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What to Wear to the Gym: A Guide for Men & Women

group of people wearing gym clothes exercising

What you wear to the gym can play a big role in the quality of your workout. The right attire boosts performance and acts as a shield against injuries. If you want to maximize your performance, we've compiled a detailed guide on what to wear to the gym for both men and women.

We’ll cover everything from the basics, like choosing the right shoes, to understanding gear variations for different workouts. Don't overlook those game-changing accessories; they're essential for a complete fitness experience. Let’s get started!

Gym Clothes for Beginners

If you’re a first-time gym goer, here’s thegym apparel you’ll need. First, focus on comfort and practicality in your gym clothing. Guys, ditch the jeans and heavy materials for a breathable T-shirt or sports top with gym shorts or leggings. Ladies, invest in a supportive sports bra for optimal comfort during your workouts.

Now, let's talk materials. Opt for moisture-wicking fabrics like polyester, Lycra, or nylon to keep cool by whisking sweat away from your body. While these are ideal, cotton can work well for lighter workouts, even though it tends to retain moisture longer. When it comes to your budget, hold off on splurging initially. Get to know your workout routine, discover your favorite exercises, and figure out the most suitable clothing before investing in pricier options. Remember, your gym kit doesn't have to be expensive; many affordable and effective brands offer high-quality, comfortable workout gear. Start with the basics and gradually expand your wardrobe as you identify what best complements your workout routine.

What Should Women Wear to the Gym?

Selecting the perfect gym attire is essential for an effective and comfortable workout. Finding the ideal balance between style, functionality, and comfort is key for women's gym wear. Let's delve into the essentials when selecting your next workout ensemble.

1. Breathable Tops

Wearing a breathable top in the gym is essential for comfort and performance. These tops, often made from moisture-wicking materials like polyester, help regulate body temperature by allowing heat and sweat to escape. This keeps you cooler during workouts and prevents discomfort and chafing. The breathable fabric's quick-drying capability is beneficial for maintaining a hygienic and pleasant exercise experience, reducing the growth of odor-causing bacteria. Overall, a breathable top enhances comfort, supports moisture management, and contributes to a more focused and effective workout.

2. Sports Bra

Wearing a sports bra in the gym is essential for comfort and support during workouts. It minimizes breast movement, reducing the risk of discomfort and potential damage to the breast tissue. Sports bras' snug fit and design provide crucial support, preventing excessive bouncing and strain on the back and shoulders. Additionally, the moisture-wicking materials help manage sweat, keeping the skin dry and minimizing chafing. A sports bra is a key piece of athletic wear that ensures a more comfortable and injury-resistant exercise experience.

3. Activewear Leggings or Shorts

Wearing activewear, whether leggings or shorts, is essential during exercise for comfort, flexibility, and performance. Activewear materials with moisture-wicking properties keep the body dry, prevent discomfort from sweat, and offer crucial muscle support, reducing the risk of injury. The choice between leggings and shorts depends on personal preference, activity type, and environmental conditions, with leggings providing more coverage and warmth. In contrast, shorts offer breathability in warmer weather or for activities with increased leg movement. Activewear is designed to optimize comfort and functionality during physical activities.

What Should Men Wear to the Gym?

Alright, fellas, let's dive into the world of gym attire. It's more than just tossing on a worn-out football jersey and some shorts. Your gym outfit should check the boxes for comfort and functionality and give you that sharp look as you tackle those weights. Here's the inside scoop on what men should rock in the gym.

1. Pick the Right Gym Top

When selecting gym attire, consider opting for anoversized gym shirt that prioritizes breathability and freedom of movement. Optimal choices include a well-fitted sports T-shirt or vest crafted from moisture-wicking fabric. 

This material allows unrestricted mobility and effectively wicks away sweat, keeping your skin dry and comfortable during workouts. However, it's important to strike a balance and avoid excessively loose clothing, as this may interfere with machinery or hinder your range of motion. Tops with ventilation features–such asmen’s stringers ormuscle shirts can be particularly beneficial, enhancing air circulation and ensuring a comfortable and productive gym session. 

So, when gearing up for your workout, choose a gym top that combines the comfort of an oversized fit with the practicality of breathable and moisture-wicking fabrics.

2. Suitable Gym Bottoms

When selecting the right gym apparel, prioritize comfort and flexibility. Ideal options include well-fitted leggings for colder weather and well-meshedgym shorts for hotter weather. You should also look for activewear with moisture-wicking properties to keep you dry as you sweat. 

It's crucial to avoid excessively tight bottoms that may restrict movement or cause discomfort during exercise. Additionally, consider high-waisted options for extra support and coverage, especially during activities involving bending or stretching. Choose bottoms that complement your workout routine, ensuring you can move easily while staying comfortable and confident throughout your gym session.

3. Lightweight Jacket

Wearing a lightweight jacket in the gym is beneficial for several reasons. It provides an extra layer of warmth during warm-ups, ensuring your muscles are ready for more intense exercises. The jacket helps regulate body temperature in cooler gym environments without restricting movement, offering a full range of motion. Its versatility allows for easy removal or addition based on comfort and workout intensity. Opting for a jacket made from breathable materials prevents overheating, making it a practical and adaptable accessory for a comfortable and effective workout experience.

What Kind of Shoes Should You Wear to the Gym

Discovering the perfect gym shoes is a nuanced process. The most suitable footwear is contingent upon the specific type of training you intend to undertake. It’s also important to remember that not all lifting exercises require shoes. Some athletes willdeadlift without shoes for better performance.

Regardless, there are two types of shoes well-suited for the gym: lifting shoes and running trainers. 

1. Weightlifting Shoes

Wearing weightlifting shoes in the gym is beneficial for those in resistance training. With a raised heel, these shoes improve ankle mobility, enabling a more upright posture during squats and deadlifts. The elevated heel aids in achieving proper squat depth without compromising form. Additionally, weightlifting shoes provide a stable base with a firm sole, enhancing balance and minimizing the risk of injury. The non-compressible sole ensures efficient force transmission, maximizing power during lifts. These shoes contribute to better form, stability, and performance, making them a valuable asset for individuals focused on strength training.

2. Running Trainers

Running shoes offer superb cushioning, ideal for high-impact exercises and treadmill sessions. Crafted to absorb shock effectively, they prove to be an excellent choice for cardio workouts, ensuring comfort and minimizing the impact on joints. The design of running shoes not only supports the feet during activities like running but also provides stability and protection against potential injuries. Their versatility extends beyond the track, making them a reliable choice for various aerobic exercises that involve constant movement and impact. When it comes to cardio, investing in running shoes is not just about comfort but also about safeguarding your joints and ensuring a well-supported workout experience.

Different Workout Clothes

The same logic applies to your gym workouts like you wouldn't wear cricket whites to a footie match. Various exercises demand specific movements, and what you wear plays a crucial role in your performance. Let's explore how your workout attire should adapt based on the type of exercise you have in mind.

1. Yoga & Pilates

For yoga and pilates, you’ll need comfortable, well-fitting clothes that move with your range of motion. Choose stretchy and form-fitting attire, ensuring it moves seamlessly with your body during various poses. Steer clear of loose tops that might inconvenience you in inverted positions. Opt for leggings or flexible shorts, which provide the freedom to move how you need during your workouts. 

2. Cardio Workouts

Whether on the treadmill, rowing, or in a spirited Zumba class, wear clothes that keep you cool by effectively wicking away sweat. Choose breathable fabrics like polyester or nylon, perfect for these lively workouts. Women can opt for supportive sports bras and fitted tops, ensuring comfort and focus during movement, while men can go for the streamlined feel of fitted tees or vests. Keep your bottoms flexible; shorts are a go-to for many, offering comfort and breathability, especially during energetic cardio sessions. Prioritize moisture-wicking features for temperature control and an overall comfortable workout experience, helping you give your best effort in every session.

3. Weightlifting

When lifting weights, wear clothes that let you move freely and avoid anything too loose to prevent snagging on equipment. Some weightlifters prefer tops that fit closely to showcase muscle movements and ensure proper form. Shorts or joggers are popular for their comfort and flexibility during weightlifting sessions. It's not just about looks; the right gear contributes to safety and performance. Opting for moisture-wicking materials is a smart move to stay dry and comfortable, particularly during intense lifting. Customizing your workout attire to these considerations will help you adapt to your gym’s environment and workout intensity.

Extra Accessories

Accessories can also elevate your workout session if used correctly. Some common items include your towel, water bottle, and lifting gear like grips, lifting straps, and belts. Here are some popular choices to consider:

  • Towel
  • Water Bottle
  • Supportive Gear for Heavy Lifting
  • Training Gloves
  • Gym Bag
  • Weightlifting Grips
  • Lifting Straps andWrist Wraps
  • Fitness Tracker

These accessories’ purpose is to elevate your workout experience, whether that’s by keeping you dry and hydrated with towels and water bottles or by increasing your lifting PR withwrist wraps or lifting straps

What Not to Wear at the Gym

There is attire that is appropriate for the gym and then there’s clothing that can inhibit your workout experience. Avoid wearing denim, which can be restrictive during physical activity. Restrictive movement can lead to injury if you’re not able to go through your full range of motion.

Instead, opt for breathable, stretchy fabrics designed for exercise. Regarding footwear, skip flip-flops or casual shoes with minimal support, and choose athletic shoes with proper stability and cushioning to protect your feet.

Also, pay attention to accessories and scents. Heavy jewelry, like dangling earrings, can be unsafe during workouts, so opt for lightweight options. Keep scents minimal to avoid bothering others in the gym. Choose well-fitted, moisture-wicking clothing to enhance your range of motion and stay comfortable during your workout. These considerations, such as selecting supportive sports bras for women and avoiding offensive graphics, contribute to a positive and considerate gym environment for everyone.


Choosing gym attire goes beyond trends; it's about ensuring your comfort, safety, and performance. Whether you're new to working out or a seasoned gym-goer, what you wear matters. Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all in gym clothing; what's comfy for cardio may not work for weightlifting. Try different pieces to find what suits your movement and feels breathable. Get a few key items that fit well, allow you to move freely, and are made from materials that keep you dry. Dressing right not only boosts confidence but also makes your workouts more effective. So, gear up and aim for those fitness goals—here's to a healthier, fitter you!


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