Going to the gym is one thing. Dressing for the gym is another. To gain the most from your workout, your focus needs to be centred on what you’re doing, not what you’re wearing.
Dressing appropriately for exercise doesn’t merely mean avoiding on-the-fence short shorts; it’s making sure you’re wearing the right materials, you have the right shoes and you’ve got a trusty towel to hand at all times. Here’s our ‘HIIT’ list of clothes to wear and avoid for the gym.
There’s no point wearing trainers if they’re not doing anything. And worn-out trainers won’t. They’ll no longer give support, therefore they won’t give you stability…and do you really want to lift weights off balance? Experts have suggested swapping out your old running shoes for new ones every 300 – 400 miles (about once a year), so let that be your guide.
Telltale signs of over-worn trainers include an uneven tread, the sole starting to break away from the shoe or your big toe sticking out the fabric at the front…
You may think that sportswear brands categorise their shoes under different sports as some kind of marketing fad, but there’s actual reasoning behind this. Different sports have differing footwear requirements, for example, running trainers need to be shock-absorbent but rowing trainers don’t. Tennis shoes need to have high ankle and side support, but weight-lifting trainers wouldn’t need this.
If you’re looking for a one-trainer-does-all kind of shoe for the gym, stick to a decent running shoe.
AKA, any fabrics that don’t breathe. When you exercise, you sweat (and if you don’t, you’re not doing it right). Cotton is one of the most absorbent fabrics, meaning when you sweat, it’ll soak it all up and become a heavy, wet fabric – the kind that’ll just stick to your skin.
With absorbent fabrics, you’ll find that they don’t only pick up moisture, but also odours as well. Obviously, we expect you to wash all your gym gear after one wear (more on that later), but over time, smells (and stains) may become more and more apparent. You’ve been warned.
Instead of natural fabrics like cotton, opt for more advanced, synthetic materials that allow your body heat to evaporate (usually through technically-designed weave in the garments) and wick away moisture, keeping you dry from start to finish. No drenched clothes? No problem.
Clothes that are too tight on your waist can lead to immune system difficulties. Tight clothes on your arms or legs can prevent healthy blood flow… and you need oxygen to breathe (especially when exercising). In general, the tighter the clothing, the more you’ll sweat – and that’s not always a good thing, not unless you’re a fan of chafed skin.
On the other hand, clothes that are far too baggy become a bit of a safety hazard. Safety first. If you tend to use equipment/machines in the gym, just imagine what would happen should your baggy T-shirt get caught in the mechanisms. Even if you only stick to cardio, a flapping top will only get on your nerves.
Obvious it may be, it’s all too easy to go to the gym once, sweat, dry on the way home and think ‘yeah, this will be ok to wear to the gym in two days time’. NO! Even if your gym clothes have dried, the smell (and bacteria) will still be there. Gym clothes should be washed after every wear. Say it louder for the ones at the back!
Unless we’re talking wedding bands, all jewellery should be removed whenever you’re doing exercise. There’s nothing worse than the thought of a necklace, bracelet or earring getting caught in something and tearing…
By wear, we mean have to hand. Good gym accessories to own and carry include a towel (to wipe down any equipment you’ve just used), a water bottle (hydration is key), headphones (to get into the zone) and a watch (to keep track of time for those all-important HIIT sessions).