The best workout clothes will allow you to stay cool and comfortable while giving you extra support and complete flexibility of movement…
Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey or are a seasoned gym-goer, the best workout clothes will help you get the most from your sessions. Cotton tees, baggy shorts and old trainers just won’t cut it when you start ramping up your HIIT workouts or weights programme. You need dedicated performance-focused training gear that will move with you and keep you cool and comfortable.
Clothes not made with performance in mind will be distracting at best, but will more likely be restrictive, unsupportive and uncomfortable. Trainers won’t support quick lateral movements, tees will get wet, heavy and start to chafe and shorts won’t wick sweat away and restrict your range of movement. Enter: the best workout clothes in 2023.
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Men’s Fitness’ pick of the best workout clothes
(Keep scrolling for full reviews…)
- Best gym shirt – Under Armour Rush Seamless Legacy Tee ($65 / £53), underarmour.co.uk
- Best gym shorts – Under Armour Vanish Woven Shorts ($50 / £39.99), amazon.co.uk
- Best gym shoes – Reebok Nano X3 ($135 / £110), amazon.co.uk
- Best sweatpants – Under Armour Meridian Tapered Pants ($90 / £85), underarmour.co.uk
- Best running shorts – Inov-8 Race Elite 5-Inch Short ($55 / £40), amazon.co.uk
- Best running shoes – On Running Cloudflow ($139.99 / £130), on-running.com
- Best compression top – 2XU Core Compression Long Sleeve ($69.95 / £60), amazon.co.uk
- Best compression leggings – Skins Series 5 Long ($159.99 / £130), skinscompression.com
- Best sports boxers – CXP Ultralite XP ($60 / £49), cxpofficial.com
Under Armour Rush Seamless Legacy Tee
Best gym shirt
|Material:||52% nylon, 48% polyester|
|Features:||Celliant IR technology, 4-way stretch material, mesh ventilation, iridescent logos|
|Sizes:||Small – 2XL|
|Colours:||Black, grey, blue, yellow|
When it comes to the best clothes for exercising, workout tees don’t get much more functional than Under Armour’s Rush Seamless Legacy top. Like the rest of the company’s Rush line, it features 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.
Made from a soft-knit, four-way stretch fabric, I found the fitted design contoured to my torso well, so there was no baggy excess. However, it isn’t completely skin-tight, giving it a forgiving and flattering look. The sleeves are cut relatively high, so I also found it to be good for unrestricted upper body drills. The hem also hangs low enough to provide coverage even if you’re dangling from the chin-up bar.
The tee felt light and comfortable against my skin. Plus, the seam-free design provided a chafe-free workout, and the strategically placed engineered mesh ventilation zones helped to keep me cool. Even when I did work up a sweat, the material wicked moisture away well and dried relatively quickly. And, on long, hot runs, I found it didn’t suffer from the chafe-inducing sodden drag you can get with other tees.
- Read our full Under Armour Rush Seamless Legacy Tee review
- For a full roundup, check out the best gym shirts
Under Armour Vanish Woven Shorts
Best gym shorts
|Material:||UA Vanish (ultra-light durable woven fabric)|
|Features:||Perforated panels for ventilation; 4-way stretch material; elastic waistband with pull draw; open hand pockets; notched hem|
|Sizes:||S/M – 2XL|
|Colours:||16 colours available|
Under Armour’s Vanish shorts will help you keep your cool even when your session really starts to heat up. While I was testing, I felt cool and comfortable throughout my entire sweaty workout, thanks to temperature-regulating Heat Gear tech, lightweight fabric and breathable mesh construction.
Its wide elastic waist also keeps the pressure off your middle, and flatlock seams minimise the risk of chafing – all in all, I found them extremely comfortable to exercise in. If you’re stocking up on the best workout clothes, your gym kit won’t be complete without a fine pair of shorts like this.
- For a full roundup, check out the best shorts for men
Reebok Nano X3
Best gym shoes
|Material:||Flexweave™ knit upper / Floatride Energy Foam™ midsole / ROPEPRO+™ rubber outsole|
|Sizes:||4 – 13|
|Colours:||6 colours available|
The Reebok Nano X3 is a superbly versatile gym shoe, able to handle multiple movements and cope with the strain of heavy lifting, making it perfect for cross-training.
While testing, the shoe offered excellent lateral support, plus a good deal of grip and traction thanks to the shoe’s rubber outsole. The Reebok Nano X3 is a stable, secure shoe, able to handle multiple movements, as well as the strain put on by heavy lifting. I also found it was also highly comfortable, and easy to slip on and off. Plus, the heel area gave me a spring in my step and the breathable upper material meant my feet stayed fresh even during the most intense sessions.
Under Armour Meridian Tapered Pants
|Material:||83% nylon, 17% elastane|
|Features:||Four-way stretch material; elastic waistband with external drawcord; zip hand pockets|
|Sizes:||XS – 2XL|
|Colours:||Black, fresh clay|
You might not initially consider sweatpants when shopping for the best workout clothes, but the right pair can offer unrivalled comfort during a workout. Plus, they double up as comfy loungewear when chilling at home.
The Under Armour Meridian Tapered Pants have a close, tapered fit for a flattering look and supportive feel. I love their lightweight, super-soft and stretchy fabric, which delivers all-day comfort whether you’re on your sofa, at the shops or midway through your session.
While working out, I found the material wicked sweat away from my body and dried quickly, making the Meridian suitable for intense gym or track sessions. Plus, the two zipped pockets came in handy for stashing my valuables.
- For a full roundup, check out the best sweatpants
Inov-8 Race Elite 5-Inch Short
Best running shorts
|Material:||Recycled polyester, elastane|
|Details:||Integrated boxer liner, rear zipped pocket with key loop|
|Sizes:||XS – XL|
Whether you’re logging training miles, nailing gym drills or rocking up at a weekend race, the Inov-8 Race Elite 5-inch should be on your list. On test, I found it struck the perfect balance between that lightweight, barely-there feel and confident coverage.
I was also impressed by the perforated panels, which kept air flowing and sweat dissipating, while the silky soft boxer liners with flat seams enhanced my comfort. Plus, the soft, wide waistband also resists rolling and reduces pressure, adding even more comfort points. I also noticed there’s also enough pocket storage for a large smartphone or a fistful of gels, as well as a key loop.
- Read our full Inov8 Race Elite 5-Inch Short review
- For a full roundup, check out the best running shorts
On Running Cloudflow
Best running shoes
|Material:||Helion™ superfoam, recycled polyester|
|Sizes:||6.5 to 13.5|
|Colours:||9 colours available|
Swiss brand ON has established itself as a shining light in the running shoe game. Its Cloudflow is all about soft landings and explosive take-offs, making it one of the best any-distance running shoes I’ve ever tried.
The Helion™ superfoam, meanwhile, ensured a smooth ride while I was running – giving comfort, kick and more speed – and the curved heel unit meant for better hold, durability and comfort. I also found them to be super lightweight, reinforced and well-ventilated. What’s more, the advanced traction pattern on the sole also offers superior grip when I was running on wet and slippery terrain.
- For a full roundup, check out the best running shoes
2XU Core Compression Long Sleeve
Best compression top
|Material:||80% polyamide, 20% elastane|
|Sizes:||XS – 2XL|
|Features:||Circular knit, 360-degree stretch fabric, flatlock seams, raglan sleeves, vent panels, reflective logo|
If you want to upgrade to the best workout clothes, compression kit offers the latest top-of-the-range technology to support your muscles during workouts. The 2XU Core Compression top boasts high-level compression and a wealth of technical features. While testing, I found it had a tight, compressive fit, which is designed to support your muscles during exercise and kickstart the recovery process afterwards.
Its thick yet lightweight PWX fabric – combined with well-placed vent panels – finds the sweet spot between insulation and ventilation. During my workout, I found the top provided reliable temperature regulation. Plus, the raglan sleeves also ensured my movement was unrestricted, while elasticated sleeves and that second-skin fit kept the top in place on my torso.
- Read our full 2XU Core Compression Long Sleeve review
- For a full roundup, check out the best compression tops for men
Skins Series 5 Long
Best compression tights
|Material:||76% nylon, 24% elastane|
|Sizes:||Small – 2XL|
|Features:||Breatheable mesh panels, elasticated internal drawcord, reflective logos, rear stretch pocket|
The close-fitting Skins Series 5 are dedicated high-grade compression tights that can be worn during and after workouts. Featuring the highest compression levels in the Skins recovery gear line-up, they deliver targeted, graduated compression to all the major muscles in your lower torso.
Once you feel their muscle vibration reduction benefits – whether you use them for road runs, strength sessions or HIIT workouts – you’ll find it hard to go back. While testing, I found the super-smooth, quick-drying fabric to be some of the comfiest I’ve ever had against my skin. Plus, flatlock seams kept chafing to a minimum while I was working out.
- Read our full Skins Series 5 Long review
- For a full roundup, check out the best compression tights for men
CXP Ultralite XP Compression Shorts
Best sports boxers
|Material:||86% polyamide, 14% spandex|
|Sizes:||Small – XL|
For seriously comfy and supportive sports boxers with compression benefits, look no further than the CXP Ultralite XP. During workouts, I found the bonded seams completely eliminated chafing, while a multi-panel waistband was effective at spreading the pressure out evenly for a comfortable fit.
They’re also the lightest sports boxers I’ve tested, yet durability and moisture management are first-class. Whether you wear them for regular workouts or sports, longer sessions or multi-hour endurance events, you really can’t go wrong with these CXP shorts.
How we tested to find the best workout clothes:
When you’re looking to invest in new workout kit, we know just how crucial those trustworthy reviews can be in helping you reach that all-important decision. So, our team of trusted testers put dozens of tops, leggings, shorts, shoes and more through their paces to bring you the very best of the best.
All items were tested in terms of fit, comfort and style, alongside how well they performed during various workouts. Our testers also honed in on the high-tech features each garment offers, from sweat-wicking fabrics and four-way stretch to breathable uppers and zero-chafe seams.
What to look for in the best workout clothes
The best workout clothes should only enhance your workout. You want stretch, flex and breathability. You want comfort, light weight and support. So look for technical clothes made from advanced sweat-wicking fabrics including nylon, elastane and polyester (or natural fibres like merino wool). Look for flattened or minimal seams to stop chafing. And look for a fit that is close and supportive with good coverage, without being restrictive.
Don’t forget shoes, either. Unless you’re focused on lifting you don’t want dedicated lifting shoes, which are too rigid for most other workouts. Instead, for gym shoes look for ones that offer lateral support, or for running you want good flex and cushioning through your stride. Both should be lightweight, with breathable uppers.
Best workout clothes FAQs
What’s the most important thing to look for in a workout top?
Breathability and sweat wicking performance are the most important things to look for in a gym shirt. A gym shirt that promotes air flow and that dries quickly will stay lighter, drier and more comfortable for longer.
What length of gym shorts should I wear?
Gym shorts tend to come in three lengths – 3-inch, 5-inch and 7-inch. Three-inch shorts tend to be the reserve of runners. Seven-inch shorts offer the best coverage and the most storage but are a little heavier. Five-inch shorts therefore offer a good compromise of range of movement, coverage, weight and support.
Can I wear my running shoes in the gym?
Unless most of your gym sessions are focused on treadmill running, we’d recommend looking for shoes that offer more lateral support. Running shoes are built purely to support movement in one axis; good gym shoes should offer support whichever way you move.
Can’t I just wear my regular clothes to the gym?
Wearing street clothes is a sure-fire way to feel uncomfortable, restricted and unsupported. From jeans studs digging into you during floor work to your undies rubbing while riding an air bike, you’re guaranteed to get less enjoyment from your workout.
Are loose or form-fitting workout clothes best?
This one’s a matter of choice, really, though more intense sessions tend to favour looser clothes to help keep you cool. They’ll give you a better range of movement, too, although tighter clothes will give you better support.
Do I need compression gear?
Compression clothes aren’t necessary but they do offer certain benefits. Those include increasing blood flow to aid muscle recovery post-workout and good support to reduce muscle fatigue during exercise.
Need more info on choosing the best workout clothes? Find out what to wear to the gym