Why Do People Wear Sweatpants & Hoodies at the Gym, and Should You?

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Man in hoodie at the gym

If you’re new to the gym, or if you’ve been going for a while and you’re just curious, you might be wondering:

Why do people wear hoodies and sweatpants when they workout at the gym? 

Don’t they get hot? Aren’t you supposed to work out in shorts?

Are you missing something, and should YOU be going to the gym in sweatpants?

Sweatpants and hoodies are ideal for warming up before you lift weights, especially in cold gyms or during the winter. As you heat up, you’ll probably want to take the hoodie off, but if your gym is especially chilly, it can be helpful to keep it on since your body performs best when it’s warm.

Besides, sweatpants have some nice stylistic and functional benefits over shorts that you might want to consider!

Let’s take a closer look.


Warming Up

Lifting weights (or performing any workout, really) without properly warming up is a bad idea.

Working out with warm muscles vs cold muscles lessens your chance of injury and improves performance.

Often, when it comes to lifting weights, just a few sets of your first lift with the bar and/or light weights is enough to get you going.

But in the winter, you might need a little more.

I love wearing a hoodie or warmup jacket to the gym while I work through my warmups — usually, just a couple of minutes on the treadmill or bike before I move into lifting.

It helps heat your body up faster and get your muscles loose. When you’re cold, they tend to tighten up.

There’s also some evidence that staying warm during your workout can have other benefits like decreasing insuling sensitivity, and improving endurance and nutrient delivery in your bloog.

Most people wear a hoodie to the gym to speed up the process of warming and loosening up their muscles.

Sweats are totally optional, though. You can accomplish the same thing with a quick jog on the treadmill before you move into your proper workout.

Once your body is feeling warm and loose, you’ll probably want to take the hoodie off before you start sweating too much.

(My favorite warm-up sequence for my first lift is usually about 10 reps with the bar and 8 reps with 50% of my working weight. Then I’ll do around 6 reps, 3 reps, and singles as I add more and more weight approaching my first work set for a total of about 6 warm-up sets.)

Related: What are the pros and cons of lifting weights?


Comfort

This totally comes down to your personal preference, but a lot of people just find sweatpants more comfortable than shorts or typical athleticwear.

This is especially true for men.

While women get yoga pants, which are perfectly suited to working out, men are often stuck with baggy, long, and cumbersome shorts.

You have to go out of your way to find good rugby or soccer-style shorts with the right length and compression.

For squatting and other leg exercises, in particular, bad shorts can totally ruin the experience — and expose your junk to the world!

Sometimes it’s just easier to rock sweatpants.

They’re comfortable, stretchy, and won’t ride up or down much while you work out.

(Check out my favorite pants for weightlifting here.)

The one exception might be if you’re doing an intense cardio workout like HIIT or runinng. You’ll probably sweat a lot and may overheat wearing sweatpants — better opt for shorts in that case.


Style

There’s no doubt that a good pair of sweatpants looks way cooler than most men’s shorts.

(You know, those baggy mesh ones that come down to your ankles.)

And while shorter or compression-style shorts are extremely functional, not many guys are comfortable wearing them to the gym — they can be a little bit revealing!

So for the best of both worlds (comfort and style), sweatpants are often the best choice.

Plus, sweats are appropriate to wear around the house or out in the world whenever you want. Tight squatting shorts? Not so much.

When it comes to hoodies, well, hoodies almost always look great and will keep you warm before and after the gym  when it’s cold out.


Do you burn more calories working out in a hoodie or sweatpants?

You might sometimes see people wearing hoodies, sweats, and sweatpants during workouts in order to sweat more.

It’s a common tactic for wrestlers or boxers looking to “make weight.”

So does working out in sweats burn more calories?

No! This is a common misconception.

The reason you might see people doing this is because you’ll likely run hotter and sweat more (losing water weight in the the process) wearing heavier clothes.

The actual output of your workout won’t change based on the clothes you’re wearing, with the exception of something like a weighted vest.

If you’re going to attempt this, be careful.

Overheating and dehydration are serious concerns during intense exercise and sweating.


Wrapping Up

So that’s pretty much the end of that mystery.

People wear sweats to the gym to keep their muscles warm and loose, and also sometimes because it’s more comfortable and stylish than the alternatives.

Should you wear sweatpants and a hoodie to the gym? It’s a great option for weightlifting and other forms of exercise where you need comfort and muscle performance, but you don’t sweat excessively.

Sweats aren’t a great choice for cardio unless you’re purposefully trying to lose water weight.

Any other questions? Give me a shout below!

Hope this helps.

(And before you leave, read my guide to your first day at the gym.)

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