When searching for the optimal workout shirt, functionality often takes precedence over style. After all, a minimalist cotton t-shirt looks downright tasteful with a pair of jeans but it won’t look (or smell) so great after an hour-long workout. That’s why in the past decade, some of our favorite activewear brands like Lululemon, Nike, and Under Armour have developed breathable fabrics with moisture-wicking and odor-fighting technology that are now practically must-haves for any exercise gear, especially shirts.
However, not all workout tops are created equal. When it comes to finding the right fit, make sure it doesn’t feel too tight or baggy around your underarms, your shoulders, and across your chest, i.e. the areas you exercise most. We sifted through some of the most popular brands to select the best workout shirts that are as practical as they are fashionable.
All in Motion Men’s Short Sleeve Performance T-Shirt
If you’re looking to commit to exercising regularly (congratulations!), you’ll probably be buying multiple tops, unless you want run up your laundry bill. The good news is, you don’t have to drop hundreds of dollars for a good exercise shirt. Take this budget-friendly performance t-shirt, which features a moisture-wicking fabric found in tees double its price point. Plus, it comes in five colors and comes in larger sizes (up to XXXL) for big and tall guys. You’ll want to snap up as many of these as you can afford.
Nike Men’s Pro Cool Compression Shirt Tee Dri-Fit
Look, the jury’s still out on whether compression shirts actually improve your workouts, but if you’re going to cop one, we recommend Nike’s tee, which is a bestseller on Amazon. Yes, it’s super fitted, so you can show off your hard-earned physique, but not too tight to the point where you can’t breathe. It’s also made with mesh panels so you won’t overheat, and the superhero-red colorway looks badass.
Lululemon Metal Vent Tech Short Sleeve 2.0
Whether you’re stretching or lifting weights, you’ll need a shirt that won’t bunch up and get in the way. That’s why we love this short sleeve tee from Lululemon, which hugs your shoulders and upper arms just right, and also has an ultra-breathable fabric that leaves us relatively dry even after our most rigorous workouts.
Balennz Workout Shirts
Another Amazon bestseller (rightfully so), Balennz’ top is cost effective, made with a four-way stretch fabric that’s flexible and moisture wicking.
Tracksmith Van Cortlandt Tee
Looking to invest in a top-notch running shirt? Might we suggest Tracksmith’s gorgeous tee, which comes in an ultra luxe mesh (that’s not an oxymoron anymore) that moves and feels fantastic. Plus, the sash adds a collegiate touch.
Vuori Tradewind Performance Tee
We can’t stop giving love to Vuori’s sustainable shorts, and we found that the brand’s tees are just as noteworthy. Namely this performance tee, which is made with a perforated knit for maximum breathability. It’s light and durable, and works well for any workout.
Rhone Men’s Running Shirt Swift Short Sleeve
Much has been said about Rhone’s performance tops, which are made with actual gold, and we’re happy to report that they live up to the hype. Take this running shirt, which includes the aforementioned Midas touch to ward off stench, and we found (or smelled, rather) that Rhone’s shirt remained comparatively odorless compared to its competitors.
Fabletics Men The Front Row Tee
Kevin Hart’s Fabletics Men continues to churn out some quality fitness fits (see what we did there?), and this tee is no exception. It still holds its shape after four months of heavy use. Simply put: they’re made to last.
Under Armour Men’s UA Tech 2.0 Short Sleeve
One of the thinnest shirts we tested, these were still durable enough to withstand virtually any workout. Plus, it dried quicker than most of the other tops we tried.
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