Women's Fitness Clothing Buying Guide

by Stephanie Petersen

Before you start considering athletic wear options, think about the type of exercise you'll be doing. If you've joined a gym or you're taking an aerobics class, then you'll need workout clothes that are comfortable when you're indoors. If you prefer doing yoga over running on a treadmill, then you'll need to look for clothes that let you stretch on the floor. Once you have an idea about the exercise you'll be doing, you can start shopping for the right women's workout clothes.

Types of Fitness Clothing:

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  • Start with sports bras:

    Sports bras provide support and motion control. They can also protect breast tissue from damage and prevent back injuries.

  • Many women prefer pull-over sports bras, and you'll see many of these available. For women with larger breasts, a hook-closure sports bra can be easier to put on and remove.

  • Compression sports bras flatten your chest to hold it in place, which works well for women with small breasts. Underwire styles offer a lot of support, but some women find the wires to be uncomfortable when exercising. For women who need the most support, encapsulated sports bras, which hold each breast in a soft cup, are the best choice.

  • Sports bras usually are rated for the amount of activity for which they are intended. Low-impact sports bras work well for yoga, weight-lifting, or rock climbing. Medium-impact sports bras are perfect for aerobics, biking, or cross-country skiing. High-impact sports bras are necessary for mountain biking, running, or downhill skiing.

  • A racer back sports bra will provide more support for women with larger breasts, but if you prefer traditional straps, sports bras are available in that style as well.

  • Choose shorts and pants:

    Women's exercise pants are similar to men's, but they are often a bit more fitted for style. Or in the case of yoga pants, a slim fit can help you check your form in the mirror while exercising. Yoga pants can be worn for all types of exercise. Women also have the option of Capri-length exercise pants, which offer the same comfort, coverage, and flexibility as exercise pants while letting you stay a bit cooler than full-length pants. Women's exercise shorts are excellent for warm weather workouts or indoor workouts; be sure to choose a pair that will allow for the type of movement you plan on doing.

  • Consider skirts and skorts:

    Some women enjoy doing certain activities in skirts or skorts, such as yoga or tennis. Exercise skirts and skorts are designed to allow for full movement while giving you comfortable, stylish options for your daily workout or weekly match at the tennis court.

  • Find shirts and tank tops:

    Women have a wide variety of choices when it comes to fitness shirts. A comfortable T-shirt that breathes well, allows for movement and doesn't get in your way can be an excellent, affordable fitness shirt. You may want something more advanced for certain workouts, like anti-bacterial shirts, shirts that wick away moisture, or shirts that regulate your temperature. Sports tank tops are a great choice if you get hot while you work out or if you want to see your muscles in the mirror while weight training. Look for tank tops that are made of breathable, flexible fabric and that have the amount of coverage that will keep you comfortable.

  • Top it off with outerwear:

    Exercising outdoors is great for people who don't want to be trapped inside a gym -- until the temperatures drop. If you'll be exercising outside, make sure you have cold weather athletic clothing. Sweatshirts, hoodies, and athletic jackets let you keep up with your fitness goals, no matter how cold it gets.