The 7 best compression socks of 2021 for runners, seniors, and anyone looking to improve circulation

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  • Compression socks help speed muscle recovery and potentially improve athletic performance.
  • They also improve blood flow for venous or lymphatic issues for pregnant women or the elderly.
  • Our top pick, CEP’s Progressive+ Compression Socks, are incredibly comfortable and won’t sag throughout the day.

Compression socks are one of those garments that seem gimmicky but science actually backs up their biggest claimed benefit: Improving your circulation.

“Compression socks help the vascular system move blood and other fluids, which can help manage swelling and inflammation,” Jenelle Deatherage, a physical therapist at the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Clinic, told Insider.

At their foundation, compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. The compression also improves the flow of lymph fluid, which helps remove cellular waste and circulates bacteria-fighting white blood cells throughout your body.

Deatherage added that several categories of people may benefit from wearing compression socks, including athletes who could look to enhance their workouts. This is especially true for runners.

“There’s not great research on performance, which is what a lot of patients look for, but the good news is that there is some research that shows [compression socks] might help with muscle fatigue and reduce soreness if you wear them during a workout,” she explained.

Because of those benefits, compression socks have become quite popular recently – and that popularity brought with it a surplus of options. To help narrow down what’s available, we tested dozens of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.

At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into who Detherage says may benefit most from compression socks, tips on how to shop for them, and the best methods for how to use and wear them.

Here are the best compression socks:

How we test compression socks

The compression socks featured in this guide each went through a series of on-foot tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Fit, function, durability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into how we tested each pair of compression socks and how it influenced which made this guide:

Fit: A compression sock is far more able to perform its primary function if it fits the wearer properly, both in terms of the actual size as well as how well it stays fitted throughout the day. To test for this, we judged how true-to-size the socks were and also looked at if they avoided sagging when worn for anywhere multiple hours in a row to a full day. 

Function: Most compression socks feature a compression rating that indicates how tight (or loose) they are, and their function is tied entirely to these ratings. A wearer’s needs may fluctuate wildly (and are certainly different from person-to-person), so to test this, we looked at how many size options and ratings each brand offered and if they catered to a wide range of needs. 

Durability: Compression socks aren’t often cheap per single pair, so it’s important that they’ll last – and for multiple months, at that. This meant stress testing the socks in environments they wouldn’t typically be worn to see how well they held up. If some faltered by sagging easily or tearing, then we knew they’d likely break down far quicker in the long run than we’d like.

Value: Testing the value of a compression sock takes more than just looking at its sticker price. Rather, true value is a combination of the above three categories plus how much it costs. We often think it’s better to spend more on a quality product that lasts as opposed to spending less more often. 

The best compression socks overall

compression socks

Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provides all-day comfort.

Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, won’t sag over the course of the day

Cons: Expensive, sizing can be tricky so be sure to measure before ordering

The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 (available in men’s and women’s sizes) stand out from the other socks on our list due in large part to the fact they offer unparalleled comfort — and should be considered by anyone, despite a steep price tag. 

The brand’s parent company, Medi, has been producing medical compression products for over 70 years. The founder of CEP, who is an Ironman competitor, leveraged Medi’s technical knowledge and designs for athletes.

Made of polyamide and nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), CEP’s socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t sag as the day goes on.

The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks also feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. Per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that covers wearing the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens. 

These socks are recommended for anyone who suffers from shin splints, Achilles issues, or plantar fasciitis. They’re also great for runners looking to rehab their leg after a long run or workout. 

The best budget compression socks

compression socks

The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide reliable comfort.

Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit

Cons: Available in just two sizes

Though the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are about one-fifth the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.

The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors and two sizes: S/M and L/XL.

Though they seem thinner and lighter than other picks on this list, SB Sox socks hold up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they provide a snug fit that doesn’t feel too constricting. More sizing options would be welcome, though.

The best compression socks for circulation

sockwell

If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.

Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long

Cons: The top of the sock might warp over time, only comes in two sizes

For people with venous or lymphatic issues in their legs, compression therapy can help move blood through the veins and tissue better, which in turn promotes healing and prevents ulcers and other issues. Compression stockings are one of the easier options to put on and less cumbersome than medical bandages, says a 2014 study in CMAJ.

The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks (available in men’s and women’s sizes) are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.

What’s more, these are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. A 2019 study analysis in BMC Geriatrics found elderly folks with chronic blood flow issues (venous insufficiency) and swollen legs who wore class 2 compression stockings (pressure between 20 and 30 mmHg) regularly were less likely to have leg ulcers come back compared to wearing lower compression class 1 stockings (pressure below 20 mmHg).

These Sockwell socks have four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.

The best compression socks for post-workout

compression socks 1

After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.

Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors

Cons: Might not be tight enough for everyone’s needs, long drying time

The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit — the appropriate sock size gives you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.

The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. They’re sweat-wicking, too, but don’t tend to dry out very quicky, so are best worn in cooler weather. Zensah offers the socks in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink. 

The best compression socks for runners

Aspire Socks

Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.

Pros: Offers comfortable compression for runners, promotes blood flow, helps relieve shin splints, and wicks away moisture

Cons: Can be difficult to put on

Swiftwick’s compression socks run the gamut of everything from knee-high versions for those looking for full leg relief to no-show options for golfers. For runners, its Aspire Twelve socks are an excellent option to help relieve muscle soreness, prevent or care for shin splints, and provide stability and comfort. 

Comprised of a blend of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, the Aspire Twelves don’t just offer the benefits of compression but also help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. They work well to keep on even after your run as you’ll continue to reap the benefits of compression as you recover. 

The best compression socks for standing all-day

compression socks

If your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell’s Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.

Pros: Good for reducing foot and ankle swelling, incredibly comfortable, inexpensive

Cons: Concerns about durability, socks may only come up to mid-calf in taller people

The Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks have a lot of the same features as our pick for best circulation, the Sockwell Elevation socks. They both have four zones of graduated compression from the ankle on up, which keeps the toes feeling comfortable, and each is made of a combination of spandex, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon, and merino wool.

But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less ($30 per pair).

The Circulator socks only come in two sizes. but there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port. Regardless of the size, the socks aren’t very long, so they’re best used for people with shorter builds. 

The best patterned compression socks

Vim Vigr socks

Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.

Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women

Cons: Can get expensive

First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don’t do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that’s not the case with these.

I’m particularly fond of Vim & Vigr’s medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you’re supported where you need it but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHg depending on the style.

Regardless of your selection, however, you’ll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts — especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important.

What sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only is there a wide range of colors to choose from but the brand also offers several interesting patterns. I’m a fan of the color block options, as well as a Rugby Stripe pattern for men.

Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. If you don’t need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand’s moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet.

Who should wear compression socks?

Anyone can wear compression socks but they do figure to benefit some groups more than others. This predominantly includes athletes, pregnant women, and elderly people, though anyone who sits or stands for long periods of time at work should consider them as well.

Deatherage suggested that if you work out in the morning before sitting at a desk or standing all day, where your calves and ankles stay at the bottom of the gravity chain, it’s smart to wear compression socks post-workout. This helps with swelling and gets blood back to the heart.

Conversely, if you sit all day and prefer to work out at night, wearing compression socks while exercising after work may allow for less fatigue in the lower legs and can help enhance circulation.

Athletes

Concerning the exact impact of compression socks on athletes, Deatherage told Insider that their effectiveness is still somewhat undecided. There is some research that confirms that wearing compression garments helps improve running endurance or cycling sprints, while others say it doesn’t change a thing.

A recently-published analysis in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 21 studies and found that a small number do show that wearing compression socks during exercise improved performance. Mostly, though, the studies showed wearing the special socks during a grueling workout helped fit folks feel like their leg muscles were firing better, fatiguing less, and, after the workout, less sore.

Even if it’s just a placebo effect, those training hard, particularly for long endurance events like a marathon, wearing compression socks during workouts and after for recovery may help make training easier.

“When looking at the cost-benefit ratio and considering what research is out there, it’s not a bad idea,” Deatherage said. “And it’s an easy thing to do.”

Pregnant women

Besides runners, Deatherage says pregnant women may benefit from compression socks, as they’re more prone to swelling. Venous issues are also particularly high for pregnant women as they have a larger volume of blood pumping through their bodies. 

Some 40% of pregnant women develop varicose veins, while the risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) is four- to five-fold higher for moms-to-be compared to non-pregnant women. Wearing compression socks or stockings during pregnancy can potentially help reduce swelling and discomfort, improve circulation, and minimize varicose veins.

Seniors

Elderly people with deep vein thrombosis, those who just had surgery on their legs, or anyone trying to minimize varicose veins or blood clot concerns, might also benefit from compression socks. The catch is here is that these more serious vascular issues, including varicose veins, would benefit more from medical grade compression socks, Deatherage added, which requires a doctor prescription and are often more expensive.

How to shop for compression socks

If you’re simply looking for workout recovery or want relief from more minor issues of swelling or soreness, say on long flights or during long work shifts on your feet (like nurses), you may see advantages from more moderate compression socks, Deatherage said. This includes socks with ratings of about 10-20mmHg, which stands for millimeters of mercury (a measurement of pressure).

When shopping around for compression socks, Deatherage said that besides a sock’s mmHg rating, the most important thing to look for is comfort, saying that “compression socks only work if you wear them.”

Look for a pair in which the material feels comfortable against your skin, and a set that feels snug but not too tight — you don’t want to restrict your movement. If you can find a pair that offers customization for your size, that’s even better.

Compression sock ratings

As noted above, the compression in the stockings is measured in mm Hg. Specifically, compression socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mmHg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mmHg.

None of the socks we reviewed have a rating above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if needed. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.

Fabrics used

Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.

How best to use compression socks

There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out, plus we’ve compiled a few tips here, as well: 

  • Apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on.
  • Wear dishwashing gloves to get a better grip.
  • Roll the socks before you put them on so you can just roll them up your legs.
Read the original article on Business Insider

See the first images of Peloton’s upcoming game, where riders pedal to music to compete for the highest score

Peloton bike class
Peloton is expanding its content to include workout games.

Peloton is introducing a new fitness experience with an in-app game, the company announced in a press release this week.

Peloton’s Lanebreak is a gaming feature that transports the “player” to a virtual track to guide a wheel-shaped avatar through obstacles and challenges synchronized to musical beats, with a similar aesthetic to the popular VR game, Beat Saber. The player has the option to choose from a variety of playlists, workouts, and difficulty levels.

Peloton game

Peloton grew in popularity during the coronavirus pandemic, while people socially isolated, with its popular trainer-led Peloton classes. Lanebreak is taking the next step in Peloton’s effort to broaden its content for users looking for a different fitness experience.

Players can earn points through staying in the virtual lane, staying within the cadence of the song, and through the energy output during the session, according to The Verge. The longer a player is able to stay on the beat, the more points they can accrue. Riders can later challenge their friends to beat their high score.

“Just like Alex Toussaint would challenge you to finish the last 30 seconds of a tough interval, games offer a way to not only cue you to do so, but to reward you in real time for your actions,” David Packles, senior director of Product Management at Peloton, said in the press release.

The game is currently in the beginning stages of development, but there have already been early play-tests with individual Peloton riders at their homes. A full-beta test is expected to be available to riders later this winter, CNBC reports.

peloton game 2

Playpulse, a competitor to Peloton, has already come out with similar gaming features on its bikes with a variety of games already available to its users, but full versions of its games are limited to its premium subscription service.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best sets of dumbbells of 2021 for your home gym

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  • Dumbbells are an effective fitness tool for anyone looking to build and maintain strength.
  • The best vary in style, with some allowing for quick weight adjustments while others are compact for easy storage.
  • Our top pick, the Powerblock dumbbells, essentially replace 28 pairs of weights and adjust from 5 to 90 pounds.

Dumbells are among the most common and sought-after pieces of workout equipment, no matter if you’re at an actual fitness center or working out in your own home gym – and it’s not hard to see why. Not only can they be effective when used correctly but they’re highly versatile, too, capable of sufficing for a number of workouts like curls, presses, or rows.

It’s because of that multi-purpose use, however, that finding dumbbells typically goes one of two ways; either it’s far too expensive to buy multiple weights or they’re just entirely out of stock. This sort of Catch-22 makes actually shopping for dumbbells a much more arduous task than it needs to be.

But within that problem came a reasonable solution: more brand competition. And while the influx of brands dukes it out to develop the next great dumbbell, the true winners are those looking to buy them. Now, this doesn’t mean the market is flush with options but it does mean there are few more quality choices on the market (of which are, hopefully, in stock and available for purchase).

Take Powerblock, for instance, a brand that’s been around for several years but is finally starting to gather more attention thanks to a highly innovative take on the standard dumbbell. In essence, one Powerblock dumbbell takes the place of up to 28 different pairs of weights. Not only is this efficient but it’s also cost-effective as it’s not anywhere near the price of buying those 28 sets of weights on their own.

Powerblock is but one of dozens of companies trying their hand at offering a worthy dumbbell, and I saw to it to try as many of them as I could. Below are my five favorites across categories such the best budget-friendly option, the best app-connected dumbbell, and even the best traditional set.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to properly use dumbbells, insight into what to consider while shopping for dumbbells, and the specific testing methodology I used in choosing which weights to feature.

Editor’s note: Due to the constant fluctuation of online inventories, we’re doing what we can to keep up with out-of-stock items or those available in limited supply. We review each product’s availability weekly to assure the guide is properly updated, though sometimes this means one or more of the included items may be sold out, or available via a third party.

Here are the best dumbbells:

The best dumbbells overall

Best dumbbells

Powerblock’s dumbbells are highly versatile in that they offer a wide range of weight variation in just one, easy-to-stow form factor — if you can find them for sale, buy them.

Pros: Max weight of 90 pounds, relatively affordable, sturdy and natural feeling

Cons: Slightly awkward weight-changing mechanism, may be a little long at max weight

The first time I saw these sitting in a weight room, I figured they’d be horribly awkward to lift. The rectangular dumbbells appear large and clunky, but I was surprised by how well they moved during workouts like Romanian deadlifts or chest presses. 

Like the Fatbells below, Powerblock dumbbells feature a handle that’s more centered in the apparatus. The weight surrounds your hands on all sides and as a result, they feel comfortable to move. They’re also constructed from steel, making them feel stronger and sturdier compared to other options built from plastic.

My favorite aspect of these dumbbells is that they’re able to load up to 90 pounds, which is enough to ensure you get plenty of mileage out of them as you get stronger. I’ve used these sparingly but they will, without a doubt, be my first purchase when I start building my ultimate home gym. 

To be finicky, I’d say the selecting mechanism isn’t as efficient compared to Bowflex’s dial system. With Powerblock, you select the weights directly on the bell with a vertically-set pin. Changing the weight requires you to pull the pin from the side of the bell and move it either up (lighter) or down (heavier). While it’s not as smooth to use as a dial, it’s not a complete dealbreaker.

The weight plates still sit on either end like a standard dumbbell, so despite looking foreign, they feel familiar and aren’t any more substantial than a heavy pair of dumbbells. Overall, these will save you from buying 28 pairs of individual dumbbells — or roughly 2,565 pounds of weights. That’s thousands of dollars of savings on its own.

Powerblock’s Home Rack Stand, which the brand sells for $179, makes it far easier to hoist the weights onto your lap or shoulders for presses. It’s not a necessity but having used the stand myself, I recommend it.

The best app-connected dumbbells

Best dumbbells

If you’re a techie, or simply meticulous about tracking sets and reps, the Bowflex SelectTech 560 app-connected bells are for you.

Pros: Tracks sets and reps via a companion app, space-saving, easy to change weight

Cons: Max weight of 60 pounds

These dumbbells pair via Bluetooth to the Bowflex app which allows them to automatically record lifted weight, as well as all sets and reps per exercise. This is useful for tracking total volume, especially when your progress is smaller.

Other than the Powerblocks, these are the only other adjustable dumbbells on our list. They’re not as sturdy as our overall pick, though they’re a solid pair of dumbbells that look sleek and save a ton of space. They also come with a floor stand for better storage.

The knurled handle provides plenty of grip and the square plates on each end feel secure for even more dynamic movements like snatches and cleans. Also, the squared-off shape of the weights keep you stable while doing pushups.

Compared to Bowflex’s SelectTech 552 dumbbells, which only go up to 52.5 pounds, these adjust to an even 60 pounds. That’s a decent amount of weight for most people and should serve you well for almost any exercise. Do keep in mind that as you get stronger over time, there’s a decent chance you’ll outgrow these weights and need more than 60 pounds in a dumbbell.

The best dumbbells for comfort

Best Dumbbells

You won’t find these in any commercial gym but the Thompson Fat Bells are an innovative take on the classic dumbbell.

Pros: Very comfortable, more natural to lift, made from durable cast iron

Cons: Expensive, have to buy multiple pairs, not space-friendly

The handle is inside a spherical weight, which centers the load entirely and evenly around your wrist. This allows the dumbbell to feel more comfortable and natural.

Invented by powerlifting legend Donnie Thompson in 2006, Fat Bells are a unique take on the kettlebell — though, to me, they’re interchangeable with dumbbells, too. As Thompson explains on Rogue.com, “it’s a perfect geometric shape for maximizing optimal performance.” Your hand is an equal distance away from every portion of the sphere for a perfect geometrical design.

What I like about these is that you’re able to become one with the weight. Instead of holding a clunky piece of iron, you have a compact load you’ll hardly notice —other than the fact it’s heavy. They do feel slightly off at first due to the fact you’re not used to where the weight is centered but you’ll get over that quickly. I like to use them for moves such as chest presses and rows, since I typically go heavier, and these feel more secure.

Fat Bells aren’t cheap and you’ll most likely need to buy more than one pair. If you’re looking to splurge on your home gym, I’d say opt for one moderate pair (35-50 pounds for men and 15-35 pounds for women) so you have the most versatility with them. 

The best budget dumbbells

Best dumbbells

Though these dumbbells from Titan Fitness require you to buy weight plates, the handles themselves are one of the best deals you’ll find.

Pros: Inexpensive, can handle as much weight as you own, great grip, space-friendly

Cons: Requires weight plates, not as easy to load as adjustable dumbbells

I’d never used this brand personally but the loadable handle on these is very similar to the pair I own. The biggest plus is how affordable they are compared to other options. Of course, you’ll have to buy weight plates but if you’re a home-gym owner, there’s a good chance you have some sitting around already. If that’s the case, these are your best bet. We also recommend investing in a set of barbell collars to stop the weights from sliding off of the handles.

The sleeve, or end of the dumbbell, fits standard Olympic weight plates. If you already own a squat rack and a barbell, then the plates you have should suffice — though it’s worth it to double-check before purchasing. Another plus is that these handles from Titan Fitness are 20 inches, meaning you’re able to load them with a lot of weight. If you’re a stronger lifter, then you won’t be limited to just 90 pounds for moves like rows and chest presses. For reference, many powerlifters and bodybuilders can press and row weights well over 100 pounds.

Lifting dumbbells loaded with Olympic plates can make some exercises awkward. The plates are large enough in diameter compared to typical dumbbells they’re able to disrupt your range of motion. This tends to be problematic for moves like curls, lateral raises, and extensions while chest presses and rows should be unaffected. Another minor nitpick is that having to manually load plates manually isn’t as easy as using adjustable dumbbells. 

The best traditional dumbbell set

Best dumbbells

The CAP Barbell 150-pound Dumbbell set (with rack) is a great starter set for beginners and feels (and looks) the most familiar. 

Pros: Feels familiar, great grip, stable when lifting

Cons: Have to buy multiple pairs which can get expensive, takes up a lot of space, included weight only goes up to 25 pounds

Practically speaking, these aren’t the best dumbbells you can buy but, as the saying goes, the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t. These dumbbells don’t offer any sort of fancy weight mechanism or require a complicated method for use —and that’s their major appeal.

The handles are nicely knurled (i.e. they feature a pattern of angled lines etched into the steel of the dumbbell) so they won’t slip out of your hands, and the hexagonal rubber ends won’t roll around on the floor. From personal experience, I like using this type of dumbbell for heavy chest presses since they feel stable in my hands and the weight is more evenly distributed compared to the modern models in this guide.

Now, the downsides: You have to buy multiple pairs to have access to a variety of weight. This means the cost adds up rather quickly. Plus, the more dumbbells you own, the more space it’ll take up, so you’ll likely have to buy a dumbbell rack to hold your increasing collection.

Many of the most affordable sets, like our pick here, only go up to 25 pounds. This is great for exercises like curls, light presses, or squats, but it’s likely you’ll graduate from that weight quickly. But if it’s familiarity you seek, this is the set for you. 

How to properly use dumbbells

Best Dumbbells

Getting that toned look most people covet comes down to reducing body fat percentage and gaining muscle mass. The former comes down almost entirely to your diet while gaining muscle involves a balanced weight-training regimen in addition to the diet.

You’ll want to focus on two things:

  1. Placing tension on your muscles by lifting weight
  2. Increasing the total volume (or, amount of weight lifted) over time

To find this, multiply your total reps for one exercise by the amount of weight used. For example, if you do dumbbell chest presses for three sets of 10 reps with 50 pounds, multiply 30 (sets times reps) by 50 to get 1,500 pounds for that exercise. If you were to lift 55 pounds for just one of your sets next week, you’d increase your total volume to 1,550.

Your goal for each workout should be to slightly increase your volume for each move. Add volume by adding weight or increasing your total reps. 

A general rule of thumb is to find a weight you’re able to use for three sets of eight reps. Add one rep to each set each week and once you reach 12 reps, add five pounds and start back at eight reps.

It’s good to have a light, moderate, and heavy pair of dumbbells if this is your primary source of exercise. That way, you can increase your total volume without having to pump out an insane amount of reps with a lighter pair.

How to shop for dumbbells

Before you start the process of finding a set that’s right for you, it’s important to know what a dumbbell is and why they’re an important investment for your home gym. Put plainly, a dumbbell consists of a central handle with weight on either end capable of ranging anywhere from 5 to 100 pounds.

Dumbbells are a versatile foray into weight training for beginners, too. Anything you’re able to do with a barbell, you can do with a dumbbell — albeit with lighter weight. Lifting dumbbells is a great way to teach yourself moves like the squat, overhead press, and row before graduating to the heavier weight a barbell often affords. They’re also less cumbersome than barbells and much easier to store in your home or apartment. 

More advanced trainees benefit from the fact dumbbells allow you to better isolate your muscles unilaterally (one side at a time), as your right and left sides need to work independently to balance the weights. In turn, you’ll strengthen your weaker side, which translates to stronger and more efficient lifts overall.

According to personal trainer, Chris Parnell, lifting with dumbbells is also a great way to give your abs extra attention. He asserts that, compared to barbells, dumbbells challenge your body’s stability more. With a barbell, you work with a singular mass versus the dumbbell that uses two separate masses.

“Dumbbells provide the beginner or advanced lifter with an opportunity to exercise using compound movements [moves that move more than one joint at once] with low to high intensity using two separate masses,” Parnell told Insider.

Our testing methodology

Each set of dumbbells in this guide went through a series of tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Design, quality, portability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which dumbbells made this guide:

Design: Dumbbell design is mostly straightforward, though unique innovations from brands like Powerblock and Bowflex have turned the humble dumbbell into a versatile all-in-one gym. What I mean by this is that both of the dumbbells featured in this guide from those brands are designed to be several sets of dumbbells in the form of just one set.

This means you don’t have to buy a set of 5 lb weights, a set of 15 lb weights, and a set of 25 lb weights. You buy either of those and you have the adjustability to hit any weight you’d need. The design choices I looked for in standard dumbbells were how well they felt while holding and if they were versatile for a variety of lifts. 

Quality: Most steel dumbbells feature a quality that allows them to last literal decades (if taken care of) before you’d even need to think about replacing them. Because of this, it’s easy to spot a dumbbell that’s made of anything other than quality metal. Thankfully, this never was an issue during testing. This category was useful when judging how well the adjustable systems of the Bowflex and Powerblock dumbbells would hold up over time. 

Portability: Yet another category where praise heaps onto the adjustable dumbbells are portability. When you’re forced to buy multiple sets of dumbbells in different weights, the problem of how to store them can add up quite quickly. Though some come with their own stand like the traditional set from CAP, not all options are that convenient. 

Value: Considering how expensive dumbbells can get when buying multiple sets (and especially when stock is low and demand is high), value is a key component. But it’s also important not to buy an inferior set if it’s your only option. I view value as the combination of the categories listed above as well as its final sticker price — and feel that spending more on a quality product is better than spending less, more often on something that’s second-rate.

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The 8 best places to buy workout clothes for women

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Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Wearing the right workout clothing helps keep you cool, comfortable, and prevents chafing.
  • The best apparel should use performance materials, feature a smart design, and have a versatile style.
  • We recommend Nike‘s activewear for women overall, as it’s the best blend of price, performance, and variety.
Best activewear for women 4x3

Even though all of us own workout clothes, it’s rare to come across a top or shorts that you truly love. But comfortable, well-fitting women’s workout clothes can make or break your motivation to go for a run, hit the gym, even just take your dog for a walk. And if that workout clothing is flattering and makes you feel good, well, that’s just the holy grail.

Well-designed workout clothes for women should be made of technical fabrics that wick sweat away, dry quickly, and potentially provide a slight compression to help your body feel supported. It should also be well-designed so that nothing rides up or falls down, and it doesn’t make you chafe.

As a fitness editor for nearly a decade and a woman, I’ve not only tried a lot of women’s activewear brands but I also know the struggle of finding workout clothes that actually fit your body correctly. Whether you’re looking for cheap workout clothes to just get you to the gym, athletic wear that looks flattering in photos, or simply the best place to buy a new pair of shorts for the summer, I’ve got you covered.

Below, I’ve ranked the best workout brands to shop based on my personal testing, as well as input from the countless women I quiz about the athletic wear they’re wearing. The brands featured here all hit the sweet spot of price for the quality and offer inclusive sizing and fits.

The best places to shop for women’s workout clothes:

The best workout clothes for women overall

sportswear windrunner hooded windbreaker qJlX5L

Nike caters to pretty much every sport with a variety of inclusive styles, making it our top pick for high-performance workout gear. 

Size range: XS-3X, short and tall

Nike has the best balance of price, performance, and variety in its workout gear. A pair of leggings can go for upwards of $70, but you can find plenty of $40-$60 options, and the site semi-frequently offers discounts. Nike items also have a good price-per-wear breakdown thanks to an expert handle on performance engineering and technical materials across categories.

There’s something for athletes of pretty much every sport: running, golf, soccer, training, tennis, basketball, softball, skateboarding, swim, and lacrosse — and all different types of gear, from women’s running shoes to swimwear and compression layers. And they’ve expanded their activewear to have more inclusive sizes (from XS to 3X) and styles (for example, high-performance hijab options). That being said, its sizing can be hard to nail down, especially for sports bras that notoriously run small. –Mara Leighton

What to buy

Pro Shorts (small)

One Icon Clash 7″ Shorts (small)Icon Clash Tank Running Tank (small)
The best budget workout clothes for women

Amazon’s Core 10 brand makes cheap workout gear that fits and stays put.

Amazon’s Core 10 makes workout gear that is comfortable, sweat-wicking, and well-designed for around $25 per item.

Size range: XS-XXL; some styles go up to 3X

Good budget workout gear is incredibly hard to find. While we love the price point, size range, and accessibility of brands like Old Navy Active, performance fabrics and thoughtful design features like light compression and phone pockets will make your workouts far more comfortable, especially if you’re just starting out.

We really like Core 10, one of the uber-popular Amazon-owned fitness brands that makes surprisingly reliable workout gear. In our experience, its bike shorts stay put on runs and do a good job of wicking away sweat. The company makes everything from yoga pants to running capris to sports bras to workout tanks, all usually between $18 and $35. You can even customize your own leggings, choosing the waistband, length, style and color. The brand also just partnered with Reebok to make an exclusive line with the fitness giant.

The fabrics, obviously, aren’t going to compete with the quality of the higher-end leggings or tops. But to supplement your workout closet with a few cheaper pieces or get you into something until you see if your new running hobby is here to stay, Core 10 has you covered.

What to buy

Muscle Tank (small)All Day Comfort High Waist Yoga Short with Side Pockets (small)Longline bra (small)‘Build Your Own’ Flashflex Run Capri Legging (small)

The best women’s workout clothes for runners

Athleta running

Athleta’s running apparel is comfortable, moisture-wicking, reasonably priced, and comes in a wide range of sizes and styles to fit different body types.

Size range: XXS-3X

Among all the running brands on the market, Athleta is our top pick because it nails the sweet spot of price and quality and has a huge range of offerings for runners. When it comes to its running gear, we love that nearly all the tops and bottoms are moisture-wicking and lightweight to keep you flying through your miles.

Its gear is well-designed too, so the majority of the shorts don’t fall down or ride up, and reasonably priced, with most tops falling between $40-50 and shorts $50-60 (its leggings and sports bras are on the pricier end at $70-100 and $50-60, respectively).

In addition to price and quality, we love the fit of Athleta’s clothing. For starters, the brand offers a wide range of sizes on 70% of its portfolio, from XXS to 3X, and plans to offer extended sizing across all categories by the end of 2022.

What’s more, everything tends to run at least one size bigger compared to how other athletic brands are sized, which is refreshing in a world of sizing that makes you feel bad about yourself. Overall, this fosters a more positive and body-inclusive running community.

What to buy

Phenomena Bra B-DD (small)Vapor Scoop Tank (small)Ultimate Stash Pocket 7″ Short (small)Accelerate Shortie (small)

The best workout clothes for women that’s worth-the-splurge

The best worth-the-splurge women's workout clothes - Femme people standing in workout gear by a mountain

Lululemon gear fits well and flatters most figures, performs for all types of workouts, and holds up through many washes, making it worth the splurge.

Size range: 0-20

You don’t have to drop tons of money to get a good workout in, but, if you choose the right brand, smartly investing in $100+ leggings or $60 workout shorts can deliver not only more luxurious and comfortable fabric but also more nuanced and thoughtful designs that make your workout (or errands) more comfortable. Lululemon is the apex of that worth-the-splurge market.

People from our team have tried tons of different items from Lululemon, and I have personally worn an array of tops, bottoms, bras, jackets, even scrunchies from the brand (the perks of seven years as a fitness writer).

For starters, all its gear just looks higher quality and more put together, which is a priority for some people. But moreover, everything is pretty well designed and stays put whether you’re moving through a yoga flow or hitting box jumps at CrossFit.

Its leggings and shorts come with small nice-to-haves like phone and key pockets, strategically-placed reflective features for dark runs, and, most notably, adjustable ties on the inside of the waistband so you can synch the bottoms tighter for a more flattering fit and comfortable workout. Most of my leggings and tops from the brand have been washed dozens and dozens (and dozens) of times and still have a rich color and sleek look (although the Align leggings notoriously pill inside the thighs).

To top it off, its cuts and styles are very flattering for pretty much every figure (although everything fits small so the sizing is frustrating for most women).

What to buy

Fast and Free Tight II 25″ Non-Reflective Nulux (small)All Tied Up Tank (small)Enlite Bra Weave High Support (small)Align Super High Rise Short 10″ (small)Speed Up Shorts (small)

The best sustainable workout clothes for women

Girlfriend Collective - femme people standing in a row in workout gear

Girlfriend Collective’s workout clothing is thoughtfully designed with buttery-soft fabric for a wide range of sizes, and everything from its fabrics to its packaging is mostly or 100% recycled materials.

Size range: XXS-XXXL

The cult-brand Girlfriend Collective is one of our favorite women’s workout brands, and they just so happen to be sustainably made. Let’s start with the fact that the brand designs its activewear to fit a huge range of body types and its leggings and sports bras are beloved by everyone from a size small to a size XXXL for their comfort and cuteness.

Then, the brand uses recycled materials for everything, most often post-consumer water bottles that have been turned into soft, recycled yarn, but also sometimes the factory-floor scraps of that fabric.

Mostly though, we love Girlfriend collective because of its minimalist approach to its designs, offering all the basics, but designed near-perfect and in a range of coordinated colors. Its classic leggings are actually the perfect pair: high-waisted, slightly compressive, squat-proof, and made with super soft fabric crafted from 25 recycled post-consumer plastic bottles (79% recycled polyester).

Its low-impact sports bras are made from the same recycled polyester (from 11 bottles), while they probably won’t support you through box jumps and jump rope, they are cut with a wide rib band so you can wear the set sans shirt to rock that uber-cute monochrome kit look during yoga, hikes, weight-lifting days, or just running out for coffee.

The brand also makes bike shorts, fun (and functional) unitards, and a bunch of loungewear like joggers and fleeces, all of which are made from mostly or entirely recycled materials. The activewear runs on the pricier side (although still cheaper than a lot of its competitors) but you’re paying for higher quality and better sustainability practices.

What to buy

Paloma Bra (small)High Waist Full-Length Leggings (small)Bike Unitard (small)R&R Lightweight Jogger (small)

 

 

The best plus-size workout clothes for women

Superhero Fit - femme people standing in a row in workout gear

Superhero Fit uses soft fabrics, flat-lock seams for minimal chafing, and specifically designs its apparel to support and move with sizes Large and up.

Size range: L-7XL

Despite the fact that the average woman is a size 16 or 18 (XL-2X), it is incredibly difficult to find many options for great workout gear above a size 12, let alone, say, a size 24, which is when the fashion industry ventures into “plus-size” or “extended sizing.” However, there are a few plus-size athletic apparel brands that excel at what they do.

One of the newer darlings on the block is Superhero Fit, a brand of high-quality, sweat-wicking activewear designed specifically for people sizes L thru 7X. It doesn’t have a huge selection, but the brand makes one awesome sports bra, one legging, one Capri, and one bike short, each in a variety of colorways (and the option to go monochrome, which we love).

Each piece of activewear is designed using ultra-soft, sweat-wicking, quick-dry fabric with slight compression, strategic gusseting for mobility, and flat-lock seams to minimize chafing. The sports bra supports medium-high impact activities.

When we talked with a group of plus-size outdoor adventurers on what gear they can’t live without, multiple women said they’re obsessed with how comfortable and supportive Superhero Fit is.

What to buy

Superhold Pocket Leggings (small)Superhold Pocket Capris (small)Superhold Sports Bra (small)Superhold Pocket Bike Shorts (small)

The best outdoorsy workout clothes for women

The best place to buy outdoorsy clothes for women

When you need technical fabrics with UPF, merino wool, and abrasion resistance, Title Nine has some of the best clothes to move in without breaking the bank.

Size range: XS-XL, 4-12

Finding technical clothing that actually fits American female bodies is one of the biggest gripes in the outdoor industry. Title Nine makes outdoor gear specifically designed for hips, booties, and any curves you’re rocking.

What’s more, it has every type of outdoorsy woman covered, whether you like to hike in super technical pants with a ton of pockets, or you prefer form-fitting leggings; whether you like your adventure gear to be loose and breezy or more curve-hugging and flattering.

All of its gear is designed to hit that sweet spot of fashion and function. Its hiking shorts are the perfect length to flatter and prevent chafe, and they hold up against the elements; its sun shirts are quick-dry, offer UPF 50, and come in an array of necklines in case you want something a little showier; and the brand even makes girly gear like sweat-wicking, move-with-your-body dresses, skirts, skorts, and rompers.

To top it off, its prices are in a reasonable category considering not only the technical fabrics and thoughtful features used in the designs, but also the sky-high prices across competitors in the outdoor apparel industry.

What to buy

Sunbuster 2.0 Full Zip Hoodie Sun Shirt (small)Indestructible 2.0 Hiking Shorts (small)Level Up Dress (small)Clamber Pants (small)

The best-looking workout clothes for women

The best place to buy cute women's workout clothes - people running wearing Outdoor Voices workout gear

Outdoor Voices is The Brand for Instagram-worthy workout sets, and the quality and fit of its activewear make it well-worth the buy.

Size range: XS to XL, sometimes XXS thru XXXL

Perhaps the original Instagram darling, Outdoor Voices is well known for its flattering designs, bright colors, and matching workout sets. Its leggings, shorts, sports bras, and tops are all made from high-quality, sweat-wicking material that keeps you cool and comfortable everywhere from the gym to a hike to running errands.

What really sets Outdoor Voices apart from competitors are its on-trend colorways (this season is full of pale lemon and bright pink) and its flattering fits. The best-selling Hudson shorts, for example, are high-waisted and cut in a way that lifts and flatters your booty. Its shorts never cut in at the waist or give you chafing between the thighs. Its best-selling Doing Things Bra has a super comfortable rib band, flattering scoop neck, and a stylish back to help provide medium support.

Perhaps the most noteworthy option among OV’s collection is its cult Exercise Dress (I own three colors), which has a lightweight, onesie spandex under layer and with a looser overlay so you can run, jump, play, and sweat without worrying about anything falling out, all while looking ridiculously cute.

The brand isn’t the most size-inclusive with the majority of its line only running from XS to XL. But if that is your size, we love that you can mix and match OV pieces to create eye-catching, monochrome kits.

What to buy

Hudson 2.5″ Short (small)The Exercise Dress (small)Rectrek Shorts (small)Move Free Tank (small)

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best men’s workout shirts of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A great workout shirt provides benefits like moisture-wicking technology, stretch fabric, and odor control.
  • It’s important the shirt also fits comfortably and performs well during activities like strength training or running.
  • Our top pick, Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt, excels in terms of fit and performance and is my go-to for any workout.

Ask any fitness enthusiast about their preferred style of workout shirt and they’ll likely spend a few seconds listing off things like moisture-wicking fabric, innovative cooling technology, or sweat-activated fabrics. While these may sound like a collection of buzzwords, the application behind these concepts are both staples and must-haves in the world of workout clothing.

For years, the who’s who of brands like Nike, Under Armour, and Reebok were the major players in the workout shirt market, constantly innovating on their own in-house tech while keeping tabs on what competitors put out. But as of late, a number of smaller companies have elbowed their way into the conversation with some fresh, unique takes on the humble workout shirt.

Be it a unique manufacturing process that makes use of real gold particles or a revolutionary fabric designed to not just wick moisture but to actively cool a wearer’s body temperature, today’s workout shirts are full of inventive and practical variety.

It’s because of that variety that deciding which workout shirt to buy isn’t always a straightforward decision. Perhaps you enjoy working out at home, or maybe you primarily exercise by running or cycling. Maybe you do a little of everything.

For me, I fit into the latter camp and feel as though there’s plenty of room in my wardrobe for an array of reliable workout shirts. Not only does a mixed bag of options help reduce how often I have to do laundry but different shirts work better for different workouts.

For example, I prefer a shirt with some sort of stretch design or increased range of motion when lifting weights but grab for a tee that does well to wick moisture before I hop on my bike or go for a run. Though those differences in features may seem small, they have a major impact both on my performance and comfort – and they’re incredibly important considerations when shopping for a workout shirt.

To help find the best currently available, I tested (and continue to test) an array of the latest releases to find those that excel at not just being comfortable, functional, and high quality, but are ultimately worth investing in, too. Though this guide gets updated often, the shirts featured are an accurate snapshot of exactly what I wear when working out each week.

Here are the best men’s workout shirts:

The best workout shirt overall

TTVersatile

Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt lives up to its name by being one of our favorite multi-purpose workout shirts — it’s great for anything active, be it cardio, strength training, HIIT exercises, or cycling.

Pros: Comfortable workout shirt that’s good for almost any workout or activity, flatlock seams prevent chafing, doesn’t hold onto odors, sweat-wicking and quick-dry fabric work well

Cons: Fit can differ from what you’re used to but double-check using the brand’s interactive fit guide before buying

Ten Thousand’s workout gear is a staff favorite, and when it comes to workout shirts designed to perform over a variety of exercises, it’s the brand’s Versatile Shirt I grab over and over again. Not only does it fit comfortably but it pulls off being both minimalist and functional, making it great for weight training, running, cycling, and even yoga — there’s a reason it has the word “versatile” in its name.

Made of 84% polyester and 16% spandex, the shirt features a breathable design that, along with its sweat-wicking and quick-drying tech, allows it to remain comfortable no matter how warm or sweaty I’d get. Even when temperatures cooled off, this shirt still performed well, and I especially appreciate its flatlock seams which avoid chafing of any kind (which is a must on my longer runs). 

Similar to how Rhone uses gold particles in its fabric, Ten Thousand infused its Versatile shirt with a silver ion anti-odor treatment. After intentionally wearing it for a 15-mile bike ride followed by an hour resistance band workout, the shirt did well to avoid hanging onto any odors, even if my own self was ready for a full-on shower. 

I do recommend reviewing Ten Thousand’s fit metrics as the medium shirt I tested was just slightly on the shorter side (and I’m roughly 5’8″). The chest, shoulders, and arms all fit properly but I would’ve liked just a bit more length (and may try the Large next time). The site does have a highly useful interactive fit chart that showcases different model body types across each size to give you a good sense of how it’ll fit once you try it on. 

The best workout shirt for runners

Nike Dri Fit shirt

Yes, it wicks moisture and sports the Nike logo but the Nike Dri-Fit Miler helps runners go the distance, thanks to flat seams to avoid chafing and reflective details to increase visibility.

Pros: Reflective details offer increased visibility, flat seams reduce chafing and feel comfortable on the skin, and the Dri-FIT tech actively wicks moisture

Cons: Despite a reflective pattern, dark colors not recommended for runners who run at night

Based entirely on the amount of constant rubbing and chafing a runner experiences on even short jaunts, the type of athletic apparel they choose needs to satisfy a particularly high standard. Nike, a brand that needs no introduction, knows a thing or two about workout gear and has excelled for decades at manufacturing some of the industry’s best, and most innovative, active clothing.

The story remains the same with its Dri-Fit Miler, an athletic shirt designed specifically for runners.

Led by its patented Dri-Fit technology, the Miler excels at wicking moisture but also proves capable of staying dry no matter the mileage — a feature that dramatically impacts both comfort and performance. With a dropped hem in the back of the shirt, it offers more coverage than most other running shirts and its flat seams help avoid excess chafing while feeling soft on a wearer’s skin.

Perhaps its best and most important feature is the reflective pattern Nike used to keep runners visible throughout their run. Be it morning, afternoon, or dusk, the reflective details shine brightly when hit with headlights or a flashlight, helping alert those passing by to the runner’s position. Though running at night requires an entirely different approach, the shirt still reflects in the dark. However, the dark colors aren’t recommended for those who prefer running when the sun’s gone down.

The best workout shirt for odor control

Rhone Reign shirt

Rhone’s Reign sets itself apart with GoldFusion technology that wicks moisture, controls odors, and decreases drying time.

Pros: GoldFusion technology is as innovative as anything on the market, odor control that actually works, fast drying time, and a comfortable, stylish fit

Cons: Premium price tag

There are innovative workout shirts and then there’s the Rhone Reign, a shirt that features actual flakes of real gold and uses the company’s GoldFusion technology. Hardly a gimmick, GoldFusion has a three-pronged impact in that it actively wicks away moisture, combats odor, and dramatically decreases drying time.

So, not only does the technology keep you dry and comfortable but it keeps even the worst gym smells at bay — a feature the rest of the people at the gym would surely love, as well.

Though GoldFusion is its rightful claim to fame, the Reign shirt still scores highly in other areas like fit and comfort. Essentially a performance synthetic tee, it’s capable of holding up to almost any workout, activity, or sport and remains comfortable throughout. With raglan sleeves and flatlock stitching, it achieves a better fit throughout without chafing or irritating your skin.

Rhone may have only just come onto the athletic apparel scene in recent years but armed with its GoldFusion technology and a casual, modern fit, the Reign lives up to its name.

The best workout shirt for hot weather

arctic cool shirt

Powered by HydroFreeze X technology, Arctic Cool’s Crew Neck shirt utilizes an innovative fabric that works to lower your body temperature while also wicking sweat. 

Pros: Innovative HydroFeeze X cools body temperature and actually works, UPF 50+ rating blocks 98% of harmful UV rays, antimicrobial cooling tech is machine-washable and never fades, and it spreads moisture across the shirt as it wicks to improve dry time

Cons: Plain style and color choices

Rhone’s Reign may have gold flakes in its fabric but Arctic Cool’s plainly-named Crew Neck shirt has its own ace up its sleeve: HydroFreeze X technology. Flashy name aside, HyrdoFreeze X is more than just marketing-speak. It’s a type of fabric that, while wicking moisture, dramatically lowers your body temperature.

As you sweat, the fabric absorbs that moisture and disperses it across the material. As air moves over the surface of the shirt, it creates a cooling effect that can make you feel up to 30 degrees cooler. Once it moves through the shirt and cools down, any excess moisture is then wicked completely from the garment. Better yet, the tech is antimicrobial, meaning it’s able to sustain a lifetime of washes and still perform.

Though the shirt itself is a bit plain, the HydroFreeze X fabric offers a premium fit that’s capable of supporting a variety of exercises and activities. Additionally, each shirt is rated at UPF 50+, so it offers a high level of sun protection, blocking up to 98% of harmful UV rays.

The best-fitting workout shirt

Person wearing Saxx Aerator workout shirt

The Saxx Aerator is one of the best-fitting athletic shirts I’ve worn as it’s cut to better fit your arms and chest without looking boxy through the rest of the shirt. 

Pros: Great fit, comfortable, works well for a variety of workouts like HIIT, running, or biking, comes in a L/S variety

Cons: Limited color options

Though Saxx is known mainly for its inventive line of, shall I say, supportive underwear, the brand also makes a selection of workout apparel. One such shirt (which is also available in a long-sleeved version) is called the Aerator, and after wearing it for several months, I’m a huge fan.

Perhaps my favorite part about the shirt is how it fits. It features a flattering cut that’s bigger in the chest and slimmer through the waist. This allows it to achieve a more fitted look that stays true to size and doesn’t look boxy or ill-fitting. Not only does this make me feel more confident while wearing it but a shirt that fits correctly just functions better. 

The Aerator is available in three colors, and while each is solid and works well for anyone’s personal style, the fact there are only three may seem basic to some — to be fair, this is a minor nitpick. 

I’ve mainly worn this shirt while running or doing at-home workouts, and it’s perfectly held up for all of it. Even during the humid summer months when it can get drenched in sweat in a matter of minutes, it avoids feeling too heavy or bogging me down, and its moisture-wicking tech seems to work as advertised. The Aerator quickly became one of my workout apparel staples and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon. 

The best workout shirt for cold weather

under armour shirt

Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt makes frigid winter runs a bit more manageable. 

Pros: Second-skin fit allows for layering without sacrificing performance, soft and lightweight, HeatGear fabric stays warm in the coldest temperatures, four-way stretch offers wide range of movement, and Under Armour compression helps improve performance

Cons: Limited to wearing in cold to moderate weather

Under Armour made its name designing and manufacturing some of the best compression athletic gear on the market and its HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt is the perfect example of the brand’s innovations. Featuring a second skin, compression-style fit and lightweight construction, the HeatGear Armour is a form-fitting shirt that offers comfortable support.

With a four-way stretch design, it not only avoids hindering your performance but also accentuates it by allowing for movement in any direction. The shirt lives up to its HeatGear name by truly shining when temperatures drop as the fabric was built for keeping you warm in frigid weather. It even boasts a UPF 30+ rating, which helps protect against harmful UV rays — something anyone’s capable of being exposed to year-round.   

The long sleeve tee also wicks moisture and dries quickly which is an incredibly welcome feature for those who like to run outside and break a sweat. No more plodding away on an indoor treadmill, Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour allows anyone to enjoy a training session outside of the gym, even in the dead of winter.

The best workout shirt for casual wear

reebok shirt

With a stylish cut and quick-dry fabric, Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 fits in at the gym, at home, or the bar after a workout.

Pros: Stylish cut, effective moisture-wicking technology, quick-dry fabric that performs in any environment, and its loose-fitting torso allows for a greater range of motion

Cons: Fitted design may not be suitable for all body types

A company mostly synonymous with sneakers, Reebok’s athletic apparel is just as impressive as its shoes. With the Supersonic 2.0, the Adidas subsidiary takes a stab at offering performance fabric designed to wick sweat, dry quickly, and look good in the process. With an athletic cut and stylish design, not only does this shirt deliver on performance but it’s also capable of being worn all day, every day if you so please. 

Made of 95% polyester and 5% spandex, the Supersonic 2.0 is lightweight and highly breathable and is as capable of wicking away moisture as it is helping avoid excessive sweat spots. That means you can wear it to the gym and, even after an intense workout, still wear it while meeting up with friends or heading back to work.

Featuring a fitted cut to hug a wearer’s upper torso, the bottom flows freely allowing for a wide range of movement. No matter if it’s an afternoon of basketball, an hour of lifting weights, or simply going for a run, the fit stays true throughout and performance is never limited. Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 is about as functional and versatile of an everyday shirt as it gets. We do recommend washing it regularly, though.

What else I’m testing

The market for workout shirts is broad, which makes it seem like there’s an endless amount of options to choose from. What this also means is that there’s no shortage of workout shirts showing up on my doorstep for testing. While the above shirts are tried, tested, and approved, the following shirts are currently being reviewed to see if they have what it takes to make it into the spotlight. 

Here are the workout shirts I’m currently testing: 

Hylete Calavera Tri-Blend Crew: One of my favorite parts of Hylete’s Calavera is that it looks like a normal tri-blend shirt I’d throw on with a pair of jeans yet it performs just as well as some of the workout shirts featured in the main guide. I was originally skeptical that it’d just feel like wearing a cotton shirt (and come with all the same drawbacks) but I was quickly convinced otherwise after wearing it through a particularly sweaty home boxing session. Hylete offers a wide variety of similar shirts, too, each with fun graphics and colorways. 

Janji Runterra TeeThe Insider Reviews team has written at length and often about the quality of Janji’s workout apparel, and it remains one of our favorite brands to wear when breaking a sweat. One of its shirts I’ve been wearing recently is the Runterra Tee, a technical cotton blend shirt that’s highly comfortable, blocks odor, and that uses volcanic ash to thermoregulate the body. That’s a mouthful to just simply say this shirt is an active person’s dream. I wear it often for just about any activity and never feel I’ve made a bad choice.

Tracksmith Harrier TeeTracksmith’s Harrier quickly became one of my go-to running shirts after wearing it just once while on a run. Featuring a classic design, the shirt wicks moisture, dries quickly, and blocks odors, which is essentially everything a quality running shirt should offer — and it does it all thanks to a Merino wool blend. 

Workout shirt glossary

Just as there’s variety in the available options, there’s also variety in a wearer’s desired application or workout style. Perhaps a runner wants a more lightweight option or a fitness buff desires something that looks good every day, no matter the activity.

Regardless of intent, there’s a suitable workout shirt designed specifically for everyone. A great workout shirt doesn’t just get the job done but does so without sacrificing performance, comfort, or style. 

Here are some of the most popular styles and features of men’s workout shirts:

Sweat-wicking: Sweat-wicking shirts work to remove moisture from your skin. They also don’t soak up any of that moisture (like a cotton tee might), allowing them to avoid feeling overly heavy as you work out. 

Odor control: Fabrics with odor-control technology help minimize lingering odors. There are several ways manufacturers are able to do this, either constructing the shirt of merino wool, having it feature a highly breathable design, or, in the case of Rhone, use gold particles infused into the fabric. 

Quick-dry fabric: Workout shirts with quick-dry fabrics are often made from merino wool, polyester, or nylon (or a blend) and are designed to be highly breathable. 

Four-way stretch: This type of fabric allows for greater freedom of motion, helping the wearer feel less hindered while running, lifting weights, or doing moves like lunges or burpees. 

How we test workout shirts

Each shirt featured in this buying guide went through several rounds of testing across a variety of workouts and activities. These workouts include weight training sessions with resistance bands, medicine balls, and dumbbells, 30-minute cardio sessions of either an outdoor run, outdoor bike ride, or an indoor stationary bike ride, and indoor interval training routines. 

No workout shirt is the perfect, one-style-fits-all, so each selection also lists a few drawbacks to consider, be it sizing and fit issues, an expensive price tag, or lack of color choice. New product styles and releases are always being considered for future updates, as well. 

Here are the four categories we judged each shirt on during testing:

Fit: An ill-fitting workout shirt won’t exactly motivate you or push you through to the end of your workout, no matter if you’re out for a run or using resistance bands at home. When testing, we looked at everything from how stretchy it was and how well it moved along with us, if the armholes allowed for proper range of motion, and if there was enough coverage through the bottom. 

Performance: Performance is essentially the execution of a workout shirt’s fabric tech, especially today. How well does it wick sweat or control odor? Is it breathable and does it avoid chafing? A workout shirt’s performance is one of the most important factors we considered because the last thing you want to be thinking about while working out is why your shirt feels like a hundred pounds drenched in sweat or what the foul smell might be. 

Fabric tech: Innovative fabric tech is now the norm in every manner of workout gear as brands have adopted everything from gold-infused materials and multi-stretch fabric to active cooling and UPF protection. Since these are now standard practice, it raises the bar in terms of judging how well a workout shirt applies the tech. 

Value: The value of a quality workout shirt is less about how much it costs and more about the combination of the three categories before it, as well as what its final price is. We often say it’s better to spend more on a premium product than to spend less, more often on something that’s shoddily designed and won’t last. 

A note on fit

Though the workout shirts featured in this guide have the name “men’s” in them, they’re not strictly for cisgender men. The cut and design of the shirts may differ from similar clothing intended for women but anyone is able to wear whatever shirt they feel comfortable in.

This is especially true in the world of workout apparel where comfort and performance are far higher priorities than what specific gender they’re intended for — and each of the shirts featured below was tested with those features in mind. If you’re looking for workout clothing that more closely identifies with the fit and design of women’s apparel, check out our guide to our favorite women’s workout clothing brands

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best kettlebells of 2021 for your home gym, including adjustable, soft-sided, and budget picks

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Kettlebells help optimize workouts as they combine strength work with cardio and flexibility training.
  • Beginners should pick their weight carefully and learn proper form to minimize the risk of injury.
  • Our top pick, the Everlast Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells, is affordable and has an injury-preventative outer material.

Editor’s note: Due to fluctuating stock, many of the picks may be out of stock, back-ordered, or low in stock. We will keep this updated as best we can.

If you’re looking to outfit your home gym on a budget or with minimal gear, we’d argue that the single most versatile piece of equipment you could consider is a kettlebell. The odd, bell-shaped weights may look intimidating to someone who has never swung one before – and learning how to use one should definitely be taken seriously.

But the piece of equipment is actually really easy to get the hang of, and the odd shape of a kettlebell allows for a more dynamic range of movement than you get with a traditional dumbbell. Thus, kettlebells are used not only for strength training but also for cardio work, flexibility and balance training, and to target multiple muscle groups at once. Kettlebells are incredibly diverse, but they also open the door for challenging moves you can’t otherwise do – like a kettlebell swing – and add another layer of challenge to tried-and-true exercises like goblet squats.

Kettlebells have a lot of advantages and they almost always level up the fun of a workout. But they shouldn’t be treated as toys which is why it’s important to learn proper form for every move. At the end of this guide, I’ve also included answers to a few FAQs to better help you understand the kind of kettlebells you should shop for and how much weight to look for.

Whether your fitness goal is to build muscle strength, improve your cardiorespiratory fitness, or continue to challenge your body in new and exciting ways, one single bell can help you achieve any of these.

Here are the best kettlebells:

The best kettlebell overall

everlast kettlebell

Everlast’s Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells are coated with a thick, colorful layer of vinyl which makes them safer to use and allows for quick identification of each weight.

Pros: Protective vinyl coating, easy-to-use color coding for different weights, decent price point

Cons: Maximum weight too low for some athletes

It only takes smashing a cast-iron kettlebell into the side of your knee one time to help you understand that features like a softer vinyl coating is really nice to have on your kettlebell.

“I’ve used Everlast kettlebells for years,” Cincotta told Insider. “When the bell itself is coated like this, as opposed to metal-based, you’re able to do much more with the bell without accidentally tearing up your body.”

If you’re buying more than one, it’s nice that the Everlast’s Vinyl Dipped Kettlebells have bright colorings to mark different weights, so you’re at less risk of grabbing the wrong weight for a given exercise. The kettlebells are also available in increments between five and 35 pounds. 

Whether used for suitcase squats, lunges, presses, or core training, these are reliable kettlebells from a company with more than 110 years of history in the fitness gear arena.

The best kettlebell for interval training

TRX kettlebell

TRX Training Kettlebells have lightly textured handles that allow for a secure grip and easy transitions, ideal for use during high-intensity exercise.

Pros: Textured handles for secure grip; multiple weights offered; broad, flat base adds stability

Cons: Expensive

If you’re a fan of HIIT exercise (high-intensity interval training), you’ll love these kettlebells that are perfectly suited to fast, highly specific motions. Their textured grips ensure you keep a steady grasp even when you’re sweaty, moving fast, and rapidly switching between various different exercises.

TRX offers kettlebells from four kilograms (8.8 pounds) all the way up to 40 kg (88 pounds) with moderate increases between each option. That means you can choose the exact amount of weight to suit your body for any given exercise. (Find out more in how to choose the right weight kettlebell.)

These bells also have a broader, more flat base compared to competitors. That extra flattened surface area makes these kettlebells more stable when you set them down fast, like during HIIT workouts.

One significant drawback is the price, however — these aren’t cheap.

The best adjustable kettlebell

bowflex kettle bell w

With the Bowflex SelectTech 840 Kettlebell, you get six kettlebells in one, which is ultimately one of the best values around.

Pros: Six weights in one, affordable compared to buying all six weights, easy to adjust

Cons: Expensive up front; handle is less ergonomic than others; bulky, especially for use at lighter weight

Yes, $149 is a lot to pay for a kettlebell. But with the Bowflex SelectTech 840, you’re actually getting six kettlebells in one, which turns this into quite the deal.

The 840 gets its name from its lowest and highest weights, which are eight pounds and 40 pounds, respectively. In between those low and high options, you get 12-, 20-, 25-, and 35-pound increments, a good spread for people of varying strength and for a single person’s use at varied exercises.

Switching between weights is quick and easy, too. You simply turn a dial and lift up on the handle, and the extra weight is left sitting there on the ground. Beyond the ease of use during active exercise, you’ll also appreciate what is effectively six kettlebells only occupying the space of one. 

The benefits of this design are clear, but there are a few drawbacks — the largest of which is that kettlebell is less ergonomic than a standard option. The handle is slimmer and doesn’t have the flared shape of most kettlebells, and the overall unit is larger than solid options, which might make some exercises harder to execute properly.

With a few reps, you should get used to the shape, though, and the value far outweighs the cons.

The best budget kettlebell

amazonbasics kettlebell

AmazonBasics Vinyl Kettlebell has many features of other brands like a gentler vinyl coating and range of weight choices, but you’ll pay a few bucks less.

Pros: Great price point, good spread of weight increments, colorful, vinyl coatings

Cons: Grips often have minor imperfections

There’s plenty of positive things to say about the kettlebells from AmazonBasics. They’re coated in a thick vinyl that protects your skin and helps minimize the chance of scuffing the floor or scratching a piece of furniture; they come in a wide range of weights, starting at 10 pounds and reaching all the way up to 60, with 11 increments along the way; and their colorful coatings make it easy to tell one weight from another.

That description fits just about any decent set of kettlebells. What sets these apart from the pack is that they cost on average 15% less than its competitors — and you can use your free Prime shipping for delivery.

For that reduced price, you can expect a slight reduction in quality. Many of the kettlebells sold under the AmazonBasics banner have minor imperfections in the handles such as irregular bumps or little holes. 

These flaws shouldn’t be deal-breakers unless you have sensitive hands, for which you can also work out with gloves on.

The best soft-sided kettlebell

Bionic Body kettlebell

The Bionic Body Soft Kettlebell is plenty heavy but soft-to-the-touch, so you won’t break a toe or crack a tile if you accidentally drop one.

Pros: Safer for flooring and injury, decent price point for a unique product

Cons: Leather exterior damages more easily than standard kettlebell

If you work out often enough, at some point you are going to have an accident. Dropping weights is a fact of life, and it’s why gyms have padded floors. If you’re working out on the hardwood or tile floors of your own home, that dropped weight might lead to an unexpected and unpleasant home repair project — or, potentially, an ER trip to fix a broken toe.

Working out with a soft-sided kettlebell solves this. Bionic Body’s Soft Kettlebells come in a decent range of weights, spanning 10 to 35 pounds, and they’re durable and solid-feeling in your hands.

There’s no sacrifice of function in the name of making them soft-sided, and you won’t even pay that much more for these kettlebells than you would for standard iron or vinyl-coated weights. 

The leather wraps around the weights won’t chafe or irritate your skin, so these kettlebells make for more comfort. But with them being leather, the exterior can get scuffed and torn in a way a solid kettlebell can’t, so you do need to treat these with a bit more care than with other options.

What else we considered

kettlegrip

Many brands offer their own version of the kettlebell incredibly similar to one another, so there’s little reason to look much beyond the list we put together. There are, however, a few specialty options and accessories worth your consideration:

Meister MMA Elite Portable Sand Kettlebell ($13): This option is made from rugged PVC that can be filled with sand to create a functional kettlebell. Empty, the sack packs down flat for easy storage or travel. Filled and with the neoprene handle wrapped into place, this portable kettlebell lets you knock out snatches, standing rows, and more anywhere you go — so long as you can find sand. And for under $15, you can’t beat it.

Kettle Gryp ($35): The Kettle Gryp is a one-pound plastic grip that affixes to any dumbbell with a grip wider than 4.5 inches and converts dumbbells into kettlebells. So that stack of free weights you have there in your garage? Every one of those could be used just like a kettlebell.

Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell Handle $34: If you have weight plates in your home (the disc weights with holes for mounting them on bars, e.g.) then a Yes4All Adjustable Kettlebell Handle can create an ad hoc kettlebell of myriad weight combinations.

How to correct your form

Before you start swinging your new kettlebells around wildly, make sure you take some time to learn how to properly execute the exercises for which they are so helpful when used correctly.

“When you’re using kettlebells, safety is the first thing,” R.J. Cincotta, director of fitness with Orangetheory Fitness Long Island, told Insider. “Many people just start swinging them around and don’t focus on form. There’s such a dynamic difference using them [compared to other weights] that you really need to learn form, first. And you don’t want to go too heavy too quickly; that’s a very easy way to get injured.”

With that advice in mind, we tested a variety of kettlebells from brands like Everlast, TRX, and Bowflex to find the best currently available. So, no matter if you’re just looking for a set to round out your home gym or want to kick your weekly fitness routine up a few notches, there’s a set of kettlebells perfect for you. 

FAQs

What weight of kettlebell should I buy? 

The problem with buying a single piece of strength equipment like a set of dumbbells or a kettlebell is that different moves call for different resistance amounts. One of the main selling points of a kettlebell is that it’s such a diverse piece of equipment, but to really maximize its use, you want to choose the single weight that will deliver the most bang for your buck.

When thinking about what weight will be most useful, it’s better to go a little heavier, San Diego-based trainer Pete McCall, CSCS, host of the All About Fitness podcast, told Insider. “Kettlebells are often used for exercises like swings and goblet squats, and for these lower body movements, heavier is better,” he says.

What’s more a heavier kettlebell actually forces you to use better form and technique. “Going too light could lead to “cheating” during the lift which, in turn, could result in injury,” he said. (We know — it’s the rare instance the injury risk is in going too light instead of too heavy).

If you’re going light, McCall also advises looking for a competition-style kettlebell. “With traditional kettlebells, as the weight gets lighter, the handle gets smaller,” he explained.

But competition-style bells have more room between the bell and the handle, which can be a lot easier to grip, especially for those not used to the equipment.


What kind of workouts can you use a kettlebell for?

R.J. Cincotta provided some professional perspective on the importance of kettlebells, and although most Orangetheory gyms don’t use kettlebells, he was able to speak to Insider based on his own extensive fitness experience. 

“Kettlebells are best used for power movements,” Cincotta said. “You’re going to use them for squats and swings, and you’ll use them for a lot of single-sided exercises often referred to as asymmetrical movements. You can even use kettlebells for stability work as well.”

What makes a kettlebell harder to use than a dumbbell lies in its shape, which puts the weight several inches away from your hand. This means you’ll need to activate more of your muscles as you stabilize the weight. With a kettlebell, every single-handed exercise like curls, shoulder presses, snatches, and so on is that much more productive.

And for two-handed exercises like goblet squats, the grip shape means added stability so you can focus on your form, as well as your core, glutes, quads, and other muscles.


Is there a significant injury risk with buying a kettlebell that’s too heavy?

The answer to this is both yes and no. Using a heavier kettlebell will lead to more results because you’ll have to work harder to move it and therefore use more muscle. Keep in mind however, that “heavier” is entirely relative. As Cincotta mentioned (and any trainer will tell you), a weight above your strength level is the fast track to injury.

Generally, the best way to choose a weight is to borrow a friend’s or pop into your local sporting goods store and see what feels comfortable for moves like lunges and squats. But if you can’t do that, McCall offers some guidelines for what weight is good for most people:

If you don’t have a solid foundation of muscle mass already or experience using a kettlebell, aim for a 20- to 25-pound (12kg) kettlebell for a female, and a 30- to 35-pound (16kg) bell for a male.

For those experienced with a kettlebell (i.e., have been using one 1-2 times a week already), females should opt for a 30- to 45-pound (16 or 20kg) bell, males for 40- to 50-pound (20 to 24kg) kettlebell.

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The 7 best whey protein powders, backed by strength coaches and dietitians

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Quality whey protein powder should have a tolerable taste, mix well, and offer maximum protein with minimal extras.
  • Our top pick, Naked’s Whey Protein, is a clean, additive-free powder that contains only whey protein.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice in NYC.

Protein, a macronutrient every cell in your body contains, is essential for your health. If you’re an athlete, casual gym-goer, or just want to lose a few pounds, protein also helps you build and retain muscle. Taking whey protein is an effective and inexpensive way to add more of the macronutrient to your diet.

In short, whey is the liquid leftovers that come from the cheese-making process. This liquid is dried into a powder, which is then sometimes (but not always) mixed with sweeteners while keeping calories, carbohydrates, and fats to a minimum.

But there’s more to picking out the right whey protein than just grabbing whatever you find at the store. While some are formulated with different additives, others pack more protein per serving or are designed to keep more of the protein’s natural nutrients.

At the bottom of this guide, we’ve included insight into what whey protein is and why it’s beneficial, as well as the safety precautions associated with taking whey protein and the best places to purchase it. We’ve also provided some background on the sources used, as well as our own expertise.

Here are the best whey protein powders:

The best overall whey protein powder

Naked Whey Protein

When Naked Nutrition calls its Naked Whey Protein additive-free, it means it as this protein powder has literally just one ingredient: Whey protein derived from grass-fed cows.

Pros: Contains just whey protein from grass-fed cows, low carbohydrate and fat count per serving, has 5.9 grams of BCAAs per serving

Cons: Not completely devoid of sugar (though there aren’t any artificial sweeteners or flavors), hard to mix, and can sometimes be chunkya

Many of Naked Nutrition’s products live up to the brand’s namesake of being literally naked, though perhaps none do it quite as well as its flagship protein powder, Naked Whey. Comprised of a single ingredient (whey protein from grass-fed cows), Naked Whey is a clean, additive-free product that has no artificial sweeteners, no artificial colors, and no artificial flavors. 

From a protein standpoint, one serving of Naked Whey (2 scoops of powder which is roughly 30 grams) delivers 25 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat, 120 calories, and just 2 grams of sugar. Each serving also has 5.9 grams of a combination of the BCAAs isoleucine, leucine, and valine. BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) may help build protein in muscles and aid in recovery.

A few drawbacks (or, rather, nitpicks) would be the Naked Whey isn’t the easiest to mix, and requires quite the shake in a shaker bottle to create a smooth, drinkable combination, though you’re likely to still encounter a few clumps. The taste of this is also very plain and almost dairy-like (which makes sense, of course), but Naked does offer the protein in Chocolate, as well as Vanilla and Strawberry in its Less Naked Whey, which has a few more additives. 

Naked Whey comes in either a 5 lb. tub for $90 or a smaller 1 lb. option for $22 — and Naked Nutrition even allows customers to set up recurring monthly deliveries at a discounted rate. 

If an additive-free protein powder is what you seek, Naked Nutrition’s Naked Whey, with just the single ingredient of whey protein, is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best mixing whey protein powder

Cellucor Whey Protein

If you’re looking for a powder that mixes easily and tastes great, Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is one of the best and most affordable options.

Pros: Great taste, affordable, mixes smoothly, 24 grams of protein per serving, excellent for baking, third-party tested

Cons: 130 mg of sodium per serving, contains artificial sweeteners

The Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder not only tastes good and has 24 grams of protein per serving, but it’s also the most affordable option in our guide at 71.4 cents per serving and 3 cents per gram of protein. Each serving also only has 1.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 120 calories.

There are seven flavors to choose from, including whipped vanilla, molten chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. Cellucor recommends mixing two scoops with five to six ounces of your preferred beverage, but you can adjust the amount of liquid to fit your tastes. The company also suggests mixing the powder with yogurt, oatmeal, and pancakes. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best sugar-free whey protein powder

 Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey

The Platinum Hydrowhey by Optimum Nutrition may be expensive, but it mixes well and boasts 30 grams of protein per serving with zero grams of sugar.

Pros: 30 grams of protein per serving, third-party tested, superb mixability, no sugar

Cons: Contains high-fructose corn syrup

A single serving of Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey yields 140 calories, 30 grams of protein, one gram of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and no sugar. It’s made of hydrolyzed whey protein, which breaks down the protein into smaller pieces for better absorption and easier digestion. 

You can choose from seven flavors: cookies and cream overdrive, chocolate mint, velocity vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, supercharged strawberry, turbo chocolate, and red velvet cake, which was the highest-rated flavor on Bodybuilding.com. I think that turbo chocolate tastes great, too.

Optimum Nutrition uses artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and high-fructose corn syrup (which gets counted as a sugar on food labels).

Optimum Nutrition claims you can easily mix this protein with just a spoon and I can confirm this is true. While this may not seem like a strong selling point, I’ve forgotten my shaker bottle at home many times and have had to mix my protein with a spoon or knife at work. When I tried this with other brands, I always got clumpy, gross-tasting shakes. — Andrew Gutman

The best customized whey protein powder

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Gainful offers a unique approach to protein powder by offering personalized blends that are formulated specifically to the person ordering it, based on their fitness goals, diet restrictions, and other vital factors.

Pros: The custom is able to serve a wider range of users, doesn’t just rely on whey protein but pea, brown rice, and organic oat, as well, has a team of registered dietitians formulating the blends

Cons: Not the most economical in terms of amount and cost

One of the more unique protein powder options is Gainful, a brand that formulates personalized blends based on your specific needs. This could include weight and fitness goals, the amount you’re active each week, or if you have any dietary restrictions. It even lets you choose options dedicated to getting better sleep or improving gut health. 

It’s an interesting approach that succeeds in making the protein you order seem one-of-one. That is, not only does Gainful say it’s formulating a specific blend of protein for you, but when you get it and see what exactly is in it (especially compared to other protein powders), it feels exclusive.

Gainful takes its customization even further by offering flavor packets that mix with the powder to create different taste profiles. My sample came with both rich cocoa and cafe mocha, but the brand offers a variety of others like chocolate peanut butter, strawberry cream, and matcha green tea. You could consume the standard protein on its own, but it’s a very bland flavor when you do (it doesn’t necessarily taste bad, it’s just not very exciting). 

The nitpick I’d have with Gainful is that it doesn’t feel like you’re getting much protein for how much you spend. I tend to consume protein most days of the week, and I was able to work through the $39 bag in a little under three weeks. You can opt to get more per shipment (and Gainful can set up a recurring monthly delivery), though the price could feasibly double.

Despite its expensive price compared to others in this guide, what you get with Gainful isn’t offered anywhere else. You’re essentially paying for a premium dietitian service to tailor a protein powder specifically to your needs — for people who keep close tabs on their nutrition and diet, that’s invaluable. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best GNC whey protein powder

GNC1

GNC’s AMP Wheybolic protein powder offers 40 grams of protein per two-scoop serving, as well as 6.2 grams of leucine, and works great as either a pre- or post-workout supplement.

Pros: Now comes in popular Girl Scout flavors, packs 40 grams of protein and 6.2 grams of leucine per two-scoop serving

Cons: Might be too sweet for some, contains sucralose and other artificial sweeteners

The GNC name is synonymous with workout supplements, and its own branded protein are among its most popular items, specifically its GNC AMP Wheybolic powder. The brand supplied a tub of the powder in the Thin Mints flavor, which is sure to catch the attention of anyone who’s a fan of Girl Scout Cookies (it also offers Girl Scout Coconut Carmel aka Samoas and Girl Scout S’mores). 

Each two-scoop serving of the powder offers 40 grams of protein, 6.2 grams of leucine, 210 calories, 7 grams of net carbohydrates, and 2 grams of total sugar. The powder mixes well in water (after about 20 seconds or so of shaking) and never felt chunky or like there were leftover bits that hadn’t fully mixed. 

I used this protein primarily as a post-workout drink, though did also test it post-workout and on non-workout days. The Thin Mints flavor is heavy on the chocolate and mint, so if you like sweeter protein powders, this is exactly what that is. I’m not a huge sweet protein powder drinker myself, so would often choose to use this in moderation. 

A single $65 tub of the powder comes with 25 two-scoop servings, which is just shy of enough for a month’s worth of use — especially if you prefer to drink it on both workout and non-workout days. 

Our nutrition reviewer, Samantha Cassetty, did point out a few things to be cautious of after we spoke to her during testing. First, is the inclusion of sucralose. As we’ve mentioned in other protein powders, sucralose is a sweetener that may upset some people’s stomachs during ingestion. Cassetty pointed out that the powder also includes the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium, has artificial flavoring, and contains carrageenan, a somewhat controversial additive that’s been studied limitedly. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best-tasting whey protein powder

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Powder

The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder packs 24 grams of protein into each serving and is one of the better-tasting powders according to experts and buyers.

Pros: Tastes good, relatively affordable, third-party tested

Cons: Complaints about the formula changing, contains an artificial sweetener

The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder gets its sweetness from a little bit of sugar (1 gram per serving) and acesulfame potassium, which is an artificial sweetener also known as Ace-K.

Each serving has 120 calories, a gram of fat, three grams of carbs, and most importantly 24 grams of protein. Optimum Nutrition has also curated a number of recipes in which you can use the powder. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best fat-free whey protein powder

MyProtein whey powder

The Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein is a great option if you want as much protein packed into each scoop as possible without extra fat, carbs, or calories.

Pros: Excellent product purity, a high concentration of bound protein, fat-free, low in sodium

Cons: Concerns about quality control, contains artificial sweetener, not third-party tested

Depending on the flavor you choose, the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein fits up to 22 grams of protein into each 25-gram serving.

It does this with little or no fat or sugar and only 90 calories per serving. The sodium content is also low at 25 mg per serving. 

Labdoor independently tests dozens of whey protein powders, and the site recommended the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate because it scored high in Labdoor’s ingredient safety, nutritional value, and product purity tests. The testers found there were 21.9 grams of protein in every 25-gram serving.

There are a few complaints worth mentioning, too. Make sure you buy the whey isolate and not just the whey concentrate (If you follow our links, you should be fine). — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best lactose-free whey protein powder

Dymatize

If you’ve found protein powders leave your stomach feeling queasy, consider the lactose-free Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder.

Pros: Lactose-free, 91% of calories are from protein, less than a gram of sugar and fat, third-party tested

Cons: Complaints of foreign objects found in the powder, contains an artificial sweetener, 160 mg sodium per serving

The Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder is the only lactose-free option on our list but it’s not the only one that uses hydrolyzed isolate protein—the Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey does, too—which is supposed to help with digestion and absorption.

Each serving has 25 grams of protein, less than a gram of fat, 120 calories, and 2 grams of carbs, including less than 1 gram of sugar. There are 13 flavors to choose from, including cinnamon bun, fudge brownie, gourmet chocolate, and chocolate coconut

Labdoor recommends the Dymatize ISO 100 as one of the best whey protein powders. In its tests, the powder had high scores for nutritional value and product purity, including less than one part per million of six harmful substances. Around 91% of the calories in this powder come from its protein content. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

What else we tested

performix iowhey

Animal Whey

I like Animal because the company doesn’t make gimmicky claims or rely on pseudoscience to sell its products. What you see is what you get and what you get is 120 calories, one gram of fat, 2 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein per serving. Animal uses whey protein isolate as its primary protein source, it’s moderately priced, and it’s third-party tested.

This wasn’t included, however, because it’s no better than any other pick. Compared to Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize or Cellucor, it’s slightly more expensive and isn’t as lauded by fans. It barely missed the cut. 

Pro Jym Protein Powder

A fan favorite, Pro Jym is comprised of four different proteins: whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg albumin, and milk protein isolate. According to creator, Dr. Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., this extends the rate of digestion for better protein synthesis. It comes in three flavors: chocolate cookie crunch, cookies and cream, and s’mores, and contains 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 24 grams of protein per serving. 

Pro Jym missed the mark for two reasons:

  1. You pay more for three times the amount of fat and carbs as Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey, so it doesn’t fit into our minimum fillers criteria.
  2. It’s not a pure whey protein powder. 

Performix ioWhey

I personally like this protein powder because it tastes great, it’s easy on the stomach, and there are minimal extras. One serving of Performix ioWhey is 100 calories, zero grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 22 grams of protein. 

My major issue is that Performix claims ioWhey is absorbed 36% more efficiently than other brands, which is why their protein per serving is low. That sounds great but since the product isn’t third-party tested, there’s no way to know if this is true or if the company’s selling you less protein per serving.

For the price per serving, you’re better off buying Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize ISO 100 if you’re willing to shell out for a premium protein. — Andrew Gutman

What is whey protein?

man making protein shake shutterstock

There are three main types of whey protein:

  • Whey protein concentrate (WPC): This is a concentrated protein that keeps more of the nutrients. Most non-isolate proteins are comprised of WPC.
  • Whey protein isolate (WPI): This is similar to WPC but most of the carbohydrates, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins have been removed, so the powder has a higher percentage of protein. Typically, isolate is digested more quickly and, therefore, more agreeable for some. For that reason, most trainers and registered dieticians recommend opting for WPI, though it’s often more expensive.
  • Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH): WPH is considered pre-digested since it breaks down the amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — to help with quicker absorption.

Is it safe to consume? 

Before you increase your protein intake significantly, check with your healthcare professional since people with certain maladies, such as calcium deficiencies or low blood pressure, could experience adverse effects from whey protein. 

It’s also important to note that protein powders aren’t regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some companies dilute their protein with useless fillers, which is why certain brands subject themselves to third-party testing as a way to verify the quality of their product.

To know if a protein is tested, look for a seal from either NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice. This doesn’t mean that untested proteins are a subpar product but it’s good to be aware. You are, after all, putting this stuff into your body. Other than looking for brands that are third-party tested, here are different ways to spot a quality protein:

  • Ensure that protein is the first ingredient on the label. “When you look at a label, it’s in descending order so the ingredient in the highest amount will be found at the top of the list,” Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition, told Insider. “Look for labels that have protein at the beginning with fewer ingredients accompanying them.”
  • Typically, you want a whey powder that contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving. All of our picks do.
  • Try to steer clear of excess sugar. As for artificial sweeteners, research on how they affect our weight and health is mixed.

How much should you consume? 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein consumption is about a gram for every 3 pounds of body weight. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, that equates to 60 grams of protein per day. Experts suggest that taking up to twice that still produces benefits.

When it comes to fitness-specific goals, like gaining muscle or losing fat, Jeb Stuart Johnston from Stronger U recommends ingesting up to one gram per pound of bodyweight. His claim is backed by a study via the University of Stirling

“For someone who’s trying to gain muscle mass and work out, taking in more protein helps speed up protein synthesis [the process in which your muscle fibers utilize protein to repair and grow],” Johnston said. “For a person who’s strictly trying to lose weight, taking in more protein helps retain the muscle you already have.” 

Based on Johnston’s recommendations, a 200-pound man would have to consume 200 grams of protein per day. That’s equivalent to 2 pounds of chicken breast. Supplementing with whey protein, he explains, is a convenient way to get more protein without grilling up another piece of bland chicken.

Where to buy whey protein

man protein powder shutterstock

When it comes to buying protein, one convenient ordering option is Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program, since it can save you up to 15%. You’re able to cancel your subscription at any time, too. What’s great about this program is that it automates ordering products that you replenish regularly.

For instance, if you take a serving of protein powder every day and there are 30 servings in a container, you can have a new tub delivered every month without lifting a finger.

Personally, I like to buy my protein from Bodybuilding.com. I usually try a different brand of protein each time I order more, so Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program doesn’t make sense for me, although it’s a smart option for many people. Bodybuilding.com has reliable customer reviews and it routinely offers deals on popular brands. As a bonus, it offers free shipping on orders over $75.

To figure out the cost per serving on your own, take the product’s price and divide it by the number of servings in the container. Since the amount of protein per serving varies by brand, it’s also useful to look at the cost per gram of protein. This is easy to calculate by dividing the cost per serving (as calculated above) by the number of grams of protein per serving. — Andrew Gutman

Expert sources

  • Jeb Stuart Johnston, nutrition and strength coach at Stronger U
  • Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition

This piece was also medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, and a nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.

About our writers’ expertise

In developing this guide, we tested close to a dozen of the top protein powders available from brands like Cellucor, Optimum Nutrition, and Naked to find the best across a variety of categories. 

The co-author, Andrew Gutman, is a former associate editor at Muscle & Fitness magazine, has competed in a bodybuilding show and two Strongman competitions, and has been lifting weights regularly for more than 10 years. He’s tried dozens of different whey protein powders.

Our guide features powders that have a taste you can stomach, a high protein content, and minimal fat, carbs, and calories. Guides Editor, Les Shu, is a former research chief at Men’s Fitness who oversaw the fact-checking of the magazine’s nutrition and exercise articles.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 7 best compression socks for runners, seniors, and anyone looking to improve circulation

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Compression socks help speed muscle recovery and potentially improve athletic performance.
  • The garments also improve blood flow for venous or lymphatic issues for pregnant women or the elderly.
  • Our top pick, CEP’s Progressive+ Compression Socks, are incredibly comfortable and won’t sag through the day.

Compression socks are one of those garments that seem gimmicky, but science actually backs up their biggest claimed benefit: Improving your circulation.

“Compression socks help the vascular system move blood and other fluids, which can help manage swelling and inflammation,” Jenelle Deatherage, a physical therapist at the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Clinic, told Insider.

At its foundation, the garment works by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. The compression also helps the flow of lymph fluid, which helps remove cellular waste and circulates bacteria-fighting white blood cells throughout your body.

Deatherage added that several categories of people may benefit from wearing compression socks, including athletes who could look to enhance their workouts. This is especially true for runners.

“There’s not great research on performance, which is what a lot of patients look for, but the good news is that there is some research that shows [compression socks] might help with muscle fatigue and reduce soreness if you wear them during a workout,” she explained.

Because of those inherent benefits, compression socks have become quite popular in recent years – and that popularity has brought with it a surplus of options. To help narrow down what’s available, we tested dozens of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.

At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into who Detherage says may benefit most from compression socks, tips on how to shop for them, and the best methods for how to use and wear them.

Here are the best compression socks:

The best overall

compression socks

Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provides all-day comfort.

Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, won’t sag over the course of the day

Cons: Expensive, sizing can be tricky so be sure to measure before ordering

The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 (available in men’s and women’s sizes) stand out from the other socks on our list due in large part to the fact they offer unparalleled comfort — and should be considered by anyone, despite a steep price tag. 

The brand’s parent company, Medi, has been producing medical compression products for over 70 years. The founder of CEP, who is an Ironman competitor, leveraged Medi’s technical knowledge and designs for athletes.

Made of polyamide and nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), CEP’s socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t sag as the day goes on.

The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks also feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. Per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that covers wearing the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens. 

These socks are recommended for anyone who suffers from shin splints, Achilles issues, or plantar fasciitis. They’re also great for runners looking to rehab their leg after a long run or workout. 

The best on a budget

compression socks

The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide reliable comfort.

Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit

Cons: Available in just two sizes

Though the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are about one-fifth the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.

The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors and two sizes: S/M and L/XL.

Though they seem thinner and lighter than other picks on this list, SB Sox socks hold up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they provide a snug fit that doesn’t feel too constricting. More sizing options would be welcome, though.

The best for circulation

sockwell

If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.

Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long

Cons: The top of the sock might warp over time, only comes in two sizes

For people with venous or lymphatic issues in their legs, compression therapy can help move blood through the veins and tissue better, which in turn promotes healing and prevents ulcers and other issues. Compression stockings are one of the easier options to put on and less cumbersome than medical bandages, says a 2014 study in CMAJ.

The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks (available in men’s and women’s sizes) are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.

What’s more, these are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. A 2019 study analysis in BMC Geriatrics found elderly folks with chronic blood flow issues (venous insufficiency) and swollen legs who wore class 2 compression stockings (pressure between 20 and 30 mmHg) regularly were less likely to have leg ulcers come back compared to wearing lower compression class 1 stockings (pressure below 20 mmHg).

These Sockwell socks have four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.

The best for post-workout

compression socks 1

After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.

Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors

Cons: Might not be tight enough for everyone’s needs, long drying time

The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit — the appropriate sock size gives you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.

The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. They’re sweat-wicking, too, but don’t tend to dry out very quicky, so are best worn in cooler weather. Zensah offers the socks in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink. 

The best for runners

Aspire Socks

Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.

Pros: Offers comfortable compression for runners, promotes blood flow, helps relieve shin splints, and wicks away moisture

Cons: Can be difficult to put on

Swiftwick’s compression socks run the gamut of everything from knee-high versions for those looking for full leg relief to no-show options for golfers. For runners, its Aspire Twelve socks are an excellent option to help relieve muscle soreness, prevent or care for shin splints, and provide stability and comfort. 

Comprised of a blend of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, the Aspire Twelves don’t just offer the benefits of compression but also help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. They work well to keep on even after your run as you’ll continue to reap the benefits of compression as you recover. 

The best for standing all-day

compression socks

If your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell’s Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.

Pros: Good for reducing foot and ankle swelling, incredibly comfortable, inexpensive

Cons: Concerns about durability, socks may only come up to mid-calf in taller people

The Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks have a lot of the same features as our pick for best circulation, the Sockwell Elevation socks. They both have four zones of graduated compression from the ankle on up, which keeps the toes feeling comfortable, and each is made of a combination of spandex, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon, and merino wool.

But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less ($30 per pair).

The Circulator socks only come in two sizes. but there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port. Regardless of the size, the socks aren’t very long, so they’re best used for people with shorter builds. 

The best patterned

Vim Vigr socks

Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.

Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women

Cons: Can get expensive

First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don’t do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that’s not the case with these.

I’m particularly fond of Vim & Vigr’s medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you’re supported where you need it but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHg depending on the style.

Regardless of your selection, however, you’ll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts — especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important.

What sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only is there a wide range of colors to choose from but the brand also offers several interesting patterns. I’m a fan of the color block options, as well as a Rugby Stripe pattern for men.

Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. If you don’t need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand’s moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet.

Who should wear compression socks?

Anyone can wear compression socks but they do figure to benefit some groups more than others. This predominantly includes athletes, pregnant women, and elderly people, though anyone who sits or stands for long periods of time at work should consider them as well.

Deatherage suggested that if you work out in the morning before sitting at a desk or standing all day, where your calves and ankles stay at the bottom of the gravity chain, it’s smart to wear compression socks post-workout. This helps with swelling and gets blood back to the heart.

Conversely, if you sit all day and prefer to work out at night, wearing compression socks while exercising after work may allow for less fatigue in the lower legs and can help enhance circulation.

Athletes

Concerning the exact impact of compression socks on athletes, Deatherage told Insider that their effectiveness is still somewhat undecided. There is some research that confirms that wearing compression garments helps improve running endurance or cycling sprints, while others say it doesn’t change a thing.

A recently-published analysis in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 21 studies and found that a small number do show that wearing compression socks during exercise improved performance. Mostly, though, the studies showed wearing the special socks during a grueling workout helped fit folks feel like their leg muscles were firing better, fatiguing less, and, after the workout, less sore.

Even if it’s just a placebo effect, those training hard, particularly for long endurance events like a marathon, wearing compression socks during workouts and after for recovery may help make training easier.

“When looking at the cost-benefit ratio and considering what research is out there, it’s not a bad idea,” Deatherage said. “And it’s an easy thing to do.”

Pregnant women

Besides runners, Deatherage says pregnant women may benefit from compression socks, as they’re more prone to swelling. Venous issues are also particularly high for pregnant women as they have a larger volume of blood pumping through their bodies. 

Some 40% of pregnant women develop varicose veins, while the risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) is four- to five-fold higher for moms-to-be compared to non-pregnant women. Wearing compression socks or stockings during pregnancy can potentially help reduce swelling and discomfort, improve circulation, and minimize varicose veins.

Seniors

Elderly people with deep vein thrombosis, those who just had surgery on their legs, or anyone trying to minimize varicose veins or blood clot concerns, might also benefit from compression socks. The catch is here is that these more serious vascular issues, including varicose veins, would benefit more from medical grade compression socks, Deatherage added, which requires a doctor prescription and are often more expensive.

How to shop for compression socks

If you’re simply looking for workout recovery or want relief from more minor issues of swelling or soreness, say on long flights or during long work shifts on your feet (like nurses), you may see advantages from more moderate compression socks, Deatherage said. This includes socks with ratings of about 10-20mmHg, which stands for millimeters of mercury (a measurement of pressure).

When shopping around for compression socks, Deatherage said that besides a sock’s mmHg rating, the most important thing to look for is comfort, saying that “compression socks only work if you wear them.”

Look for a pair in which the material feels comfortable against your skin, and a set that feels snug but not too tight — you don’t want to restrict your movement. If you can find a pair that offers customization for your size, that’s even better.

Compression sock ratings

As noted above, the compression in the stockings is measured in mm Hg. Specifically, compression socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mmHg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mmHg.

None of the socks we reviewed have a rating above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if needed. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.

Fabrics used

Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.

How best to use compression socks

There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out, plus we’ve compiled a few tips here, as well: 

  • Apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on.
  • Wear dishwashing gloves to get a better grip.
  • Roll the socks before you put them on so you can just roll them up your legs.
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The 6 best places to buy women’s workout clothes

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • The right workout clothing helps keep inconveniences like overheating, wet patches, and chafing at bay.
  • The best workout apparel offers a combination of high-performance materials, smart design, and versatile style.
  • We recommend Nike‘s workout gear for women overall, as it’s the best blend of price, performance, and variety.
Best activewear for women 4x3

Working out often forces us to feel discomfort. We’re hot, sweaty, tired, and, though we’re not exactly sure, we think we’re beginning to feel the onset of shin splints.

But the right activewear gear makes all the difference. It inhibits nuisances like chafing, wet spots, heat-trapping, blisters, and sometimes injuries. At a baseline, it reduces the number of unnecessary challenges so we can focus on the task at hand. Ideally, it helps us push ourselves a little further, and perform a little better. But, in general, it should simply make the act of moving a more enjoyable experience.

Below, we’ve ranked the best workout brands to shop based on Insider Reviews’ own testing. Each one excels in gear that’s functional, stylish, and performs well. The individual brands offer a variety of strengths: eco-friendly practices, comfortable athleisure, styles that can transition from yoga to the office, greater size ranges, and more inclusive options to name a few.

Here are the best workout clothes for women in 2020:

The best overall

sportswear windrunner hooded windbreaker qJlX5L

Nike caters to pretty much every sport with a variety of inclusive styles, making it our top pick for high-performance workout gear. 

Nike has the best balance of price, performance, and variety in its workout gear. A pair of leggings can go for upwards of $70, but you can find plenty of $40-$60 options, and the site semi-frequently offers discounts. Nike items also have a good price-per-wear breakdown thanks to an expert handle on performance engineering and technical materials across categories.

There’s something for athletes of pretty much every sport: running, golf, soccer, training, tennis, basketball, softball, skateboarding, swim, and lacrosse — and all different types of gear, from women’s running shoes to swimwear and compression layers. And they’ve expanded their activewear to have more inclusive sizes (from XS to 3X) and styles (for example, high-performance hijab options). 

What to buy:

Read more about Nike:

The best budget-friendly

Athleta UPF

While performance pieces have a reputation for being expensive, Athleta provides quality styles at more wallet-friendly price points.

Gap’s Athleta is a great combination of affordability, style, and functionality. Plus, we liked the company’s leggings quite a bit during testing. It also has a wide variety of activewear. Currently, it stocks gear for the following activities: yoga/studio, hike, commute/travel, and run/train. And you may get lucky with frequent discounts, so it’s always worth checking the sale section first. 

However, head-to-head, Nike’s products have a slight edge when it comes to performance and comfort in our experience. But, it’s worth noting that they’re both excellent options we shop at frequently. Athleta is a B-Corp, so if a business’s ethics and practices are factored into your decision, Athleta may win out over Nike. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Athleta:

The best athleisure gear

Patagonia womens

For pieces that perform and are stylish enough to wear anywhere, you’ll want to check out Patagonia

Aside from creating one of the best pairs of athleisure leggings we’ve ever tested, Patagonia makes one of the mainstream culture’s crown jewels of comfort: the Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover. And whether you’re a fan of the label and what it stands for or you couldn’t care less, the brand’s quality and comfort speak for itself

We trust Patagonia as much for form as we do for function. And while its prices aren’t the least (or most) expensive on the market, you’ll get a wide variety of items, a product that’s built to last, and the security of a generous return policy without a tight time limit. It’s also a big perk that the company is a B Corp, has donated 1% of its profit to environmental organizations since the ’80s, and won the UN’s Champions of the Earth award for entrepreneurial vision.

You may get lucky with a seasonal Patagonia sale, but you’ll probably only see discounts on its bestsellers — like the Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover — in select colorways. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Patagonia:

The best size-inclusive

ls easy active tee_heather charcoal_USAT0626_21820_041_2048x

With sizes ranging from 00-40, Universal Standard has set the, well, standard for inclusive sizing in workout clothing. 

Universal Standard is the place to go for cool, high-quality closet staples available in sizes 00-40. They also tend to offer items in regular, tall, and petite lengths. We love the company’s clothes because they’re comfortable and high-performing — but we’re equally invested in its commitment to making clothes for more people than the industry currently serves, especially since the average American woman is between size 16 to 18.

If you buy a piece from the core collection and, in the future, it no longer fits due to size fluctuation, the company has a Universal Fit Liberty policy that lets you replace it with your new size, within a year of purchase, free of charge. 

However, Universal Standard doesn’t have the most expansive selection, and sometimes stock can be limited in certain bestsellers. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Universal Standard:

The best for durability

image   2020 03 24T125740.293

You won’t have to justify splurging when you buy your workout gear from Lululemon. Its styles are created with longevity in mind, which means you’ll save in the long run.

Lululemon is home to some of the best gear for yoga, running, training, and sweating. Its gear is pricey — a pair of plain black leggings can go for nearly $100 — but the comfort, utility, longevity, and style give it an edge that makes a higher upfront cost justifiable if you can comfortably make the splurge.

We’ve found ourselves wearing every piece on repeat, bringing the cost per wear down to something far more manageable. 

What to buy: 

Read more about Lululemon:

The best eco-friendly

Girlfriend Collective

With its size-inclusive styles and priority toward sustainability, Girlfriend Collective provides workout gear you can feel good about wearing. 

Girlfriend Collective has some of the best leggings we’ve ever worn, and we appreciate the brand’s color variety, relatively low price points, and inclusive size range. We also like that Girlfriend Collective currently offers versatility in its colors — 14 total (five essential, and nine limited-edition) — and sizing (it’s available in three inseam lengths and sizes XXS-6XL) in its bestselling leggings. However, we wouldn’t recommend wearing these leggings to a hot yoga class or HIIT given their thickness. 

Another perk is that the company prioritizes sustainability in its materials and processes. Its packaging is 100% recyclable, its compression leggings are made of 79% recycled polyester from 25 post-consumer water bottles, and its Cupro tees are made from 100% cupro, a fiber made from the waste of the cotton industry. And, while cupro saves a reported 682 gallons of water compared to cotton, the company also pledged to donate 10% of its net profits to Charity Water to offset any water usage that may occur during production.

However, slow fashion that’s also in high demand can lead to stock outages, and Girlfriend Collective doesn’t always have what we want available. We also wish it had a larger selection.

What to buy: 

Read more about Girlfriend Collective:

Brands we also recommend

janji, $64

We also considered the following brands for this guide but, for the reasons listed below, didn’t rank them officially. We still recommend them. 

Outdoor Voices

OutdoorVoices makes a few of our favorite athleisure items, and they’re another example of a company that does a great job of balancing form and function. Its gear transitions seamlessly from lounging on the couch to rushing through the airport.

But, we’ve had a few misses in the past with OV products (we’re not super fans of the popular Spring Leggings), and its prices are comparable to Patagonia, with a less generous — but pretty standard — return policy

Tracksmith

Tracksmith makes exceptional and versatile running gear — including some of the best temperature-regulating leggings and layers that I’ve tested. But, they tend to be pretty expensive (its Singlet is $65, and Turnover Half Zip are $128), and their running-focused inventory isn’t as diverse as other options on this list.

Turn Over Half Zip (small)

2XU

I count 2XU as the creator of the best and most breathable compressive running tights that I’ve ever found, but its prices are high across categories (the tights go for $120 on Amazon) with few sales, and the company has fewer categories and offerings than other generalist brands.  

Janji

Janji also makes some of the best workout gear I’ve ever tested — in particular, its short-sleeve T-shirts and windbreaker running jacket. And while the company is running-specific, its gear transitions well to other activities.

But this also means the company doesn’t have a very diverse range of products (though, it’s line continues to expand with new gear every season). Still, I highly recommend shopping here. The company also has a social mission, and while prices on average are a little high, the price-per-wear has been great in our experience.

Alo Yoga

We loved Alo’s Airlift Leggings in our testing, but we can’t confidently say all of its pieces warrant their relatively high prices — though we’ve already found a handful of standouts. And the company carries less diverse inventory than most of the brands mentioned here.

Everlane

With just four styles, Everlane’s activewear selection is on the smaller side — so we didn’t give them a top spot on this list. That said, the brand’s Perform Leggings rank as some of the most comfortable leggings we’ve ever worn. They’re on the thinner side, which means they aren’t sturdy enough for high-intensity workouts, but the Perform Leggings are great for yoga and pilates.  

ADAY

ADAY used to be our pick for “best workout clothes you can wear all day.” And while we love the brand’s stylish leggings and tops, the lack of performance styles it offers made it tough to keep on this list. We still highly recommend ADAY, though, especially if you’re looking for the best leggings you can buy

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The 6 best men’s workout shirts perfect for running, working out at home, or lifting weights

  • A reliable workout shirt provides plenty of benefits like moisture-wicking technology, stretch fabric, and odor control.
  • It’s also important that a workout shirt fits comfortably and performs well during activities like strength training or running.
  • Our top pick, the Ten Thousand Versatile Shirt, excels in terms of fit and performance, and is my go-to for almost any workout.

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Ask any fitness enthusiast about their preferred workout attire and they’ll likely spend a few minutes talking about moisture-wicking fabric, innovative cooling technology, or sweat-activated fabrics. While these sound like industry buzzwords, the application behind these concepts are staples and, frankly, must-haves in the world of workout apparel.

Brands like Nike, Under Armour, and Reebok remain major players in this market but a few smaller companies burst onto the scene in recent years with innovative workout shirt tech. Be it a unique manufacturing process that makes use of real gold particles or a revolutionary fabric designed to not just wick moisture but to actively cool a wearer’s body temperature, today’s workout shirts are full of inventive and practical variety.

But like so many others, I’ve transitioned to fully working out at home. However, I still feel as though there’s plenty of room in my wardrobe for an array of reliable workout shirts. Not only does variety help reduce how often I have to do laundry but different shirts work better for different workouts.

For example, I prefer a shirt with some sort of stretch design or increased range of motion when lifting weights but grab for a tee that does well to wick moisture before I hop on my bike or go for a run. Though those differences in features may seem small, they have a major impact both on my performance and comfort – and they’re incredibly important considerations when shopping for a workout shirt.

To help find the best currently available, I tested (and continue to test) an array of the latest releases to find those that excel at not just being comfortable, functional, and high quality, but are ultimately worth investing in, too. Though this guide gets updated often, the shirts featured are an accurate snapshot of exactly what I wear when working out each week.

A note on fit

Though the workout shirts featured in this guide have the name “men’s” in them, they’re not strictly for cisgender men. The cut and design of the shirts may differ from similar clothing intended for women but anyone is able to wear whatever shirt they feel comfortable in.

This is especially true in the world of workout apparel where comfort and performance are far higher priorities than what specific gender they’re intended for – and each of the shirts featured below was tested with those features in mind. If you’re looking for workout clothing that more closely identifies with the fit and design of women’s apparel, check out our guide to our favorite women’s workout clothing brands.

Here are the best men’s workout shirts:

The best overall

TTVersatile

Ten Thousand’s Versatile Shirt lives up to its name by being one of our favorite multi-purpose workout shirts — it’s great for anything active, be it cardio, strength training, HIIT exercises, or cycling.

Pros: Comfortable workout shirt that’s good for almost any workout or activity, flatlock seams prevent chafing, doesn’t hold onto odors, sweat-wicking and quick-dry fabric work well

Cons: Fit can differ from what you’re used to but double-check using the brand’s interactive fit guide before buying

Ten Thousand’s workout gear is a staff favorite, and when it comes to workout shirts designed to perform over a variety of exercises, it’s the brand’s Versatile Shirt I grab over and over again. Not only does it fit comfortably but it pulls off being both minimalist and functional, making it great for weight training, running, cycling, and even yoga — there’s a reason it has the word “versatile” in its name.

Made of 84% polyester and 16% spandex, the shirt features a breathable design that, along with its sweat-wicking and quick-drying tech, allows it to remain comfortable no matter how warm or sweaty I’d get. Even when temperatures cooled off, this shirt still performed well, and I especially appreciate its flatlock seams which avoid chafing of any kind (which is a must on my longer runs). 

Similar to how Rhone uses gold particles in its fabric, Ten Thousand infused its Versatile shirt with a silver ion anti-odor treatment. After intentionally wearing it for a 15-mile bike ride followed by an hour resistance band workout, the shirt did well to avoid hanging onto any odors, even if my own self was ready for a full-on shower. 

I do recommend reviewing Ten Thousand’s fit metrics as the medium shirt I tested was just slightly on the shorter side (and I’m roughly 5’8″). The chest, shoulders, and arms all fit properly but I would’ve liked just a bit more length (and may try the Large next time). The site does have a highly useful interactive fit chart that showcases different model body types across each size to give you a good sense of how it’ll fit once you try it on. 

The best for runners

Nike Dri Fit shirt

Yes, it wicks moisture and sports the Nike logo but the Nike Dri-Fit Miler helps runners go the distance, thanks to flat seams to avoid chafing and reflective details to increase visibility.

Pros: Reflective details offer increased visibility, flat seams reduce chafing and feel comfortable on the skin, and the Dri-FIT tech actively wicks moisture

Cons: Despite a reflective pattern, dark colors not recommended for runners who run at night

Based entirely on the amount of constant rubbing and chafing a runner experiences on even short jaunts, the type of athletic apparel they choose needs to satisfy a particularly high standard. Nike, a brand that needs no introduction, knows a thing or two about workout gear and has excelled for decades at manufacturing some of the industry’s best, and most innovative, active clothing.

The story remains the same with its Dri-Fit Miler, an athletic shirt designed specifically for runners.

Led by its patented Dri-Fit technology, the Miler excels at wicking moisture but also proves capable of staying dry no matter the mileage — a feature that dramatically impacts both comfort and performance. With a dropped hem in the back of the shirt, it offers more coverage than most other running shirts and its flat seams help avoid excess chafing while feeling soft on a wearer’s skin.

Perhaps its best and most important feature is the reflective pattern Nike used to keep runners visible throughout their run. Be it morning, afternoon, or dusk, the reflective details shine brightly when hit with headlights or a flashlight, helping alert those passing by to the runner’s position. Though running at night requires an entirely different approach, the shirt still reflects in the dark. However, the dark colors aren’t recommended for those who prefer running when the sun’s gone down.

The best for odor control

Rhone Reign shirt

Rhone’s Reign sets itself apart with GoldFusion technology that wicks moisture, controls odors, and decreases drying time.

Pros: GoldFusion technology is as innovative as anything on the market, odor control that actually works, fast drying time, and a comfortable, stylish fit

Cons: Premium price tag

There are innovative workout shirts and then there’s the Rhone Reign, a shirt that features actual flakes of real gold and uses the company’s GoldFusion technology. Hardly a gimmick, GoldFusion has a three-pronged impact in that it actively wicks away moisture, combats odor, and dramatically decreases drying time.

So, not only does the technology keep you dry and comfortable but it keeps even the worst gym smells at bay — a feature the rest of the people at the gym would surely love, as well.

Though GoldFusion is its rightful claim to fame, the Reign shirt still scores highly in other areas like fit and comfort. Essentially a performance synthetic tee, it’s capable of holding up to almost any workout, activity, or sport and remains comfortable throughout. With raglan sleeves and flatlock stitching, it achieves a better fit throughout without chafing or irritating your skin.

Rhone may have only just come onto the athletic apparel scene in recent years but armed with its GoldFusion technology and a casual, modern fit, the Reign lives up to its name.

The best for hot weather

arctic cool shirt

Powered by HydroFreeze X technology, Arctic Cool’s Crew Neck shirt utilizes an innovative fabric that works to lower your body temperature while also wicking sweat. 

Pros: Innovative HydroFeeze X cools body temperature and actually works, UPF 50+ rating blocks 98% of harmful UV rays, antimicrobial cooling tech is machine-washable and never fades, and it spreads moisture across the shirt as it wicks to improve dry time

Cons: Plain style and color choices

Rhone’s Reign may have gold flakes in its fabric but Arctic Cool’s plainly-named Crew Neck shirt has its own ace up its sleeve: HydroFreeze X technology. Flashy name aside, HyrdoFreeze X is more than just marketing-speak. It’s a type of fabric that, while wicking moisture, dramatically lowers your body temperature.

As you sweat, the fabric absorbs that moisture and disperses it across the material. As air moves over the surface of the shirt, it creates a cooling effect that can make you feel up to 30 degrees cooler. Once it moves through the shirt and cools down, any excess moisture is then wicked completely from the garment. Better yet, the tech is antimicrobial, meaning it’s able to sustain a lifetime of washes and still perform.

Though the shirt itself is a bit plain, the HydroFreeze X fabric offers a premium fit that’s capable of supporting a variety of exercises and activities. Additionally, each shirt is rated at UPF 50+, so it offers a high level of sun protection, blocking up to 98% of harmful UV rays.

The best for cold weather

under armour shirt

Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt makes frigid winter runs a bit more manageable. 

Pros: Second-skin fit allows for layering without sacrificing performance, soft and lightweight, HeatGear fabric stays warm in the coldest temperatures, four-way stretch offers wide range of movement, and Under Armour compression helps improve performance

Cons: Limited to wearing in cold to moderate weather

Under Armour made its name designing and manufacturing some of the best compression athletic gear on the market and its HeatGear Armour long sleeve shirt is the perfect example of the brand’s innovations. Featuring a second skin, compression-style fit and lightweight construction, the HeatGear Armour is a form-fitting shirt that offers comfortable support.

With a four-way stretch design, it not only avoids hindering your performance but also accentuates it by allowing for movement in any direction. The shirt lives up to its HeatGear name by truly shining when temperatures drop as the fabric was built for keeping you warm in frigid weather. It even boasts a UPF 30+ rating, which helps protect against harmful UV rays — something anyone’s capable of being exposed to year-round.   

The long sleeve tee also wicks moisture and dries quickly which is an incredibly welcome feature for those who like to run outside and break a sweat. No more plodding away on an indoor treadmill, Under Armour’s HeatGear Armour allows anyone to enjoy a training session outside of the gym, even in the dead of winter.

The best for casual wear

reebok shirt

With a stylish cut and quick-dry fabric, Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 fits in at the gym, at home, or the bar after a workout.

Pros: Stylish cut, effective moisture-wicking technology, quick-dry fabric that performs in any environment, and its loose-fitting torso allows for a greater range of motion

Cons: Fitted design may not be suitable for all body types

A company mostly synonymous with sneakers, Reebok’s athletic apparel is just as impressive as its shoes. With the Supersonic 2.0, the Adidas subsidiary takes a stab at offering performance fabric designed to wick sweat, dry quickly, and look good in the process. With an athletic cut and stylish design, not only does this shirt deliver on performance but it’s also capable of being worn all day, every day if you so please. 

Made of 95% polyester and 5% spandex, the Supersonic 2.0 is lightweight and highly breathable and is as capable of wicking away moisture as it is helping avoid excessive sweat spots. That means you can wear it to the gym and, even after an intense workout, still wear it while meeting up with friends or heading back to work.

Featuring a fitted cut to hug a wearer’s upper torso, the bottom flows freely allowing for a wide range of movement. No matter if it’s an afternoon of basketball, an hour of lifting weights, or simply going for a run, the fit stays true throughout and performance is never limited. Reebok’s Supersonic 2.0 is about as functional and versatile of an everyday shirt as it gets. We do recommend washing it regularly, though.

What else I’m testing

The market for workout shirts is broad, which makes it seem like there’s an endless amount of options to choose from. What this also means is that there’s no shortage of workout shirts showing up on my doorstep for testing. While the above shirts are tried, tested, and approved, the following shirts are currently being reviewed to see if they have what it takes to make it into the spotlight. 

Here are the workout shirts I’m currently testing: 

Saxx Aerator: Though Saxx is known mainly for its inventive line of, shall I say, supportive underwear, the brand also makes a selection of workout apparel. One such shirt (which is also available in a long-sleeved version) is called the Aerator, and after wearing it through a few workouts, I’m already a huge fan. It fits extremely well, stays comfortable throughout a variety of workouts, and doesn’t just come in a basic assortment of colors.

Hylete Calavera Tri-Blend Crew: One of my favorite parts of Hylete’s Calavera is that it looks like a normal tri-blend shirt I’d throw on with a pair of jeans yet it performs just as well as some of the workout shirts featured in the main guide. I was originally skeptical that it’d just feel like wearing a cotton shirt (and come with all the same drawbacks) but I was quickly convinced otherwise after wearing it through a particularly sweaty home boxing session. Hylete offers a wide variety of similar shirts, too, each with fun graphics and colorways. 

Janji Runterra TeeThe Insider Reviews team has written at length and often about the quality of Janji’s workout apparel, and it remains one of our favorite brands to wear when breaking a sweat. One of its shirts I’ve been wearing recently is the Runterra Tee, a technical cotton blend shirt that’s highly comfortable, blocks odor, and that uses volcanic ash to thermoregulate the body. That’s a mouthful to just simply say this shirt is an active person’s dream. I wear it often for just about any activity and never feel I’ve made a bad choice.

Tracksmith Harrier TeeTracksmith’s Harrier quickly became one of my go-to running shirts after wearing it just once while on a run. Featuring a classic design, the shirt wicks moisture, dries quickly, and blocks odors, which is essentially everything a quality running shirt should offer — and it does it all thanks to a Merino wool blend. 

Workout shirt glossary

Just as there’s variety in the available options, there’s also variety in a wearer’s desired application or workout style. Perhaps a runner wants a more lightweight option or a fitness buff desires something that looks good every day, no matter the activity.

Regardless of intent, there’s a suitable workout shirt designed specifically for everyone. A great workout shirt doesn’t just get the job done but does so without sacrificing performance, comfort, or style. 

Here are some of the most popular styles and features of men’s workout shirts:

Sweat-wicking: Sweat-wicking shirts work to remove moisture from your skin. They also don’t soak up any of that moisture (like a cotton tee might), allowing them to avoid feeling overly heavy as you work out. 

Odor control: Fabrics with odor-control technology help minimize lingering odors. There are several ways manufacturers are able to do this, either constructing the shirt of merino wool, having it feature a highly-breathable design, or, in the case of Rhone, use gold particles infused into the fabric. 

Quick-dry fabric: Workout shirts with quick-dry fabrics are often made from merino wool, polyester, or nylon (or a blend) and are designed to be highly breathable. 

Four-way stretch: This type of fabric allows for greater freedom of motion, helping the wearer feel less hindered while running, lifting weights, or doing moves like lunges or burpees. 

How we test workout shirts

Each shirt featured in this buying guide went through several rounds of testing across a variety of workouts and activities. These workouts include weight training sessions with resistance bands, medicine balls, and dumbbells, 30-minute cardio sessions of either an outdoor run, outdoor bike ride, or an indoor stationary bike ride, and indoor interval training routines. 

No workout shirt is the perfect, one-style-fits-all, so each selection also lists a few drawbacks to consider, be it sizing and fit issues, an expensive price tag, or lack of color choice. New product styles and releases are always being considered for future updates, as well. 

Here are the four categories we judged each shirt on during testing:

Fit: An ill-fitting workout shirt won’t exactly motivate you or push you through to the end of your workout, no matter if you’re out for a run or using resistance bands at home. When testing, we looked at everything from how stretchy it was and how well it moved along with us, if the armholes allowed for proper range of motion, and if there was enough coverage through the bottom. 

Performance: Performance is essentially the execution of a workout shirt’s fabric tech, especially today. How well does it wick sweat or control odor? Is it breathable and does it avoid chafing? A workout shirt’s performance is one of the most important factors we considered because the last thing you want to be thinking about while working out is why your shirt feels like a hundred pounds drenched in sweat or what the foul smell might be. 

Fabric tech: Innovative fabric tech is now the norm in every manner of workout gear as brands have adopted everything from gold-infused materials and multi-stretch fabric to active cooling and UPF protection. Since these are now standard practice, it raises the bar in terms of judging how well a workout shirt applies the tech. 

Value: The value of a quality workout shirt is less about how much it costs and more about the combination of the three categories before it, as well as what its final price is. We often say it’s better to spend more on a premium product than to spend less, more often on something that’s shoddily designed and won’t last. 

Read the original article on Business Insider