What’s the Best Fabric for Workout Clothing?

Monjurul Hasan

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When you workout, you will definitely end up sweating. The last thing you want is to wear clothing that will stick to you. Not only will it simply be uncomfortable, but you may chafe and will get cold very quickly when you stop your workout.

This is why the most important quality when it comes to choosing the best fabrics for workout clothing is that they must not absorb or retain water and must not stick!

It’s important to know as much as you can about the gear you wear for working out. It may just be about understanding how to choose a good vest or pair of shorts for running, or it may be as specialized as knowing which are the best knee sleeves for squats and what they are made out of.

What is the most important quality of the fabric for workout clothing?

The most important thing about workout clothing is that it mustn’t be uncomfortable and stick to you. The best way to avoid this is to buy gear that is ‘moisture-wicking’. This is a fancy way to say that these fabrics have the make-up that means sweat can move quickly through the weave to the outside surface, where it will evaporate.

Best Fabric for Workout Clothing
What is the most important quality of the fabric for workout clothing?

The net result is that the fabric will dry relatively quickly, which means no sticking to your body – and no horrible clamminess when you start cooling down.

Is cotton a good bet for workout clothing?

You may think that cotton’s the coolest fabric to wear (possibly figuratively as well as literally), and you won’t be wrong. When it comes to workout clothing, you won’t exactly be right, either.

You don’t want to get hot and sticky when you work out, right? Because it’s a natural fabric, cotton must surely be very cool to wear. This is so, if you aren’t going to be particularly active.

Best Fabric for Workout Clothing

The thing is that cotton is also very absorbent, so it really isn’t suited for active wear. Can you imagine anything more uncomfortable when you are working out than your vest or shorts sticking to your body?

On the days you do a light workout, preferably outside, you can think about wearing a light cotton vest, or even shorts, which will allow the air through and help you keep cool.

So, what are the best fabrics for workout clothing?


If you look at the labels of some of your workout clothing, you are very likely to see that nylon is at least one of the fabrics listed. Don’t be surprised to see that it’s the only fabric for garments like running vests and shorts.

Best Fabric for Workout Clothing

Nylon is a synthetic material that is fairly moisture-wicking and strong and durable. This makes it very popular for lightweight working out clothing. It’s also incredibly difficult to scratch, which is why it’s used for a lot of sweatsuits and other exercise outer garments.


Possibly the best, and therefore most popular, fabric for workout clothing is polyester. Even more so than nylon, It’s just about everywhere. The key to using polyester in work out clothing is that it’s very efficient at moisture-wicking. It dries quickly, which is not only important to keep the clothing away from your body, but also a bonus when it comes to washing your workout clothing.

Best Fabric for Workout Clothing

Polyester is also long-lasting and lightweight. An added bonus is that it doesn’t wrinkle, so it doesn’t even matter if you forget to fold your workout clothing neatly and just stuff it into your togbag.

Spandex (Lycra)

If you’ve ever worn cycling shorts, a bathing suit, exercise tights or a leotard, then you’ve undoubtedly worn spandex. Like nylon and polyester, it’s a synthetic fabric, which stretches a lot without losing its shape. This makes it perfect for workouts that involve a lot of flexibility.

Best Fabric for Workout Clothing

Spandex is made from a synthetic type of rubber, which is why it can stretch so well. If you’ve never come across spandex, then look out for Lycra, which is the best-known brand name for this fabric and will surely be familiar, as one of the most popular materials used for workout wear.


One common blend of fabrics for workout clothes is a nylon spandex, which produces a fabric that stretches easily and efficiently when it comes to wicking the moisture from the skin. The result is workout clothing that keeps you comfortable and relatively dry while working out. This blend is great for workouts that need you to be more flexible, like yoga and Pilates.

Best Fabric for Workout Clothing

A polyester cotton blend fabric is an option for workout clothing, if you are doing some fairly light exercises. As an option for running tops and vests, it is a great option, particularly when you exercise outdoors.

Merino wool

There is one fabric made from natural fibers that is good for workout clothing. That is wool.

Best Fabric for Workout Clothing

No, wool isn’t only used to make winter sweaters and beanies. Wool is a fiber from which lightweight clothing is also made. Because it’s natural, it reacts as your body changes temperature and can actually feel more comfortable than any of the synthetic fabrics.

Which fabric comes out on top?

It’s difficult to identify which one fabric is the best for workout clothing, because ‘working out’ means a whole lot of things. If you’re going running, then the best fabric is most probably polyester, but a loose cotton vest is also an option. If you are doing yoga, then spandex is great, but a blend of nylon and spandex may be better.

To find the best fabrics, it’s a matter of linking them to the type of workout you do.

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