visible and safe when running in low-light conditions.
Buy it: UnderArmour.com; Price: $55
2. Middy Compression Shorts by Pacterra Athletics
Not convinced compression wear is for you? These shorts might change your mind. Made with a super soft fabric, they fit like a second skin and will never bunch or roll up. The "hidden" pocket is a nice touch too; it's the perfect spot to store your phone and keys.
Buy it: PacterraAthletics.com; Price: $36
3. NIKE Pro Athletic Tights
These versatile tights are the perfect base layer for any athletic activity, from lifting to playing basketball. They provide just enough support without restricting mobility, while the chafe-free seams and breathable mesh front guarantee the utmost comfort.
Buy it: Nordstrom.com; Price: $35
4. T.H.E. Short 7" Nulux Liner Shorts by lululemon
These lightweight training shorts feature a four-way stretch fabric with sweat-wicking material to help you stay cool. The built-in liner keeps you feeling supported, plus it contains a hidden pocket for your phone. One lululemon reviewer writes: "These trunks feel like silk worms custom-tailored the liner to my body. Truly excellent for squats, weightlifting or running."
Buy it: lululemon.com; Price: $78
5. Men's Gripper Socks by Bombas
Working out at home? Thanks to stay-put grips on the soles, these comfy socks will keep you from sliding all over your wood floors. And if you opt for shoes, these will add an extra layer of comfort. The best part? For every pair of socks purchased, Bombas donates a pair to a homeless shelter.
Buy it: Bombas.com; Price: $14
6. Tracksmith Brighton Wool-Blend Base Layer
Made from a wool blend, this long-sleeve shirt will keep you snug on a crisp fall day, but cool on a warm spring day thanks to perforations that increase airflow (right in line with Honerkamp's advice above). With a stretchy finish, it fits like a glove. Perfect worn solo or as a base layer.
Buy it: MrPorter.com; Price: $85
7. Reebok Training Essentials Jersey Short
With a super soft fabric, these training shorts feel great against your skin, plus they're multi-functional. One Reebok shopper writes: "Perfect shorts for working out or lounging. Casual look, but high quality." Wear them doing glute kickbacks or just kick back on the couch with friends. Your call.
Buy it: Reebok.com; Price: $30
8. XVENT Short Sleeve Top
A classic white T-shirt should be a staple in every guy's gym wardrobe, but this one is anything but basic. Engineered to prevent you from over-heating by reflecting the sun and allowing greater moisture evaporation, you'll barely break a sweat in this ultra-breathable, ventilated short-sleeve top.
Buy it: 2xu.com; Price: $49.95
9. North Face Men's Red Blaze Vest
Unlike a bulky puffer vest, this sleek, lightweight vest won't weigh you down on a hike. But its insulation and water resistance will still shield you from the elements. And if you build up a sweat, simply fold and stow it in its own pocket. No muss, no fuss.
Buy it: TheNorthface.com; Price: $99
10. Adidas SST Track Pants
The OG of track pants, this iconic design was originally made for tennis players in 1979 before it gained popularity as classic street wear. Versatile and stylish, these old school, sporty track pants are perfect for rocking to and from the gym, on a light run or during a warm-up.
Buy it: Adidas.com; Price: $65
11. Adidas Pro Madness Tank Top
You work hard for those guns, why not show them off sometimes? Wear this crewneck, moisture-wicking tank top to keep you dry when lifting or running circles around your competition on the basketball court. Because every guy needs a muscle shirt in his gym apparel.
Buy it: Adidas.com; Price: $30
12. Manzella Silkweight Wind Ultra Touchtip Gloves
Perfect for cold-weather runs, hiking or cycling, these windproof gloves stand up to even the chilliest winter day. And thanks to touch screen technology, you can text, swipe and post to your heart's content with gloved fingers.
One REI shopper raves: "These are lightweight, stop the wind, dry fast and never make your hand feel clammy or constricted. You can wear them hiking in any weather, but I also use them for gardening, walking the dog and driving. Gave a pair to a friend who now wears nothing else for barn/horse work. Did I mention they last forever?"
Buy it: REI.com; Price: $35
13. Nike Running AeroBill Dri-FIT Cap
Designed with sweat in mind, this light, breathable, perforated cap provides ventilation and keeps the sun out of your eyes. But if you'd rather go for a late-night run, its reflective trims and signature swoosh emblem will keep you visible. The adjustable Velcro strap ensures a perfect fit.
Buy it: MrPorter.com; Price: $30
14. Men's UA Unstoppable Windbreaker
Wind, rain or snow won't stop you in this durable windbreaker. Made of ripstop fabric, this reinforced woven material resists tearing or ripping. Translation: It'll last forever. Ideal for cycling, hiking or running, its loose fit allows you to layer underneath on cooler days.
Buy it: UnderArmour.com; Price: $100
15. New Balance Heatloft Pullover
Combining style and function, this athleisure pullover is the ultimate twofer. Fashionable enough to wear outside the gym, this sleek, sporty top is your answer to cold-weather training. Its quilted stretch fabric contains insulating yarns to help your body retain heat while wicking away sweat. To top it off, an interior kangaroo pocket offers storage for your personal items.
One New Balance customer writes: "This is a great pullover, perfect for those cold runs or when you finish a run and just need to get warm. Looks great as well."
Buy it: NewBalance.com; Price: $99.99
16. 2XU 24/7 Compression Sock
Made with lightweight, breathable yarns, these ultra-comfy, knee-high compression socks were designed to be worn 24/7. The extra-snug fit squeezes and supports, increasing blood flow and improving circulation. Your tired, sore muscles will thank you.
One happy 2XU shopper says, "I use these socks after big runs. They keep the circulation in my feet moving so that I recover quicker. They are also great for reducing swelling during a long flight."
Buy it: CompetitiveCyclist.com; Price: $44.95
17. Surge Jogger Full-On Luxtreme 29"
These water-repellant, casual joggers with four-way stretch offer a supported, streamlined fit while still giving you plenty of room to move. Zips at the cuffs make it a cinch to slip out of them when you're in a hurry. And a back zippered pocket conveniently holds your essentials.
Buy it: lululemon.com; Price: $118