What Are the Best (And Worst) Fabrics to Wear at the Gym? 

Gym day means it’s time to break a sweat and work hard on achieving your fitness goals. Part of that routine includes choosing the right clothes to work out in. Proper gym clothes are: 

  • Comfortable enough for you to wear, especially while you’re doing an intensive activity. 
  • Stretchable enough to allow freedom of movement in all directions. 
  • Compact and lightweight enough to keep you focused on your exercise regimen. 
  • Cool enough to wear in hot weather, or warm enough to wear in cold weather.
  • Equipped with moisture control properties to handle your sweat, as well as fend off any unpleasant odors.

It goes without saying that you should be using leggings, cycling shorts, or other types of activewear for your workout instead of ordinary clothes.  If you are an MMA fighter, you can buy mma shirts that match your sport which you can use in your training.

Clothing type isn’t the only thing you should pay attention to. You should also be careful about the fabrics you choose.  Some fabrics are better to wear to the gym than others and are worth incorporating into your gym-ready ensemble. Others, however, may distract you from your routine and ultimately do more harm than good for your fitness regimen. There are also fabrics that seem fine to wear, but leave you with other problems post-workout (like a funky smell if you don’t launder them correctly). 

That said, which fabrics are best for your gym ensemble? Here’s a short list of the best (and the worst) to take to your next workout session.

The 5 Best Fabrics for the Gym 

For aerobics, cardio, strength training, or other types of exercise that you do at the gym, here are the five fabrics that you can’t go wrong with:


Nylon is a pretty solid choice as far as gym-ready fabrics are concerned. This synthetic material is commonly incorporated into clothing items like track pants, windbreakers, and swimwear. It sports excellent sweat-wicking qualities, is breathable, and has sufficient stretchiness. Don’t hesitate to pack nylon shirts or shorts into your gym bag.


Another popular choice for gym workouts is spandex. The standout qualities of this fabric are its elasticity, compression, strength, and lightness. These constitute the perfect formula for a productive gym workout. You’ll be safe with spandex leggings, shorts, or tank tops for your yoga, weightlifting, or aerobics routines.

Bamboo Fiber

You may not have heard of bamboo fiber, but it’s become increasingly popular in exercise wear. That’s because the material has natural antibacterial and sweat-wicking properties, making it easy to maintain after each workout. It is also very soft and light on the skin. Be sure to check out gym clothes that are made out of eco-friendly bamboo fiber.


Yet another viable choice of fabric is polypropylene, which is commonly used as a base layer for running gear. It has exceptional water resistance, so you can trust this fabric to keep you dry during a particularly intensive workout. It’s also stain-resistant, so even if you pour a sports drink or protein shake on yourself by accident, your polypropylene clothes will still look good enough for the next workout. 


Lyocell, which is sometimes marketed as Tencel, is another eco-friendly fabric that’s derived from wood pulp. Apart from its sustainable construction, lyocell is naturally breathable and good at keeping sweat at bay. Those who’ve worn this material also say that it has the feel of high-quality athletic apparel. If these qualities appeal to you, you may want to check out lyocell workout clothing. 

2 Fabrics to Avoid When Working Out

On the flip side, there are two fabrics that are best used for occasions other than your weekly workout at the gym: standard polyester and plain cotton.

Standard Polyester

Polyester has two qualities that make it ideal for light exercise outside the gym, which are its durability and lightness. But it doesn’t have the same antibacterial properties that natural fabrics do. As a consequence, the bacteria from your sweat—which is the true culprit behind stinky gym clothes—may build up on the fibers.

Plain Cotton

Since cotton is a lightweight and breathable material, many think that it’s fine to use at the gym. But while plain 100% cotton is good for outdoor use and light exercise, it should be avoided during high-intensity workouts. Plain cotton is not as good as other materials when it comes to wicking moisture. After only a few minutes of sweating through your workout, you’ll end up feeling damp and uncomfortable, and that may distract you from exercising. 

Make the Wisest Choices for Your Workout Wear Today

Ultimately, factors like the appropriateness of your clothing will affect your workout performance. When it comes to choosing workout clothes, take the same amount of care that you would when choosing gym shoes or wearables. The right gym clothes—made out of the right fabrics—will help you focus on your fitness goals. Dress for comfort and mobility, and dress to perform!

Comments 2
  1. Hi April, I absolutely agree with you choosing right fabric for workout session is important as it enhances the performance and gives more comfortability. Well, I usually prefer Nylon fabric for gym it gives me flexibility and sports excellent sweat-wicking qualities. Thanks for this informative writeup!

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