What do I wear to the gym?
I get asked this question pretty frequently and as with everything, my gym clothes are determined by what I do and what makes me feel my best.
For me personally, I do typical bodybuilding workouts with occasional cardio and dedicated heavy barbell sessions, so I need versatile gear.
I like form fitting clothing that doesn’t cover too much skin because I like the motivation that comes from seeing my muscles contracting and pumping up.
I don’t focus on technology, design, or trends during my gym time so I keep gym wear very simple.
With my likes and needs well established, you could say I’ve developed a personal uniform for the gym just as I have for daily life.
My gym wear requirements
As much time as I spend in the gym, I don’t actually have insane requirements for my gym uniform and accessories.
To make the cut, my clothes need to:
- Be clean – I do laundry weekly and keep a solid rotation of gym clothes on hand. I’ve suffered too many times at the hands of guys who are obviously re-wearing already sweaty, disgusting smelling gym clothes. I won’t do the same to others.
- Be comfortable – I won’t wear uncomfortable shoes (no matter how cool they look), clothes that restrict my movement, or anything so baggy it’s catching on equipment.
- Show the areas under construction – While still needing to be comfortable, I prefer gym clothes that are fitted enough to show my shape and also reveal the area I’m working (hey, it worked for Arnold and his calves).
I’m a big fan of tank tops in the gym.
For me, having a small bone structure and low body fat means that even though I carry about 30-40 lbs of muscle over my baseline, I still don’t look big in baggy clothing.
And who wants to feel small when you’re working to get big?
I like to see my muscles working, veins bulging, and getting a good pump. All of this gives me a glimpse into the future.
I rely on regular tank tops from Fruit of the Loom. I picked up a couple 4-packs many years ago and haven’t had to replace them yet.
During the coldest days this winter, I broke out my B&D tees. As a tall, athletic guy, they proved indispensable.
They’re formfitting, actually long enough to not show my lower back/ass crack when squatting (unlike nearly every other tee out there), and a cotton/synthetic blend that doesn’t emerge from the dryer 6 inches shorter than when they went in.
When I’m feeling particularly cocky, I wear my super hero spartan shirt.
It’s impossible not to feel awesome in this shirt!
I nearly always wear shorts to the gym.
Being tall means I would have to buy sweatpants in a large or XL for them to be long enough.
But on my lean frame, the result of sizing up that much makes it look like I’m doing a terrible MC Hammer impersonation.
My legs don’t get cold very easily so I don’t have any real reason to wear long pants.
The rotation of three pairs of Starter mesh shorts (similar option) I have were purchased almost 7 years ago, have been worn 1-2 times per week since, and are still going strong.
That’s good value right there.
For material, I much prefer mesh over the thin cotton jersey material, which shows butt sweat way too easily for my taste.
As an added bonus, the more matte, double-layer mesh will show less mushroom tip on the decline bench.
Your spotter will thank you.
I live really close to my gym so I just wear a simple zip up hoodie for running there and back, even on the coldest of days.
And I occasionally wear it while I warm up on the days when my gym doesn’t have the heat set high enough to compete with the outside temperature.
Shoes are probably the most important part of your gym getup and I’ve written a dedicated guide here.
There are so many styles to choose from, each excelling in one area and falling short in another, so I like to have a couple pairs to pick from for different activities.
I have a pair of classic sneakers reserved for heavy barbell work.
Chuck Taylors are referred to as the poor man’s weightlifting shoe for good reason.
The soles are flat and non-compressible so they’re plenty stable for the big lifts and can be found for around 50 bucks.
They also have timeless good looks on their side, so you don’t have to feel like a tool in some high tech kicks.
I prefer the low cut version, but feel free to go with the high-tops if they appeal to you.
I also wear retro trainers, specifically the Saucony Bullet for cardio and bodybuilder-style training.
They’re the best looking and most comfortable all-around gym shoes I’ve found.
I had my first pair of the Sauconys for 3 years and just ordered a replacement pair as my old ones are utterly trashed (may they rest in peace).
I don’t have much in the way of accessories and I live so close to my gym I don’t even need to carry a gym bag.
I use my iPhone to listen to music using a pair of basic Panasonic earbuds (which are surprisingly good for only $15).
All of my workouts are tracked in this nearly bulletproof journal.
I drink my water or BCAAs out of a shaker bottle, usually the free one from Bodybuilding.com.
BUT…for the love of God, if anyone has a recommendation for a completely leak-proof shaker bottle, please let me know.
I’ve owned dozens and dozens and never had one that didn’t leak at least a little.
Moving on, I have 8 of the same pair of socks from Champion.
And while I don’t use much in the way of fitness tech at the moment, I’ve been eyeing this phenomenal looking fit watch, though I still haven’t decided if I really need it.
Gym Wear Take away
In the gym I keep things simple and functional.
I don’t require super advanced tech fabrics, crazy apps to monitor my vitals, or shoes with more research and development behind them than my Macbook Air.
When I keep my gear and my gym prep simple, I find it makes it that much easier to get into the gym and get to work.
All the best,