As someone who’s covered activewear for over 10 years, I know that picking favorites is hard, especially if you’re particular about the fabric, stretch, and feel. There are the clear winners: the tank that limits distractions while lifting weights, the sports bra that keeps everything in place during runs, and, of course, the one pair of black leggings that work for anything and everything. However, if you don’t have beloved pieces like those at the ready, it might be time to upgrade your fitness wardrobe and find options that you’ll want to reach for time and again. (And ditch those college T-shirts while you’re at it.) That’s where our curated list of the best workout clothes comes in. These recommendations include a mix of fitness expert picks, SELF Activewear Award winners, editor-approved favorites, and some that I’ve personally tested and loved over the years.
Best workout clothes for yoga
Your body bends in all directions during poses like downward-facing dog, tree pose, warrior 2, and uttanasana. To help you tune into your practice without the distraction of uncomfy clothes, instructors recommend yoga pants and tops that stay put and support your flow.
Prana Becksa Tank
Voted the best built-in bra tank in SELF’s 2023 Activewear Awards, this body-hugging top will stay in place while you move. Testers praised the fabric’s slight compression for that “held-in” feeling. Plus, it has UPF sun protection, which is useful for when your practice takes you outside.
Alo Yoga Lavish Bra
Equinox Yoga Instructor Jade Alexis Timol loves the Lavish Bra because it can go from workout to hangout. “It fits well, is very comfy, it’s not distracting when practicing, and it’s cute.” The sheer mesh fabric makes it breathable and it contains removable cups to customize the padding to your liking.
LSKD Fusion 7/8 Length Tight
This Australian sportswear brand is my go-to for yoga, and I especially love these leggings. Their soft, stretchy fabric moves with me when I bend and stretch during an at-home yoga class, and they feature my favorite detail: a side pocket big enough to fit a phone.
Spanx AirEssentials ‘Got-Ya-Covered’ Pullover
Named best studio sweatshirt in the 2022 SELF Activewear Awards, this cozy piece is a great activewear staple. Our tester called it “equal parts flattering and functional,” because of the longer length, funnel neckline, and pleats along the back. It’s great for wearing over your sports bra (to hide any sweat marks) and while grabbing a coffee with friends.
Best workout clothes for running
Whether you’re getting your heart pumping with a jog, training for a 5K, or running a marathon, the right running gear can make all the difference.
Janji 7″ Groundwork Pace Short
SELF’s fitness director Christa Sgobba, CPT, swears by this pair of running shorts that don’t ride up. “I noticed absolutely no movement with these, even when doing faster efforts.” Bonus: The side pockets kept her phone bounce-free during runs.
ThirdLove Kinetic Performance Pocket Legging
The Kinetic Performance high-waisted leggings are a 2023 SELF Activewear Award–winner. One of our testers said these are great for wearing all year: “The material is airy enough for summer, but they’re full-length enough to keep me warm in winter.”
Tracksmith Harrier Long Sleeve
I’ve sweat through my Tracksmith many times, but it always remains stink-free. That’s likely thanks to its Merino-nylon blend fabric, which is both moisture-wicking and soft to the touch.
Lululemon Swiftly Tech Racerback Tank Top 2.0
The race tank from Lululmeon is another super weightless and breathable piece. It’s designed for training and running, with a just-right length at the waist that won’t ride up.
Best workout clothes for hiking
All-terrain, trail-friendly pieces are a must when you embark on any outdoor adventure. No matter the length—a light hike or a weekend-long camping trip—make sure you wear the proper pieces from head to toe.
Merrell Moab Hiking Crew Sock
It should be no surprise that one of the top outdoor shoe brands makes some of the very best active socks. This pair from Merrell won a 2023 Activewear Award for the best hiking pair, with one tester saying, “I feel very happy when my feet are dry, comfortably warm, and don’t slip around in my boots.” They have a good amount of cushion to prevent chafing and blisters, without bunching up in your shoe or boot.
Patagonia Houdini Jacket
One of the best pieces of outwear in 2023 SELF Activewear Awards, the Patagonia Houdini Jacket is water-repellent, so it’s ready for any precipitation or unforeseen weather. SELF’s tester didn’t even realize her jacket was dewy until she saw it post-morning run.
Salomon Cross Hike 2 Mid Gore-Tex Hiking Boots
The Cross Hike 2 is a mid-height boot, meaning it’s slightly lighter than heavy-duty backpacking boots, which makes it easy to carry and a breeze to trek in. Convenient features like a lacing system where you simply pull to tighten and a springy midsole make this rugged boot a reliable and supportive hiking companion.
Smartwool Active Muscle Tank
Some fitted tees and tanks can be restricting and uncomfortable, while oversized styles can be distracting. This graphic muscle tee has the perfect relaxed fit with just enough room to move, making it one of my favorites to wear while sweating outdoors. Adding to the appeal, it’s made from Merino wool, which is odor-resistant, temperature-regulating, and moisture-wicking.
Cotopaxi Kapai Hip Pack
The one-of-a-kind (no two bags are the same color) fanny pack comes with thoughtful design features. It has padding along the back panel so you can sling it comfortably, and an accessory pocket with a key clip. But it’s the surprisingly spacious main compartment—which can fit my favorite slim Hydro Flask—that makes this belt bag my go-to for not just outdoor adventures, but also everyday life.
Girlfriend Collective Float Ultralight Legging
These Float fabric leggings are appropriately named, since they’re so light you might forget you’re actually wearing them. The fabric is sweat-wicking and features UPF 50+ to support you during long, hot days in the sun.
Best workout clothes for walking
It’s no secret that walking has a ton of benefits. Hitting your daily steps may be as casual as a long stroll in your neighborhood, or as vigorous as a sweat-inducing walking workout. Regardless, it’s important to have proper footwear to support your stride and breathable attire to keep you dry if you break a sweat.
Reebok Lux High-Waisted Tights
ability to seamlessly go from lounging to walking. Testers particularly loved the fit: These leggings have a supportive yet comfortable high waistband, and they don’t bunch up around the ankles.
Altra Paradigm 7
“This is the first zero drop shoe (no change in the stack height from heel to toe) that I’ve had a good experience in,” Kira Stokes, NASM-CPT, founder of The Stoked Method, tells SELF. “I love the shape of the toe box, which is designed to support your foot’s natural shape (great for bunions), and the mesh upper for breathability.”
Outdoor Voices All-Time Bra
Another Stokes recommendation: the popular Outdoor Voices All-Time Bra. “Great support, compression, and smooth construction that doesn’t dig in. The sweat-wicking SuperForm fabric also dries quickly,” Stokes says.
Vuori Energy Top
The Vuori Energy is, by far, one of the softest tanks I have ever put on my body. Its knit fabric (which is also anti-odor and contains UPF 30+), creates a flattering fit that’s full coverage, meaning your sports bra won’t peek out. It’s also the right length to pair with just about any rise of legging.
Lululemon Swiftly Tech Long Sleeve Shirt 2.0 Race Length
Finding the perfect long-sleeve layer can be tricky. You want to protect yourself from the cold, but without the bulk—and this Lululemon shirt achieves that perfect balance. Our 2023 Activewear Award testers especially loved how easy it was to slip it off mid-workout, and shove into a tote or belt bag.
Best workout clothes for HIIT and cross training
Not all fitness gear is created equal, so for your most intense and grueling workouts, you need pieces that are truly supportive. This includes sneakers that will keep you grounded while you lift, leggings that stay in place when you squat, and bras that will help reduce bounce.
Alo Yoga 7/8 High-Waist Airlift Leggings
Jacqueline Kasen, CPT, says these leggings from Alo are her absolute favorite. “They’re comfortable, not see-through, and stay in place whether weight lifting or running,” she says.
Oti x Bravissimo Performance Wired Sports Bra
Underwire sports bras might be a foreign idea for some people—but for others, like myself, they’re a necessity. I’ve worn this 2023 SELF Activewear Awards–winning performance wire bra and can confirm it’s a standout option for anyone larger on top (I am a 34DD). Our testers noted that it ran small, so anyone between sizes should size up.
Adidas Ultraboost 1.0 Shoes
The popular Adidas Ultraboost sneaker line comes highly recommended by Stokes. “It has been a constant in my shoe rotation for at least 15 years,” she says. She particularly likes wearing this shoe while strength training, since it has a low profile—but she says it’s also comfortable for walks, low-impact activities, and even travel.
Athleta Vital Tank 2.0
While I like the look of scoop neck and v-neck tops, when I’m really moving, jumping, and punching, I appreciate the additional coverage this high neck Athleta tank provides.
SuperFit Hero SuperHold Pocket Bike Shorts
A 2022 Activewear Award–winner, these shorts received high praise because they stayed in place during workouts without restricting movement. “They are long enough where they don’t ride up at all,” one tester said, adding that the bike shorts didn’t show sweat or bladder leakage.
Old Navy Light Support PowerChill Longline Sports Bra
As our 2022 Activewear Award–winner for best built-in bra tank, this longline workout top was lauded for its tailored fit. Specifically, it features a shelf bra with removable cups and interior mesh lining that offers light support. Both testers said no matter how sweaty they got, the tank stayed comfortable.
Best workout clothes for cycling
Whether you prefer a casual outdoor bike ride or a rigorous spin class, you need proper gear for any cycling workout. That includes a supportive bra and leggings that can handle lots of sweat—without riding down while you’re peddling. And don’t forget the vital cycling shoes and socks that won’t bunch up.
Lululemon Align High-Rise Pant
Soul Cycle instructor Eve Chrust is not alone in her love of the buttery-soft Lululemon Align leggings. “I love anything lightweight (good for sweat-wicking) and high-waisted (most comfortable on the bike),” she says.
Feetures Elite Light Cushion Mini Crew Socks
The compression and design of these socks means your foot won’t move around and they will feel like they were completely customized. I like the light cushioning, which provides added protection without taking up too much room in your cleat.
Fabletics No-Bounce Sports Bra
This 2023 Activewear Award–winner for best high-impact sports bra has a longline design, strappy back, and high-neck coverage. It comes in many colors and patterns, so you can match this ultra-soft top with every one of your favorite leggings.
Nike SuperRep Cycle 2 Next Nature
The bright color options drew me to buy this cycling shoe a few years ago. Now that I have used it more than 100 times, their feet-cooling mesh ventilated design makes me thankful they caught my eye. I also appreciate the rubber on the heel and toe, which makes it easy to walk from the locker room to the studio, or navigate with ease around a home gym.