The gym used to be your personal sanctuary, a place where you focused on improving yourself. But things have changed. Now it’s become a social scene where your intense workout sessions take a backseat to someone else’s vanity shots in front of the mirror. This means it’s time to reconsider your worn-out gym shirt. Looking great while drenched in sweat is no easy task, but with these 16 tips, your attire can help you make a statement while you put in the hard work.
Table of Contents
How to Look Good While Working Out:
Keep Things Muted
Sports brands love vibrant colors inspired by nu-rave, but what may catch your eye on the rack might translate poorly into your gym bag. Learn a valuable lesson from your wardrobe: stick to neutrals. Everything matches effortlessly when your workout gear is predominantly white, black, or grey. That’s one less excuse to skip your weightlifting session.
If your gym membership has been gathering dust, it’s best to lean towards darker shades. Style and fitness writer Matt Hambly said, “Black is your ally.” It conceals sweat marks and suits everyone: it makes you appear slimmer if you haven’t reached your desired fitness level yet and flatters your figure if you already have.
Don’t Look in the Mirrors.
Gym mirrors may seem helpful for checking your form and admiring your physique, but they can actually hinder your performance. Surprising, right? Canadian research discovered that observing yourself during exercise has a negative impact on body image, even if you’re confident about your appearance. Likewise, a similar study conducted in the US revealed that using a mirror while performing squats distorts your perception of body position, leading to compromised form.
“Spending too much time checking yourself out also eats into your valuable training time,” advises Dylan Jones, a personal trainer and the founder of P4 Body. “Don’t forget, there are mirrors in the changing rooms too.”
In the past, Russian weightlifters trained with blindfolds to enhance their proprioception—the body’s ability to perceive its position in space. So, take a cue from these strongmen: if you want to monitor your form, use video recordings instead. If you’re interested in evaluating your physique, save it for later.
Get the Right Shoes
While your running shoes are perfect for hitting the pavement, they could be better for other types of training. Cushioned trainers tend to compress under load, throwing off your balance and limiting your power output.
“For weightlifting and any strength exercises, you require a flat and stable foundation,” advises Hambly. “Your best option is to ditch the shoes altogether and go with socks, for crying out loud.”
If your gym has a strict no-bare-feet policy (which is probably for the best), you’ll need training shoes with sturdy soles. Converse shoes have long been favored by weightlifters, but the rise of Crossfit has introduced a new type of hybrid trainer. These shoes feature a flat sole for heavy lifting and provide support during running sessions. They offer the best of both worlds.
Throw on & Go Get ’em
In recent times, sweatpants have burst out of the gym and into the closets of every fashion-conscious adult. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t still belong in the iron paradise.
When the weather is freezing, having a crew neck jumper or a convenient hoodie within reach can make all the difference between hitting the snooze button and staying committed to your goals.
Choose a style in a neutral color that can withstand frequent washing, especially if you intend to shower at home or at the office. Opt for something that looks just as stylish in a coffee shop as it does in the weight room. This way, you’ll never have to worry about being caught off guard after a workout again.
Form is Everything
The only person who truly benefits from you lifting excessively is your chiropractor. Save your hard-earned money for investing in new workout gear by recognizing when you’ve taken on more than you can handle on the bench.
“You may have loaded up the bench press bar with every weight available at the gym, but if you’re lifting your hips until they’re practically touching the ceiling, it’s a clear sign that the weight is too much for you,” advises Jones.
If your form is suffering, it’s time to lighten the load. Lifting a lesser weight with proper technique not only gives the impression that you know what you’re doing but also leads to greater gains. “Keeping your back flat on the bench’ll activate your chest muscles more effectively. Eventually, you’ll build the strength to lift that weight properly.”
Build a Heavy-lifting Wash Bag
The struggle of modern-day living is the need for more time, leaving us with little room for a complete workout, let alone a proper post-squat shower routine.
Just as combination exercises prove to be efficient time-savers, incorporating dual-action grooming products can help you avoid spending extra hours at the gym.
Opting for a 3-in-1 shampoo, conditioner, body wash, and multitasking face cream that provides soothing, hydration and mattifying benefits in one application will save you time and precious space. This way, you can make room for a top-notch hand cream that repairs the damage caused by heavy lifting. And let’s remember a styling product, so you leave the gym looking slightly less wrecked than you may feel.
Cut the Cord
The research surrounding workout music and its remarkable impact on enhancing gains has significantly expanded over the past decade.
However, this legal performance-enhancing “drug” can quickly make you look like a clueless newbie if your headphones get tangled on the squat rack or constantly fall out during burpees.
To avoid mishaps, free yourself from cords by investing in wireless in-ear or over-ear headphones. Some top-notch options offer additional features like fitness tracking or synchronization with coaching apps, providing real-time advice. This way, you can bid farewell to your personal trainer and treat yourself to a worthwhile purchase.
Don’t Just Sit There
If you find yourself taking a full minute’s rest between each 40-second set, then a significant portion of your workout is spent sitting down.
Instead of admiring your trendy new trainers or workout attire, optimize your training by incorporating supersets that target opposing muscles. Pair a chest exercise with a back exercise and perform one set of each before taking a rest. This approach allows your muscles to recover while utilizing your time more efficiently.
For those struggling with mobility, consider switching to “active” rest periods. Rather than succumbing to the temptation of checking Instagram or other distractions, use this time to stretch out tight hamstrings or hip flexors. By doing so, you’ll accomplish that neglected 20-minute flexibility session and appear as a pro who maximizes every minute of their workout.
Keep Fits Trim
The lesson applies to both your everyday and workout wardrobe: baggy fits won’t conceal a baggy physique. “Your clothes should fit properly so that they don’t flap around while running or get caught on dumbbells during lifting,” advises Hambly.
Wearing loose-fitting workout attire also obscures your limbs, making it difficult to gauge your squat depth or ensure proper tracking of your knees over your toes.
“Opt for leggings. It might sound unconventional, but nobody wants to witness your pale, bony, or bruised legs,” says Hambly. “Besides, they’ll make you feel like you’re in a UFC training camp.” Regardless of your body shape, wearing shorts over leggings is not an optional choice.
The scent of stale sweat is far from pleasant. However, an overpowering fragrance can be even worse.
When your body temperature rises during a workout, your cologne or perfume becomes more intense before gradually dissipating. Nobody wants to be surrounded by a cloud of heavy oud and tobacco scents at the gym. That’s why switching to a sportier fragrance on workout days is wise.
Opt for scents with citrus notes. They are refreshing, light, and less likely to overpower the environment, ensuring you don’t fumigate the gym. Moreover, since your body retains heat for hours after an intense session (assuming you’ve put in the effort), you won’t subject your coworkers to an overpowering scent when you return to the office.
Wear Enough Clothes
Among the various reasons people come to the gym, “to admire your well-defined muscles” ranks somewhere between “to contract a verruca in the shower” and “to sample the sweat of others.”
Slim-fit clothing offers a modest level of revealingness while still leaving something to the imagination. The point we’re trying to make is this: there’s no need to expose your nipples.
“Racerback vests, minuscule shorts, and backward-worn caps are not acceptable,” asserts Hambly. “Unless your goal is to fully embrace the persona of a gym, bro.”
Get a Bag That Works in & Out of the Gym
It was the gym to provide you with that complimentary bag when you joined. However, it’s time to bid farewell to it, just like your fading enthusiasm for Pilates.
If you exercise at your workplace, your gym bag should complement your office attire. If you’re a weekend warrior, it should align with your casual off-duty style. Never mix dirty gym gear with the same backpack you use for work. “You want to avoid your gym bag smelling like a locker room,” advises Mr. Porter editor Tom Ford.
Just like their clothing, sports brands often lean towards neon-colored accessories. Instead, opt for more subdued shades that can effortlessly complement every item in your wardrobe. You’ll also appreciate wipe-clean linings when you accidentally leave your bag in the trunk of your car over the weekend.
Wash Your Kit, Often
Anything that directly touches your skin – underwear, shirts, socks – should be washed after every use. This becomes even more crucial if you’ve perspired through them.
“Allocate your budget for the best gym attire you can afford and treat it with the same care as your regular clothes,” advises Hambly. “Wash it after each workout session and avoid leaving it in your bag throughout the weekend.”
To combat the unpleasant odors that may arise from your gym bag, seek out clothing with silver incorporated into the fabric. The antimicrobial properties of this metal help keep your clothes fresher for a longer period. Additionally, a spritz of Mr. Black’s Fabric Refresh will effectively eliminate germs and their associated odors for occasions such as lunchtime workouts or days when you leave your bag at your desk.
Stand to Attention
Want a quick way to shed some weight? Stand up. If you spend most of your day sitting down, your desk has taken a toll on your posture. The same goes if you prioritize chest exercises overworking your back or glutes.
Make it a priority to stand upright with your shoulder blades squeezed together and your chest lifted. Alternatively, visualize a string connected to the crown of your head, gently pulling you upward toward the ceiling.
By focusing on proper posture, you’ll reduce belly fat and add definition to your upper body and exude an air of confidence and competence. And let’s remember the added bonus of alleviating any lingering back pain.
Monitor & Progress
You might not realize how hard you’re truly working. Since nobody enjoys pain, it’s likely that you’re overestimating your efforts. That’s where a fitness watch comes in handy – it tracks your performance, leaving no room for deception. It also enables you to identify when it’s time to switch things up.
When your exercise routine remains stagnant, your body becomes accustomed to the same demands. Once the weights feel too light or your run becomes too comfortable, it’s time to make adjustments: increase the weight, pick up the pace, or transition to higher-intensity training.
When selecting a monitor, prioritize those with GPS functionality and preferably water resistance, advises Ford. This way, you’ll have more flexibility in your training options. By monitoring your heart rate and calorie burn in real time, you can ensure that you’re pushing yourself hard enough. And you’ll come to the realization that a mere 20 minutes on the cross-trainer won’t earn you that indulgent stuffed crust pizza.
The principles of looking incredible while wielding a kettlebell extend beyond your attire; they also encompass your behavior and how you’re perceived. This includes the simple act of returning the kettlebell to its proper place once you’re finished.
Whether you’re a seasoned fitness enthusiast or someone who thinks “glute” is a word that triggers allergies, it’s crucial to understand the fundamentals of gym etiquette.
If you have a burning desire to get swiftly escorted out the door, feel free to perform exercises unrelated to squats in the squat rack or generously offer unsolicited advice to unsuspecting individuals. You could even allow someone to sit in your sweat rather than take a moment to wipe down the machine. Or alternatively, you could choose not to be a complete jerk. It’s up to you.
In this guide, we have delved into the art of looking good while working out. From choosing the right workout attire to adopting proper grooming habits, we’ve explored the essential aspects that contribute to your overall appearance and confidence in the gym. By paying attention to these details, you can enhance your workout experience and present yourself as a polished and dedicated individual.
We started by emphasizing the importance of well-fitting clothing that offers comfort and accentuates your physique. The right combination of colors and styles can significantly boost your motivation and allow you to focus on your fitness goals without distraction. Additionally, we discussed the significance of proper hygiene and its role in your personal comfort and the impression you leave on others.
Furthermore, we explored the value of functional accessories and their role in optimizing your workouts. From wireless headphones that provide freedom of movement to fitness watches that track your progress and ensure optimal effort, these tools can elevate your fitness journey and help you stay on track.
However, it is essential to remember that looking good while working out goes beyond just the superficial aspects. It is a reflection of your dedication, discipline, and respect for yourself and others in the gym. By following proper gym etiquette and demonstrating kindness and consideration towards fellow gym-goers, you contribute to a positive and supportive fitness community.
Ultimately, the quest to look good while working out is not just about appearance; it is about feeling confident, motivated, and empowered during your fitness journey. By embracing these principles and paying attention to the details, you can truly shine both inside and outside the gym, making your workout sessions an opportunity for personal growth, self-expression, and overall well-being. So step into the gym with style, embrace the confidence that comes from looking and feeling good, and let it propel you towards achieving your fitness aspirations.
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