What to wear to the gym: The ultimate guide for women
COMFORT . PERFORMANCE . MOTIVATION . ACHIEVEMENT
When it comes to choosing the ideal workout ensemble for women, there are several factors to consider. Attire that have higher comfort performance has been found to be important when choosing exercise attire for gym goers, yogis and when playing sports (1).
Wearing appropriate workout clothing not only enhances comfort but also allows for maximum performance during exercise. Whether you are a seasoned gym-goer or a beginner, selecting the right clothes can greatly impact your workout experience. We have put together this comprehensive guide aiming to assist you women in making informed decisions regarding what to wear to the gym, or workout ensuring both style and functionality.
Understand your Needs
Every individual is different and similarly, our needs are different too. Likewise, it is also important to choose appropriate clothing for different activities and workouts. Clothing choice for a yoga session may be different to what you may need to wear to a weightlifting session at the gym or hitting the pavement outdoors for a run.
We all have different comfort factors that we hold dear to us. For example, here at Active by GS some of us swear by choosing to go with the most comfortable while others go for style. However, both groups agree that the combination of comfort and style works best for motivation! We love clothing that are all-rounders and versatile so that we do not have to think of different types of attire for the hardcore gym days to the stretch yoga or pilates days.
Here are a few that we all think are the absolute most important factors.
First and foremost, prioritise comfort when selecting your gym outfit. You don’t want to be 15 mins into your workout activity and feel so uncomfortable that you want to stop working out. Consider fabric blends that motivate you and keep you dry and fresh when you are sweating it out! Opt for breathable material that wick away moisture, keeping you cool and dry throughout your workout.
The top key factors to consider for comfort are:
- breathable & thermo-regulating
- moisture wicking & anti-microbial
- odour resistant
- 4-way stretch
- buttery soft and comfortable
There are several blends that have moisture-wicking capabilities, however, most are synthetic and not pleasant to wear for a long time. Fabric made out of bamboo fibre, bamboo fabric is considered to have one of the best natural moisture wicking capabilities thus keeping you odour free. Being natural is a bonus which means the blend is also skin friendly. These fabrics also allow air circulation and prevent excessive sweating, providing a more enjoyable and productive exercise or workout session. Read more about the benefits of using bamboo in activewear and athleisure wear.
Choose the Right Fit
Clothing requirements and their fit differ in relation to workout types. For example, clothing worn for an intensive gym session may be different to what you would choose to wear when you are off to an outdoor run. Similarly, clothing for yoga sessions may be different to when you are going to play sport.
The human body movement happens due to a variety of physical factors such as rotatory motion and translational displacement.
The clothing fit’s efficacy to accommodate the skin strain due to expansion and contraction is crucial, as human body movement is produced by the combination of rotatory motion and translational displacement. During such movement, it is important to understand that the skin moves accordingly and the clothing has to be performance friendly to "accommodate the skin strain due to expansion and contraction is crucial" (2) .
Take body measurements the right way to find clothing sizes. The top key factors to consider for the right fit are:
- tops and bottoms that sit comfortably on the body
- clothing must stretch with body movement, think 4-way stretch
- protect from chafing
- must not bite onto the shoulders or underarms
- tops must be loose or snug according to activity choice
- bra must be supportive
Ensuring the right fit is crucial for optimal performance and freedom of movement during exercise. Avoid clothing that is too tight, as it may restrict your range of motion. On the other hand, excessively loose clothing can be cumbersome and interfere with your workout routine. Aim for a balance that allows you to move comfortably while maintaining a streamlined silhouette.
Supportive Sports Bras
For women, selecting a supportive sports bra is essential. The right sports bra not only provides comfort but also minimizes breast movement, reducing potential discomfort and strain on the ligaments. Prevention of damage to Coopers ligaments needs to be carefully considered too. While it is a known fact that Coopers ligaments stretch over time, steps could be taken to prevent damage as once stretched the ligaments cannot be repaired to go back to the original shape (3). Not only that choice of the wrong size can also result in pain and discomfort.
Choose a sports bra that offers adequate support for your specific activity level and bust size. A quality bra can help to support ligaments and support the weight of full, heavy breasts. Make sure the bra isn’t too tight since this can cause a lack of blood circulation.
Consider options with adjustable straps, moisture-wicking properties, and a snug yet comfortable fit. Removable bra inserts have been considered to be a great option if you need to change them at times into push ups or general. They also can be removed before popping into the wash for better durability.
When it comes to tops, opt for breathable tank tops, t-shirts, or long-sleeved shirts, depending on your preference and the climate. Look for moisture-wicking fabrics that allow heat and sweat to escape, keeping you cool and dry. Consider tops that are loose fitting with breathable mesh panels or cut-outs for added ventilation during intense workouts. Consider layering up so that you are able to discard layers while you are in a workout session. This will ensure comfort and ease during any activity.
Bottoms for Flexibility
Select bottoms that provide flexibility and ease of movement. Leggings or yoga tights made from stretchable and breathable fabrics are popular choices. These allow for a full range of motion while providing comfort and support. If you prefer bike shorts, look for options with built-in compression shorts or inner linings to prevent chafing and ensure coverage during dynamic movements.
Also, look for options with a good amount of stretch, 4-way stretch works best as the fabric moves in synch with your body movement. High waisted leggings can provide extra support and coverage during workouts. Leggings and bike shorts that have compression built into them to help in recovery and work with you during intensive sessions. Read more about compression fabric here.
Proper Footwear and other Accessories
Lastly, investing in suitable athletic shoes is crucial for protecting your feet and preventing injuries. Choose shoes specifically designed for your preferred type of exercise, whether it's running, weightlifting, or cardio workouts. Look for footwear that offers good arch support, cushioning, and stability. Additionally, ensure the shoes fit properly to prevent blisters or discomfort during your gym session.
Consider incorporating accessories that enhance your workout experience. Items such as sweat-wicking headbands, comfortable socks, and lightweight gloves can improve comfort and performance. Additionally, invest in a durable gym bag to carry your essentials, including a water bottle, towel, and any personal items you may require.
By following these guidelines, women can confidently choose appropriate gym attire that combines style and functionality along with comfort and freedom. Remember, comfort and freedom of movement are paramount when it comes to selecting the ideal workout ensemble. So, gear up in clothes that make you feel good and help you achieve your fitness goals with ease!
1. Wilfling, J., Havenith, G., Raccuglia, M., & Hodder, S. (2022). Consumer expectations and perception of clothing comfort in sports and exercise garments. Research Journal of Textile and Apparel, 26(4), 293-309.
3. Briot, N., Chagnon, G., Burlet, L., Gil, H., Girard, E., & Payan, Y. (2022). Experimental characterisation and modelling of breast Cooper’s ligaments. Biomechanics and Modeling in Mechanobiology, 21(4), 1157-1168.
4. Shane F. O'Riordan, Rod McGregor, Shona L. Halson, David J. Bishop, James R. Broatch, 2021. Sports compression garments improve resting markers of venous return and muscle blood flow in male basketball players. Journal of Sport and Health Science.