5 workout gear upgrades that are actually worth it

Paying a little extra for quality gym gear can make a huge difference in how you look, feel, and smell while you exercise.
workout clothes
Your muscles deserve better than your ratty old workout gear. deck yourself out in the right duds and you’ll upgrade both your performance and your style. Amanda Ringstad

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn more ›

Sure, you can work out in those floppy old sweatpants and a promotional T-shirt for a fun run that happened when The Office was still on the air, but you’re doing your muscles a disservice. Stepping up your gym attire can make a tangible difference in how you look, feel, smell when you’re putting in those reps. Here are some flexible options that will feel right at home on the treadmill, in the squat rack, or just posing on Instagram to trick your followers into thinking you’re going to exercise.

Sports bra

Six hundred hours of tests helped Nike determine where to tighten and loosen the weave on the FE/NOM Flyknit bra. As a result, its cups and racerback stay firmly in place but don’t hinder movement.


Feeling the burn doesn’t mean the sting of sweat in your eyes. The Halo II headband uses a silicone seal to channel perspiration away from your face like a rain gutter, so you can stay focused.


Friction in your shoes can cause painful blisters. The blended synthetic fibers in Drymax’s Hyper Thin socks are 88 percent less rough than wool, so your feet stay dry and unchafed.


Rapha’s base layers are made with merino wool, which wicks away moisture more efficiently than most synthetics. It’s also naturally odor-resistant, so you won’t stink up the place.


Avoid awkward sweatpants blowouts. Lululemon’s Nulux leggings are knit with added Lycra, which gives them four-way stretch while the material remains opaque and moisture-free.

This story appears in the Winter 2020, Transformation issue of Popular Science.

[RELATED: Recovery tools to soothe your aching muscles]