The best fabrics for sportswear
Sure a nice pair of leggings or shorts looks good at the gym, but how will you feel during your workout? Start by looking at what it’s made of. Some fabrics are made to withstand intense sweat sessions by wicking moisture away from your body, while others simply trap it, leaving you feeling unpleasantly sweaty. Cheap workout clothes may be comfortable for your wallet, but not so much for your body.
Cotton is the best choice for low-intensity workouts. This fabric absorbs moisture like a sponge, making it an uncomfortable choice for high-intensity workouts. Cotton is perfect for low-impact workouts where you’ll sweat less, like light weight training or slow yoga moves.
But cotton has a major advantage: It’s less likely to smell like sweat after a workout compared to synthetic fabrics: Research shows that odor-causing bacteria cling to synthetic fibers more easily than cotton.
Absorbent fabrics are the best at getting rid of sweat. If you can’t stand that sweaty feeling, this is the fabric for you. Nylon, spandex, bamboo and polypropylene workout clothes are all known for their ability to wick moisture away from your skin so it can evaporate. This type of fabric can also help keep your body temperature down during workouts in hot environments.
But what about the smell, since bacteria clings to this kind of man-made fabric? If you’re really bothered by the sweaty smell after a workout, opt for workout clothes made with antimicrobial technology (which often uses silver nanoparticles that inhibit bacterial growth).
Choose the right fabric for outdoor workouts. Choosing the right fabric is especially important for outdoor workouts when you have to deal with the weather. During the winter, layers are your best friend. Opt for a polypropylene base layer to wick away moisture and sweat. Then add a fleece layer for extra warmth if needed.
When the weather warms up, moisture-wicking workout clothes are even more important, as you’ll likely sweat more. On sunny days, watch out for the sun, too. Look for polyester workout clothes for outdoor sessions in the heat: they wick moisture and offer some UV protection.
Do the “squat test” before buying leggings and leggings. You’ll probably want to avoid sports socks that become see-through when you lie down or squat. It’s almost impossible to know which pieces will be see-through just by looking at them unworn, so always do a precheck in the locker room.
Find the perfect fit and form
For both men and women, you should always consider how workout clothes feel when you wear them. If they’re uncomfortable – too tight, too loose, itchy, etc. – you’re less likely to wear them. – If they’re uncomfortable – too tight, too loose, itchy, etc. – you’re less likely to wear them, and it’s hard enough to motivate yourself to work out without adding that concern to the list.
Loose, tight or just right? As convenient as online shopping is, trying on your workout clothes before you buy them can save you a lot of trouble. Do you have a good range of motion in those tight leggings? Will your shorts slide up or out? If you must wear loose clothing, consider also wearing something tighter and moisture-wicking underneath, such as a polypropylene top or shorts.
For high-impact workouts that require more movement, look for workout clothes made of nylon or spandex – they’re stretchy enough to allow for a full range of motion, while still providing ideal support.
Find clothes that fit your body type. You may already know that you can buy sizes small and large for everyday clothing, and you can do the same for sportswear!