Dressing well shouldn’t end at the door of your local gym. Are we saying you should wear a Tom Ford suit to hit the squat rack? No, but what we would recommend is for every gym-going gent to own a purpose-made selection of stylish athletic garments in order to get the most out of every workout.
It might be tempting to make do with an old cotton tee and a pair of swim shorts in the name of frugality, but while you may be saving money, you’ll also be limiting your range of motion, encouraging unpleasant odours to form and reducing your overall comfort during your session.
So, what should you wear instead? Here we break down some of the key garments every man needs in his gym capsule wardrobe, along with what to look for in each and the brands making the best gear. Here’s everything you need to know.
Essential Gym Clothing For Men
Things have a tendency to get rather sweaty when you’re benching barbells or racking up miles on the treadmill. That’s why it’s vital to have a top that’s designed to wick moisture away from the skin and dry quickly. It needs to be nice and stretchy for freedom of movement too, and made from synthetic fibres that will help prevent bacteria and nasty smells.
Many sportswear brands have their own proprietary materials designed to do exactly that. Take Nike’s Dri-Fit for example, which is superbly quick drying and excellent at wicking moisture. Or there’s Lululemon’s Silverscent technology, which is specially designed to stop the growth of odour-causing bacteria.
The fit should be trim but not restrictive, leaving room to move without any loose fabric getting in the way. Brands know this, so as long as you buy gym-specific kit from a reputable athletics brand, the fit should be just right for the task at hand.
You could wear regular running shorts for the gym, but buying a purpose-designed training pair is the better option for a number of reasons. Running shorts tend to lack pockets, which can be irritating if you need somewhere to carry your phone or gym pass. They’re also much shorter, which is great for freedom of movement while pounding the pavements, but not so great if you’re trying to avoid showing off your boys while using the adductor machine.
Gym shorts address all of these problems with ample pockets and longer length. Aside from that, they’re still made with technical, sweat-wicking fabrics and designed to be cooling and easy to move in.
The Base Layer
When the goal is to stay cool, it might seem counterintuitive to throw another layer into the mix, but the right base layer can actually help to keep sweat away from the skin and bring your body temperature down.
There’s another reason to wear one too. Not only can a base layer help to keep you cool and dry during workouts, the compression provided by the tight fit is thought to improve athletic performance and aid recovery.
The Outer Layer
In the winter months, that first 15 minutes warming up can be a frosty experience. When you’re not going hell for leather, you’ll need something to keep you warm as your body starts to heat up.
A jersey sweatshirt or hoodie is a great option for this as it’s comfortable, stretchy and warm. Bonus points if it has a quarter or full-zip front so you can put it on and take it off with ease as the intensity of your session ramps up and down.
The Best Brands For Gym Clothes
Lululemon started out producing clothing for yoga. Because of this, it’s a brand that really understands the importance of comfortable, high-performance, stretch fabrics. Over the course of the last 20 years, the Canadian brand has expanded its range, applying this knowledge and knack for premium athletic materials to everything from running gear to specially designed men’s training clothes.
We’re particularly fond of the airy training shorts with built in moisture-wicking liners.
British brand GymShark is known for designing high-performance apparel specifically for gym training. The range covers everything from functional fitness and bodybuilding to running and rest days, so no matter what type of gym goer you are, there’s something to cater for your needs.
To get a feel for the brand, we’d suggest checking out the Essentials line, which includes all the gear you need to work out in style, without breaking the bank.
Liverpool-based brand Castore creates upscale gym clothing that delivers performance and stylish looks in equal measures. Expect everything from technical tops to lifestyle-focussed pieces, all boasting the same meticulous attention to detail and high quality.
Designs are clean and branding is minimal making this a great option for style-conscious gym goers who want a mix of performance and aesthetics.
Under Armour is well known for making some of the best underwear, compression garments and base layers in the athletic-apparel game. It’s a brand that puts performance and functionality at the fore, something which has made it the label of choice for professional and amateur athletes alike.
Under Armour is an excellent choice for every element of your training gear, but we’d recommend the base layers in particular. They’re what the brand is famous for and you’ll struggle to find better elsewhere.
What is there to say about Nike that hasn’t already been said? It’s the biggest name in sportswear and is at the cutting edge of tech when it comes to athletic clothing and technical fabrics.
The American brand has a whole line of apparel and footwear dedicated to training, with every piece designed with the gym in mind, making use of technologies such as Nike’s famously quick-drying and comfortable Dri-Fit fabric.
If there’s one brand that can go toe to toe with Nike in terms of sheer sportswear might, it’s Adidas. The German brand caters for every conceivable subgenre of the sporting world, and hitting the gym is no exception.
Expect comfortable, stretchy, functional clothing that makes use of all the Three Stripes’ latest and greatest fabric technology.
Reigning Champ is known for its upscale take on classic athletic garments like jersey sweatshirts, hoodies and sweatpants. For those uninterested in the latest tech, who would rather keep their workout gear simple but stylish, there are few brands better suited to the task. That said, the label isn’t averse to technical fabrics.
You can also expect to find lightweight training shorts, airy performance tees and much, much more.
If you’re looking for retro-inspired streetwear for bodybuilding bros with fashion clout then we can say with absolute certainty that Y,IWO (that’s short for Yeah, I Work Out) is the ONLY brand that can give you what you seek.
The brand takes inspiration from 80s bodybuilding culture and produces retro tees with tongue-in-cheek prints as well as shorts, pants, vests and everything else you might need to flex your gains in the free-weight area.