To dress in an appropriate and beneficial manner is essential when you’re planning to begin working out. Wearing the wrong gym clothes can leave you tired, sweatier, less motivated to work out and even potentially injured than if you had applied smarted choices to your wardrobe. That’s why this article aims to give you a complete and comprehensive analysis of the best workout clothes and sportswear for when you go to the gym.

Undervests are an important part of your work out wear and near essential whenever you work out. The obvious benefit of a vest is that is provides warmth when working out on cold days. Not only that, but vests help to manage your sweating and cool you down. They provide a layer of fabric between your t-shirt and your body, preventing too much sweat from spoiling your shirt. At the same time, they leave your arms open, allowing unconstrained movement and maximum flexibility. Your vest should be tight fitted and sleeveless, and made of a thick material to better absorb sweat. In a pinch, a tank top can also work as an undershirt, but a proper vest is the preferred wear for serious workouts.

A t-shirt is the main upper clothing that you’ll find yourself needing to wear when you work out. The light material and loose fitting nature of it allows greater flexibility and more free movement without tiring you out. The ideal t-shirt to wear should be of a light material. It should be loose around your neck and stomach. Plain t-shirts with little or no design usually look and work best when working out. As a bonus, research has shown that wearing red shirts can boost your motivation by almost 50%, which is perfect when working out. If you like listening to music when exercising (I do when I go running), there are plenty of work out t-shirts that have pockets on the arm or shoulder so you can keep your phone or iPod with you.

Shorts are a near essential part of your wear while working out. Such as the case with t-shirts, shorts provide unconstrained, flexible movement of your legs and compliment your physique. Sports shorts will often come with zip able pockets to put your personals in and will be made of a material that often helps in absorbing sweat. Make sure your shorts are really comfortable and do not cause much distress or discomfort when working out for long periods of time – there’s nothing worse than chaffing in those areas!

For those workouts when you don’t want to wear something as revealing as shorts, or if your shorts are proving too tight and uncomfortable after long work outs, tracksuits are an easy alternative. While these do not offer as much flexibility or movement as shorts, they absorb sweat even better, are often at times much more comfortable and are a solid choice for those looking to stay comfortable and relaxed for long work outs.

Lastly, footwear is the most important piece of your work out gear. You should wear proper sports trainers or sneakers, as these provide padding for your feet and absorb sweat and odor remarkably. Your trainers have to be incredibly comfortable and make sure they support your whole foot and ankle properly – not some flat-footed canvas plimsolls for example. Wearing unsuitable trainers is the biggest mistake people make when working out and it can even lead to injuries. Running shoes are the best for comfort and support for your feet and it’s worth spending a bit more on a set of good quality trainers which will last longer. As a bonus, during sit-ups, these trainers will allow someone else to stand on your toes in a manner that doesn’t cause pain or discomfort to you. The best trainers are often webbed or netted to allow air in and out of them.

Written by Tom Courcey, editor at The Idle Man menswear retailer based in London. Catering for everything from streetwear to formalwear, The Idle Man is the go-to destination for men’s fashion, lifestyle, grooming and music.