Just as a strong core is the foundation of any exercise, a solid workout shirt is the foundation of any fitness getup. Sure, an old cotton tee from your alma mater will suit a workout just fine, but it won't enhance it. It won't fight odor, control sweat build-up or do anything to prevent chafing. A quality workout shirt — tee, tank or long sleeve — will do all that and more; it'll be something you look forward to throwing on, which can sometimes be all the motivation you need to get up and get moving.
Patagonia Capilene Cool Lightweight
This Patagonia tee is deceptively lightweight at 2.6 ounces, and its 100 percent recycled polyester fabric fights stink far better than other synthetic shirts thanks to a HeiQ odor control treatment. It's also great at wicking away sweat and drying quickly and has a closer fit than some of the other shirts on this list, which make it ideal for a wide range of activities. Thankfully, all of these features come at a an easy-to-stomach price.
Fabric: 100% recycled polyester
Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Short Sleeve 2.0
Best Premium Workout Shirt
Lululemon's Metal Vent shirts are pricey but peerless in combining breathability and odor-protection in a fabric that doesn't feel plasticky. In fact, these shirts are ultra-comfy, thanks to a design that minimizes seams and positions them where they won't chafe. Everyone from professional trainers to elite mountain climbers has recommended them, and we're on board.
Fabric: 73% recycled polyester, 21% nylon, 3% elastane, 3% X-static nylon
Hill City Everyday Train Tee
Best Budget Workout Shirt
Hill City built its premium workout shirt to prioritize many of the same elements as the others on this list: comfort, quick-drying and odor control (silver ions get that job done here). What this shirt doesn't have, however, are elements that would make you not want to wear this out to a restaurant or to hang around the house all day; it's a workout tee disguised as a casual tee.
Unfortunately, Hill City is shutting down at the end of January 2021, which means you won't be able to get this shirt for much longer. Until then, though, it's available for a cool 50 percent off, making it the best deal on this list.
Fabric: 80% polyester, 14% Lenzing Modal, 6% Spandex
Path Projects Rockies 3/4 Raglan T
This shirt's three-quarter-length sleeves make it ideal for working out in cooler temperatures (and channeling an old school baseball jersey look). What's more, its Tencelite 19 fabric is incredibly soft and stretchy, dries quickly and fights stink. You don't have to be dainty about laundering it either.
Fabric: 74% polyester, 19% tencel, 7% Spandex
Nike Techknit Ultra Tank
This light, breezy tank with reflective accents is perfect for running, and anything really. "I have exactly one of these but I wash it constantly so I can work out in it as much as possible. It's easily the best workout shirt I own for Peloton-ing, running or any exercise that doesn't involve putting my sweaty back on machines/benches in public spaces," says our tester.
Fabric: 63% nylon, 37% polyester
Hoka One One Performance Tank
Polartec's Power Dry fabric is the base that makes Hoka's workout tank top perfect for keeping cool while heating up. Its specialty is wicking, though it dries quickly too and is quite comfortable.
Fabric: 100% polyester
Rhone Reign Short Sleeve
According to one tester, the Reign is "light, comfortable and always fresh no matter how many times I wear it without washing it — probably too many times to admit." Rhone makes it with a nylon-polyester blend in a raglan construction to keep annoying seems off your shoulders. Perhaps best of all, it comes in lots of colors.
Fabric: nylon, polyester, elastane
Under Armour UA Rush Heatgear Fitted Short Sleeve
Under Armour claims that this shirt's mineral-infused fabric absorbs the body's energy and emits it back, increasing blood flow in the muscles for greater endurance. "I don't know that this shirt actually does what it says it does," our tester concedes, "but it fits great, stays cool and is typically the first one I grab for HIIT and kettlebell workouts."
Fabric: body: 82% polyester, 18% elastane; mesh panels: 90% polyester, 10% elastane
Ten Thousand Versatile Shirt
Ten Thousand collected thousands of measurements and fit preferences before making its workout shirt so that when it did, it'd be as close to perfect as can be. One of the learnings from the process was that one size doesn't fit all, so it made the shirt in three fabric blends depending on what you're looking for. We like the blend of the Versatile Shirt, though you can't really go wrong here. You can pick it up with short or long sleeves.
Fabric: 84% polyester, 16% Spandex
Born Tough Core Fit SS Shirt
One of our testers stated that he throws this shirt on when he knows he's getting into an intense workout. It's very comfortable, made of this kinda beefy material and has a look and attitude that weirdly compels me to add an extra five pounds to any lift. Nice price too," he says.
Fabric: 93 % Viscose, 7% Spandex