October 30, 2020

Lots of fitness gurus say that getting in shape is all about hard work. There’s a lot of truth to that statement, but you also shouldn’t ignore the power of mindset, knowledge, and tools of the trade that give you the edge in the gym.

Proper gym clothes are one of those things that often gets overlooked, but that can actually make a big difference in how you execute your game plan and get the results you want. 

It’s time we determine the best activewear for workouts, explain why some gym clothes are better than others, and give you some key criteria when selecting your next gym outfit. 

High-Performance Materials

Unlike your favorite cotton shirts, denim jackets, and casual chinos, activewear is engineered mainly with performance in mind. This means that manufacturers are highly selective with the fabric blends they use to achieve flexibility, durability, and other key characteristics. 

When you’re pushing yourself to the limit during a weightlifting routine, group exercise class, or long run through the city, your clothes should help you perform instead of holding you back.

Here are some of the materials you should look for when picking out activewear, and some insight into what they do:

  • Polyester: The ubiquitous workout clothing material, this synthetic fabric is light, wrinkle-resistant, and wicks away moisture like no other. You stay dry during heavy sweat sessions instead of damp and weighed down. 
  • Spandex: Nothing stretches quite like this synthetic material, which goes by the brand name Lycra. It may not be the most breathable or moisture-wicking, but it can expand to eight times its original size, giving you a huge range of motion and comfort at the gym. 
  • Nylon: This super-soft material is the ultimate destroyer of sweat, and it has plenty of stretch to maximize your motion during intense workouts. Plus, it’s resistant to mildew and bacteria, so you stay clean and cool when your mission is complete.
  • Polypropylene: In terms of pure durability, it’s hard to beat this synthetic waterproof material. It keeps you covered in high-humidity environments and is perfect for exercising outdoors when temps drop, so get out there and hit the pavement any time. 
  • Merino Wool: Typically worn in very cold weather, this is a natural fabric made from the follicle fibers of sheep, goats, alpacas, and other animals. Merino is an especially fine wool that also works well in warmer climates, so look for that seal of quality when selecting workout clothes for all purposes.
  • Pima Cotton: We think of cotton as a no-no for activewear since it doesn’t wick moisture like synthetic materials. Pima is on another level, however, and adds an undeniable softness to your wardrobe. Keep your eyes open for this fabric, and don’t balk at the price because it’s worth the bit of extra cash.  
  • The top-quality activewear on the market is rarely composed of a single material but rather blends the best of all worlds to give you the perfect mix of comfort, performance, and durability.

    For example, the finest workout tops contain mostly polyester, along with a portion of cotton and a shred of spandex to achieve a strong, antimicrobial material that stretches just enough.

    Depending on the weather, you may want more polyester and spandex in your athletic sweatpants or track pants for a lighter, stretchier feel. 

    Determine your own athleticwear needs and find materials that fit your game plan, regional weather patterns, and personal preferences for comfort and weight.  

    Fits For Motion And Momentum

    Now that you know that materials give you superpowers in the gym, it’s time to focus on fit. The size and shape of your activewear are almost as important as the stuff it’s made from.

    Range of motion is a top priority in workouts like weightlifting, yoga, and CrossFit, and your clothes need to offer maximum flexibility without any constriction. 

    The last thing you need during a heavy bench press or challenging yoga pose is for your shirt or pants to start bunching up, breaking your concentration, and potentially leading to injury. 

    When your workout clothes fit well and give you full coverage, you can focus fully on the task at hand, whether it’s pushing heavy weight or trying to beat a personal record on your 5k. 

    Ever tried working out in clothes that don’t properly fit your frame? You don’t need to be a high-level athlete to figure out that it holds you back from achieving your potential. 

    One of the biggest misconceptions is that the shape of your t-shirt doesn’t matter. In reality, your tee can make or break a workout based on how it fits your body. 

    Too tight, and you won’t be able to stretch and squeeze your muscles properly. Too baggy, and you will be swimming in loose fabric and potentially sabotage your routine with excess material bunching up in all the wrong places. 

    When shopping for tees and long-sleeve shirts, only buy products that give you plenty of wiggle room without feeling loose around the neck and extend to a comfortable position on your arm. Just be warned: once you experience that perfect fit, there’s no going back to those big-box retailer workout clothes.

    Any Weather, Any Situation

    We usually think of shiny tees and shorts when activewear comes to mind, but true workout warriors know that there is so much more to a complete wardrobe of athletic clothing. 

    Staying committed to a fitness routine means braving cold temperatures and rough weather to tackle your goals head-on.

    A modern workout staple is the classic zip-up hoodie, which needs to be lightweight while providing warmth and coverage in any set of conditions. You should be able to wear it for a morning jog, heavy lifting session, or a quick run to the convenience store. 

    Swimwear is another category that often gets overlooked by the activewear crowd, and it’s generally accepted that any set of swim trunks will do for a calorie-burning workout. In reality, most retail swimwear is restrictive and causes rashes in all the wrong places, so it’s better to track down some quality board shorts engineered with the best materials available.

    There’s also the underwear factor, which can’t be ignored as a part of your activewear wardrobe. After all, boxers and undershirts are the first layer of protection against the elements and will keep you fresh and clean during the most grueling workouts, so be selective! 

    The point here is that workout conditions will rarely be ideal, with temperature, humidity, and other inclement weather coming into play throughout the year. Build a well-rounded wardrobe of activewear that keeps you in that ideal temp range for the best possible workout, no matter what’s on the weather report.    

    Stay Stylish And Fashion-Forward

    Let’s be real, activewear doesn’t have the best track record in terms of style, but that’s changed in the past decade as companies become way more conscious of fits, colors, and design elements that appeal to the modern gym-goer. 

    We’ve recently seen the athleisure movement totally change the game for how workout clothes look and feel, and social media momentum has been a big driver of these trends. 

    Millennials and Generation Z are especially infatuated with social media, with 38 percent of this demographic claiming they make purchases based on influencer opinions. 

    It’s not just celebrities, either. While LeBron James and Cristiano Ronaldo may keep big brand names in your mind, a growing segment of customers is buying via Instagram when they see their favorite fitness start rocking a new outfit or pair of shoes.

    In other words, the bar has been raised for fashionable fitness clothes, and it’s not all coming from the biggest brands in the game. 

    Smaller producers are making higher-quality activewear than ever before, and you don’t want to fall behind the times with antiquated fits and fabrics. Stay tuned on social media to see this trend taking place in real-time. 

    Many marketers are also noticing a trend toward indoor workouts and e-sports, with more people staying at home and avoiding crowded public areas. 

    As we’ve seen in 2020, it’s too easy to fall behind on the workout regimen when stuck in the house, and many of us need some extra motivation. 

    Just because you’re working out at home doesn’t mean you should subject yourself to worn-out tees and shorts. Simply investing in a set of quality new activewear could be the spark that pushes you to hop on that online group workout session or stationary bike. 


    The core components of an activewear wardrobe aren’t hard to identify, but selecting the best materials and fits takes some more discretion.

    Only go for fabrics that are best for flexibility, moisture-wicking, and comfort, and choose fits that give you maximum range of motion for peak performance. Don’t forget about style because the Instagram crowd has set new standards for activewear fashion!

    We’ve outlined everything you need to know about the best activewear trends happening now, so go ahead and get the gear that takes your workouts to the next level.