The kit you wear in the gym can have a surprisingly big impact on your performance and results. Here’s our pick of the best new gear that will help you set both style and performance personal bests
How much impact does what you wear to the gym have on your results? Well, more than you might think. In some cases, it can even have an instant impact on how you lift. Here are some of the reasons why it’s worth refreshing your workout wardrobe before you step back onto the gym floor.
The right gear can make you stronger
A pair of shoes designed specifically for lifting (as opposed to running, for example) can add several kilos to a lift because the design of the sole maximises power transfer. And if you’re lifting heavier over the course of your training plan, that will have a direct impact on your results.
The right gear makes training easier
Other choices just make life easier, such as having the right gym bag. A bag that has compartments for your sweaty kit and your clothes, your post-workout snack, and your valuables, takes the hassle out of your pre-gym prep and your post-workout routine. That, in turn, makes the whole training process smoother, faster and more enjoyable. Behaviour change experts would call this ‘reducing friction’, which is essentially about making the thing you’re trying to do (in this case, turn up to the gym) as easy as possible.
The right gear makes you more confident
Wearing kit that makes you feel good and makes it look like you mean business will put you in the right mindset to get results. It’s a no-effort opportunity to get into the kind of mental state that makes a difference to your final result.
So, if you want to stack the odds of training success in your favour it makes sense to rack up as many easy wins as you can, and each item of well-chosen kit offers an incremental benefit that can nudge you further towards your goal. Here’s our guide to what you need when you next hit the gym floor.
Nike Training Dri-FIT 2.0 t-shirt in grey
The best gym T-shirt
You know how everyone says “no one else is looking at what you’re doing in the gym”? Well, it’s not really true. It’s not that people are analysing what you’re doing, but they are picking up on the signals that you’re sending and one of those signals is what you wear. A guy with skinny arms and a vest says “I’m deluded”. The guy wearing a football shirt says “I probably won’t be here this time next month”, and the guy wearing a ‘humorous’ slogan t-shirt is saying “I probably won’t be here this time next week”. This top, on the other hand, says I’m here to get my head down and get results. It’s made from fabric that draws sweat away from your skin and it has a regular cut, so it has a forgiving fit if you still have a few pounds to lose. It’s a timeless classic at a great price.
Buy it from ASOS £19.95
Under Armour Project Rock snap shorts
The best gym shorts
If you’ve gone for the grey T-shirt then you’ll want to pair that with some black shorts. And when it comes to shorts there are basically two styles you want to avoid – ones so short that they make you look like you’ve just stepped off a 1980s running track, and ones so large and long that they make you look like you’ve just stepped off a 1990s basketball court. This pair, which are part of The Rock’s clothing range for Under Armour, hits the size sweet spot. They’re made with four-way stretch fabric, which means they’ll let you move effortlessly in any direction. They’re also cut with a nice attention to detail. The curved hem is slightly longer at the back, giving them an athletic, stylish look.
Nike Training Dri-FIT joggers in grey
The best gym joggers
If you want something to wear to and from the gym, or you prefer to train in joggers, this pair is an excellent choice. They have a relaxed tapered fit, which means you’ll look like you know how to dress rather than look like you’re tying to be a 20-year-old with a super-skinny cut. They’re also made with Dri-FIT fabric, which will wick sweat away from your skin and help you to keep cool.
Buy it from ASOS £54.95
HIIT Training tech hoodie in charcoal
The best gym hoodie
Keeping it classic and simple is the way to go with a hoodie. You might want to wear it during your warm-up sets so you’ll need something that zips up at the front so it is quick and easy to take off. It has a regular fit so, again, it’s flattering if you don’t yet have that cover model physique, but it also has a contemporary cut, which says you haven’t completely lost touch with what’s fashionable.
Buy it from ASOS £32
Under Armour TriBase Reign 3 training shoes
The best gym shoes
Regular trainers are fine for the gym, right? Not if you want to maximise your progress. Most running shoes are very cushioned, which means that the soles aren’t very stable. Gym-specific shoes, on the other hand, are made with flatter, more stable soles. When your feet are stable it allows you to lift more weight in exercises such as squats and shoulder presses because you’re lifting from a rock-solid base. And the more you lift the faster you’ll see results. Wearing a pair of shoes designed for lifting can instantly add 5-10kg to your squat, for example. The unique TriBase design on this pair maximises ground contact and strength potential, while the zonal flexion allows for movement when you’re doing more dynamic work, such as high-intensity fat-loss finishers. It’s a really well-made and stylish shoe.
Adidas Training 3-pack ankle socks
The best gym socks
Socks aren’t exactly going to make or break your session but they can have an incremental benefit. The best pairs are made from soft cotton and have double layers around impact zones such as the balls of your feet, to reduce friction and blistering. This three-pack from Adidas is will make a great addition to your gym bag.
Buy it from ASOS £10
FitBit Charge 4
The best gym activity tracker
This is a seriously impressive bit of kit at an outstanding price. The built-in GPS tracker means you can use it to track your runs without needing your phone. It also tracks your calorie burn during workouts and plots them onto graphs in the companion app that tell you how long you’ve spent in different heart-rate zones. The design is sleek, it’s easy to set-up and the interface is refreshingly clean, which is what you want during intense workouts.
The best gym wristbands
Wristbands are an underrated accessory. You see, if you’re training hard enough to make progress then you’re going to sweat. And if you wipe that sweat away with your hand then you’ll make your hand wet, which will make it harder to grip a weight and reduce the amount you can lift. Using a sweatband to wipe away those hard-earned beads will leave you ready to lift heavy. I’m also a fan of using cues that can help you to get focused and in the zone, so the simple act of pulling on your sweatbands at the start of the session can help your brain to think, ‘right, it’s time to train hard’.
Buy it from Amazon £5.99
Under Armour Project Rock duffle backpack
The best gym bag
This is a versatile and sturdy bag that can be used as either a backpack or a duffle bag and has a water-resistant finish. What really stands out is that there is a space for everything, including a soft-lined 15” laptop compartment, a generous main storage space, a lined compartment for shoes and sweaty clothes, a valuables pocket, and two side pockets for shakers, supplements and snacks.