What to wear to the gym

What to wear to the gym: The ultimate guide

Amon Fearon - December 09, 2022

The gym represents a lifestyle of growth through the power of marginal gains. Beginners and athletes train side-by-side to improve their health, fitness and wellbeing. Whether you're going to the gym to get stronger or to run on the treadmill, choosing the right clothes is the first step to invigorate that desire to turn up and perform. This guide on what to wear to the gym will help you spot the premium qualities in sportswear to push for personal bests.


What should I wear to the gym?

If you’re heading to the gym, you could be hitting up the weights or taking on a challenging cardio class. Whatever it is, the type of gear you wear makes a difference. Some fits are designed to be functional and durable while others are more aesthetic.

So, what do you need? Here’s the typical kit list for gym-goers to choose from:

  • Shorts
  • Leggings
  • Gym joggers
  • Compression shorts
  • Tees and vests
  • 1/4 zips
  • Comfortable trainers
  • Sports bra’s for women
  • Optional accessories like towels, bags, hats, training gloves and socks.


Gym clothes for beginners

If you’re new to the gym, splashing out on a whole new gym wardrobe can be a little overwhelming. A few pieces of high-quality gym clothes will be enough to tide you over until you can keep building out your gym wear. Investing in better will help you put skin in the game and commit to your goals.

Cheap gym clothing may solve the short-term problem but they are made from lower quality fabrics that can hinder your workout and wear quickly, leaving you to dip into your pockets to replace items. It's not great feeling limited by itchy, sweat-trapping cotton t-shirts or leggings that aren’t squat proof. Premium sportswear is designed for longevity, performance and keeping you motivated throughout your fitness journey.

As a beginner, you’ll need a few of the items mentioned earlier. Here are specific qualities to seek out when choosing superior gym wear:

  • Gym clothes should be made from breathable, quick dry, moisture-wicking fabrics to move trapped sweat and heat from the body to keep you cool and comfortable.
  • Lightweight clothing is also important to prevent overheating. Heavy clothes cause faster fatigue, shorter workouts, and less efficiency throughout.
  • If you’re buying sports bras, make sure they are comfortably tight for the best compression without digging in.
  • High-stretch gym wear enhances mobility, comfort, and can prevent ripping when bending during exercises.
  • If you prefer form-fitting gym clothes, look for materials like latex or spandex for that flattering stretch fit.


What kind of shoes should you wear to the gym?

When it comes to shoes, it all depends on what you’re doing in the gym. If you’re more focused on lifting weights, you’ll want trainers that are mostly flat with little cushioning. This is so you can get a good sense of balance while lifting heaving weights. With a flat shoe, you can push down through your big toe while spreading out your other toes to give you more stability.

But if you’re planning a cardio workout, you’ll want a more traditional running shoe with plenty of cushioning. In high-intensity workouts, you want to provide your foot with plenty of comfort and support to help you move at pace.


What to wear to the gym: women

When it comes to women’s gym clothes, matching gym leggings and sports bra outfits are a popular choice, but the possibilities are endless.

 Woman in black sports bra and leggings Woman in burgundy gym outfit Woman in grey gym sports bra and leggings

Speaking of leggings, there are plenty of options to suit all body types and weather. For example, full-length leggings, 7/8 leggings and Capri leggings. Knowing the difference between these types of leggings can make your shopping experience that bit easier, but the images above are some styling favourites.

How you choose tops varies on your style and what you’re comfortable in. Some women just wear their sports bras and leggings whereas some women prefer cropped t-shirts, vests, form-fitting tees or oversized t-shirts. Ultimately, as long as they contain unique performance fabrics, it’s up to you and whatever makes you feel confident. You’ll find the most choice in women’s training vest tops, so check these out first if you want more range in your gym clothing.

Woman in white t-shirt and grey leggings Womens black gym 1/4 zip and leggings set Woman in white long sleeve gym t shirt and navy leggings

Sports bras are a little more specific. When choosing one, it’s important to remember that it should fit a little tighter than a regular bra. This is so it can provide you with a snug level of compression to handle active movement. However, your sports bra shouldn’t be so tight that it digs in and rubs against your skin. So, take your time when shopping for a sports bra and make sure to read all the measurement details of each product. Don’t assume that because one bra fits perfectly that all from different brands will be the same.


What do men wear to the gym?

Men’s gym training tops usually consist of vests or t-shirts with shorts. T-shirts are worn the most and should be sweat-wicking with anti-odour properties to stay fresh. Many experienced weight lifters prefer form-fitting tank tops that accentuate gains and provide temperature control and range of motion for high intensity workouts. You'll be more efficient and able to endure longer workouts without heavy layers that restrict movement.

Man in black gym t shirt and joggers Man in navy hoodie for gym Man in white gym vest/tank top 

Stylish mid layers such as 1/4 zip tops are lightweight and practical as airflow can be adjusted to match the intensity of your workout. Alternatively, a quick-drying hoodie with technical fabrication achieves a balance of warmth and breathability to keep you comfortable before, during and after training. They are particularly ideal for warm ups and cool downs.

If you're not keen on wearing shorts then tracksuit bottoms are a close second. Just make sure they are made from lightweight, high-stretch, breathable fabrics and not heavy cotton. Less frequently, you see men wearing compression leggings in the gym. These apply gentle pressure on the legs which improves blood circulation and cuts down on chafing. Compression leggings can be a little tight, so most men will wear shorts on top for a more sporty look.

Mens navy joggers with zip pockets Man in premium white 1/4 zip and black shorts Black compression leggings