What You Wear to the Gym May Be Holding You Back
By Lauren Turinetti | January 23, 2018
Athletic wear is very popular at the moment — in fact, it’s so popular that it’s spurred a new word on the runways: “athleisure.” But you may not be buying into what you perceive to be overpriced hype. After all, what’s wrong with a pair of old shorts and a cotton t-shirt? Athletic wear is about much more than just looking cute at the gym; it’s incredibly functional, and can even enhance your workout.
Running Shoes vs Sneakers
Running shoes are characterized by extensive cushioning and a design that prioritizes wicking sweat and keeping feet cool. This paired with their snug fit enables you to run around with the confidence and relative comfort you need to run for as long as you want.
Running shoes aren’t always the best fit, however. For example, if you’re lifting weights, cushioning needs to take a back seat to stability — which you can get with the thinner sole and ankle support of a weight lifting shoe. In fact, minimalist sneakers like Converse can actually be great for weight lifting.
Sports Bras vs Normal Bras
Normal bras come in a variety of colors, shapes, and fits, but they all have one thing in common: they are designed for everyday use and activity. A normal bra simply doesn’t provide the support or functionality that a woman needs during athletic activities.
Sports bras fit tightly over a woman’s chest to keep everything in place while she exercises, runs, and competes. Sports bras are made from firm material which stretches and gives, but only enough to provide comfort while preventing the bouncing which can make exercise very uncomfortable for women. For best fit, choose a bra that matches the support required by your chosen activity. Note that most “high fashion” sports bras generally provide less support than their plainer counterparts.
Compression Underwear vs Standard
Standard, everyday underwear is often made from cotton and synthetic fabrics, designed to breathe while providing comfort. Not a bad combination, but it could be better.
Compression underwear is well known for improving blood flow and possibly enhancing muscle performance at the gym, but it serves other functions that are essential to the athletic man. Like the sports bra, compression underwear provides the unique support than men need. It also helps manage sweat accumulation that causes chafing, and in turn controls odor. And if the activity demands, don’t forget to add the additional protection of an athletic cup.
Cotton vs Athletic Fabric
Both cotton and wool become heavier when water is added. This makes them stronger, but it weighs down the fabric and causes it to sag in bunchy, damp loops around your body. When you’re working up a sweat on the treadmill or on the track, the last thing you need to to be distracted by loose fabric flapping around everywhere.
Athletic fabrics like polypropylene, spandex, polyester blends, and even wool help sweat evaporate from your body quickly, keeping you comfortable. Cotton stops being breathable as soon as it is wet.
Athletic fabrics are also designed to help prevent the friction that causes painful chafing which can cut a good workout short. Fitness wear is often also cut for a closer fit so you don’t have to worry about excess fabric getting in the way. If chafing is a problem for you, make sure to choose athletic shorts longer than mid-thigh, and shirts with sleeves.
You don’t need to spend a fortune on the latest Under Armour fitness line (although soon you may find yourself eying them), but being conscious of what you wear to the gym can help you lift more and run longer with fewer injuries.