The best men’s fitness kit of 2021 | Shorts, tops and hoodies for every workout

Our updated guide to squatting in style
Essential men’s gym kit 2021

Whether you're training in the gym or you like your workouts to be al fresco, making sure you have the best fitness kit for the job can mean the difference between bossing a session or spending it in discomfort.

However, fitness is a vague term and can cover a wide range of training styles, goals and personal preferences when it comes to kit. What makes a great product for one person may be the last thing someone else wants when taking a trip to the gym.

There are lots of factors that come into play when deciding on what to wear for a workout: comfort, performance, cost, and style are just a few of the checkboxes that people look out for, with more specific features like pockets and safety features worth looking into as well.

Although you can generally use kit for multiple purposes, certain activities are best carried out with specialist products. For example, if you're doing yoga classes, where inverted positions are a regular occurrence, you might well want to invest in shorts from a specialist yoga brand.

Now, without further ado, here are our favorite gym kit to buy right now

Best gym shorts

Under Armour Knit Performance Training Shorts

Under Armour Knit Performance Training Shorts

Under Armour's latest pair of training shorts are designed with looseness in mind, which makes them perfect for gym training when you need mobility and comfort for things like squats and lunges.

The long fit sits just above the knee and offers an incredible light and airy feel whilst still being thick and durable. The waist is elasticated for a nice easy fit that includes a drawcord to tighten them up, and the material, although soft and cosy, is designed to dry quickly.

We've been using these shorts in a variety of gym workouts and found them to work best when strength training as they're slightly too thick for HIIT classes or cardio machines.

Gym+Coffee Pace Shorts

Gym+Coffee Pace Shorts

Irish fitness brand Gym+Coffee's main focus is creating kit that's both functional when being used for training and perfect for wearing when you're not. As well as a comfortable design that feels great in or out of the gym, the range features sleek designs that tick the box for those wanting something visually appealing as well as functional.

The Pace shorts are designed specifically for running and are a prime example of that balancing of performance and aesthetics into a sleek look that's perfect for those who like to avoid baggy gym shorts. And, although that lean appearance may look like they might split as soon as you do your first sumo squat, the fabric is made from an impressively stretchy material that can tackle any workout.

As well as a side split hem for extra manoeuvrability and a light breathable material, our favourite feature of the Pace shorts is the large zipped pocket that runs the length of the leg that's large enough to hold an average-sized phone as well as other valuables.

Zone3 RX3 Compression 2 in 1 Shorts

Zone3 RX3 Compression 2 in 1 Shorts

These 2-in-1 shorts feature a tight compression layer under a looser top layer so you can enjoy the benefits of that compression without worrying about your modesty in the gym. Both layers are made from fabrics that boast top-notch moisture-management features and, pleasingly, pockets – there are two side pockets and a zipped back pocket on the outer layer, while the inner has a thigh pocket that you can squeeze larger items into so they won’t bounce around during your workout.

The compression on the shorts is supportive without feeling overly restrictive during a workout, though the shorts sizing runs slightly small, so if you’re in between sizes it’s wise to go for the larger one.

Domyos 100 Shorts

Domyos 100 Shorts

If you’re averse to spending big bucks on your gym shorts then check out this extremely wallet-friendly set from Decathlon. The Domyos 100 shorts don’t come with grandiose claims about the fabric technology used but they will get the job done and you’ll get change from a tenner when buying them, so you really can’t ask for too much. They even come in four different colors.


The shorts aren’t best used for extremely sweaty activities when you will benefit from the wicking fabric used in pricier shorts, and they will start to smell after one trip to the gym, so don’t stash these in your bag and expect to come back to anything good after a week.


Best gym tops

Sundried Dom 2.0 Training T-shirt

Sundried Dom 2.0 Training T-shirt

If sustainability is a key part of your decision making when it comes to buying kit, then Sundried is a brand well worth taking a look at. Set up in 2016, the company's focus is to produce technical fitness kit that's made from eco-friendly materials.

The Dom 2.0 Training T-shirt is a testament to that design ethos, offering an impressively functional material that's made from 100% recycled plastic bottles.

Environmental factors aside, it's a formidable piece of training kit whether you're in the gym or heading out for a long run, offering a soft, loose feel that doesn't stick to the skin or chafe. As well as being sweat-wicking and stretchy, it also features reflective side seams for when you're planning on training outdoors. If you want one t-shirt to cover you across all of your training needs, it'll tick a lot of boxes.

We've tested the Dom 2.0 Training T-shirt in a size small and found it to offer a comfortable fit that, although not relaxed, doesn't feel tight anywhere on the body.


Men's UA RUSH ColdGear Mock 2.0

Men's UA RUSH ColdGear Mock

Under Armour's ColdGear range has been specifically designed to keep your muscles warm in the winter, and this base layer is the pièce de résistance of that technology.

The special material is made to absorb your body heat and reflect it back, something that not only keeps you warm but means your muscles are working more efficiently. It also manages to hug your body without being too tight and uncomfortable, offering a forgiving level of stretch that allows you to move around and do exercises without feeling restricted.

We've been using it for everything from CrossFit to power-lifting and it has become a staple part of our training kit. Not only that, but it also doubles as a great base layer if you're doing a bit of hiking in the colder months.


Brooks Distance Short Sleeve Top

Brooks Distance Short Sleeve Top

Although it's designed for running, the Distance Short Sleeve T-shirt makes it a great addition to your fitness wardrobe, whether you're pounding the pavements or doing pull-ups.

The DriLayer fabric feels instantly soft to the touch and makes it by far one of the most comfortable options we've tested for the gym. In addition, the fit is slightly more relaxed than you'll find in many technical items, meaning it's a good option if you want performance that isn't too tight.

That fit also means it's great for mobility in the gym, meaning you can swing weights around without worrying that your movement will be limited.

In addition, despite not feeling like many technical tops, the technology used to create the fabric makes it impressively sweat-wicking and breathable.


On-T

On-T Running T-shirt

If you're not a fan of the materials normally found in technical kit or prefer t-shirts that cover you for gym workouts as well as daily wear, this recent addition to On's quickly growing list of products is a great option.

Made from a soft and breathable organic cotton and combined with stretchy elastane fabric, it ticks the box for looking good, feeling comfortable and offering a relaxed fit for performing functional movements. That fabric is also designed to wick sweat away from the skin, which is always handy.

For high-level training like HIIT or cardio, the material is likely to be too thick, but for weight training sessions it offers a great all-round piece of kit that delivers functionally and aesthetically.


Adidas Tech Gradient T-Shirt

Adidas Tech Gradient T-Shirt

Not everyone wants a super tight gym top to wear every time they work out, but that doesn't mean you need to skimp on the technical features. This Tech Gradient T-Shirt from Adidas incorporates Moisture-absorbing Aeroreadyfabric and Climacool technology to ensure that you stay dry and cool throughout any session.

The regular fit is wider across the body making it feel loose and breathable whilst forward-shifted seams reduce chafing over longer workouts.

It also comes in a wider range of designs than you're likely to find in most technical tees and the gradient style pattern helps to minimize the appearance of sweat marks when you're going all out on a tough session.

Best hoodies and jackets

Sundried Hoodie Running Top

Sundried Hoodie Running Top

Designed with running in mind, the Sundried Hoodie is made from a soft, lightweight material that can be used as a base layer in colder months or as a standalone running top when the temperature becomes milder.

The loose, thin feel means that movement isn't restricted, whether you're heading out for a 10k, hitting the studio or performing a low impact activity like yoga or weight training.

We've found it works best for those runs where you need an extra bit of protection – and motivation – when leaving the house on colder days. The hood and thumbholes offer a nice added level of warmth against the elements until the point when you've warmed up, then you can roll up the sleeves and pick up the pace.

There's also a large front pocket as well as reflective branding for visibility – for the price, it's one of the best value options we've tested.

Gym+Coffee Camerino Jacket

Gym+Coffee Camerino Jacket

For those men that spend more time in gym kit than they do in the rest of their wardrobe, it doesn't get much better than the Camerino Jacket. Whether you're training outside or you want something to take the edge off while you warm up in a cool gym, the soft, stretchy fabric offers a high level of mobility that means you can bench, curl and pull until your muscles have warmed up.

The sleek fit means it probably looks as good as your none fitness kit, with subtle design features that include a high neck and contoured panelling, along with two large zipped front pockets to hold your valuables securely in place.

We've found that despite the lightweight design, the soft, thick fabric could tackle the worst that spring and autumn could throw at us, whether that was doing press-ups in the park or sitting in a pub beer garden.

Best value fitness kit

Higher State Running T-shirt 2.0

Higher State Running T-shirt 2.0

There's a lot of great fitness kit around these days when you're looking for something a bit less pricey. The Higher State range from SportShoes is a great example of that and well worth a look if you're after technical clothes but don't want to fork out for some of the premium brands.

The Higher State Running T-shirt is a lightweight technical top that feels like what you'd expect to find with some of the pricier options. It has a loose, breathable design that offers a comfortable fit and a nice range of motion whether you're running or doing weights in the gym.

The fit, unlike many gym shirts, is more relaxed, especially around the arms, so it's a good option if you're not into the tighter style that you often find with training tops.

Other features include flat-lying seams to stop irritation on the skin, a special fabric treatment to prevent the growth of bacteria and a reflective logo on the front and protection from UV rays. For the price, there aren't many value ranges out there on a par.


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