Just because you can throw on any old t-shirt for your gym session, doesn’t mean you should. For those who want to train in comfort and style, these are the best gym shirts and workout tees…
You can stick on any old scraggy t-shirt to hit the gym but wearing the best workout clothes you can will make a difference to how you perform. Whether you’re swinging heavy metal, plodding pavements or sweating out demons in a hardcore spin session, it’s hard to get in the zone unless you feel comfortable and confident.
Dropping a few extra quid on a good technical workout tee is a smart move. That’s why we suited up and tested eight of the latest fitness tees to bring you our pick of the best training tops for any workout.
These are the best gym shirts
- Best for versatility – Under Armour Rush Seamless Legacy Tee ($65 / £53)
- Best for style – Tracksmith Strata Tee ($92 / £92)
- Best for rapid drying – 66North Grettir Tee ($60 / £50)
- Best long-sleeved tee – Castore Anatomic Mesh Mix Panel Training Tee ($104 / £70)
- Best for staying cool – Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Tee ($68 / not available in the US)
- Best for cardio – Gymshark Apex T-Shirt (£38 / not available in the US)
- Best for flexibility – Smartwool Intraknit Active Short-Sleeve Tee (£89.99 / not available in the US)
- Best for outdoor training – Picture Organic Dephi Tech Tee (£45 / not available in the US)
BEST GYM SHIRTS FOR VERSATILITY
Under Armour Rush Seamless Legacy Tee
BUY IT NOW:
$65 / £53, underarmour.co.uk
Materials: 52% nylon, 48% polyester | Sizes: Small to XXL | Features: Celliant IR technology / 4-way stretch material / mesh ventilation / iridescent logos | Colours: Black / Orange Blast / Pitch Grey / Harbour Blue / Sonar Blue / Chakra
For the ultimate in functional workout tees, pull on one of Under Armour’s Rush Legacy tops. The company’s Rush line features special minerals embedded in the fabric to reflect your body’s Far Infrared (FIR) heat ‘energy’ back into the muscles to create deeper warmth and aid recovery.
Add to that the Legacy’s seamless, soft-knit, four-way stretch design and mesh ventilation zones, and you have a gym shirt that will keep you cool and comfortable even during your toughest workouts.
Read our full Under Armour Rush Seamless Legacy Tee review
BEST GYM SHIRTS FOR STYLE
Tracksmith Strata Tee
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$92 / £92, tracksmith.com
Sweat wicking: 4/5
Materials: 78% nylon, 22% elastane | Sizes: Small to XL | Features: UVA/UVB protection / bonded seams / bacteria and odour resistant | Colours: Ivory / Navy and Ivory
Tracksmith is fast gaining a reputation for making some of the most stylish running gear around. Its New England-inspires kit in a wealth of gloriously retro colours takes a leaf from Chariots of Fire and from the halcyon heyday of track athletics.
That’s not to say performance is anything other than 21st century. The Strata tee is silky soft, fitted and impressively breathable with an anti-microbial treatment to stay fresher for longer, and it boasts 30+ UV protection.
Read our full Tracksmith Strata Tee review
BEST GYM SHIRTS FOR RAPID DRYING
66North Grettir Tee
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$60 / £50, 66north.com
Materials: 51% polyester, 45% Tencel, 4% elastane | Sizes: XS to XXL | Features: Breathable mesh fabric / odour resistant / repairs for life scheme | Colour: Pro Orange
Who better to turn to for kitting up for big outdoor sessions than Icelandic adventure clothing king 66North? Its super-light multi-purpose Grettir tee is made for everything from running and hiking to cycling and climbing. It’s versatile enough to be a great option for indoor gym sessions, too.
With a snug baselayer feel and fast drying fabric with an anti-odour treatment, it’s a tee you can wear in comfort for long periods, even under multiple layers. An added bonus is 66North’s repairs for life scheme, making this even better value.
Read our full 66North Grettir Tee review
BEST LONG-SLEEVE GYM SHIRTS
Castore Anatomic Mesh Mix Panel Training Tee
BUY IT NOW:
$104 / £70, castore.com
Materials: Polyester, elastane | Sizes: XS to XXL | Features: Flat seams / mesh back panel / reflective laser-cut eyelets and logo | Colour: Navy
If you’re looking for a technical tee with long-sleeve coverage, Castore’s Anatomic Mesh Mix Panel Training Tee is a top choice for tackling intense workouts. Strategically placed panels make for a flexible, ergonomic fit and allow ease of movement – ideal for dynamic outdoor drills, for example.
It goes for a looser fit rather than baselayer-style snugness, so it’s more flattering on us mere mortals. Mesh back panels improve air flow around your shoulders, with laser-cut eyelets keeping things aerated across the front too. It may not be cheap but Castore’s training tee looks and feels like its made to last.
Read our full Castore Anatomic Mesh Mix Panel Training Tee review
BEST GYM SHIRTS FOR STAYING COOL
Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Tee
BUY IT NOW:
£68 (not available in the US), lululemon.co.uk
Materials: 53% nylon, 40% recycled polyester, 4% elastane, 3% X-Static nylon | Sizes: XS to XXL | Features: Breathable mesh construction / minimal seams / bacteria and odour resistant | Colours: 14 colours available
With a fantastic fit and some of the best sweat-wicking performance around, this Lululemon tee is good option for handling those hotter, tougher sessions. It helps you stay cool and comfortable however hard your workout tempo.
It features a soft, smooth, stretchy fabric with plenty of flex, enabling a full range of motion, and it’s cut longer in the back for better coverage. With 14 colours to choose from, you might even be tempted to match it to the rest of your kit.
Read our full Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Tee review
BEST GYM SHIRTS FOR CARDIO
Gymshark Apex T-Shirt
BUY IT NOW:
£38 (not available in the US), gymshark.com
Materials: 91% Polyester, 9% IONIC+® | Sizes: XS-3XL | Features: ESNCE™️ anti-odour technology / Side splits at hem for freedom of movement / Lightweight, high-stretch material | Colours: 5 available
The Apex is a lightweight, versatile training top that wicks sweat away and largely goes unnoticed. It’s infused with ESNCE™️ anti-odour technology, the effectiveness is difficult to gauge completely, but MF‘s editor, who tested the top, doesn’t think he smelt after wearing it – maybe that’s praise enough.
The lightweight design means the top might be better suited to aerobic exercise than weight lifting, as the sleeves can ride up during upper-body movements.
Read our full Gymshark Apex T-Shirt review
BEST GYM SHIRTS FOR FLEXIBILITY
Smartwool Intraknit Active Short-Sleeve Tee
BUY IT NOW:
£89.99 (not currently available in the US), smartwool.co.uk
Materials: 51% merino wool, 22% polyester, 21% Lyocell, 6% elastane | Sizes: Small to XXL | Features: Mesh ventilation zones / bacteria and odour resistant | Colours: Lead / Black
A sustainable alternative to man-made materials like nylon and polyester, merino wool gym shirts can pack just as much of a performance punch as synthetics. The Smartwool Intraknit’s merino-Tencel mix ensures it’s not only soft, comfortable and a good moisture wicker, but also hard-wearing and versatile.
It’s a heavier duty top than most, with a supportive fit and minimal seams. There’s plenty of flex for strength work and dynamic drills and strategic mesh panels to keep air flowing when you crank up the heat.
Read our full Smartwool Intraknit Active Short-Sleeve Tee review
BEST GYM SHIRTS FOR OUTDOOR TRAINING
Picture Organic Dephi Tech Tee
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Materials: 40% recycled polyester, 48% polyester, 12% Tencel | Sizes: Small to XXL | Features: Ethical and sustainable design / antimicrobial treatment / UPF50+ UV protection / reflective details | Colours: Darkest Spruce / Cashew / Dusky Orchid
Another versatile training top suitable for everything from running to lifting, Picture Organic’s Dephi Tech Tee hides its high-performance spec behind a classic cotton tee disguise. Those subtle tones and classic styling mean it’s a good option for kicking back pre- and post-adventure.
However, innovative Poly-Tencel fabric means it’s not only soft, comfortable and breathable, but also durable and environment-friendly. There’s odour-fighting antimicrobial tech and UP50+ ultraviolet protection built in too.
Read our full Picture Organic Dephi Tech Tee review
Benefits of training in the best gym shirts
When you’re hitting the gym floor, the right gear can make all the difference. You could just stick on any old cotton t-shirt you find at the back of the drawer. But if you want comfort, performance and a bit of confidence-boosting style, investing in the right technical workout tee is the smarter option.
Unlike regular cotton t-shirts, technical gym tops tend to be made from more advanced moisture-wicking fabrics, or sometimes high-end merino wool. They’re designed to be light, to move with your body and keep you cool and dry during even the most intense sessions.
So when you’re knocking out your umpteenth burpee – and cursing yourself and the universe – your gym kit won’t add unnecessary discomfort, chafing and soggy misery into the mix.
Key features to look for in gym shirts:
It’s not just moisture-wicking that makes technical workout t-shirts the smarter option, though. They often come with other features that make them a worthwhile investment. That includes breathable mesh panels that improve airflow and ventilation; and a workout-friendly fit that guarantees a good, unrestricted range of movement, leaving you to concentrate on the task at hand.
Some training tops are treated with anti-odor technology to keep you feeling fresh even after a gruelling session and you can even get compression tops that support your muscles – and make you feel more compact and supported like a Marvel superhero.
The best technical workout t-shirts are also now made to be versatile. Not only are they great for working out, but they can also be stylish and comfortable enough for everyday wear. So if you’re looking to upgrade your workout wardrobe, a few high-quality technical tees is the way to go.
Get the right workout footwear with the best gym shoes