Choosing the right gear for a workout can be just as important as the exercise itself. That’s because great sportswear can afford you a competitive advantage in team sports, help you manage existing injuries, and enable you to avoid future injuries.
What are the most important items of sportswear to consider if you want to get the most out of your workout?
Quality footwear suited to your type of workout or sport is perhaps the most important investment you can make in your exercise regimen. Unfortunately, since the “cross trainer” phenomenon of the 1990s, many people buy an athletic shoe for use across multiple sports and exercise types. This can result in reduced performance and an increased risk of injury.
For example, if you spend most of your time jogging, you’ll want an athletic shoe that is designed to cushion the foot and offer support for the midsole. On the other hand, if you’re mainly in the gym doing power lifts, there are specific shoes that can help your ankles cope with the loads you’re lifting.
In short, whatever activity you spend most of your time participating in, make sure you chose shoes that are well suited to it rather than choosing an all-purpose “cross trainer” shoe that is not particularly well adapted to any one sport or activity.
You should also bear in mind that the shape and size of your foot is important when choosing footwear for your exercise regimen. Many of the well-known brands try to cater to everyone by designing their shoes around the average foot. The problem with that is that there is no such thing as the “average foot”, so try on a range of different shoes and don’t be afraid to venture away from the popular brands.
If you need to buy multiple types of footwear, spend the extra money. It’s better to invest in footwear that is suited to the job you need it to do than it is to suffer unnecessary injuries. The cost to your body will be far greater in the long run than the short-term savings you’d make from buying an all-purpose shoe.
After being pioneered in the medical industry, compression wear made its way into sports for a good reason: these garments may help improve blood flow to the muscles and prevent chafing and rashes.
Investing in compression wear from brands that are known for wearable compression is a great way to reduce chafing. If you regularly exercise in a cooler climate, compression wear also serves as an extra layer to help keep your muscles warm during the early stages of your warm-up.
Like compression undergarments, choosing the right kind of sports shirt can have a huge effect on your level of comfort when you’re physically active.
While choosing a cheaper material may seem like a money-saver, you could actually be sabotaging your workout. For example, choosing a cheap polyester sports top can cause chafing, while a cotton t-shirt will hold too much moisture.
Instead, choose a shirt made from a breathable fabric. These are traditionally nylon blends, or more recently, bamboo. Only invest in “dry” garments that wick moisture away from the body if you sweat excessively. Sweat is your body’s natural cooling system, so unless your shirt is usually soaked after a workout, don’t worry about forking out extra for shirts labeled as “cool” or “dry” fabrics.
The bottom half of your sports wardrobe will be mainly determined by the type of exercise you do and the environment in which you usually perform it.
One of the most important things to consider is whether you mainly exercise indoors or outdoors. If you spend most of your time in the gym on a treadmill, there is no sense in wearing heavy tracksuit pants. On the flip side, if you’re running mainly outside on winter evenings, tracksuit pants may be preferable to shorts.
In short, there isn’t as much “wrong” and “right” when it comes to the bottom half of your body compared with the top half. The bottom half of your body does not need to be layered in the same way the top half does as all of your vital organs are above the waist.
It is also important to know how your body reacts to exercise. While many people will prefer to have their legs fully covered during an outdoor jog on a winter night, others may find themselves quickly overheating.
In general, however, it is sensible to choose a length and style of bottoms that is suited to the season and type of workout. You should also ensure the material is weighted appropriately and does not chafe.