When it comes to workout clothes, a good fit in a performance fabric will keep you comfortable and even help you perform better. Cotton isn’t the best fabric for working out – it absorbs moisture but is slow-drying, so if you start sweating during your workout, it won’t be long until you feel weighed down and wet with sweat.
Instead, you need to go for synthetic fabrics like spandex, polypropylene, and nylon, or moisture-wicking natural fabrics like wool or bamboo. You need activewear that fits properly, supports a full range of motion, looks good, and keeps you warm and toasty during outdoor activities. You’ll feel more motivated to exercise if you like the way you look and feel in your workout clothes, and you’ll perform better with the right clothes on, too.
The days of throwing on an old t-shirt and a pair of cotton sweatpants to go to the gym are over – or at least they should be. These days, the best activewear is made with performance fabrics that provide sweat-wicking, compression, and antimicrobial properties. You’ll stay drier in sweat-wicking performance fabrics – no more big sweat stains under your arms and in your crotch. Performance fabrics absorb moisture rapidly and allow it to evaporate just as fast, so you can stay nice and cool through evaporation, the way nature intended.
Performance fabrics also allow you to smell better during and after your workouts. Antimicrobial activewear is treated with zinc ions to kill microscopic pathogens like fungi, bacteria, and viruses on contact. Some performance fabrics can even protect you from COVID-19! When you’re wearing activewear made from performance fabrics, you’ll smell better during your spin classes, you’ll stay healthier, and your clothes will last longer because microbes aren’t breeding in and deteriorating the fabric.
A good fit is one of the most important things you need from an activewear garment. Try on activewear before you buy it, or if you’re shopping online, make sure you can return what doesn’t fit. When you try on a piece of activewear, move around in it before you make a decision. Do some lunges in the dressing room. Run in place and try some jumping jacks to see what the fabric does when you move around in it.
If you’re trying on leggings, you’ll want to squat and look at the leggings in the mirror to make sure they don’t become see-through when you lunge, squat, or bend over. Make sure t-shirts are long enough to cover your body during workouts. Make sure sports bras provide the right level of support for the exercise you’re going to do in them. Ensure that seams aren’t digging into your body uncomfortably and that you can get in and out of tight activewear without tearing it. Remember that taking off tight garments after you’ve sweated in them can be even harder than getting them on was.
Support and Comfort
If you’re a woman, you’re going to need sports bras that provide support for your breasts during exercise, especially high-impact exercises like jogging. Sports bras should fit snugly. Low-support sports bras will let your breasts bounce a little less than a regular bra, while medium-support bras will give them a little more support and high-support bras will keep them from moving at all.
Bras aren’t the only support garment you need during a workout. Compression garments can keep your blood flowing and prevent the buildup of lactic acid in your muscles, so you won’t be as sore after your workout. Your heart will pump more efficiently wearing compression garments, so you’ll be able to perform better and get more out of your workout.
Of course, you’ll also need your workout gear to be comfortable. Make sure you can move freely in your workout clothes and that you don’t need to constantly adjust them.
Looking good might not seem like it’s that important – you’re only working out, after all. But when you like the way you look and feel in your workout clothes, you’ll be more likely to want to work out. You’ll also perform better when you do, thanks to a phenomenon scientists call “enclothed cognition.” Enclothed cognition refers to a subconscious mental shift that happens when you put on specialized clothing for an activity. The clothes put you in the right headspace to perform, so you perform better simply because you were subconsciously expecting to.
Warmth might not matter if you do all your workouts inside, but if you like to exercise outdoors in all weathers, you’re going to need appropriate warm workout clothes. Choose tight-fitting clothes in synthetic fabrics that help block the wind. Clothes with a high sun protection factor (SPF) tend to be woven more tightly, so they can block wind more effectively. Dress in layers when you exercise outdoors, and make your top layer windproof.
When you’re buying workout clothes, it’s worth it to spend more to buy brand-name activewear made with performance fabrics. You’ll get more out of your workouts, including more enjoyment.