What To Wear To The Gym: The Ultimate Guide

The perfect checklist for how to look good in the gym.

Socks or no socks?

Gyms don’t exactly lend themselves to chic dress codes. Mirrors, sweat and suspect protein shakes are a fairly potent cocktail in the first place – add in subpar activewear and you’d be forgiven for never stepping foot in one again.

However, there are a few rules to follow when it comes to dressing appropriately for the gym, which we’re going to delve into below. Fortunately, with such a vast array of gym clothing brands available to men, navigating these rules couldn’t be simpler.

So, flex up and look sharp with this ultimate guide to what to wear to the gym.

Singlet & Shorts

The most basic of gym kits, everything you need for sweating it out rotates around the standard singlet and shorts. But with such a surplus of options, it can be a little daunting knowing where to start. The most important thing to remember is that you get the fit right. Remember, regardless of what size your pecs are, no one wants to see them spilling out of a stringlet.

When it comes to finding a top that’s appropriate and chic, look at the likes of Lululemon and Under Armour for interesting colours and weaves. A personal favourite is grey blues – they’re forgiving on sweat patches and are easy to pair with dark shorts.

Speaking of shorts, this is one of those times where less is more. And when I say less, I’m referring to less of your upper thighs. No one wants to see more than they bargained for when you’re doing a deadlift, so look at mid-length options that have a boy leg liner built-in.

Wearing Compression Tights In The Gym

It’s a truly brave chap that dons a pair of compression tights without covering up. However, for those that are a little more, ahem, demure, there is a way they can be worn that won’t cause offence to the rest of the weights room. Cue the classic jogging short. These fellas are a great way to feel all the freedom of tights without some of the unfortunate side effects.

When it comes to styling, build off a base of black 2XU compression tights, jogging shorts and a lightweight singlet. Make sure you choose slim fits that are in keeping with the streamlined nature of the look and prioritise dark block colours like black and navy.

Essential Trainers To Wear To The Gym

The shoes you wear in the gym can make or break your whole ensemble – choose a pair of chunky dad runners and you risk throwing off the equilibrium of your outfit; choose something with not enough support and you risk spraining an ankle. It’s a tricky trade-off.

Given that the bulk of gym activity doesn’t require long-distance running (at least, it shouldn’t) most cross-training sneakers from the likes of Adidas and Nike should fit the bill. Look for versatile colours like black and grey that can be paired with most of your kits to optimise wears.

On the flipside, if you’re a little more flamboyantly persuaded, regular sneakers can offer a great way to show some flare. Whether it be a pair of monogrammed kicks or a splash of colour and print – Nike Epic Reacts with hot pink detailing, I’m looking at you – sneakers are a great way to put a spring in your step, both literally and style-wise.

Many weightlifters like to wear Converse in the gym too, because they provide a relatively flat foot design, perfect for maximising coverage on the floor.

Choosing The Right Sports Socks

Sports socks have come a hell of a long way in the past few years. Whereas once, the chunky white tube sock was the ultimate sporty statement, recent style dictates a move to more streamlined, thinner equivalents.

When you’re shopping around, there are two versions worth considering. One is the standard ankle sock which will ideally sit below the top of your sneaker. These are great if you fancy getting your pegs out as they elongate your leg. Alternatively, the likes of Nike make a strong case for statement compression socks. Our preference are black socks as they’re less likely to show dirt.

Wear A Gilet During Colder Months

When it gets seriously chilly, sometimes a jacket alone won’t cut it. And that’s when the gilet really comes into its own. Warm without the intensity and bulk of a down jacket, the vest is the ultimate sports winter warmer.

Look for thin shell versions in blacks, greys and blues that can work with your broader kit and, whatever you do, avoid thicker versions that make you look like a Michelin man. They give you an incurable case of chicken legs – the opposite of what you want post squats.

Wear A Windbreaker During Warmer Months

It’s always the way that no sooner have you mastered the standard singlet and short combo, do you need to cover it all up for autumn and winter. With increasingly stylish options hitting the market in spades though, the activewear windbreaker is getting increasingly cool.

The key here is keeping it lightweight and slim fitted. It’s also worth looking for cool logos and hardware statements to ensure you stand out from the scrum. Sydney brand, P.E. Nation, has a great range with small pops of colour that can take you from a HIIT class to brunch in no time.

Gym Apparel FAQ

What is the difference between a singlet and a tank top?

The difference is on the fit. Singlets are usually a snug fit, not allowing for sag or excess fabric. Tank tops may be tight fitting or loose fitting.

What are men's compression tights for?

Compression tights hold your muscles firmly in place and improve your blood flow. They also help reduce muscle fatigue and strain while boosting your athletic performance.

How should a gilet fit?

Your gilet must fit just like you waistcoat. It must be snug around your body so it can sit nicely under your winter jacket. A gilet’s arm holes should also be high so it will fit more closely to the chest without bunching.

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