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What to wear to the gym for men & women?

Imagine walking into a gym, glancing around, and realizing that something feels slightly off. Could it be those old sneakers or that oversized cotton tee?

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For many, the gym isn't just a place to challenge their physical limits; it's also a space where the right attire can play a pivotal role in performance and safety.

It's not about being the most fashionable person on the treadmill, but rather understanding how certain fabrics and fits can either enhance or hinder a workout.

That comfy cotton tee, for instance, might seem like a good choice, but after a few minutes of intense cardio, it could become a soggy mess. And those worn-out sneakers? They might not be offering the support needed for certain exercises.

Whether someone's a gym rookie or a seasoned pro, knowing what to wear can make all the difference. This guide aims to shed light on the essentials of gym attire for both men and women, ensuring everyone can focus on their workout with confidence and comfort. Let's dive in!

Understanding the basics

First off, let's chat about fabric. Ever notice how some shirts leave you feeling like you've just taken a dip in a pool after a workout, while others seem to magically stay dry? That's all down to the type of fabric.

While cotton is super comfy for lounging around, it's not the best buddy for a sweaty session. It tends to hold onto moisture, leaving you feeling damp and a bit clammy.

Instead, you'll want to look for fabrics that are breathable and have moisture-wicking properties. These bad boys pull sweat away from your skin, helping you stay dry and chafe-free.

Now, let's talk. We all have those baggy sweatpants that are perfect for Netflix binges, but in the gym, they might get in the way.

The key is to find a balance between comfort and functionality. Clothes shouldn't be so tight that they restrict movement, but they also shouldn't be so loose that they become a hazard, especially around gym equipment.

Read also: 5 types of gym goers: Which one are you?

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For men: Gym attire essentials

Navigating the world of men's gym attire can be a bit daunting, but with the right guidance, any man can be well-equipped for his fitness journey.

A. Tops

Starting at the top, T-shirts are undeniably a gym staple for men. However, not every tee is cut out for the task.

While that vintage band T-shirt might be a favorite for casual outings, it's not necessarily the best choice for a workout. Fitted tees, which allow ample movement without being overly snug, are ideal.

For those who prefer a breezier option, tank tops are an excellent choice, especially for showcasing hard-earned muscles. And when the temperature drops? A well-fitted sweatshirt or hoodie can keep one warm without posing a risk around gym equipment.

B. Bottoms

When it comes to bottoms, shorts are a popular pick. The length is often a matter of personal preference, with some men favoring the freedom of shorter cuts, while others opt for a bit more coverage.

For those who aren't keen on shorts, joggers and track pants offer a comfortable and versatile alternative. Additionally, for enthusiasts involved in weightlifting or specific types of training, compression tights can offer invaluable muscle support and aid in recovery.

C. Footwear

The foundation of any effective workout often lies in the choice of footwear. While it might be tempting to hold onto those old sneakers, investing in a quality pair of cross trainers or workout-specific shoes can make a significant difference.

It's essential to note that while running shoes are excellent for running, they might lack the stability required for activities like weightlifting.

D. Accessories

Rounding off the list are the often-overlooked accessories. For those delving into weightlifting, gym gloves can prevent blisters and offer an enhanced grip.

Sweatbands, though reminiscent of past decades, effectively keep sweat at bay. And for those heavy lifting sessions, a weightlifting belt can be crucial for added back support.

In conclusion, for men, the right gym attire is a blend of comfort and functionality. With the appropriate gear, one can ensure safety, optimise performance, and confidently stride towards achieving those fitness milestones.

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For woman: Gym attire essentials

Ladies, it's our time to shine! 🌟 Let's dive into the essentials that'll have us feeling confident and comfortable during our workouts.

A. Tops

First things first, let's talk about the unsung hero of women's gym wear: the sports bra. Finding the right one is like striking gold. It offers support, keeps everything in place, and can make all the difference in a workout.

As for T-shirts and tank tops, it's all about finding that sweet spot between fit and freedom. You don't want anything too tight that it restricts movement, but also not so loose that it gets in the way. And for those chillier days or outdoor runs, a long-sleeve top or a light jacket can be your best friend.

B. Bottoms

Leggings neves goes wrong! They're versatile, comfy, and come in so many fun designs. When choosing a pair, look for ones that offer a good stretch but also provide support.

Not a leggings fan? No worries. There are plenty of shorts that offer both style and functionality. And if you're looking for something a tad more relaxed, joggers and track pants have got you covered.

C. Footwear

Shoes can make or break a workout. Ever tried running in shoes that don't fit quite right? Ouch! Whether you're into cardio, weightlifting, or yoga, the right footwear is crucial.

Cross trainers are versatile and offer support for a range of activities. But if you're a dedicated runner, investing in a good pair of running shoes is a game-changer.

D. Accessories

Now for the finishing touches. Headbands and hair ties are essential for keeping those locks out of the way. And if you've ever had a blister from lifting weights or doing pull-ups, you'll appreciate the value of gym gloves.

For the yogis out there, yoga socks can provide that extra grip for perfecting those poses.

In a nutshell, ladies, the right gym attire is all about feeling empowered and comfortable. When we're dressed for success, it's one less thing to worry about, letting us focus on crushing those goals. So, gear up, show up, and let's get moving! 

Source: Pexels

Dos and don’ts of what to wear to the gym

Choosing the right gym attire can sometimes feel overwhelming. But fear not! Here's a straightforward list of dos and don'ts to ensure you're always geared up and ready for an effective workout.


  1. Prioritise comfort: Always opt for outfits that allow you to move freely. If you're constantly adjusting your clothes, they might not be the best fit for your workout.
  2. Pick quick-dry fabrics: Some materials help pull sweat away, so you stay dry.
  3. Wear proper footwear: Different workouts require different types of support. Ensure your shoes are suitable for your activity, whether it's running, weightlifting, or aerobics.


  1. Avoid overly baggy clothes: While comfort is essential, super loose clothing can become a hazard, getting caught in machines or causing trips.
  2. Skip the makeup: Heavy makeup can clog pores when you sweat, leading to breakouts. If you're coming from another event, consider a quick face wash before starting your workout.
  3. Keep jewellery off: Long necklaces, big rings, or dangling earrings can be dangerous. They can get caught in equipment or even cause injury.


Alright, we've journeyed through the world of gym attire, from the basics to the specifics for both men and women. And while it might seem like there's a lot to consider, remember this: it's all about feeling good while doing good for your body.

Choosing the right gym wear isn't just about looking the part. It's about optimizing performance, ensuring safety, and making every workout count. Whether you're lifting weights, hitting the treadmill, or finding your zen in yoga, the right attire can truly elevate the experience.

So, next time you're gearing up for the gym, take a moment to consider your choices. Are those shoes offering the support you need? Is that top breathable enough for a sweaty session? Remember, every little detail can make a difference.

In the grand scheme of things, it's not just about the clothes; it's about the commitment to oneself, the dedication to health, and the journey to becoming the best version of oneself. But with the right gear in tow, that journey becomes just a tad bit smoother.

So, lace up, gear up, and let's make every workout the best one yet!

Friska 🐨

Read next: 10 frequently neglected gym etiquette rules

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Can I wear regular sneakers to the gym?

While you can wear regular sneakers, it's best to wear shoes designed for workouts. They provide better support and are safer for specific exercises.

2. Is it necessary to wear a sports bra to the gym?

For women, a sports bra provides support and comfort during workouts. It's recommended to wear one to prevent discomfort and potential strain.

3. Why should I avoid cotton T-shirts at the gym?

While cotton is comfortable, it retains moisture (sweat) and doesn't dry quickly. This can lead to discomfort and chafing during workouts.

4. Are there specific shoes for different workouts?

Yes. For example, running shoes are designed for forward motion, while cross-trainers are more versatile for activities like weightlifting or aerobics.

5. Is it okay to wear makeup to the gym?

While it's a personal choice, heavy makeup can clog pores when sweating, which might lead to breakouts. If you choose to wear makeup, consider lighter, breathable products.


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