After seeing my chubby self in a video interview two years ago, I made it a goal of mine to get into the best shape of my life last year.

I officially dropped 33lbs, and while the majority of the weight loss was thanks to good old diet and exercise, there’s one tool that I’ve never really talked about until today: stylish gym gear.

Why Not Just Use Your Old College Shirts? 

A few reasons.

1. Your plain old cotton shirt doesn’t wick sweat efficiently, making your sweat-soaked shirt weigh a billion pounds.
2. That sweat makes your shirt stick to your body. Not fun.
3. You’re getting a ton of sweat on everything at the gym. You’ve officially become THAT guy.

One huge benefit that people overlook: the psychological boost of wearing cool workout gear.

There have been countless studies showing how what we wear can affect our mental image of ourselves and our performance.

When I suit up in slick gym gear, I felt like a badass. And that gives me that kick in the ass to kick ass in the gym.

So today, I’m going to share with you some of my favorite gym gear that blend style and substance.

Headphones: Otium Bluetooth Headphones

Look, I’ll be honest, these are basically Powerbeat knockoffs. I’m not much of an audiophile to notice the difference, and these have served me extremely well in the gym. If you’ve never used bluetooth headphones before, especially in the gym, you’re in for a real treat. The first time you use them it’ll feel like magic, and you’ve been wondering why you put up with all the constant unplugging and dropped phones during your workout.

Buy: Otium Bluetooth Headphones, $21

Jacket: Nike Therma Sphere Max Training Hoodie

Shoutout to my mom for getting me this for Christmas. Nike’s Therma Sphere max is perfect for the couple of months we have left of chilly weather. Insulated and water repellent, the hoodie is cut to follow the natural curves of the human body, which makes it extremely comfortable to move in.

Buy: Nike Therma Sphere Max, $185

Workout Shirt: Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Short Sleeve Tee

Ok, it’s time to get over the fact that it’s Lululemon. They’re one of my favorite brands for workout gear (right behind Nike). Their cuts are amazing and fabrics are on par with Nike, and their designs are getting better and better. Their standard workout shirt, the Vent Tech shirt is extremely lightweight and has anti-odor properties. They feel much nicer than my previous go-to, Nike’s Dri-fit tees.

My current workout routine is extremely fast paced (think Crossfit style) and clocks in at an average of 1.5 hours. Even after that brutal workout, Lululemon tees are almost dry to the touch. Pure magic.

Best workout tees on the market. 

Buy: Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Tee, $68

Shorts: Lululemon Surge Shorts

Ultra-light, super comfortable 4-way stretch shorts, my favorite detail is the exposed elastic band you can loop your towel on.

Buy: Lululemon Surge Shorts, $58

Tights: Nike Utility Training Tights

I’m pretty sure this opinion is going to be controversial, but I don’t think sweatpants are a great option for the gym.

For that whole lounge athleisure look? I’m all for it, but I much prefer the tights + shorts combination. Most sweatpants are unflattering with their wide legs and saggy butts. More tailored options look great, but the materials are often too thick, making movement uncomfortable.

Tights offer the warmth you need with much better range of motion. Just don’t be that weird dude wearing tights on their own. Throw your shorts over them (like the guy above). You’ll look cooler than the dude wearing baggy sweats.

The best part is when the weather gets warmer, you can just wear the shorts on their own.

Buy: Nike Utility Training Tights, $45

Socks: Lululemon T.H.E. Socks

Socks are one the places I always rolled my eyes at when it came to spending a bit more money. 10 pack of white cotton socks at Target for $10, I’m good to go!

Lululemon’s sweat-wicking T.H.E. socks are like truffles, a small addition to your gym routine that makes a huge difference.

See those sections in the socks? Those weave patterns, changing directions to form to your feet and give you better support and fit. The socks are also treated with Silverscent technology, which prevents bacteria from building up and making them smell. That means no more sour smelling socks.

Buy: Lululemon T.H.E. Socks, $18

Shoes: Nike Metcon 4

Nike Metcon’s have been my go-to gym shoe since version 2. Which each iteration, they’ve made subtle tweaks, and they just keep getting better and better.

The Metcon’s low profile are perfect for my workouts that require stability, like my kettlebell swings. They’re extremely lightweight, making them great for sprints. The most important part though is that they’re the best looking low profile shoe out there. (If you wear those Vibrams toe-shoes, please stop reading my site.)

Buy: Nike Metcon 4, $130

Gym bag: Aer Duffel Pack 2

I prefer backpacks over duffel bags because they’re less clunky to carry. After researching dozens of bags, I keep coming back to Aer’s Duffel Pack 2.

Made from Cordura ballistic nylon that’s water resistant, it has two ways to open. Store your laptop in the traditional backpack compartment, then lay the bag down and use the front zipper to load your clothes like a duffel.

My favorite detail: the vented shoe compartment on the bottom.

(Update: My clients prefer the smaller Fit Pack 2. If you’re looking for something a bit sleeker than the Duffel Pack 2, I definitely recommend you look into the Fit Pack 2.)

Buy: Aer Duffel Pack 2, $170

The Gamechanger: Sweatblock Antiperspirant Pads

I’ve written about the magic of SweatBlock before. SweatBlock is an antiperspirant towelette that you wipe on at night. The towelettes contain an FDA approved proprietary formula that will block sweat up to 7-days per use.

7 days!

With over 3,000 nearly 5 star reviews on Amazon, SweatBlock is an extremely popular and effective solution against sweat.

The only downside? While it does block sweat effectively and reduces some odor, it doesn’t eliminate it. (B.O. is caused by the lack of air flow your pits get.) SweatBlock recommends you use it along with a deodorant.

Buy: SweatBlock Towelette (8-Week Supply), $19

The “What Took Me So Long To Use These”: Quick Barbell Clamps

If you weight train (why aren’t you weight training?), quick clips are going to save you from the headaches of trying to use those god-awful spring clips to secure plates.

You can operate them with one hand, and they slide right off with no effort. You’re going to wonder what the hell took you so long to discover these.

Buy: Greententljs Quick Clips, $7.99

peter@theessentialman.com'
Author

Hi, I'm Peter. I spent 11 years as a menswear designer here in NYC. Now, I help some of the most successful men look really good as a Private Personal Stylist and writer of The Essential Man. You can learn more about what I do by clicking here