Ask any gym buff, style-conscious or not, what the most important thing they’ve invested in for their fitness and they will invariably say that it is their gym clothes. And while Nike and Adidas are the best known purveyors of outfits you can sweat in, there are an abundance of brands making it their mission to optimise every aspect of your gym wardrobe, from your trainers to your treadmill-perfect running shorts.
Combine the science and engineering of sportswear with the athleisure boom in the fashion world and you have a recipe for good-looking clothes that work as hard as you do. Whether you care what you look like in the gym or not, the clothes you’ll find from brands such as Lululemon, CDLP, P.E. Nation and Gymshark put looks at the top of their priority lists — just below how well an item of clothing wicks sweat and allows movement. What you have, then, is your pick of pieces that help you look and perform your best.
Come one, come all: the athletes and the amateurs, the wallflowers and the aesthetes. Below, you will find our top picks from the current crop of gym clothes.
1. The top
Sweat-wicking is the name of the game when it comes to gym tops. If you’re working out at max effort – be that at the gym or at home with a resistance band, kettlebell and dumbbells set-up – you’ll want a top that can quickly mop up any moisture perspiring from your back and underarms, and dry just as fast.
Different sports brands have trademarked their own technologies to do this. The most renowned is Nike’s Dri-Fit, a polyester fabric with high-performance microfibre construction to support the body’s natural cooling system by taking sweat and dispersing it evenly throughout the surface of the garment to speed up evaporation. Lululemon’s Metal Vent tech, meanwhile, boasts smart sweat- and odour-resistant features knitted into the fabric where it’s needed most thanks to is tops’ seamless design.
2. The bottoms
What’s the difference between running shorts and training shorts? Typically, the training kind will be a little longer, falling just above the knee, constructed so as to inhibit the movement of your leg during a given exercise. They’ll also tend to be a little more convenient for the gym as they’ll feature pockets, something running shorts often come without. That said, if you can find a good running short that works for the gym, then winner, winner, chicken broccoli and sweet potato dinner. Running shorts are primed for freedom of movement, so are an optimal choice for cardio-focused workouts.
3. The base layers
Let’s get one thing straight: no matter how good you think your derrière looks in them, men’s tights should only be worn underneath a pair of shorts. There’s not a single person in the gym who wants to see the outline of your member as you perform a hip thrust. That established, it’s well worth incorporating base layers into your gym kit for a few reasons.
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