Products featured are independently selected by our editorial team and we may earn a commission from purchases made from our links; the retailer may also receive certain auditable data for accounting purposes.
It’s no secret that better workout gear leads to better performance. The best workout clothes can up your game – whether that’s running, cross-training, weightlifting or just casual (but brisk) walks around the block. But this simple truth is often forgotten, as many beginner (and even intermediate) athletes still throw on an old tee and everyday sneakers before breaking a sweat.
The first benefit of fresh workout gear actually comes into play before you start exercising, as new clothing actually motivates you to hit the gym (even if that’s now your at-home fitness setup in your basement or garage). And the psychological benefits continue once your workout starts, as most people push themselves harder when wearing proper exercise clothing.
Then, of course, there are the technical benefits of premium performance clothing. Sweat-wicking capabilities, a wider range of mobility and better temperature control lead to less restriction and higher potential. You’ll also stay more comfortable, which is key for seeing a workout through to the end (I.e. no chafing or sweaty spots here).
To help get you properly outfitted, we’ve rounded up the best workout clothes, including everything from shorts to shoes to compression tights. We’ve sought out versatile, high-quality pieces to work with a varied exercise regime. There should be something for everyone, whether you’re looking to shave time off your daily run, upgrade your new backyard workout or go harder in the gym. Here’s what we’re buying right now.
BEST SHORTS: Outdoor Voices Anytime 7″ Short
Shorts are probably the most important piece of your workout wardrobe. We think these Anytime shorts from Outdoor Voices rise to the challenge. They’re made of a stretchy, lightweight nylon-spandex blend that can handle explosive movements or running (and all the accompanying sweat), while a built-in liner keeps everything secure while you move.
But the best part about the Anytime shorts is their versatility (hence the name). There’s a good chance the shorts will become your go-to for hot weekends of lounging and errand running, as well as working out.
BEST SHOES: Hoka One One Hupana
Finding a great pair of do-everything workout shoes is tough, as they should be able to handle everything from jogging to cross-training to a bit of weightlifting. These Hoka Hupana’s are probably your best bet. Sure, Hoka has become famous for their chunky, hardcore running shoes, but, because of their slimmed-down design, the Hupanas can handle gym workouts as well as a serious run. The shoes feature a comfortable amount of padding, a breathable synthetic upper and a low-key, modern style to boot.
BEST COMPRESSION SHORTS: Ten Thousand Compression Short
Compression shorts aren’t just for pro athletes. The blood flow-improvers can up anyone’s game, even if you’re just squeezing in a quick HIIT workout. This pair from Ten Thousand is ideal for non-pro athletes (so, almost all of us), providing moderate, comfortable compression.
The shorts are made of a luxe Italian warp-knit fabric that wicks sweat and keeping odor at bay, plus a gripper hem that prevents ride-up. You also get the essential phone pocket, but this one is upgraded with sweat-proof fabric to prevent that all-to-familiar sweaty phone screen when you switch the music during a workout.
BEST TIGHTS: Ten Thousand Full Length Tight
If you want compression as well as some extra coverage, again, check out Ten Thousand. The specs on these tights are mostly the same as Ten Thousand’s compression shorts, with a quick-drying, anti-odor Italian knit fabric, a comfortable waistband and a sweat-proof phone pocket.
But there are a few key differences between the full-length tights and the compression shorts – other than their length, of course. The full-length tights feature a triple-layer pouch for your bits and piece, allowing you to wear them without shorts. Plus, strategic ventilation zones keep the temperature down when your workout heats up.
BEST TEE: Outdoor Voices Ready Set Short-Sleeve
Many dudes throw on a regular old cotton tee when they hit the gym or go for a run, but the truth is, a purpose-built workout tee is a serious upgrade (that ratty cotton T-shirt will just absorb sweat and odors). We like this one from Outdoor Voices because it’s a great addition to your wardrobe basics but comes with some upgrades for exercising as well. It’s made of a polyester-forward cotton blend that translates to sweat-wicking capabilities and a light-as-air feel. This is great for staying dry and comfortable while weightlifting, jogging or just running errands.
BEST TANK: Adidas Own The Run Singlet
Body heat can get uncomfortable while working out and, when going shirtless isn’t an option, a quality tank is your best bet. We like this Adidas singlet for any such high-temp routines. It’s designed to feel like, well, nothing, with an extra-breathable, fast-drying recycled polyester construction. The tank also features reflective elements on the back and front for running at night.
BEST HOODIE: Nike Men’s Therma Training Hoodie
This Therma hoodie from Nike is your first line of defense against cold weather. And now that many of us are running outside and working out in the yard or a neighborhood park, quality workout layers are more essential than ever. As the name implies, the hoodie uses a soft thermal fabric to trap heat while keeping weight at a minimum. Warmth is upped even more thanks to a funnel neck and an adjustable scuba hood. The sweater comes in a variety of colors as well, ensuring style with any workout look.
BEST JACKET: Under Armour Men’s Project Rock Jacket
Another piece of workout gear to have at-the-ready is a good jacket. With the help of fitness icon Dwayne Johnson, Under Armour nailed it with this Project Rock workout jacket.
The zip-up UA jacket checks all the boxes with rain-resistance, comfort, warmth and mobility. UA’s Storm technology repels water for getting in that run or outdoor workout (even if it’s dumping rain) while stretch-woven panels ensure mobility where necessary. On the inside you’ll find a ColdGear lining that absorbs and retains body heat, allowing peak performance in nasty weather.
BEST SOCKS: Adidas Cushioned 2 Socks
If you’re plagued by blisters after runs and workouts, your socks – not your shoes – might be the culprit. Quality, sweat-wicking socks, such as these Adidas, will keep your feet dry, comfortable, and far less blistered. Along with the necessary sweat-wicking fabric, the socks boast ample cushioning in the footbed and arch support for better performance and a more comfortable workout.
BEST MASK: är Small logo Black Mask
Our new reality means having a good face mask on hand when we’re at the gym, on a run or hike, and if you’re looking for a comfortable, lightweight face covering for your workout, we like this one, which helps to repel viruses on textiles by up to 99.99%.
The mask comes with a replaceable nanofilter that has three layers of protection while remaining super breathable. The “Eco Acqua Zero” technology, meantime, helps repel water, while bringing any moisture from inside the mask to the top, where it eventually evaporates. What we like most is how silky smooth and gentle the mask feels against the skin, with a section of foam along the nose-piece providing just that extra bit of padding for a more secure fit when you’re on the move.