When it comes to choosing a gym top, it’s not as easy as just going into your local sports shop, picking up a t-shirt and heading home. There are myriad factors that come into play: what fabric is it made from? how well does it fit? does it fit into your budget? You also need to consider where you’ll be wearing said top, do you workout in the confines of a gym, or do you prefer to keep fit in the great outdoors?
You’ll also find that different tops are better suited to different types of workouts. Runners and cyclists will require something more breathable and durable than someone who just wants to lift heavy weights in the gym. Our preference is choosing gym brands that invest in fabric technology to fight heat and smells, like Lululemon’s Silverscent technology.
We don’t blame you if you haven’t taken all of this into consideration for your next shopping trip, so to make the buying process that much easier, we’ve compiled a list of the best gym tops out there, from globally recognised brands to those you may not have heard of before. Most importantly, all of them will keep you looking your best, even with that awkward face you pull when pushing yourself to the limit.
Gym Tops & Shirts FAQ
Choose clothes that are made from breathable and moisture-wicking fabric, like nylon, bamboo and spandex. This will allow air to circulate, making you feel fresh and comfortable. Your gym shirt should not get in the way of your movement. The fit should depend on your activity. Generally, workout shirts should be loose and comfortable, but if you are doing Pilates or yoga, you need stretchy and fitted fabrics. Cotton is an excellent for working out as long as you blend it with other fabrics like spandex. Pure cotton tend to absorb moisture easily, leaving your shirt heavy and sticky with sweat.
What to consider when choosing gym shirt?
How should a workout shirt fit?
Can I wear a cotton shirt to the gym?
Choose clothes that are made from breathable and moisture-wicking fabric, like nylon, bamboo and spandex. This will allow air to circulate, making you feel fresh and comfortable.
Your gym shirt should not get in the way of your movement. The fit should depend on your activity. Generally, workout shirts should be loose and comfortable, but if you are doing Pilates or yoga, you need stretchy and fitted fabrics.
Cotton is an excellent for working out as long as you blend it with other fabrics like spandex. Pure cotton tend to absorb moisture easily, leaving your shirt heavy and sticky with sweat.
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While it clearly has many competitors in the same arena, Rhone spends much more on its fabrics than some of the big boys – the Silvertech line, for example, employs actual silver in its construction to control odour – to not only give its customers high-performing products but ones that provide a more premium feel.
The Vital Seamless T-Shirt is just that, vital. The shirt's slim fit will enhance the size of your biceps for all of Instagram to see, while the sweat-wicking fabric will leave you as cool as you think you are just wearing Gymshark clothing. A multitude of colours means you can constantly change up your outfits.
The Metal Vent shirt is described as "the ultimate training top", meaning it accompany you on your morning run or your evening session on the gym floor. It's available in a multitude of colours, but its headline feature is a seamless construction, meaning you need not worry about it chafing – something that other training gear can be guilty of.
The Convoy tee can be had in a number of colours, allowing you to team it with whatever gym shorts you already own, or a pair of jeans or chinos for hitting the town at night. It's made from 100 per cent Merino wool, so feels soft against the skin, but Olivers has also instilled its own technologies, and as a result, the Convoy helps fight against body odour, and can even protect you against the elements should you find yourself in a sudden downpour.
The Sweatee T-Shirt is, as its name suggest, the ideal top for your beastly workouts. It provides a soft, comfortable fit, with sweat-wicking properties. A touch of spandex allows it to stretch, so those barbell bench presses can be carried out with ease.
Boasting it will be the softest, lightest and most breathable t-shirt you will ever own, the Havok can, naturally, be worn in the gym or on your off days, paired down with jeans or chinos.
While most pieces of clothing are designated for running, they can easily be applied to gym training too, such as this muscle singlet, which uses the lightweight Deltapeak fabric and moulds it into a singlet that you could easily get away with wearing as an everyday piece or to a festival. Text on the front and back is reflective and you even get a chest pocket to hold small essentials close by.
Vuori claims its Strato Tech Tee to be the "softest piece of workout apparel on the planet" (we'll see what Barbell has to say about that) wicks moisture away from your body and dries in an instant. It's available in a range of autumnal hues and won't break the bank.
The Performance-T is a running top first and foremost, due to its severe lack of any real weight, but its breathability and moisture-wicking credentials lend it to being just as capable in the gym.
The Evo T-Shirt offers subtle branding and is made from a lightweight performance fabric that doesn't restrict you when you're trying to lift crazily heavy dumbbells.
The Velocity t-shirt is one Myprotein's more premium shirts, as well as being its most technical. Mesh panels placed all over provide breathability, while the fabric itself effectively wicks sweat away from the body. Side seams are fused together and shoulder seams are taped to add greater durability, and reflective strips on the arms even help you stand out if you're out running before the sun rises.
This branded graphic tee is rather handsome we feel, and is made from a quick-drying fabric to keep it moisture-free. Asics' triblend material also makes it incredibly soft against your skin and, thanks to its clean aesthetic, can be worn out of the gym too.
The vast majority of Nike's clothing uses its renowned Dri-Fit technology – a proprietary polyester fabric – to help wick sweat away from your skin before quickly evaporating. What's more, Nike promises the technology will retain its performance throughout its life, so you won't need to worry about replacing it.
That's not to say its clothing can't match it's high-profile status, as this Charged Cotton short sleeve takes everything that's great about cotton and makes it better. A loose fit will prevent you from feeling constricted when lifting weights, while the 'charged' properties mean it dries much faster and stretches further, making it suitable for a variety of active pursuits.
This Freelift Sport tee can help you to look bigger than you actually are thanks to a tapered fit (but of course, you'll fit it out eventually, won't you?) white Adidas' own Aeroready moisture-absorbing fabric technology will help keep your body sweat-free.
The GHST shirt claims to offer "near-weightless moisture-wicking fabric", so not only will you be kept sweat-free, but you won't be weighed down when working out, either. UV reflection and IR blocking technologies keep it cool when outside and a reflective logo on the back will let motorists see you clearly at night.
The Core T-shirt is designed to be minimalistic in design but highly functional in terms of performance. It's ultra-lightweight, has just the right amount of spandex stretch and will effectively wick sweat away from your body.
The Deltapeak t-shirt is part of Reigning Champ's new Deltapeak collection which takes the trademarked third-party fabric; an incredibly lightweight mesh design, and uses it in the construction of clothing which is both breathable and fast-drying. It is, therefore, perfect for your hard-hitting, sweaty gym sessions.
The Colombo Tech Tee has been made from a reverse Pima cotton, resulting an incredibly soft material that offers effective stretch and moisture-wicking properties. The super softness also means you can wear it as a daily tee and not reserve it solely for the gym.