From tops to bottoms, from gym clothes to accessories, here’s our COMPLETE guide on what to wear to the gym for girls. Plus, ideas on how to be stylish as well as practical!
Hey gorgeous! Whether you’ve just joined the gym or have been going for years, fitness is always one great step for anyone to take. Fitness is a form-of self-love and working out is your actual me-time, which everyone deserves. Personally, I prefer outdoor sports, running or home-workouts to gymming. But either way, a good outfit is a big part of an efficient, comfortable workout session, no matter where you do it.
Gym is one of those places that requires technicality rather than style when it comes to clothing. Wrong gym clothes or workout gear can not only ruin your workout, but they can actually cause sore muscles. In fact, a bad gym attire can cause many other problems and discomforts that I’ll be talking about in this article.
So let’s go! If you’re wondering what to wear to the gym, here’s my complete guide to the perfect gym attire/ workout gear for girls.
What to Wear to the Gym: The 3 Most Important Things
Fit, fabric & shoes are the 3 most important things when it comes to gym outfits.
Fitting comes first – all your gym clothes need to fit perfectly well, including your shoes. Whether it’s leggings, t-shirts or sports bra, if you choose something too loose, it’ll interrupt your movement, or even ride up during work outs. Loose clothing may even cause you to trip over yourself during certain workouts. A loose sports bra may run against your nipples too much, and may even cause bleeding.
On the other hand, if your clothing is too tight, it may cause difficulty breathing, discomfort or even a rash. So when shopping for gym clothing, make sure it fits right. Avoid wearing very old clothes that don’t fit well anymore.
Fabric is the second thing to remember. Always go for quick drying fabrics, like polyester and spandex, as much as possible, instead of cotton, linen, etc. Quick wicking fabrics dry the sweat faster, making sure you’re not wearing heavy & uncomfortable wet clothing. Cotton, even though it’s softer and more comfortable, weighs down as you sweat, making you end up wearing a wet towel by the end of your work out.
Shoes are the last, and perhaps the most important thing when you’re deciding what to wear to the gym. Ideally, shoes should be selected for the type of workout you’re doing. There are different types of shoes for different sports, running, training, etc. So if you’re hitting the gym for the first time, make sure to go shoe shopping beforehand. Ask the sales consultant at the store to recommend you a good pair training/gym sneakers, and tell them your budget.
Be doubly sure it fits you perfectly. If it’s too loose or too tight, trust me, you’ll find yourself never wearing it! Make sure it’s comfortable for you. Every one’s feet are different, some have wider ones and some have narrow feet. So a good pair of shoes should fit you not only length-wise but also width-wise. Take out the shoes for a walk before hitting the gym, to make sure they seem comfortable.
What to Wear to the Gym: Shopping List + Guide
Here are the basic items you need for gym attire:
- Comfortable tank top or tee
- Sports bra
- Shorts or leggings
- Gloves (required for weight lifting only)
- Hair ties
Let’s go over these one by one to understand what all you need to know before you go shopping for these gym clothes and accessories.
Comfortable Tank Top or T-Shirt
As I mentioned before fit and fabric are really important to consider. Although some women do prefer cotton, and it’s okay for light work-outs, you really need a top or t-shirt in a quick drying fabric like spandex or polyester. Go for a top that’s neither too loose nor too tight. You should be able to breathe freely in it, without feeling suffocated. However, it should not be loose-fitting that allows the fabric to move while you work out.
There are so many stylish tops that you can find in sports brand stores like Nike, Adidas or Puma. If you are looking for something stylish, you can go for something with a mesh panel, or a built-in sports bra, or a crop top. If you like simple tops, just go for a plain t-shirt or a tank top. Personally, I prefer tank tops or spaghetti tops with built-in sports bras.
Also read: 11 Gym Apparel & Fitness Wear Trends
A sports bra is a wonderful thing. It allows the freedom of movement for all sorts of work out sessions and sports, without the fear of splitting open or unclasping! So it’s always a good idea to own a few pairs if you like working out frequently. There are many styles of sports bras to choose from – racerback, spaghetti style, tank-top style and adjustable straps. So go for one that feels most comfortable to you. Personally, I like padded sports bras that are either racer-back or have wide straps.
The way to know a proper fit for sports bra is to make sure the band fits snugly around your rib-cage. You should be able to put two fingers in it and no more. If you can’t insert two fingers under your band, it’s too tight. Same with shoulder straps. Shoulder straps should never be loose, otherwise they’ll keep falling off, and if they’re too tight, you’ll have difficulty putting the bra on.
Bottoms: Shorts, Capris or Tights
The type of bottoms you choose depends on the activity or sports you’re doing. For running and training, it’s best to choose lightweight, loose shorts in a sweat-wicking fabric. For stretching exercises, cardio routines such as Zumba and Pilates, weightlifting and exercise bike, it’s a good idea to go for capris or tights (leggings). For yoga, its ideal to wear yoga pants that are longer, light weight leggings, which may or may not be slightly wider at the bottom.
This is something I’ve already talked about above, so check out my section on shoes above under the “three most important things.” To sum it up, your sneakers should be selected for the type of work out, such as running, weightlifting or gymming/training. Your sneakers should be of the perfect fit for you, so make sure you try quite a few before choosing the right one. Try to jump or walk in them before you make the purchase. Make sure your shoes fit you both lengthwise and width wise. They should be comfortable enough but not too tight.
Socks may seem like an unimportant detail, and they’re anything but. Make sure you choose the right pair of socks, which are comfortable. Your socks should cover your foot entirely, especially where your shoes touch your feet. If you wear socks that are too short, they may end up having your ankle exposed to the shoes. This can result in a rush, injury or even bleeding. So make sure you choose your socks to be at least longer than the ankles.
If you’re doing weightlifting, you will require weightlifting gloves. If it’s your first time at the gym, it’s best to not make the purchase until your trainer introduces you to weightlifting exercises. Gloves are very important for weightlifting, because they will help you get a good grip and avoid injury. While working out, sweat builds up on our hands, which makes the weights slippery. This is where the gloves come in and they avoid the sweat buildup, making your workout safe and efficient. The right weight lifting gloves fit snugly but not too tight.
Of course, it’s needless to mention that with your hair let down it’ll be almost impossible to have a good work out, no matter how many times you’ve seen it in pictures or videos. If you’re wondering what to wear to the gym, you’re probably only thinking about gym attire, and it’s easy to forget something small like a hair tie! But their absence can ruin your whole gym time! You need a good couple of hair ties to make sure that you can do your hair stays perfectly in a ponytail or braid. Make sure you always have an extra one or two in your gym bag.
Now you already know what to wear to the gym, but other than these gym clothes, it’s always a good idea to have a pair of earphones so that you can listen to music while you work out. Music definitely makes any exercise easier. You can also have a pre-planned audio book, podcast or a playlist so that you don’t get bored in the gym. If you prefer drinking or drinking from a bottle instead of your gym fountain, Also make sure to carry a water bottle in your gym bag.
What NOT to Wear to the Gym
- Avoid cotton and any other heavy fabrics that dry slowly.
- Avoid sneakers that are designed for street style or sports, since you’ll be doing training and your sneakers should be designed for training and gymming only.
- Avoid shoe liners, since they make your feet exposed to the shoe surface, and maybe really uncomfortable during work out. Go for proper socks only.
- Avoid lose tops or lose bottoms.
- Avoid skirts. If you’re looking ideas on what to wear to the gym, skirts are definitely not one of them.
- Avoid a sports bra that’s too big or too short. It should fit snugly.
- Avoid makeup. Sweat buildup can clog your pores under the makeup. Over time, this can increase acne or irritation. If you’re heading to the gym after a party, make sure to remove makeup completely before you start your workout sesh.
- Avoid loose shorts if you’re going to be doing leg raises, since they will tend to come down, exposing more than you bargained for!
- Avoid jewelry. Necklaces, bracelets or earrings may cause irritation or dig into your skin during workouts. Plus, sweat will ruin their polish. Save them for after your gym time.
- Avoid working out with your hair untied. Make sure to make a ponytail or braid.
So I hope you found my guide on what to wear to the gym helpful. Have any more questions? Let me know below or post them on our Ask Shilpa page. I’d love to see your gym outfits. So tag me in your Instagram pic @shilpaahujadotcom!
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Shilpa Ahuja a designer and entrepreneur. She is the editor-in-chief of ShilpaAhuja.com, which she founded with the goal of inspiring confidence in the modern working woman through fashion.
Fashion has traditionally been for the rich, white, thin woman. That’s how it evolved over centuries and that’s how it’s been represented in fashion media. But Shilpa believes that with the changing role of women in the society, fashion has changed, too. She believes that fashion is for everyone, regardless of their age, gender, color, body type and background. So she translates runway fashion into easy style advice that one can incorporate into their daily lives.
Shilpa’s work has been published in the University of Fashion blog and Jet Airways magazine. She is also an artist, illustrator and cartoonist. She is also the creator of Audrey O., a comic series that represents the lifestyle of millennial women. She enjoys creative writing and world travel. Her art has been exhibited at Harvard Graduate School of Design and the Aroma Hotel, Chandigarh and been published in Chandigarh Times.
Originally from Chandigarh, Shilpa also has a professional degree in architecture and has worked in interior project management. She is also the author of the book “Designing a Chinese Cultural Center in India”. Shilpa has a Masters in Design Studies degree from Harvard University. For feedback and questions, please email [email protected]