Skip to content

What Not To Wear For The Absolute Best Workout Results

Your athletic wear can sabotage your performance.

"You are what you wear" may sound like an extremely superficial comment—but is it really? Studies have proven that the clothing you wear has meaning and can, in fact, affect your mood as well as overall performance. When it's time to exercise, it's really important to get into the mode by wearing the correct performance gear and knowing what not to wear to workouts. Not only will you feel more comfortable in clothing that breathes and absorbs moisture, because the garments are designed specifically for your type of workout, but you will experience a great mental boost as well.

You'll channel the cyclist, runner, yogi, lifter, or general exercise enthusiast you are and can actually accomplish much better results. After all, doctors wear scrubs when performing procedures—as you'd expect them to—and painters wear appropriate pants and caps designed specifically for their task. It makes perfect sense for you to wear just the right outfit for your sport to create all the positive feels—physically and mentally. Let's get into what to wear and what not to wear for workouts, and next, check out The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.

Not wearing proper workout apparel can potentially lead to overheating and injuries

woman doing squats with weight

We spoke with Tim Liu, CSCS, Precision Nutrition Certified Coach who explains, "Your attire can affect your workout by influencing how well you move and the core temperature of your body."

Additionally, in an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Nick Harris, top human performance expert and creator of HPE Activewear explains, "Wearing appropriate clothing is crucial when you are an avid exerciser. Many sport injuries occur because of the lack of appropriate equipment, including clothes. Whichever activity you are engaged in, you should opt for the clothing for that particular sport, looking for something that provides ample protection against impact, strain, or overheating."

Related: The Best Clothes To Wear For A Better Night's Sleep, Expert Says

Moisture-wicking fabric is key to look for in workout attire, and there are certain fabrics you should definitely avoid

couple does rooftop workout in athletic clothing

Athletic wear is designed with specific fabrics to protect you. Moisture-wicking fabric, for example, keeps sweat from your skin and off of your clothing, removing the moisture to the outside surface of your garment. Not only will the moisture-wicking process aid in keeping your clothing dry, but it will also keep your skin dry. This fabric is used in sports tops, bottoms, and even socks.

Liu confirms moisture-wicking fabric is so necessary. He says, "The best kind of clothing to work out in are fabrics that can be moisture-wicking, and breathable. When shopping for activewear, choose clothes that fit your body type well, feel comfortable, and give you freedom of movement."

According to Nike, the top moisture-wicking materials to look for in exercise shirts are polyester, merino wool (which is lighter than other wools), nylon, or polypropylene. To ensure your body stays dry and cool when exercising, there are some t-shirt fabrics you should avoid at all costs, which are linen, silk, and cotton. These particular fabrics soak up sweat and moisture rather than being moisture-wicking.

And as far as shoes are concerned, Liu notes, "When choosing shoes for running, pick ones that give you a bit of support, but not too much cushion, so you can get good ground contact. With strength training, I recommend having a shoe that is more flat or [one that has] a slightly elevated heel. This will give you stability for your lower body exercises such as squats and lunges."

Related: Your "Clean" Clothes May Be Covered In Bacteria, Shocking Study Says

Science says there's a mental aspect of wearing just the right clothing to match your activity

group of women lined up in workout leggings, sports bras, and sneakers in front of pink backdrop

There's a mental aspect of wearing the right clothing to match your activity. A study published in the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology researched how what we wear impacts us. Referred to as "enclothed cognition," our clothing influences our psychological progressions.

Researchers took into consideration what certain clothing symbolizes, as well as how individuals physically felt when wearing them. The test involved an individual wearing a lab coat, a garment that traditionally represents caution and careful attention. The subject tested received much attention from others, and the responsiveness kept for extended period of time. Wearing a lab coat received more attention than no lab coat at all, or something else all together. Hence, the study confirms a general principle of the term "enclothed cognition," stating, "The influence of clothes thus depends on wearing them and their symbolic meaning."

Here's what to shop for the best workout results

group of runners training outside

A trendy yoga top and shorts for spring will make a statement and be so inspiring for your next workout. Just the right biking shorts and top will surely make you look the part and get into the cycling vibe so much better.

If you're in need of a little bit of shopping inspo, LSKD carries a wide variety of trendy styles in all of the right fabrics and prints for men, women, and unisex. (For example, these forest snakeskin leggings are 71% polyester, moisture-wicking, and naturally breathable. Plus, there are a bunch of coordinating sports bras to match.)

And when you shop Nike, the brand's shoes are conveniently broken out into categories such as "running" and "training & gym." Shoes like the Nike Zoom Winflo 8 Shield come with weatherized support to fit your go-to speed on the road. This particular pair provides peak comfort with its cushioning and traction when you're running on slicker roads.

So, are you ready to shop and then work up a sweat?

For more…

arm exercises

For more fitness news, check out 5 Best-Kept Secrets To Losing Weight In Your 50s, Trainer Says and The 3 Best Strength Training Exercises To Shrink Belly Fat Fast, Trainer Says next.

Alexa Mellardo
Alexa is the Mind + Body Deputy Editor of Eat This, Not That!, overseeing the M+B channel and delivering compelling fitness, wellness, and self-care topics to readers. Read more about Alexa
Filed Under