Finding the Right Fabric For You(r Workout)

By Emily Effren – July 15, 2019

We all work out differently. Whether we are wearing clothes for running long distances or finding the stretchiest leggings to twist our bodies into a pretzel, there are different types of fabrics that are best matched with certain types of fitness. You can workout in anything, but doing so in the best fabric for you could enhance your fitness experience and have you feeling confident when walking into the gym.


Made from the cotton plant, this fabric has and will always be one of the most popular fabrics all over the world. Not only is it comfortable, but cotton is natural and reliable. Cotton is one of the most universal fabrics because of its breathability and flexibility, so it can pair with almost any workout. From leggings to jackets, practically any clothing can be made from the natural product. However, even though it can be flexible, steer clear of cotton bottoms. When stretched, many cotton products can become transparent making a rather awkward situation for the dead lifters out there.


When we think of workout attire, bamboo isn’t typically the first fabric that comes to mind. However, it can be one of the best types of materials for exercise. According to Fibre2Fashion, bamboo fabric is made from the pulp of bamboo grass and is sweat absorbent, insulating, hypoallergenic, antibacterial and one of the most “green” types of fabrics we can buy. Since it is also a UV protectant, bamboo material is one of the best options for outdoor runners, bikers or hikers.


For all of the daily stretchers and yogis out there, this is the best option for optimal flexibility. It can be frustrating to be in the middle of a class or a stretch and not go as deep into the stretch because you’re afraid of your clothing ripping, moving or being see-through. Unlike cotton and bamboo, spandex is a man-made product and according to, spandex is a “synthetic that is comprised of a minimum of 85 percent polyurethane polymer” so make sure you don’t have an allergy to it before you slip on a pair of stretchy and forever flattering, spandex leggings.


Similar to spandex, polyester is also a man-made fabric. Created in the 20th century, polyester is mainly known for how it does not absorb moisture. This means that stains rarely occur with polyester fabrics. As this fabric may not be the first choice for gym-goers, polyester is a great choice for the outdoor athlete due to its durability, strong insulation and UV ray protection. However, make sure that after your sweat session you don’t stay in your clothes for too long because, since polyester does not absorb moisture, it can be a breeding ground for bacteria (if you workout and then wear your clothes for the rest of the day).


Wool has been one of the most reliable products for over 10,000 years. Our ancestor’s ancestor was probably wearing the sheep-made fabric. According to the International Wool Textile Organisation, wool has gained popularity in the health and sustainability community because of its “UV protection, humidity control, high thermal resistance, breathability, sound reduction and toxic chemical absorption” making the anciently worn fabric perfect for the cold-climate hiker or any northern U.S. (or winter) athlete.


Invented in the 1930s, nylon was created during the rise of women’s stockings (as fashions started becoming more revealing) and has remained popular on the market ever since. Primarily found in swimwear and athletic wear, nylon has been found to be resilient, promising years of reliable wear. According to, nylon is lightweight, quick to dry, shrink resistant and an overall strong fabric. As nylon typically has problems with pilling, running or high-friction training (like cardio) may not be the best choice to pair with nylon. However, weight lifting and other low-intensity training would work best with the man-made fabric.


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