When you think of factors which affect your workout, it tends to be simple things – your energy levels, nutrition, hydration or even your mental state. What you may not have immediately thought of is what you wear. Many people think of workout clothes as unimportant – either merely functional or of no value at all. Some people just wear old clothes, while others like to spend on designer athleisure garments or even the latest technical innovations, like sweat-wicking fabrics and temperature regulating garments. Whichever end of the scale you’re at – how much does what we wear impact our performance on the track, in the gym or out on a run? Does it really matter what we wear to work out?
Here Comes The Science…
Research into the subject suggests that far from being a fashion fad, what you wear to work out in really can impact on performance and results. In fact, it can influence everything from motivation levels to the likelihood of getting injured – no small matter. It’s the reason why Olympic athlete kit is carefully developed scientifically to maximize performance when the stakes are high – but there are also plenty of takeaways for those of us who aren’t professional athletes and just want to turn in a better workout than usual.
If you have any sort of a regular workout regime and you’re trying to improve your performance, you’ll know how devastating it can be when you get an injury which slows your progress or even grinds it to a temporary halt. And that is exactly why wearing appropriate clothing is really important if exercise is a big part of your life. When you’re an amateur, sports injuries can easily occur if you don’t wear the proper clothing for the activity you’re doing. People often start doing something they haven’t done before, like taking up running and don’t take the time to equip themselves properly – not investing in proper running shoes, doing their research to see in SVD shoes with the right fit and technology to support distance running, which can be very different from the requirements of fashion sneakers or even general gym wear. Small things like not wearing a proper sports bra which can withstand a high enough impact can also make a big difference, guarding against impact, muscle strain and overheating. Once you’re sure that you’re going to be doing that type of exercise regularly, it can be worth investing in high quality sports compression garments, which can help to increase circulation, deliver oxygen to the muscles and help to disperse lactic acid accumulation. In turn, this can make a significant positive contribution to your endurance and your recovery post-exercise.
Feels Like A Second Skin
Sports clothing should never feel restrictive, as this hinders the range of movements you can make and has an impact on your training. When you feel comfortable, you can focus fully on the task in front of you and give your all to your workout. Pay close attention to design features when shopping for your gym gear – opt for seam free pieces which won’t rub or irritate skin, and always choose looser rather than tight pieces to allow air circulation and a more comfortable fit – unless it’s a lycra piece that is designed to be supportive and snug.
Throwing on any old cotton top can be a mistake, as cotton quickly becomes saturated under sweaty conditions and feels damp, heavy and uncomfortable. It’s better to go for breathable or specialist sweat-wicking fabrics that work to draw away moisture from the body and leave you drier and more comfortable. Intelligent fabrics can also regulate body temperature, leaving you better able to perform and stay focused. Some fabrics now also include silver ions, which kill the bacteria that make sweat smell, keeping you much fresher.
Boosting Your Confidence
We all know the old saying about dressing for the job you want, not the one you have, and it turns out this can also be true of the clothes you wear to workout in. Studies have shown that our apparel has the ability to influence the way we feel, and trigger changes in our brain chemistry that can make us push ourselves harder when we’re working out. It’s all to do with confidence, and we can all use some more of that. If you feel like a total rockstar when you walk into the gym, you are far more likely to want to keep that up by pushing yourself and performing well, especially in a group setting like an exercise class.