Your gym clothes say a lot about you and if you turn up for your workout looking and feeling fresh, chances are you'll have a better workout. We look at how to keep your gym clothes looking, feeling, and smelling fresh so that they last longer and perform better in the long-term.
Why wear gym clothes?
When it comes to gym clothes, there are a lot of expectations for performance, comfort, style, and more. While there's absolutely nothing wrong with turning up for your workout or group fitness class wearing a baggy old t-shirt and sweatpants, you will benefit far more from specially designed technical gym clothes that fit well and perform under pressure.
Fabric choice is everything for gym clothing, as some fabrics dry quicker than others and you don't want to end up with sweat rash and feeling weighed down by a soggy top. Additionally, your old clothes might not stretch as much as you need, leaving you feeling restricted or exposed. Ladies gym wear and mens gym clothes are often made with 4-way stretch materials which move freely and give you unlimited freedom of movement to stretch, squat, and jump as much as you need without feeling inhibited or held back by your clothing. Gym clothes also now come with sweat-wicking as standard which means your sweat is drawn away from your skin to evaporate so that you can stay dry and avoid chafing as you tackle a tough workout.
Finally, proper gym clothes will feature even more advanced features and innovative technology such as temperature control, which will stop you overheating in the warm but will keep you insulated in the cold. They also might even feature compression technology which is thought to improve performance by improving circulation to the muscles.
So with all that said, it's pretty clear why you should invest in proper gym clothes that offer exceptional performance and comfort while still looking sleek and stylish and giving you confidence.
How to store gym clothes
How you store your gym clothes will have a huge impact on how fresh they stay and how wearable they are for your next workout. If you get home from a great gym workout, drenched in sweat and ready for a shower, but just throw your clothes in a pile on the floor and forget about them, chances are they'll end up stale, smelly, and will lose their shape too.
Due to the hydrophobic nature of high-tech sportswear with its sweat-wicking capabilities, gym clothes are more likely to absorb oils from your body. As such, leaving them in a pile on a chair or the floor will allow bacteria to grow and spread which will leave your gym clothes smelling stale in a way you can't get rid of.
The best way to store gym clothes is in a cupboard, wardrobe, or hanging on a clothes rail. By allowing them to hang up and air out after you wash them, you will help the technical fabrics to keep their shape and protect the special materials which help make your gym clothes so good at performing when you train.
How often to wash gym clothes
The simple answer to this is that you should wash your gym clothes after every use. Even if you feel like you didn't sweat much, your body will have still secreted oils and other bacteria which you will want to wash away. Even on a normal day, you can sweat up to a litre of water per day. Leaving sweat and bacteria festering in your gym clothes - even if they feel or smell clean - can lead to irritated skin and even yeast infections (if you keep your sweaty leggings on for too long).
If you're worried that washing your gym clothes after every use will shorten their life, you need to invest in better quality gym clothes! Cheap gym clothing which is made of cotton is certainly more likely to lose its shape, colour, and comfort after a few washes, but more expensive, well-designed, and carefully crafted premium activewear will last for plenty of washes.
If you are prone to leaving your gym clothes on for a long time after a tough session, say to meet a friend or just to wear for the rest of the day, think again. If you leave sweaty gym clothes on your skin, you could end up with sweat rash and even body acne.
Thankfully, companies like Sundried are paving the way for innovation in the sportswear world with all-day active gym clothes. This activewear is specifically designed to be worn all day with advanced sweat-wicking technology and recycled fabrics which dry 200 times faster than regular gym clothes and feature natural anti-odour properties from the premium materials. These luxury gym clothes can be worn all day without a worry due to their high specification and premium fabrics.
How to stop gym clothes smelling
There are lots of creative ways you can get the smell out of your gym clothes, such as adding lemon juice or baking soda to your wash. However, there are plenty of other ways to stop them smelling in the first place.
Wash your gym clothes inside out as the oils and sweat will be mostly on the inside of the clothing. Let your clothes air out instead of stuffing them into a wash basket or hamper, but better yet, wash your gym clothes as soon as you can once you've finished your workout. Finally, don't use a fabric softener with your workout clothes, as this leaves a coating on clothing which can lock in the smell instead of washing it out.
What your gym clothes say about you
There are so many different types of gym clothes and sportswear out there that it can be difficult choosing the right ones for you. Some will opt for more fashionable gym clothes while others will prefer the rugged look of stringers and sweatpants. But what do your gym clothes say about you? It's something you might never have thought about before.
If you're struggling to decide what to wear for your first fitness class, try not to stress too much! Everyone is there for a shared experience and for the same reason: to get fit. Ultimately, you should be comfortable in your activewear and that is what matters most.
There are lots of new fashion trends in activewear this year such as men wearing leggings and taking your activewear out of the gym by wearing athleisure. No matter what you choose to wear, your gym clothes will always just say that you want to get fit and are prepared to work hard to achieve that!
Winter is always a time of digging deep and putting in the ground work for the upcoming season. We all struggle to find motivation for a 3 hour turbo or a late-night run but it’s important to remember your goals and keep going. Medals are won in the winter after all!
My winter training has been proceeding well. I’m managing to juggle studying whilst getting solid blocks of training in, which is easier said than done. It’s my first year in Manchester studying dentistry and the initial adjustment to living away from home combined with a demanding course was hard but I seem to have it under control at the moment...Just about.
Unfortunately, Manchester University doesn’t have its own triathlon team but I haven’t let that hinder my training.
When I first arrived in the city I trained to get a grasp of life up north. It’s not easy motivating yourself for a 6am lonely swim session so I soon signed up for the City of Manchester Swim Team and have been training with them for the past few months. The coach at City is great and has given me a whole new meaning to the word swimming... I didn’t know a kick set lasting an hour could exist!
I’m also training alongside the University's cycling and athletics clubs which is definitely pushing my capabilities as a multi-sport athlete, although I do have to admit that this winter I haven’t been very brave and a lot of my bike miles have been spent on the dreaded turbo.
I have my fair share of mental battles when it comes to training so I thought I’d share some top tips for staying motivated this winter:
1) Set your 2018 season goals now and use them as motivation when you are about to snooze your morning alarm or head home early from a long run or ride.
2) Join a triathlon team or join multiple single discipline clubs to enable you to train with others.
No one is ever going to be up for a 3 hour bike ride alone but add in friends and a cafe stop and riding has a whole different meaning.
3) Plan your week and follow a structured programme.
It’s a lot easier to stay on track with training when you have your weeks mapped out, planning for your work/study/social life. You will soon get into a good routine and pre-planned days off remove any feelings of guilt that us triathletes suffer from.
3) Get the right kit!
There is nothing worse than getting in from a run and having no feeling in your hands and feet or leaving the swimming pool shivering. Invest in some good warm kit this winter and make training in the cold that little bit easier. I know I can always rely on my trusty Sundried kit to keep me toasty.
4) Sign up for some races! Just because the triathlon season is over it doesn’t mean you can’t spice up your weekend with the odd cyclocross and cross-country race.
5) Most importantly, have fun!
It’s easy to get caught up in the triathlon trap of training because you feel like you have to. Treat training as a chance to unwind from work, make memories, and spend time with friends.
That’s all from me for now.
Have a great winter’s build and keeping smiling!
Taking care of your sportswear is very important, especially if it has special active technology and was expensive to buy. Follow this guide so that you never ruin another pair of cycling shorts again!
Get A Mesh Laundry Bag
Especially when it comes to pro bib shorts, parts getting caught in the machine is definitely something you want to avoid. Putting your cycling gear in a mesh laundry bag will mean it won't get caught on the spindle, and it also means that the zip on your jersey won't cause any damage either. Always wash your cycling gear separately from your other laundry. If you don't have the time or means to get a mesh laundry bag, a pillow case does the job too.
Make sure you wash your Lycra gear on a cool setting of 30 degrees or below. Most machines will have a button where you can change the temperature. Also make sure the spin cycle isn't too aggressive and that it doesn't go on for too long. An extra rinse can help to make sure the material stays fresh, and an extra spin at the end will speed up the drying process. I recommend a temperature of 30 degrees, spin cycle of 1000, and duration of 30-40 minutes.
Never put your Lycra cycling gear in a dryer! Hang it up and let nature take its course. It shouldn't take too long to dry, and this will ensure it stays premium quality for as long as possible.
There is lots of bad advice out there on how to squat (or how not to squat!) We look at 4 of the biggest squat myths to ignore and why.
1. Your knees can never go over your toes when you squat
The theory that knees should never go over toes was found in a study that found maintaining a vertical lower leg as much as possible reduced strain on the knee during a squat. However, the study only looked at two dimensional models of the knee joint, so it lacked consideration of forces working from above, at the hip, below, and at the ankle, which all receive considerable force in this position
Further research by Smith and Fry in 2003 compared unrestricted squats, where the knee could travel freely over the toe, to squats where a vertical board was placed over the lifters shins and physically prevented the knee moving over the toe. Whilst forces on the knee were reduced by 22% due to the restricted range of movement, forces were increased by 1000% on the knee joint.
The reason we are told to ensure our knees don't go over our toes is actually less about our toes and more about our centre of gravity and muscle recruitment. With the weight shifted back, we get more muscle activation from the glutes and hamstrings, whereas when our weight is shifted forward the focus is more on the quads and anterior chain. So… knees over toes is a myth as the toes simply serve as an arbitrary point and the guideline should really be more to do with how to balance load, but the knees over toes works as a simplified guideline.
2. Deep squats are bad for your knees
Look at how a child squats, in fact most children will spend the majority of their time in what looks like a deep squat. That’s a big hint that it’s not bad for you, as a child will not put themselves in a position that causes them pain, they move in our natural movement patterns until they are taught otherwise.
What then happens is our kids grow up and we start introducing the pattern of sitting behind a desk all day. That’s 7-8 hours of sitting and what that does to our flexibility is where the issues arise.
Contrary to popular belief, squatting deep is not bad for the knees - studies have found there is no difference between partial, parallel and deep squats impact on the knee. In the study by Clinical Biomechanics, five female athletes were studied throughout squats with varying degrees of flexion at the knee and concluded that squatting from 70 degrees to 110 degrees of knee flexion had little effect on patellofemoral joint kinetics.
Another study by The Journal of Biomechanics found that the deeper the squat, the less pressure is created inside the knee. The journal of strength and conditioning research also completed a study which concluded that parallel squats with heavy weights are less effective at increasing strength than deep squats with a lighter weight.
Obviously, there is not a one-size-fits-all perfect squat, but in most cases, gradual progressive training to the full range of motion of a deep squat will be effective.
3. If it doesn’t break parallel it doesn’t count
Myth. Despite the research supporting squat depth as seen above, failing to squat deep doesn’t mean that the squats don’t count. In fact squatting to parallel is probably the most widely used squat because it is arguably the safest form of squatting and the easiest to perform.
For some people, though it has greater muscle activation, squatting below parallel just isn’t possible, be it due to lack of flexibility, lack of strength or lower back issues.
If the lower back rounds when the athlete performing a full squat breaks parallel, it's time to stop. Rounding of the back during this phase of the squat places intense pressure on the lower vertebrae of the back. Research has shown that during the deepest phase of the squat, this compression is six times greater than at the top of a squat.
As your spine flattens out with a heavy barbell across your shoulders, a large amount of pressure is imposed on the discs in your spine. Eventually, if your form isn’t spot on this can lead to tissue damage and back pain. Repeatedly sliding out of a neutral spine position increases your risk of serious injury and a hunched back. All of which can be avoided by squatting to parallel, or even breaking parallel but rising before your bum tucks.
Work on flexibility by performing bodyweight squats and gradually sinking lower until you can break parallel and enter the full squat without compromising your spine. Dynamic warm ups and flexibility work will help to increase your range of motion.
4. Look up as you squat
As much as you may enjoy staring at your squirming face as you squat, “head up” is one of the worst commands you can give to a client. The logic behind it was/is that the body goes where the head leads and therefore if you look up, you will be less likely to fail your squat. However, with a heavy load across your shoulders looking up increases the amount of pressure on your neck and could potentially lead to slipping the discs in your neck. Ideally, the aim should be to keep your spine in neutral alignment. For most people you need to keep your eyes forward and tuck the chin slightly.
Now you’ve sorted fact from fiction, why not check out our page on Squats.