I’m going to date myself, but when I first started working out, cotton was considered a performance fabric. It soaked up sweat like a sponge. Sopping wet shirts drenched in sweat were worn as a badge of honor. The wetter your workout clothes, the better the workout. The sweatiest guy in the gym was unofficially crowned the hardest working.
Since then, a lot has changed with workout apparel. Fabric technology has evolved. Synthetic fabrics such as polyester, nylon, and synthetic blends have dominated workout clothing over the past two decades. Not only are today's fabrics better at moisture management, they’re also more comfortable, offer better mobility, and last longer. Some even claim to help you recover faster.
While it’s unlikely you’re still rocking the 90’s cotton tees like I was, it never hurts to refresh your workout wardrobe. To paraphrase Deion Sanders, "If you look good, you feel good. If you feel good, you play good.” Look good, feel good, and (according to Sanders) get a better workout by upgrading to workout wear from these top-rated men’s workout brands.
Materials matter when it comes to performance workout clothes. While some activewear brands cut costs by sourcing cheaper fabrics, Rhone does not compromise. Their premium-priced apparel features only the best carefully crafted textiles, never compromising on comfort, fit, and durability. Every piece is as aesthetically good-looking as it is functional.
It would not be an exaggeration to say these are the best workout shorts I’ve ever worn. Made with a 4-way stretch, durable DWR-treated fabric, the Mako short is fully featured with gusseted seams for superior mobility and a media pocket for your phone.
This men’s only brand was founded to solve a problem very specific to men — how can you make a comfortable, supportive pair of underwear that minimizes moisture, friction, and that uncomfortable clammy feeling down south during workouts. Their innovative BallPark Pouch technology is “designed to reduce skin-on-skin friction” using a “3D hammock-shaped pouch that keeps everything in place.”
Every guy hates a swamp you-know-what. The best way to keep your crotch dry is a quality pair of underwear. Nobody makes better workout underwear than Saxx. The best part — a “BallPark Pouch”, as Saxx calls it, to keep the twin boys stable and in place.
When the founders wanted to make socks that would enable them to ski longer without getting cold toes, they stumbled upon the power of merino wool. Considered nature’s high-performance fabric, merino wool outperforms just about every synthetic fabric out there in terms of regulating both hot and cold temperature and wicking moisture while being naturally odor-neutralizing. Today, Smartwool carries a full line of performance apparel, all made mostly with merino wool.
Whether I’m running, hiking, or working out at the gym, you’ll find me in a pair of Smartwool running socks. Because of their moisture-wicking ability and soft touch they’re the only socks I trust to ward off blisters and hotspots. But, perhaps the best part is I can wear them multiple times between washes due to their odor resistance abilities, meaning fewer laundry days.
Prana in Sanskrit is a word to describe life. The company was founded in Carlsbad, California with an emphasis on creating sustainable yoga, climbing, surfing, and fitness clothes. Their earth-toned soft fabric is made with 100-percent organic cotton in Fair Trade Certified factories. If comfortable, sustainable clothing is important to you, look no further.
Go in and out of yoga poses with ease in this hemp, stretch polyester blend. A straight leg opening and standard fit give the Vaha Pant a relaxed, comfortable feel. Perfect for yoga, casual strolls around town, or just snoozing at home.
If there was ever a brand that needed no introduction, Nike would most certainly be it. Founded as a running shoe brand in the 70s, Nike has grown to become the leading sports brand. From golf to skateboarding, Nike makes some of the best and most fashionable workout clothes for men.
These 5-inch inseam 2-in-1 running shorts are perfect for any gym session that also includes a quick jog. Made with stretch woven polyester, the ultra-lightweight fabric is airy and unrestrictive, while the soft inner liner provides just the right amount of support.
Gymshark Gymshark has quickly earned its place as one of the best fitness apparel brands. This UK-based fitness brand exploded on social media a few years ago and boasts over 5.4 million Instagram followers today. Its straightforward, clean-looking workout clothing is both highly functional and comfortable at prices that rival Old Navy and H&M.
Show off those arms and back in style in this lightweight performance tank. This tank screams comfort and unencumbered mobility due to the stretch polyester and cotton blend and razorback cut out on the back.
Based out of Boston, Janji is a boutique running clothing brand that strives to continually improve how they “treat people, planet, and products as we put our best foot forward and make better choices every day,” a motto they call “Perpetual Forward Motion.” Two percent of all proceeds are donated to help countries access clean water. Their clean-lined workout clothing and colorful prints and patterns are inspired by the countries they help such as Haiti, Rwanda, Peru, Tanzania, and Kenya.
These lightweight, stretchy pants are perfect for just about every activity - running, weight training, hiking, or casual wear around town. The slim, tailored-fit polyester and spandex blend features a water and wind-resistant DWR finish and meets the sustainability stamp of approval from bluesign® certified.
Athletes aren’t made overnight. It takes grit, determination, and perseverance. Ten Thousand is a brand built on these principles. They believe every day is an opportunity to be better than yesterday. Their clothes embody this gritty mantra and are made to withstand the toughest of workouts. Every product goes through rigorous testing for strength and resistance.
These shorts check all the boxes you want in a pair of workout shorts — comfort, mobility, secure storage, and tough as hell. Available in 5-inch, 7-inch, and 9-inch inseams, you can also opt for a compression liner with odor control or skip the liner altogether.
Rooted in the practice of yoga and its transformative power, this LA-based yoga brand is particularly popular with celebrities. Designed to go from the yoga studio to the streets, their simple, print-free color palette is both stylish and functional. However, don’t be fooled by its simplistic look- Alo clothing is extremely high-end and long-lasting.
Perfect for a quick run in cooler conditions, or as a warm-up layer for your strength session, the Alo Idol Hooded runner is made with a silk-like fabric called pique. The lightweight, breathable material feels soft and smooth against the skin while keeping you cool.
With surf-styling undertones, Vuori is an activewear clothing company aimed at making high-quality apparel that blurs the line between performance workout wear and everyday threads. Vuori’s fabric selection is top-notch. Only the finest materials go into each piece of clothing. For those looking for soft, mobile workout gear with a hint of California style, Vuori has you covered.
Take your most comfortable pair of sweatpants, add some stretch and moisture-wicking capabilities, and you might come close to these ultra-comfortable, high-performing joggers. Cut with a relaxed fit through the hips and slim, tapered 28-inch inseam leg, Vuori’s Sunday Performance Jogger is one pair of workout pants you won’t want to take off.
Ever since Kevin Plank’s groundbreaking moisture-wicking compression shirt was worn under the pads of University of Maryland football players, Under Armour has been at the forefront of cutting-edge athletic apparel. Trusted by countless professional athletes and sports teams, Under Armour styles cover the gamut from weight training to golf gear.
If ever there was one training t-shirt everyone should own at least one of, it’s this one. Moderately priced at $25, you can get a few for the cost of one of the more expensive workout t-shirts. The lightweight 100-percent polyester fabric wicks moisture well and dries fast. For bigger guys, it comes in nine different sizes up to 5XL and tall fit.
You shouldn’t have to sacrifice performance for style. Four Laps founder Daniel Shapiro sought out to create an activewear brand built on this belief that not only looks good but doesn’t compromise. Designed with an urban professional in mind, Four Laps style is classic, modern, and comfortable as hell.
Four Laps describes the Rush Hoodie as a “modern update on the classic hoodie” and we agree. This hoodie uses a super-soft French terry fabric that’s just as comfortable as your favorite cotton sweatshirt, but technical enough to work out in. It’s pricey for a hoodie, but you won’t find this attention to detail and craftsmanship on a regular cotton hoodie.
Pronounced “Two Times You,” 2XU started as a triathlon and running brand and has since grown to become the leader in compression wear across all sports. Using a proprietary PWX compression fabric, 2XU compression garments claim to increase peak power and blood flow while reducing injury and speeding up recovery. Get a better workout and bounce back faster by adding a pair of these comfortable, high-performance compression pants.
If you’re going to wear tights, make them compression tights. If you’re going to wear compression tights, wear the best: 2XU. These graduated compression tights feature 2XU’s proprietary PWX fabric with circular knit 360-degree stretch to increase blood flow and improve recovery.
Hylete may not be as familiar a brand as some on this list, but that doesn’t mean they’re not as good. What started as a single pair of men’s workout shorts in 2012 has grown into a full line of fitness apparel, gear, and cross-training shoes. Hylete dedication to customer feedback drives product development. By only selling through their website, there’s a direct line to customer feedback.
The best workout shirts are the ones you don’t want to take off post-workout. Hylete’s Nexus Crew is one such t-shirt. Made with a smooth feeling polyester and spandex blend, the stretchy fabric allows unrestricted movement, even during overhead lifts.
The classic three stripe Adidas logo is a staple of athletic apparel- not to mention the timeless Adidas two-piece tracksuit. This German-based company originated when founder Adi Dassler started making shoes in his mother’s kitchen. Today, Adidas’ focus is on “Owning the Game,” as they call it, a customer-focused strategy aimed at producing the best sportswear for an active and healthy lifestyle.
Even classics need updating every once in a while. Slide into this modern take on the classic Adidas tracksuit. These heavy-weight cotton and fleece blend track pants are cut much slimmer than the classic baggy look.
Like most new runners, what started out as a hobby to stay in shape quickly became an obsession. After getting burnt out on road running, founder Scott Bailey discovered the joy and freedom of trail running. However, there was one problem: Bailey struggled to find a truly functional pair of running shorts with liners for all weather conditions and distances. Thus, the concept of the Path Project linerless running shorts was born.
Offered in both 5-inch and 7-inch inseams, the best-selling Sykes short features Path Projects’ signature linerless technology for unencumbered movement. The durable shell is super stretchy and DWR-treated for water resistance. Carry everything you’ll need with ease in the two zippered pockets and two drop-in pockets.
Mack Weldon was founded on the belief that men’s basics should not be, well, basic. What may look simple to us — underwear, socks, sweats, and t-shirts — Mack Weldon puts meticulous detail into designing. From the highest quality fabric and to the extensive dedication to fit, you know any clothing that bears the name Mack Weldon will be the best.
When’s the last time you bought underwear? That’s what I thought. Upgrade your undergarments and workouts with these soft, stay-put underwear. No roll-up legs and waist with targeted cool mesh zones mean no adjustments needed, even during the most demanding workouts.
Reebok’s popularity has followed somewhat of a rocky road. During the height of the ‘80s, Reebok sales were booming. The Reebok Pump was the hottest shoe on the market. However, at the turn of the century, the tides changed for Reebok. Fast forward to today and with support from their parent company adidas, Reebok is back as one of the hottest fitness brands. They’ve leveraged partnerships with CrossFit, Spartan, and UFC to design athletic wear that’s tough, durable, and highly functional.
Stay cozy when working out in the cold with this all-new jacket from Reebok. What makes it so special? The jacket features thermowarm and graphene printed panels. Graphene is the most heat-conductive and strongest material on earth.
Take a glance at any gym floor and you’ll most certainly see plenty of Lululemon on men and women alike. What started as a small yoga brand out of a studio in Vancouver, Canada has grown into an international fitness icon. With a clean, straightforward design, every piece of clothing is cut to look good while functioning exceptionally well in the gym.
Whether you’re warming up for your main sets or commuting to the gym in cool, damp conditions, Lululemon’s all-new Warp Light Jacket has you covered. This breathable, soft-shell four-way stretch jacket is designed for high-output activities with a hint of water resistance.
Ever since its inception as a small climbing and backpacking shop in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood, North Face has sought to provide the best outdoor apparel and gear to those who never stop exploring. They remain dedicated to serving those who continually push the boundaries of outdoor action sports. Their motto is “The North Face will maintain an unwavering commitment to pushing the limits of innovation and design so that you can push your limits outdoors. Never Stop Exploring.”
This lightweight, jersey-knit technical t-shirt is quite possibly the softest, moisture-wicking shirt you can buy. It features UPF 50 sun protection and The North Face’s Flashdry technology to keep you dry. No matter what your workout or activity of choice is, this will quickly become your go-to shirt.