When you’re first getting started on an exercise program, you probably don’t have a deep wardrobe of athletic gear to wear to the gym.
You can get by on some old shorts and t-shirts for a while, but eventually you might want some better outfits.
So should you stock up on t-shirts, tank tops, or both? Should you wear a tank top to the gym at all?
I almost exclusively wear tank tops to the gym. They’re comfortable and they show off your arms while you’re training — it sounds lame, but it’s actually really motivating to see your pump in the mirror!
The only real downside might be having trouble warming up or staying warm in the winter or in a cold gym.
But let’s take a little bit of a closer look.
Pros of working out in a tank top
Like I said above, this is my personal preference.
I did some reflection, and a ton of research, to pinpoint exactly why I find it so favorable.
Here are a few of the benefits:
Motivate yourself by showing off your arms
This might sound lame, but I don’t care!
When you work out in a tank top, especially during strength training, you’ll really enjoy seeing the pump in your arm and shoulder muscles when you look in the mirror.
It’s not about attracting attention, but rather about the way it makes you feel.
When you feel good about yourself, you’ll be inspired to keep showing up and pushing hard in the gym.
(Think of wearing a tank top in flattering gym-lighting as the necessary antidote to unflattering pictures of yourself. You deserve a self-esteem win every now and then, damn it!)
Keep from overheating
Your body naturally heats up as you exercise — that’s a no-brainer.
So unless your goal is rapid water weight loss for wrestling, MMA, etc., you probably want to make an effort to stay cool to some degree during your workouts.
Overheating during a workout can lead to some nasty symptoms like dizziness, cramps, and fainting — but in milder cases, even if you don’t pass out, your performance will likely suffer.
Sleeves can feel a little suffocating and cause you to sweat more and even overheat when you’re really pushing in the gym.
Tanks keep you cooler throughout your session. And don’t forget to hydrate!
Comfortable & excellent range of motion
I don’t like baggy t-shirts as a general rule, and I certainly wouldn’t want to work out in one.
Bagginess and loose material is your enemy during workouts. It’s cumbersome and has a tendency to get in the way.
On the other hand, I have no desire to work out in a tight t-shirt with the sleeves squeezing my arms. It’s restricting and hinders range of motion.
The obvious solution, then, is to exercse in a sleeveless shirt or tank.
Cons of working out in a tank top
As much as I love a good tank, there are a few potential drawbacks worth considering.
Takes longer to warm up and harder to stay warm
This can be a serious issue in the winter (or if your gym likes to keep things cold).
It’s really difficult, and unwise, to walk into the gym from the freezing cold, strip down to your tank top, and start lifting weights.
When your body is relatively warm, you only need a few warm-up sets to get the muscles loose and the blood flowing.
But in the winter, you’ll need to put a lot more effort into warming up properly — if you don’t, you risk injury and worse performance.
I like to start off my workouts in a hoodie or warm-up jacket until I’m heated up.
I’ll put in a few minutes of brisk walking or even jogging on the treadmill to speed up the process, and will likely wear the hoodie throughout my exercise-specific warm-ups as well.
More likely to get sweat on machines and equipment
With more skin exposed while wearing a tank, you’re more likely to get your sweat on the equipment.
(And if you’re a germophone, you’ll also be more exposed to other people’s sweat and residue as you exercise.)
Just remember to be a good citizen and wipe everything down when you’re done, especially if you’ve visibly left behind sweat streaks or puddles!
Let’s talk about it:
Is it douchey to wear a tank top to the gym?
I don’t think so, no, but you might want to beware of coming across as “extra.”
Certain kinds of tanks (like stringers, or really low-cut tank tops) can scream “look at me!” and make it look like you’re trying a little too hard to show off your physique.
On the other hand, most guys who work out in stringers rave about how comfortable they are.
So the choice is really yours alone to make.
Should you care about “what not to wear” at the gym?
In my experience, there’s often an inverse relationship between how much effort people put into their gym outfits and how much effort they put into their workouts.
Meaning, usually the dudes in the most stylish and coordinated gym get-ups have the least impressive physiques, at least in my observation.
Some of the strongest people at my gym usually just work out in shorts and a t-shirt, or for women, yoga pants and a basic tank top.
The gym isn’t a night club and people who take their outfits too seriously are wasting their time.
Wear what’s comfortable for you, and wear the outfit that helps you perform and feel your best.
Don’t worry so much about what the other people in the gym will think of your fashion choices.
(The honest truth is that no one’s looking or cares.)
So should you wear a tank top to the gym?
Why not! It’s got some great benefits like keeping you cool and comfortable while allowing excellent movement and range of motion.
Just make sure you take your warm-ups seriously in the winter if you’re going to wear a tank.
What do you think, though? Are tank tops at the gym OK or not, and why?
Hope this helps, everyone!
And before you go, don’t miss some of my other favorite gym gear guides like: